12/01/2008 01:00 ● Published by Jennie Lay
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by Jennie LayGone Country - Jerad Lacovetto If you’ve lived in the Yampa Valley long enough, it’s easy to see the changes. The local economy is nopowered by snow-covered slopes and fashion-clad skiers instead of the open range and the dirty, dusty cowboy. No one has seen their lifestyle altered more in the last 30 years than the Routt County rancher – a modern Steamboat Springs pop-symbol. And no one represents this tradition more gracefully – or more handsomely, as many women would attest – than Jerad Iacovetto. “Since the early 1990’s, it’s been tough to make a living strictly off ranching,” he says. “Nobody’s happy about it but what are you going to do?” Jerad greup raising cattle. His family summered their herds here in the Yampa Valley and trucked them to Greeley for the winter where Jerad attended high school. While the Iacovetto name is synonymous with ranching in Steamboat, it was actually his mother’s family – the Thompson’s – that ran the ranching segment of the family business. Jerad has adapted to changes in the ranching way of life Today, that business has changed dramatically and Jerad has adjusted seamlessly. During the summer, the family’s Saddle Back Ranch still runs cattle but offers tourists the opportunity to get in on the action. From September through November, Jerad and his family guide hunting trips. During the winter, the ranch turns into a veritable winter playground with romantic sleigh rides, snowmobile tours and tubing for the kids. “I pretty much do a little bit of everything around here,” he says. “My job changes with the season and that keeps things interesting.” At 30, Jerad is a fourth generation rancher in the valley and he wants to make sure that tradition remains part of Steamboat. “It’s starting to get lost in everything else that’s going on,” he says. “We’re going to continue to shopeople what life was like here in the Yampa Valley. What is the most lasting image of Steamboat? It’s two people riding horses in front of a barn. That’s the Western Heritage we don’t want to lose.” Cataloguing Life - Alysa Selby Alysa Selby organizes Yampa Valley history. Photo courtesy of Joe Carberry. Growing up in California, Alysa Selby was a fiction junkie who chose her bedtime stories for maximum girth. She dreamed of someday reading for a living. But life is full of chapters. Alysa’s chapters included studying geology and geography at UC Davis, earning cash as a blackjack dealer in Lake Tahoe and leading bike tours all over the world. She married the hero of her life’s novel, Chris, who brought her to Steamboat Springs. Then her fairy tale kicked in: Alysa took a job at the Bud Werner Memorial Library. For the past six years, she has captained the reference desk, “the job I always wanted,” she says. Noa nonfiction fanatic, the aspiring soprano and devoted meditation practitioner loves research and recommending books. She also loves to index. That’s right, we said index. Alysa finds solace in a task many find mundane. “I feel it to be a very Zen activity,” she says. With an expanding library, Alysa will become Steamboat’s nesystems librarian. “I’m e-Bud,” she says. She’ll soon disappear into the library shadows to manage its extensive Web services, organizing “delicious pathways to the right information.” Laying the trail for Routt County’s presence in Colorado’s Historic Newspaper Project is one of Alysa’s most notable organizational undertakings to date. In November, all of Routt County’s historic newspapers went online – the Steamboat Pilot, the Yampa Leader, Hayden’s Routt County Republican, the Routt County Sentinel and the Oak Creek Times. Thanks to Alysa’s fundraising and passion for history, all local newspapers through 1923 are nofree and publicly accessible, digitally visible in their original broadsheet display. Ads, obituaries, photo captions – all available to search by word. To gather old issues, Alysa combed through bound archives at the Steamboat Pilot, waded through boxes of donors’ yellowing newspapers and collected crumpled copies being used to insulate Old Town walls. And in Lulita Crawford Pritchett, an avid local historian and granddaughter to Steamboat’s founders, Alysa found a heroine. After Lulita’s death, her children discovered countless boxes of old Steamboat newspapers stowed away. “(Lulita) was a librarian at heart. She indexed everything,” Alysa says. “It’s amazing what she did with paper.” As a 21st century librarian, Alysa aspires to carry Lulita’s tradition into the digital age. “In my perfect world, we should be better than Google,” she says. “A library needs to be