This weekend a time to honor our firefighters |

This weekend a time to honor our firefighters

In 1860, Irish immigrant Michael J. Higgins homesteaded 160 acres of land located on Wolf and Combie roads. He and his wife Mary had nine children. They farmed and raised livestock. In the 1940s, two of the Higgins’ children offered land to the state of California at Higgins Corner, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection fire station was established. The first permanent buildings were erected on the property in 1949. This station operated only during the summer/fall fire season. As the population grew in the south county, so did the need for year-round fire protection. A few concerned citizens, including Emily Spencer, the late owner of the Red Wagon Restaurant, pushed to establish a new fire district. In association with the CDF, the Higgins Area Fire Protection District was officially formed in 1979 to provide fire protection to local residents year-round.

According to Linda Benson, a district employee for 12 years, the Higgins Fire Protection District covers approximately 90 square miles, with its center of population in the Lake of the Pines community. In 2003, the Higgins Fire District responded to a total of 615 emergency calls. In addition to the 50 or so fire-related calls, the team responded to 359 medical-aid calls and 60 traffic collisions. Imagine what it would be like to live in a community where there were no professionals to answer the emergency calls – no one dedicated to protecting life and property.

On Saturday, the Higgins Fire Department is holding its 21st Annual Appreciation Dinner Dance. In addition to the annual “State of the District” address, given by board of directors’ treasurer Mike Bryant, there will be special awards given to outstanding firefighters and volunteers. In 2003, the district’s Firefighter of the Year Award went to Dallas Anderson. This Saturday, another deserving firefighter will receive the 2004 award.

The dance is being held at the Higgins Lions Community Center on the corner of Magnolia Road and East Hacienda Drive. It starts at 6 p.m. with a no-host bar and appetizers. A buffet-style dinner will be served at 7 p.m. and will be followed by the awards presentation. Dancing to DJ “EZ Bake” will commence at 9 p.m. (As a member of the 40-something and beyond crowd, I am always glad to be on the dance floor surrounded by dozens of CPR professionals.) According to event coordinator and fire department engineer Collin Bryant, there will be a limited number of tickets available at the door for $17.50 each, so arrive early! Please call the Higgins Fire District at 269-2488 with questions.

As illustrated after the 9/11 disaster, firefighters are trained, and willing, to risk their own lives in order to save others. This is a great opportunity to show local heroes your appreciation and say “thank-you” for their service

This weekend’s entertainment does not stop with the firefighters. The Magnolia Rattler Jazz Band is hosting its 2nd Annual Tasty Jazz Concert tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Magnolia School gym. Tickets are $5 for an individual or $20 for a family and can be purchased at Weiss Bros. Nursery, Sierra Mountain Coffee Roasters (next to Longs Drugstore) or at Magnolia School. Local celebrity and Magnolia Intermediate School graduate Matt Baldoni will be a special musical guest. Among Matt’s musical accomplishments is his 2002 television debut as a musical director and guitarist for the Fox Sports’ “The NFL Show.”

Laura Lavelle is a resident of Lake of the Pines, and her column is for Lake of the Pines area residents to share thoughts and information. Contact her at or leave a phone message with The Union’s readership editor at 477-4238.

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