Park City Elks Lodge honor a herd of local first responders in scaled-down ceremonies
Since 2002 the Park City Elks Lodge 734 has recognized first responders and their families for their service in the community.
This year’s recipients are Park City Fire District Engineer Chad Kramer, Summit County Emergency Medical Technician Adam Butler, Park City Police Sgt. Rob McKinney, Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Justin O’Driscoll and Summit County Sheriff’s Deputy Jose Veloz.
Usually the Elks Lodge hosts a barbecue party for more than 100 people at Rotary Park, but due to COVID-19, the ceremonies on Thursday, Sept. 10, and Friday, Sept. 11, were held at each entity’s local offices, said Elks member Craig Cooper.
During these low-key ceremonies, the first responders received a plaque and a gift certificate for dinner at St. Regis Deer Valley, as well as a small stipend, Cooper said.
“We also gave them a gift bag that includes hand sanitizer, rubber gloves and snacks,” he said. “The Elks put these together, in particular Lynnette Garrett, and others, to show these first responders that we remember them, and want to say thank you to them, but also their families for their service.”
The Park City Elks Lodge, which is one chapter of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks that was first organized in 1897, began honoring first responders in 2002, which marked the 100th anniversary of the Elks in Park City, according to Cooper.
“They do so much for the community with so little fanfare,” he said.
The honors originally began with police officers and firefighters, but expanded to include EMTs, sheriff’s deputies and Highway Patrol troopers throughout the years.
“We added these three additional branches, because we are grateful to all of them for serving Summit County,” Cooper said.
The Elks aren’t involved in the selection process, he said.
“We leave that up to the different departments, and they’re the ones who pick those they feel are deserving of the recognition,” Cooper said. “Then it’s just our pleasure to make sure they get some kind of recognition.”
This year’s honors, although presented in more intimate ceremonies, took on a bigger meaning, according to Cooper.
“You look at the fires that are going on all around us, and the amplified civil unrest throughout the country, and we’re just grateful to have their service and protection this year,” he said.
Cooper does remember that the firefighter honoree a few years ago had to leave the barbecue to fight a fire at Rockport.
“They ended up taking their dinners to the station so they could enjoy them later on,” he said. “It just showed us in real time how dedicated they were to their jobs in protecting us.”
Cooper hopes next year’s ceremonies will return to Rotary Park.
“The barbecues also have an old-town Park City feel, and even though the town is changing so fast, it’s nice to have that sense of community,” he said. “These gatherings allow us to meet these first responders and their families and put human faces to the tough jobs they have to do. A lot of times they put their lives on the line for us, and we’re grateful for that.”
• Park City Firefighter Engineer Chad Kramer has been a member of Park City Fire Service District since August 2007. Kramer, a husband and father of three, was promoted to engineer in 2015 and has worked primarily as a special ops tech firefighter and a special ops tech engineer. He was deployed to Hurricane Dorian as a HAZMAT Team Manager in September of 2019 and to Hurricane Harvey in 2017. He also responded to Magna, in response to the earthquake in March 2020. He has made himself available to be deployed for wildland fire.
• Emergency Medical Technician Adam Butler grew up in Monticello and became interested in emergency medical services when he took an EMT class while completing a criminal justice degree and applying for the Utah Highway Patrol. He has worked for Park City Fire/Summit County EMS for 3 1/2 years, and is involved with EMS whether responding on calls or teaching EMT classes or CPR-first aid.
• Park City Police Sgt. Rob McKinney, a husband and father of five, began his law enforcement career in 2009, when he joined the Utah Highway Patrol. He worked as a rookie in Moab, where he worked a very difficult stretch of Interstate 70. McKinney transferred to the Summit/Wasatch section and worked on several specialty units, including the DUI Squad and State SERT Team. He joined the Park City Police Department in 2014 and was promoted to sergeant in 2016, before being appointed as the traffic unit supervisor in 2019. McKinney, a member of the Wasatch Back multi-jurisdictional SWAT team, where he serves as a sniper observer, also served as the vice president of the Park City Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge and was recently accepted to the FBI Regional Command College in Montana.
• Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Justin O’Driscoll, a married father of three, is a leader in removing alcohol and drug impaired drivers from the roads. He is a long-time Summit County resident that is also the owner of a family construction company. After running that company for many years, he came to the UHP with significant life experience.
• Summit County Deputy Sheriff José Veloz was hired as a corrections deputy at the Summit County Sheriff’s Office in 2014. Prior to that he had been working at the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office since 2008. He trains the jails volunteers and civilian staff and translated the inmate handbook into Spanish and has used his fluency to help with criminal investigations, interviews and recordings. Veloz recently finished a rotation as the working inmate coordinating, and shows how to work with inmates with respect and compassion.
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Jonathan Kolon will honor Park City and mark the trials the country has gone through with COVID-19 when he releases his new song “This Highway Ends” on April 30.