Without further delay, here are the remaining winners and finalists for the TMJ’s annual Best Of Cripple Creek contest. In our Jan. 7 issue, we focused on mostly casino business-related winners. In this issue, we deal with more of the individual contests, with a few exceptions. We appreciate everyone who participated, as the number of responses was outstanding. Also, we especially want to thank Amanda May for her hard work in tallying the ballots. Make sure you visit Amanda at Amanda May’s Café and Catering in the Aspen Mine Center and try one of their daily specials. Just don’t mention this survey.
Best Casino Manager and Head Boss
1. David Minter/Johnny Nolon’s
2. Jim Druck/Big Jim’s
3. Marc Murphy/Bronco Billy’s
Honorable Mention: Kevin Werner/Wildwood
In a slight upset from previous Best Casino Manager contests, David Minter, known as a local gaming wizard, and also noted for his strong British accent, (how many people in Cripple Creek have a real English accent), captured the gold. Minter is a gaming veteran from the early 1990s, who actually got his start locally as the head general manager of the Colorado Grande. He also resurrected Johnny Nolon’s as its head owner/manager with a commitment to loose slots and good customer service. Through an investment group, Minter purchased the Colorado Grande about a year and a half ago. In addition, he was involved in the campaign for Amendment 50, the proposition that opened the door for more table games and higher betting limits. Besides his role as gaming veteran, David is spotted occasionally doing such crazy things as competing in the Mine to Mine running race and actually talking to certain newspaper publishers. Snagging the silver was the ever popular Jim Druck, owner and operator of Big Jim’s Gambling Hall and Saloon. Spend an hour or so talking with Jim and you can see why he is a big hit with his employees and customers. And Marc Murphy, the general manager of Bronco Billy’s, also garnered many votes. Murphy has held the Billy’s managerial reins since the first week of gaming (the only manager who can say that). Plus, he has overseen seven major expansions and played a key role in maintaining the casino’s reputation as a true Colorado casino.
Best Local Personality
1. Les Batson/Cripple Creek Fire Station Museum
2. Jim Druck/Big Jim’s
3. Missy Trenary
No competition whatsoever. Les Batson, the colorful and charismatic museum guide for the historic fire station and a frequent attendee of city council gatherings, won in a landslide as the town’s head personality champ. That is quite an accomplishment in a town featuring many acclaimed characters. Les isn’t lacking in opinions and telling great stories, especially regarding the history and folklore of Cripple Creek . He even mulled a run for city council until the residency issue hampered his campaign for this year. Well, maybe next time Les. But not surprisingly, Jim Druck of Big Jim’s fared quite well in this competition. And Missy Trenary, know for telling a few stories herself(truth or fiction is another matter)snagged the bronze.
Best Public Servant
1. Kathy Stockton/City of Cripple Creek
2. Les Batson/Fire Station #3
3. April Peterson/Cripple Creek Police
Honorable Mention: Bruce Brown/Steve Zoellner
Kathy Stockton, who mans the city’s development and historic preservation office, garnered the gold in a tight competition for the best public servant. She is known for fairness in dealing with the city’s dual push for historic integrity and development, often a tricky challenge in Cripple Creek . As a result, she must deal with obnoxious council members, residents, developers and even journalists. Throughout various Best Of competitions, Stockton has been a frequent top finisher in this showdown. Les Batson, known for his colorful museum tours, snagged the runner-up spot, edging past Cripple Creek Police Chief April Peterson by a few tallies. Many of our readers also threw their support behind Mayor Bruce Brown and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Zoellner.
Best Employee, Owner/Manager (Non-Gaming)
1 Bill Burcaw/City of Cripple Creek
2. Amanda May/Amanda May Café and Catering
3. Maria Cunningham/City of Cripple Creek
Honorable Mention: Patty Noel/ Cripple Creek Heritage Center
Bill Burcaw, a popular shuttle driver for the city of Cripple Creek, he also owns the 9494 gift shop, the winner of this year’s best non-gaming business, prevailed in the competitive Best Employee showdown. Also, Amanda May of Amanda May’s Café and Catering received much support. Many praised Amanda for the changes made in this great eatery inside the Aspen Mine Center (another prime spot for local rumors). And not surprisingly, the town’s marketing guru, Maria Cunningham, fared quite well in this competition. She received many compliments for weathering the town’s promotional wars in one piece. And Patty Noel of the Heritage Center received quite a few tallies.
Best Employee (Casino)
1. Monica Weller/Bronco Billy’s
2. Empress/Bronco Billy’s
3. The friendly staff at the Wildwood
Monica Weller, an extremely popular employee at Bronco Billy’s for the last four years, emerged as the clear victor in the showdown for the best casino employee (and the best card dealer to go with it.) Weller was one of the top finishers in a similar competition a year ago. And once again, Empress (Paradise Emperatriz) attracted quite a following. Many readers, though, favored a wide variety of employees at the Wildwood.
1. Jennifer Eustace/Colorado Grande
2. Bill Camp/Double Eagle
Honorable mention: Katie of Ralf’s
Cripple Creek, with the advent of gaming, has gained quite a reputation for its great assortment of bartenders ready to cheer up local winners and losers. Jennifer Eustace, a veteran bartender of Colorado Grande, emerged as the clear favorite. Many, though, voted for Bill Camp of the Double Eagle and Robin of???
Best Waiter Staff
1. J.P. McGill’s
3. Bronco Billy’s
The competition for the best waiter in town was too close to call. And there is no more time for recounts. However, the vast majority of Best Of participants favored the waiter staff at the Pint and Platter of McGill’s. After all, Cripple Creek has quite an Irish heritage, so it only makes sense that patrons enjoy the friendly service inside the town’s prime Irish pub. Many readers, though, lauded the wait-staff at both Century and Bronco Billy’s.
Best Rumor Monger
1. Lou Goldman/Cripple Creek Candy
2. Empress/Bronco Billy’s
3. Taz Blevins/Santa
Honorable Mention: Les Batson
Let’s face it. Cripple Creek is a town that thrives on rumors and those that spread these always accurate stories. By a fairly substantial margin, Lou Goldman, the owner of Cripple Creek Candy and Variety, is now the official rumor monger king of the land. Lou is known for voicing his opinions at city council meetings and standing up for the small, non-gaming business guy. And at times, local government observers, including journalists from the TMJ, can always gain a better idea of what is happening at city hall by talking with Lou, especially when it comes to the annual veterans and motorcycle rally. Not surprisingly Empress (Paradise Emperatriz) of Bronco Billy’s, one of the more popular casino employees, is known for unveiling a rumor here and there, along with the infamous Santa from Toys for Tots.
Best Local Rumor
1. Big Jim’s is closing due to Russian Mafia ties
2. Cripple Creek is moving forward in its push as a resort town.
3. The Crazy lady that left Cripple Creek because the city wouldn’t let her have a church
Honorable Mention: This contest is fair.
The list of top rumors was basically endless. The above-mentioned are some of the highlights.
Dumbest Question Asked by a Tourist
1. When do the deer turn into elks?
2. Are these donkeys
3. Where is Hwy. 67?
Next week, we will announce the winners of our grand drawing for prizes for those who completed surveys and listed their contact information. In addition, we will add a few miscellaneous answers to questions we didn’t have space to list in the last two weeks.