Oral History Interview with Bob Strong
Based on an oral interview on October 7, 2014
I was on the City Council at the time the State Park was being formulated. As you know, the plans for the Ridgway Dam had been in the planning stage for at least 30 years. I can’t remember exactly but it was a long, long time. It was beginning to come to a head while I was on the Council. When the Presidential Review Team came here in 1977, I was on the Council and Jim Austin was our City Manager. The meeting announcement is reproduced on page 5.
The review hearing was at the Elks Lodge and a large crowd attended. In fact it was quite a celebration - quite a memorable day. Some businesses even closed for this hearing so people could attend. They put the sign shown in Fig. 2 in their shop windows.
This review team had been in Pitkin County in Aspen, and while they were there, the environmentalists had pretty much dominated the whole affair. Jim was bound and determined that they were not going to dominate this meeting.
So he developed a plan for them. There were banners on the light poles that were triangular- shaped, 41 in. on each side, as shown in Fig. 3, from the airport to the Elks Lodge. When the review team came in they could see these flags on every light pole. You know about the Eagles symbol on the Montrose Mouse as described on page 6. As everybody knows, that was the cartoon, I don’t know where it originated, but Jim adapted it for this particular event. The original cartoon showed the mouse with a protruding middle finger raised in defiance as the eagle swooped down on him, but it was changed to a clenched fist so as not to be considered overly insulting.
I remember we were standing outside the Elks Lodge, a group of us, when Frank Evans, who was our congressman at that time, drove up in the car. He got out and walked over towards the group and the first thing he said was: "Why the hell did you take off the finger?”. He thought that would be more appropriate.