Best of 2024 Final Winners and Top Contenders Named

Rick Langenberg and Trevor Phipps

Yes, it’s the final announcements of our annual Best Of 2024 contest, a competition featuring no lack of contenders and voters, with close to 10,000 ballots filed online. Amazing!

Before proceeding further, we want to thank all of our readers, social media viewers, fans, critics, or whatever, as participation records were completely shattered. One face remains certain: TMJ Best Of participants are quite passionate about what they like (and hate) in our beloved High Country and aren’t short of opinions. This is a trend that continues to escalate from the time we kicked off this contest, shortly after slots started ringing down Bennett Avenue on Oct. 1, 1991.

Many changes have occurred since that historic limited-stakes gaming start-up date in Teller County and Colorado, and we hope this contest will help give visitors and locals a feel for prevailing views on the Best of the Best. Of course, these opinions always change, so if you disagree with any of the results, there is always next year.

In our March 19 issues, we mainly focused on the heavily contested casino and gaming competitions, food contests and other business/retail service highlights. For this week (March 26 issue) we present the finalists for more area-wide competitions, special niche business categories and the infamous individual showdowns, presenting the best personalities on the Mountain, best troublemakers, public servants, sports heroes and more. Please, no punches or nasty social media posts, as virtually all the finalists are WINNERS in our humble TMJ view.

In the future, TMJ news will focus on some of the winners in more detail. Stay tuned too in the near future for more Best Of highlights by TMJ staff members.

With no further delays, enjoy The Best of 2024, Part 2.

Area-wide Winners, Part II

Best Clothing Store


Gold – The Cowhand

Silver – Colorado Gearlab

Bronze – Creations Everlasting

Last year’s champ:The Cowhand

The Cowhand once again took the top trophy for best options of clothes. Their giant selection of Western-style wear has kept them number one for several years.

Many readers also like the mountain clothes options Colorado Gearlab has to offer. Creations Everlasting (perhaps due to their official NFL merchandise) also earned several votes for a top spot to go clothes shopping.


Best Area Dentist

Gold – Forest Edge Dental

Silver – Dr. Stephenie Kaufmann

Bronze – Rampart Family Dental Center

Last year’s champ: Forest Edge Dental

Forest Edge Dental Care has been a favorite hub in Woodland Park for teeth mending and captured the gold again in this heavily contested competition.  Their win is attributed to their affordable prices, and ability to accept a variety of insurance plans and offer specialized packages of their own, not to mention their wide variety of specialized services and highly staffed operation, led by the personable and talented Dr. Andrea Montano.  Forest Edge actually came to the community’s defense during the COVID-epidemic. As the Forest Edge folks stated in describing their recent win: “Forest Edge Dental Care is committed to providing each and every patient with the highest standard of dental care at the most affordable prices. Dr. Montano has built her practice upon lasting relationships with her patients,  based on mutual trust and open communication. Winning the Gold award, for the third time, is testament to Forest Edge’s ability to offer a wide variety of services, acceptance of multiple insurance plans, and the Gold Discount plan. Dr. Montano and her staff are happy to be part of the Woodland Park community and continue to enjoy being one of the finest dental practices in all of Teller County.” Many voters, though, favored Dr. Stehenie Kaufmann, a mainstay in the community for years and highly regarded for her dedicated staff. Rampart Family Dental Center is another big favorite under the reign of Dr. Morrill.


Best Veterinarian

Gold – Woodland Veterinary Clinic

Silver – Compassion Animal Hospital

Bronze – Rampart Range

Last year’s champ: Woodland Veterinary Clinic

Teller County is dog, animal and horse country for that matter. Folks up here have a special affinity for their four-legged best friends. As a result, the area is a bonanza for dog and cat dogs. For the second consecutive year,  the Woodland Veterinary Clinic prevailed as the gold champ in this heavily contested competition.  Headed by Dr. Kevin Conrad, Woodland Veterinary Clinic is still reaping the benefits of a super visible and accessible location off Hwy. 24. Plus, the service featured the additional services of Dr. Jeff Baier, who was previously featured on the Animal Planet.  Securing the runner-up spot was Compassion Animal Hospital, with many voters favoring the spacious facility of Rampart Range in the Safeway shopping center.  All in all, there are really no losers in the local vet arena in  Teller County.

