Wright pleased with grant, LHA increase at Rock Ledge
Ron Wright, president of the ranch's Living History Association (LHA) volunteer group, tends a cabbage patch at the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site.
The patch, though he didn't plan it that way, could be seen as symbol of his philosophy. “I want to make the LHA not only more responsible, but more helpful at the ranch,” he explained. And, with openings for four board members, not to mention a period-clothing chair (essentially a head seamstress), he's looking for others who think that way. “I'd like to have board members who are willing to go to the ranch and actively work on projects,” Wright said.
During Wright's 1 ½ years as president, he has helped create the popular Fiddles, Vittles & Vino event, increase LHA membership from 400 to 740 members and lead Rock Ledge's restoration efforts - including the award of a recent major grant. The LHA's roughly 100 active volunteers play a big part of the ranch, supplementing Colorado Springs Parks' minimal paid staff (one full-time employee) by pitching in as adult and junior docents.
The grant, written by City Parks staffer Aimee Cox, is from the State Historical Fund and will allow the completion of the several-year restoration of the Orchard House (which had been built 99 years ago by Colorado Springs founder William Palmer). In the amount of $80,220, the state money will be matched by $22,000 from the LHA's Gift Trust Account (reflecting fundraising from the annual Folk Art Festival and other events), Wright said.
Wright has additional ideas in mind as he heads unopposed for a second term. One of these areas involves marketing the ranch. Part of a new city-produced video to be presented this fall will feature Rock Ledge. Showing ranch scenes, the video will include an original song, titled “Rock Ledge Ranch,” by Westside Pioneer editor Kenyon Jordan (which he has donated for ranch use).
Also, the board is discussing future construction ideas. Suggestions being considered are a “historically correct” schoolhouse, greenhouse and visitor center, as well as an area where old-time crafts could be taught, Wright said. The greenhouse would be a throwback to the original one that was behind the Rockledge House in the ranch's early days.
What Wright particularly longs for - but which is utterly out of his hands - is restoring the full-time maintenance technician position at Rock Ledge. Four years ago, City Council eliminated the position in a budget cut, and as a result Ranch Manager Andy Morris, aided only by one paid (seasonal) worker, “has his hands full out there,” Wright said.
Rock Ledge is a city-owned working ranch, styled after the 1880s era in which it first thrived. A life-long Westsider, Wright said he remembers playing on the property as a child and enjoys the present chance to help preserve it. “I'll stay (as president) as long as they want me,” he said.
Westside Pioneer article