On the Scene: Mike Page’s retirement party
“Beloved” is the perfect word to describe a man that dedicated 41 years of his life to a most noble and respected profession.
Mike Page, the Grand Junction Fire Department’s public information officer, celebrated his retirement on Friday at the new Grand Junction Public Safety Center that he campaigned to see built.
The party room was filled with firefighters, family and friends who came for cake and congratulations. A slide show told the story of the dedicated service of a happy man with a big heart doing what he loved.
I arrived during the ceremony of bestowing the plaques, a commemorative clock and a nontraditional gnome, complete in fireman garb. Guests were invited to speak about Mike.
City Councilwoman Phyllis Norris told of her days at City Market when Mike would come around and ask her to move her store displays out of the fire lane. She also thanked him for all he has done. Kate Porras spoke of Mike’s work to create an association of public information officers, an organization that grew to 50 members.
Fire Chief Ken Watkins thanked him for making the department “look good” and for helping new members of the media get their story to the public. He’d never say, “No comment.” Ken also commended Mike for waking him up in the middle of the night more than anyone, ever.
It was picture-taking time. I naturally gravitated to the firefighters. Did the good Lord just set down the rules that they must all be handsome, or is it the uniforms? There were plenty of them there but they scattered when the camera came out.
However, I did get Jake Clark, a firefighter at Station 5 on the Redlands; Ryan Rice, a firefighter and paramedic from Station 1 downtown; Bart McElley, also from Station 1; and Capt. Brian Cherveny, Station 4 on Orchard Mesa, to pose for a photo. I recognized Bart’s last name and asked him if he was Johnny McElley‘s son, and he is indeed. I confessed he was as good-looking as his dad and that I’d had a crush on Johnny back in our high school days.
Kate, Police Chief John Camper and Fire Capt. Joel Arellano were happy to oblige for a photo. Kate is the public information coordinator for the police department. Palisade’s fire chief, Richard Rupp, was talking to one ear of GJ Battalion Chief Duncan Brown. Brown’s other ear was occupied by his radio. Brown told me there was an ATV rollover on Glade Park, and he was staying on top of the incident. Love the dedication.
Kristin Winn, who has spent 19 years as a public information officer for the city’s public works department, was hanging out by a bright red fire hydrant with Andre and Libby Pelletier. Andre is a former fire department captain and paramedic and most of us know Libby from MBC Grand where she is the news director and an on-air personality.
I’m always happy to run into Greg and Claudia Hazelhurst. Greg just made a mid-life career change leaving Keystone Custom Builders to become a title man for an oil development company. He gets to work in his jammies from home now. Claudia has worked for the city for 38 years and is the director of personnel.
Don Hobbs, formerly of the city’s parks and recreation department, is now the fire management analyst, meaning he does whatever Chief Watkins asks him to do. I call Don from time to time as he possesses a wealth of knowledge about the city’s history.
I took his photo with Harmony Ward, a senior administrative assistant, who helped put the party together, and darling Nancy Watkins, who is married to Fire Chief Ken.
Not only was Mike surrounded by colleagues that day, but his immediate and extended family was there ready to shed tears and give pats on the back. Mike’s 92-year-old mother Elsie Page and his fianceé Gretel Daugherty were two of them.
Mike and his family moved to Grand Junction when he was in first grade and he attended Riverside Elementary School, graduating from Grand Junction High School in 1966.
Elsie told me Mike was a “good boy.” I asked her if he had any pyromaniac tendencies as a child, and she told me that once, when they lived in Monte Vista, she found him sitting on a haystack watching the field on fire.
When asked by his father if he’d started the blaze he remarked, “It wasn’t me that started the fire, it was the matches.”
GET ON THE SCENE
■ Colorado Mesa University vocal student will offer two performances of one-act operas. Those free performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Mesa Experimental Theatre in the Moss Performing Arts Center, 1231 N. 12th St. “A Hand of Bridge” by Samuel Barber and “A Game of Chance” by Seymour Barab will be among the selections. Info: 248-1604.
■ Twenty artists will show their work at The Member Show from 6-10 p.m. Friday at The Raw Canvas, 507 Main St. You Knew Me When will perform music, and there will be appetizers from Bin 707 and beverages from High Country Beverage. This is one in a number of First Friday art events set for Friday in Grand Junction.
For information on these and additional upcoming entertainment events, check Friday’s Out & About.