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There’s an interesting story behind this year’s Fall Carnival, which was scheduled for Halloween night.

Although the event was planned, it nearly didn’t happen. On Oct. 11, Cottonwood Parks and Recreation Administrative Assistant Robin Babbitt sent out a press release stating, “The annual Fall Carnival, presented by the city of Cottonwood Parks and Recreation Department, will not be held this year.

You likely notice a couple things while driving over the Interstate 17 bridges that span the Verde River: Noise and a bit of a wobble.

The two bridges are in need of repair. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, the Verde River has had deteriorating effects on the bridges’ supports, resulting in the need for repair.

Anticipated in fall 2018, ADOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, will undertake an estimated six-month federally funded construction project in order to “protect the bridges and maintain their structural integrity.”

The construction will stretch from mileposts 287 to 289. Traffic will be maintained in both directions along I-17 with no anticipated detours. “Interstate 17 Verde River Bridges Scour Retrofit” will include the following:

  •  The creation of temporary “dry work zones” within the river bottom near the supports.
  •  The construction of “armor protection” around each pier.
  •  The restoration of the river and temporary access points to pre-construction condition.
  •  The “staging and stockpiling [of] materials within the project limits and outside of the low-flow river channel.”
  •  The reseeding of land area disturbed by construction. 

The project will impact one of Camp Verde’s least-known parks, Parsons Riverfront Preserve. Camp Verde Town Council has previously voiced approval for further developing the 30-acre riverfront park, which sits alongside and under the I-17 bridges, as a wilderness preserve.

“Due to the need for access and staging and stockpiling of materials within the project limits, a future recreational resource ... will be temporarily used,” ADOT stated via press release.

"The development of this project is in compliance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act [policy] ‘that special effort should be made to preserve the national beauty of the countryside and public park and recreation lands wildlife and waterfowl refuges, and historic sites.’”

Because construction will restrict access to the park, ADOT has made the project open to public comment. Comments must be submitted by Tuesday, Oct. 31.

Construction along State Route 260 now extends over seven miles, from a half mile past the Jones Ford complex in the west to the Interstate 17 intersection in the east.

According to Arizona Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Ryan Harding, “The SR 260 project is on schedule and moving along. Crews are working on three roundabouts concurrently. Most of the work is grading the dirt and the start of curb installation.”

Thanks to invested communities, the Verde Valley is never short on Halloween options.

The fun begins in Cottonwood: On Friday, Oct. 27, Saturday, Oct. 28 and Tuesday, Oct. 31 the Cottonwood Youth Advisory Commission and the city of Cottonwood host the second annual haunted house at the Cottonwood Youth Center from 6 to 10 p.m. $5 gets you in the door, with $1 off each can of non-perishable food donated up to $4.

Ever wonder about the old houses you see around Cottonwood? The fourth annual Cottonwood Historic Home and Building Tour is your chance to satisfy that curiosity.

The event, hosted by the city of Cottonwood and the Cottonwood Historic Preservation Commission, takes place Saturday, Nov. 4, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Verde Valley Habitat for Humanity is known for two things: Helping low-income families achieve home ownership and reselling items in its ReStore.

When Arizona Public Service offered a 3,600-square-foot modular building to Verde Valley Habitat for Humanity this spring, the nonprofit’s Executive Director Tania Simms saw the parallel between her organization’s mission and APS’ act of charity.

Puns aside, natural gas leaks are no laughing matter. Cottonwood Fire and Medical Department responded to a natural gas line leak in the 600 block of West Mingus Avenue around 11:30 a.m. Oct. 10.

Personnel found an active leak from an underground gas line that had been damaged by earth-moving equipment working in the area. UniSource Energy Services, the owner and servicer of the natural gas line, sent utility crews to the scene and stopped the flow of gas from the damaged gas main.

Cottonwood Police Department and Cottonwood Public Works personnel responded to the scene to coordinate the closure of West Mingus Avenue between State Route 89A and Candy Lane.

“In this case, this was a substantial leak because the damage was done by moving equipment,” CFMD Chief Mike Kuykendall said. “Gas was coming up from the ground. Any time you have gas leaking from a pipe [the gas may reach] a flammable limit.”

The flammable or explosive limit is reached when the density of gas in the air is ideal for ignition. Fearing these conditions during a gas leak, CFMD immediately seeks to minimize the danger by isolating ignition sources and moving people as far from the site as possible.

“You could have a flash and subsequent fire,” Kuykendall said, adding that CFMD’s responding engine crew of three immediately donned air packs and protective clothing. UniSource personnel, likewise, worked with protective clothing as they dug to the line using a backhoe before moving to shovels.

The backhoe uses diesel fuel, minimizing potential sparks from the motor. The handheld tools are made of brass to minimize sparking. “They’re unsung heroes,” Kuykendall said of the UniSource crew. “They’re experts and they did an exceptional job …. They were on scene within just minutes [and] in this case they were able to clamp the line. People don’t realize how important they are in ensuring our safety. They’re first responders, too.” 

Point in fact, CFMD trains with gas company personnel regularly to ensure safe and efficient responses to gas leaks and other natural resource emergencies. Personnel coordinate efforts, making sure everyone knows what duties are being covered by whom.

“We work together as a team,” Kuykendall said. “Our job is primarily to cover them if there’s a fire [and] help suppress it while they’re in the danger zone …. We also isolate the area to try to minimize ignition sources.”

Although not perfect, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Health Administration has a lot of fans in the Verde Valley.

On Thursday, Oct. 12, the Northern Arizona VA Health Care System held a town hall meeting for veterans at the Cottonwood Public Library.

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