Pitkin, Carbondale officials head to Pearlington | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin, Carbondale officials head to Pearlington

John Colson

Pitkin County Commissioner Patti Clapper will head to Pearlington, Miss. this weekend along with two Carbondale representatives.

Another link is about to be forged in the chain of goodwill between the Roaring Fork Valley and Pearlington, Miss.Pitkin County Commissioner Patti Kay-Clapper and Carbondale Board of Trustees member John Foulkrod, along with Carbondale Fire Chief Ron Leach, will be in Pearlington on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to meet with regional officials, work at the local distribution center for emergency supplies and generally check things out.”I’m going down there to have the experience of a lifetime,” said Clapper, who said she was picked as the commissioner to take the trip at least partly “because I’m the only one whose shots are current.”Foulkrod volunteered to go after Leach and Carbondale Town Manager Tom Baker issued an invitation for a council member to go on the trip. Both men said they will pay their own travel costs. Pitkin County is picking up Clapper’s travel costs.The plane tickets will cost approximately $1,600 all together, Leach said, though he was not certain about the cost of the rooms at a Super 8 Motel in McComb, Miss.Pearlington, an unincorporated community of some 1,700 people east of New Orleans, was essentially flattened by Hurricane Katrina in late August and further damaged when Hurricane Rita hit the Gulf Coast a couple of weeks later. The Roaring Fork Valley “adopted” Pearlington, sending several trucks loaded with emergency supplies, logistical technology and personnel, school supplies, and more.”It’s very important that these two elected officials and myself do a personal visit there for a couple of days,” Leach said.He said the group will represent the valley in meetings with local elected officials and assess the progress in the recovery.

“I feel a great responsibility for sending our own people, and all the goods we’ve sent, without knowing exactly where we’re going and what we’re doing,” Clapper said, adding that “it’s one thing to talk about it and read about it, and quite another to actually be there.”She also hopes to see for herself what is still needed, noting that “we can raise a good deal of money in this community.” She said anything raised locally could be put to use helping rebuild a firehouse or a medical clinic, both of which the storms destroyed.And, she said, she hopes to see “what they’ve learned” about responding to catastrophic events, with an eye toward reporting any pertinent findings to emergency management officials in the Roaring Fork Valley.Leach said he plans to make a photographic record of the trip with an eye toward putting together a slide show for valley residents who might like to see it.In related news, Aspen Valley Hospital emergency room doctor Chris Martinez and paramedic/nurse Eric Guthmann will travel to Pearlington later this month. They will take the places of a doctor and two nurses from New York state who have been staffing a Pearlington medical clinic. Martinez and Guthmann are expected to return to the valley Nov. 4.John Colson’s e-mail is jcolson@aspentimes.com