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Arizona Gives Day is finally here, allowing Arizonans the chance to give to the local and state causes of their choice via the Arizona Gives website.Arizona Gives Day

Verde Valley voters appear to have approved the Mingus Union School District budget increase override, according to unofficial results.

Voters approved the override 3,917 to 2,741, or 58.3 percent to 41.17 percent.

 

Cottonwood area voters appear to have approved the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District budget increase override, according to unofficial results.

Voters approved the override 3,143 to 2,227, or 58.53 percent to 41.47 percent.

 

In neighboring Sedona, voters appear to have approved the Sedona-Oak Creek School District budget increase override, according to unofficial results. The total unofficial results are 3,528 to 2,740.

Voters in Yavapai County approved the override 2,994 to 2,249, 57.1 percent to 42.9 percent.

Voters in Coconino County approved the override 534 to 491, 52.1 percent to 47.9 percent.

A morning visit to the Sedona Airport later turned tragic for a man and woman after they were killed in a helicopter crash about 25 miles south of Camp Verde.

Two people were killed when their 1974 Bell UH-1V Iroquois crashed near Cordes Lakes, south of Sedona on Saturday,  Sept. 21. Sedona Airport General Manager Rod Propst said the two crash victims were not part of the airport’s Family Fun Day but had landed, eaten breakfast and left without refueling about two hours later.According to Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn, the YCSO received a called just before noon on Saturday, Sept. 21 regarding an aircraft accident two miles east of Interstate 17 off Dugas Road. He said a witness reported that the helicopter was “spinning and went down in a nose dive” as it crashed in an open field near Cordes Lakes.

Mayer Fire Department responded to the scene of the wreckage, which was on fire. The aircraft was identified as a 1974 Bell UH-1V Iroquois — a Vietnam-era helicopter known as a “Huey” that has one engine and seats six. According to Federal Aviation Administration records, the helicopter was purchased and registered to the current owner in July of this year.

For the full story, see the Wednesday, Sept. 25, edition of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett was in Cottonwood on Tuesday, Sept. 10, to talk about the state of the state’s budget and to remind Verde Valley residents that he would be seeking the governor’s office in 2014.

Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett visited Cottonwood this week to talk about the state of Arizona’s finances. Bennett also talked about his possible run for governor in 2014.Bennett, a Republican, took the office in early 2009 after former Secretary of State Jan Brewer became governor. As the secretary of state is next in line to fill the governor’s position, Brewer got the job when former Gov. Janet Napolitano accepted the position of U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. Bennett was able to become second in line to the governor’s office when he was eventually elected to the position in 2010. Since 2012, Bennett has been exploring a bid for the governor’s office.

This week, at a gathering of the Mingus Mountain Republicans at the VFW Post No. 7400 in Cottonwood, Bennett said he was definitely running. Bennett has also served as a member of the Prescott City Council, the Arizona State Board of Education and the Arizona State Senate, also serving as board president for two years and senate president for four years.

For the full story, see the Wednesday, Sept. 11, edition of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

Over the summer, Jerome became the third Arizona municipality to officially recognize civil unions between same-sex partners, joining Bisbee and Tucson which passed similar rules earlier in the summer.

The civil union ordinance passed by the Jerome Town Council — as opposed to a common-law marriage, which is  determined simply by a length of time a couple is together — will be a  legally-binding contract recognized by the town. Civil unions are not restricted to homosexual couples; they can be entered into by heterosexual couples as well.Sedona may be the next town to follow, as its city council is considering a similar measure at its meeting Wednesday, Sept. 11.

Jerome passed the new rules July 30, according to Candace Gallagher, Jerome town manager and clerk.

“The town of Jerome supports the right of every person to enter into a lasting and meaningful personal relationship with the partner of his or her choice, regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of the parties to that relationship,” the new code states. “The town of Jerome exercises its inherent powers of self government to attempt to lessen the impact of discriminatory practices upon all persons within the town of Jerome, specifically including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. For that purpose, the town of Jerome seeks to respect, support, and facilitate the rights of all persons to enter into contractual relationships and to designate agents, to the extent permitted by the law to manage their property, to make important life decisions and to otherwise to provide and care for loved ones within a meaningful and lasting personal relationship.”

While state law approved by voters in 2008 set marriage in a heterosexual context, the individual town ordinances have been reviewed to keep things in line with the rules issued out of Phoenix.

