Thu, Jul

Local police and the FBI continue to search for a young bald man who fled Chase Bank, in Cottonwood, with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The man, described as being in his mid-20s to early 30s, 5 feet 2 inches tall, wearing a fleece-type gray sweatshirt and blue jeans, walked into the bank at S. Main Street and Hwy. 89A shortly before noon on April 25.

According to witnesses, the man handed a teller a note demanding all of her money. She complied and the man left in an unknown vehicle in an unknown direction, according to Cottonwood Police Cmdr. Jody Fanning.
No one was harmed and no weapon was involved, Fanning said.

“We chased down a few leads, but they turned out to be dead ends,” Fanning said Thursday, April 26.

“I’d like to say we got him, but we’re still looking for him. We’re hoping somebody can tell us who he is,” he said.

CPD received reports the man was spotted near Riverfront Park and near Dairy Queen in Cottonwood, but searches of the areas were unsuccessful.
Immediately after the robbery, an unidentified bank employee stood outside the entrance to the financial institution and told customers the bank was closed “due to an emergency.”

She asked customers to come back in a few hours or go to Chase Bank branches in Camp Verde or Sedona.

The bank was locked down and only opened for employees, police and FBI agents, once they arrived.

Inside the bank, police officers and FBI agents were interviewing employees and talking on cell phones.

By 3 p.m., a sign on the front door, in English and Spanish, stated, “This branch will be closed today. We are sorry for any inconvenience.” The drive-through, however, opened at 3:30 p.m.

Assistant Vice President Business Banker Char Robinson said she could not give any other statements than that the bank is closed.

A call to the spokesperson at Chase Bank’s Phoenix headquarters gleaned no further information.

“We have a real firm practice that we don’t talk about robberies of our banks for the safety and security of our customers and employees,” Mary Jane Rogers said.

Fanning said anyone with information regarding the
incident or the identity of the man can call Silent Witness at
1-800-932-3232 or the Cottonwood Police Department at 634-4246.

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

Camp Verde Unified School District Superintendent Jeff Van Handel and his governing board thought they had a great idea — take over the 7-acre Butler Park, which sits smack up against CVUSD property and will soon be in need of much renovation. In return, the district would give 10 acres of parkland near the Verde River in the Simonton Ranch development.

Camp Verde Town Manager Bill Lee said that in retrospect, he didn’t see a clear advantage for the town.

“The way I looked at it is we get a little bigger park, but there were more advantages for the school district,” Lee said.

The 10-acre site is land the school district has rights to going back to pre-Simonton days.

Developer Scott Simonton, who said he is a booster for public schools, said he felt he had given the town many commitments: reducing the density of Simonton Ranch almost by half, donating land for a new library, committing to pay for the widening of Finnie Flat Road and committing at least $1 million toward completing the sewer system.

For Simonton, agreeing to a high- density elementary school in what he plans to be a retirement age-oriented community didn’t really make sense and was one concession too many.

Van Handel said that a park in Simonton Ranch would potentially connect to adjacent parklands and trails, including a possible environmental museum. So Van Handel saw a park as a win-win-win situation, for the district, the town and Simonton.

After talking with Lee and laying out the advantages he saw for all parties, Van Handel asked Lee to take the temperature of the Town Council on the idea in an executive session.

Van Handel said he had hoped that Lee would be able to list the contemplated land swap as a vague agenda item, drawing little public attention, allowing the council to hear from Lee and Lee to get back to Van Handel, before a full public discussion of the pros and cons.

But Lee said that what Van Handel had envisioned wasn’t possible under state open meeting laws.

With Van Handel out of town on the night of the March 21 Town Council meeting, and with a conflicted relationship between Mayor Tony Gioia and Lee added to the mix, Gioia and Lee apparently had a limited pre-council discussion of the agenda, the agenda item, stood little chance of bringing about a hoped-for meeting of the minds.

Simonton came up from Phoenix, saying he was unaware of the idea or that it was on the agenda until an hour before the meeting. He asked that the item be tabled, after saying he had no desire to have anything to do with the dissolution of Butler Park.

Gioia asked how the item came to be on the agenda and if there were any representatives from the district present.

Lee said Van Handel had asked for the agenda item, and gave no indication that he knew anything more about it.

The item was unanimously taken off the agenda.

Lee said that the tabling of the private discussion of the land swap probably told Van Handel all he needed to know: the council wasn’t interested.

According to Lee, Camp Verde would do better to focus on larger community parks, rather than smaller neighborhood parks anyway.

Van Handel said if the town has no interest in the land swap, he is prepared to move ahead with a school plan for the 10 acres within Simonton Ranch.

