Craig man establishes reputation as beacon of light |

Craig man establishes reputation as beacon of light

Jeremy Browning

Although it flickered briefly in recent weeks, “the star” on top of the sandrocks has been restored to its former brightness after several residents called local dispatchers in concern for the holiday landmark.

Jackie Balleck, a dispatcher for nine years, said she received calls from citizens who reported, “We just wanted to let you know the star is out.”

Concerned onlookers thought perhaps vandals had played a part.

Balleck knew who to call.

“We just notified John,” Balleck said.

John Allen has been involved with the star since the late 1980s, when the Junior Chamber of Commerce set it up each year.

When the JCs folded, the star went out for years, until it was resurrected, again with Allen, this time as a member of the Big Gulch Better Community Club.

Balleck called Allen this year to report the star lost its light. Allen, who worked for Yampa Valley Electric Association for 15 years, said it was an easy fix.

Vandals weren’t to blame. It was only a simple electrical problem.

“A ground fault circuit went bad,” Allen said. “It probably got water in it and shorted.”

Allen has been involved in every phase of the star’s life. The frame was built out of aluminum in the shop at Allen’s ranch.

And each year, Allen enlists some help to put the star up again.

The star sits atop a telescoping pole that retracts down to 10 or 15 feet tall. Allen and his help affix about 10 strings of Christmas lights to the star and crank the telescoping pole, which lifts the star to its final 30 or 40 foot height.

“It takes five or six people to handle it,” Allen said.

Allen likes to put the star up in time for the Parade of Lights. He takes it down after the New Year begins.

The holiday landmark reminds Allen of his days growing up in Arizona.

“In my childhood I remember seeing stars on

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