Best Pet Groomer

Gold – Clearwater Pet Grooming

Silver – Woodland Pet Salon

Bronze – A Cut Above

Last year’s champ: Clearwater Pet Grooming

Clearwater Pet Grooming took the gold for another consecutive year, as the best place to go to keep your pets looking good and healthy. Their downtown location, right at the footsteps of Memorial Park, is a huge place, not to mention their personable staff. The business also sports a variety of additional services, such as pet sitting and nutritional help. Woodland Pet Salon, also located downtown, also made a strong showing, as did the more regional A Cut Above.

Best Hair Salon

Gold – A Wild Hair

Silver – The Salon

Bronze – The Bliss

Last year’s champ: A Wild Hair

The Teller County area probably has more hair salons than any other type of business, and Best Of participants clearly favored  A Wild Hair in Divide. Located behind the Market, if the Wild Hair isn’t the friendliest hair salon on the mountain, than this title doesn’t exist. The salon is  knowns for their great service, specialties and amazing staff and ability to adjust to tough situations, such as the  COVID epidemic, several years ago. In fact, their front door is jammed pack with award certificates from this newspaper and other publications. In many ways, A Wild Hair has become a mini-community hub, and is a prime spot for rumors, besides getting award-winning cuts. Many of our Best Of participants, though, favored The Salon and The Bliss, both of which are located in Woodland Park.

Best Chiropractor

Gold – Powell Chiropractic

Silver – Reason Chiropractic

Bronze – Ute Pass Family Chiropractic

The Teller County area is a mecca for chiropractic services, especially with the infusion of retirees, and senior citizens who just need those frequent adjustments, or encounter a bad back for no reason. Then, we have bizarre events, such as our recent snow storms. This forced our hearty residents to try to play hero with a shovel, almost a sure ingredient for a chiro adjustment. Again, Best Of fans clearly favored Powell Chiropractic, which sports a spacious office and fitness area and mini-gym. Dr. Dave, as he is affectionally known as, has served the region for more than 30 years. Reason Chiropractic and Ute Pass Family Chiropractic also fared well in this competition.

Best Area Non-Profit

Gold – Aspen Mine  Centers

Silver – TCRAS

Bronze – Two Mile High Club

Last year’s champ: Community Partnership

In a relatively  new competition that was added to the Best Of contest, based on popular demand, the Aspen Mine Centers won this title with an exclamation point.  The Aspen Mine, known for their plethora of services and one-stop center mode, has become a prime example of putting non-functioning casinos into a huge community resource. The Aspen Mine, which sports two facilities and an amazing staff and a growing thrift store, has emerged as one of the community’s finest non-profit jewels.  It is not surprising to see why voters support sales tax initiatives, which the Aspen Mine sometimes must throw out for extra funding.  Special kudos to Ted Borden, Lisa Noble and Mary Bielz.  But the non-profit contest featured a number of entries. The top runner-up was TCRAS, which is quite a resource for helping find good homes for dogs and cats that can no longer be cared for by their original owners. The plight of homeless animals is a growing crisis across Colorado and America.  And enough can’t be said of the Two Mile High Club, which with little funding assistance, have done amazing work in preserving the donkey herd in Cripple Creek and in putting on a great Donkey Derby Days festival.

Best Bank

Gold – Park State Bank & Trust

Silver – ENT

Bronze – Community Banks of Colorado

Last year’s champ: Park State Bank & Trust

Locals enjoy Woodland Park’s popular Park State Bank & Trust as the best place to keep their money. The bank is the only one in existence and it is still owned by a local family. They also are touted for their community-oriented approach. Other locals tend to prefer ENT possibly due to the fact that the credit union is owned by its customers. Community Banks of Colorado wins the convenience award as they are the only bank to have a location in both Cripple Creek and Woodland Park.

