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Mancos State Park Honors First Responders, Military

MANCOS—Gov. Jared Polis has issued a proclamation recognizing the Four Corners area’s first responders who will be feted on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, at Mancos State Park. 

Mancos State Park’s second First Responders Appreciation Day honors all first responders, dispatchers, search and rescue and military.

All public safety professionals and volunteers, military members and their families are invited to a day of honor and remembrance, as well as fun, family games and food. 

The day begins at 10 a.m. in the park amphitheater with a brief ceremony of honor and remembrance, Elder said. The ceremony opens with a combined honor/color guard from the Southern Ute Veterans Association, American Legion Ute Mountain Post No. 75 from Cortez, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5231 from Cortez, and the Civil Air Patrol Mesa Verde Cadet Squadron from Pleasant View.

The National Anthem will then be sung by Fort Lewis College music student Tayler Smith.

Ecumenical invocations will be given by Shawn S. Smith, a board member of Congregation Har Shalom in Durango and Chaplain of the Masonic Lodge in Pagosa Springs, by Carol Bylsma representing the Four Corners Unitarian Universalist Congregation and the Rev. Craig Paschal, Mancos United Methodist Church.

Rev. Paschal will then lead a moment of silence followed by Taps from a bugle corps.

Jim Lynch and Chuck Riggs of the Westwind Pipes & Drum will perform “Going Home.” The tune is based on Antonin Dvorak’s Ninth Symphony (“The New World”) and is often requested at funerals for military and public safety personnel.

Mancos and Lone Mesa State Parks’ Manager Scot Elder said that to affirm life and the future, as well as remembering those lost and raising hope for the future, local musician Tom Kochanski will perform two songs. The first is Cold Missouri Waters. The song was written by Canadian folk singer-songwriter James Keelaghan in the 1990s. He wrote it to commemorate 13 firefighters who died in the 1949 Mann Gulch Fire in Montana. With the deaths of 19 firefighters in Yarnell Hill Fire near Prescott, Ariz. in June 2013, the song was taken into the hearts of many first responders.

Kochanski’s next song is meant to remind first responders and mourning loved ones that there is still life that they help give to others. He will perform “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World” as arranged and sung by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole.

Next up are short addresses by local and regional public safety leaders. Scheduled speakers include: Elder; Colorado State Senator Don Coram; Colorado State Rep. Marc Catlin; Colorado State Patrol Capt. Adrian Driscoll, Commander, Troop 5A, Durango; Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin; Charles Lanoue, Battalion Chief, San Juan Region, Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control;; Scott Anderson, Emergency Medical Services Supervisor, Southwest Health System; and Chief David Burke of the Farmington Fire Department.

Family and first responders who want to honor the fallen, are invited to come to the park’s Remembrance Booth. Those visiting the booth and leave photos or written expressions to those they’ve lost. There will be a bulletin board for photos and a large jar for the notes.

Elder said the $8 park entry fee will be waived for identified first responders. Vehicles with a military veteran, active duty military personnel or reserve members can enter all Colorado state parks for free in August with proper identification with the pass available at the park entrance gate. Other visitors still pay the $8 day use fee.

Following the ceremony, first responders and their families are invited to partake of a free barbecue, musical performances, family games and inter-agency competitions. Elder said that all park visitors also can take advantage of the fishing, boating and hiking opportunities at the park, as well as the musical performances.

Folks who bring their boats must have them currently registered in their home state and boaters need to purchase an Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) stamp, which helps fund the Colorado Parks and Wildlife ANS inspection program to help keep the state’s water free of invasive species. Each boat launched in the lake must undergo a free ANS inspection before launching, Elder noted. 

Boats must also have appropriate safety equipment, including personal flotation devices (life jackets) for each person on board, he said. All children 12 and under must wear their PFDs when near the water or onboard the boats.

Elder reminded the community that the First Responder Appreciation Day is an opportunity for public safety and military personnel, their families, and the people they serve to honor and remember those who help the community in this unique and sometimes dangerous way.

For more information contact Mancos State Park at (970) 533-7065.

Dove Creek Press

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