Every day, they get up, put on their uniforms and go out to be of service to their community never knowing if that is the day they might be injured or killed in the line of duty.
In 1974, a raging fire destroyed six buildings where the Main Mall now stands and Cpl. Gale Emerson of the Durango Police Department and firefighter Nick Parks of the Durango Fire Department were killed. It ranks as one of Durangos biggest tragedies, and it shook the town to see the gaping hole in Main Avenue and the chasms left in two young families.
The loss inspired Doug Morrison, who decided we needed to have our first responders backs like they have ours.
And thus was born the Durango One Hundred Club, based on the simple premise that each member donates $100 a year to be held in a fund, so that when a member of the Durango Police Department, the La Plata County Sheriffs Office, the local office of the Colorado State Patrol or the Durango Fire & Rescue Authority is killed or injured, or one of their families suffers a terrible loss, there is immediate financial support available to the family. Scholarships for their children also are offered.
It would be easy not to contribute until an emergency happens thats what seems to happen with the Red Cross, even though the organization has to keep its doors open and prepare for crises all the time to be ready to go at a moments notice when one actually does occur. But the folks at the Hundred Club are determined to show up at the familys front door within two to four days of the incident, check in hand.
In 2012, the Hundred Club responded to three tragedies, although, thankfully not in the line of duty. The deaths of 5-year-old Kimber Brown, the daughter of Sheriffs Office investigator Mike Brown and Raelyn Anderson-Brown; Deputy Hollis Holland; and former DFRA Chief Mike Dunaway and his wife, Linda, all triggered immediate gifts for the families. The amount given varies from the $2,000 the Brown family received for the loss of a family member to $15,000 for law enforcement and firefighting personnel killed in the line of duty.
On Thursday, the club had its annual banquet, and it had some of the happiest buzz of any event I have attended. A number of our first responders were on hand, raising the high spirits of the evening, although no one forgot why we were there.
Attending from the DPD were Chief Jim Spratlen and his wife, Harlene Russell; Capt. Don Baker and his wife, Michelle; Sgt. Geary Parsons and his wife, Jan; Officer Jeff Tipton and his son Ryan; and Amy Haukeness, the wife of Officer Rob Haukeness.
DFRA was represented by Chief Dan Noonan and his wife, Ellen; Deputy Chief Hal Doughty and his wife, Janelle; former Fire Marshal Tom Kaufmann and his wife, Cheryl; and Val Mattison and her husband, Beau.
Capt. Garrett Valencia and his wife, Helen, along with Deputy Vito Simplicio and his wife, Lt. Rhoda Simplicio, represented the La Plata County Sheriffs Office. And new Colorado State Patrol Capt. Adrian Driscoll was accompanied by Sgt. Benjamin Steger and Troopers Rusty Sanchez and Tonja Cowan representing his agency.
Hundred Club President Dean Brown also introduced Shelby Deaderick and his wife, Kathy. Deaderick was injured in a training session with the Long Beach Fire Department in California 40 years ago and still supports his brother firefighters.
Fort Lewis College student Wolfgang Cramer is one of the clubs scholarship recipients and was happy to join the club for some fun. The sociology major isnt quite sure what hell do with his degree, but hes grateful for the help in getting there.
Attendees were particularly happy to see Lynette Morrison, Doug Morrisons widow, who came down from the Denver area, and the couples grandson, Kenneth Duncan, who now sits on the Hundred Clubs Board of Directors.
Brown served as master of ceremonies. Lets just say were glad his wife, Sandy, was on hand to help him come near to keeping everything straight. She, on the other hand, notes that shes his secretary because shes cheap, and he gets what he pays for.
Brown said the club currently has 315 members, but more tend to sign on after the banquet. The Hundred Club has $550,000 in the bank, which shows what happens when people donate on a regular basis.
Some of that money, though, came from a donation from the Battle of the Badges, a baseball game that pits the Durango Police Department against the Durango Fire & Rescue Authority. Its not a rivalry I follow closely, but since everyone seemed to think it was worth noting that the police won the most recent outing, I gathered that the firefighters generally have bragging rights. The check to the Hundred Club was a sweet $2,000.
And ever since firefighters responded to the fire at their restaurant Seasons Rotisserie & Grill in 2008, Karen and Wayne Barger have hosted Burnin Down the House, a fundraiser for the Hundred Club that brings in some serious bucks every February.
The highest note in an evening of high notes came, when for only the second time in its 37 years, the Hundred Club decided to honor a member. The first honoree was founder Doug Morrison.
The second was Don Mapel, one of Morrisons early recruits, who has continued to serve all these years. And it was a complete surprise to both the honoree and his family. Those Browns know how to keep a secret.
Mapel received a plaque that had badges from all four agencies the club supports. Apparently, the state patrol badge is a bear to get, but get it Brown did. The verbiage on the plaque included the phrase, for four decades of service.
According to my accounting, Brown said to his good friend, that means you still owe us three years.
For Brown, whose daughter-in-law Mary Monroe was at Seasons when that fire broke out, and Mapel, who was the fire marshal in Dnang, South Vietnam, when he was in the military, theres a personal reason to be active in the Hundred Club.