Van Handel also said he is willing to discuss a lower-density high school on the site that would offer classrooms and possibly computers for use by Simonton Ranch residents, in an effort to make the school an amenity for those residents, rather than an albatross.

Simonton meets with Van Handel on Wednesday, April 4, and said he was withholding any comments until after the meeting

Next week, on Monday, April 9, the Yavapai-Apache Nation starts to make its new Community Development Financial Institution a reality when its new executive director, Mike Casebier, former grants administrator for the town of Camp Verde, takes the helm.

Two years in the works, the new institution is a lending body targeting American Indian communities specifically and the Verde Valley in general.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity,” Casebier said. “This is about economic community and economic development, certainly for the Nation and for the Verde Valley as a whole.”

In late 2005, the Nation received a technical assistance grant to fund the office staff and support structure for the new CDFI. After working with several consultants and the tribe’s own economic development authority, the structure for the CDFI has been mapped out.

According to Trapper Moore, part of the seven-member board of directors of the CDFI, the next step will be to work on an additional federal grant that will be matched by the Nation and that will “secure a large sum of money to begin lending.”

The U.S. Department of the Treasury funds over 700 CDFIs across the country to help low-income or otherwise disadvantaged people receive business and personal loans.

CDFIs precursors have been around since the 1960s, as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” but they really took off in the ’90s.
In 1994, Congress mandated a study of lending and investment practices in tribal communities nationwide, which led to a renewed commitment on the part of the Treasury Department to helping establish CDFIs among American Indian tribes.

Sammy Rabino, administrator for the Nation’s economic development author-ity, said the new CDFI would bring economic parity to the Nation as a whole.

“The vision of CDFI will be to focus on increasing financial assets in the tribal communities so that in the future the Nation will be as affluent as other non-native communities,” Rabino said. “The CDFI will not be directly affiliated with [Economic Development Administration]. Instead, the EDA department and the CDFI will work closely on high-priority economic projects.”

According to the CDFI Coalition, an ad-hoc policy development and advocacy initiative based in Washington, D.C., “CDFIs measure success by focusing on the ‘double bottom line’: economic gains and the contributions they make to the local community. CDFIs rebuild businesses, housing, voluntary organizations and services central to revitalizing our nation’s poor and working class neighborhoods.”

According to the CDFI Coalition Web site, CDFIs make economic waves throughout the communities they serve:

“Not only do local organizations make the decisions about how to best meet community needs, the ripple effects of CDFI activity bring responsible homeowners, locally-owned businesses, neighborhood facilities, first-time savers and other positive benefits to communities that reach far beyond the financial bottom line.”

Moore says the Nation’s CDFI will fill a gap for tribal members.

“The development of a CDFI will allow the Nation to establish a financial institution that can provide funds to develop infrastructure and finance projects that private lenders omit from financing because of high risk or lack of equity,” Moore said.

Casebier is looking forward to starting his new job and has praise for his new employers.

“The Nation has great vision,” Casebier said. “They’ve done a lot of work over many years to put this together — especially Chairman [Jamie] Fullmer
himself. He has been the driving force behind this.”

Norman Rockwell illustrated American life for almost half a century on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. Idyllic and anodyne, his portraits of small-town life in the 1930s and 1940s formed part of the iconic mythos of how may Americans wanted to see themselves.

Over the course of four days last week, students at Camp Verde’s schools got to immerse themselves in those iconic images, and to see beyond them as well — for as the roiling 1960s replaced the complacent 1950s, Rockwell drew outside of the small frame he had set around himself.

By then, he had ended his association with The Saturday Evening Post and had begun working for Look magazine.

In 1964, Rockwell painted an illustration titled, “The Problem We All Live With.”

Inspired by the story of Ruby Bridges, the first black child to desegregate an elementary school in New Orleans, the painting shows the young child escorted by four marching federal marshals, walking by a wall with “KKK” and a racial epithet scrawled on it.

“You can see everything that was 1964 America right there, staring you in the face,” said Thomas Daly, curator of education at the Norman Rockwell Museum, in Stockbridge, Mass., who came to Camp Verde last week.

“The image told that story. You were reminded that young people were going through this: that you needed protection for a 6-year-old girl to go to school,” Daly said.

Daly said that Rockwell’s own image suffered because of the stance he took with that painting.

“When Rockwell had that published in Look magazine, he received bags of letters accusing him of all sorts of horrible things,” Daly said. “And of being a race-mixer, and it was awful that Norman Rockwell could drag his own name through the mud. And he persevered, and said, ‘this is how I feel.’”

