Thu, Jul

An attempt to restrict the mayor’s participation in meetings was rejected last week by the Camp Verde Town Council.

Councilman Ron Smith proposed changes to the town code that he said would bring mayoral duties back in line with Robert’s Rules of Order, a set of procedural guidelines followed by many elected bodies around the country.

Smith’s proposal would have limited the mayor’s ability to discuss issues with the council unless the mayor volunteered to give up his or her position temporarily.

It would have also curtailed the mayor’s right to vote on an issue unless his or her vote would break a tie or create one to effectively kill a motion.

The proposed changes as Smith outlined them were dismissed for lack of a second, but Council members Norma Garrison and Greg Elmer made it known they would like to see some change after voting with Smith against keeping the status quo.

Smith denied that his proposals were aimed solely at current Mayor Tony Gioia, but went on to say he felt Gioia was “steering from the bench.”
Smith said that he felt that Gioia had made too many motions during his tenure as mayor, and was using his position to influence the other members of the council, arguing that if the mayor made a motion, other members might not feel like they’ve had an opportunity to address the issue with their own motions.

Gioia argued that every motion was open for discussion and that each council member was free to make their own motions and vote how they would like; he also said he felt Smith’s proposals were aimed at him personally.

“I feel the mayor has abused his right and has been steering from the bench,” Smith said. “It’s not personal, it’s just in the best interests of the town.”

Gioia disagreed.

“If it’s not personal, then I don’t know how to describe it,” Gioia said. “It seems very politically motivated.”

Elmer said he liked the idea of the mayor voting only to break ties, and that it would take the pressure off individual council members if they didn’t have to be the swing vote on an issue.

Elmer’s vote broke a deadlock earlier this year over an empty seat on the council and saw Charlie German appointed to the board after several other candidates were rejected.

Garrison said she felt that Gioia had overstepped his bounds on occasion, and pointed out a meeting Gioia had with Camp Verde Sanitary District Chairman Gregg Freeman.

“If my actions betrayed your trust in someway,” Gioia told Garrison, “I do apologize.”

The council also shot down proposed term limits for the council after Town Attorney Bill Sims pointed out the council lacked authority to impose them.

Anyone who has ever cracked a rib can attest to the pain it causes.
Alice Roberts cracks around 20 ribs a year, and that’s the least of her problems.

Her biggest problem? She’s a woman in her early 50s with the bones of a woman pushing 100.

Roberts suffers from severe osteoporosis, a condition that’s deteriorated her bone density to the point where even the simplest activity can cause a fracture.

A sneeze can fracture a rib; a fall could potentially break a hip.

It means Roberts has to be careful even when making the bed; pulling too hard on the sheets could leave her with a broken arm.

As it is, Roberts can’t lift anything heavier than five pounds without putting herself at risk for injury. In her condition, a small sack of groceries could be a danger. A gallon of milk is simply off limits.

A mother of two grown children, today Roberts can’t even hold a newborn baby.

Roberts’ bones started to weaken in the years following a hysterectomy in her early 20s. Typically, women build up calcium in their bones until menopause. When Roberts went through it early as a result of her surgery, she started to notice that she was more prone to bone fractures.

It wasn’t until she was in her 30s that she learned the true nature of her condition.

“I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what,” Roberts said.
Back then, Roberts said, there just wasn’t enough knowledge about osteoporosis available from the medical community.

There were things her doctors recommended that no one would today, simply because there wasn’t enough of an understanding of the disease.

Having lived through the condition first hand, Roberts understands it intimately. The mother of two has done her best to live a life as normal as possible. Until a few years ago, Roberts was even able to hold down a job in the records department of the Camp Verde Marshal’s Office.

She had played off the occasional fall or broken rib because she didn’t want to lose her job, and she needed the insurance.

That all ended with a fall that left Roberts on the permanently disabled list.
It was difficult staying home alone; an earlier fall had left Roberts confined to a wheelchair for sometime and she couldn’t even go outside because there was a drop.

“I understand why older people sometimes die when they’re bed-ridden with a broken hip,” Roberts said. “The depression, the loneliness, it’s all there.”

It gave her perspective on the handicapped, Roberts said. After seeing how rude some people were to her, she’s vowed never to get impatient with the disabled ever again.

Roberts takes comfort by turning everyday tasks into personal victories. She still remembers the first time she was able to do laundry while in the wheelchair, she still members the first meal she was able to cook for herself when she was confined to the house.

“Mushroom smothered chicken with rice and a salad,” Roberts said. “I didn’t think I’d be able to do anything normal ever again.”

