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Retired Ceres fire engine delivered to rural Nevada town
A vast number of appreciative Lincoln County, Nev., residents turned out Saturday, June 21 to celebrate the arrival of their fire pumper donated by the city of Ceres.

Mine owners, ranchers and county supervisors formed part of a group of about 45 persons who gathered in the bright Nevada sun in Rachel to receive the retired 1985 engine on April 28. Then they partied with a barbecue.

"They appreciated it more than words can express," said Ron Richter, a Ceres reserve police officer who prompted the donation by the Ceres City Council on April 28.

Ceres and Rachel share a special link. The late Ceres Police Sgt. Howard Stevenson, who was killed in the line of duty on Jan. 9, 2006, often vacationed in Rachel, a town of about 85 north of Las Vegas. The town - located near the legendary Area 51 - also erected a monument dedicated to Stevenson's memory.

Since the unincorporated town is trying to establish a volunteer fire department, Ceres was asked to donate Engine #23, which had no real monetary value. The donation made sense, said Public Safety Director Art deWerk, since the pumper is only worth about $15,000 and there were no interested buyers. No neighboring volunteer agencies wanted the Pierce Dash fire pumper, which sat unused in the city's corporation yard since retirement in 2006.

Richter, a friend of the late sergeant, noted that Stevenson used to travel to Rachel in order to watch jet fighters based out of Nellis Air Force Base play war games in the Red Flag program.

Stevenson's ashes were spread near Rachel, near the memorial grove at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park and one of his favorite hunting spots off of Highway 108.

Last year when the towns people joined some of Stevenson's friends and fellow officers to erect a large metal cross in his memory, Richter noticed that Rachel had no fire protection. Rachel's 1960s model fire engine was obsolete because parts were not available, said Richter.

The town had to abandon its volunteer fire department because it didn't have a fire pumper, said Richter. Fires were responded to from trucks stationed hours away. That all changed with the Ceres donation.

Driving the truck to Rachel were Ceres firefighter James Yandell and Westport assistant chief John Barindelli.

"This is hopefully going to be a change in their lives," said Richter. "Hopefully they will never use it but if it saves a ife and a home, it's there for them."