Ernie Jenkins, longtime Steamboat Springs parks supervisor, retires
Throughout his 27 years managing and developing parks in Steamboat Springs, Ernie Jenkins was almost always the first and last person to leave an event. He was the man to stay late at the parks and recreation office every Friday, welcome the new employees and wear a Santa Claus hat during the holiday season.
“He is the glue of the parks and recreation office,” said Alexis Wolf, Steamboat recreation manager. “He has a positive impact on every person he comes in contact with.”
Surrounded by other Steamboat employees and his personal friends, Jenkins officially announced his retirement Friday at an outdoor ceremony in the Yampa River Botanic Park, a park he helped develop alongside Bob Enever, who built and funded the park in the 1990s.
Jenkins is leaving a long legacy behind, but most notably, he built Emerald Park, where he still spends nearly every day taking in the scenery and keeping the park in shape.
“A lot of people can’t wait to get to a city park and want to eat their lunch in a city park,” Jenkins said. “Building that park and seeing how popular it is and how much the community loves it was one of my favorite accomplishments.”
While Jenkins is best known for his work on the city’s many parks, his colleagues said they will remember him for his charismatic spirit and ability to build relationships with others in the department, whether they are teenagers starting their first job, young professionals taking a managerial position or experienced professionals taking their skills to Steamboat.
“He is the most dedicated city employee in my eyes and in my years here,” said Robbie Shine, ski and rodeo supervisor, who worked under Jenkins for 16 years. “Ernie taught me everything.”
Shine recalled one specific memory in which Triple Crown Baseball was in town, and Steamboat received a rainstorm on the night of the league’s first game, making it impossible for parks and recreation staff to prepare the field for the next day. Rather than getting frustrated or giving up, Jenkins got to the field at 5:30 a.m. the next day to prepare.
“He was always there,” Shine said.
Angela Cosby, the city’s parks and recreation director, said since she filled the role three years ago, Jenkins has had a unique ability to share his wisdom and help her feel comfortable in the job.
“He’s just welcomed by everyone, and he’s nourished and developed so many relationships between user groups and his staff members,” Cosby said. “We’ll be able to replace the technical skills but not the personality and not the man behind it that leads with that honor and respect for everyone.”
Others remembered Jenkins not only as a parks supervisor but as an iconic member of the community.
“He’s just always such an awesome, great guy,” said Emily Hines, marketing and special events coordinator for the parks and recreation department. Jenkins was her basketball coach growing up, and when she joined the parks and recreation team, he was the first to show her where the coffee maker was located in the office and how to fill out certain forms.
“He was the super helpful and fun mentor to be around,” Hines said.
The city has filled Jenkins’ position with a parks supervisor coming from the Front Range.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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