Thu, Apr

Buses run to and from Cottonwood eight times a day

The buses are running.

Although the Verde Lynx bus service between Sedona and Cottonwood conducted an official opening of the transit building and kickoff for the link at 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 9, in Cottonwood, the buses began taking commuters to Sedona at 6 a.m.

A commuter link between the two communities has been about 12 years in the making, according to Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor Chip Davis.

“Several people talked about public transportation in the Verde Valley then, but there was a fact that public transportation doesn’t work in rural Arizona — except in the city of Cottonwood and its success with the Cottonwood Area Transit system,” Davis said. “The concept moved, in government terms, at light speed in only 12 years.”

Four buses formed the backdrop for several speakers. Along with a Verde Lynx bus was the Sedona RoadRunner trolley, a CAT bus and a Mountain Line hybrid electric bus from Flagstaff.

“Obviously nobody does anything like this alone,” Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority General Manager Jeff Meilbeck said. “It took a lot of people to put this system together. It took cooperation from both communities.”

Putting the transit system together also took money. It came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which gave NAIPTA more than $4 million to improve public transit in Northern Arizona.

The money bought the buses, $180,000 each, and built the $2.8 million, 100 percent solar powered transit building on Happy Jack Way in Cottonwood.

Local contractors did the work, the buses were built in the United States and customized by Arizona companies, Meilbeck said.

“We are pleased we could use the money to increase access to public transit,” Meilbeck said. “[U.S. Representative] Ann Kirkpatrick [D-District 1] has been instrumental in getting the funding for us.”

Kirkpatrick could not make the ceremonies, but District Director Virginia Turner spoke on her behalf.

“She passes along her congratulations for doing a tremendous job and sees this as a cornerstone in continuing to bring public transit to the Verde Valley,” Turner said.

Joanne Keene passed along Gov. Jan Brewer’s congratulations for a job well done.

Sedona Mayor Rob Adams said he at first was not a supporter of the proposal when he served on the NAIPTA board two years ago but has turned 180 degrees with his opinion.

“Seeing the buses and how they connect to all areas of our communities is my vision of how a community should operate,” Adams said. “This is demonstrating regionalism, which is a word we didn’t use 10 years ago. We all did our own thing.”

Adams walked to the speaker’s podium hand-in-hand with Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens to signify joining of the communities. Their gesture caused laughter throughout the crowd.

“This is an A-1 operation we worked on as cooperating communities. It will improve the quality of life for our citizens,” Joens said.

Statistics show it costs approximately $8,000 a year to operate a car, according to Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce President Lana Tolleson.
“Unfortunately, not everyone in the Verde Valley can afford a vehicle.

his system affords them a way to get around,” Tolleson said, citing that the cost to ride the bus system is far less when one buys a $40 monthly, unlimited ride pass. The daily cost to ride the Verde Lynx is $2 for each one-way trip.

The Verde Lynx will make eight trips a day Monday through Saturday and three on Sunday.

For more information, call 282-0938.

Lu Stitt can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 122, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Camp Verde Town Council is expected to approve a local transportation study next month that’s been two years in the making.

The $124,000 study was carried out by Jacobs Engineering, a firm that considered public input as well as research with other local groups, including Yavapai County and the Yavapai-Apache Nation.

The consultants used the information to come up with several suggestions for improving transportation in and around Camp Verde for both the short- and long-term, including automobile, bike and pedestrian traffic.

Camp Verde shouldered 20 percent of the cost of the study; the Arizona Department of Transportation paid for the rest.

The plan is to use the data as a blueprint of sorts when making future decisions about road projects, said Vamshi Yeselty with Jacobs Engineering.

“It helps to be more proactive in identifying potential problems,” Yeselty said.

Some of the firm’s suggestions have been on local wish lists for years, notably the need for widening State Route 260. The plan also takes into account a possible future expansion of Interstate 17 to six lanes through the area. Yeselty said there is also a need for more emergency access roads to keep local traffic moving in case there are problems with State Route 260 or I-17.

The study takes a look at the possibility of widening Montezuma Castle Highway and connecting Cherry Road with Reservation Loop Road.

Mayor Bob Burnside noted the maps the consultants were working with don’t show the new alignment of Cherry Road and State Route 260 by the recently installed traffic light near the Yavapai County Justice Center.

While the old maps don’t significantly change the consulting firm’s suggestions, Burnside said he wished newer maps could have been used considering what the study cost taxpayers.

The town has also discussed giving the Yavapai-Apache Nation control of parts of Old Highway 279; town engineer Ron Long said that plan was moving slowly due to legal issues surrounding these types of transfers.
“We’re still making progress,” Long said.

