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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.

Two days prior to the year’s end, Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter announced the appointment of Village of Oak Creek resident Connie Harris to the Yavapai College District Governing Board.Connie Harris takes over Al Filardo’s vacated District 3 seat on the Yavapai College District Governing Board. She brings with her nearly four decades of experience in education.

The position — which represents YCDGB District 3, comprising the upper Verde Valley communities of Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Jerome, Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek — was created by the resignation of Al Filardo in December. The appointment is valid from Harris taking the oath of office during the YCDGB meeting Tuesday, Jan. 10, through Dec. 31, 2018.

Pass by the Clemenceau Plaza at the northwest corner of State Route 89A and S. Sixth Street in Cottonwood, and you might notice an uptick in activity.Anne and Damien Browning run Steps to Recovery Homes in Cottonwood. The Brownings recently moved their office into the Clemenceau Plaza, and opened a resale store called Miracles Happen.

Now in its fourth month in the historic plaza, Steps to Recovery Homes has fully opened its door to the community. Founders Damien and Anne Browning welcome applicants to its addiction recovery program and help train volunteers. At Miracles Happen, the nonprofit’s resale store two doors down, current and former participants in the recovery program sort, pick up, label and sell used items.

Just prior to stepping into the role of Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor on Tuesday, Jan. 3, Randy Garrison said it would be some time before he understood the full extent of his responsibilities.Randy Garrison, the newly-elected Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor representing the Cottonwood and Sedona areas, said he will act as a facilitator of community needs, with transportation and economic development as his top priorities.

“I’m constantly learning what abilities I have,” Garrison said. “I still don’t know what the job pays.”

Any given day in the Verde Valley, dozens, if not hundreds, of dogs are walked off their leashes — and yet the city ordinance is clear: Dogs must be leashed at all times outside private property. The sole exception is when dogs are inside the Riverfront Dog Park.Rob and Yvonne Cole with their 2-year-old Rottweiler Cami at Riverfront Dog Park. The dog park is the only area within Cottonwood city limits, other than private property, where unleashed dogs are allowed.

Enforcing leash laws, however, is difficult. Many dog owners simply ignore the requirement — if they are aware of it at all.

A recent post in the Verde Santa Fe newsletter and then circulated to various city employees, highlights the risks for passersby and dog owners of failing to follow the letter of the law.

End of life matters are never comfortable, never tidy — a fact that isn’t lost on the staff and volunteers of Northern Arizona Healthcare’s Valley View Care assisted living facility in Cottonwood.File image/Larson Newspapers

Opened in October 2014, the facility specializes in hospice care for individuals lacking the resources to stay in their own homes.

Yavapai Food Council has been helping those who are food insecure in a variety of ways and the numbers for 2016 are in.File photo/Larson Newspapers

Executive Director Amy Aossey sent out a report detailing the council’s accomplishments.

A total of 345,715 meals were distributed countywide. The nonprofit achieved this number working with volunteers in the community, faith-based organizations, schools and donors.

Though only six months into his tenure as interim superintendent of Mingus Union High School District, Eric Harmon is thinking seriously about the future of his students, teachers and staff.Eric Harmon, interim superintendent of Mingus Union High School District, said he is hoping to align instruction at the high school by implementing Beyond Textbooks, an online curriculum that can be modified by teachers.

“The school’s great, the teachers are great and the kids are great,” Harmon said, but offered an unambiguous critique of the way K-8 and high schools interact with each other in non-unified school districts throughout the Verde Valley and Sedona. “There’s no articulation for K-12 schools in the Verde Valley, as far as I can tell.”

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