Thu, May

The tough, new anti-immigration law signed in June by Gov. Janet Napolitano puts at risk Arizona businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants, but an informal poll of several Camp Verde businesses indicates many business owners are unaware of the new law’s requirements.

All four Camp Verde businesses contacted were unaware that starting in 2008, Arizona business owners will be required to use the U.S. government’s automated system to verify employee citizenship.

The new law requires employers to verify that the people they employ are present in the country legally.

Knowingly or intentionally failing to verify citizenship will cause the employer’s business licenses to be suspended.

A second offense can result in the “business death penalty,” according to the Governor’s Office.

The automated system that Arizona businesses will have to use starting next year is known as the Basic Pilot Project.

BPP was made available as a voluntary program in all 50 states beginning in July 2004, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

About 15,000 businesses currently participate in BPP on a nationwide basis, the Governor’s Office stated.

Camp Verde Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Roy Gugliotta declined comment on the law until he had a chance to review its provisions in more detail.

Camp Verde Realtor Rob Witt said the law would likely have an impact in Camp Verde, especially at construction firms, but local governments like the Camp Verde Planning and Zoning Commission, where Witt serves as chairman, and the Camp Verde Sanitary District, where he also serves as chairman, will feel little impact.

The law specifically requires governments to verify the citizenship of all government employees using BPP.

Witt said employees at the real estate firm where he works are screened by the state through the real estate licensing process.

“I feel like we’re punishing the wrong people by this law,” Witt said, “The result of it is that the immigrants who aren’t causing problems are the ones that are being punished.”

“The immigrants who are out working and contributing to society are not the ones we want to punish,” Witt said.

The Verde Valley’s largest private employer, Cliff Castle Casino, did not respond to requests for interviews as of press time.

The casino’s official Web site states prospective employees are closely screened in compliance with the law. The casino’s online application states applicants will be required to prove their citizenship.

Most employers currently use the federal Form I-9 to verify citizenship, according to the Governor’s Office.

Prospective employees sign the form to verify their U.S. citizenship.
The form requires applicants to provide two forms of identification to prove citizenship, like a valid driver’s license and birth certificate.

Those who use the I-9 form are well on their way to complying with the new law, according to the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Starting in January, Arizona employers will be required to run the I-9 forms they collect from new hires through the federal BPP citizenship verification process.

The BPP allows employers to get automated confirmation of a newly hired employee’s work authorization. Businesses that fail to properly verify the citizenship of their employees using BPP risk losing their license to operate in the state, possibly forever, according to the new law.

Napolitano announced she would call a special session of the legislature to fix problems she sees with the current law. According to the governor:

? The bill should protect critical infrastructure. Hospitals, nursing homes and power plants could be shut down for days because of a single wrongful employment decision.

? The revocation provision is overbroad, and could cause a business with multiple locations to face shutdown of its entire operation based on an infraction that occurred at only one location.

? The bill is underfunded. Even though the Arizona Attorney General’s Office must establish an entirely new database and must investigate complaints statewide, only $100,000 is appropriated for that purpose. Only $70,000 is appropriated to notify employers of the change in the law.

? There is no expressed provision protecting Arizona citizens or legal residents from discrimination under the terms of this bill.

? There is even a typo that has to be fixed. The bill cites the wrong portion of a federal law.

Greg Ruland can be reached at 282-7795, Ext. 127 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The two upper Verde Valley elementary school districts fared better than the state in the 2007 Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards scores in reading, writing and math.

However, the two districts were either equal to or slightly behind Yavapai
County’s scores.

“We almost always do better than the state and just a bit behind the county,” Barb U’Ren, Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District superintendent, said.

One reason she cited was that the AIMS looks at the percent of free and reduced lunches. The county is approximately 44 percent, but COCSD is 57 percent

“That’s not an excuse but we look to find a reason and see where we need to focus our efforts,” she said. “For the most part all of our students showed growth over last year.”

Clarkdale-Jerome Elementary School District’s superintendent Kathleen Fleenor almost echoed U’Ren’s sentiment.