The rest of us hope never to have a personal reason to support our law enforcement and fire fighting personnel, but we have a more profound reason as a community.
If you would like to learn more or become a member, visit www.Durango100Club.org.
Many people are thankful these folks were born this week Jo Fusco, Katherine Burgess, Annabelle Eagle, Alan Kahler, Ione Simons, Jama Jones, Amanda Mulkey, Kathryn Ogier, Sandy Turner, Jeff Brown, Shelby Mechelle, Hanna Miller, Vance Thurman, Jim Hudson, Jackie Manning, Elizabeth Oetter, Donovan Schardt, Larry Rardin, Kathleen KD Duft, Jacob Rudolph, Judith Johnson, Wayne Pratt, Tim Williams, Andrew Williams, Robert Maple, Ashton Jory, Carol West and Barbara Elliott.
If you would like to help give some of our communitys youngest members something to be thankful for this week, consider participating in Diapering Durangos Tiny Heinies.
For families stressed financially, the more than $75 per month for diapers and the more than $100 per month for formula can literally be bank breakers. Folks at the Manna Soup Kitchen and Volunteers of America Community Shelter and Southwest Safehouse tell tales of mothers forced to leave babies in diapers too long or reuse disposable diapers leading to infections, rashes and the possibility for child abuse as wailing babies try tempers.
I like this drive because its a true example of individuals seeing a need and deciding to do something about it. Karen Thompson and Chris Warren started this in 2010, and Moni Grushkin joined last year. In 2011, they collected more than 12,000 diapers, 6,000 wipes and cases of formula.
Lets see how much we can top that by this year.
The collecting began Monday and will continue until Dec. 10. Diapers, wipes and formula may be dropped off at north and south City Markets, the main lobby of First National Bank of Durango or the Durango Visitors Center at the corner of Main Avenue and Eighth Street.
Or ... send a check to Karen Thompson, 333 Pine Ridge Loop, Durango, CO 81301; or Chris Thompson, 1080 Cherry Gulch Road, Durango, CO 81301. All money collected will be spent on diapers.
Or ... call Thompson at 259-7738 or Warren at 375-1246, and they will come pick up your donation.
Could they make it any easier?
Since beginning at the Herald, I have had the privilege of writing several stori es about Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, a true gem of Southwest Colorado. The digs, the reproductions, the Time Team America shoot on every assignment, I learned more about the ancestral Puebloans who first called this area home beginning 3,500 years ago or so.
But no matter the subject, there was always one constant: the great meals chef Jim Martin has prepared since 1986, more than a million meals at that. His particular genius is in preparing meals that delight both adults and kids, a tough task at the best of times.
Crow Canyon says its time to replace his kitchen equipment, but they said it so creatively, Im going to let them tell the story.
While Jims young at heart, his kitchen is definitely over the hill, they said in their article, Ancient Food Preparation Artifacts Discovered in Kitchen.
In fact, this summer, the kitchen stove conked out in the midst of Martins lunch preparations for a crowd of visitors.
The kitchen equipment is worn out, practically obsolete in terms of getting parts, and on its last legs (unlike Jim, who keeps his legs in great shape by biking), the appeal continues.
An artist like Martin deserves the right equipment, and, after 26 years, the center asked him to design the ideal kitchen for the work he does. His design includes professional-quality equipment that will enable him to prepare a million more fabulous meals.
To see Martin in action making his famous green chile stew, visit www.crowcanyon.org.
And to help with Jims Kitchen Project, with its $78,500 price tag (theyre already at $40,000), send your donation to Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, 23390 Road K, Cortez, CO 81321.
Donations of all levels are welcome, but $100 will make you a Hunter & Gatherer; $250 is the Three Sisters Gardener level; $500 is for Dryland Corn Farmers; $1,000 is for the Green Chile Lovers among us; $2,500 is Hot Stuff; a Big Cheese will donate $5,000; and $10,000 is The Whole Enchilada.
One of the things I learned at Crow Canyon is that the Three Sisters are beans, corn and squash, the three food staples of our areas earliest residents. Theyre a true example of early symbiotic gardening. The beans use the corn stalk to grow up, the beans add nitrogen to the soil for the other two plants, and the squash leaves deter weeds and shade the ground, helping retain moisture longer for the corn and beans.
Now you cant say you never learned anything by reading Neighbors!
I am grateful for my readers all year long, but the day before Thanksgiving is always the day I tell you so. You make it all possible, and I never forget it.
Muchísimas gracias, mille grazie, merci beaucoup, domo arigato, spasibo, xie xie ... you get the picture.
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.
Grateful for another year of married life together are Tom Everette and Guyneth Zimmerman, Bob Pope and Alice Robinson, Doug and Kim Pierce, John and Ulys Gardella, Bob and Heather Lundquist, Paul and Beverly Dittmer, Don and Mary Southworth and Ed and Lauren Cotgageorge.
Heres how to reach me: email@example.com; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items.
I am happy to consider photos for Neighbors, but they must be high-quality, high-resolution photos.