Donors Fund Purchase of New Ranger Jeep
While most would agree that Lake City is a lovely place to live, it is the quiet, hardworking volunteers and generous unsung heroes who make life here an amazing experience.
An unexpected trifecta of such philanthropic largess befell the Hinsdale County Sheriff’s office on Independence Day. According to Sheriff Ron Bruce, following the town’s annual 4th of July parade and within the space of an hour and a half, three separate anonymous donors approached him in the Town Park with incredibly generous offers.
Following months of discouragement and fruitless struggle by the sheriff’s office to secure financing or grants for a rugged and reliable new vehicle for Alpine Ranger Alan Rae to use during his patrols, the prospects of finding a mountain-ready vehicle didn’t seem to be in the offing any time soon.
Still seeming stunned by the unexpected good fortune, Sheriff Bruce explains that he was first approached by a couple who stated that they wanted to buy the Rubicon Jeep for the department. “I was speechless at the philanthropy some people have. We are so grateful.” He adds, “We worked out some details for the coming days to search out the best deal we could. A wire transfer was arranged on July 10 to the dealership in Salida which offered the best bid.”
Bruce said the dealership then delivered the brand new 2017, slate gray, four-door jeep on Saturday, July 15. Cost of the vehicle was $39,558.
Continuing with his story, Bruce notes that within an hour of the first meeting in the park, he was approached by another family who proffered an identical offer. Laughing incredulously, Bruce told them, “You’ve got to be kidding! Less than an hour ago, someone else offered to do the same thing!”
Bruce states the anonymous folks said that this hurt their feelings and asked, “What else can we do for you? We want to do something for the Sheriff’s Department.”
Bruce responded that once delivered, the new Rubicon would need a “Build Up” of specialized equipment which he added, “would not be cheap.” He clarified that the radio, special tires, graphics, lights and additional equipment might exceed $15,000.
Sheriff Bruce reports that the unidentified second couple immediately responded, “Don’t skimp. You get anything that Alan Rae can need up there on the mountain!”
While it was shaping up to be a marvelous holiday, it wasn’t over yet.
“It wasn’t 15 minutes before someone else came up to me and stated that they wanted to donate $15,000 for the Sheriff’s Office and Search & Rescue to use for anything we might need,” Bruce adding this was not the first anonymous donation this particular citizen has made to his department. “I feel these gifts are a result of the people seeing the professional image presented and the service we provide. I believe it is recognition of the integrity that is here.”
Alpine Ranger Alan Rae remained incredulous and in a state of disbelief after receiving confirmation of the windfall. “I think this gift is due to the hard work and reputation of the Sheriff’s Office,” said Rae, “it is an appreciation gift, honestly, for this Sheriff’s Office.” Asked about his work on the Alpine Loop, Rae stated, “My being up there isn’t about ticket writing. I enjoy being an ambassador and safety guy…helping people and teaching them how to be on the Loop and not to abuse it.”
Rae was effusive in his praise of the family atmosphere and fine training he has found at the sheriff’s office preparing him for his job. “My promise to the people is that this vehicle will help prevent trouble and accidents and save lives on the Loop.”
Rae notes since the Loop opened this season he has rescued three groups of hikers who were caught in lightning storms; aided five groups of people who were lost; transported three families with infants caught on ATVs with no protection in inclement weather. Rae reports he participated in two additional search and rescue operations, and transporting two motorcycle injuries to Silverton. “We estimate that just this season we will have 265,000- 295,000 people on the Loop.”
Don’t look for the new gray Rubicon on the Loop anytime soon. Patrols in Rae’s “new wheels” will be delayed until all the technical additions can be made. Sheriff Bruce was unsure at this writing precisely how long it will take to schedule the work and order the necessary equipment for installation on the new vehicle.
Bruce says that this year’s visitors to the Loop have been really nice. He restates the department’s goal for having the Alpine Ranger on the Loop is not to punish anyone but instead to emphasize compliance. He adds that the new OHV signage arrived this week and will certainly aid in keeping OHV people informed of the local ordinances.
As if this good news isn’t enough, Sheriff Bruce recapped his announcement to Hinsdale County Commissioners on July 12, noting that the Sheriff’s Office has also procured an ex-military Humvee through the Federal 10-33 Program overseen by Colorado State Patrol. Seeing an email announcement of the availability of the “clean” Humvee which never saw service in the Middle East, Bruce quickly jumped at the opportunity, beating out 20 other interested departments which responded within an hour of the posting.
Bruce explained the military vehicle comes with no cost to Hinsdale County coffers. “This unit had been procured and dressed out by Green Mountain Falls, Colorado, early last year.” However, according to Bruce, the Green Mountain Falls town council objected to the “militarization” of their local law enforcement, fired the sheriff and returned the vehicle which has since been in a covered storage facility in El Paso County.
The sheriff notes that replacement parts for the Humvee are abundant and at no cost through this same program at Fort Carson.
“We should be getting it this week,” says Bruce who notes he arranged the acquisition through Alice Huyler who heads the State Patrol 10-33 Program responsible for the repurposing and disposal of excess military equipment. Citing that the Humvee comes with brand new 12-ply tires and carries an approximate value of $41,000, he notes this is not a vehicle that would ever be used on the Loop.
However, he adds, it is an amazing vehicle with really tough and unique capabilities and could prove useful in other rugged terrain, flood situations or for search and rescue. Adhering to a “Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it” philosophy, he adds that usage will be extended to departments in contiguous neighboring counties, Bruce noting, “Only trained sheriff’s personnel will be driving this thing… it is a different sort of beast.”
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