Best Brewhouse


Gold – Paradox

Silver – Beirworks

Bronze – Bristol Brewing

Last year’s champ: Paradox

Through a combination of their relaxing atmosphere and the addition of delicious foods, Paradox remains to be the favorite place for readers to enjoy a cold craft brew. The business draws great crowds in the summer and winter as it sports one of the largest areas for outdoor seating.

Beirworks also received several votes as many like the pub’s new roof top seating option. Bristol Brewing located on Colorado Springs’ south side is another place that pleases beer drinkers.

Best Furniture Store

Gold – Tweeds Fine Furnishings

Silver – Williams Log Cabin Furniture

Bronze – American Furniture Warehouse

Last year’s champ: Tweeds Fine Furnishings

Tweeds has taken this top spot for the last several years as locals seem to enjoy the custom mountain-style furnishings and décor offered. The store carries a number of items that are impossible to find anywhere else.

Voters also like the log cabin style furniture offered at the oldest furniture store in Woodland Park, Williams Log Cabin Furniture. The prices and large selection at American Furniture Warehouse in Colorado Springs also attracted a lot of voters.


Best Marijuana Dispensary

Gold – High Stakes Leafery

Silver – Maggie’s Farm

Bronze – Cannabis Depot

Last year’s champ: Maggie’s Farm.

After the decision by the citizens of Cripple Creek to legalize retail marijuana on a limited basis, and steps taken by the city to abide by their wishes, High Stakes Leafery became the first-ever marijuana dispensary in Teller County.  And in this year’s Best Of contest, High Stakes won over the voters big-time, and was recognized for being the first entrepreneurs to jump on the cannabis bandwagon. With its knowledgeable staff and competitive prices, the dispensary has become a popular spot in Cripple Creek.  It offers much more convenience for those that enjoy their legal weed. But for those that head down the Pass for their cannabis products, they like the Maggie’s Farm outlet in Manitou Springs. Others though prefer the trek to Pueblo to check out what Cannabis Depot has to offer.

Best Real Estate Agent

Gold – James Dean

Silver – Deb and Tom Idleman

Bronze – Jen Brown

Honorable mention – Carrie Miller

Last year’s champ: Carrie Miller

When it comes to buying or selling a home, James Dean seemed to be the real estate agent preferred by readers. His informative videos he makes on social media could be the key to the agent earning votes. Deb and Tom Idleman also offer expertise that won over the hearts of voters. Jen Brown was another top real estate agent that many readers liked.

Best Electrician

Gold – Hardcastle Heating and Home Services

Silver – Ace Electric

Bronze – Woodland Park Electric

Last year’s champ:  Hardcastle

When it comes to having repair work done on homes, Hardcastle has been a favorite for HVAC and plumbing work for quite some time. Since Hardcastle has opened its doors, it now offers just about every type of service for a house from plumbing to electric.

Ace Electric is also a go-to company for anything electrical related. Woodland Park Electric is another local options that received votes.

Best Heating and Air Company

Gold – Harris Heating

Silver – Hardcastle Home Services

Bronze – Teller Plumbing and Heating

Last year’s champ: Harris Heating

Cody Harris seems to be the most liked heating and cooling guy in the area as every year he picks up tons of votes. Harris has been in business in the area for several years and many like having conversations with him at local watering holes.

Hardcastle made it on the Best Of list once again by providing heating and cooling services which is their mainstay. Teller Plumbing and Heating is also another one to call with any issues at home.


Best Car Dealer

Gold – Phil Long

Silver – Mike Maroone

Bronze – Spradley

Last year’s champ: Phil Long

Since Teller County lacks options to purchase a vehicle, most are forced to shop in the Springs at places like Phil Long. Phil Long is one of the oldest car dealers in Southern Colorado and voters still prefer them for vehicle purchases. In fact, Phil Long has won this Best Of title for several years.

