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Posted 6/19/2013

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By Karen Downey, Operations Manager at John Martin Reservoir, and
Elizabeth Lockyear, Albuquerque District Public Affairs

ROCKY FORD, COLO., -- Approximately 700 people enjoyed a day of fun and safety at the 9th Annual Cruisin’ Into Summer and Keep Kids Safe Fair here, June 1, 2013.

Employees from the District’s John Martin Reservoir were on hand providing water safety tips and handing out water safety materials to the more than 550 children and adults who stopped by their booth.

Karen Downey, Operations Manager U.S. Army Corps of Engineers John Martin Reservoir, emphasized the need to ALWAYS wear a lifejacket around water, even when simply wading.

Downey said that many of the adult visitors were surprised to learn that in the case of most drownings at John Martin Reservoir, the victims had never intended to end up in the water and thus rationalized they didn’t need to wear a life jacket.

Downey and Debby Schibbelhut, office automation assistant with the District, made it a point to ask the kids if they knew how to swim, and then explained the importance of swimming lessons and never swimming alone, especially at a lake where depths of water are unknown and there are no lifeguards.

Schibbelhut and Downey provided Bobber the Water Safety Dog coloring books, pencils, rulers and Frisbees to the kids, while providing the adults with information and brochures about the reservoir, as well as boating safety and tips on staying safe in the water.

The fair started with a pancake breakfast offered by the Rocky Ford Chamber of Commerce, with lots of kid’s games such as a hoop shoot, Hula Hoop and jump rope contest. Adults enjoyed the “Got Wheels” Antique Car Show, bingo sponsored by the Rocky Ford American Legion Post #8 and a horseshoe tournament. The Village Inn Restaurant and Tri-County Family Care Center (TCFCC) sponsored a pie-eating contest which turned out to be very popular for both children and adults.

The event was expanded from last year as TCFCC, encouraged more public safety booths to participate. On hand this year was the Center for Transportation Safety; Operation Lifesaver; La Junta Fire Department and their Tornado Trailer; Valley Wide Health Systems; Christmas Child; Rocky Ford Police Department, Region Six Alcohol and Drug Abuse Center; Otero Junior College and the Colorado State Patrol.

Plans are already underway for next year’s 10th annual event, and the staff at John Martin Reservoir is looking forward to being a part of “keeping kids safe.”

9th Annual Cruisin’ Into Summer and Keep Kids Safe Fair albuquerque district Colorado Corps of Engineers John Martin Reservoir Rocky Ford USACE water safety