Kremmling foundation taps worthy recipient for award: Perry Handyside

Without a Doubt/Larry Banman

The members of the West Grand Community Educational Foundation do a number of wonderful things for the community. They provide scholarships to high school students as well as adults. They have given money for various community endeavors.

They have supported the local county fair by sponsoring entertainment.

I am not a member of this particular organization, so I am sure the list above is just a sampling. In addition to the organization’s many philanthropic endeavors, it also takes time to honor a Citizen of the Year at its annual banquet in April.

I applaud the Foundation for giving this award. It is my understanding that the Foundation members look to give the award to an individual who exemplifies the spirit of community involvement and support. In our community, we hesitate to single out people for their actions. There is the danger that somebody will be overlooked, and we don’t like to do things that offend. I appreciate the fact that the Foundation takes the time and effort to recognize individuals who sacrifice time and put forth effort to make our community a better place in which to live. There is nothing wrong with saying thank you, and I see this award as an appropriate way to express appreciation.

For this year’s award, the Foundation selected Perry Handyside, the ranch manager for Blue Valley Ranch. In my opinion, this is a highly appropriate selection. It is has been my pleasure to observe the influence of Blue Valley and the Handyside family since they became a part of the community in 1994.

Kremmling is somewhat of a unique community in that the town is a true working-class, blue collar enclave. The town is surrounded by a number of ranches, several of which have been purchased by wealthy families or individuals.

We sometimes get cynical about the second-home owners, wondering why they don’t share more of their money. Personally, I don’t buy into that notion. First of all, I still believe that in America you have the right to keep the money that you earn and spend it in the manner in which you deem appropriate.

Second, there are a lot of employment opportunities those absentee owners provide to the people in Kremmling.

Third, Kremmling is surrounded by the kind of open space over which many communities drool. That would not be as likely if our family ranches were purchased by developers looking to add more subdivisions to the landscape. I come from a small farm in Kansas and I have a heart of family-owned business. The current economic landscape, however, makes that almost impossible to maintain.

Several of the absentee owners have been generous to the community. Blue Valley Ranch has certainly been a leader in that realm and Handyside, as manager of the ranch, has been the primary instrument of maintaining that involvement and commitment to the community.

My first contact with Handyside and Blue Valley Ranch was when I was the town manager of Kremmling. Police Chief Bob Bodemann came to me and said Handyside had offered to have Blue Valley Ranch underwrite the town’s youth soccer program. His only requests were that we buy quality equipment and uniforms and that none of the kids would have to pay an entry fee to participate. Bodemann also relayed a message to me that Blue Valley had a philosophy of community involvement and that employees of the ranch would be encouraged to be involved as volunteers within the community.

At the time, Kremmling was a cash-starved town and volunteer help was always at a premium. Those words were music to my ears. However, I also must admit to feeling a bit of skepticism along the line of “if-it-sounds-too-good-to-be-true-it-probably-is.” Kremmling had heard a few of those proclamations before and found them to wear thin over time.

It has been almost 14 years since that day. I have watched the ranch and employees operate. One of the main things I have observed is if Handyside and Blue Valley Ranch are involved with a project, you get the total package. The project is seen through to completion, it is done correctly and Blue Valley will ante up the resources and manpower that is necessary.

Over the years, I have observed numerous levels of involvement by Handyside and Blue Valley Ranch. Some of the actions were fairly well publicized, like Forward Motion and the technology grant to the school district. Many more actions flew under the radar and Handyside often asked not to be recognized.

Part of that was probably to keep from being inundated with requests for help and money but mostly, I think, it was more in keeping with a philosophy that recognition and accolades were not the motivation for the actions. I could fill a couple of pages with anecdotes and stories of involvement, but I will respect the request for anonymity.

It is probably time to acknowledge that the efforts within the community by Blue Valley Ranch and Handyside are genuine.

I have worked side-by-side with Perry on a couple of boards and have come to appreciate his values, his wisdom and his management acumen. I have learned many lessons about how to evaluate a situation and proceed with the most appropriate course of action. Perry has always spoken about the value of education and the fact that education does not stop when formal education ceases. His life is an example of that precept. I am glad that Blue Valley brought the Handyside family to our community.

Congratulations, Perry, this honor is well deserved.

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