The Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District board of directors meeting Thursday included recognition of two longtime board members, Frank McMurry and Jim McCormick, who both resigned from their positions in recent months.

McMurry, a local rancher and former Chaffee County commissioner, resigned as a conservancy district director after 34 years representing Division 3 (Chaffee County School District R-31).

McCormick, a retired home builder and former Salida city councilman, resigned from his position as treasurer in 2016 after serving in that capacity since the founding of the Upper Ark district in 1979.

The Upper Ark board recognized McMurry’s decades of service by awarding him the George E. Everett Memorial Award, established in Everett’s honor “to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the preservation of water and its historic use in the Upper Arkansas Basin,” said District Manager Terry Scanga.

The conservancy district established the award to honor the late George E. Everett and the Everett family. Everett was instrumental in the founding of the Upper Ark conservancy district.

In addition to running a successful Chaffee County ranching operation, Everett served on many public boards and continued his father’s work as a water activist by serving on the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board of directors.

Ken Baker, former manager and attorney for the Upper Ark district, said, “George initiated a fire storm of support from the entire community that resulted in the eventual formation of the (Upper Ark) district.”

Not long after initiating efforts to form the Upper Ark district, Everett died in a plane crash that also claimed the lives of his brother, Dan, Chaffee County Commissioners Eddie Holman and Ed Krocesky and Tom McCurdy, president of the Southeastern conservancy district.

By presenting the award to McMurry, district directors recognized his knowledge of local water issues, decades of service to the district and dedication to the preservation of local water rights and uses.

Prior to his resignation as treasurer, McCormick was the only remaining member of the original district board.

In keeping with tradition, the Upper Ark district commissioned a portrait of McCormick to grace the walls of the district conference room alongside portraits of the other original members.

McCormick’s portrait, painted by Salida artist Carl Ortman, was unveiled at Thursday’s meeting. (McCormick’s contributions to the district are described in the June 28, 2016, issue of The Mountain Mail.)

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