Mike Maroone is another dealership that offers decent rides for mountain folks. Spradley earned the Bronze as people who live in the high country often use them for new car purchases.


Best Car Repair Shop

Gold – Vahsholtz Automotive

Silver – Schumacher’s Alignment & Tire

Gold – Vahsholtz Automotive

Bronze – Hometown Garage

Last year’s champ: Vahsholtz Automotive

The Vahsholtz family has worked on cars for multiple generations of local families and readers still tend to prefer them over others. It could be the family members’ (Codie and Clint Vahsholtz) success in racing the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb that has given them so much popularity. Schumacher’s is another shop that has been around for decades pleasing the locals. Hometown Garage is another shop that many in the area voted for as the best.


Best Local Entertainment

Gold – Butte Theater

Silver – Live Music at the Blue Moose

Bronze – Bingo at Russ’ Place

Last year’s champ: Butte Theater

Year after year, readers seem to love the live melodramas and wide diversity of performances put on by the Butte Theater, one of the best-kept secrets in the gaming community. With their new manager Zach Sztanyo many like the variety of live shows offered by the Butte throughout the year, and the use of different companies and performing groups. On the weekends, many locals like to jam out with the various bands that play at the Blue Moose in Green Mountain Falls. On occasion, you may run into members of TMJ who are still crave classic rock.  During the week, Russ’ Place in Divide packs the house with those testing their luck at bingo.


Best Family Entertainment

Gold – Butte Theater

Silver – Colorado Ice Castles

Bronze – Cripple Creek Ice Fest

Last year’s champ: Butte Theater

For those wanting to take the family out for a night of entertainment, the Butte Theater proves that Cripple Creek isn’t just for those over 21. The large variety of plays and the fact that the audience gets to play a role probably contribute to the Butte’s success. After coming to Cripple Creek for their first year, the Colorado Ice Castles packed the highway last winter with hundreds going to check out the grandeur castle. The Ice Fest was also high on the list for voters and many said the sculptures in 2024 looked better than previous years.


Best Area Bed and Breakfast

Gold – Cripple Creek Hospitality House

Silver – Hotel St. Nicholas

Bronze – Little Beaver Inn

Last year’s champ: Cripple Creek Hospitality House

When it comes to a more personal and homely night out, the Cripple Creek Hospitality House once again took the top spot. The hotel situated in one of the city’s former hospitals has historic charm and is filled with stories behind the doors. Hotel St. Nicholas made the list again perhaps due to their locally famous Boiler Room Bar. The Little Beaver Inn in Green Mountain Falls is also known as a beautiful place to stay the night.


Best Tattoo Shop

Gold – Academy Star Tattoo

Silver – Fallen Heroes

Bronze – Tattoo Above the Clouds

Last year’s champ: Academy Star Tattoo

Cam with Academy Star has won over voters pretty much since he opened up shop. His unique artistic style is loved by those wanting tattoos or screen printing. Others though, said they prefer to head down the pass to Fallen Heroes Tattoo to get their ink work done. Tattoo Above the Clouds, according to voters, is another top spot in the Ute Pass Region for a tattoo.

Best Liquor Store

Gold – Banana Belt Discount Liquor

Silver – Gold Hill Wine & Liquor

Bronze – Gold Mine Liquors Station

Honorable Mention – Oasis Liquor

Last year’s champ: Banana Belt

When it comes to buying adult beverages, voters love the prices and selections at Banana Belt Liquors in Woodland Park, the winner of this title repeatedly. Their easy-to-use Banana Belt discount card, or what some refer to as Banana buck points, is a big hit; along with their popular and regular free wine and liquor tastings.  This is one of the big changes under the new ownership. Gold Hill Wine & Liquor in Gold Hill South also has quite a following, as does the  Oasis Liquor outlet in the Safeway.  But a big surprise in this year’s vote was the popularity of the Gold Mine Liquors Station in Florissant.


