Thu, July 18

Community owes debt of gratitutde to former Big Park President Bert Berkshire

Tom Graham, President, Big Park Regional Coordination Council

Tom Graham, President, Big Park Regional Coordination Council

Do you know the history of the Pledge of Allegiance? Colonel George Balch, a Civil War veteran, originally composed it in 1887. Francis Bellamy wrote a Christian socialist minister a competing Pledge in 1892. The two versions existed until the National Flag Conference in 1923 at which the Bellamy version won out.

Congress officially recognized a version of the Pledge for the first time on June 22, 1942, in the current form except with “under God” which was added to the Pledge on June 14, 1954, by a Joint Resolution of Congress at the urging of President Eisenhower.

Each Council meeting opens with the Pledge and it focused my thoughts this month on Colonel Bertis Doud Berkshire, Ret. who had just lost his last battle a few days before. We knew him as Bert, Council President for 2006 and 2007, a good friend and wonderful man. Bert enjoyed every moment of his life and you knew where Bert stood on every issue – if you didn’t all you had to do was ask him and he would give it to you straight with a Cheshire smile on his face.

Bert was a Full Colonel in the Air Force who, when he retired from the military, went to work as a civilian employee for the part of the Air Force that was launching satellites. He loved it all.

Bert and his wife, Sally, were great hosts. Bert wrote me a letter when his 2nd Council term was up in 2007 using a Winston Churchill speech (one of Bert’s heroes) for one last time to ask me to run for the Council presidency. I am glad that Bert lived to see his request come true.

This month’s meeting included a lengthy and lively discussion of the traffic problem affecting our community and Greater Sedona – there were many viewpoints and comments, all with civility and respect.

Pastor Jim Cunningham asked for donations for school supplies for Big Park School students that many teachers pay for out of their own pocket. He had already raised several hundred dollars for this cause and he asked for a final $100 – he had it before everybody left the meeting.

The Vision Alliance Challenge Grant accepted by the Council for 50 percent of the 2018 application fee ($4250 of the $8500) for the IB program at Big Park School was increased to $9500 – the Council voted unanimously voted to accept the increase in the Challenge Grant.

Lastly, Rob Schaeffer, the VOCA representative, attended his last Council meeting in that position. He is a fellow attorney and he has kept the Council, and me, focused and honest on the issues. You will be missed, Rob – please don’t stop coming to the Council meetings.

Be more informed about your community, Council meetings are held on the 2nd Thursday of every month at SFD Station #3 in the Village.