“Freedom from tyranny” celebrated at Rollinsville Independence Day Parade

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Timberline Fire Protection District observes opening of Rollinsville station

By Patty Unruh

Independence Celebration

  “Whoo-eee! We’re free!”

  That was the rallying cry at the 130th annual Rollinsville Independence Day parade and festivities held Saturday, August 2. The casual, fun event kicked off with a welcome and speech by Mayor Tim Underwood, who addressed the crowd from the steps of the Wild West Mercantile in Rollinsville. He gave a brief biography of the town’s founder and the reason for the celebration.

  “John Quincy Adams Rollins was a statesman, orator, promoter, farmer, freighter, and prominent mining executive who lived in Gilpin County in the 1860’s and ‘70’s,” Underwood reported. Rollins is remembered for building a wagon road from the Rollinsville area over Boulder Pass connecting the eastern and western slopes, and Rollinsville became a prominent stop between Nederland and Black Hawk-Central City at the time.

  Rollins did not approve of gambling halls, dance halls, or saloons. Since he owned the town, he could make the rules, so he prohibited those establishments. Of course, that did not sit well with the townsfolk, so after Rollins finally gave up control of the town, the citizens established the annual jubilee. As Underwood put it, “we’re celebrating our independence from the tyranny of the town’s founder.”

  (By the 1920’s, three saloons, a pool hall, a blacksmith shop, and a dance hall occupied the small town, but most of those burned in a 1950 fire.)

  After recalling the history, it was time for the fun part. Shots from Underwood’s pistol – blanks fired into the air – were answered by a couple of other blasts, and the parade got under way. Although small, it was enthusiastically received and included American flag and POW-MIA flag bearers in Western regalia, Timberline Fire Protection District trucks and retired firefighters, a fine pair of draft horses pulling a cart loaded with children, a vintage Jeep towing a cannon, a number of individuals on foot, various dogs, and a few local politicians. Notably, write-in sheriff’s candidate Jake Adler participated, along with his supporters; Adler grew up in Rollinsville. State Senator Jeanne Nicholson waved to the crowds from the back of a Ford pickup. Other candidates striding along included Colleen Stewart, candidate for county clerk, Linda Isenhart for county commissioner, and Anne Schafer for assessor.

  After all entries had paraded down the main thoroughfare to wholehearted applause, it was unanimous – “Let’s do it again!” So around they came one more time. The grand finale was the scooping of the horses’ deposits from the road.

  Other activities scheduled were a pig roast, five live bands appearing at the Stage Stop Restaurant, fire truck rides provided by the Timberline Fire Protection District, food and art vendors, games, and free shuttles to Nederland.

  Underwood incidentally noted that the 2010 census showed Rollinsville with a population of 253 and that in 1881, it was about 200. The citizens of the small community don’t stand on ceremony, but do what they need to do.

  “Since we are unincorporated, the mayor’s position is not official. I only stepped up as mayor five weeks ago, when the former mayor, ‘Brown Dog’ (an actual dog) died at the age of eleven,” Underwood commented. “Brown Dog is a hard act to follow,” he joked. “He was the most honest politician I’ve ever known.”

TFPD Grand Opening

  Following the Rollinsville parade, Timberline Fire Protection District (TFPD) hosted a grand opening reception and recruitment drive at its new Fire Station Number 9 located in the public works building at 135 Tolland Road in Rollinsville. TFPD’s new fire engine and equipment were on display, and cake and other refreshments were served. TFPD volunteers also provided giveaways, including light-up key chains, kids’ firefighter hats, pencil sharpeners, and wristbands.

  The new station fills a big need. TFPD Board President Jim Crawford said, “Twenty percent of our call volume comes from the Rollinsville area.” He remarked that it was a challenge to find a building to use in the area and also said the boundaries have not yet been defined that the new station will serve.

  TFPD has the use of two bays and the office in the Rollinsville building. As yet, there is no sign on the building denoting the fire station, but Crawford said there would be signage eventually.

  “It’s different being a tenant,” he observed, “but the County has been good to work with.”

  From a wildfire perspective, it has been a quiet summer. Calls have mainly consisted of responses to a handful of minor lightning strikes and a few unattended campfires. The weather, Crawford said, has been helpful.

  He said the fire department has traditionally emphasized urging people to do fire mitigation around their homes, but the focus is shifting to preparing them for the possibility of evacuation. The department’s “Ready, Set, Go!” program helps prepare folks to take personal responsibility for protecting themselves and their property in case of a wildland fire threat.

  “The ‘ready’ part is mitigation,” Crawford said. “The ‘set’ and ‘go’ parts mean evacuation. In the last few major fires in Colorado, it’s become clear that people are not ready to evacuate. They must put together what they will need and decide what is replaceable and what is irreplaceable.” Most possessions can be covered by insurance, he related, but things like family photo albums cannot be replaced. Those types of things, along with basic living necessities, should be boxed up and ready to go quickly.

  TFPD volunteer Gail Maxwell was pleased about the progress the department has made in recent years. She mentioned improvements in equipment, safety, and training. “I was the chairman when we changed from High County to Timberline,” she noted. “Those times were painful, but it’s exciting to watch our expansion. It’s bringing the community together.”

  This was the first in a series of open houses that TFPD is hosting to celebrate new station openings. The next one will be a barbecue on August 13 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Highway 46 and Smith Hill Road to open Station Number 8; a board meeting will follow. There is also a volunteer recruitment open house and barbecue on August 21 at 7 p.m. at station 3, 660 Highway 46.

  TFPD is looking for new members to help staff the new stations, along with its existing stations, and hope people in the area will join them in providing outstanding emergency services to the Timberline community.

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