Mon, Jul

Parking lot attendant Ron Agoglia is an outspoken man.

A former worker for the phone company in New York City and a former school board member in Brooklyn, Agoglia knows a few things about managing a school and school policy.

Even so, Agoglia’s contract to patrol Mingus Union High School parking lots will not be renewed next year, making Agoglia a high profile victim of the district’s planned $300,000 in budget cuts.

The decision to let Agoglia go was protested by Agoglia and his supporters during the public comment portion of the Thursday, May 8, Mingus Union School District’s school board meeting.

During an interview after the meeting, MUHS Superintendant Scott Dunsmore said the decision not to renew Agoglia’s contract was simply part of an overall “reduction in force” underway at the district.

Parking lot fees, paid by students, go into the district’s general fund.

Agoglia’s salary is paid out of that fund. Total parking lot fees collected, however, will not cover the cost of two parking lot attendants, one full time and one part time, Dunsmore said.

Dunsmore could not say exactly how much the district will save by laying Agoglia off.

According to Agoglia, tension between himself and Dunsmore started at the board meeting in March when Agoglia openly contradicted the superintendent about how the new closed campus policy was working.

The school board voted to close the campus earlier this year, but then decided April 10 to open the campus again for the 2008-09 school year.
The policy currently prohibits students from driving off campus, though they can leave on foot.

To get around the policy, Agoglia said students overload the few cars given lunch passes by cramming up to five teens in backseats. Students who leave campus for lunch during the day often jaywalk or walk out in front of moving traffic on Fir Street and Hwy. 260, Agoglia said.

The goal of the closed campus policy was to make the students safer, but it has actually placed them in more danger, Agoglia claimed.

If getting rid of his job is not a part of the overall budget cuts, Agoglia said he felt it was retaliation for his open disagreement with Dunsmore’s policies and actions.

“People are afraid of the school board, even the parents. I’m pretty much the only one who raises the issue to the board because the teachers are afraid of losing their jobs,” Agoglia said.

He claimed the actions of Dunsmore and the board have fostered a hostile working environment which is scaring everyone, out of fear of losing their jobs if they speak out.

Parking lot attendant Roger Stoddard spoke up for Agoglia at the May 8 board meeting. Together, he and Agoglia were able to get the parking lot under control, running off drug users and dropouts who hung around the school. He and Agoglia made MUHS safer for students and teachers, Stoddard said.

Without Agoglia, the parking lot will return to the way it was, Stoddard said.

“Please, let me keep my job,” Agoglia asked the board.

The applause in response was long, loud, vocal and unrestrained. Two people shouted out, “That-a-boy, Ron” and “God bless you, Ron.”

After the meeting, Dunsmore downplayed public sentiment expressed in favor of Agoglia during the meeting, explaining that people who show up are not a true representation of the entire community.

For a criminal, the lights and sirens of racing police cars can cause concern. For an elementary school student, it’s one of the coolest things in the world.

Students at Camp Verde United Christian School had a blast April 16 for First Responders Day, an annual event that lets children see first hand some of the tools of the emergency response trade, including fire trucks, police cars and a crowd favorite, the Angel One medevac helicopter.

Aside from serving as a conversation piece for young boys to discuss how they would best employ the helicopter to fight bad guys, bringing this equipment and the men and women who use it to the children serves another important purpose, said Donna Hazlewood, a paramedic with Lifeline.

“It’s important that the children get exposed to all this and not be afraid of it,” Hazlewood said.

When there’s an emergency, a child’s level of comfort with police officers, firefighters or paramedics could make all the difference as to the outcome.
Hazlewood, who used to work for Guardian Air, first got involved with the idea of First Responders Day when her son was in grade school several years ago.

In addition to the helicopter, this year’s event brought together the Yavapai-Apache Police Department, the Camp Verde Fire District and the Camp Verde Marshal’s Office, which provided K-9 officer Jake to give a demonstration of how the marshal’s office uses dogs to detect drugs and take down suspects.

It almost didn’t happen last week, school administrator Robin Showers said. Several emergency units were answering calls, but fortunately, everyone’s schedules were cleared in time for the event.

