De Beque cookin’ with new gas stove

DeDee Wheeler, foreground, admires a new stove with, from left, De Beque town trustees Scott Elliott and Gene Reed, and Fred Eggleston of Xcel Energy at the De Beque Community Center. The stove was donated by Xcel and Encana.

They have quilters on Thursdays and bingo on Tuesdays. Lunches for seniors through the Gray Gourmet arrive on Wednesdays. And what would the last Friday of the month be without a breakfast of bacon and eggs or biscuits and gravy that folks whip up at the De Beque Community Center?

So when local 4-H students tried recently to bake cookies in the antiquated ovens at the center and were nearly gassed out by fumes, local officials knew they had to retire the appliances.

However, without any money to buy a new oven, De Beque’s Town Clerk Shirley Nichols asked local Xcel Energy spokesman Fred Eggleston if his company could help out. Xcel and Encana ended up splitting the costs of a $5,400 commercial gas stove.

“I got to use it first,” De Beque resident Dedee Wheeler, 80, piped up about the new stove. “I like working in here and not passing out from the gas.”

The Vulcan range is outfitted with six burners, two ovens and a grill. Officials also added carbon monoxide detectors to the walls to detect high levels of the harmful gas.

Nichols said the town of De Beque had spent $400 to attempt to make the old ovens operable, before giving up.

As many as 18 senior citizens who arrive at the community center for Gray Gourmet meals “were just getting by,” unable to warm up meals, Wheeler said.

“It stunk something terrible,” she said. “I’m surprised it didn’t blow the place up.”

Smells from the old ovens wafted throughout the community center, which is used as a gathering place for locals to drink coffee, sit around and talk, or work on needlepoint or crocheting, as they were Friday morning.

“This place is used for everybody, so it’s nice to have a stove that works,” said 88-year-old Mabel Prather as she cooed and waved at her 1-year-old great-grandson, Ryan.


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