Moffat County budget analyst makes education her life’s hobby |

Moffat County budget analyst makes education her life’s hobby

Collin Smith

— When they find the time, Tinneal and Wade Gerber like to dance, to country for the most part.

It doesn’t happen that often these days, Wade said, but he’s not complaining. However busy Tinneal stays, her determination is one of the things he loves most about her.

“We’ve been married 14 years,” he said. “I think we really get along so well because we have the same ambitions on life: raising a family, working hard.

“Is she one of a kind? Oh, definitely.”

Tinneal is usually at work by 7:30 a.m.

She drives into town from her and her husband’s 95-acre ranch west of Craig, passing the rolling hills, dusted with snow and dotted with animals.

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She spends most of her day at the Moffat County Courthouse, inside a roughly 10-foot-by-10-foot office. She has a desk that demands most of the room, and piles of papers that demand most of the desk.

She is the county’s budget analyst and does math for a living, rarely able to fit it all into 40 hours a week.

Her boss, County Commissioner Tom Gray, doesn’t take any of it for granted.

“She’s one of those people you can depend on,” he said. “She’s one of those people we can call on to do things outside of her job description because she always steps up.”

City Manager Jim Ferree – who works with Tinneal on joint city-county projects and has worked with others in her position outside of Craig – summed up his opinion succinctly.

“She is the best I’ve ever worked with,” he said.

During Tinneal’s evenings, family takes over, except for the days she has to take her work home with her, in which case she juggles her time as best she can.

She may take her two young boys to hockey, football, baseball, track or music practice, or she may pick them up to take them home.

After dinner, she helps her sons with their homework before starting in on her own.

Tinneal has two classes left before earning her master’s degree in public administration from Upper Iowa University’s online degree program.

She spends about two hours a night working on assignments or participating in mandatory online discussions. The weekends usually afford her some extra time to finish her schoolwork.

At age 31, Gerber said her go-go-go lifestyle has become commonplace.

She kept about the same hours before she earned her undergraduate accounting degree through Upper Iowa in 2004 and before she received her associate’s degree in business administration in 2001 from Colorado Northwestern Community College.

“Studying, that’s my hobby,” Tinneal said, laughing about the fact she doesn’t have time for anything else. “It’s been what I’ve done now for so many years. It’s just become a way of life for (me and my family).”

Which is not to say her family – Wade and sons Tyler, 12, and Kearn, 10 – isn’t ready for Gerber to have more quality time available.

“They say I’m boring because all I do is study,” Tinneal said about her children.

She looks forward to the spring when she plans to graduate and be done with school for the foreseeable future.

“I think my focus over the next several years is going to be my kids, spending time with them, because they’re going to be gone before too long,” Tinneal said.

She worries that her time with them may be over sooner than it may seem, especially with high school around the corner.

Her boys talk about leaving Moffat County in a way Tinneal never did. It always has been her home, she said, even when her family moved to Nevada as a little girl.

Now, about 20 years later, she doesn’t think there’s anywhere else she could live.

“I think moving away as a kid, I knew this was always a community I wanted to be in,” Tinneal said. “When we came back, this was never a community I wanted to leave.”

Her boys, though, talk about the world outside of Craig.

“They talk about college,” Tinneal said. “I think they’ll definitely go away. I don’t know if they’ll stay away or come back, but I think they’ll go away for college.”

Which is fine, she added. Part of the reason she runs around for her boys’ sports and other interests is so they can “be the best people they can be.”

She expects no less of herself. Her commitment to education had less to do with nominal success than self-worth.

“I don’t know that the goal to get my master’s was to look for a different position,” Tinneal said. “I think, for me, it was just bettering myself. I’ve always strived to increase my knowledge.”

Again, Wade said he couldn’t be more proud.

“Would I want her any other way,” he asked. “Oh, definitely not. It’ll be nice when she’s done with school, though. That might free up an hour or so for her.”

They may have some time to go dancing then, which Wade said he is determined to do.