Grand County manager to be honored for ‘Service Above Self’ |

Grand County manager to be honored for ‘Service Above Self’

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, CO Colorado
Lurline Underbrink Curran

She wears a pink rubber bracelet on her wrist daily, a reminder that she is a survivor of breast cancer.

Lurline Underbrink Curran, manager of Grand County, discovered she had the disease from a mammogram at Kremmling Memorial Hospital in October of 2008.

Following that discovery was 21 weeks of chemotherapy and four surgeries that included three lumpectomies and a mastectomy.

Now deemed cancer-free, she will celebrate the one-year anniversary of her last day of chemotherapy on May 21.

During it all, while wearing a variety of hats to hide the loss of her hair, Underbrink Curran continued to oversee the county’s business.

Her breast cancer treatments coincided not only with historic water negotiations, but the county’s budgeting for a recession-hit economy, back-to-back county building construction and remodel projects and a major change in countywide trash disposal that, in effect, will mothball two Grand County landfills.

“When dealing with something like (breast cancer), the more normalcy you keep in your life, the more normal you feel,” she said, “so it was a lifesaver to me, because when I was here and couldn’t see myself in the mirror of how I really looked, I felt like I was me. And that was important.”

Cancer, she said, forced her to reassess what’s valuable in life.

She is now taking time for family and the smaller things, she said, and she has extreme empathy for anyone affected by cancer.

“You really prioritize what’s important,” she said. “I’ve heard many people say, ‘we’re all going to die someday.’ Yeah, that’s easy to say, but when it’s really in your face, you start thinking about the things you haven’t done or put off, start thinking about your children and your grandchildren. It makes you look at things differently.”

For her dedication and community involvement on issues ranging from county operations to education, Lurline Underbrink Curran is about to be honored with the “2010 Michael Muftic Service Above Self” award from the Rotary Club of Winter Park and the Fraser Valley.

Her institutional knowledge runs deep in Grand County, having been employed as manager for the past decade and previously as Grand County’s planning director for 17 years. Her husband Paul Grant, formerly a Grand County planning director, originally hired her into that department.

Underbrink Curran’s role has lead her into becoming a key negotiator for West Slope water interests, protecting the headwaters and the interests of irrigators with command of the subjects and a rare dedication.

“Her knowledge of the water issues here is unsurpassed,” said Grand County Commissioner Nancy Stuart. “It comes from lots of research, reading and digging in. And when she’s sitting in the room with the water buffalos, she’s at level with them, and I commend her for that.”

It is not unusual to see the county manager in the office by 7 a.m., then traveling to Denver to meet with stakeholders of the Denver Water Board or Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, then returning to the office to finish the day.

“I like being involved with the water because it’s an issue so important to Grand County, not only today but in the future,” she said.

A Grand County resident since second grade, Underbrink Curran grew to become a steward in the community in other areas, serving on a series of boards such as the West Grand School Board, the Rural Health Network and the Kremmling Sanitation District.

After many years as a diehard fan of the West Grand Mustangs – from alum to board member – she’s now having to “switch gears,” she said, and root for the Middle Park Panthers, with two of five grandchildren attending the East Grand School District.

She is a graduate of Regis University, where she studied religious studies for her undergraduate degree and business administration and organizational development for her minors, then psychology for her masters degree. She was accepted as a member of the honor society, Alpha Sigma Nu – an organization committed to living the ideals of “scholarship, loyalty and service.”

In guiding the county into the next decade, Underbrink Curran can’t help but gush about the community she calls home, the place where she grew up and where she has raised her children.

“It’s the greatest place to live,” she said. “I love the seasons here, I love the people, I just love Grand County.

“So then, by being able to be in on some decisions that hopefully set up the future to be as good as the past, that’s a gift that many people don’t get. And I feel like I’ve been given this great gift.”

– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail

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