Dear Grand County,

This is quite possibly the most challenging year in the history of Grand County, since the founding in 1874. Grand County just experienced the worst fire in our history and the second largest fire in Colorado history. Over 300 homes were recently destroyed by this fire, and there is a coinciding worldwide COVID pandemic that has resulted in quarantines, isolations, school and business closures. Students, businesses, and visitors have suffered.

We would like to begin by stating we are so very sorry for all of our residents (yes, this includes second homeowners) that have suffered the loss of their homes. In a moment your lives changed – you lost keepsakes and memories, family pictures and history. While our empathy cannot ever replace what you lost, we pledge to you that we will use all available resources to assist you if you choose to rebuild. Grand County stands with you during this time, and we are here to help. 

We offer heartfelt thanks to our firefighters and first responders, and want to thank our Sheriff and his staff for evacuating so many so quickly. We are also extremely saddened by the loss of the Hilemans. Grand County sends our sincere sympathy to the Hileman family. Please accept our deepest condolences during this difficult time.

For the students, athletes, businesses, and parents who have been negatively impacted quarantines, we are sorry for that too. The quarantines have crushed the dreams of our young athletes, and to some degree, added depression and stress to all of our lives. In an effort to save lives and our economy, we have supported decisions that may have harmed you.

We regret these tough choices, and know that we are always evaluating alternatives and are open to changes based on what we learn. 

Our COVID cases hit a record high on October 15th, the day after the fire started. Cases declined somewhat after that, but last week they began rising again. While recognizing that Grand County has zero death due to COVID so far, which is truly a silver lining, we ask for you to help slow the spread of the virus. Please respect each other by social distancing, washing your hands and wearing a mask when appropriate, per the statewide mask order instituted by the Colorado Governor. We respect every Grand County resident and simply ask that everyone continues to respect each other and their choices.

 As many are aware, the Grand Foundation started a wildfire assistance fund, and over $1.5 Million dollars has been raised. Many of our second home owners have opened their Grand County homes to evacuees and their families, including pets.  This is such a wonderful example that shows we are one community, one County united; we all love this place, and we stand by each other.  

These tragedies are enormous. But the goodness, love, and support far surpass the tragedies. We have many more tough weeks and months ahead. We ask that we help each other stay strong and help each other out. This means helping us too, let us know what you need, how we can help. Our email addresses are below, so please feel free to contact us.

WE ARE GRAND COUNTY STRONG and like the Rocky Mountains we live in, we will stand rock solid to any and all challenges. 

With Compassion,

Richard Cimino     |     Merrit Linke     |     Kristen Manguso
Grand County Commissioners


To the Editor

The East Troublesome Fire has been over for weeks now but its effects will be ongoing for years. Much has been reported in the newspapers, online and in the media. Many good points have been made, charities given to those who have lost their homes, insurance claims submitted and plans for the future decided. Some folks are going to leave, people who we need, who have been our friends or acquaintances. We will hate to see them go but we can’t really blame them, they need toact in their own best interests.

The authorities and especially the firefighters are to be commended. Grand Lake and the county came together with lots of outside help. Lessons have been learned that may help again in the future and hopefully finger pointing will be kept to a minimum.

The firestorm that happened on Wednesday, October 21st, was unusual in its speed and intensity. The scientists will be studying it minutely for a long time. One firefighter I knew told me he had never seen anything like it before and he’d seen a lot of conflagrations. What it did to people near it could be compared to the “fog of war” where lines of communication are cut off and events are happening very quickly. Mis-information reigns supreme during such crisis’s; second and third hand knowledge are entertained as true. It is said that a lie travels around the world before the truth puts its shoes on.

Even those on the scene can have it wrong due to panic, adrenaline, grief and outright fear. Some folks were told that their house was still there when it wasn’t. The lucky ones like myself were told that their house was burnt down when it wasn’t. 

Soldiers and emergency services are trained how to keep communications accurate while doing their jobs. The rest of us should take note and endeavor to delimit faulty information. Those mistakes can happen even faster in the information age.

Firefighters are sent into bad situations primarily to save lives, structures are secondary. Fire chiefs and incident commanders are entrusted with the lives of their men and much could be said of platoon leaders in war to bring up another comparison. Another friend of mine who has fought forest fires for years told me that at times, after a fire, people would ask him why they hadn’t saved their house. What was he to say; he was blackened with sweat, soot and ash. He had worked his ass off and risked his life to protect their area or town. Figure it out, he and his crew had done their best with the manpower and equipment available under the circumstances. Thank him! They couldn’t save everything and your house may have been cooked by the time they arrived and others not. A triage of sorts.

1988 was a drought year here in Grand Lake. Yellowstone was burning and we very well could have been at the time. Conditions were very similar in elevation, weather, moisture and foliage. Another factor was a forest that was largely lodgepole pine, a fire tree. Northern Colorado later experienced a pine bark beetle infestation that left behind large numbers of standing dead lodgepole, a bad situation.

Many locals here knew this place had to burn someday and were willing to take the risk of staying  put. Anyone who lives in the mountains of the west should be aware of this. After over one hundred years of fire suppression this place is loaded to the max with fuel. 

My suggestion is simply this. Fuel reduction is our last hope for saving towns, houses, and public lands. There is way too much of it to even put a dent in but your immediate area is a start. Thank your lucky stars when you hear a chainsaw in your neck of the woods or see hard working folks burning slash when the snow is on the ground, chipping it or taking some trees to the mill. That’s if  there is even a mill left around. It is dangerous hard work. The joke amongst some of the firefighters during the Yellowstone fires was,”We should have been loggers.” It’s that or the scorched earth and resulting erosion and watershed damage I am seeing out my back door. Sensible thinning would help! 

