Print Volunteer puts heart into Beaver Creek project
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Sunday, 05 February 2012 00:00

If they were building the Great Wall of China today, Charlie Fillmore said he’d be the one pushing the wheelbarrow.

On any given day, one can find Fillmore up on the roof of the Ranch House Restaurant in Beaver Creek, busily working to help complete the restoration of the popular eatery and social hub.

Or maybe inside the restaurant, scrubbing a stone wall, made with stone quarried not too far from here decades ago.

Easygoing and quick with A LAUGH, Beaver Creek resident Charlie Fillmore takes a few minutes  Jan. 25 to talk about his role in the process of repairing and restoring the Ranch House Restaurant, a task which has employed the efforts of dozens of volunteers.“I know absolutely nothing about construction,” Fillmore laughs.

For his roofing job, Fillmore said that a professional roofer was there for a while.

“I just try and copy what he was doing,” Fillmore said.

It must be working, because the roof of the restaurant seems to be shaping up just fine.

It’s not even the work itself that’s the biggest obstacle, Fillmore said, it’s trying to make sure the job is done right on a limited budget.

“Every day is a new challenge,” Fillmore said.

It’s a goal the Ranch House Coalition, the group determined to reopen the restaurant, has set its mind to.

Fillmore, who has lived in the Beaver Creek area since the 1970s, said the work they are doing is a reflection of the community.

“We could have a company come in here and do all this work,” Fillmore said. “But with the community itself so involved, there’s a lot more heart in it. They have a lot invested in this place.”

Fillmore’s been at it as a volunteer since the end of October. A songwriter and musician, Fillmore said he’s worked various jobs to support himself.

Most recently, he worked with an adventure tour company in California.

Work is hard to find these days, and while Fillmore said he could go out of state to find more, there’s no place he’d rather be than right here in Beaver Creek.

“I refuse to leave Arizona,” Fillmore said. “It’s my home. I’m going to survive here. I’m just going to stick it out.”

Fillmore said he wasn’t always musically inclined; in fact, he used to be much more interested in mathematics.

That was until he suffered a brain injury as a teenager that flipped some sort of switch in his head.

“No math any more. Suddenly, music just made more sense to me than even language.”

Fillmore keeps at it. For awhile, he said he was active in Flagstaff’s music scene.

It seems to come naturally as he plays a few bars on an old piano sitting inside the restaurant.

While the instrument might sound just fine to the non-musically inclined, Fillmore said it’s a bit out of tune.

“Oh I hear it,” Fillmore said. “It’s driving me crazy.”

Fillmore said he’s already got plans to try and get live music at the Ranch House every night if possible.

While Fillmore may not have a background in construction, he does have one as a mechanic.

Fillmore worked for years as a mechanic at various dealerships in Flagstaff.

“My dad said, ‘Don’t be a mechanic,’” laughs Fillmore. “So I tried to become a mechanic.”

He uses that skill to help keep things up and running around the restaurant property, be it his own vehicle or the small, four-wheel drive utility vehicle used to carry supplies.

Fillmore said he’ll keep volunteering to help see this project finished.

“I don’t care about the money,” Fillmore said.

He just wants to see the place bustling with people once again.

“I’m a musician,” Fillmore said. “I need people. If I don’t have an audience, I exist in a vacuum.”

Fillmore said he should have the roof finished soon. Then it’s on to the next task.

“It’s going to be a wonderful place,” Fillmore said.