Ukiah is my hometown and I love living here. I know it’s not perfect, but no place is. One of the many things I enjoy about Ukiah is our unique sense of community. Last fall and again this summer, when fires threatened local homes, Ukiahans came together in truly remarkable ways.
According to the logistics guy who manages the firefighters’ staging area, uniformed firefighters can’t pay for anything in this town. They go into a restaurant for a meal, and it’s covered. They go to Ukiah Valley Athletic Club (the old Redwood Health Club) and they’re given a free membership for as long as they’re in town. They walk into Starbucks, and the coffee has been prepaid by other patrons.
I was eating in Star’s Restaurant and saw a group of firefighters having dinner. I asked the waitress if I could pay for their bill, but she told me another patron had beaten me to it—the meal was already paid for. I even heard about a lemonade stand where kids were raising money for firefighters. I confess that I never pass up a chance to support kids selling lemonade, but this time I made a point to get in my car and drive around looking for the lemonade stand so I could support them.
As I drive around town, I see signs thanking firefighters for their service all over the place, and I just learned that a group of citizens with thank-you signs have been greeting firefighters at 7:00 am each morning, standing across the street from where the firefighters rolled out, so the first thing the firefighters saw was signs of appreciation.
In small ways and big ways, Ukiah has rallied around the firefighters who have come from as far as Australia and New Zealand to safeguard our families and our homes. My best friend, Ross Liberty, owner of Factory Pipe, has gone way above the call of duty. Ross owns the old Masonite property and when he learned the firefighters needed a place to set up, he offered the use of his land for free. Just so you know, the going rate for providing that kind of space is about $5,000/day. When people ask why he doesn’t charge, he says, “They’re doing us a favor by being here. This is the least I can do.” But of course, that’s not true. It’s not the least he could do; he could have charged them. Instead, he’s just a great, community-minded guy, like a lot of people in this valley.
Local businesses aren’t only rallying around the firefighters; they’re also helping local people recover from the fire. The Lake and Mendocino County Rotary Clubs, North Coast Opportunities and the Community Foundation of Mendocino County have funds set up where people can donate to assist fire victims, and the Savings Bank of Mendocino County is giving a discount to people seeking construction loans if their property burned in the fire—whether it was last fall or this summer. Details are available by calling either Cesar Lopez or Jose Cardenas-Ortiz at (707) 462-6613.
As we go about our daily activities, most of us don’t put our lives at risk very often. Most of us don’t leave our families for extended periods of time. Firefighters do both, and sometimes they pay the ultimate price. My condolences to the family of Utah firefighter Matthew Burchett and my thanks to all the firefighters who came to fight the Mendocino Complex fire.
If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at email@example.com or call (707) 462-4000. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at www.richardselzer.com. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.