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This week, May 8 – 12, is National Public Service Recognition Week. This week the U.S. recognizes the people who serve us in hundreds of capacities to make our civil society work. By simple definition, serving the public is just that; having a job, a role, or a calling to serve the people.

Yes, public servants are our elected officials and the hundreds of folks who staff our local governments — that includes county government and municipal governments, sheriff’s and police departments, emergency medical services, fire districts, and the court system. It includes nurses and teachers and social workers and all those who dedicate their careers and their talents to making this place a better place for us and for our families.

But it also includes Search and Rescue, school boards, library boards, fair boards, the county board of appeal, and the Planning Commission — to name a few. Consider the crossing guard at your child’s elementary school, the person who calls on shut-ins for Ark Valley Helping Hands, or the volunteers serving on the Chaffee Housing Authority Board.

The fact is, most of those who serve “we the public” are not paid staff — they are volunteers.

“The vast majority of public servants with whom I have worked since 1978 have the noblest motives and work hard every day,” says Chaffee County Commissioner Keith Baker. “Chaffee County’s resiliency, adaptability, and performance during the worst of the COVID pandemic and every day prove what a great team we have. This is a time to thank them and let them know how much the vast majority of the public appreciates them.”

He pointed out that this recognition of public servants comes during a week when county public servants have been disrespected. “It’s rather ironic that Chaffee County public servants alerted us yesterday to having been subjected to disrespectful behavior by a small number of people.”

So, say an extra thank you to the person who helps you renew your driver’s license, check out your library book, register to vote, or heaven forbid — answers your frantic call to 9-1-1. Public service makes this society function.