BOUNDARY COUNTY — On May 5, the Bonners Ferry Fire Department was filled with the smell of chili as they held a chili cook off and silent auction fundraiser for the Honor Guard.
The chili cook off was divided into two categories — commercial class and the homecooks class.
Yoder’s Market came to support the cause, bringing their Amish chili with medium spice to it, and they were one of the commercial class contenders. The other commercial contender was the Crosstime Saloon with their hot and sweet chili. Yoder’s came in first place, with Crosstime Saloon in second.
For the homecooks class, there were several contenders. Adina Conroy brought her chili named Slow and Sassy with a medium spice; Karen Pine with her Call of the Wild carrying a mild to medium spice; Melinda and Jayce Helms brought Beef Bonanza with a medium spice; and Alan Hamilton brought a mild chili.
“Jayce did most of the work,” said Melinda Helms about her son. “I mainly stirred.”
The Jackson family came together with a variety of chilis as well. Susan Jackson brought a couple of unique chilis, one called Chicken of the South which was a mild chili containing chicken and rice, and her hot chili called Rescue Me. Sophia Jackson, 8, brought a mild chili alongside Tim Jackson’s mild chili.
Sandy Steinhagen brought her mild chili named Smoky that used smoked meat. Len Pine brought a chili featuring venison.
Adina Conroy brought home first place for the homecooks and overall favorite, followed by Melinda and Jayce Hamilton in second place, and Alan Hamilton brought home third.
There were donations for the silent auction as well from Yoder’s Market, Pizza Factory, Mi Pueblo, Far North Outfitters, Mojo’s Coffee, and Picturesque, donating gift certificates. The Jackson family donated an artist’s basket, and Heart Rock Wines and Crosstime Saloon donated a wine basket.
“Normally, the Honor Guard has to have uniforms. In the fire service, and a lot of the services, they have different levels of uniform,” said South Boundary Fire Chief, Tony Rohrwasser. “A class A uniform, is a full dress uniform with stripes for the amount of years, badges for things, everything means something.”
Pants, shoes, jacket, hat, pins, and patches — the cost is close to $1,000 for the whole set. The honor guard serves the community by correctly displaying the flag of the United States, the state flag, and branch of service flags in ceremonies such as funerals, parades, and many other events.
This event brought in about $1,700, bringing them to about $3,000 in total towards their $5,000 goal for their uniforms.
“We always use two flags,” said Rohrwasser. “The first being the U.S. flag, the second being either the Firefighter Memorial Flag or the Firefighter Funeral Flag, and the State flag for everything else.”
There are guidelines to being a member of the Honor Guard, including physical fitness, uniform, appearance, a good moral character, and providing exemplary conduct both in and out of uniform. Members must complete training courses and be equipped with the proper uniform and props to adequately perform their duties.
“The main function of the honor guard is for funerals of service members, but being that we live in a small community, there is not a lot of funerals to attend, thankfully,” said Rohrwasser. “So the other things we do are the parades and the firefighter memorial ceremony, among other events.”
Boundary County Honor Guard is a sub committee of Boundary County Fire Chiefs, and they had to find ways to raise money for the uniforms and props needed to perform their duties.
This was the first chili cook off and silent auction, but they do an annual pancake breakfast in October that started out small and now is a yearly community event. They are looking into making the chili cook off an annual event as well.
“We were trying to come up with a fundraiser idea and I happened to be making chili at home, and thought it was a good idea,” said Cheryl Jackson, who is a part of the Honor Guard and coordinated the event.
Wally Nyberg spoke about how he got into being a part of the Honor Guard saying, “My father was in the military for 21 years. He is now retired, but he fought in Vietnam, so just the presence of the flag and being able to present it correctly and then do it in a ceremony, that is what really made me want to come here and kind of pay back what my family was involved in.”
Nyberg previously participated in the Boy Scouts of America, where he initially learned the importance of presenting the colors.
“Being patriotic and respecting the flag has always been a part of me,” said Nyberg.” Being able to do this as a part of the fire service and to honor fallen firefighters and other ceremonies makes me really happy to be a part of it.”
Community members may see them perform during the upcoming parades for the Rod Benders Border 3 Jamboree as well as the Fourth of July parade, among other events.
To make a donation, visit to Youngwirth CPA downtown and let them know it’s for the Fire Chiefs Association Honor Guard.