Today, Roberts can still drive, and she still walks around with the help of a cane. She’s learned to deal with the pain, Roberts said, who was able to keep her job despite broken bones.

“It definitely hurts,” Roberts said. “But I’ve learned to choose what I moan about. You try and get around it. No is not in my vocabulary.”

She keeps falling down. It has become instinct, second nature, Roberts said, to twist her body in a fall in an attempt to protect vital areas.

“I’m on a first name basis with every EMT,” Roberts said. “It’s really quite embarrassing.”

But Roberts keeps getting up.

Knowing what she knows now that the doctors didn’t back then, Roberts took two years to write a book, “Living Day to Day with Severe Osteoporosis.”

She will be signing copies of her book at the Well Red Coyote in Sedona, 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 5.

The Cottonwood City Council meeting July 15 was rowdy and crowded as compared to many prior council meetings. A total of 76 citizens showed up to protest the 0.8-cent sales tax hike.

Old Town Mission Director Bryan Detwiler, leader of the protestors, said he believes the residents are starting to see the importance of participating in their government.

“Will [the residents] stop the next tax? Yes,” Detwiler said, “Will [the residents] hold this city accountable for responsible spending in the future? Yes. Will [the residents] hold this city government to responsible governance? Yes.”

Detwiler said the current tentative city budget for fiscal year 2008-09 shows no actual cuts in spending. Instead, the city council “bent over backwards” to lead the public to believe there was no extra funding, he said.

Detwiler respectfully disagrees.

He pointed to the fact that this year’s budget of $88.5 million is actually $10.3 million more than the $78.2 million spent the previous year.
The new Natural Resource Department is one area of added budget expense, Detwiler said.

City Manager Doug Bartosh pushed back, saying the city continues to change and grow, creating a higher demand for services. The question the city council was faced with was whether to cut services or increase revenues, he said.

The council reviewed how Cottonwood has the lowest level of taxes in Yavapai County. Council decided it was prudent to slightly increase revenues versus substantially cutting services, Bartosh said.

The Natural Resource Project is a new one, but money for the project was simply transferred out of the city’s budget for administration, Bartosh said.

The new Natural Resources Department director is a reclassification for Assistant City Manager Robert Hardy; his salary is being transferred to the newly created department.

The tentative FY2008-09 lists the Administration Department as costing the city $462,960, down from last year’s cost of $473,200.

Bartosh said Hardy was transferred out and Kyla Allen was brought in as executive assistant to the city manager. This position was approved in FY2007-08.

Another significant cost for administration is $25,000 in new computer software which comes out of the capital fund, Bartosh said. The other big increase is $18,000 for the coming elections in spring 2009.

The Natural Resource Department is budgeted $149,845 for FY2008-09, up $122,000 from last year. The largest increase is Hardy’s salary, which is $87,962. The rest of the increase is attributed to a new car for the department that will cost $22,000.

Bartosh said the reason for the new car is Hardy travels thousands of miles throughout the state representing the city on water issues. The current car has traveled 100,000 miles and has become unreliable.

He said the next fiscal year’s budget could be less than this year’s since a number of capital improvement projects will be completed.

The city council spent $25.9 million in FY2006-07, spent $78.2 million in FY2007-08 and is expected to spend $88.5 million in FY2008-09.

The jump can be explained by the the Greater Arizona Development Authority loan of $20 million the city must pay for construction of the new recreational center.

The General Fund for FY2008-09 is tentatively set at $19.6 million, an increase of $5.4 million over FY2007-08’s $14.2 million.

Bartosh said the reason for the increase is $4.4 million in reserves being transferred forward for capital projects. These capital projects include Mingus Avenue reconstruction west of Willard Street, 12th Street between Cherry Street and Mingus Avenue, and the design of the Regional Communications Center.

The city also is holding $1 million to be used in the event of an emergency. The amount is enough to keep the city running for 60 days, he said.

Out of this $19.2 million, employee pay accounts for $11.4 million.

Without the 0.8-cent sales tax hike, the city would be forced to substantially cut back services. This means the city might have been forced to close down the Parks and Recreation Department, stop funding the Cottonwood Public Library and drastically cut back on street improvements, Bartosh said.

He said the city would have also been forced to eliminate three police officers and two firefighters; significantly cut back on hours of operation for public services lilke the pool; eliminate Rhythm and Ribs festival; end support for the Senior Center; and eliminate grants and assistance to community organizations.

The Cottonwood Police Department budgeted $3.5 million for FY 2008-09. This is $400,000 less than the previous year, as the cost of designing a new Regional Communications Center is being paid for out of the capital improvements fund, Bartosh said.

