David E. Steiner

Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon

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Our Government


Last month you may have read a letter to the editor which urged us to be participants in our volunteer fire department. The writer also chastised those who criticize without participating, suggesting that those who don’t take part should be silent: “For those not willing to sacrifice to this cause, yet at the same time speak out against the efforts of those who do, I hope that you can do so in a clear conscience,” wrote Jim Sullivan.

It sounds like a good idea. Unfortunately many of us, for one good reason or another, can’t be active participants in the fire department. Does that mean we may not express our feelings, our observations, our hopes, our suggestions, and, yes, even our criticisms? What a strange country this would be if that were the case; certainly it would be a very different kind of country, and not one where most of us would want to live. Americans, more than any others, hold the right to speak out about our government as one of the most fundamental and highly valued components of our way of life, central to our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Without the right to inveigh our government, we would be an unhappy lot indeed.

In our valley the Fire and Water Boards are pretty much all the government we have, and anyone who volunteers to be a part of it has to understand that it’s always open season and citizens are going to exercise their right to say what they think about how they do their job.

The recent Fire Board election resulted in two new members. They will have problems, both old and new, and they will do their best to solve them. Some of us will be happy with those solutions and some will not, and we can expect the usual sniping from malcontents, both well-meaning and otherwise. That’s the way we are and it isn’t going to change. The Board has already made one small but significant and healthy change, by holding meetings in the evening rather than in the morning, so more people will be able to attend and bring to the board their ideas and suggestions in person. Some will think that’s a good idea, some will not, and they will freely voice their opinions. The first amendment guarantees them that right.

Most of us know that volunteering is a largely thankless and time consuming effort. It would be hard to estimate the amount of time Randy Good and Bruce Kester, no longer on the Fire Board, gave to the community, but it’s safe to say it was substantial. For their time and trouble they suffered quite a bit of vituperation, some of it in these pages. And, like most volunteers, (it’s important to remember that there are many more volunteers than just those in the Fire Department) they received many fewer thanks than they deserved. It’s certainly no secret that I disagreed with many of the actions and policies of the Board when Randy and Bruce were members. But it’s important to note that they participated, endured the invective and did what they thought was best for the community.

We often say to visitors, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes. It’ll change.” Much the same is true about our socio-political structure. Those of us who have been here for half a century or so have learned to roll with the punches, recognizing that things will soon change, not necessarily for the better. We’re a small, insular community, and we have a rapid turnover. Movers and shakers appear among us, stay for a few years and move on. People who live here full time for more than 30 years are a rarity. But whether for a few years or a lifetime, we all have value and we all have something to give. Randy and Bruce did their best, and the community should be grateful to them.




© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner

Allenspark Wind Columns:


Why Allenspark?

Going Riding [August, 1985]


Used Cars

Peace and Quiet [1986]

Liberals & Conservatives

Going to the Movies

The Screened Porch

The Beginning of The Season

The Weather

The Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The End of The Season

The Gift of Time

The Beavers

Addresses [1987]


Watching the Trees Grow

Postal Rates

Changes in Estes Park

Square Dancing at the Pow Wow

Back to the Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The Solstices

Bird Feeders


The Estes Park Hardware Store [1988]


Limousine Service

A Memorial Service

A Hummingbird


A Hiking Trip

The Estes Park Public Library

Wild Life

Riparian Rights [1989]




Mountain Friendliness

A Motorcycle Trip

Satellite Television

“Weaving Mountain Memories”

Hotel Rates in the Old Days

The Price of Propane [1990]

The Front Range Almanac


Modes of Transportation

Miller Moths

My 50th Column

Modern Conveniences

Rock Climbing

On the Death of Otto Walter, Postmaster

Otto’s Memorial Service

A Big Owl Pot-Luck Dinner

A Whine About Telephone Service [1991]

After the Persian Gulf War

Some Changes in the WIND

The Trip to the Mountains

The Mountains in the Summer


Of Dogs, Music, and Children

Muhlenburg County

To My Grandson

The Sale of Longs Peak Inn

World War II  [1992]

Murphy’s Law and the Computer

The South St. Vrain Canyon


The Hazards of Volunteering

Crime in Our Valley


On the Death of Charles Eagle Plume

Can We All Get Along?

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Lost Horizon [1993]


Rumors About a Visit by the Pope


More About Fences


The Visit of Pope John Paul II

Forest Fires

The New Sewage System

The Snow Pool

The Good Old Days [1994]

The WIND’s 20th Anniversary

The Bunce School

The Shooting Gallery

The Estes Park Museum

Our Government

U.S. West Takes a Hit

The Year of the Hummingbirds

A New “Yield” Sign

Growth in Allenspark

Private Telephones?

The Salvation Army

Creation Science [1995]

Devolutionizing Big Government



Fort D.A. Russell

Domestic Terrorism

Old and New

Barney Graves

Life in the Wilderness

What’s In a Name?

Arthur C. Clarke


The Estes Park Trail-Gazette Columns:

July 1983


Estes Cone

Johnny Grant

Observations in Estes Park

The Bath House


The Sutherland’s Ice House

How Old is Charles Eagle Plume?


Christmas Trees

Tree Murder

Mountain Driving


Mail Boxes

More About Mail Boxes

“Are you related to ....?”


An Accident

The Wild Cat

A July Reunion

A Visit to Baldpate Inn

Opening Cabins


The Times, They Have Changed

Death and Transfiguration

The Population Explosion

The March of Time

Faith-Based Social Services

Looking for Pitch

Recent Writings I

Recent Writings II

Recent Writings III

Recent Writings IV

Recent Writings V

Recent Writings VI



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