Best Area To-Go Orders

Gold – Russ’ Place

Silver – Serrano’s

Bronze – Sam’s Gyros & Kabobs

Last year’s champ: Russ’ Place

When getting food on the go or a meal to bring home to the family after a long day, the burgers at Russ’ Place seem to be a local favorite. The eatery is conveniently located in a good place to stop when heading out to Divide or Florissant. Serrano’s Mexican Food in Woodland Park is another favorite for getting food on the run and locals absolutely love their Taco Tuesday specials. The new Sam’s Gyros & Kabobs is also loved locally for its delicious food to take home or on a trip to the mountains.

Best Pizza

Gold – Blue Moose

Silver – A.J.’s Pizzeria

Bronze – Pioneer Pizza

Last year’s champ: Blue Moose

The Blue Moose in Green Mountain Falls again clinched the gold as the top spot for pizzas.  In fact, you haven’t experienced the GMF culture unless you gouge yourself on their Mountain Man or another amazing pizza creation.  These are often devoured by our TMJ crew during staff meetings.  But A.J. Pizzeria has gained a much stronger following than before with their new facility at a site once occupied by Pizza Hut. Pioneer Pizza, located off Teller One, just outside of Cripple Creek, is probably the place for pizza pies-to go.

Best Grocery Store

Gold – Safeway

Silver – City Market

Bronze – Florissant Mercantile

Last year’s champ: City Market

In a slight changing of the guard in our local grocery store arena, Safeway, courtesy of an earlier remodeling effort, snagged first place as the favorite grocery hub.  Safeway, located in a core section of Woodland Par, is cited for its comfortable setup, vast array of items, a courteous staff, fresh deli and meats and baked goodies.  But in a close second was City Market, followed by the Florissant Mercantile. It was great to see all three generating so much support, further reinforcing the message of not consolidating two of these stores (Safeway and City Market) through corporate BS.  Thank you Attorney  General Phil Weiser.  We like our local, and competitive grocery store flavor.

Best Building Supply

Gold – Foxworth Galbraith

Silver – Woodland Hardware

Bronze – Lowe’s

Last year’s champ: Foxworth Galbraith

When it comes to remodeling houses or building things, locals enjoy Foxworth Galbraith’s selection of lumber and building accessories. The store has a large lumber yard and they sell other items, such as clothes and tools. Woodland Hardware is also a favorite when looking for supplies for that special project. They have a very knowledgeable and helpful staff. Some Best Of participants, though, admit they prefer to travel down the Pass for their home improvement needs.

Best Health Provider

Gold – UCHealth/Pikes Peak Regional Hospital

Silver – Peak Vista Community Health Centers

Bronze – Penrose-St. Francis Center

Last year’s champ: UCHealth/Pikes Peak Regional Hospital

Even with the UCHealth branding, locals and visitors still like the Pikes Peak Regional Hospital’s convenience and setup.  It also continues to serve a growing need in the community. Many, though, tout Peak Vista in Divide; and for those traveling down the Pass, and for those living in the lower Ute Pass, the Penrose St. Francis site is favored by many.


Best New Business

Gold – Be About Traveling

Silver – Our Reserve Art Gallery

Bronze – Blue Front Grocery

Last year’s champ: 315 Survival

Deb Idleman’s new business has been the talk of the town as travel agents seem to be coming back into popularity. Be About Traveling can take away all of the stresses from booking a vacation and owner Deb Idleman is a travel expert.

Our Reserve Gallery has been around for a while, but now they have a studio in town where people can make their own creations. Blue Front Grocery is another popular store in Cripple Creek that is home to a large variety of antiques and other gifts.

