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A year-and-a-half down the road, commuters along State Route 260 will enjoy nine new miles of divided highway and run less risk of a disastrous wreck, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Construction has begun on the project, with the bulk of activity happening overnight within a mile west of Interstate 17. The project will occur in two westward-progressing phases: Phase one will extend from I-17 to Cherry Road. Phase two will extend from Cherry Road to Thousand Trails Road.

For 16 years, Camp Verde has annually celebrated one thing: Before the wine got added to its name, the Spring Heritage Pecan and Wine Festival help locals and visitors go nuts over the pecan, one of the town’s assets.

A brief history lesson for those who don’t know: In the late 1920s, landowner’s daughter Eva Haydon planted a row of pecan trees along what would become a section of Montezuma Castle Highway known as Pecan Lane. In 2000, the Pecan Lane Rural Historic Landscape became a site on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Verde Valley boasts an abundance of trail enthusiasts — a fact the Prescott National Forest Verde Ranger District hopes to use to its advantage as it prepares to begin a volunteer trail maintenance crew in Camp Verde.

“Initially, the efforts will focus on trail maintenance, but as we move forward with a very comprehensive trails analysis this year the opportunities for construction activities are likely to increase,” Thomas A. Palmer, East Zone Recreation Program Manager for the Prescott National Forest Verde Ranger District, said, adding that he hopes to attract a diverse group of trails enthusiasts.

According to Tony Papa, Forest Trails Coordinator for the Prescott National Forest Verde Ranger District and lead contact for the effort, many trails on National Forest land are established and maintained by volunteers.

After receiving its certificate of occupancy last month, Paul Nowak of BRLS Properties said the 27,000 square-foot marijuana grow facility at 2051 SR 260 is about two months away from production readiness.

“We’re done with the exterior construction,” Nowak said Monday, Feb. 6. “We’re still doing some interior renovation.”

Town of Camp Verde Economic Development Specialist Sebra Choe beamed as she surveyed the crowd gathered at JT Bistro on Feb. 8 for a business mixer sponsored by the town and nonprofits Local First AZ and Camp Verde Business Alliance.

“I think we just threw the biggest party in Camp Verde, ever,” Choe said, moving from table to table to welcome newcomers and talk up the town’s efforts to promote business development and long-term sustainability.

As the nation celebrates Black History Month, Fort Verde State Historic Park gears up for its 10th annual Buffalo Soldier event Saturday, Feb. 18.

“Since February is officially recognized nationally as Black History Month, we created an event that pays tribute to the Buffalo Soldiers, particularly since we had two troops of the 10th Cavalry, Troops I and M, stationed at Fort Verde during the Indian Wars Period,” Fort Verde Park Manager Sheila Stubler.

According to Town of Camp Verde Parks and Recreation Division Manager Michael Marshall, 2016 presented itself as a banner year for recreation in Camp Verde.

“The mid-year hiring of an additional full-time person greatly improved our capability to plan and implement quality programming,” Marshall said, adding Parks and Recreation Coordinator Shawna Figy’s contributions should allow for expansion of programs and plans for future growth. “As always, our focus on working with partners allowed us to expand the reach of our programs while maintaining a limited budget.”

Finding a replacement for recently departed Camp Verde Marshal’s Office Cmdr. Jacquelyn MacConnell may be a challenge, but CVMO Marshal Nancy Gardner feels confident in finding the right officer.

“It can be difficult, because obviously salary is going to come into it a little bit,” Gardner said, adding that the salary schedule for the position starts at $75,000 annually. “But I’ve had really good luck and been able to attract qualified candidates in the past.”

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