Gilpin County moves on to 2017

Barbara Lawlor, Gilpin County.  Although no major disasters hit Gilpin County, the Timberline Fire Department District was busy assisting other fire departments, including major events in Nederland. TFPD firefighters worked on the Cold Springs Fire and a house explosion in Big Springs.

They also shared responsibility for putting out the myriad campfires that were left abandoned in the County Road 68 area, with resident/transient encounters that brought both Gilpin County and Boulder County law enforcement to the area.

TFPD chief Glenn Levy took over the department in April, 2015 and at the beginning of 2016, he listed the district’s assists as: eight operational fire stations, one unstaffed station, 50 volunteers, a fleet of four engines, three tenders, four brush trucks, three utility vehicles, two ATVs and two command vehicles. He added that there had been no mill levy increases for seven years, it has  remained at 8.342.  In February, the district sponsored EMT class for 20 personnel who graduated in May.

Throughout the summer and fall, TFPD hosted community meetings in various stations in the district. The firefighters offered grilled burgers and hot dogs as well as an opportunity to enjoy a real-time Board of Trustees meeting.

At the end of 2016, Levy announced that he was retiring and that Paul Ondr, a long-time TFPD firefighter, would take over as the leader of the district.

At the end of January, Larry Grieco, Gilpin County librarian, celebrated Richard Brautigan’s birthday with a public poetry reading. Brautigan would have been 82 this year and is best known for his book, “Trout Fishing in America.” Grieco was most fond of Brautigan’s short poems. Also a writer of short poems, Grieco retired this year.


The first weekend of March, the High County Auxiliary Chili Dinner Fundraiser with a silent auction was held at the Gilpin Country Recreation Center. It is an event that gets bigger ever year, with amazing good deals and even more amazing chili, which was made by the Reserve Casino. The money raised at the event goes to support the firefighters in the district.

The next week, the TFPD gave out their annual awards for the good work accomplished by the firefighters: The Firefighter of the Year was Chip Smith; Officer of the Year was Eric Douglas; Rookie of the Year was Chris Samuelson; Garden Award of the Year went to Todd Barron for his continued growth as a firefighter and he also won the Chef’s Award for grilling burgers at open houses. The Chief’s Award went to Jennifer Hinderman, the unsung hero, and the Station of the Year Award went to Station Eight. Then came the fun part, a bit of teasing, some humorous performances and special gifts, including Timberline underwear which was presented to Black Hawk, Central City and Gilpin County Ambulance. The locally popular Gilpin County Rap Group entertained.


Colorado Natural Gas reached out to north Gilpin County to see if they could get enough property owners to agree to having the installation of a natural gas line to Rollinsville, but it get didn’t enough property owners to sign up to allow the plans to go forward.

In the spring the Gilpin schools put on a production of  “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” showcasing their talents and months of rehearsals.

The TFPD election took place in April. The new Board of Director’s included Christopher Samuelson, Paul Ondr and Cheryl Taylor.

At the end of May, 18 students graduated from Gilpin High School, Eagles heading into the world. Mayor Ron Engels was the guest speaker, who was hired as a Gilpin County Commissioner in November.

Timberline responded to a number of motorcycle accidents on the Peak to Peak Highway during the summer and fall months.
May began a summer series of community meetings and barbecues, a chance for residents to meet the firefighters that protect them, ask questions and offer some suggestions. Much of the discussions revolved around fire mitigation and transients.

Summer came and Gilpin County began the events that let people know the heart of the county still exists even though casinos are most apparent. The Gilpin County Juried Art Show in Central City draws artists all over the state. The Lou Bunch Bed Races, an hilarious summer tradition, packs the Central City streets while local employees vie for first place, pushing a sporting lady on a bed. The Annual Father’s Day Fishing Contest took place at the Bill Russell Fishing Pond, where a minnow took second place.
The Central City Opera opened with the Golden Rose pageantry of debutantes cascading down the winding stairs to the opera garden. Tosca was the featured opera of the summer.


The TFPD assisted the NFPD during the Cold Springs Fire. They were on alert all summer, putting out campfire and lightning caused fires during the red flag warning days of heat and drought.

The Gilpin Recreation Center camp offered local activities and field trips to kids during the summer as well as exercise classes for senior citizens.

The Gilpin County Fair in August featured bucking broncos and bulls and turkey legs. It was blessed with great weather for a change and local non-profits had the opportunity to explain and even demonstrate what they do.

The Rollinsville Independence Day Parade featured a deadly gunfight, a couple of vehicles including a hippie van and Forrest Whitman telling the story of Gov. Gilpin.

In September, the annual Cemetery Crawl introduced people to other people from long ago whose remains are buried under the gravestones that gives the facts of their lives. Local actors share some of the more personal stories about the lives of the people who are forever remembered in the Central City cemeteries every year.

Roy’s Last Shot offered free lunch to everyone who played a part in the Cold Springs Fire, the firefighters, volunteers and victims of the Boulder County fire that destroyed eight homes. A long-horned steer was the guest non-speaker who supplied great photo ops.

In November, the Gilpin Elementary School honored local veterans on Veteran’s Day and another ceremony took place at the Gilpin County Recreation Center Veterans Memorial, including a 21-gun salute.

TFPD chief Glenn Levy reminded residents of the rules for burning slash. Even after a summer of fires, the firefighters continued to be called out a number of times to assist property owners whose slash burns had gone out of control or were about to, or calls from neighbors who were concerned with the size of the fire or the winds in the area.

The list of rules: Piles cannot be bigger than 8 feet in diameter or 6 feet high and must be 10 feet from any trees and from overhanging branches. They must be 50 feet from any structure and wind speed must be 10 mph or less. There must be four inches of snow on the ground. Contact Timberline 24 hours before burning. For Timberline residents in Boulder County, contact:

It has been peaceful in the last months, as Christmas and holiday concerts and parties lit up businesses and streets of Central City. Black Hawk decked the casino halls and lit the local parking parks with lights other than jackpot prizes.

The most spectacular spectacle was the implosion of the Monarch Casino parking building to make way for the highest hotel in Black Hawk. The implosion went as planned, the structure was transformed into rubble in seconds.

As the last toast to the old year turned into a cocktail for the new year, 2016 faded into the past and Gilpin County residents and volunteers will begin planning for another round of mountain living with all of its joys and celebrations and neighbors caring about each other.


Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.