Bruce Knight

Grand Lake, CO


Since when did developing over riparian areas and through a wildlife corridor constitute as “environmental restoration”? 

Since when has our town councils become servants of out of town money and greed and not servants to their home and their neighbors? 

While the prospect of having higher education in the county is exciting, the proposed Denver University (DU) Mountain Campus has little benefit or tie to OUR community written in the reported plan. 

  1. Students arrive from out of town. This education would not be available to locals. 
  2. This mountain campus education would focus on water sustainability and plans to work with the ROAM development. The ROAM development which was built on a huge riparian area and wildlife corridor in winter park. An area biologists and wildlife management professionals urged the town NOT to allow because of the negative environmental impact it would have. Instead of listening to the professionals during the first meetings concerning ROAM the town instead turned a blind eye to their advice saying these out of town developers have a plan for preservation and restoration in that area (while bulldozing over these wetlands). So what avenue of “water sustainability” do you think these DU students will be doing when working “with the ROAM development”?
  3.  Education will also have a focus on rural growth development. Most real locals do not want more development in our towns, so then why would we want a program in our valley that promotes more “out of the box CAD” apartment models to go up in our town? 

Classes will be held at the Headwaters center. Students will be working with ROAM. Coincidentally, this DU partnership is spearheaded by the same developer that has put up both Headwaters and ROAM. 

They plan to have students as early as July 2021, which begs the question: When was the town going to tell the community that this was in the works? Programs like these don’t go up overnight which could elude to the thought that plans have already been approved and the town has kept the community in the dark about it until now. Maybe I’m wrong, but the track record of our town council’s approving plans without an appropriately timed public hearing before development starts (ROAM, Cozen’s meadow, etc.) is not good. Why should this DU project is any different? 

When will Winter Park and Fraser go back to the quirky mountain towns they were? Back to our “unique appeal” that it constantly used as the tagline to draw part-time homeowners here. How many of these recent developments have supported OUR culture as one of the “last true mountain towns”? We have lost our culture. We have indeed become a “new type of mountain town”, the same kind of mountain town that lines I-70 from Summit County to Vail. 

Marina Koepke

Fraser, CO


What are Democrats

Democrats are often very successful people! They see many problems in this country and the world which they perceive need fixing. They see Federal Government action as the fix. They believe in government is the solution for all problems. They are;

University professors and management.

Tech giants.

Business founder tycoons.

Hollywood’s most successful.

TV and newspaper top management and journalist.

High government officials elected and appointed.

They have been very successful in their respective carriers. They have come to believe that they have/are the solution to the countries and world problems. After all, look how successful they have been. They are the elite of their professions. Why not have them lead us in government? They righteously feel that people who don’t agree with them are not very bright and need them to show the way! Many of we ordinary folks feel that since they have been so successful it is only natural for them to lead us in government. They have almost unlimited resources. All they need to do is bring other elites into an administration to create a utopian society.

This reminds me of a joke. What do BS, MS. PhD stand for? Well everyone knows what BS stands for. MS is More of the Same and PhD is Piled Higher and Deeper! The truth about University Degrees is that; the higher the degree the more you know about less and less. The same is true about Techies, Actors, Journalists, Government Officials and Executives. Each has spent so much energy working in their niche they are largely ignorant of the rest of society. Their knowledge of economics is often nil.

I personally witnessed three extremely successful Company Founders (Arthur Collins/Collins Radio, Wm Norris/Control Data, Jesse Aweida/Storage Technology) drive their companies into or near bankruptcy. They came to believe that they couldn’t make a mistake. Many elites have come to believe similarly. All over the world elites have tried to create the utopian government and failed.

Those that enter politics sometimes see problems where none exists. They use intimidation, lies, distortion, blackmail, bribery – no limits – because they are so sure that they know best – that the means justify the ends. Most aren’t bad people, they simply don’t know best. The least government is the best government.

Frank B Watts

Winter Park Highlands


Letter to the Editor: Thank you staff, volunteers and partners

I would like to share my sincerest thanks to the Northwest Colorado Health staff, volunteers and community partners who have been a part of our work providing Home Health & Hospice services in Grand County since 2016. 

To our staff, both past and present – thank you for your dedication to our patients. Your compassion, skill and commitment to providing the highest quality of care for anyone who needed it have made an incredible impact for so many individuals and families. We have been fortunate to have exceptional Registered Nurses, Physical Therapists, Certified Nurse Aides, Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapist, and Medical Social Workers on our team in Grand County.

To our volunteers, you are an amazing group who have stepped up in many ways to care for your neighbors. You consistently answered the call to help families through the difficult transition of end-of-life, and you did it with kindness, selflessness and grace. Thank you. 

And to our many community partners and supporters, our work would not have been possible without you. Your donations, grant funding and referrals helped us serve so many with these vital services for four years. While we are saddened to leave this community, we are proud of the impact we have made for those in need of in-home care the past four years. 

Discontinuing our Home Health & Hospice services in Grand County was not an easy decision, or one made lightly. What we have come to know and love about Grand County is the strong sense of community, and the overwhelming amount of kindness apparent in its residents. We hope that Home Health & Hospice services will find a permanent home within Grand County. Please know that we are here as your neighbors to offer our support and guidance along the way. 

Thank you, 

Stephanie Einfeld

CEO, Northwest Colorado Health