Yellow Ribbon summit puts city in the spotlight
Next Wednesday afternoon will be like every other day at Boeckman Middle School... except for the presence of dozens of mayors and city officials from around the state, and a helicopter possibly landing in the parking lot.
Oh yeah, and Gov. Tim Pawlenty will be around the building, too.
The students will not have much interaction with the building guests, but BMS has been named as the host site for Minnesota's first Yellow Ribbon Summit.
Holding a statewide event such as this in Farmington isn't a stretch. Farmington was the first city in the state to earn Yellow Ribbon City status, nearly two years ago.
Two things will happen Sept. 22 at BMS. The morning hours will be dedicated to educating guests - somewhere in the range of 80 to 100 people from about 60 communities - about what the Yellow Ribbon campaign is all about, and what it can do to help military service members and their families.
According to Annette Kuyper, coordinator of Farmington's Warrior to Citizen campaign, those who have been invited to the morning seminars come from cities that have either asked for more information about the Yellow Ribbon campaign, or that have armories that will be affected by the next deployment.
"They will be hearing from representatives of other communities who have gone through the Yellow Ribbon process. They'll be given an overview, and they'll hear from military representatives and city leaders so they can learn how to work together," Kuyper said. "The objective for that part of the day is that they would be able to leave and go back and start the process to become a Yellow Ribbon community."
Though there will be a lot of exciting things going on, the summit itself isn't open to the public. There will be plenty of Farmington involvement - Warrior to Citizen volunteers, Farmington's veterans' organizations, volunteers and community officials will play a large part in the day's events - but the day is really geared for those from outside the community.
Like in the afternoon, when Gov. Tim Pawlenty arrives. He's coming to Boeckman Middle School expressly to award Yellow Ribbon status to 12 cities, two counties and six companies.
The governor will be joined in Farmington by politicians from around the state, as well as several military officers. They'll all be in town for the same reason - to recognize the efforts of the new Yellow Ribbon recipients.
"They have done the work to infuse military family support within every area of their community, county and company," Kuyper said.
And the helicopter? Well, details are still being worked out, but chances are good a military chopper could land in the school parking lot, so students can go out to see it, and ask questions of its pilots. That's kind of what happens in a Yellow Ribbon community.
"Landing a helicopter would kind of help to demonstrate the partnership that a school could have with the local military," Kuyper said.