The Camp Verde Fire District is defending itself against any allegations that it hasn’t been properly enforcing fire codes.

The issue grew out of the controversy surrounding the old Zellner wood yard, now known as Canyon Wood Supply.

Some neighbors in the area have complained that, even though the wood yard was there first and grandfathered into what became a residential area, it has created a safety hazard and detracted from the quality of life in the neighborhood.

Citing claims that the wood yard poses an “extreme fire danger” and that the fire district isn’t enforcing the “minimum codes” at the property that have surfaced in various opinion letters in the local media, CVFD Spokeswoman Barbara Rice said the district finally felt the need to respond.

Rice said that inspectors have been following the guidelines spelled out in the fire codes adopted by the district, but that in a small town like Camp Verde, it’s not always possible to make sure everything is 100 percent to the letter.

Rice compared the situation to a restaurant that wasn’t entirely compliant with a local fire code, but that the district has been working with the business owners to bring it up to an acceptable standard of safety.

“I’m not just going to go in there and tell them to close their doors,” Rice said. “We’re not trying to close down businesses. As long as progress is being made, [the wood yard] is like any other business in a bad situation.”
Rice said that the district follows up on every complaint a member of the public makes about the wood yard out of an obligation to ensure public safety.

As far as code enforcement at the wood yard is concerned, Rice said the district is requiring the business to reduce the size of and increase the space between the wood yard’s piles of wood, because of a lack of water available to fight a fire on the property.

The district also confirmed that a great deal of waste debris has been cleaned from the ground where it could have been a potential fire hazard.

“Camp Verde Fire District’s policy does not include selective or preferential code enforcement,” according to a statement issued by the district last week. “Every member of our commercial community will be treated fairly and we will work with them to ensure they are compliant with the fire codes.”

In the meantime, the fire district will continue working to make the wood yard and surrounding neighborhood safe from fires.
“Life safety is our number one priority,” Rice said

A storm that blew through the Verde Valley Saturday, July 19, caused power problems and damage in Verde Village Units 1, 2 and 3 and in Cornville.

The high winds blew down 10 Arizona Public Service power poles along Prairie Lane from Cliff View to Mesa drives.

About 4,700 customers went without power until Sunday, July 20, or Monday morning, July 21, according to Senior Customer Service Representative Gari Basham at the Cottonwood APS office.

“There were no poles down in Cornville, but the power went out. The ones that went down carried the feeder line that serves Cornville. Once we found the trouble, our operations center in Prescott was able to start switching power around,” Basham said.

To help out, APS had 20,000 pounds of dry ice delivered to Cornville people for them to keep their food chilled and frozen.

By Monday morning, Cornville still had no power, nor did people along the east side of Cliff View Drive.

Along with the new poles and electric lines, the crews needed to replace two transformers.

“I think everybody is back in service now,” Basham said.

APS crews from Phoenix, Flagstaff, Prescott and Cottonwood worked through the night Saturday, July 19, and Sunday, July 20, into Monday replacing the poles and damaged equipment.

Basham said the storm build-up was tremendous.

There was a lot of height to the clouds, so there was a lot of wind within the storm. When it hit the Verde Village area, it came with incredible force.

“You could see afterward that the poles behind Cliff View were pushed west and the ones down Prairie Lane toward Unit 1 were pushed north. It’s like the wind came down and split in two directions,” Basham said.

Many homes in the area lost a lot of shingles and several fences were pushed down by the wind. A cherry tree in one front yard was completely uprooted. Several large junipers were blown so hard they leaned westward, but remained rooted.

“We were sitting in the living room and felt the vibration of it — the wind and the tree falling. There was dirt all over the front porch,” Patrick Thorne, 13, said.

Paul David’s fence blew over as he watched from his kitchen. When he heard the tree fall, he looked out front and saw the poles go down.

“The poles snapped like toothpicks. I couldn’t believe how much damage was done in such a short time,” David said.

In Verde Village Unit 3, along East Granite Drive in the 3000 block, a trailer had its carport blown down and cooler knocked over.

During the monsoon storm season, the winds coming in with the storms can be very strong and can cause considerable damage. David said this storm was not a tornado as many thought, but it had extremely strong winds.

Lu Stitt can be reached at 634-8551 or e-mail |This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Many commuters in Cottonwood know Ione Hazelton, even though they may not know her name. She is “the walking lady,” and that’s how she likes it.

“I just love to walk and do my errands, but early in the morning before it gets hot,” the 86-year-old said.

Hazelton was born in Philadelphia and “came up” during the Great Depression of the 1930s, along with three brothers. Unfortunately, early in those years, her mother died and so did one of her brothers.

