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December 22, 2014

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Pair honored by county for replacing memorial

Image

David Becker / Special to the Home News

Clark County Parks and Recreation’s Alberto Ochoa, left, a maintenance worker, and Kevin Parker, the department’s assistant manager, stand by a Modesto ash tree in Silverado Ranch Park. The pair replaced the tree last year after it was damaged by vandals.

Click to enlarge photo

A memorial plaque for Gene Arthur, a deceased member of the Unchained Gang, sits at the base of a Silverado Ranch Park Modesto ash tree that had to be replaced by the county after vandals broke many of its branches.

A tree in Silverado Ranch Park may have been nothing more than simple landscaping to the eyes of most, but one group of residents was profoundly saddened when vandals destroyed its branches and broke it in half.

For their recognition of the damage and quick action in replacing the tree, Clark County Parks and Recreation employees Kevin Parker and Alberto Ochoa were recognized in December by the county for their superior service.

The appreciation extended to those involved with the replacement of the tree was so immense because it wasn't just another shade giver.

It had been planted in memory of Gene Arthur and a good number of his friends saw and walked by it each morning.

Arthur was a member of a group of about 25 local residents who fellow group member Cathy Hoolihan said good-naturedly call themselves the Unchained Gang.

The group members have been meeting and walking their dogs together every morning at Silverado Ranch Park, some for as many as five years now, she said.

When Arthur passed away from cancer, the other group members, including his widow Corrine Arthur, took comfort in seeing his memorial each morning, Hoolihan said.

While walking one March morning last year, Hoolihan said she saw the damage that had been inflicted to the tree.

Hoolihan said she called the county's Parks and Recreation Department and was pleased to hear that the tree would be replaced within a few days.

"They cared and you don't see that much anymore," she said.

Parker, who is an assistant manager with Clark County Parks and Recreation and oversees maintenance at all the county's parks, said vandalism generally is tended to in a timely manner, but won't necessarily take precedence over anything else the maintenance crew handles.

But this situation was different.

"Its a memorial tree and someone goes there every day," Parker said. "You certainly take care of it as soon as you can."

While Parker promptly oiled the wheels to get everything in place, Ochoa, a maintenance worker who often clocks his hours at Silverado Ranch Park, did the planting.

"They just went the extra mile," Hoolihan said. "They were just really considerate of our feelings."

Parker contends that his and Ochoa's actions were nothing more than what they're paid to do.

"All we did was our job," he said.

Hoolihan disagrees.

"It's not earth-shaking stuff, but it made a difference to 25 people," she said.

Ashley Livingston can be reached at 990-8925 or [email protected].

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