Best Business Events

Gold – Woodland Park Chamber (After Hours)

Silver – Charity golf tourneys at Shining Mountain

Bronze – Sheriff Town Hall gatherings

Last year’s champ: Woodland Park Chamber

The fact the Woodland Park Chamber’s After Hours still draw huge crowds is a health sign that our community is on the rebound. These events, which took a beating during the pandemic scare, offer a really great way to get everyone together and provide good updates, food, wine, gifts and more.  But charity golf is also quite a vehicle for business gatherings, especially at Shining Mountain.  These are good for donating to your favorite nonprofit. But recently, one of the best way to network is to attend one of the sheriff’s  many  town halls.  It seems we are not lacking in issues of interest.

Most Unique Business

Gold – 315 Survival

Silver – The Painted Bear

Bronze – Our Reserve Art Gallery

Last year’s champ: Santa’s Workshop

No question about this category, as 315 Survival, which sports a diverse supply of skis, hiking boots, tents, backpacks, climbing equipment and air rifles is the place for the outdoor folk. In addition, it has basic seasonal necessities.   Plus, the business, with the expertise of Eric Walker, does unique tours, including ice climbing. treks and survival classes. The Painted Bear in Green Mountain Falls is also a prime spot for unique items and even sports Friday night music gatherings. Our Reserve Art Gallery is another gem for uniqueness, with a gallery that can’t be matched.

Best Area Gift Shop

Gold – Creations Everlasting

Silver – The Mercantile

Bronze – Colorado Trade and Transfer

Honorable mention: Lowell Thomas Museum

Last year’s champ: Colorado Trade and Transfer

For gift items, Best Of voters’ favor Creations Everlasting, which sports items for virtually everyone, running the gamut from sports memorabilia to the most unique relic from the good old days.  But competition is much more intense in this particular category. After all, The Mercantile highlights its rich Colorado showcase items, and then there is the Colorado Trade and Transfer shop, making a trip to the  Cripple Creek District Museum even more rewarding.


Best Arms Dealer

Gold – 315 Survival

Silver – Freedom 30

Bronze – Specialty Sports

Last year’s champ: 315 Survival

What can we say. Best Of fans love those air rifles

Best Internet

Gold – Saturn Satellite

Silver – Teller Wifi

Bronze – Vero Networks

Competition in the Internet arena has gotten much more intense in the last few years, with a number new choices to meet your needs.

Best Jewelry

Gold – Lane Jewelers

Silver – Shane and Company

Bronze- Creations Everlasting/The Mercantile

Last year’s champ: Lane Jewelers

When it comes to shopping for jewelry, Lane Jewelers, which offers a cozy and prime outlet in Manitou Springs, won hands down.  Many opted for Shane and Company, while on the local jewelry terrain, both Creations Everlasting and The Mercantile, fared quite well.

Best Of 2024 Individual Winners

Best Lawyer

Gold – Bart DePalma


Silver –  Frank Azar


Bronze – McDivitt Law Firm


This year Woodland Park lawyer Bart DePalma best known locally for helping with DUI cases earned the top prize. Besides DePalma being the sole local option others preferred those bigger law firms that spend gazillions on television advertising.Frank Azar snagged the silver this time around which is most likely due to the fact that his ads are on TV literally all day long. McDivitt has become another household name with their catchy TV commercials.


Best Bartender

Gold – Brittney Giltner, Over Ice

Silver – Jewels Jewett, Russ’ Place

Bronze –  Loriann Bentzler, Peak View BBQ

Honorable Mention – Bobby Snare, Red Diamond Gastro Pub

This year, the top prize went to the bartender at one of the area’s newest watering holes, Over Ice. Brittney Giltner who serves and bartends at the Over Ice Pub inside Woodland Park’s Country Lodge has become a local favorite to visit for a cold one. Her hand-made cocktails and her friendly personality were probably the key to her snagging so many votes. Customers really seem to enjoy her custom cocktails that she makes during holidays and other occasions. Once again Jewels Jewett from Russ’ Place received several tallies that made the first place contest close for 2024. Jewett remains to be a staple in Teller County, and many enjoy visiting her for a good cocktail. Loriann Bentzler has made the list several times in the past as well and she continues to put a smile on her local customers’ faces. The new Red Diamond Gastro Pub has also come up into the running this year with voters enjoying the service offered by Bobby Snare and the rest of the crew.