“We did well on both AIMS and TerraNova. The majority of all our students scored in the meets or exceeds category. Overall looking at all grade levels and all areas we did better than last year,” Fleenor said.
TerraNova is another standardized test.

For example, in reading, Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District third-grade students scored 77 percent of students meeting or exceeding the AIMS, compared with 69 for the state and 73 for the county.
In writing, the state reported 81

percent, the county 85 percent and COCSD 79 percent. Math came in at 72 percent for COCSD third-grade students, which the state score was 76 percent and 76 percent in the county.

In Clarkdale, the same grade level had scores of 91, 95 and 100 for reading, math and writing, respectively.

In the eighth-grade classes, those students who are headed to high school in August, Clarkdale scored 75 percent in reading, 87 percent in writing and 89 percent in math, while COCSD scores were 64, 72 and 64 percent for reading, writing and math, respectively.

The state scores were 63 percent, 73 percent and 61 percent for reading, writing and math, respectively.

Yavapai County’s percentages for eighth-grade reading, writing and math were 70 percent, 76 percent and 67 percent, respectively.

“Teachers get together at each grade level to see what we can do to beef up areas that need attention. You really scramble to get these little guys reading writing and doing math,” Fleenor said.

U’Ren attributes some of the higher scores in reading to a program begun at the district about four years ago, Reading Mastery.

Cottonwood Middle School — teaching sixth, seventh and eighth grades — will begin a new program for writing.

“We’re instituting Step Up to Writing. It really focuses on the structure,” U’Ren said.

COCSD analyzed the scores a bit further by comparing the past four years and how the same group of students scored from one year to the next.

For example, this year’s fifth-grade students who were fourth-grade students in 2006 raised their reading score from 63 percent to 69 percent, but dropped in writing from 58 percent in 2006 to 52 percent in 2007.

Math scores also dropped slightly from 68 percent to 67 percent.

Eighth-grade students dropped in each of the three categories from 2006 as seventh-graders to 2007.

Reading was 64 percent compared to 68 percent, writing came in 72 percent compared with 81 percent and math dropped to 64 percent from 68 percent. The results showed a drop from one year to the next.

“We’re trying to analyze why that is. We have not done that traditionally. Usually they increase their scores. Different test, more mobile class? We’re going to look at that closely to find a reason and do what we need to to bring those scores back up,” U’Ren said. “Yet, on the TerraNova scores for that group grew 2 percent.”

Another measurement for elementary school through middle school is the TerraNova National, which gives a national comparison. For third through eighth grade, the TerraNova is imbedded within the AIMS, U’Ren said.
Second-grade students do not take the AIMS, but they do get tested in the TerraNova. The ideal is to have all students rank at above the 50th percentile.

Clarkdale’s second grade students scored 69.4 percent in reading, 76 percent in language and 66 percent in math. Cottonwood-Oak Creek had scores for second grade of 48 percent in reading, 46 percent in language and 51 percent in math.

Every city and town in Northern Arizona has a wish list, but there never seems to be enough money to go around.

So think of the Northern Arizona Council of Governments as a municipal Santa Claus, or at the very least, Santa’s little helper.

Camp Verde is just one of dozens of regional communities reorganizing its list of community priorities it the hopes that NACOG can use its influence to funnel grant money into key local improvements from housing to public works.

Projects competing for attention on Camp Verde’s list this year include funding for improvements to the senior center, a public works complex and the extension of sidewalks along Main Street.

NACOG is a non-profit organization governed by members appointed by all participating town, city and county governments in Apache, Coconino, Navajo and Yavapai counties, and it’s that cooperation that gives the organization its strength, said Michia Casebier, a grant writer who has worked on behalf of several governments and organizations in the region.

“They’re vital,” Casebier said, “ … they have a voice that state departments listen to. As a united voice of all the communities of Northern Arizona it has more power.”

It’s the power of collective bargaining and shared expertise that lets NACOG know where to find the money, be it in Phoenix or elsewhere, she said.

