Latah County Sheriff Richie Skiles fought back tears when he briefly spoke of his son Wednesday.
Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo presented Skiles with the Spirit of Idaho award at the Latah County Fairgrounds in Moscow and the sheriff, who is in his third year at the helm, delivered a heartfelt acceptance speech. Skiles’ emotions prompted a few of the roughly 50 people in attendance to wipe a tear or two away from their faces.
“I don’t think I could be more proud,” Skiles said of his son, Sam Skiles, who stood dressed in his Spirit Lake Police Department uniform. “I couldn’t be a happier guy right now.”
Crapo, who is visiting unincorporated communities in northcentral Idaho this week, stopped in Moscow on Wednesday to present Skiles with the award, which honors the acts of service by Idahoans for their commitment to improving their community and serving their fellow residents.
Latah County Commissioner Dave McGraw sent a letter to Crapo’s office nominating Skiles for his service to Syringa Mobile Home Park residents. The park, located east of Moscow, closed last summer, forcing several residents to find someplace else to stay.
McGraw shared one story of Skiles using his own money to buy a battery and tires for one resident’s motor home.
“You can’t find a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve more than Richie Skiles,” McGraw said. “ … He’s just a good, good guy.”
Skiles thanked those who attended the award presentation — many of whom were elected officials, Latah County Sheriff’s Office personnel and Skiles’ family.
“A man’s wealth is measured by his friends,” Skiles said.
Skiles said he spent a great deal of time at the mobile home park.
“I thought that if I went out there and I started spending some time with people, I could encourage them to pack up and find a place without being served papers,” he said.
Skiles said several people and entities helped out at Syringa, including his deputies, who conducted extra patrols at the mobile home park. They got out of their patrol cars and walked through the park in the middle of the night, Skiles said.
“I’ve been in Latah County most of my life,” he said. “I’ve got the best crew of Latah County I’ve ever seen. And I just want to thank them for that too, because they help me shine.”
Crapo said law enforcement personnel put their lives on the line to make others safe and the recent backlash they are taking is unjustifiable.
“I want to thank you and your team for what you do every day — not just the wonderful things you’ve done at Syringa — but what you guys do every day,” Crapo said.
Crapo presented Skiles with a certificate and a folded American flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol. The senator has presented more than 600 Spirit of Idaho awards since the first presentation in 2000.
Skiles also received a quilt from the Quilts of Valor Foundation in honor of Skiles’ military service. Rep. Caroline Troy, R-Genesee, also gave Skiles an American flag that flew over the Idaho State Capitol.
“I thank God every single day and I just praise him for my friends and for the safety of this county, and for everything that’s going on right now,” Skiles said. “We need God’s protection around us.”
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to email@example.com.