“It just all came together,” Showers said.

Mark Lineberger
Larson Newspapers

Detectives with the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office are still looking for a Chandler man who disappeared in March on his way home from Flagstaff.

James Allen Martinson, 37, was last seen at a Pic-N-Run convenience store about five miles south of Flagstaff.

Martinson, who works in Flagstaff during the week, had last talked to his family in a phone call earlier in the month.

The afternoon he was seen at the store, Arizona Department of Public Safety Officers found Martinson’s dark green Nissan Pathfinder on the side of I-17 near the Stoneman Lake exit. Not realizing the vehicle belonged to the missing man, officers tagged the Pathfinder and moved on.

Martinson’s family found the vehicle while looking for him the next day. It still contained personal items, including Martinson’s cell phone and wallet.
A search of the area turned up nothing.

Martinson is 5’6”, 165 pounds with green eyes, brown hair, worn short with a light goatee. He typically wears polo shirts, and is believed to have been wearing a Nautica jacket over a red shirt with a black cap and a backpack when he disappeared.

Detectives are looking for someone who might have had contact with Martinson, and anyone who might have information as to his whereabouts or locations he might frequent.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office at 1-928-771-3260 or Yavapai Silent Witness at 1-800-932-3232.

Mark Lineberger
Larson Newspapers

Faced with an unexpected $1.8 million budget shortfall, Camp Verde has been taking drastic measures to make sure there’s enough to make ends meet for the rest of the fiscal year.

Soon after Town Manager Michael Scannell came on the job last October, he discovered that the town’s financial controls and procedures were in trouble.

Due to a budget process for the current fiscal year, Scannell called “shoddy and incomplete,” he found that a good portion of the town’s money wasn’t where it should have been.

Scannell, with the blessing of the Town Council, implemented emergency measures to make sure Camp Verde’s budget stays in the black.

Scannell’s efforts aren’t helped by the state of the economy.

Projected loss of income from sales tax revenue was predicted to be around $360,000 less than expected when this year’s budget was drafted. After looking at the latest numbers, losses are expected to be more in the neighborhood of $470,000, said Lisa Elliott, with the town’s finance department.

Revenues from building permits and check fees are still down as predicted, Elliott said.

Fortunately for the town, Elliott said that town employees have done an excellent job of reigning in expenses. An early look at what the town’s departments were spending predicted that employees could cut speeding by $300,000 for the rest of the fiscal year to help close the budget gap; Elliot said that number will be closer to $400,000.

In order to keep spending down, the finance department is requesting that any expenditure of more than $1,000 will have to be reviewed by the town manager for approval, Elliott said.

The town is also putting a freeze on hiring any new employees unless absolutely necessary, Scannell said, adding that towns across the state were suffering from similar ill economic effects.

“We’re a sales tax-driven city; we have no property taxes,” Scannell said. “We rise and fall on the performance of the economy …. We only want to do what we have to do to keep the system running.”

Scannell and the finance department are also in the process of developing new budgeting procedures for the Town Council for upcoming financial planning for the 2008-09 fiscal year.

Mark Lineberger can be reached at 567-3341 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Cottonwood City Council rolled the dice for its business community last Tuesday night betting on the success of air service between Prescott and Los Angeles.

How big of a bet the council is willing to place, it hasn’t decided.

Jane Bristol, economic development director for the city of Prescott, appeared before council at its regular meeting April 1 to ask for financial help from the city.

“I think it’s something we owe the business community for our income,” Councilman Duane Kirby said.

The city’s income is from sales tax generated by business and this could be the city’s way of giving back to businesses.

Kirby said down the road, the city could see a big payback from the service.

Prescott is in the process of signing a contract for direct flight service to Los Angeles with Horizon Air, a sister carrier to Alaska Airlines.

One flight, carrying up to 76 passengers, will leave Prescott in the morning and return in the evening. The service targets business people who travel between Northern Arizona and California regularly.

The contract requires Prescott to agree to pay a subsidy only if Horizon Air doesn’t meet its customer projections.

