Meeker County commissioner shows no sign of slowing |

Meeker County commissioner shows no sign of slowing

Jamie Hallman

Although Forrest Nelson is getting closer to the age of retirement, he has no interest in slowing down.

Nelson manages his ranch and horse business and is a county commissioner for Rio Blanco County.

“He is the hardest working person I know. He is always going 100 miles an hour — working on the ranch, doing his horse business, playing with his grandkids (his favorite job), being involved in county work and committee — and being on top of it all,” his daughter, Kathy Collins, said.

Nelson laughs lightly when asked if he has any spare time but he doesn’t mind working hard for the better good of the people around him.

“It’s good to give back to the community,” he said.

As a youth, he moved with his family to Meeker in 1955 and his father started a ranch in the area.

Nelson said he graduated from Meeker High School with 33 students. He said six to seven of his fellow high school graduates still live in the area.

Nelson has spent a good portion of his close to 50 years in Meeker serving in public offices or on boards.

He was on the planning commission for 12 years, the fair board for 20 years, the school board, the REA and is starting his third year as county commissioner.

“I think Dad is great commissioner — he tells it like it is and doesn’t take criticism personally,” Collins said. “He is very knowledgeable about so many things and he has the ability to look at things logically.”

For Nelson, community service is an important part of his life but he also spends equal amounts of time with his family as well as managing his cattle, horse and sheep ranch.

He said ranching is an inseparable part of his life and even when he gets older he still plans on keeping his ranch operating on a smaller scale.

Nelson said his family has been in the ranching business for five generations.

Nelson’s wife, Connie, works in the school administration office in Meeker, and his two grown children are Kathy and Chris.

Kathy is a teacher at the Meeker Elementary School and Chris has a livestock sales business in California.

Nelson said he really enjoys having his daughter near by.

“We get to spoil her,” he said. Kathy has a daughter and Nelson said it is special to have a grandchild so close.

He said he is excited to see his granddaughter reach an age where she can start participating in 4-H and other programs like Kathy did in her youth. He said that when Kathy and Chris were growing up, they were actively involved in 4-H and Connie and he served as 4-H leaders while their children were growing up.

The Nelsons used their lifetime of ranching knowledge to instill the necessary skills of livestock judging to youth in 4-H.

“Both of my parents had a huge influence on me growing up,” Collins said. “We were raised to do our best at everything and always give 100 percent. We both still are very much that way with our own kids and families.”

Chris has three boys and they make yearly visits to see Nelson and Connie.

“We don’t have much time with them but when they do get here, we enjoy it,” he said.

Collins said Meeker was a great place to grow up but Chris and she were encouraged by their parents to be independent and find out what the “real world” was like.

Collins said she went to college in Oklahoma and Chris went to California for college where he ended up settling.

“Being away really made me appreciate what a great place Meeker is — that’s why I came back,” Collins said.

To reach Jamie Hallman call (970) 871-1810 or e-mail

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