Originally Published: June 17, 2017 6:02 a.m.
Nearly four years after 19 elite Prescott firefighters died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire, artists from across the country are stepping forward with ideas to memorialize them on the Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza.
A total of 26 artists — 11 from Arizona, and 15 from outside the state — submitted concepts for a memorial to the fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots by the Thursday, June 15 deadline for proposals.
And, because of a glitch in the website for the proposals, Bruce Martinez, chairman of the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial Partnership, says the total number could grow a bit in the coming days. He explained that the partnership’s server was not equipped to handle all of the proposals, and the group gave a couple of the artists extra time to submit their proposals.
By Friday morning, Martinez said he had yet to look at the 26 proposals, but was hoping to begin reviewing them soon. “I’m anxious to see what they proposed,” he said.
The 10-member Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial Partnership committee plans to meet in July for its first discussion about the proposals, Martinez said. Sometime after that, the group is expected to narrow the choices down to three-to-five semi-finalists. Those artists would then be asked to make in-person presentations to the committee, Martinez said.
According to the committee’s request for proposals (RFP), the committee will select semi-finalists based on: artistic merit; appropriateness of design concept (scale, form, content, and materials); appropriateness for climate and site; ease of maintenance and safety; and demonstrated ability to complete the project with the project schedule and resources.
The idea for a downtown-Prescott memorial arose in the years after the June 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire. 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 after the tragedy.
That led to the formation of the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial Partnership, which, in early 2016, put out a call to the public for ideas on the details of the memorial.
Meanwhile, Yavapai County approved a location for the memorial: A 400-square-foot space on the courthouse plaza, located along Cortez Street.
While the City of Prescott also endorsed the project, Martinez stressed that the bulk of the memorial costs would be covered by private contributions. He added that a fundraising effort likely would begin after the committee knows the scope and estimated cost of the memorial.
In composing the RFP, the committee relied, in part, on the more than 40 suggestions generated during the 2016 public-comment period.
Among the ideas were: Use of the Hotshots’ motto, Esse Quam Videri (“To be, rather than to seem”); use of the names and biographical information on the 19 fallen Hotshots; use of bronze and/or granite materials; and use of symbols such as the large alligator juniper tree near Granite Mountain that the Hotshots saved during the 2013 Doce Fire, or a silhouette of Granite Mountain.
The 26 memorial proposals were submitted in a variety of formats — some electronically, and some by mail — and will take time to process, Martinez said, noting that some are lengthy.
On Friday, Martinez was uncertain when artists’ renderings would be released to the public.
The committee, which is made up of volunteers, includes: Martinez; Gayle Mabery, Clarkdale town manager; Danny Parker, father of fallen Hotshot Wade Parker, and a retired Chino Valley Fire District Captain; Alexa Scholl, former Prescott High School student; Paul Roberts of Roberts and Carver PLLC; John Coleman, renowned artist; Celeste Gordon of the 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. (Bill Fain, who was part of the original partnership, died in August 2016).