Kinder Morgan donates money to Cortez Community Garden

Monday, July 30, 2018 3:58 PM
Cortez city staff, Common Ground volunteers and members of the Leighton family pose with Kinder Morgan representatives as they present a donation to the Cortez community garden on Tuesday.
Stephanie Alderton/The Journal

Kinder Morgan COO Darrell Ricketson (left) praises the Cortez Community Garden during a check presentation ceremony while Parks and Recreation Director Dean Palmquist looks on.
Stephanie Alderton/The Journal

The new pergola in the Cortez Community Garden.

On July 24, representatives from Kinder Morgan CO2 Co. presented a gift to the Cortez Community Garden outside the Recreation Center.

The community garden outside the Cortez Recreation Center has been growing ever since Common Ground, a volunteer group from Cortez, took it over last year.

It’s home to 19 individual garden plots, in addition to the seven that supply the Good Samaritan Center food pantry with fresh produce, and it recently gained a new piece of outdoor furniture as well.

Darrell Ricketson, Kinder Morgan’s chief operating officer, and two other company representatives brought a check for $4,500, which will cover the cost of the garden’s new pergola.

About 30 people attended a check presentation at the garden, where city employees finished building the pergola a few days previously. It was built over a set of benches donated by the Leighton family in 2015 to honor the memory of Gregg M. Leighton. Several members of the family were also in attendance.

Ricketson, who traveled from Texas to attend the ceremony, said the donation was intended as a token of appreciation for Kinder Morgan’s Cortez employees.

“We find it really important to invest in the community (where) our employees live and work and have their families,” he said. “Efforts like this really make you proud to be part of this community.”

The nationwide energy producer has had a presence in Montezuma County for about 30 years, Ricketson said. It currently operates CO2 pipelines based near Yellow Jacket and Lewis.

Read Brugger, a leader in the Common Ground volunteer group, said the pergola donation was the latest example of enthusiastic local support for the garden. He said the city has supported every expansion that Common Ground has proposed, and Montezuma County residents have been lining up to help.

According to data proudly displayed on a bulletin board near the garden, volunteers have provided more than 50 pounds of fresh produce to the Good Samaritan Center food pantry this year. Brugger said that success has inspired others, such as the Southwest Farm Fresh Cooperative, to donate more fresh food to the pantry.

“We’re making a difference here in Cortez and Montezuma County,” he said. “Maybe small to start, but it’s a difference, and it is appreciated.”

Cortez Mayor Karen Sheek thanked Kinder Morgan for the donation, and the Common Ground volunteers for their work on the garden.

“Not only does this garden space provide nutritious food for the people that labor in it, but it also provides for others in the community as well,” she said.

Parks and Recreation Director Dean Palmquist gave Ricketson and fellow Kinder Morgan representatives Barry Swift and Ken Havens a tour of the garden, and encouraged the rest of the attendees to visit often. Kirbi Vaughn, of Common Ground, said the group will have a waiting list for those who want to rent a plot next growing season.