The Other Half of the
Water District Dynamic Duo
from the Pine Brook Press, Summer 2010
Pine Brookers who venture into the offices of the Water District at the Community Center end up talking with District Manager Bob de Haas. However, if alert, they would have noticed a big man sitting at the far end of the office, quietly engaged in his work. If not there, this man can be seen driving Pine Brook's roads in the Water District pick up, checking on water installations and reading meters. He greets passersby with a cheery wave.
Shawn Beauprez is the other half of the Water District team. A native of Boulder County, he grew up on the family dairy farm in Lafayette where his great grandparents homesteaded after emigrating from Belgium more than 100 years ago. Is it a coincidence that both Shawn and Bob have their roots in the Low Countries of Europe where keeping out water is a matter of survival? Of course, here they are doing the opposite, building a reservoir to keep it in! However, out or in, it is still a matter of survival.
A graduate of Centaurus High School in Lafayette, where he played football, Shawn started college in Durango at Fort Lewis, then transferred and graduated from Colorado State University in 1991 with a degree in Fisheries Biology. He went to work for a Longmont Fishery consulting firm. This work took him to various parts of the country including stints such as studying the effects of gold mines in Nevada on fish habitat. Shawn's uncle Mel is a long term resident of PBH so he was familiar with our little mountain village. When a position opened up with our Water district in 1998, he took it and has been here ever since.
His routine work involves regular checking of the system and billing. However, there can be unexpected long days and nights, usually involving water line breaks. Shawn says that these average about six major breaks per year. But in the past year there have been about twice that and many in areas where there were none before. This is probably due to ground shifting.
The time building the reservoir was quite hectic, but Shawn remembers it fondly. Growing up on a farm, he liked running "equipment" and on the reservoir sitehe got to operate a bulldozer.
Shawn and his wife, Jill, live in Longmont. She works for a medical records company. They met on a blind date set up by his best friend. He took her, a city girl from Arvada, dancing at a country bar. It must have worked since they got married a couple of years later in 1994.
For a Fisheries biology major who works for a water district, what would be the obvious recreation activity? Yup, Shawn is an avid fisherman. It used to be Bass but now his favorite is Walleye (sander vitreus). He has fished in Alaska, Canada, Hawaii and Mexico, as well as many of these United States. Nowadays he heads for Glendo Reservoir in Wyoming whenever he gets a chance. For an experienced Walleye fisherman of 20 years standing, he did have to put up with some razzing by his family since they had caught bigger fish than he had. However, recently he caught an eleven pound Walleye at Glendo, which he measured and put back in the lake. There is still scope for improvement: the biggest Walleye caught in Wyoming weighed over seventeen pounds.
Shawn is a man of few words and it was only near the end of his meeting with the Press that he, somewhat shyly, brought up what is a real passion: building and detailing one sixteenth scale models of Oliver tractors. Shawn grew up with these tractors but they are no longer manufactured. The last one was made in 1976 but there is a community of aficionados involved in restoration and scale models. In his garage, Shawn has installed a lathe, milling machine and other equipment to produce model tractors which sell for $100-400 at shows. Right after talking with the Press he was headed to Iowa for a show. The big meeting is at the National Farm Toy Show in November at Dyersville, Iowa. It attracts about 15,000 people each year. Shawn will be there.
His parting words to the Press were that he "doesn't talk politics" and he "doesn't talk religion." A wise philosophy indeed that many of us could try to emulate in these heated times. For the last twelve years the Water District staff have maintained a happy equilibrium - Shawn, a "man of few words" working with Bob, a "man of many words." Shawn says, diplomatically, that he doesn't interact with customers as much because Bob is "more diplomatic." Hmmm.