Thank you, Rusty Jerome re-opens horseshoes pits; re-names them in honor of Fire Chief Blair

Fire Chief Rusty Blair and Mayor Frank Vander Horst present a plaque to Yavapai-Apache Nation Chairwoman Jane Russell-Winiecki for the Yavapai-Apache Nation’s financial contributions toward the completion of the town’s new horseshoe pits. VVN/Halie Chavez

Fire Chief Rusty Blair and Mayor Frank Vander Horst present a plaque to Yavapai-Apache Nation Chairwoman Jane Russell-Winiecki for the Yavapai-Apache Nation’s financial contributions toward the completion of the town’s new horseshoe pits. VVN/Halie Chavez

JEROME – The Town of Jerome celebrated the completion of its horseshoe pits project at a grand opening ceremony Tuesday afternoon.

Mayor Frank Vander Horst announced the pits would be known as the Blair Horseshoe Pits, a surprise to attendees of the grand opening and to Fire Chief Rusty Blair himself. The pits are next to Upper Park above Main Street.

“Rusty Blair has been instrumental to getting this done,” said Mayor Vander Horst. “Rusty has done so much in town and we hadn’t named anything after him.”

The project restored the pits that had been out of use for 13 years. Major strides were made in the last four years, during which the wall near the horseshoe pits was supported as it had begun to lean. The top of the structure where the Jerome Fire Department keeps its water wagon also needed to be restored to prevent a cave-in.

“I’m all about prevention, instead of having to save someone,” Blair said.

The horseshoes and bench in the pits were donated by the Jerome Historical Society. A copper horseshoe plaque was unveiled by Blair and VanderHorst, thanking the financial assistance from the Yavapai-Apache Nation and the Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Foundation. Mayor Vander Horst thanked Jane Russel-Winiesci and Angie Harmon, respectively.

The mayor also thanked volunteer laborers, including Blair and Council Member Jay Kinsella.

The use of equipment by Gold King Mine also contributed to the completion of the project.

As for the project being named after him, Blair said he was “honored.”

“I feel kind of funny about that, because it was really a team effort … I was just the leader,” Blair said.

The horseshoe pits can host two games at a time and are open to residents and visitors in Jerome.

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