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Lt. Arthur Quezada, who died in Viet Nam, was honored with a brick in May 2016 at a celebration with local dignitaries, family and former classmates. | Laura Austin Photo

Ridgeproject aspires to honor local fallen veterans

News Review staff writer

Gary Charlon of the Ridgeproject is seeking local families who would like to honor their fallen veteran with a commemorative brick. There is absolutely no cost to include your loved one. Ridgeproject covers all of the costs.

This project was started several years ago with the first brick laid in May 2016. The first bricks were set on Drummond Avenue near the corner of Downs Street. The sites for the bricks are where dying cypress trees were removed. As part of Ridgeproject’s mission they removed the trees and Charlon was inspired to add something meaningful to our streets. He believes it is time to continue honoring our fallen veterans in this way. Now there are sites available for ten more bricks. One can call or text Charlon at 760-446-4279.

The News Review spoke with Charlon in the days leading up to the Memorial Day Holiday weekend. He doesn’t think the original intention of the weekend was to give a chance to  to go on vacations. Ridgeproject wants to inject patriotic acts into the community. He suggests finding a veteran who needs help. “Maybe that’s the day you should have given yourself to them,” Charlon says. It would honor our fallen veterans, “A person gave their life for you. It just bothers me because we’re a defense town … that should be automatic.”

Charlon would like to see local veterans groups join in this project. He has been reaching out and has received positive feedback. He plans to honor folks from Indian Wells Valley and Trona. Ridgeproject was formed in 2011 with the original intention of cleaning up neighborhoods and roads to help the Base recruit and retain people. More important, they wanted to inspire people to be community minded. “It was about ‘It’s your community, your responsibility.’ We wanted people to give ck,” Charlon stresses.

Over the years Ridgeproject has evolved. They still fundraise but it is for the services they provide. They continue to provide community cleanup, “We maintain both walking paths in Ridgecrest with the doggie bags and trash cans, the one up to the college and the one adjacent to Bowman. I pay DART to do that.” They also have contractors who trim the trees on Balsam. The area near the theater was landscaped by Ridgeproject for which they hire tree trimmers, however, “Earth Landscapes donates taking care of the grounds.” He adds, “We still fix sidewalks, if they’re really bad and or hazardous. We do those things.” And other special projects as they arise.

Perhaps his efforts to inspire community will ignite a spark. “Maybe that’ll be the heart and soul that brings us all back together a little bit. We’re still divided. We’re all over the place. A divided place will never run. It’s not just about us, it’s about our kids or grandkids. Right? We can’t give up.”