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When Tracy and Teresa Mack of Meeker watched the movie “Taking Chance,” it was like watching real life.Because it was.“It was really strange, but knowing the story, it was an instant cry through the whole movie,” Teresa said.The 2009 movie, which stars Kevin Bacon, is about Chance Phelps, a Marine who was killed while serving in Iraq, and military officer Michael Strobl — played by Bacon — who escorted Phelps’ body back to Dubois, Wyo., for the funeral. Chance was killed in action during a combat mission in 2004.Chance was Tracy and Teresa’s nephew. Chance’s mother, Gretchen, is married to Jeff Mack, Tracy’s brother.Teresa and granddaughter Stacie traveled to Dubois to watch a premiere of the movie.“It gets you from the very beginning,” Teresa said of the movie. “I haven’t watched it since then, but I need to. I’m just not ready yet.”Teresa said the movie’s portrayal of Chance and his family was accurate.“Yeah, that’s exactly who he (Chance) was,” Teresa said. “Gretchen (Chance’s mom) just loves it. They did an awesome job with the way everything was portrayed. They nailed it.”When Teresa Mack and her granddaughter attended a movie premiere at the high school auditorium in Dubois, Jeff and Gretchen Mack were there, but didn’t attend the showing. They had already watched the movie, and it was too hard emotionally to watch it again.“She (Gretchen) said, ‘I can’t do it one more night. I can’t watch it more than once,’” Teresa said. “I can’t imagine being the mom (whose son was killed in action).”Teresa and Tracy’s son Kevyn was serving in the military in Afghanistan at the same time Chance was in Iraq.“Tracy’s mom was the one who called to let him know Chance had been killed,” Teresa said. “He (Chance) went in in September, and he was killed in April. They had only been in country since February.“I remember when we went up for the funeral at the high school (in Dubois), that’s when I found out how he was killed. His job was exactly what Kevyn (Mack) was doing. That hit home.”Kevyn Mack served in Afghanistan from March 2004 to March 2005.Gretchen, Chance’s mother, was living in Craig when she met Jeff Mack. They later moved to Wyoming.“After Chance was killed, they moved back to Dubois,” Teresa said.Two weekends ago, Teresa and Tracy Mack and their son Kevyn traveled to Dubois for a benefit concert Aug. 20 by the Bacon Brothers — actor Kevin and his brother have a rock ‘n’ roll band.The concert was a benefit for the Chance Phelps Foundation, which raises money to help soldiers and their families.“All the money they get goes back to the soldiers and their families and whatever needs they have,” Teresa said. In addition to the foundation, Chance’s father John Phelps has his own website — he is an artist — which promotes “Hope for the Warriors,” a program that benefits disabled veterans.“They get along great, being divorced parents,” Teresa said. “When he (John Phelps) saw how much this foundation had helped Gretchen with her grieving, that’s when he decided to get involved with Hope For The Warriors (which provides support for wounded soldiers and their families).”Kevin Bacon has remained close to the Phelps/Mack family since the making of the movie, which led to the benefit concert.“He’s been in London rehearsing for the new ‘X-Men’ movie, but he flew in for the concert, and then he flew out the next morning,” Teresa Mack said of the actor.“He was so tired (from the long trip), but he’s real nice, and his brother is really nice,” Teresa said. “I’ve always loved Kevin Bacon. He’s not stuck up at all. He’s just one of the most down-to-earth people. We got to go into the green room (with the Bacon brothers), but I was too shy to ask for an autograph.”Teresa said the Bacon Brothers and their band put on a great show.“He’s still footloose Kevin. He has all the moves,” Teresa said of the actor, whose break-out movie was “Footloose” in 1984.Michael Strobl, portrayed by Kevin Bacon in the movie “Taking Chance,” is from Grand Junction.“The way (the movie) came about is he (Strobl) actually sent Jeff and Gretchen a letter after the experience (of escorting Chance’s body from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to Dubois for the funeral) and told them what a moving experience it was for him. I don’t know how, but the producer/director (Ross Katz) got ahold of the letter — I’m not quite sure how — but somehow he got wind of it and decided to do this movie.”HBO, which financed the making of the movie, sent 1,000 copies of the DVD to the benefit concert to sell as part of the fundraiser.“HBO has been really great with all of this,” Teresa Mack said.Teresa would encourage people to watch the movie, if they haven’t seen it.