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Czech-ing out Summit County

Reid Williams

FRISCO – Someday, Josef Houfek will return to the Czech Republic. He can’t say when, but it will probably be when he’s learned enough to get his dream started.

The 32-year-old Tiger Road resident first came to the United States in 1996. He joined friends in New York City – friends he still visits regularly – before moving on to Massachusetts, Montana and finally Colorado. He’s glad he came to Summit County three years ago, he said.

“Another Czech friend called me in Montana and asked me what I was planning on doing,” Houfek said. “I told him I was planning on going back to New York and he said, if I wanted, I should come see this beautiful place.”

The Czech Republic has mountains, Houfek said, but nothing as big as Summit County’s. Here, he takes full advantage of opportunities to snowboard, bike and hike. For him, the mountains have a certain indescribable quality that draws him to them.

“My favorite thing is nature and all the activities,” Houfek said. “And the people are very friendly. I don’t think I want to live in a big city.”

Houfek works for the Summit Recycling Project in Frisco. He spent Saturday assisting other SRP workers, volunteers and hazardous materials experts sifting through the waste brought to the Fire Training Center at the County Commons for Household Hazardous Waste Day.

His goal, he said, is to learn enough about recycling and waste to return to the Czech Republic and start a national program at home. He landed the position in Frisco by accident, however. Houfek said he read about the recycling project in the Summit Daily News and contacted project staff to ask questions related to his idea for a Czech recycling program. The Summit crew quickly offered him a job.

“I would like to do something like this in the Czech Republic,” Houfek said. “Not too many people recycle there and it’s something we need.”

The job also gives him plenty of practice speaking English. Houfek said his idiosyncratic speech frequently makes his co-workers laugh. “Then I tell them, “Don’t make me mad or I only speak Czech,'” he said jokingly.

“Maybe it won’t be perfect ever, but I like to practice and learn more,” Houfek said.

He won’t be going home soon – at least, not before he travels more. Houfek said he wants to see Alaska and he envisioned himself touring the West Coast for a while – anywhere with wilderness to enjoy. And with the growth in Summit County, Houfek amusingly wonders how long he can enjoy it here.

“Yes, I have seen some changes only in three years,” he said. “Maybe after five years, Breckenridge and Frisco will be one town.”


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