South Lake Tahoe area Peak Named in Memory of Fallen Soldiers
Jeff Munson, Apr. 11, 2012
Congressman McClintock's office approached the U.S. Forest Service about opportunities for a memorial. Forest Supervisor Nancy Gibson came up with the idea of naming an unnamed peak as one of the options for a memorial on National Forest System lands.
Gibson reached out to the City of South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado County to discuss possibilities and out of that plan came the idea of not only naming a peak but also placing a memorial a stone at Lakeview Commons, said Forest Service Spokeswoman Cheva Heck.
Among the soldiers who lost their lives and lived in or had ties to South Lake Tahoe include Army PFC. Phillip Brandon Williams, 21, who was killed by a sniper in Iraq on Oct. 9, 2006; Army Sgt. Timothy M. Smith, 25, a life-long South Lake Tahoe resident, who was killed April 7, 2008, after his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device in Baghdad; U.S. Army Spc. Garrett Anthony Fant who died Sept. 26, 2011 from injuries when he stepped on an improvised explosive device while on duty in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Patty Smith, the mother of Tim Smith, said she is grateful the idea is gaining traction, remembering the day Congressman McClintock told her, personally, that he would do something to recognize her son and other fallen soldiers.
"This is something that is very thoughtful that I'm sure the community will be proud of," said Smith.
Sitting on the committee are Ray Lacy of the California Tahoe Conservancy, El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago, South Lake Tahoe City Manager Tony O'Rourke, City Councilman Tom Davis, former city councilwoman Kathay Lovell and American Legion Manager Blair Clark.
Lovell said she wants to see the project through.
"I think the time is right for this and I commend Congressman McClintock for making this a community plan," said Lovell.
The proper search for the peak will entail the need to identify an unnamed peak that's visible from Lakeview Commons and map it. The Forest Service GIS staff will help with that and will help initiate the paperwork, said Heck.
A couple of names for the mountain landmark are under consideration including Veteran's Peak and Gold Star Peak, named after the American Gold Star Mothers, a national organization of mothers who have lost their sons or daughters in U.S. military service. Forest Supervisor Gibson wishes for the committee to come up with three options.
From there the process goes through the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, which is administered by USGS. Both Congress and the President have some ability to select names and McClintock informed the committee that once picked he will present the chosen name to Congress.
As for a timeline, the Forest Service would like to make it happen as quickly as it can, while making sure they are taking the time to put a plan together that will be supported by the community and that is meaningful and respectful to the families, said Heck.
The committee has discussed a memorial at Lakeview Commons and will form a subcommittee to come up with a design. The CTC and the city will work on identifying funding options.
McClintock's Communications director Jennifer Cressy said the lawmaker is "determined to provide a lasting tribute to our fallen service members. The idea for dedicating a mountain peak to the ultimate sacrifice of three South Lake Tahoe soldiers and the installation of a memorial pointing to the peak arose from an ad hoc committee including the Tahoe Basin U.S. Forest Service, the city of South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County, the American Legion and the California Tahoe Conservancy. As a result, this generation will convey posterity the awe with which it beheld these heroes."