Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cokedale Welcomes US Army Occupation

Cruising south down County Road 57.5 near Cokedale, Colorado one fine Sunday morning, I noticed something rather peculiar which caught my attention. A black van was pulled over on the side of the narrow road with an arm extended out of the driver's side window slowly moving up and down urging me to reduce my speed. Slowing the truck down and as I rounded the bend, I noticed some figures who, it turned out, were three fully equipped military personel in camouflage with large backpacks hurrying down the road as if on some kind of training exercise. "What the hell?" I said to myself as I passed, having encountered only a stray runner or two or some local ranchers and even some wandering bears along the road in that remote area. My curiosity piqued, I made a mental note of the incongruity of the incident and continued on.

In the following weeks I also noticed a lot of heavy machinery, bulldozers, front end loaders, flat bed trucks, some Humvees and the like being assembled in a lot on the other side of the creek in the town itself. Little did I know at that time, as I have just found out, that these vehicles were elements of the Colorado National Guard apparently involved in some extensive infrastructure project in the town. Starting August 14, news of the military presence in the tiny enclave off highway 12 caused a buzz on the Net among the more conspiratorially minded sites even attracting the attention of the likes of Steve Quayle. The usual rumors were bandied about mostly concerning the implementation of Agenda 21 and even the breakup of the US suggested by the Russian defector Igor Panarin.

Apparently in response, the Colorado National Guard published a feel good article on their website detailing the activities of the Guard in Cokedale. http://military-online.blogspot.com/2012/08/colorado-army-national-guard-engineers.html. According to this post, the Colorado Army National Guard's 947th Engineer Company is merely providing civil reconstruction which the cash strapped community could not otherwise provide.
Soldiers from the company have been installing culverts, cleaning ditches and repairing degraded dirt roads. These repairs, in turn, will update and improve the town's infrastructure by directing storm water runoff away from building foundations.

Yet refurbishing streets and drainage systems means more to the people here than just improving their standard of living.

Cokedale is also a National Historic District - the only intact coal mining town in Colorado and one of a few remaining in the country - so the Soldiers' work is also helping preserve history, said Kathy Kumm, Cokedale town clerk.

Perhaps those of us who have witnessed the increasing militarization of Southeastern Colorado emanating from the Pinion Canyon Maneuver Site and its nerve center at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs can be excused for questioning the real motivations of the army in the "National Historic District" of Cokedale. It might be suggested that the army has other things in mind than simply "preserving history". It has been amply proven time and time again that the US Army, in its mostly unchallenged and forcible expropriation of ranches and farmland over the past few decades, has acted only in the interest of the so called National Security agenda and has not only disregarded the interests and rights of local residents but blatantly abused and violated them.

Though admittedly largely a matter of speculation at this point, perhaps the real objective of the sudden Army interest in Cokedale might be found some miles upstream of the lazy creek which meanders down Reilly Canyon from headwaters in the Spanish Peaks. Dotting the otherwise serene landscape is an unavoidable patchwork of natural gas wells owned and operated by Pioneer Natural Resources whose headquarters can be found farther up highway 12. Indeed, anyone driving the backroads through Boncarbo and Aguilar and towards the Spanish Peaks will be greeted by what looks like an occupation zone of the green well heads and fencing that mark the ubiquitous presence of the natural gas wells cropping up all over private land. Pioneer Natural Resources owns the mineral rights under almost the entire area and as such, can and does drill whenever and wherever it ses fit, abrogating the rights of local property owners at will. 

With the considerable controversy surrounding the extraction of natural gas by "fracking', or injecting a slurry of water and toxic chemicals into the underground substrata to break open methane deposits in coal seams, growing opposition has been generated to the process which, it is speculated, has not only tainted private and public water wells with methane gas but is suspected of causing earthquakes like the one which rocked the area last August 22 causing widespread damage especially in the nearby town of Segundo.

With the production of natural gas coming increasingly to the forefront as a necessary energy source and thus certainly representing a definable position as an integral component of so called National Security issue, could it be that the large complex of well heads in the foothills of the Purgatory Valley have acquired an importance requiring an increased security presence as represented by this otherwise unexplainable army incursion into an area otherwise largely designated as an "agricultural wasteland"?

Meanwhile, further north in Pueblo, we are witnessing yet another expansion of military activity in the presence of the Colorado National Guard Counter-Drug Task Force's Drug Interdiction "section" which recently completed "Operation Fly Paper" resulting in the "largest marijuana bust in southern Colorado" Of course, the unprecedented military presence is certainly questionable from the standpoint of Posse Comitatus but also has immense ramifications for the nation in the ongoing and rampant militarization of police forces throughout the country, the blurring of lines separating the National Guard from US Army activity in domestic affairs and obvious consequences for its citizenry. On the Guard website, of course, pains are taken to depict the beneficial impact of such unwarranted intrusions of military activity into domestic affairs.

The CO-JCDTF supports local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, community-based organizations and schools with a variety of services to help rid Colorado communities of the effects of drug abuse and associated social issues.http://co.ng.mil/News/Pages/120816-flypaper.aspx


Anonymous said...

Why dont you call or, since you regularly drive by cokedale, stop and talk to the mayor and see she the National Guard Engineer platoon was doing work in the small town. I'm sure she would be glad to tell you how the county clerk, whose son happens to be a member of the engineer unit that did the work, and the mayor contatced us and requested us to help them out.

yardfarmer said...

well, thanks for the information. I'm glad the National Guard is willing and able to help out the good folks in Cokedale. I was wondering whether there was an official request for assistance. I sometimes forget that the Guard, especially the Corps of Engineers, is there to help. Thanks again for everything you do for this great country.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous. Well, aren't you just one big happy family! Sounds a little funny to me though. Funny how you can just dial up the Engineer Corps of the Colorado National Guard and spend tens and tens of thousands of dollars of state money for your little infrastructure project just because your son is a member of the Guard and all for some chocolate chip cookies and milk. Excuse me, but something just don't add up right here. And what about the Guard members this fellow saw on the road long before this project got started? What were they doing there? Just taking a Sunday morning hike I suppose.

Anonymous said...

As a Resident of Cokedale who was born and raised here, having left to a Major Western Sea Port City for 25 years and returned here 7 years ago. I feel the need to comment of the ridiculous suppositions of the lunatic fringe who see conspiracy in all that happens. The National Guard was indeed invited to Cokedale and did an OUTSTANDING job of resurfacing the roads and putting in drainage ditches. It is not the fault of Cokedale or the National Guard that there was nothing in the newspapers announcing the project, look toward the local media for lack of reporting. I can seriously tell you that although Coikedale is an incorporated town we have few financial resources and the work that the National Guard Unit did is Very Much Appreciated by the residents of the town and they are welcome back any time to many of our homes! Please stop already with the ridiculous conspiracy theories, about underground tunnels and barracks being built, and/or nuclear bombs from Russia being dropped near Cokedale. If one has half a brain you know that this little backwater burg is hardly recognizable on a map and far far under the radar of the "Military or Government Conspiracy"

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous of August 24th
First I would like to state that tens of thousands of dollars State dollars were not spent on this project..the National Guard did this work free of charge! If you are so certain come to Cokedale and talk to the residents.......after all we cannot ALL be brainwashed into not revealing "The Great Cokedale Conspiracy" (tm)

yardfarmer said...

thanks for all the input from the residents of Cokedale who have stepped up to clarify the rumors and innuendo swirling about the presence of the Guard there. they are indeed long gone and have left lasting evidence of the constructive efforts to improve the civil affairs of this community.