Mon, May

According to Chief Steve Gesell, Cottonwood Police Department is experiencing a major need for recruits — a situation, Gesell clarified, that is not singular to Cottonwood.Cottonwood police chief Steve Gesell stands in front of the Law Enforcement Heroes Statue at the Cottonwood police station. The department is emphasizing the quality of life here in trying to recruit officers.

The reason for the increased demand for personnel, Gesell said, is threefold:

  • An improving economy that discourages application to police departments due to other available jobs.
  • Continuing Great Recession cuts that have reduced police department budgets.
  • National anti-police rhetoric.

“It’s actually very concerning,” Gesell said of the situation, adding that the applicant pool was “shallow before this even happened.” According to Gesell, the factors outlined have made drawing from the applicant pool even more challenging.

Yavapai County District 2 Supervisor Thomas Thurman knows how few people understand what a supervisor does.Tom Thurman, Yavapai County Supervisor District 2

“County supervisor is a pseudo-mayor to the unincorporated communities,” the recently reelected Thurman said, adding that his and other four supervisors’ duties include maintaining a multitude of roads, approving new subdivision development, managing liquor license applications, evaluating and adopting ordinances and overseeing the county’s criminal justice system, among others.

The Southwestern Winery is on Yavapai Campus, where manager Philip Brown and his students have won a gold medal for Best Sauvignon Blanc at the Arizona Republic’s Arizona Grand Wine Festival in Phoenix.

Philip Brown, manager of the Yavapai College Southwest Wine Center tasting room, refuses to take an ounce of credit for student successes — including a gold medal for Best Sauvignon Blanc at the Arizona Republic’s Arizona Grand Wine Festival in Phoenix on Jan. 6.

“It has nothing to do with me .... It’s all the students,” Brown said, adding that a major appeal of the college’s viticulture and enology programs is the emphasis on student achievement.

Residents of a trailer park in Rimrock received a shock when they woke Jan. 6: Notices, left on their cars and doors in the middle of the night alerted them that elevated levels of lead had been found in their drinking water system.

The trailer park, located at 2111 E. Beaver Creek Road, is serviced by a private water company, the Beaver Creek Store System No. 130351. According to Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Public Information Officer Caroline Oppleman, the system provides drinking water to approximately 100 people.

Thursday, Jan. 5, marked Jacquelyn MacConnell’s last day as commander at the Camp Verde Marshal’s Office.Jaquelyn MacConnell

“She was here just short of a year,” CVMO Marshal Nancy Gardner said, but added that MacConnell made a significant impact on Camp Verde’s policing culture, building stronger bonds with the community and fostering an environment of collaboration between stakeholders.

Never let it be said that Mountain View Preparatory is a dull school.

Last week, students were greeted back to school after Christmas break by running a cheerful gauntlet of teachers and staff. To close out the week, students earned the right to see their teachers — and possibly their principal — get pied in the face.

Less than a month into his term as mayor, Timothy Elinski is talking major goals — achieving transparency in city governance and educating the public about the budget.

“My position is, we work for the public, so it should be more accessible,” Elinski said. “Accountability is going to be huge for me .... I’ll hold staff accountable and allow myself to be accountable. That’s the point. Without accountability, we’re not setting any benchmarks.”

Cottonwood Mayor Timothy Elinski said that he intends to open the decision-making process up to the public, including increasing access to boards and commissions. According to Elinski, some public trust has been lost in the management of the city, requiring more transparency and engagement.
Elinski added that it’s too early to gauge how much civic engagement — a key point of his campaign — has been achieved, but the number of people who have signed up for his newly established email newsletter has encouraged him. Beginning in March, Elinski hopes to leverage the engagement in a frank discussion about how the city spends the public’s money.

“It’s the most important thing we do, spending your money,” Elinski said. “I think, in the same way we’re all familiar with our own finances, that we know our city’s budget .... I will do a more open, informative and educational budget process.”

According to Elinski, trust in the city’s management has eroded — a claim he said was highlighted during his bid for mayor.

“Transparency is the key to building trust in the community,” Elinski said. “[The lack of trust] was very apparent on the campaign trail .... Concern about the budget, upper management and what we’re getting out of it — the return on our investment — were major concerns.”

Elinski praised the city for offering a “tremendous amount of services,” including excellent public transportation and recreation facilities. At the same time, he said that Cottonwood “could always do better.”

Expressing concern about the repercussions of an expected influx of Baby Boomer retirees over the course of the next two decades, Elinski said, “To solely base your economy on retirement growth is not going to move our economy in a sustainable direction.”

Elinski has an answer, in theory, for the effects of a population that encourages support service jobs but little else: Making use of resources that already exist in Cottonwood to attract entrepreneurs.

“We have all the elements in place,” Elinski said, listing year-round good weather, ecotourism resources, historic districts, an airport, ample room to grow and agricultural industries among Cottonwood’s selling points. “We just have to leverage [those elements].”

According to Elinski, properly promoting Cottonwood — and the Verde Valley as a whole — will require more consistent marketing efforts from stakeholders and an overall increase in communication between governments and agencies that promote economic development.

The element that Cottonwood still lacks to truly succeed as a hub for entrepreneurial activity, Elinski noted, is post-secondary opportunity.

“Education is the biggest driver of any economy.”

According to Susan Culp, a contractor for American Rivers in the Verde Valley, the Town of Camp Verde has a likely chance of earning a National Audubon Society Important Bird Area international designation.Residents of Rainbow Acres, known as ranchers, pose together in the on-property barn. The 50-acre Rainbow Acres facility houses over 90 developmentally disabled adults.

Surveys of avian populations along the Verde River — one of the state’s last perennial and free-flowing waterways — is required as part of the IBA application process and will begin this month. Additional surveys will be conducted throughout the year, occurring seasonally to coincide with the arrival of spring migrants, summer nesting behavior and fall migrations. Full-year resident birds will also be accounted for.

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Verde Valley Weather

Cottonwood United States Clear (night), 58 °F
Current Conditions
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