“It’s serious business,” said Norma Garrison, town councilwoman and, Camp Verde’s representative to NACOG. “It’s a very important resource for all our cities and towns.”

Northern Arizona communities make a list of things they’d like to see funded and give each one a priority number.

Of course, not every project is going to get funded.

“Sometimes it a matter of the squeaky wheel getting the grease,” Casebier said. “It often depends on the size of the community or several other factors.”

Vice Mayor Brenda Hauser, wants improvements to the
cemetery, senior center and a domestic violence program.

Mayor Tony Gioia wants a revolving loan fund, library construction and city sidewalks.

Garrison wants to see funding for a youth center raised from the lowest priority to the highest, citing surveys that put that at the top of what people in Camp Verde want.

No matter what grants end up coming down the pike, Garrison said she feels NACOG is going to give Camp Verde a better chance to see some cash.

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

One day after Doug Wilson turned down the offer to become Mingus Union High School’s new superintendent for what he said were personal reasons, the governing board made the decision to offer the job to Scott Dunsmore.

As of Monday, July 9, the contract has been written and mailed, according to board President Andy Groseta.

“I tendered him a contract today,” Groseta said. “We’ve been negotiating and we’ve agreed verbally but have not formally signed a contract.”
The contract with Dunsmore will be for consideration on the governing board agenda Thursday, July 12.

Dunsmore was one of three candidates interviewed for the high school district’s superintendent job to replace Sharyl Allen, who asked to be released from her contract. The other two candidates were Wilson and John Larson, from Ohio. Dunsmore is from Michigan.

Dunsmore has been a teacher, a principal and a superintendent in Michigan and in Arizona, and he briefly worked for the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Dunsmore’s first job teaching was seventh-grade science in Winslow, then high school mathematics. He took the principal’s position at Hopi Junior High School for about two years, then went to Gray Hills Academy, in Tuba City, and helped the school cut $1 million out of the budget, he said.
Three years ago, he and his wife moved back to Michigan to be close to her parents, however, Dunsmore said they are ready to come back to

Following are Dunsmore’s answers to some of the questions asked at a June 26 forum at the school in Cottonwood:

How does your previous experience and training make you the best
candidate to be the superintendent of the Mingus Union High School District?

Dunsmore said he believes his diverse background, such as with the Hopi, will be an asset at Mingus.

“Through working with cultural diversity, I’ve learned how to deal with people of other cultures. I do feel

comfortable talking with people and seeking others’ opinion. I like to take in as much information as I can before I make a decision,” Dunsmore said.
He believes a superintendent needs to keep the community informed and keep a group of people around who are knowledgeable about the community.

What is your vision for building a balance between academic, career-technical education programs and extracurricular programs?

Dunsmore said he is a firm believer that a school needs all three areas for a well-rounded education.

“We have to concentrate on academics in this day and age to make sure our kids are ready for college and for life. We need kids to play basketball, football and in the arts,” Dunsmore said.

He also said there is a need to add more academics to the CTE programs.
Give examples of how you create an annual budget, how you deal with special program requests and how you monitor the budget throughout the year.

The first step for Dunsmore is to find out how much revenue the school has then figure out the needs.

“You also need to ask ‘What is it our community wants from our school district?’ What are the needs of our district, our school and our students? — involve all the stakeholders,” Dunsmore said.

He would monitor the budget on a monthly basis to see where the district stands financially at any point in time and make adjustments where necessary.

How do you regularly communicate with parents and staff, including violation of security situations that demand immediate communication?
The easiest way to communicate with Dunsmore is in his office or by e-mail and to talk with him when one sees him in a store, at a restaurant or a ball game.

“I have an open door and I want to listen to people. I need to be available, need to be open and need to be honest,” he said.

If an emergency occurs at Mingus, he said a letter should be sent home that day explaining the situation.

“I want parents to know what the problem or concern was and how it will affect their child,” Dunsmore said.

“I believe it’s very important to have ongoing communication to develop a trust with the community,” he said and talked about community meetings.
How would you empower your staff and get their buy-in?