In order to qualify under the rules set by Jerome, people engaged in a civil union must be at least 18 years old and not currently legally married under state law.

“Two eligible individuals seeking to register a civil union must complete and file a notarized affidavit, in a form to be prescribed by the town clerk, declaring their intention to register a civil union,” the new rules state.

In Sedona, the city will be looking at the possible enactment of an ordinance recognizing civil unions, i.e. recognition of the relationship of any two persons regardless of their gender or sexual orientation to manage their personal affairs through the formation of contractual agreements,” according to the city.

The rules approved by Jerome will allow same-sex couples to take advantage of certain rights that have traditionally been available only to men and women in a committed relationship.

The Jerome ruling passed without any public input.

“As explained in the memo, cities and towns can enact ordinances recognizing agreements creating civil unions to the extent that those agreements concern matters within their authority,” stated a report given to the Sedona City Council. “Ordinances cannot, however, preempt state law or attempt to grant rights and authority to couples that contravene state or federal law.”

Jerome’s laws took a slightly different approach than Bisbee, the first town to recognize civil unions.

“The Bisbee ordinance states that people authorized by state statutes to perform marriages are also authorized to ‘solemnize’ civil unions. This provision is omitted from the [proposal]. There may be legal concerns about the ability of cities and towns to authorize persons to ‘solemnize’ a civil union.”

Under the new act, the fee for registering a civil union in Jerome is $73.

If you’ve lived anywhere in Arizona long enough, you’ve likely encountered at least one scorpion.

Scorpions have become synonymous with the American Southwest — although various species can be found all over the United States and in other parts of the world — to the point that any tourist can pick up their own scorpion encased in a block of resin, with the trinket often molded into the shape of the state of Arizona.

The striped-tail scorpion [Vaejovis spinigerus] is also known as the devil scorpion. Adults grow from 35 to 55 mm, while large females may be up to 70 mm. This species is one of the most common in Arizona with a range from southwestern New Mexico to California and into Mexico.Despite their unattractive — or “scary” — appearance, not all scorpions are particularly dangerous, especially in Arizona.

In Sedona and Northern Arizona, there are three common species most likely to be found out and about: the Arizona hairy scorpion [Hadrurus arizonesis], the striped-tail or devil scorpion [Vaejovis spinigerus], and the bark scorpion [Centruroides exilicauda].

The Arizona hairy scorpion, despite its size — it can grow up to seven inches in length — is venomous like all scorpions, but its venom is not considered particularly potent. It is also the least common of the three major species found in Arizona, and tends to burrow in the hot summer months.

In terms of venom potency, the same can be said for the striped-tail scorpion, which is smaller than the Arizona hairy and considered the most common species in the state.

Stings from both Arizona hairy and striped-tail scorpions can hurt like a bee sting, but are otherwise only harmful if the person being stung has an allergic reaction.

The bark scorpion, meanwhile, is another story altogether.

According to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, the bark scorpion is the only one of the three that displays an affinity for climbing and clinging to walls, trees and overhangs, and combined with its lighter, more translucent appearance compared to other species, it can be the one most likely to be accidentally picked up or stepped on.

Unfortunately, the bark scorpion — the most venomous species in North America — is the one species of the three whose sting is considered harmful to humans and pets, as well as the species most likely found around the house, in closets, cabinets and garages or a tool shed.

As summer fades away and temperatures begin to drop, bark scorpions can become more common indoors and are the only species known to coexist with each other in groups.

According to the University of Arizona, the bark scorpion’s sting can typically cause numbness and pain in adults, with only small children, animals and people with weak immune systems in life-threatening danger. Fatalities from bark scorpion stings are incredibly rare, with the University of Arizona noting only two recorded deaths in the state since the 1960s.

Cool — not cold — compresses and over-the-counter painkillers are generally recommended for most stings from scorpions.

All scorpions are photophobic — displaying an aversion to light — and are primarily nocturnal predators. During daytime hours, hikers out on a trail are more likely to find a scorpion hiding under a rock than actively hunting.

To find scorpions during their peak hunting hours at night, all one needs is a black light, as most scorpions have a fluorescent chemical in the skin of their exoskeleton that glows under ultraviolet light. In recent years, many hardware stores have begun stocking UV flashlights for customers in need of home pest control.

