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Hotshots memorial ideas centered around their tree

The ancient juniper tree that the Granite Mountain Hotshots saved during the Doce Fire.

Daily Courier file

The ancient juniper tree that the Granite Mountain Hotshots saved during the Doce Fire.

PRESCOTT – Iconic Granite Mountain Hotshot images such as the giant juniper tree saved during the Doce Fire, and the crew posing in a pyramid formation, could be among the components of a memorial being developed for the courthouse plaza.

While the project is still very much in the formative stages, Bruce Martinez, the president of the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial Partnership, noted this week that some common themes have emerged in the initial public-comment period.

Among them, he said, is the alligator juniper, estimated to be as old as 1,800 years, that the Hotshots saved during Prescott’s 2013 Doce Fire – just days before 19 members of the crew died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire.

“A lot of people wanted to see the juniper tree they saved be incorporated in,” Martinez said.

That idea is among 15 or so different categories that the partnership distilled from the public comments received during a recently completed call for feedback.

Those elements likely will show up in the request for proposals or qualifications (RFP or RPQ) that the partnership hopes to send out to artists in the coming months.

Along with suggestions to incorporate the image of the juniper tree and/or the Hotshots huddled in a pyramid formation, Martinez said members of the public also had thoughts about the materials that should be used for the memorial.

“The majority of people thought it should be constructed of granite and/or bronze,” he said.

The committee’s initial call for ideas went out in February 2016, and ended just prior to the three-year mark of the June 30, 2013 Yarnell Hill wildfire. It produced more than 40 comments.

Now, a subcommittee of the partnership is working to compile the RFP, Martinez said, noting that members hope to bring on a landscape architect to help coordinate that step.

Preliminary discussions on how best to memorialize the young men who died fighting the Yarnell Hill wildfire have been underway since soon after the tragedy.

Martinez, a retired Prescott Fire Chief, was asked by the Prescott Fire Department to help field the calls that were flooding in with memorial ideas in the grief-stricken months after the Hotshot deaths.

Ultimately, that led to the choice of a site for the downtown memorial: A 400-square-foot space on the Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza, which the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors granted (located near the intersection of Goodwin and Cortez streets, just north of the historic well site along Cortez).

The partnership announced the launch of its website (www.gmhsmemorial.com) this past winter, and asked the community to weigh in.

Martinez said most of the comments were positive, although one or two expressed opposition to the idea of the memorial.

While the website is set up to accept donations, Martinez said the partnership’s current focus remains on the design of the project. “We want to come up with the right piece, and fulfilling that piece like it should be,” he said.

At some point in the process, the partnership likely will kick off the fundraising component – possibly when the group asks the chosen artist to make a maquette (small model) of the proposed memorial.

Martinez was uncertain this week how long the RFP process or completion of the memorial might take. Early on, he received advice from other memorial efforts around the country not to rush in the effort to memorialize the fallen Hotshots, and he said the partnership is following that advice.

Along with Martinez, members of the original partnership included: Bill Fain of Fain Signature Group; Gayle Mabery, Clarkdale Town Manager; Danny Parker, father of fallen Hotshot Wade Parker, and a retired Chino Valley Fire District Captain; Alexa Scholl, Prescott High School student; Paul Roberts of Roberts and Carver PLLC; John Coleman, renowned artist; Celeste Gordon, U.S. Forest Service; Jim Holst, retired Yavapai County Administrator; Ernie Jones, Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe President; and Pat McCarty, Prescott Fire District Engineer, and former Hotshot.

Currently, Martinez said he and three others – Coleman, Mabery, and Roberts – are serving on a subcommittee to develop the RFP.

Meanwhile, the email on the partnership’s website at https://www.gmhsmemorial.com/ is still active, Martinez said. In addition, the organization’s Facebook page can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/Granite-Mountain-Hotshots-Memorial-Partnership-497919723723403/?fref=ts.