Parachute has been hit hard by the current slowdown in natural gas drilling. Mayor Roy McClung has watched school enrollments fall and rental vacancies rise over the last year in this mountain town. He now plans to join many of his constituents in heading to greener pastures. The town Mayor is pulling stakes.
McClung isn’t the first member of the town leader to fall victim to the economy. John Loschke, former Mayor Pro Tem, who had worked in the energy field, also recently left town for another job.
A consultant for energy companies, Mayor McClung saw the need for his services grind to a halt last summer, according to the Grand Junction Sentinel:
“From April to August, I didn’t have anything going on,” he said.
Recently, he and his wife shut down their nonprofit child care—formed to meet the growing demand for child care in the region during the energy boom.
“We just lost all the kids,” he said.
Now Mayor McClung and his wife plan to head to the Front Range for more schooling. He’ll pursue and engineering degree at Colorado State University, and his wife will study nursing at Front Range Community College.
McClung’s decision leaves the town trying to replace its leaders from the dwindling pool of residents who haven’t left. According to several recent stories in newspapers across the United States, that might not be so easy. As the act of running a small town has grown more difficult, wrote the L.A. Times recently, it’s become harder to find volunteers willing to make the hard decisions—even in towns that aren’t experiencing an exodus.
The current mayor pro tem will take McClung’s place when he leaves, and the Town Council plans to decide soon if it will appoint a new councilmember or wait until the next election.