According to documents provided by the city of Prescott, payment will be based on achieving 78 percent of the load factor at the end of a 12-month period starting in June 2008 and ending in May 2009. The amount of payment wouldn’t exceed $160,000.

Prescott’s original letter to Cottonwood asked for the city to commit to pay up to $20,000.

Bristol told the council the $20,000 was an estimate at the time Prescott drafted the letter but the figure is a suggestion, and not a demand.

With the city already facing budget constraints, Cottonwood Councilman James Chapman said he doesn’t think its fair for the city to ask its departments to make cut backs and then commit to spending money on the service.

Other council members agreed $20,000 is out of the city’s scope but thought it could contribute a smaller amount.

“It seems a little risky,” Councilman Tim Elinski said. “At the same time, we need to think progressively.” Elinski said he’s hesitant to spend the city’s money on something risky.

Prescott is also looking for help in marketing the new service and estimated $80,000 to $100,000 will be needed. Along with the subsidy and marketing, Prescott will invest another $45,000 to service a second terminal at its airport.

The city of Sedona was also asked to help with the costs, but Sedona City Manager Eric Levitt said city staff doesn’t see the service benefiting Sedona residents since Horizon Air is offering the same deal from Flagstaff.
Flagstaff City Council approved a similar contract with Horizon on March 18. Flagstaff committed to a refund up to $600,000 if passenger projections aren’t met but didn’t ask surrounding communities for financial support.

Prescott Valley recently signed a contract to help Prescott with a portion of the financial commitment.

Bristol said Horizon Air had not committed to a price for tickets but said it would be comparable to commuting to Phoenix to fly out.

Council directed City Manager Doug Bartosh to work with Prescott on an agreement but leave the amount the Cottonwood would contribute to the subsidy blank.

Mayor Diane Joens said she’ll also go to the business community and ask for help with marketing funds.

Trista Steers can be reached at 282-7795, Ext. 124, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano signed a bill into law that requires municipalities to allow sign walkers.

House Bill 2066 sponsored by Arizona Rep. Bob Robson [R-Chandler], bars municipal bans on sign walkers.

The city of Cottonwood considered revising the municipal sign code to prohibit the use of mascots and/or street corner sign-walkers.

However, at a Feb. 12 work session, the council decided to at least allow mascots temporarily and impose less stringent regulations on sign walkers.
“If I wanted to live with a lot of rules and regulations, I’d live in Scottsdale,” Vice Mayor Karen Pfeifer said.

Scottsdale has a ban on street corner sign-walkers.

The new law, which takes effect Thursday, Jan. 1, declares that “all municipalities shall allow the posting, display and use of sign walkers. Municipalities may adopt reasonable time, place and manner regulations relating to sign walkers.”

The bill defines a sign walker as one who wears, holds or balances a sign.
Cottonwood Community Development Director George Gehlert said the bill looks different than legislation the governor vetoed last year.

“We’ll, no doubt, take this up as part of the ongoing sign code review,” Gehlert said.

“There was initially an effort to prohibit local governments from regulating sign walkers at all. This version appears to allow for regulation of time, place and manner subject to public safety issues.

“I’m guessing the mascots will fall into the sign walker category as well.”
The city asked local businesses such as Acme Pizzaria and Jump Start to stop using mascots to advertise their business until it determined if they would be allowed under the city sign code.

At the work session, City Manager Doug Bartosh allowed the use of mascots until the city decides whether to regulate them or not.

“It appears we have until the end of this year to propose any local standards for sign walkers,” Gehlert said.

Robson said the new law is a major victory for the First Amendment.

Camp Verde’s long-time residents will certainly remember the flood of 1993, when the Verde River and nearby creeks swelled to dangerous levels.
When the water receded, life eventually returned to normal for most of the Verde Valley.

While the flood may be out of sight and out of mind for most people these days, it left visual reminders for a handful of people along the banks of the Verde River.

People like Marie Avery, who owns property along the Verde River just off of Buffalo Trail.