“My father lost everything — his house, his wife and one of his sons — so we went to Florida, leaving my two older brothers behind. My father was a carpenter and he did jobs along the way to earn money,” Hazelton said.

Her father, John Niehenke, raised her, and she loved living the outdoors life she had with him.

“He was stern and you minded him; but he was a good father,” she said.

From Florida, father and daughter traveled throughout the Southeast, living in several communities and attending 11 schools while growing up.

As the two settled into a community, Hazelton located the nearest church and joined their choir, regardless of denomination.

“I loved to sing, but I don’t much any more,” Hazelton said.

In Washington, D.C., she sang in the Holy Comforter Episcopal Church. She heard a group of them were going to gather at the cathedral.

“I joined and we sang a concert there in the 1940s. They’re still there and singing,” Hazelton said.

At the Zion Lutheran Church in Wilmington, Del., Hazelton took a group of choir members to the mental hospital in town and sang a well-received concert.

In Hartsville, S.C., she joined the choir at St. Bartholomew’s Church.

“That was during segregation, and the blacks had to sit in the balcony. I prayed so hard that they could sit where they wanted. Then Selma [Ala.] happened and Congress passed the Civil Rights, and I said, ‘Thank you, Lord,’” she said, placing her hands together and looking up.

One job Hazelton had before she married was as a telephone operator. That was when the operators connected one chord to another on a huge switchboard.

Once married, Hazelton stayed home for 30 years, raising her two daughters: Linda, who is married to Tom Swanson, and Sandra, whose husband is Reginald Yande.

Yet, nothing kept this woman down. When her daughters were gone on their own, Hazelton went to work at the “Star Tribune” in Minneapolis. She was the newspaper’s librarian for 13 years.

She became known as the Candy Lady. She always had some on hand at her desk, and the reporters would stop by — several times a day — to raid her supply.

“She became like a mother to the reporters. Even the publisher came down to get candy from her jar,” son-in-law Tom Swanson said.

Hazelton’s love of nature came out in the form of a rescue one day while in Minneapolis. She saw a mother duck come out of a graveyard with her six babies and head for the highway. Well, Hazelton stopped the traffic so they could cross.

The ducks headed down an alley and Hazelton followed them to another roadway. Again she stopped the traffic for them. Then she saw a police car and waived him down.

“I asked him if somebody could gather up the ducks and take them to a lake where they’d be safe,” she said.

Unfortunately she couldn’t recall if the deed was done, but she hopes it was.

While she was at the paper, the union decided to strike against the bosses. The strike lasted 27 days in 1980 and, as the librarian, Hazelton recorded everything that happened and every article written about the strike. Her work is part of the historical record.

Since retiring from the newspaper, Hazelton has enjoyed her grandchildren and many of the activities they enjoyed — even ice fishing.

“I went with my grandson, Michael, to a lake in Minnesota, and sat on a bucket for six hours in the cold on the ice,” Hazelton said and laughed. It was the first and last time she went ice fishing.

Not long ago, Hazelton moved to San Diego where the Swansons live. According to Swanson, his mother-in-law used to hang out at the McDonald’s downtown. People would come and sit down with her and ask for advice.

“There’s just something about her. People are drawn to her. She’s an absolutely giving person. In San Diego she’d give away her umbrella or $1 if a person needed one,” he said.

Hazelton and the Swansons moved to Cottonwood in 2005. She likes it here.

“I have lived in 10 states, and I’m glad I lived in 10 states so I can see the different cultures. Cottonwood is the kindest place on earth. People offer me rides, but I tell them, ‘No thanks; I’m a walker,’” she said.

Although she is 86, in her spirit she is 16 going on 17, she said with a coy smile behind her bright eyes.

As an aside, Hazelton commented on this year’s presidential race.

“Historically speaking, having a black man running for president and an old person running for president, and a woman in the race, I think is wonderful. People are going to look back at this and say we were OK,” she said.

Hazelton can be seen nearly every morning making her way down the street, a little hunched at the shoulders and always wearing a hat and coat. People wave or honk, and always say, “hello” as they pass her by — even if they don’t know her name.

Lu Stitt can be reached at 634-8551 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The sales tax increase is coming.

Without the hike, police will be unable to respond to shoplifters, speeders, domestic abusers and drunks.

Houses will burn to the ground because firefighters will be stuck at the station, according to some officials.

The current tax of 2.2 cents for every dollar spent will be raised to 3 cents for every dollar spent.

This will bring an estimated $1.8 million for fiscal year 2008-09 to the city.
Cottonwood City Finance Director Rudy Rodriguez said the economy is expected to start turning around in late 2009. This economic recovery is projected to produce $3 million in revenue with the tax hike during FY2009-10.

