Routt County Undersheriff Ray Birch watches Sheriff Garrett Wiggins speak after he was given the Patriot Award on Wednesday at the Routt County Justice Center.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Routt County Undersheriff Ray Birch watches Sheriff Garrett Wiggins speak after he was given the Patriot Award on Wednesday at the Routt County Justice Center.

Recognition given for support of military service

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— Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins and six local organizations were recognized Wednesday for their support of employees who also commit time as a guard or reserve member.

A recognition ceremony held at the Routt County Justice Center was attended by about 65 people. The event was organized by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, an all-volunteer agency under the United States Department of Defense that was founded in 1972. The organization’s mission is to “promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee’s military commitment.”

Steamboat Springs rancher Jim Stanko is the area coordinator for the organization.

Routt County District Attorney Brett Barkey, who also is an active member of the United States Marine Corps Reserve, emceed the ceremony.

“To be effective in combat requires constant training,” Barkey said.

For reserve and guard members, that typically entails traveling and spending a weekend each month training.

Undersheriff Ray Birch, a chief master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, said six of the Sheriff’s Office’s 50 employees are active guardsmen.

“Covering shifts is a challenge … but it’s something this agency has not balked at,” Birch said.

Wiggins was recognized with the Patriot Award for supporting those employees.

The Inn at Steamboat owner Todd Moore also was recognized for his contributions and was given the Seven Seals Award. Moore donated 15 rooms so military families could have a relaxing three-day vacation in Steamboat.

“We look forward to continuing this tradition each year,” Moore said.

Five other organizations were given statements of support, which they can hang on their walls to show their support of the guard and reserve.

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. was given the Patriot Award last year, and this year received a statement of support. Special Service and Supply, Ferrellgas, the Routt County Board of Commissioners and Natural Resource Consultants were the other four organizations earning recognition.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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