Moffat County Locals: Ken Wergin spends his retirement improving the community he loves
Craig — Many words could be used to describe Craig man Ken Wergin, but retired is not one of them.
Sitting still, even for an interview, isn’t Wergin’s style.
“I don’t sit in one spot,” he said.
Spend a little time with Wergin and you might end up in his small navy blue pickup truck, with a big slobbery pound puppy in the back seat, touring the community to see places that he’s spruced up. Or, you might bump into him at one of the many meetings he regularly attends.
“He does so much good work around the community,” said Craig City Councilman John Ponikvar. “He does a lot of work downtown with the bulletin board, shoveling the sidewalks, maintaining the flags and all the Welcome to Craig signs. He’s taken his mower out to clean around those to keep them looking great.”
In November the City Council acknowledged Wergin’s hard work.
“Every day, I see Ken out there doing something else. He has this volunteer and community spirit,” Ponikvar said.
New efforts to improve the community make Wergin happy, but he thinks that more people can do more.
“A lot of people have opinions and ideas, but they always want the city to do it,” Wergin said. “We don’t have tax money, but we have a lot of people who can get off their butt and stop complaining.”
Wergin’s spirit of can-do service started early in his life.
As a young man he served his country during the Vietnam War as a medic at Shepard Air Force Base.
Next, he worked his way through school to become a respiratory therapist.
Then he spent 35 years serving Fort Collins where he helped to establish the first intensive care unit at Poudre Valley Hospital and then on to Craig were he worked at The Memorial Hospital.
After so many years of service, it would be natural to expect a retiree to retire, to rest and relax, but Wergin found he wasn’t able to sit still in his golden years.
“It’s because I know, after many years, that I am hyperactive. I don’t like sitting around doing nothing,” he said.
So he decided to put his free time to good use by improving Craig and Moffat County — a community he proudly calls home.
“It’s a small community with people that I like,” he said. “I like that I can go right on the edges of town, and I have deer. I like the weather here. It’s great with the cool summers. I don’t like the winter, but I no longer have to work out in it.”
He has become a one-man beautification committee, and working independently is just how he likes it.
“When I retired I went through a thinking process of things that I didn’t want to do anymore. I have an active mind and I don’t like having a boss,” he said.
He also feels that he does his best work when he works alone on projects of his choosing.
Many of those projects help Wergin keep both his mind and body fit.
“I used to wash windows and pick up trash in downtown. I was trying to get people to do it themselves. I might have to start again. I’ve mowed lawns in empty houses along Yampa Avenue, including trimming the curbs,” Wergin said. “It’s good for my good health. At my age, my brain is working better than it has in a lot of years.”
Wergin knows that not everyone would do the work he’s done, nor do they always agree with his outspokenness, but he doesn’t let that slow him down.
“I will stand up and be heard. My ideas are different and I’ve realized that. With age, experience and education, I don’t really have to do it the normal way,” Wergin said.
He is happy to help, and helping has made him happy.
“I love life. Life is so lovely. It’s so much fun,” Wergin said.
After four days of competition at Whittle the Wood Rendezvous, Lincoln, Nebraska’s Nate Hall can count himself a seasoned competitor in one of Northwest Colorado’s premier events as he embarks on an ongoing career in the field of wood sculpture.