Christmas Eve marks the end of an era for The Bakery

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BurkheadImageUseThisOneFor nearly 30 years, Dave and Enid Steffen have been going to work when most people were sleeping.
But after Dec. 24, they can finally sleep in. Not that they will. Old habits are hard to break.
“Oh, heavens, yes,” Enid said when asked if she thinks she’ll wake up at the same time out of habit.
The Meeker couple — owners of The Bakery, a local landmark — will close the doors to the business on Christmas Eve.
“It was very hard (to decide to close The Bakery),” Enid said. “We debated about it a long time.”
Closing The Bakery will be hard on customers, too.
“I had one kid say, ‘You can’t close The Bakery. It’s more Meeker than Nathan C. (Meeker, the town’s namesake),” said Zina Eliasen, Enid’s sister, who has helped out at The Bakery off and on over the years.
The Steffens have owned The Bakery for 29 years, but for the past few years they have had the business for sale. There was some interest from prospective buyers, but no takers. With the long hours, plus the baking know-how required, operating a bakery is not for everyone.
“There were a couple of serious (prospects),” Enid said. “But most of them hadn’t done the baking we do. We’d have to hang around to train ’em. Like one guy said, he couldn’t afford to buy the business and pay us to train him.”
The Steffens do all of their own baking, making everything from scratch.
“He (Dave) works 12 hour days, at least. He comes in at 7 at night and leaves about the same time in the morning,” said Enid, who goes to work at 4 a.m. “But he has MS (multiple sclerosis). He just can’t handle the hours anymore.”
Being home at the same time will be a change for the Steffens, who have worked different schedules for nearly three decades.
“Yeah, the worst part of it is we worked opposite shifts,” Enid said.
When a business has been around as long as The Bakery, it develops a consistent clientele.
“We have lots of regulars,” Enid said.
And what has been the most popular doughnut?
“The pecan roll or the plain ’ol doughnut,” Zina said.
As business owners, the Steffens have had a soft spot for students. Before the start of the school year, they collect donations of school supplies for needy students. And in what has become a Bakery tradition, each year they give tours of the business to second-graders.
“That’s something I’ll miss,” Enid said of the tours. “The second-graders write thank-you letters. I keep ’em all, and when they get to be seniors, I hang the letters on the wall.”
While they will be closing the doors to The Bakery, the Steffens will reopen the doors for a new venture.
“The business will be called Thrift and Gifts,” Enid said. “We’ll put a thrift gift store in here, and I’ll have the Avon, which I’ve been doing for years. It’ll keep us busy, but we can work eight hours a day, which will be peachy keen.”
While the Steffens won’t miss the early mornings and the long hours associated with running The Bakery, there is something they will miss.
“The people,” Enid said.
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Congratulations to everyone involved with Septemberfest, Rangely’s annual end-of-summer celebration. There appeared to be a good turnout for the various activities, and the weather cooperated each day of the four-day event.
A special congratulations goes to Jerry LeBleu Sr., this year’s parade grand marshal.
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On Tuesday, I went to take photos at Meeker Elementary School of students watching the president’s speech. The problem was I showed up at 11 a.m. The speech was broadcast at 10 a.m.
I keep forgetting I’m on Mountain time.
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Lightning caused a fire in Sage Hills north of Meeker last week. The fire was reported around 2 p.m. Sept. 3 and occurred on Bureau of Land Management public land. Meeker firefighters assisted BLM crews. The fire was contained by around 7:30 that evening.
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Daniel Saucedo is back home.
“We returned back to Texas last Monday,” said Daniel’s wife, Deni, formerly Back, who grew up in Meeker.
Daniel, a staff sergeant in the Army, was seriously wounded during a raid in July 2008 in Iraq. Since then, he has undergone several surgeries and has been rehabilitating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., before rejoining his outfit last week at Fort Hood, Texas.
“All of his surgeries are complete. He should not have to ever go back to Walter Reed … let’s hope,” Deni said. “He will go to work and be part of the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Hood and will continue with physical therapy. This unit is for Wounded Warriors and helps them adjust back into working again. He will have to see doctors here for in-processing and then for checkups, but not for anything major. He has recovered well, not 100 percent, but will hopefully get there in time.”
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There will be a benefit poker run Sept. 19 for Hailee Hernandez.
Hailee, 3, of Meeker, recently underwent open heart surgery in Denver. Proceeds from the poker run will go toward her medical expenses.
The fundraising event starts at 9 a.m. at the Rainbow Tavern in Dinosaur, goes through Meeker, Craig, Massadona, Dinosaur again and ends at the Elks Lodge in Rangely, where there will be a barbecue and door prizes.
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After writing about my recent hiking trip to Hanging Lake near Glenwood Springs, I received several comments or e-mails from people who had also made the hike or shared their own hiking story.
“I personally have been hiking this trail since I was 10,” wrote a woman from Rangely. “I have four children, and two of them I have carried up several times in backpacks on my back. It is so beautiful there that I go four a times a year, even in winter. It is harder, but worth the trip. Four years ago, my 60-year-old dad had just had a triple bypass surgery and made the hike with me and family members in just over an hour.”
A woman from Meeker wrote, “I have one to add to your hiking story. While following my husband up to Anderson Lake, one of my good friends and I were ‘feelin’ it’ too. Everyone knows that my husband is a mountain goat and he just kept saying, ‘It’s right up here.’ After about the fifth time of that, my friend said she was going to get me a T-shirt that said, ‘Right up here was way back there.’”
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Bonnie Herter competed in a triathlon (swimming, cycling and running) Aug. 30 in Steamboat Springs. At 64, she was the oldest woman in the race.
She not only won her age division, she won the 50-54 and 55-59 age classes, and her time was only two minutes slower than her time four years ago, when she also had the best time in three age groups.
Bonnie is currently training for the 2010 Ironman World Triathlon Championships in Hawaii. She finished sixth in her age group in the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, in 2005.
“She must come in first in her age group to qualify for the Ironman World Championship,” said her husband, Steve. “She will compete in races around the world in the next 14 months.”
When back in Meeker, Bonnie routinely trains at the Meeker Recreation Center, swimming and lifting weights.
“And she can be seen running up and down County Road 8,” husband Steve said. “She rides her road bike as far as Hamilton, and her favorite ride is up Little Beaver and around the Mesa.
“Because of the ideal elevation training conditions here, she took a remarkable two plus hours off her time (from the 2004 World Championships where she placed 17th to 2005 when she came in sixth),” Steve added.
The Hawaii Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike race through hot lava fields and a 26.2-mile marathon run. In 2005, Bonnie completed the course in 13 hours, 58 minutes and 29 seconds.
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And I thought I was doing good to hike up to Hanging Lake.

Jeff Burkhead is editor of the Herald Times. You may e-mail him at