at the forefront, with not just the most, but the best, information.” Search Routt County’s historic newspapers at www.coloradohistoricnewspapers.org.School Master - Rick Denney Keys to success? For Rick Denney, it's a team effort. Photo courtesy of Corey Kopischke. Like so many of us, Rick Denney came to Steamboat for the “deep powder,” hoping to work a little and ski a lot. But 30 years later, the director of facilities for the Steamboat Springs School District is working more than he planned. Rick is overseeing construction of the neSoda Creek Elementary, the addition to Strawberry Park Elementary, a middle school and high school transportation project, a security upgrade and a playground replacement. And that doesn’t even include the everyday maintenance of all four schools. “I’m always looking for creative solutions to problems,” he says. Such was the case a feyears back during one of Steamboat’s infamous deep freezes. “It was cold here, but up in Wyoming it was 50 below,” Rick says. “The gas supplier up there was having all sorts of problems and they had to shut down. We were told that we had to turn off the heat for the schools or there wouldn’t be enough pressure to supply heat to Steamboat. So we shut everything down.” Instead of sitting back and watching his facilities freeze, Rick kicked into action. “We turned on every light, every computer, every coffee pot. Anything that was capable of giving out a BTU,” he says. “Then we turned on every faucet and flushed all the toilets over and over again. We had no heat for 24 hours. When it came back on we didn’t have a single broken pipe.” And much to the students’ disappointment – and Rick’s delight – not a day of school was cancelled. Even though Rick has been called an unsung hero by felloco-workers, he’s quick to point out that he’s only a"conductor,” conducting contractors, architects, engineers and maintenance personnel. “I have a band of people who keep things going who should be getting the credit,” he says. “The reward I get is when I walk through the schools and see all these little kids running around and learning. That’s when I knoit’s all worth it.” Kelly /Meek, drilling in his message. Photo courtesy of Corey Kopischke. High School Basketball Coach - Kelly Meek Kelly Meek is an institution. This is Kelly’s 34th year as the Steamboat Springs High School head basketball coach, and he has groomed one of the most successful teams on the Western Slope. Steamboat has ranked in the state’s top ten 31 of Kelly’s 33 seasons, including last year when it was undefeated in Western Slope 4A league play. “We made it to the state playoffs, but got knocked out in the final eight,” Kelly says. “The boys played great but it’s hard to compete with the Front Range schools that are two to three times bigger than us. I was really proud of them.” What has kept Kelly dedicated to coaching for more than three decades? “We’re a family,” he says. “I get attached to the players, so does my wife. When our girls were growing up, they were part of our family. We’ve had really wonderful times together.” His secret to success is simple. “I demand hard work and dedication, and make sure the boys understand this level of intensity and unselfishness,” Kelly says. “We’re a team, not individual players. I call it team-ism. This naturally leads to fun and success.” Kelly practices his philosophy. During the off-season, including summer, he works most days with the players in the weight room or on the court, preparing them for a season that runs from November through March. During the winter, it’s all basketball all the time, save Sundays. “You always need one day off a week,” he says. “We play 22 games before the playoffs, with roughly 11 out of town. It can be tiring.” This demanding demeanor can sometimes rub athletes the wrong way, but they admit they come out the better for it. “He’s not afraid to get in players’ faces,” says former Sailor Tatum Heath. “But there’s no doubt, he cares a lot about his kids and would do anything to help them.” Many former players return to the “family,” to share their life experiences. “When past players return to town to watch a game, I like to bring them into practice to talk with the kids,” says Kelly. “I like them to reflect on high school and basketball. On what they found valuable, and on what they regret.” “I demand a lot from these boys, there is no doubt about it,” Meek says. “But not only am I teaching them about basketball, I’m teaching them about life. I hope that I am able to teach them hoto be the best husbands and fathers they can be. That it’s not always about yourself. It’s about seeing past yourself. It’s about being part of the team.”