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Big drive for community unity

Charlie Mecham and his family cheer the procession of first responders as it passes them on Ridge Road. (Cindy Yingst)
By Cindy Yingst, Thursday, June 25, 2020

Dozens of people lined the streets of Warrenton Wednesday evening for a tribute to the area’s first responders.

The Unity Tribute Train was a procession of Warrenton police officers and firefighters, Clatsop County Sheriff’s deputies, medical workers from Life Flight, Medix, Columbia Memorial Hospital and Providence Seaside Hospital.

“We appreciate the support of our local police and first responders,” said Charlie Mecham, who was waving a large American flag with his neighbors, family and friends on Ridge Road. “It’s not an easy job and we sometimes take them for granted.”

His neighbor, Mark Finkbeiner, is retired after 40 years in health care, 18 of them at CMH. “I just feel so bad for the health care workers, especially with people going out now and they’re not being cautious.”

The event was sponsored by Spruce Up Warrenton and the Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce.

“More than anything, we’re trying to recognize our first responders for all the work they’ve done during the virus – it has nothing to do with all the issues involved in Black Lives Matter or racism at all,” said Warrenton City Commissioner Pam Ackley, a Spruce Up member. “We’re honoring those who’ve been on the front line, who do all the work to help citizens and the community get through this pandemic.”

Sheriff’s Deputy Skip Brelsford said he appreciated feeling the love.

“I think it’s good for the community. I volunteered to participate,” he said. “I think the community is very supportive.”

Deputy Tom Tussing agreed.

“That’s the nice thing about living in a small community,” Tussing said. “Everybody knows each other.”

The Unity Tribute Train was a way for the community to show its appreciation for those on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19, said Kelsey Balensifer, event coordinator for Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Our first responders, medical personnel and essential workers are deserving of our deep thanks for their work during this health crisis.”

A group on Ridge Road gets their flags and signs ready. (Cindy Yingst)

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