On the last day of Daly’s visit, Friday, March 30, he brought a special visitor with him to meet Camp Verde’s Middle School students: Wray Gunn.

Gunn’s cousin, Tracie, was the model for the young black girl in “The Problem We All Live With.”

In 1967, a then 12-year-old Gunn joined his cousin on the long list of Stockbridge, Mass., natives who had modeled for Rockwell illustrations.
That painting, “New Kids in the Neighborhood,” showed two black children in front of a moving van on a suburban Chicago street. Across from them stand a curious and ambivalent group of white children.

Gunn said that growing up in northern Massachusetts, he never felt like the outsider portrayed in the painting, but that knowing Rockwell and seeing the painting now had an impact on him.

“The meaning of the painting, not only this one, but all of his paintings — I mean to know this man as long as I did and not know actually who he was, but I knew what he was,” Gunn said. “But to see it now and get the meaning behind all of his paintings — now it’s like I’m learning everything I can about this

man, because I knew him, and there’s so much to know. This man is known worldwide, not just in Stockbridge and Vermont and New York State — he’s known worldwide, which is amazing.”

Gunn and Daly both said they were enthusiastic about connecting to young people.

Daly went to drama, photography and art classes, speaking to students from kindergarten to high school. He explained the enthusiasm kids of all ages have for Rockwell.

“I think it’s the opportunity to see that you are a part of that picture, that the changes that are happening in your life and the unique situations that you believe might just be happening to you are actually happening to everyone,” Daly said.

After the middle school assembly with Gunn, where a number of Rockwell paintings where shown, one student seemed to echo those sentiments.
“My favorite picture was the girl sitting in front of the mirror,” sixth-grader Cariana Majors said. “I could sort of relate to her, because I would like to grow up to be someone that I admire the most and she wanted to grow up to be that.”

When it comes to the streets of Camp Verde, “accepted” is not “approved,” and thereby hangs a tale.

For at least the last three months, the Camp Verde Town Council has been repeatedly considering accepting the streets of the Verde Cliffs subdivision in the Cliffs development just north of downtown.

Then the item mysteriously vanished after the Feb. 7 council meeting when the specter of litigation raised its head over the issue.

As recently as last week, Mayor Tony Gioia was under the impression that the streets had not been accepted, while Town Manager Bill Lee said they were.

“It’s just plain crazy,” Verde Cliffs resident John Stephens said. “Originally, I went downtown and they said, ‘no,’ the streets had not been accepted, then they said they had. A couple of weeks ago, Marvin Buckel [the town’s street inspector] told me the year warranty on the streets is up in June of this year.”

In a letter to contractor Joe Contadino dated Feb. 22, Town Attorney Bill Sims said when the streets were accepted on Nov. 29 of last year, the
warranty period began.

Apparently, when the town approves the final plat, or plan, for a development, it accepts title, or ownership, of the streets.

The town can then “approve” the streets, or not, once they are built.

Sims said that the town had two additional protections to rely upon.

First, the town can make a developer post a bond and draw money from that bond if it does not approve of how streets are built.

Second, the town can refuse to issue permits for the entire development if, after a few houses are built, it does not approve of the streets.

Gioia said he thought those protections were insufficient.

“It seems ridiculous to me because it seems like the only way we can stop from accepting streets before they’re even built is to not accept the plat,” Gioia said. “Before the town takes on the responsibility of maintenance, I for one would like to make sure that everything is in top order, not starting from some need for repair.”

Sims said that this problem stems in part from outdated and imprecise sections of town code that were pasted in wholesale from county ordinances during incorporation 20 years ago.

“This has been on the radar screen,” Sims said, “and Joe Contadino really brought it home.”

The question of who approves streets that have been accepted in the planning stage is still open.

Gioia said that after all the confusion over “accept” and “approve,” he thinks council needs to have a hand in approval of improvements once they are built.

Stephens, the Verde Cliffs resident, said he and Buckel would be walking the subdivision together this week to assess the quality of the streets.

Of even more concern to Stephens is what he sees as a dangerous lack of parking enforcement in Verde Cliffs.

According to Stephens, the town accepted the subdivision with the most minimally acceptable width of 24 feet, and that allows no room for on-street parking.

“The other day two pickups were parked opposite each other,” Stephens said. “A school bus might get through, but not the fire department, and an emergency wagon cannot get through.”

So nevermind the cracks in the streets — if residents need an ambulance and their neighbors have blocked the street, not only the residents, but the town of Camp Verde may be in deep trouble at that point.