Dunsmore agreed that building relationships is the No. 1 element among every area of the district and between every group.

“That’s the best way we’ll get buy-in,” he said.

The Mingus Union High School District Governing Board
meeting begins at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, July 12, in the cafeteria at 1801 E. Fir St.

For more information, call 634-8901

Norma Garrison and Mike Parry have won seats on Camp Verde's town council.

Garrison had the largest number of votes with 1,339.

Parry won his first full-term seat after having been appointed in January of 2006 to replace Chet Teague, who resigned.

Parry beat his nearest competitor, Harry L. Duke, by 45 votes.

Jackie Baker lost her bid for a 3rd term on council, with 978 votes to Duke's 1,141 and Parry's 1,186.

Turnout for the May 15 election was 52.5  percent, only 7 points below the March 13 primary that saw Tony Gioia re-elected for mayor and Greg Elmer win a seat on council. <!--[endif]-->

At the Camp Verde Unified School District, about 900 voters — a turnout of approximately 19 percent — resoundingly defeated the override request, with votes running more than 4-to-1 against it.

<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]-->The override would have funded a revived music program and decreased class size in the elementary school.

<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> Superintendent Jeff Van Handel said the district would focus on providing high quality core curriculum, since that's the message the voters sent

Terence Pratt won the final Cottonwood City Council seat in the Tuesday, May 15, general election over rival John Altizer, according to the unofficial results.

Pratt took 53 percent of the vote with 305 of the 576 voters who cast ballots. Altizer received 47 percent, or 271. Voter turnout was just under 11 percent of the city’s 5,317 registered voters.

“I’m humbled and excited to work with this new council and the new mayor,” Pratt said in a telephone interview Wednesday morning.

The results are a flip from the results of the primary election, where Altizer came out on top with 18 percent of the voters casting ballots.

Pratt will be sworn in, along with Diane Joens as mayor and Ron Hollis and Duane Kirby, who won their seats in the March 13 primary election.

Altizer and Pratt did not receive enough votes in March so they had to go to a runoff in the May 15 general election.

For more information, call 634-5526.

An intergovernmental agreement between the Town of Camp Verde and the Camp Verde Sewer District had specified that an operating agreement was to be in place by the end of May. Yet a month-and-a-half after that deadline, no such agreement is in place.

“The IGA kinda covers everything,” said Dane Bullard, who is both the town’s head of human resources and finance director. “We just wanted to get more specifics in terms of who’s responsible on things like the employees.”

The IGA stated that the town would use its own employees to “operate and oversee waste water treatment operations,” which would include the town first “hiring a certified operator.”

The new manager/operator of CVSD’s wastewater treatment plant, Richard Spears, is in place, getting paid by the town and receiving town benefits.

According to Bullard, Spears’ salary and benefits are reimbursed by CVSD, and Spears is not technically on the town payroll.

Bullard said that there was some consultation by the town in sewer affairs recently, but that the town had not been involved in Spears’ hiring process.
Down the road, the town is slated to take over the district completely. At that point, Bullard said the town may take on the district’s current employees or may go through a rehiring process.

Bullard also said that he thought the current reimbursement procedure was a “carrot, if you will, for hiring district employees.”

“The intention was that the town was actually to go out and find all the employees and run the operation,” CVSD Board Chairman Rob Witt said.

In the transition, that just didn’t get communicated very well to [Interim Town Manager] Dave Smith, and that’s probably my fault. I just kinda felt like, gosh, he’s got plenty to do, he’s steppin’ up and doin’ and great job.

So I just went out and found a certified operator and we hired him.”
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality oversees the certification and safety of wastewater treatment plants and those who operate them. As of last week, according to ADEQ’s Web-based database of operator certifications, Spears had a level one certification, though level two is required.

Friday, July 6, ADEQ officials could not locate any certification for Spears.

Witt said that Spears passed his level four certification two weeks ago.
Other problems plague the treatment plant.

Last week, CVSD received a letter from Yavapai County Community Health Services stating that three months of monitoring had shown that their plant’s mosquito abatement plan was inadequate.

