In a time of national grief after the deaths of 13 military service members in Afghanistan last month, Mayor pro tem Hilary LaBarre granted a citizen request to honor the fallen.
Linda Martin read the 13 names at the opening the Woodland Park City Council meeting Sept. 2 and LaBarre subsequently called for a moment of silence for the fallen. The 13 were killed in an attack by the group known as Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K, at the Kabul airport.
The tribute preceded expressions of gratitude to the council for hosting the 29th Annual Salute to American Veterans Ride and Rally. The motorcycle ride, from Woodland Park to Cripple Creek and back Aug. 21, solidified the fact that Teller County has a heart for veterans, said Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell.
“There’s a lot of divisiveness going on in our country and a lot of things are kind of upside down right now for our veterans,” Mikesell said. “There is healing and it was important, for the community and for our veterans. For a brief moment, we were all one group.”
As well, sheriff’s deputies and the city’s police department, not known for being allied, came together for the event, Mikesell said. “Guess what? They got along great,” he added.
County Commissioner Dan Williams highlighted the enhanced role of the rally since America’s chaotic exit from Afghanistan. “I want to thank you for reading those names,” he said. “I’ve had a tough time with this, had emotions I didn’t expect. So, you did a really good thing.”
Since the attack on America’s military last month, suicide hotlines for veterans are active, he added. “In Teller County, the American Legion and VFW have activated buddy-check systems,” said Williams, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and is commander of the American Legion Post 1980. “From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for supporting our veterans.”
Jim Wear, founded of Pro Promotions, which organized the motorcycle tribute, emphasized the role of collaboration. “We are beyond grateful to the city, Sheriff Mikesell, Deputy (Renee) Bunting and Commissioner Williams for their trust in us,” he said.
Wear introduced Sgt. Major Rick Fisher (Ret.), founder of Vets for Vets, which works with homeless veterans. “I heard from many veterans of Afghanistan,” Fisher said. “They told me their experience at the veterans’ rally helped them immensely, with respect to the recent goings-on in Afghanistan, raising their spirits and self-esteem.”
In other business, council:
Approved in a 5-1 vote to appoint Matt McCracken to the board of the Downtown Development Authority. Council member Stephanie Alfieri voted no. McCracken replaces Elijah Murphy, who resigned his position on the board. McCracken’s term ends June 30, 2024.
Denied a request by Frank Connors to serve on the city’s planning commission.
Approved, in 5-1 vote, Connors’ appointment to the Charter Review Committee; Council member Kellie Case voted no.
Approved unanimously the appointment of Don Dezellum to the Charter Review Committee.
Approved the appointment of Richard McVey to the Utilities Advisory Committee.
Approved a Hotel & Restaurant Liquor License for Joanie’s Deli in Woodland Park.
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