Be a Grand County local: Volunteer |

Be a Grand County local: Volunteer

Autumn Phillips
Grand County, Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

What does it take to be a local?

Is it the number of years you spend here? Or the number of generations?

Is it home ownership? Is it the job you hold, the business you own or your friends you keep?

No, said Kirk Klancke. You become a local when you start to give back to the community.

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In 1971, Klancke moved to Fraser when he was 19 with his wife Marianne.

“I gave up a football scholarship,” he said. “Marianne was paying her way through art school.

“We knew nothing about the future. We both agreed upon Fraser and I still feel I made the right choice. I chose Marianne and I chose Fraser.”

As a weight lifting football player, Kirk found work easily as a hod carrier for a stonemason.

New to the area, Marianne and Kirk befriended three elderly women ” Evelyn, Hazel and Minnie.

The women lived in a cabin with no electricity and no running water.

“They would bring a jug to the post office and fill it up, and that was their water supply,” Kirk said. “They were true pioneers.”

Kirk would haul firewood for the women and help them with maintenance work.

“My reward was that they would sit down for hours and show me boxes of pictures of Fraser,” he said. “That’s when we started becoming locals. The old timers saw that we were OK. We were hippies, but they saw some redeeming value in us.”

The three elderly women were the executor of Doc Susie’s estate and were the most important reference for Virginia Cornell’s book about the first female doctor in the Fraser Valley.

Through their stories, Kirk learned to appreciate his new home. And he learned a valuable life lesson.

“I learned the reward of helping people,” he said. “For everything you give, you receive greater.

“I have gotten more out of helping people than the effort I put into it.”

More than three decades and as many years of community service later, Kirk Klancke is scheduled to receive the Michael Muftic Service Above Self Award from the Winter Park/Fraser Rotary Club at the group’s annual dinner on April 4. The public is invited.

Over the years, Kirk ” many times with the encouragement or partnership of his wife ” has worked on various community projects from helping to build the Old School Town Park in downtown Fraser and building and maintaining the community ice rink. He was the chair of the 9Health Fair for 15 years and served as president of the Fraser Cemetery Board, where his father is buried. He has served on the Fraser Sanitation District Board, on the East Grand Water Quality Board as president and as president of the Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited ” to name a few.

“My theory is that this community is too small for government to do everything,” he said. “So, half of what needs to get done is done by volunteers.

“There are a lot of volunteers in our county and that’s what makes our community such a great place to live.”

Fraser resident Andy Miller has known Kirk Klancke since 1978.

“He’s the one person I turn to whenever I run into a bind,” Miller said. “He’s the one person who never says no, no matter what you ask.”

He credits Klancke with helping him propose ” and possibly get passed ” a piece of state legislation that makes roof catchment water a legal source of water for rural residents who are not connected to municipal water systems.

Senate Bill 80, unanimously passed the Senate this week.

Colorado water law forbids rainwater catchment. Rainwater and snowmelt must, by law, be allowed to move freely into rivers and streams for water rights holders. The bill is going to the House this week.

“We needed a water source for the a cabin through the Grand Huts Association and Kirk is our water adviser,” Miller said. “If this bill passes, it will be great for all the huts in Colorado who live off of snowmelt, but are not doing so legally.”

When Miller first approached Klancke, they tried to acquire water rights for the cabin, but later decided legislation was the right way to go.

“He directed me to the right people who helped us craft the legislation.

“He’s good at figuring out solutions to big problems. He finds a way to make it work. He doesn’t recognize limits.”

” To reach Autumn Phillips call 887-3334 ext. 19600 or e-mail

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