Cooperative effort makes event a true tribute

Blanco District Ranger Ken Coffin announced to Meeker mayor Mandi Etheridge and the many others who attended the PMC tree lighting last December that the 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree would be harvested from the White River National Forest. Preparations for Colorado’s gift to the people of the United States began immediately after the announcement. The celebration begins tomorrow with the actual cutting of the tree and a mayor’s reception at the Meeker Hotel starting at 5 p.m. A complete schedule of events can be seen on page 5 of this week’s special section.

MEEKER I The Capitol Christmas Tree project and celebration is not only a showcase of Colorado’s “Gift to the Nation,” it is also a showcase of how well organizations in Meeker work together to build lasting memories for our community.
Together, the U.S. Forest Service, Town of Meeker, Eastern Rio Blanco Recreation and Park District, Rio Blanco County, Meeker Chamber of Commerce, Wyatt’s Sports Center, Pioneers Healthcare Foundation, Meeker Arts and Cultural Council, along with many individual citizens, have spent the past seven months preparing and planning for this honor.
Each member of the Christmas Tree committee is grateful in one way or another to be a part of this project. Natasha Goedert has been the logistics coordinator: securing crane operators, a trailer to haul the tree, hauling permits, and the list goes on.
“I offered to get involved with this project because I knew it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. It is going to give me a chance to travel across America and share my knowledge and experiences about this project, the Forest Service, and the town of Meeker, Colo.,” Goedert said.
Meeker Mayor Mandi Etheridge stated, “This project has been something that celebrates our town. So many people have really been integral in making the local event a success and it has reaffirmed my belief that our town is full of brilliant, hard-working, dedicated and positive people that want to showcase all the beauty and spirit our valley has to offer.”
Gerald and Twila Morris have spent many hours working on the project. Not only on the Meeker celebration, but getting Santa and Mrs. Claus ready to travel across the nation with the 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree. The Morrises said, “We have enjoyed working with everyone on the committee on this project. This is a special opportunity for us to give back to the community that supported us in our business over the years as well as the chance to continue to bring happiness to everyone.”
Kimberly Bullen, Rio Blanco County administrator, recognizes the impact this project has had on the community as a whole.
“The Capitol Christmas Tree project is truly a celebration for our community and an opportunity for us to share our community with the rest of the country. This project represents how our community and organizations can work together to accomplish something much bigger than any one single entity can.”
Kathy Sizemore has been a key member of the behind the scenes action with various aspects of the 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree project.
“Since Christmas is my and my family’s favorite holiday, I felt it would be very special to be involved in this event. I have enjoyed working with Mary Cunningham-Gillespie on the ornament side of things and enjoyed getting to know the high school students who also volunteered. I also felt this was a great way to give back to a community that has supported our family over the last couple of years. It has been an honor to help and I am glad to do whatever else it needed,” Sizemore said.
Katelin Cook, executive director for the Meeker Chamber of Commerce, said, “When I first heard the 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree was coming from the White River National Forest my initial reaction was ‘Wow, that’s cool!’ Over the past year, while working on this project, I have come to say ‘Wow, this is an honor!’ This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Meeker and our nearby forest, and this group of organizers has worked diligently to ensure we make the most of this opportunity. The amazing synergy of this group is proof that Meeker is home to passionate people who love Meeker very much, and they want to share this with the nation. I can say I am honored and excited to be working on this project. The economic opportunities this presents is a great thing for our business community!”
Thank you to all who have given time, resources, knowledge and endless enthusiasm to ensure that Meeker and the 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree project and celebration are not just an event, but an honor and tribute to remember for a lifetime.

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