According to the National Park Service, natural predators to scorpions include birds and snakes, as well as lizards, mice and even bats.

Prescott is now the home of a piece of inspirational art, as it unveiled “Heroic Challenges” — a new bronze casting of a sculpture created by Sedona’s own Clyde “Ross” Morgan — as part of its Veterans Sports Park on Aug. 17.

Morgan’s work can be seen in a few spots across Arizona, but his most recognizable piece to Sedonans is probably the larger-than-life sculpture of cowboy artist Joe Beeler in Uptown, titled “Red Rocks and the Cowboy Artist.”

For Morgan, a longtime resident of the Village of Oak Creek and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, creating the piece was an important way to honor those who continue to make sacrifices in the name of military service.

“Well, the park had already been started when I got involved,” he said. “I kept asking them for a model who was a veteran, because I like authenticity in my pieces, and they were coming up with either [models with] two prosthetics or guys who were overweight or whatever.”

Morgan said that it took a little while before he could find just the right model to use for what he wanted to create — an amputee runner — but an interview he saw on television gave him exactly what he needed.

“They were interviewing this veteran about his story and I thought, ‘That’s the guy,’” he said. “What he had done, was he was in Afghanistan for three weeks and his vehicle was blown up by an [improvised explosive device] and he had his leg removed and while he was in the field hospital, they also were going to remove his right arm.”

What really solidified it for Morgan was what he learned about the veteran in question.

“The blast had done what they call ‘degloving,’ where it blows the flesh and the hide up off the bone,” he said. “So the doctor rolled it [the flesh] back down to see what they could do with it and he saw the Marine Corps emblem tattooed on his arm. The doctor had been a Marine and he said, ‘This man is a Marine, we better do what we can to save his arm.’”

Clyde “Ross” Morgan, a bronze sculptor from Village of Oak Creek, showcases a miniature of his “Heroic Challenges” sculpture on Tuesday Aug. 27. A larger-than-life bronze is on permanent display at Veterans Sports Park in Prescott. Wounded U.S. Marine veteran Alex Minsky, served as the model for the statute. Minsky survived an improvised explosive device blast in Afghanistan, losing his leg and nearly his arm. Minsky has made headlines recently across the country with television interviews about overcoming his injuries.The veteran in question — Alex Minsky — has made the rounds on television talk shows after becoming an alternative model and inspirational figure, thanks to his physique, tattoos and the disability he had to overcome.

“He had shrapnel wounds, and he was in a coma for 47 days, not expected to live,” Morgan said.

Morgan said that Minksy’s story of overcoming adversity made him just the right person for the piece.

“When I saw him, that was the fifth national morning show he had done. We were able to get him to come up here,” Morgan said, adding that Minsky was flown out to Prescott so that Morgan could take measurements and get what he needed to begin sculpting the piece. “The day he got here was the day after he appeared on “[The Tonight Show with] Jay Leno,” and that was the 27th of June, and that was when I started this whole project.”

Morgan said that this created an extremely small window for him to make the casting in time for the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 17.

“What I had to do was create a small model, then we had to send the scan of that to San Francisco to be enlarged in foam, and that was shipped back here. I had to do the enlargement of that, we had to do the molds,” he said. “Basically I took a six-month project and squeezed it into a little over five weeks, which the foundries in Prescott said was impossible.”

Morgan said that he ended up taking the piece to a foundry in Colorado instead.

“I had to take the waxes to the busiest foundry in the country,” he said. “We took the waxes up there, stayed up there for about a week while the casts were done, and then raced the pieces down here and got them welded together before the dedication.”

Morgan said it was a rare occasion to do a project so quickly.

“My guess is that’s some kind of a record,” Morgan said. “It takes the foundries at least four months, and I would’ve liked to have several months myself, but they’d already established the date of the dedication.

“It just didn’t seem right that it wouldn’t be done in time for the dedication. So that was my goal, and being a former Marine, we get things done.”

While visitors to the park in Prescott might notice the bronze, oversized version of Minsky lacks his trademark tattoos, Morgan made sure to include the one piece of body art that he thought was most important: the Marine Corps emblem on Minsky’s arm.

“He has tattoos all over,” Morgan said of Minsky. “Old Marine guys were asking me, ‘You gonna put all them tattoos on there?’ and I said, ‘No, just one.’”

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