A monument tucked back inside the right-of-way fence on the west side of the Anthem Way southbound on-ramp to I-17 frequently catches the attention of curious motorists.
Since it was erected before the master-planned community existed, many aren’t sure who the memorial honors. From a distance, the engraving on the stone is hard to read, and the brush surrounding it is overgrown.
The monument is one of 31 that exist across the state honoring Department of Public Safety troopers killed in the line of duty. On Nov. 16, 1980, DPS Officer Bill Murie was struck by a motorist while assisting at a traffic incident near what is now the Anthem Way overpass. He died from his injuries three days later.
It’s been more than 20 years since the first monuments, designed and constructed by a retired DPS sergeant, were installed across the state with help from private donations. Exposure to the elements have left all but a few in need of refurbishing, said Colin Peabody, president of the Coalition of DPS retirees, the group spearheading a state-wide restoration effort.
Peabody, along with a group of coalition volunteers and the DPS captain of the Northern Patrol Bureau and other active-duty DPS officers, gathered at the site of the Murie memorial on the morning of May 22, to begin the refurbishment, which involved clearing brush and debris, then cleaning and repainting the engraving. The stone will be resealed at a later date.
Murie’s brother, Dick Murie, a retired DPS sergeant, came to honor his brother and assist with the repainting effort of his brother’s badge engraved upon the stone.
“It’s amazing what these guys do,” Murie said of his DPS colleagues and their efforts on the project. “I’ve always been proud of the agency I work for.”
The refurbishment of all monuments in need are slated to be complete in August, in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of the DPS. Peabody said the coalition is planning a motorcycle ride with stops at each of the 31 memorial sites following completion of the work.