Best Casino Manager

Gold -Matt Andrighetti, Golden Nugget

Silver – Eric Rose, Century

Bronze – Jerry Berger, Triple Crown

In a slight changing of the guard, Matt Andrighetti the personable manager at Golden Nugget, and a veteran of the limited stakes gaming arena in Cripple Creek for years, became the pick for best manager. Matt was often featured on television, when the COVID epidemic hit, and when a number of contentious gaming issues, took center stage. Eric Rose, the head skipper of Century Cripple Creek, grabbed the runner-up spot. Eric is known for providing a much-needed breath of fresh air to the often-mundane council meetings. Jerry Berger of the Triple Crown crew also emerged as a top pick in the casino manager showdown.

Best Casino Employee

Gold – Jessica Skokan, Chamonix resort/Bronco Billy’s

Silver – the Johnny Nolon’s crew

Bronze – Triple Crown greeters

Honorable mention – Eric Rose, Century

In the best casino employee contest, Jessica Skokan, who mans the new table action at Chamonix, won the top title.  Jessica is known for her personable skills and welcoming players to the newest casino addition on the block. But a number of our readers lauded the respective staff of Johnny Nolon’s and Triple Crown. In addition, Eric Rose, a head manager for Century, also fared well as a top-ranking casino worker. For that matter, the Cripple Creek casino employees all received high marks.

Best Hair Stylist

Gold – Heidi Kessler, The Salon

Silver –  Beth McCarl, Reflections

Bronze – Kellie Rae, Look Great Everyday Salon

This year The Salon in Woodland Park took home the most votes for sporting the best hairstylist. Voters seemed to really like the styles from Heidi Kessler in particular. Beth McCarl from Reflections also unsurprisingly got tons of votes as she has been a go-to for haircuts in the area for several decades. And although Kellie Rae is rather new to town, she has been busy taking care of the locals’ hair styles ever since the Look Great Everyday Salon opened in the Safeway shopping center.


Best Troublemaker

Gold – Bobby Kerr

Silver –  Jessica Skokan

Bronze – Cody Harris

Some local business owners and acclaimed personalities just can’t stay out of trouble.  Such is the case with Russ’ Bobby Kerr. When it comes to making trouble, the Russ co-owner, seems to always make it high on the list. Kerr only landed in second last year, so he had 12 months to cause even more ruckus and move himself to the number one spot. He succeeded.

However, Jessica Skokan still received many “good girl” (best casino employee in Cripple Creek) in another un-related competition, this persona seems to wear off after a while and the troublemaker inside her comes out. Cody Harris also made the list this year as his recent antics have nearly made local news headlines.  We would love to tell you more, but we are sworn to silence.

Best Political Troublemaker

Gold – The Woodland Park RE-2 School District School Board

Silver – Woodland Park Council Candidates

Bronze – GMF Trustee Nick Donzello/TMJ Staff

No competition, whatsoever. During the Nov. 2023 election, the results indicated almost an equal split between residents who sided with the ultra-conservative direction of the new school board, under the reign of Superintendent Ken Witt, and those with more progressive views and a stance that favors the current educators more. Some predicted a “go slow” trend towards more changes. No such luck, as the board seems to be on track to appearing on the nightly TV news as much as possible.  KRDO in particular has had a field day with the RE-2 School Board. When it comes to television ratings and regular drama, their regular board forums are becoming the best entertainment show in the region.  Some opt for staying the back of the room, just in case any stray punches occur. Oscar awards will be announced shortly, and we wouldn’t be surprised if the superintendent and several of the new board members start hitting late night talk circuit.  The entertainment value of their meetings just can’t be overlooked.   However, many voters favor the antics of the Woodlan Park City Council candidates who apparently want to join the fun, with an amazing number of contenders for positions that offer no pay, and plenty of headaches.  Plus, there is the city’s ongoing fight with the RE-2 District and the short-term rental controversy for added fun. And in Green Mountain Falls, Trustee Nick Donzello has done his best to recognize the talents of our volunteers and in doing some morale boosting, following trustee meetings.


