Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

Kellie Beran – Left Hand Laurel

Series: Left Hand Laurel | Story 1

September 18, 2019 | View PDF

Vicky Dorvee

Kellie Beran, president of the Left Hand Valley Grange No. 9 and former president of the Niwot Historical Society is this month's Left Hand Laurel recipient.

In the scheme of a community with a two block downtown, Left Hand Valley Grange No. 9 is almost a super structure. The austere corner building with a single third-story window at the peak makes for a big cream colored wall wrapping around the corner. A simple sign sits above the front door. The door is disproportionately small not just in comparison to the building's bulk, but because of all that has passed through it and what that entryway symbolizes.

A 35-year resident of Niwot, Kellie Beran loves the building that is the oldest active Colorado Grange and she loves what it stands for. Beran, this month's recipient of the Left Hand Laurel, was elected president of the Grange last year, but has been an active member and on the board for what she estimates to be 20-plus years.

"It's got a soul and a personality," Beran said. "We need to keep it as a viable community center for the town."

Her entrée into community involvement was attending a Niwot Historical Society (NHS) meeting, just to see what it was all about. She came out of that meeting as the new vice president of the organization. Two months later the president of NHS moved away and Beran rose to that position and remained there for many years. Overlap in activities with the historical society and the Grange led to her becoming a member of the Grange board too.

For the last 15 years she has been the volunteer point person for those who want to rent the building which entails daily work providing information, scheduling rentals, and collecting payments. Rental fees are what keep the Grange alive, and at this point it's just breaking even.

It's easy to misconstrue what the Grange's purpose is today given that it came about in a time when the area was farm-focused and it served as "the place" to mingle, dance, and discuss important issues. But the intention of the building is still crystallized in serving the community.

There are presently less than 10 people who are actively involved with the Grange – attending meetings, coming up with ideas for its use, promoting it, and performing the upkeep.

"It's a very small group so we need more volunteers just for us to get ourselves out there," Beran said.

In addition to wanting more members, the board of the Grange is hoping to welcome more community events. "Create the town you want to live in," Beran suggested.

One great example of that is the newly formed Willowdale Live, a production company hosting top-notch entertainment each month at the Grange. It's a win-win partnership that brings music to the community and financially supports the Grange.

Given so many other options these days, over time the Grange is no longer the only hub of social activity in town, but the organization is hoping to up the ante with a recent change in policy to allow alcohol to be served.

"We are there for the community and the more we can rent, the more we can afford to do things that we don't charge for," Beran said. A meeting place for seniors, children's playgroups, and educational events are a few ideas for free events.

The building lends itself well to parties, reunions, memorial services, art shows, performances, organizational meetings, psychic fairs, collectors of all kinds, dance, exercise and craft classes, scouting groups, and game nights. In addition to the main floor room, there's a beautiful upstairs room with hardwood floors and a stage, a kitchen, and two bathrooms.

Besides NHS and the Grange, Beran has also volunteered for events like the Jazz Festival and Nostalgia Day.

"Kellie has been an indispensable asset to the Grange over many decades," Grange treasurer Sue Wilson said. "Her contribution is substantial and consistent and is always provided with a welcome balance and sense of humor."

Beran thought she was moving from where she grew up in the Catskills to California when a stopover to visit her sister in Boulder led to putting down roots in Colorado instead. Then she met her husband of 31 years, Mark, who had a home in Niwot and she moved to the dirt road town back when it was very sleepy.


Fabulous Finds

Her day job is Vice-President of Finance and Operations for the outdoor footwear and apparel company La Sportiva North America in Boulder. She worked her way up from being their bookkeeper over 25 years ago and has been an integral part of the business as it grew thirty-fold.

Beran's spare time is spent heading to the mountains and hiking, and the couple owns a second home in Hawaii where they spend two months a year.

NHS President Kathy Koehler said, "Kellie Beran is a Niwot treasure. Her energy and organizational skills showed more than 20 years ago when she was Niwot Historical Society president and she rallied a team to move the Fire House Museum to its current site. Kellie is an outstanding volunteer and generous to the Niwot community."


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