The view from her land is typical of the natural beauty that has drawn so many to the area over the years. Standing on her land, one can see green mountains dominating the skyline above lush riparian grasslands, the Verde River meandering its way between tree-lined banks and over the rusted hulks of construction equipment.

Fifteen years ago, the flood washed a dump truck and a large excavator into the river where they remained, slowly rusting and sinking into the riverbed, becoming seemingly permanent parts of the river’s landscape.

“She’s been trying to get it out of the river since day one,” said Eddie Sass, a caretaker who lives on the property.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality knows about the problem, spokesman Mark Shaffer said, but since the area affected on the property is less than an acre in size, it falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

This weekend, at least one of the eyesores was removed, not with the help of the Army, but with a personal favor to a friend.

After a failed attempt a couple of months ago to pull the truck from the river by the Fort Valley Towing Company, of Flagstaff, a decision was made to bring in the big guns.

Jesse Sensivar, who runs Route 66 Heavy Duty Towing, also in Flagstaff, arrived with the large equipment needed to pull the truck up out of the river, over the bank and on to dry land for the first time in a decade and a half.

Sensivar said that as a friend of the property owner, he was glad to help get the truck of the way. The proposition was made more attractive by ballooning prices in the scrap metal market over the past few years, Sensivar said.

“We also did it for the entertainment value,” Sensivar said, acknowledging that pulling heavy equipment from a river can be a challenge that serves as its own reward.

Sensivar said he’d like to get the excavator out of the river as well, but admits that’s going to be a much bigger project.

“Over the last couple of years there’s be a lot of this kind of stuff popping up,” Sensivar said. With scrap prices what they are, Sensivar said this might be the perfect time for the town or other property owners to go about cleaning up the area’s waterways with little expense.

“[Scrap metal prices] definitely make this more financially practical,” Sensivar said.

Avery’s property isn’t alone. Over the years, other equipment and junk has found its way into the river.

Until about 18 months ago, Kala Pearson said she had to look at a cement truck, a crane and various mining equipment that had been in Beaver Creek for years.

Pearson, who runs the Luna Vista Bed & Breakfast, said the sight of abandoned equipment about a half-mile from her property was a real eyesore.

“Someone finally removed it at great expense,” Pearson said.

You can find similar situations at several places along the Verde River and its tributaries, Sass said, and just because most people don’t see it on a daily basis doesn’t mean it should be ignored.

“[Mayor Tony Gioia] and everyone else talks about protecting our rivers and creeks because they’re endangered,” Sass said. “Well, they need to start by cleaning up junk like this.”

Mark Lineberger can be reached
at 567-3341 or e-mail
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Hundreds turned out Saturday, March 29, for the second annual March on Meth parade to show their support to stamp out substance abuse in Cottonwood.

The parade had nearly 40 entries as groups traveled from the Verde Valley Fairgrounds, up Main Street and west on Mingus Avenue to Cottonwood Middle School.

Entries ranged from elementary school groups, cloggers, horse-drawn carriages, dogs, and Shriners in little cars all sporting anti-methamphetamine and anti-substance abuse messages. Many of the groups also plan to participate in next year’s parade.

“We had some really good entries. Mingus was well-represented this year,” Cottonwood City Manager Doug Bartosh said. “I think we had double the participation we had last year, our first parade.”

Bartosh, along with Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, began the Methamphetamine Advisory Task Force Yavapai County Substance Abuse Coalition in 2006. The parade is one of the outreach activities of the group.

Bartosh said he was excited to see the signs, participation and people speaking up against substance abuse.

Having a parade to visually make an anti-drug statement was the idea of Mingus Union High School Dean of Students Kathleen Alexander-Young.
“[Alexander-Young] just took the lead and has done a really great job with it. I think it will be even better next year,” Bartosh said.

He also thinks there is a lot of community interest to keep the parade going and growing.

“As long as we have that interest and as long as we have substance abuse, we’ll keep it going,” Bartosh said.

The parade culminated at the middle school’s athletic fields where there was live entertainment, informational booths, hot dogs and hamburgers.

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.

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