Best Personality

Gold – Edie Smith, Creations Everlasting

Silver – Dennis Zerull (This Week in the Bear Cave)

Bronze – Donkeys/Melissa Trenary/

Honorable mention – Teller County Republicans

In another complete landslide victory, Edie Smith, the personable owners, operator and story-teller, of Creations Everlasting, located in the Double Eagle casino complex, snagged the Gold again. Edie beat out the donkeys, colorful area politicians, fellow business operators, wild podcast personalities and an entire slew of competitors. Let’s face it. Cripple Creek and the entire Teller region is not lacking in personalities, with even the Teller County Republicans gaining high marks. Snagging the runner-up spot was the colorful host of This Week in the Bear Cave podcast. Former Mayor Pro Tem Melissa Trenary, who always has the gift for story-telling, emerged as a top finisher too.

Best Rumor Mongers

Gold – Sheriff Jason Mikesell

Silver – TMJ Staff

Bronze – The Creek and Blue Moose regulars

Sheriff Jason Mikesell has taken center stage in defending the constitutional rights of local citizens, and in hosting some lively town halls. With these forums, come plenty of social media rampages and yes, wild rumors.  The sheriff, though, has some hefty competition in the rumor arena.

Best Local Sports Star

Gold –  Arial Johns, High School Girls Wrestling


Silver –  Hannah Winn, High School Girls’ Swimming


Bronze –  Parker Shreeve, High School Football


When it came to local sports this year, girl wrestler Arial Johns thrilled fans and her coaches by being the first girl to place at the state championship tournament. Johns has had several scholarship offers to wrestle in college as her skills cannot be denied.Hannah Winn picked up the silver this year after she has made the state championship tournament for girls’ swimming every year of her high school career. Junior Parker Shreeve has been a dominating force since he joined the high school football team his freshman year and this last season was perhaps his best yet.


Best Local Sports Team

Gold –  Woodland Park High School Boys’ Soccer

Silver –  Woodland Park High School Girls’ Basketball

Bronze – Woodland Park High School Cross Country

Honorable Mention – Colorado University Buffalos and Coach Prime

The local sports’ seasons looked a little different this year with some teams rising out of the woodworks and proving to be successful. The boys’ soccer team last fall did well enough to host the first home soccer playoff game in school history which was enough to earn them the gold in 2024.

And although the girls’ basketball team struggled a little during their regular season, their stellar play in the playoffs was enough for them to take the silver. Many cross country stars had great seasons putting the team on the Best Of list for the first time.

Best Public Servant

Gold – Cripple Creek Police

Silver – Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell

Bronze –  Teller County Commissioner Dan Williams


The residents of Cripple Creek must really appreciate their law enforcement crew as every year they get enough votes to take the number one spot for best public servant. Their policing tactics make the town safe and every year citizens file plenty of votes to give the police department the official nod of approval.Jason Mikesell gets several tallies every year perhaps due to his dedication to hosting town hall meetings and Coffee with the Sheriff events. County Commissioner Dan Williams always brings in votes as he can pretty much be seen at just about every local event and community meeting.


Best Politician


Gold – Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell


Silver –  Teller County Commissioner Dan Williams


Bronze – Teller County Commissioner Erik Stone


The local sheriff once again made the top of the list this time as the region’s most beloved politician. Mikesell has spent some time this year at the state Capitol, pushing certain bills and fighting others, engulfing the lawman deeply into the state and local political scene. Teller County Commissioners Dan Williams and Erik Stone were both neck and neck for second place as they too were voted up probably due to their staunch presence in Denver arguing constantly for Teller County and striving to keep the area’s rural way of life. “Don’t let ‘em ruin my county!” said Best Of 2024 voters.