Rodriguez said he based this expectation on many sources such as the Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting.

Local realtors also say the turnaround is going to start late next year, he said.

Century 21 Real Estate Broker Jerry Butterbondt said based on what he has read, and from watching the current market, the economic recovery should start in about a year and a half.

His reasoning was based on the assumption of foreclosures on homes leveling out, and buyers showing up to buy property on the cheap.
“There are people out there now looking to purchase short sales and foreclosures,” Butterbondt said.

He also said people having trouble finding a job comes down to attitude. “If they can’t find a job, it’s because they aren’t looking,” Butterbondt said.

The local real estate market is strong and there are buyers out there looking for a good deal, according to Butterbondt.

Cottonwood Real Estate Broker Phil Terbell said he has been wondering what set of circumstances would cause the market to turn around.

He referred to high gas prices and the current financial crisis with the country’s largest mortgage companies, the Federal National Mortgage Association, nicknamed Fannie Mae, and the Federal Home Mortgage Corporation, nicknamed Freddie Mac, and how these problems would continue to make for a “soft” real estate market.

Terbell said his national contacts all project the real estate market to begin recovering in late 2009.

The city is cautiously optimistic for the recovery, Rodriguez said, and he will look at the incoming revenues for FY2008-09.

“If the revenue is not as high as expected,” he said, “then the city will have to keep going along. Again we’re back to assumptions, and I prefer to be optimistic that things are bad, but they are going to get better.”

Rodriguez said the city has been dealing with lack of revenue from having no property tax by not taking care of city employees.

He referred to new buildings like the Public Safety Building and the coming recreational center, but the problem is that the city cannot pay the employees what they are worth.

The city has been paying for public services by not paying competitive salaries, he said.

If worse comes to worse, then the city will have to institute
a reduction in force, Rodriguez said.

He said the city council decided to increase taxes to prevent a reduction and ensure the current level of services to the public are maintained.

“The sales tax is funding everything, so when it is booming it is great; when it is not, then the city is in for a wild ride,” Rodriguez said. The city is currently on a “wild ride.”

His understanding is the sales tax hike will be removed if a property tax is approved by the voters and the money will then be directed to police, fire and streets.

“This is by no means over,” Rodriguez said.

Greg Nix can be reached at 282-7795, Ext. 122, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Camp Verde Sanitary District issued a surprise announcement at the end of a heated public hearing July 9: The tax levied on district homeowners will actually go down this year.

Instead of the worst-case scenario feared by many district residents, CVSD announced a fiscal year 2008-09 budget that covers all of the district’s spending, about $950,000 for FY2008-09, at a cost of $2.23 per $100 in assessed value, an $.08 reduction in the tax compared to FY2007-08.

The assessed value of a home, its “full cash value,” is normally less than its market value. Assessed value is the value of real property as determined by the Yavapai County Assessor each year.

Under the FY2008-09 budget, a district residence with assessed value of $200,000 will receive a property tax bill of $464 for sewer, about $16 less than last year.

The budget was approved 4-0. Board member Ben Bueler was absent.
“I’ve got to congratulate you,” former CVSD chairwoman Suzy Burnside said. “You’ve done some excellent work here.”

A draft budget published by CVSD prior to the hearing suggested the CVSD tax rate for FY2008-09 could go as high as $6.09 per $100 in assessed value.

That had a lot of residents hopping mad, including some who said they would lose their homes to foreclosure if the tax was imposed.

About 50 people showed up for the public hearing at the Community Center July 9 to express their frustration.

The CVSD board sat in the hot humidity of the hearing room for more than an hour, but board members kept their cool as speaker after speaker rose to attack their competence and integrity.

“People who live in Camp Verde are living right on the edge,” district resident Jim Ash told the board. “If this [tax levy of $6.09 per $100 in assessed value], goes through, houses won’t sell. Nobody will want to live here. We need a different approach on this.”

“I protest this thing,” district resident Pat Davis said. “If this thing goes through, I’m going to lose my house.”

The budget adopted by the board arrived shortly before the meeting and was made known to the public for the first time during the hearing. Many in the audience left the hearing once the actual budget became known.

Those who stayed wondered why the board waited so long to announce the good news.

CVSD Board Chairman Greg Freeman explained that the reason for publishing a worst-case scenario budget was due to uncertainty about the actual cost to the district of fixing problems that arose in the last year with the sewer line expansion and wastewater treatment plant construction.
“We waited as long as we could to get a handle on those costs,” Board Member Rob Witt said.

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