“I tell everybody you’ve got to watch it, not because it’s (about) Chance, but you have no idea what they do (when escorting the bodies of fallen soldiers to their final destination). You’d better have a Kleenex,” she said.Asked if she will ever watch the movie again, Teresa said, “I will someday, I think. I don’t know. I want to, but I don’t know if I can.”G G G G GFor information about the Chance Phelps Foundation, visit www.chancephelps.org. For information about John Phelps and his art, visit www.johnphelps.com.G G G G GVisitors from New York toured downtown Meeker last week. They were in town for a wedding at Westlands Ranch, upriver.Richard Helfer used to live across from the World Trade Center. He was home the morning planes crashed into the Twin Towers.“I was sleeping at that late hour and my wife woke me and said something happened at the trade center,” Helfer said. “The window was about five feet from my bed. I got up and looked. It just so happened I had a video camera … and I proceeded to tape it.“We left the apartment because the apartment was blown out,” Helfer said. “When the towers fell, the apartment was blown out. We lived in a hotel for 167 nights.”Even after their apartment was suitable to move back into, Helfer and his wife couldn’t do it.“The wreck of the twin towers was still there and we did not feel we could live in that apartment comfortably and see that wreck, so we opted not to renew our lease … and that was it,” he said. “We never moved back again.”Even though he and his wife now live in Florida, Helfer has strong feelings about the proposal to build an Islamic mosque near ground zero.“I think it is calculated. There’s a reason why they want to do it,” Helfer said. “I would only approve of it, and this is being overly dramatic, if they could restore the religious rights of the 3,000 people they killed.“I don’t buy any of it, whether it’s the mayor of New York or Obama … it’s a calculated thing done to aggravate people, and I believe the vast majority of American people feel the same way.”Anne Goldberg, who was also in Meeker for the wedding and is a New York native, agreed.“I think it is a terrible misuse of that space to dedicate it in any way, first of all, to any religious group, but particularly a mosque, and I believe in interfaith, I believe in making peace with everybody, but to have the faith of people who deliberately caused such suffering and destruction and to honor the god in whose name they did, this is a travesty.” Goldberg said. “I am a New Yorker by birth, but whether I am or am not is not relevant to my feelings on this. I think it should be a place of humanity, not dedicated to any particular faith.”G G G G GGoldberg, who is managing partner in a business — Earth Energy Solutions — had a few words for local residents about the importance of recycling.“As a visitor to this beautiful city, the only seed I would like to plant is a thought for recycling glass, plastic and, most importantly, fluorescent bulbs,” Goldberg said. “It is a terrible scourge on the earth all of the mercury we are putting in. Meeker dwellers, if you throw your fluorescent bulbs in the garbage, you are contributing to mercury contamination of all food, all fish and all water.”G G G G GA clarification: Court records in the sentencing of Johnny Wix, 19, listed 15 days jail time as a condition for one of the two drug charges in which Wix pleaded guilty. Wix was given a three-year deferred sentence for both counts and all other charges were dismissed. However, the original sentence order on file in the district court office, which Wix signed, turned out to be incorrect. According to revised court records, Wix’s sentence did not include jail time.“The order shows 15 days jail and the amended order shows no jail,” said Gene Tardy, deputy district attorney. “I reviewed the PSIR (pre-sentence investigative report) and it recommends 15 days with credit time served of one day. The first order is signed Aug. 13 while the second is signed Aug. 23.”G G G G GTraffic into and out of the new Meeker Elementary School went smoothly last week with the beginning of classes.“From information gathered from the police and public works departments, the traffic flow went very well with no problems,” said Sharon Day, Meeker town administrator.G G G G GIn the election for the Meeker Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Joe Fennessy, Cassie McGuire and Kim O’Connell were re-elected and Ann Marie Scritchfield was elected as a new member. There was a tie between Katie Conrado and Michele Morgan for the fifth open seat. A run-off vote was held to break the tie, with Morgan garnering the most votes.G G G G GColorado Northwestern Community College was a major sponsor for Rock Jam, which was held last weekend near Grand Junction.The headline act on Saturday night was none other than Alice Cooper.The first concert I ever attended was a show by Alice Cooper. I think I was in the seventh grade. I remember I had to do a lot of talking to convince my parents to allow me to attend.That was more than a few years ago … for both of us. Vincent Furnier — aka Alice Cooper — is now 62, and he’s still outrageous.
Jeff Burkhead is editor of the Herald Times. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.