“Residents of Camp Verde are being subjected to a continuing and unacceptable public health risk,” the letter stated.

“Weekly trapping of adult mosquitoes has also shown steep increases, from 106 on June 5, 2007, to an estimated 1,800 on June 27, 2007.”

The letter described challenging conditions at the plant, including “thick vegetation, hundreds of elk hoof prints and the high organic load in the water.”

In general, the letter struck an upbeat tone that assumed compliance and cooperation by CVSD with the county health services.

Sludge buildup has been an ongoing problem at CVSD’s plant, and the letter stated that this problem was providing shallow and still areas ripe for mosquito breeding.

The health services’ letter states that “CVSD must be
prepared to implement a more aggressive and successful
mosquito abatement plan by [Monday] July 9.”

As of press time, no July 9 board meeting had been scheduled.

Witt said he thinks Spears’ plan is to apply for a permit to use koi — a large East Asian carp that would prey on the mosquito larvae — to safely control the mosquito problem

At the first meeting of the newly formed Cottonwood Airport Commission on July 2, the first order of business was to name a chairman and a vice chairman.

The commission’s first chairman is Al Gradijan, who will serve a three-year term, and the group selected Larry Minch as vice chairman.

Also serving three-year terms are Jim Money and Allyson Waak. Serving two-year terms on the commission are Minch, Billy Tinnin and Margaret Austell. Finishing off the seven-member commission will be Don Thompson for a one-year term.

Many of the commissioners are pilots and have an airplane based at the airport on W. Mingus Avenue.

The commission also discussed what items to place on the agenda for the next meeting Monday, Aug. 6. The commission meets the first Monday of the month in the Cottonwood City Council Chambers, 826 N. Main Street, in Old Town Cottonwood.

“We got the first part done and now we’re moving on,” Gradijan said.
Forming the commission is the culmination of several months of talks between the city, the City Council and the airport users. The council approved the commission in April and later decided the make-up of the group should be five people with aviation-related backgrounds and two residents at large.

The Cottonwood Airport Commission meetings, like other commissions and boards as well as the City Council, are open to the public.

Considering the agenda, Gradijan said the commissioners want to discuss a transit parking ramp, some clean-up work around the airport, continue discussions on creating an airport operations and procedures manual and about the possibility of how to handle fuel.

Two of the items are of particular importance: the fuel and the manual.
“The manual will be the rules that we’ll require to operate. We’re looking at other airports right now to see what works and what doesn’t for us. We’re starting with a white piece of paper,” Gradijan said.

He also said the group does not want to over-regulate the airport. They want to find a balance to provide safety yet still allow people to fully enjoy the airport. It also will be a fluid document, allowing for change when necessary, he said.

On the fuel, the city council recently approved the purchase of nearly 4,000 gallons of aviation fuel for the airport from Starr Aviation Marketing in the amount of $13,384.17.

“This will allow us to be more competitive for sales at the airport. We called airports for 70 miles around and decided on around $4.4 per gallon. The price is in the average range. It seems pretty reasonable,” Tim Costello, airport manager, said.

Some of the background for the purchase of the fuel included a drop off of fuel sales at the airport due to availability and price. By buying in larger bulk, the city was able to leverage price to bring them in line with other area airports, he said.

The move also is in anticipation of the city installing a fuel card lock system at the fueling tank. A pilot could taxi to the fueling area and put fuel directly into their own plane. Currently all fueling is done by the fixed base operator, Aerobear Aviation.

“It’s going to be like a self-serve nozzle, and to pay it’d be like swiping a credit or debit card. We’ll see how it works,” Costello said.

The city put $25,000 in the fiscal year 2007-08 tentative budget for the system.

“Don’t know yet when it might get installed. First we need to get the budget approved and then go out to bid,” he said.

Dick Lucas, a member of the Airport User’s Association, said he is glad to see the prospect of the card system.

“It catches us up with the rest of the aviation world. People will be more likely to fuel up here instead of going elsewhere. People like smaller airports,” Lucas said.

For more information, call 634-5526

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