Chapter Resources

The Station Fire Hits Home

Recognizing chapter community involvement

I was born and raised in Rhode Island, the smallest state in the union, with a population that is comparable to most major cities in the United States. Reaching out and coming together as a community, are well known traits of any successful city in this country. It doesn't matter whether the cities are Los Angeles, CA, Tallahassee, FL, Blackduck, MN or Nyack, NY.

Rhode Islanders (as we like to call ourselves) have this unique ability to know everyone. Drive to the nearest mall or shopping center and you will always run into a friendly face. Traveling throughout RI, it's not uncommon to see someone from your childhood, high school, college or simply an acquaintance you have met going about your daily routine.

On Thursday, February 20 of this year, life in our small state changed forever. A horrific tragedy befell upon a cheerful group of people assembled in West Warwick to have a good time. Their intention was to enjoy a popular heavy metal band with national notoriety. Within minutes, fire ripped through The Station Nightclub ultimately killing 100 and injuring 180. The overwhelming support from area rescue and hospital personnel was astounding. Joseph Amaral, Chief of Surgery at Rhode Island Hospital, spoke recently at a fundraiser I attended along with James Medeiros CGCS-President of the RIGCSA, Paul Barrett CGCS-Vice President RIGCSA, Peter Lund CGCS-Treasurer RIGCSA, Paul Jamrog-Secretary RIGCSA, William Coulter CGCS-Director RIGCSA, Joseph Oliveira-Director RIGCSA, Michael Varkonyi-Past President RIGCSA, Robert Mathews CGCS-President GCMACC According to Amaral, "As tragic as the accident was, there was actually some good news for all concerned. The fire occurred at 11:00 p.m. which is the precise hour that hospital and rescue personnel change shifts. Anticipating the many injured, all shifts remained to administer aid to the victims. Years ago, a person hospitalized with burns on 35% of his or her body could not survive. Modern technology has allowed many victims of this devastating fire to survive with burns exceeding 65%."

The Governor of RI, Donald Carceiri, was a true leader in all of the mayhem. Constantly monitoring the situation, he and his staff were quite frequently seen with burn victims and family members of the deceased. Governor Carceiri was instrumental in setting up a family resource center as well as assembling the appropriate staff to oversee the many contributions that were made. The Station Nightclub Fire Relief Fund was developed with the assistance of the United Way and the Rhode Island Council of Churches. There was no delay in processing all requests for the victims' families. The funeral costs were paid along with mortgage payments, tuition for school, car payments and everyday expenses that many families could not afford. A number of victims still need the aid of this fund for rehabilitation and medical treatment. This funds long term goals not only include education and scholarships for the 56 children who lost a parent, but also enables spouses to obtain job training and placement.

The outpouring of support for all of the victims was truly inspirational. Not surprisingly, some of the victims were known by members of our association. The Rhode Island Golf Course Superintendents Association along with the Golf Course Managers Association of Cape Cod have combined their efforts to raise $5,000.00 for this cause.

In closing, you really did not have to know anyone to feel the impact of that fateful night. Nationally, organizations and corporations have been graciously making financial contributions. Donations will always be encouraged and appreciated. Any chapter interested in finding out how they may lend a hand, can contact me at the number below.

Robert C. Barrow
Public Relations Director/Newsletter Editor
Rhode Island Golf Course Superintendents Association
Bob Barrow 508-252-6067

To share your chapter's success stories, please email them to Leann Cooper.


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