Originally Published: September 25, 2018 9:29 p.m.
The lone Hotshot statue that will be the focal point of a new memorial on the Yavapai County Courthouse will be within view of Prescott City Hall.
And that is appropriate, says Prescott Councilwoman Alexa Scholl, who serves as a member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial Partnership, which chose the design.
Scholl pointed out that one of the family members of the 19 fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots made the point after seeing the artist’s rendering of the design this past summer.
“One mother said that she thought it was very fitting that the memorial is on the southeast corner, the corner directly kitty-corner from city hall,” Scholl said, “because they’re our boys.”
After a fairly brief discussion Tuesday, Sept. 25, the council voted to contribute $50,000 to the partnership’s effort to raise $500,000 for a courthouse plaza memorial to the 19 Hotshots who died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire in June 2013.
Partnership committee member Brad Fain introduced the project to the council this week, explaining that the committee formed shortly after the June 30, 2013, tragedy, and worked over the past several years to come up with a plan to honor the Hotshots.
First up was a request for comments from the public about what the memorial should include. Overwhelmingly, those who responded suggested using granite, alligator juniper, and bronze.
After then soliciting proposals from interested artists, the committee chose a design by Sonoita, Arizona, artist Deborah Fellows, featuring a lone bronze Hotshot statue backed by a stylized granite-slab image of Granite Mountain.
Prominently carved into the back of the two granite slabs will be an image of the Prescott National Forest champion alligator juniper that the Hotshots saved during the June 2013 Doce Fire, just days before they died fighting the Yarnell Fire.
Fain told the council that the committee hopes to raise the total $500,000 in coming months, in order to have the statue in place on the courthouse plaza by the six-year mark of the Hotshot tragedy in June 2019.
Council members were unanimous in their support for the contribution.
While Councilman Phil Goode said he initially had concerns that the $50,000 was not included in the city’s 2019 fiscal-year budget, he said, “With that being said, I consider this a pre-existing condition … (and) I have no objection at this time.”
Budget and Finance Director Mark Woodfill said the city typically considers a number of expenditures throughout the fiscal year that are not budgeted. He added that money is available in the city’s reserve fund to cover the $50,000 contribution.
When the fiscal year began July 1, the city had about $2 million in its reserves.
Mayor Pro Tem Billie Orr noted that the money would come from the city’s general fund, which also covers the cost of the fire and police departments. “I feel it’s very appropriate that this comes from the general fund, because that is our public-safety fund, and these gentlemen were (part of) our public safety,” she said.
With the city’s $50,000 contribution, Partnership Chairman Bruce Martinez said after the meeting that the group has so far raised about one-quarter of the total.
Meanwhile, the partnership has approached the Town of Prescott Valley about a possible $50,000 contribution as well, and is in discussion with the towns of Chino Valley and Dewey-Humboldt about possible contributions. Yavapai County, which earlier contributed the courthouse plaza land for the memorial, has pledged in-kind help with the engineering. The Yavapai-Prescott Tribe also earlier contributed $20,000, Scholl said.
Martinez added that the partnership had recently ordered 500 Limited Edition Granite Mountain Hotshots Challenge Coins that will go to donors who contribute more than $200 to the effort. A fundraising event could also take place, he said.
After the meeting, Tom Ashcraft, the father of fallen Hotshot Andrew Ashcraft, said he especially appreciated the fact that the memorial would be lasting, and would be there for future generations, including the children and grandchildren of the fallen Hotshots.
“That means the world to me,” Ashcraft said, adding, “I think the design is perfect.”
For those interested in contributing to the effort, information is available online at: https://www.gmhsmemorial.com.
In addition, contributions can be made by mailing a check, made out to the Memorial Partnership, to: P.O. Box 4299, Prescott, AZ 86301.