MESA COUNTY, Colo. All week KJCT News 8 is honoring local heroes in our community as part of a joint effort with the American Red Cross.
During the West Salt Creek Landslide, it was the job of the Mesa County Public Works Department to help the citizens of that town come together and stay safe. That’s just one of the reasons the department was chosen as community heroes.
"When we got there it was basically an entire valley wiped out,” says Pete Baier of Mesa County Public Works.
The devastation of the West Salt Creek Landslide made national headlines last year.
"To be walking around something that is still active and talking to you was something that's a little bit, what I’m not used to,” says Tim Hayashi of Mesa County Public Works.
We spoke to five men who were part of a joint effort to monitor the situation and keep residents of the town of Collbran alert.
"I turned to my wife and said, you know what I’m going to be doing the rest of the summer? Doing monitoring and surveying,” says Frank Kochevar of Mesa County Public Works. “Monitoring was super critical because here, we had a slide-- we still had a very large mass of material above the Collbran town. We had no idea what it was doing or what it was going to do.”
Their quick and thoughtful actions as a team earned them recognition as heroes of Western Colorado.
"None of this could have been done without one or the other key individuals. There was not one person who is stronger in one thing than the other as a team. And not just the people you see sitting here; the sheriff's department, everybody-- we came together as a team,” says Baier.
Their humble spirits mean they don't often consider themselves as heroes.
"I feel like a hero is somebody who goes over and beyond what they're told to do,” says Federico Vargar Jr. of MCPWD
"People who, you know, sacrifice their lives or fought in war times. Those guys are the real heroes,” says Trent Howell of MCPWD
And Kochevar has a definition of heroes all his own.
"So I think when we say hero we think above and beyond what we did. But at the same time I look at everybody that helped work on this particular thing; that put in the time and effort as somewhat of a hero because it was something that had to be done; it needed to be done and folks stepped up and did it,” says Kochevar.
The Red Cross will honor these Heroes of Western Colorado at their 9th annual banquet and dinner Friday, April 24th, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Double Tree Hotel.