Time to build a memorial for victims of 1985 explosion
Twenty years ago, the residents of Glenwood Springs and surrounding communities were trying to come to grips with a horrible tragedy.A powerful explosion ripped through the Rocky Mountain Natural Gas building on Devereux Road. Once the fire was extinguished and rescuers combed through the rubble, 12 people were confirmed dead. It remains one of the most devastating tragedies in Garfield County history.Following the explosion, a monument was built near where the explosion occurred. A pair of victims were honored with landmarks named after them – the softball field at Two Rivers Park was named after Teri Luetke, and a ski run at Sunlight Mountain Resort was named after Jim Joslin. Three fitting remembrances, but the time has come to do a little more.Following the Storm King Fire where 14 firefighters died on July 6, 1994, a grand memorial was constructed at Two Rivers Park along with a memorial at the site where the 14 died.The town of Carbondale erected a memorial in Miners Park paying tribute to the 15 coal miners who died on April 15, 1981, in a mine near Redstone.In both instances, the memorials were located in prominent places to help keep the memory of those devastating tragedies alive.Even New Castle, where 49 coal miners were killed in 1896, 37 in 1913 and three more in 1918, erected a new memorial in Burning Mountain Park in 2004.New Castle’s decision to build a memorial so long after those tragic events, shows that it’s never too late to pay tribute to a historical disaster that impacted a community.Now the same should be done for the victims of the Rocky Mountain Natural Gas explosion of Dec. 16, 1985.Those victims, their families and friends, and residents who remember that day deserve to have a more visible remembrance of that disaster.The city of Glenwood Springs should consider finding a fitting place to construct a memorial so people will know about that day. A day when 12 people died and an entire community was impacted. A time when a community came together to grieve the loss of their friends, members of their family and their neighbors.So often, the phrase “Lest we forget” is used to encourage us to remember the victims of tragedies. It’s a fitting phrase that would be easier to honor with a visual reminder.It’s time to find a more prominent location to remember Dec. 16, 1985, and more important, to remember the 12 who died: Tom Bolin, Brian Carroll, Cindy Cowling, Harley “Dick” Eckert, Barbara Feld, Larry Hutson, Shelby Jackson, Jim Joslin, Teri Luetke, David Neal, Allen Rhodes and Rex Rhodes.
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