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In 2005, the Carbondale volunteer firefighters received 1,035 calls. That’s almost three calls a day ” for a volunteer squad. And just to become a firefighter requires a 200-hour course. If you want to become a volunteer EMT, it’s 420 hours.

But all 80 of the Carbondale volunteer firefighters put in that time and more, all for the sake of their community.

No wonder they were voted, as a team, to be Locals Choice for Best Firefighter.

“To be a volunteer is a real dedication to the community and what we’re trying to accomplish,” said Deputy Chief firefighter Carl Smith.

“I know they’re the best fire squad,” said Gene Schilling, president of the board of directors for the department. “They’re the best squad on the Western Slope.”

“This makes me proud,” Schilling added about the recognition.

As though the whole department being voted in to the top slot wasn’t enough, Fire Chief Ron Leach was also one of the finalists. But he was so busy on a recent afternoon, what with a lightning strike having started a fire at Missouri Heights, that he was unavailable for comment.

Schilling estimated that Leach, along with most of the other paid positions in the department, put in between 60 and 80 hours a week for the district.

Best Business Mascot

Once again, Skittles and Scooter take this honor. These two striped tabby cats have graced the windows of Mountain Valley Developmental Services for so long they’ve become a solid community favorite.

Other Finalists: Bugs of Flower Mart, the Flying Pig

Best Police Officer

Det. John Hassell of the Glenwood Springs Police Department locked up this honor.

Other Finalists: Gene Schilling, Virgil Ellis

Best Dentist

Though nobody is a fan of that little metal hook thing dentists use to scrape plaque off pearly whites, Glenwood residents feel that if they have to have it done, they want Dr. Robert Murray to wield the tool.

Other Finalists: Dr. Rob Anderson, Dr. Eugene Covello

Best Doctor

Readers chose the gentle touch and bedside manner of Dr. Paul Salmen as Locals Choice for Best Doctor.

Other Finalists: Dr. Bruce Lipman, Jr., Dr. Bruce Lipman, Sr.

Best Midwife

While Dr. Shelley Binkley is an OB-GYN, her deliverees have grown up and voted her in for Locals Choice Best Midwife.

Other Finalists: Karen Knuden, Karen Owens

Best Chiropractor

When they’re feeling the need to release some tension, Paul Parsons is the chiropractor our readers choose to go to for a good adjustment.

Other Finalists: Cliff Keen, Dave Jensen

Best Veterinarian

Whether it’s a hairball, a case of indigestion or a serious injury, readers picked Dr. Rocky Mease of the Glenwood Veterinary Clinic.

Other Finalists: Dr. Marguerite Flett, Robert “Dr. Bob” Thorsen

Best Real Estate Agent

Manette Anderson, of The Property Shop, is this year’s pick for the Locals Choice Best Real Estate Agent.

Other Finalists: Amy Luetke, Stormie Werking

Best Lawyer

There are at least a few lawyers in town who aren’t sharks, and Andy Hecht is one of them. He won Locals Choice for Best Lawyer.

Other Finalists: Scott Balcomb, Dan Kerst

Best Handyman

Trust us, Larry Metzger didn’t “fix” the Best Handyman vote. He won it fair and square.

Other Finalists: Bryan Farnham, Pat Kurnner

Best Hair Dresser

Don’t ask Rebecca Cossins at Great Clips for a buzz cut. That’s just too easy. Give her a challenge ” she’s the Locals Choice for Best Hair Dresser.

Other Finalists: Karla Richards, Sharon Wright

Best Mechanic

Steve Brown’s reputation for speed and honesty did him proud this year. He’s Locals Choice for Best Mechanic.

Other Finalists: Elk Mountain Motors, Dave Stanley

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