Too young to retire but too old to shovel the 300-500 inches of annual snowfall in Steamboat Springs, Kathy and Jeff Hirschboeck moved to Cedaredge several years ago, where they've done more than settle into the area -- they, like many of their newcomer neighbors, have stepped up to help shape and move the community to new heights.
When friends asked the Hirschboecks what on earth they were going to do in Cedaredge, Kathy's answer was, "Well, pretty much what we're doing in Steamboat." Accustomed to Colorado's plethora of outdoor adventures, Kathy and Jeff found this area appealing for its mountain biking, hiking, rafting, golfing and proximity to skiing. They were pretty sure they were going to end up in Salida, but instead decided to visit Cedaredge to "check it off the list." Instead, they took one look at Grand Mesa with its fairytale lakes, the recreation center in Delta and the natural beauty of the area, and decided this was to be their next home. They looked at one home in the golf course subdivision in Cedaredge, and bought it on the spot.
The couple moved here in 2007, and in the past 10 years, they've noticed an influx of folks moving to the area, specifically to the neighborhood adjacent to the golf course. "This golf course is attracting people who are really getting involved in the community," Kathy said. Not quite the "retirement village" Cedaredge can sometimes have the reputation of being, instead the Hirschboecks have seen a much younger, more active crowd come in. "The people who are moving here are not Sun City people," Kathy joked. "People aren't moving here to play shuffleboard and die." Instead, she thinks, those moving here tend to be more engaged, active, outdoorsy and hearty. She points to friends who come here and immediately jump on board to help with or volunteer at the area's animal shelters, food banks, historical societies and other nonprofits. They have acquaintances who've started bands, run for town governments, or tried their hand at planning commissions. They've funded new art galleries and they've gotten involved in golf course operations. "There are a lot of people who just love the small community and who see opportunities to get involved. And they're jumping right in," Kathy said. "They have a lot to give."
The Hirshboecks, too, have a lot to give. Jeff plays a lot of golf, and is the cart guy at Cedaredge Golf Club one day a week. In Steamboat, he was on the ski patrol and helped with avalanche control. Now a season pass holder at Powderhorn, he's getting involved with that resort, too.
Kathy's career in Steamboat saw her marketing the ski area on an international scale, and volunteering with the Steamboat chamber to market the area's summer events. Tourism is her passion, she explained, and for the past seven years, she has volunteered for the Delta County Tourism Cabinet; she is currently the chairperson. The cabinet is finalizing its new marketing campaign, logo and slogan, which is "Delta County Fresh," an idea Kathy is excited about. "Fresh," she said, can be used in so many unique ways to promote Delta County, from fresh food to fresh air to fresh perspectives. Tourism, she explained, is a vital sector of the economy that includes many businesses already in place, like specialty stores, shops, restaurants and lodging. Plus, tourism brings a vitality and energy to a community. "Tourism creates more opportunities," she said, and pointed to the start up business Western Slope SUP as an example. "We don't have to be Disneyland," she said. "Offering real experiences -- from agriculture to recreation -- has more value than fake experiences."
That brand of tourism will also help Delta County keep its own unique flavor. "This county wants to keep what we have, but we don't want to stagnate," she said. "We want to get the word out without exploiting the area. We're taking some baby steps, but we're stepping. We just need to go forward and do the best we can with what we have. But we have to keep going forward."
Another project she said she's excited to see is the work being done on trails and recreation within the county -- that project points to the desire for overall more connectivity within Delta County, both for a trail system and for more connectivity between communities. "It's great to see the whole county being connected. We need to realize we're not islands," she said. "We're all in this together -- to be successful, the connectivity has to be there."
The connection of ideas, too, is something that resonates with her. "Growth is not a bad thing. It can bring progress and change," she said. The recent newcomers to the area bring energy, vitality and new ideas, and others can feed off of that energy to spark some positive change. "There are some people who moved here because of the Delta County lifestyle, and they aren't going to sit around and complain -- they're going to get up and do something," she said.
That's a mentality that the Hirschboecks prove time and again as they get involved in different organizations, events and issues in both the Surface Creek Valley and in the county. "This is a good place to call home. We'll always love Steamboat, but we'll always love Cedaredge too," they said.