Grand Marshal has long history of service to city, county, nation
Last updated 8/31/2022 at 9:48am
If you've ever visited the Fountain Recycling Center, chances are you've encountered Bill Fenlon, the center's supervisor. Not only is he a champion of recycling for the city and clean-up efforts around the community, he's an all-around great guy who works hard in his retirement years to make a difference.
On Labor Day, Fenlon will serve as the grand marshal for the 52nd annual Fountain Fall Festival parade. He was selected for this honor based on nominations from the community.
"Bill has worked TIRELESSLY for the city with no recognition," said resident Brittany Fechko in her nomination letter. "One Sunday morning he got up at 6 a.m. and helped me clean up the tracks behind Kum N Go because no one else would. He is an incredible man, and I would like him to be recognized for all his work."
The grand marshal for the Labor Day parade is selected by the Fountain Valley Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the festival every year.
"We are excited to have Bill as our Grand Marshal and we look forward to him leading the parade," said Chamber of Commerce President James Flowers.
The parade begins at 10 a.m. on North Main Street, then turns east onto East Ohio Avenue toward Fountain Mesa Road and Metcalfe Park.
Fenlon said he was more than surprised when the Chamber broke the news to him.
"Actually, I was pretty shocked," he said.
Fenlon has been involved with the city's recycling program since its humble beginnings operating behind Fountain Middle School in 2014, when it was just "two little bins and two little old ladies," Fenlon said.
In 2016, Fountain Recycling Center moved to its current location adjacent to the former Lorraine Community Center at 301 E. Iowa Ave. It has continued to grow in scope every year since.
"In the first year, we were lucky to get 35-40 people a month, and now we're getting that a day," Fenlon said.
The center also added numerous services and amenities, including some of Fenlon's own ideas – like a community garden. He built garden beds, used recycled materials, and added flowers.
The center also houses a free little lending library, paint recycling, and information about xeriscaping and energy rebates. Fenlon routinely checks on the garden, replacing materials as needed with other recycled items. In a greenhouse lined with plastic bottles, Fenlon estimated he used nearly 1,500 bottles.
"I try to add something every month or so," Fenlon told the Fountain Valley News in a 2021 interview.
Fechko shared that Fenlon has been working hard to revitalize the community garden this year, as well as pursuing grants to fund services.
"He is also responsible for cleaning up countless pounds of trash off the city streets and has worked to bring volunteers from all over for Creek Week and the Great American Cleanup," she said. This year he had the most volunteers and trash cleaned up on the Fountain Watershed."
Fenlon, like many people in this area, came here with the Army. The Michigan native retired from Fort Carson in 1988 after 22 years of service.
"I looked at the want ads; they were advertising for the Sheriff's Office," Fenlon said.
So, he went to work for the El Paso County Sheriff's Office and retired from that agency after 18 years.
During Fenlon's first two years with the city of Fountain, he worked in Code Enforcement part time. Then, he transitioned to his current role focusing on the recycling center.
"It's my baby," he said.
Fenlon said he came to love the community he has called home for many years now. The people are what make it so enjoyable, he said. He has customers who have been visiting the center since its inception, and he loves chatting with them.
He enjoys engaging with community groups, sharing his knowledge and love for recycling, and encourages people to get involved with clean-ups such as Creek Week, which is coming the last week of September. He has goals for reaching more young people with lessons about food waste and composting.
In his downtime, Fenlon enjoys spending time with his grown children and five grandchildren. The first great-grandbaby is on the way. His wife, Helen, still works full time as manager for referees for USA Hockey and stays quite busy herself.
Fenlon's volunteer spirit carries on with his family.
"I've spent quite a bit of time relocating grandkids from one college to another," he said.
Fenlon – the recycling center's only employee – often works with little help, so volunteers are always needed to keep up with the demand for the center's services. To volunteer or learn more, call 719-639-4355.
The Fountain Recycling Center is open on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and during the same hours on the first and third Saturdays of the month. For more information about services and what items are accepted, see the "Recycling" tab at fountaincolorado.org/services.