The View

Guest columnist Mary McGann

Grand County is aptly named not only because of the spectacular natural beauty of this county, but more importantly because of the grand people who call this place their home.

So often I am filled with pride when I have the opportunity to talk to others about Grand County and its eclectic population of people. The views of the people in this county vary and often we passionately disagree with each other. An outsider who has attended one of Grand County’s open houses or town hall meetings might walk away from that gathering believing the people of this county do not care about each other. How wrong they would be. We are like a family that will bicker and fight, but when a member of our family is in need, we quickly and generously respond to their needs.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” The people in this county have lived and are living well. They have demonstrated an amazing generosity of spirit during and after the Cinema Court Fire that devastated the lives of so many in our community. Grand County can hold its head up high for we have been useful, honorable and have demonstrated so much compassion.

As chair of the Stakeholders Committee for the Cinema Court Fire, I have been working to support and coordinate the many entities engaged in this effort. Our energies are twofold: to help the victims and work with our local entities engaged in the cleanup, and to obtain funding at a state level to help us. Secondly, to identify other areas of high fire risk in our community and make them fire safe going forward.

Members of the Moab Valley Fire Department, Grand County EMS, Grand County Search and Rescue, Grand County Sheriff’s Office, Moab City Police, personnel from the Bureau of Land Management, Park Service and Forest Service, fire crews from outside the area, and community members worked tirelessly to stop the fire and prevented this tragedy from being worse.

The gratitude felt for the brave and determined men and women who fought the fire is immeasurable.

The compassionate outpouring of support from our business community was amazing. Hotels generously offered rooms. Restaurants closed their doors so they could focus on getting food to the people fighting the fire and those evacuated from their homes. Grocery stores donated food, paper goods and drinks. Retail shops brought over gift cards and merchandise. Rental shops provided equipment.

Communities of faith quickly offered meals, clothing and more importantly, comfort to all who had lost so much. Nonprofits quickly stepped forward to offer caring support. Government agencies, departments and districts are using their equipment, personnel and fee waivers to assist in the cleanup.

With a steady determination, the community is moving forward not only to clean up the area devastated by this fire, but also to prevent this from happening again. There is an organized effort to clean up areas along Mill Creek and Pack Creek that are over-grown and full of debris. Neighbors are helping neighbors lower the fire risk on their property.

If you would like more information on how to help, please go to the Facebook page “Cinema Court Fire Coordination.”

So much has been done and is being done, yet there are still needs that are unmet. Our community is in need of volunteer firemen and women, emergency medical volunteers and volunteers for search and rescue. A willingness to serve as such a volunteer is a gift beyond measure. Wilfred Grenfell said, “Real joy comes not from ease or riches or from the praise of men, but from doing something worthwhile.” Take some quiet time and honestly ask yourself, can I be one of the people who steps up and takes the time to serve our community as an emergency responder? Wouldn’t it be great if Grand County could boast about a significant increase in the number of men and women who have recently become trained firefighters, paramedics and members of search and rescue? I’m looking forward to the day we earn that bragging right.

Mary McGann

Member of Grand County Council

Chair, Stakeholders Committee for the Cinema Court Fire.

“Our community is in need of volunteer firemen and women, emergency medical volunteers and volunteers for search and rescue. A willingness to serve as such a volunteer is a gift beyond measure.”