Marron’s roots sink into Saguache ground

Photo by Patrick Shea Sworn in on Jan. 10, newly elected Saguache County Commissioner Liza Marron shook hands with District 12 Judge Amanda Hopkins.

SAGUACHE — Newly elected Saguache County Commissioner Liza Marron has been active in the San Luis Valley for 35 years.

Born outside of Cleveland in Parma Heights, Ohio, Marron was the oldest of three children. Her family moved to Davenport, Iowa, when she was in third grade. She had her first horse at age 14.

“I loved living there,” Marron recalled. “My first job was de-tasseling corn. I’ve always loved the agricultural life. That was really a great place to grow up.” In 11th grade, Marron’s family moved from Iowa to Birmingham, a suburb of Detroit. She graduated from Wylie E. Groves High School and attended Michigan State University. To pay for her third year in college, Marron took a summer job on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park.

She was 19 years old and said she “had an amazing experience and fell in love with Colorado.”

Marron stayed. She joined the Young Adult Conservation Corps and worked another year before taking a job at the Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA camp near Grand Lake. She worked the front desk in the winter and dude ranch operations in the summer.

“That was a wonderful experience getting paid to ride horses,” Marron recalled. “We would ride six days a week, and on the seventh day we’d ride for fun with the crew.”

Marron also became active in the Rocky Flats Truth Force and took regular trips over the Continental Divide to protest the nuclear weapons plant outside of Boulder. She recalled her days as a young student when she had to hide under the desk for nuclear drills. She made presentations at elementary schools in Granby and Kremmling to discuss nuclear proliferation.

After Snow Mountain Ranch, Marron worked on the Quaker Ridge Dude Ranch in Woodland Park. She also wrote for the Ute Pass Courier, covering city and county meetings and reporting news while producing her weekly horse-themed feature called “Hoofbeats.” Marron’s horse column touched on Ute Pass Saddle Club events, western style competitions, and ranch life in general.

Marron married and had two children in Woodland Park before moving to the San Luis Valley in 1988. Her husband was hired as a ranch hand for the High Meadows Buffalo Ranch near Center, and Marron was a co-wrangler mother.

The most dangerous task she could remember involved removing all the ear tags from the herd so they would look natural for a Busch beer Super Bowl advertisement. They worked seven days for an expensive 30 seconds on-screen.

Throughout the year, Marron helped herd the buffalo, run them through chutes, and vaccinate them.

“I worked outdoors from the time I was 19 until my first job at the Saguache County Department of Social Services,” Marron recalled.

“This kind of feels like full circle because I started out my first office job,” for the county, the new commissioner noted.

In 1997, Marron took a new job mentoring students for a nonprofit organization. She ran her “Pilots for Prevention” in the Center, Moffat, and Saguache schools. Marron also bought her house in Saguache and went back to school at Adams State University. She earned a degree in Spanish and then received her master’s in counseling in 2009.

When the funding for the school program ended in 2005, Marron put her muscle into Tom McCracken’s Green Earth Organic Farm on the north side of Saguache. Along with her three children, Marron helped raise her niece and became a foster mother, ultimately steering eight people through childhood.

In 2009, Marron initiated the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition with help from others. She became the executive director. More than a dozen years later, the coalition now supports 30 living-wage jobs and manages a $3 million budget. As Marron adopts commissioner duties, a team of support will steer the organization.

Marron attended three days of training run by Colorado Counties Inc. (CCI) and County Technical Services Inc. from Jan. 11 to 13. They touched on land use, budgets, road and bridge, human services, public health, media, and legislation — basically all the departments in Saguache County government.

Marron inherited many of the responsibilities Tim Lovato handled. She will be the liaison for the Saguache County Museum, for example.

“We definitely had a peaceful transfer of power here,” Marron said. “Tim has been a great mentor to me. I have great respect for him.”