Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Monday, January 27, 2014

Chicken Soup From Yarnell #4; The Win-Win

This is the fourth in a periodic series inspired by the  aftermath of the Yarnell Hill Fire.  My husband and I have a second home in Yarnell, and are moved by the cohesiveness of Yarnell and Peeples Valley and the small miracles we witness repeatedly as we rebuild.

Ken Headrick is something of an institution in Yarnell.
Hedrick with the Vermeer Chipper

He retired here from ADOT and has run a business called Yavapai Chipping for 11 years.  His father was also well-loved in town and his recent death was a great loss.

Headrick’s chipper was destroyed in the June 30, 2013 fire, and he was understandably worried about his business.  The very day the evacuation order was lifted and he realized what had happened, he was working with Vermeer Southwest on a way to make another chipper available in Yarnell.  Together they had worked out a lease arrangement which Ken says was “very reasonable,” but there was a complication.  

Yavapai County had arranged to have their grinder sent to Yarnell for the initial clean-up, which made Ken wonder about the demand for his services.  He put off presenting the lease option to the Recovery Group.

After a few weeks, though, both Vermeer Southwest and The Yarnell Hill Recovery Group had been thinking about Headrick.  The dealership wanted to help out more, and the Recovery Group wanted to support this business, which has been consistently invaluable to the community.

Vermeer Southwest donated a chipper which had been previously leased by APS and is nearly identical to the one that was destroyed. The recovery group then gave it to Ken.

Many of us remember the wide smile on the face of this often quiet man when he stood at a community meeting and thanked everyone for his new machine.

The outcome was a win-win.  Ken has his business, the donated machine is operated by someone who understands safety and maintenance concerns, and the community is getting its needs met by a local business.  

Even seven months after the fire, Hedrick says, “There’s plenty of work here.”


  1. Replies
    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Perhaps you have some leads about more stories to share?