Diane Joens is the new mayor of Cottonwood, according to the unofficial results from the city’s tally of the primary election Tuesday, March 13.

nly 18 percent of the city’s 5,255 registered voters cast ballots.

So far Joens received 561 votes, or 59 percent, of the 955 ballots cast. She leads current Mayor Ruben Jauregui by a 2-to-1 margin. Jauregui garnered 28 percent, or 263 votes, and Randy Lowe received 109 votes, or 11

Joens will take her seat as mayor Saturday, June 30, for Fiscal Year 2007-08, and will serve the city for the next four years.

In the council member seat race, two candidates won outright: Ron Hollis with 612 votes, or 64 percent, of the total cast, and Duane Kirby with 59 percent, or 567 votes. They will take two of the three open seats.

The other two candidates: John Altizer and Terence Pratt, both write-in candidates, will face off for the final council seat in the general election, Tuesday, May 15, if they choose to run. A candidate must received 51 percent of the vote to win the seat in the primary election.

Altizer received 341, or 36 percent, of the votes and Pratt receive 250, or 26 percent.

If Altizer and Pratt chose to run in the general election, there also may be other write-in candidates who can come

Tony Gioia defeated Mitch Dickinson by 250 votes to retain his seat as mayor of Camp Verde.

Gioia won with 1,370 votes to Dickinson’s 1,120, according to the Yavapai County Elections Department.

All results are unofficial until certified by the county.

With three open Town Council seats, Greg Elmer won outright with 1,506 votes.

The two remaining seats must be filled by a runoff in the general election on Tuesday, May 15.

Four candidates remain to fill two open seats: Harry Duke [1,223 votes], Councilwoman Jackie Baker [1,053 votes], Norma Garrison [1,033 votes] and Councilman Mike Parry [804 votes].

Impact fees, also known as development fees, won an overwhelming victory, 1,567 votes to 843 votes.

The fees could take effect as early as Thursday, March 22, depending on when the Town Council canvasses, or accepts, the vote.

The city of Cottonwood is trying to decide whether to revisit its ordinance regulating the use of A-frame signs or let it stand as written and step up enforcement.

The signs have become a common sight around town advertising businesses, sales and special events. Some are regular features. A few direct people to the business from a main roadway.

“We do consider the signs for special events for temporary use,” Charlie Scully, Community Development Department planner for Cottonwood, said.

At a recent Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, city officials asked people, especially business owners to express their opinion about the signs.

“Some business owners say they are necessary for the success of their business. The other point of view is the cluttered look of these signs creates a negative view of the city and its businesses,” Scully said.

The city’s current sign and zoning ordinances prohibit A-frame and portable signs, except for special events, he said. It includes a list of exemptions, such as political and real estate signs.

The Cottonwood City Council will discuss the A-frame sign ordinance at the council’s Tuesday, Oct. 10, work session. Planning and zoning officials have conducted public meetings to get opinions and ideas about the signs. A-frame signs for businesses and commercial operations are the focus of the discussions.

“We want to bring some options to the council for their direction,” Scully said. “We want to decide if these signs can be considered and, if so, what would the conditions be.”

Scully said officials want to decide either to keep the existing regulations and enforce them across the board or amend the existing ordinance to allow the signs under certain circumstances.

“We want to give a fair look at the issue. It’s one of those that you’re not going to get complete consensus,” Scully said. “We just want to resolve the issue and come up with a solution that will work.”

He said the focus of the A-frame ordinance also does not include yard, garage or estate sale signs.

“Those are addressed in other areas. That’s a different story, although it has similar issues,” Scully said.

One of those issues is safety, particularly concerning visibility on the roadways.

Scully said officials are still looking for input from the public and business owners on the A-frame signs.

The council’s Tuesday, Oct. 10, meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the council chambers, 826 N. Main St.

For more information, call 634-5505.


More Articles ...

Online Poll

How important is in-town residency for municipal staff?

Verde Valley Weather

Cottonwood United States Mostly Cloud (day), 80 °F
Current Conditions
Sunrise: 5:29 am   |   Sunset: 7:39 pm
47%     0.0 mph     29.631 bar
Thu Low: 67 °F High: 85 °F
Fri Low: 66 °F High: 85 °F
Sat Low: 67 °F High: 88 °F
Sun Low: 66 °F High: 88 °F
Mon Low: 69 °F High: 88 °F
Tue Low: 68 °F High: 83 °F
Wed Low: 69 °F High: 91 °F
Thu Low: 66 °F High: 92 °F
Fri Low: 72 °F High: 91 °F
Sat Low: 69 °F High: 92 °F