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From his current post as a Sedona police officer to serving as a fire chief of the former Red Rock Fire District and helping develop Sedona in the early days, Bill Blanchard has served the needs of the city.

By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers

For the past 56 years, Bill Blanchard has been an instrumental member of the Sedona community.

From his current post as a Sedona police officer to serving as a fire chief of the former Red Rock Fire District and helping develop Sedona in the early days, Blanchard has served the needs of the city.

?I can?t think of a negative side of Bill Blanchard,? Jim Elmer said.

Elmer recently retired from the Sedona Fire District, where he got his start as a volunteer firefighter under Blanchard.

Blanchard came to Sedona from southern California after serving in the Korean War. He had been to Sedona before when he said it consisted solely of cattle ranches and orchards.

Blanchard first found work in

construction as Sedona began to grow.

During Blanchard?s first year of work in Sedona, he said he did things he?d never done before — drove tractors, cut down trees and blasted rock. Blanchard help build the first roads in Yavapino Estates.

After a year of odd jobs, Blanchard quit and went strictly into building. Blanchard said he built many homes in the area and what use to be Nelson?s Market at the ?Y? intersection.

In 1960, Blanchard quit carpentry and pursued a career as an electrician, eventually opening Blanchard Electric.

?I was always busy from then on,? Blanchard said.

Blanchard owned and operated Blanchard Electric for 31 years before selling it to a longtime employee. Blanchard Electric is still in operation.

While running Blanchard Electric, he joined the Sedona-Oak Creek Fire Department as one of the original volunteers in 1957. He served as a firefighter and captain with the district before moving into the Yavapai County side of Sedona.

At that time, there were two fire districts in Sedona — one for the Coconino County side and one for the Yavapai County side.

Blanchard ran for fire chief of Red Rock Fire District when he moved to Yavapai County. Voters elected him in 1972 and he served as chief until 1978.

?Bill [Blanchard] was probably the best person I ever worked for,? Elmer said. ?I think he inspired me in the fire service.?

Between the two districts, Blanchard said he spent 28 years as a fire service volunteer.

Blanchard took a break from volunteering after his fire chief tenure until the Yavapai County Sheriff?s Office talked him into becoming a reserve in 1985.

Then in 1990, Blanchard switched from county reserve to Sedona reserve. Six months later, he became a Sedona police officer.

?I was only going to do that for a few years but I?m still here,? Blanchard said.

Blanchard is currently in charge of SPD?s shooting range, which the department renamed in honor of Blanchard in a dedication ceremony on March 21.

?Bill [Blanchard] is the reason I work here,? SPD Police Chief Joe Vernier said.

At the range, Blanchard maintains equipment and trains officers.

An accomplished marksman himself, SPD sent Blanchard to firearms school where he learned how to train other officers.

Blanchard lives in Sedona with his wife, Lorraine. Two of his four children also live

in Sedona along with

numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Sedona has been good to him, Blanchard said. He could always find work.

Starting out in Sedona was easier 56 years ago than it is now, Blanchard said.

According to Blanchard, he joined both fire districts and law enforcement agencies because there was a need, just as there was need for carpenters when he first came to Sedona and later a need for electricians.

?There was a need,? Blanchard said, ?and I thought, ?I?ll give it a whirl.??

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