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A tribute to those serving in the military

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Photo by Hank Lohmeyer Yellow ribbon remembrances of those who couldn't enjoy AppleFest this year because they are serving in the military overseas were displayed along Main Street in Cedaredge and in Town Park during this year's community festival.

People visiting AppleFest two weeks ago may have noticed the shiny, satin yellow ribbons that had been placed on Cedaredge's Main Street light poles and tied around many of the trees in Town Park.

The ribbons are a patriotic reminder of those in the military who are stationed overseas in the way of ever increasing danger, working to keep Americans safe and American freedoms alive.

The ribbons were put up on Sept. 30 by 24 members of the Cedaredge High School volleyball teams (freshman, JV and varsity). They had readily volunteered for the patriotic project after it was suggested by a team member and her mom.

Heather Dunbar is the CHS volleyball coach. She said that the symbolism of the ribbons and the act of placing them around town "was very, very meaningful for the girls. Some of them came up to me and said, 'Coach, this is so cool.' They really saw it as being part of something bigger than themselves."

There are a total of 29 members on the three volleyball teams, so participation rate in the team project was very high.

Cathy Meskel, a Cedaredge businesswoman and founder of SOS Support our Soldiers who initiated the project told the DCI in an email, "Operation Yellow Ribbon -- SOS Support Our Soldiers -- would like to thank the Cedaredge volleyball team for helping place the yellow ribbons around our town of Cedaredge. It is a way for all of us to remember 'Tie a yellow ribbon' until they all come home. What a wonderful group of girls."

The local yellow ribbon project for AppleFest was completed only after one false start due to local regulations. Meskel said the ribbons first went up following the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. She placed the yellow commemorative ribbons on street light posts downtown on Sept. 14. But the following day she found they had been removed.

Meskel began her yellow ribbon tribute to military service several years ago when she lived in Rifle. She has conducted numerous other initiatives on behalf of overseas service people, and for veterans, since moving to Cedaredge about eight years ago. She said that in Rifle her ribbons were always left unmolested and that she replaced ones that became weathered. Her yellow ribbons have not had the same reception in Cedaredge where previous displays have also quickly disappeared.

It turns out that town government has been removing the ribbons.

Mayor Pat Means was asked to comment on the matter and she referred the inquiry to Katie Sickles, town administrator, who emailed, "Ribbons went up three days after 9/11. The time and date when they went up is unknown. The ribbons were present Monday, Sept. 14. We did not know when, why or by whom. Ribbons were taken down the next day, which was 9/15. Yes, I took them down. First, we could only assume the ribbons were placed for the purpose of "Patriot Day" [Sept. 11] and that day had passed. Second, the packing tape will cook to the black poles and the tape was already defacing the poles."

The incident was followed by an exchange of conciliatory letters between Sickles and Meskel.

Meskel explained that after coordinating with the town she asked a good friend whose daughter plays CHS volleyball if the team might want to make a community service project of putting the yellow ribbons back up. They did, and the yellow ribbons were on display along Main Street and in Town Park for AppleFest.

"The girls loved it," Meskel said. "They asked if they could put ribbons up in the park also, and I told them 'Sure.' Along the way there is a house painted yellow. The owner has a {son] in the service. She wanted a ribbon to put up, too."

At Cedaredge Town Hall, Meskel's Operation Yellow Ribbon is seen as a part of an issue of overall governance that includes yard sale signs and various violations of the municipal code. The email from Sickles states, "I have mentioned to the council over the last couple years a better mechanism to allow yard sale signs or signs in general while reducing the damage to our infrastructure, cut down on trash as a result of abandoned signs, complying with CDOT regarding highway distractions and honoring the Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway that demands greater restrictions on visible non-highway objects. Keep in mind that currently posting anything on public property without permission is a code infraction. Posting anything on private property without permission could be considered trespass. My goal regarding public property is to formulate a way to allow, not more restrictions."

Meskel reports the yellow ribbons that had been placed in Town Park were removed shortly after AppleFest.

She also notes, "If anyone would like a yellow ribbon, please stop by Shady Creek RV Park and pick one up: A message of 'We support you. You are not forgotten!'"

Photo submitted Twenty-four members of Cedaredge High School volleyball teams provided the energy and enthusiasm to display yellow ribbons remembering overseas military personnel for this year’s AppleFest.
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