City Welcomes Air National Guard

news_air-force-band-concertThe Air National Guard Band of the Northwest will perform in the Chewelah City Park on July 1 as part of their last tour to the area before the unit is deactivated due to federal budget cuts.

The free concert will be 6-7:30 p.m. and will feature the “Jazz in Blue” ensemble, which is a 20-piece traditional big band that plays songs in the style of Glenn Miller’s Army Air Force Band. The rock ensemble, “Wingspan,” will also perform.

Master Sgt. Paul Sety, who also owns Sety’s Ace Hardware in Chewelah, said the band wants to return to the community because they had such a good reception the last time they performed in the park in 2007. A third of the city’s population attended that concert, Sety said.

“It makes us feel good when we have a full audience,” he said.

The Air National Guard Band of the Northwest meets one weekend of the month and two weeks in the summer to serve various needs of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota. They are part of the 141st Air Refueling Wing based at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane.

Sety, the unit’s First Sergeant or enlisted leader, said the band travels to different places during the summer performing free concerts as part of Air Force recruitment efforts and to give people a positive outlook on the military.

“We are the ambassadors of good will for the Air Force,” Sety said.

Additionally, the band is used internally for military events like a change of command or retirement ceremony. They also perform in the Lilac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade and play at public events throughout the year.

“We’ve stayed really busy over the years,” Sety said.

However, on June 23, the Band of the Northwest will begin its final summer tour before it is officially disbanded in October 2013.

The Air Guard unit was cut along with five other bands in favor of other Air National Guard priorities. The national cut was based on population density of the units’ locations, which leaves only five Air Guard bands left in the entire country. The next closest one to Chewelah is based in Los Angeles.

The members of the band that cannot retire before October 2013 must train in a new job to remain employable by the military, Sety said. Only about about 25 percent of the band is eligible for retirement.

He said Washington State is understanding of their situation and are working to help them to stay in Spokane in any job they choose to train in.

Sety is a trumpet player in the concert band, rock ensemble, jazz ensemble, brass quintet and a drum major in the marching band. He said it will be difficult to have to start his career over after 14 years serving as a musician in the Air Guard. He will now either train in personnel or Public Affairs.

The state is trying to accommodate them as best as possible to keep them serving since they know how valuable these Airmen are to the National Guard.

“We are one of the top two most educated units in the state,” Sety said since many of them have college degrees and other valuable experience.

The Chewelah Arts Guild is hosting the local Air Guard band concert on July 1. They are also offering locally produced food and a “Two Buck Duck Race” to raise money in support of Arts Guild scholarship programs prior to the event.

Community members have a chance to win a free dinner and other prizes at the rubber duck race set to begin at 4 p.m. Buy a patriotic duck for two dollars each to race down the Chewelah Creek that runs through the park.

Local food will be served from 4-8 p.m., or until it is gone, at the new Children’s Pavilion built by the Arts Guild and located in the back of the park.

Arts Guild members will sell specially seasoned foot-long hot dogs made of grass-fed beef and pork from Rocky Ridge Ranch of Reardan and processed by Smokey Ridge Meats of Chewelah. The hot dogs will be served on a hoagie roll from Heather’s Fairy Tale Bakery in Colville.

In addition, they will offer strawberry shortcake made with angel food cake, also from Heather’s Fair Tale Bakery, topped with berries from Walla Walla and Tri-cities that were procured by Dee Acherson of Front Porch Farms.

The hot dogs and strawberry shortcake will cost $3.50 each. Bottled drinks and water will also be available.

“The food service is intended to showcase local, fresh, and thoughtfully produced foods to support our local economy and provide a very tasty, special addition to the final performance of the Air National Guard Band,” said Arts Guild member Gail Johannes.

Everyone is encouraged to bring their lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy a fun evening at the Chewelah City Park.

 

By Kellie Trudeau, The Independent

 

In This Photo:  The Air National Guard Band of the Northwest rock ensemble, “Jazz in Blue” (pictured above). will perform on July 1 in the Chewelah City Park along with “Wingspan.”