The council is currently reviewing the study and is tentatively scheduled to vote on it at the Wednesday, Oct. 7, meeting.

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The Verde Valley received a piece of President Barack Obama’s health care money, and now Yavapai County has to hurry up and spend it.

The county received $254,166 from a United States Health Resources and Services Administration grant through the federal stimulus package within two weeks of submitting an application.

“This is the first stimulus money that’s arrived in the county to my knowledge,” Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor Chip Davis said.

The application was submitted in mid-March, the grant awarded two weeks later and the money was to be in use by March 27, according to Peggy Nies, county director of community health centers.

“I can’t even spend the money fast enough,” Nies said. More people have to be hired to expand services, which the county is in the process of doing.
And the good news for this side of the mountain is, all the money ended up in Cottonwood, Nies said.

The grant will be used at Cottonwood’s primary health care center and dental center.

The philosophy behind the grant is “increase demand for services,” according to Nies. Since the economy slumped, community health centers are seeing more patients.

“We’ve got people coming in for the first time,” Nies said.

Doctors at the medical center see approximately 450 patients per month.
Since the dental office opened in November, 195 patients have been treated. The center started its first month with 50 patients. By March, that number was up to 90.

“Now more than ever we’re seeing the critical need,” Davis said. People who have never had to access government programs for assistance are coming into the center.

At the primary care center, Nies said the money will be used for budget shortfalls caused by the state of Arizona cutting funding to the center. The center will be able to retain one medical provider that would have been cut otherwise. People from all socioeconomic groups are using the county’s services.

The funding for the dental center will be used to expand the current level of service. One dentist treats patients two days a week – Tuesday and Thursday. The grant money will pay for an additional dentist to be hired to see patients for two more days each week, a part-time office manager and a part-time dental assistant.

The medical center is open to any Arizona resident but different fees apply based on whether an individual has insurance or not. Nies said approximately half of the patients don’t have insurance, one-third are on Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, Arizona’s Medicaid program, and the rest are covered under private policies.

“It’s truly a community health center,” Nies said. “You could come here if you were a millionaire.”

Once a patient establishes the county medical center as his or her primary health care provider, the patient can also be treated at the dental center. However, if a person is not a patient of a county doctor, dental services are not available.

Trista Steers can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 124, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jerome State Historic Park will be closed to visitors for the immediate and possibly long-term future. The Arizona State Parks Board decided Friday, Feb. 20, to close the park this week.

“The board decided to close the park, along with McFarland in Florence and Tonto Natural Bridge in Payson because of needed repairs,” State Parks Public Information Officer Ellen Bilbrey said Monday, Feb. 23.

She said right now the closing of the three is a safety issue. They will be closed first to make the repairs, but also because the state is going to “Sweep $27 million out of our account Saturday, Feb. 28,” Bilbrey said.

One wall at the Jerome park’s building is caved in and the roof is in disrepair, she said. However, the park is also closing because of the budget crunch. According to state park officials, the parks that will be closed could possibly reopen once the financial woes have passed.

“We are closing. That’s it. We’ll be closed by no later than the end of the week,” Jerome Park Ranger Nora Graf said. “As far as I know, that’s the plan.”

Of concern to the town of Jerome is the drop in visitation to the town. Mayor Al Palmieri said it will be a big loss.

“The park draws a lot of people, so it’s going to hurt us. A lot of people you talk to in Jerome have either just come from the state park or are going to the state park,” Palmieri said. “I just don’t see the sense in closing those buildings and leaving them there — empty.”

Park rangers will be reassigned.

As the Cottonwood community has grown, so has the library.

Since 1990 the city’s population has more than doubled. Now, the library has doubled its size with the Oct. 15 dedication of the new extension.

The new addition extends 50 feet north of the existing building and is the full width of 126 feet east to west. It provides a seamless connection to the existing building. That is what architect Larry Enyart, president of LEA Architects of Phoenix planned.

“We followed the lines of the library to make it look like just one building,” Enyart said at the dedication celebration.

About 100 people, including children, attended the dedication. At a prompt, the children shouted out, “We love the library,” as Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens and library director John O’Neill cut the ribbon to the door on the new extension.

“This is one of the most beautiful buildings in the community and it was built by the citizens of Cottonwood,” Joens said. “It’s good for us to come together to celebrate an accomplishment like this.”

The mayor also recognized several principal people who played a role in making the extension become a reality, especially the staff. She gave a little history of how the Cottonwood Public Library came about.

The vision of a library in Cottonwood began in the 1950s when the Library Extension Service in Phoenix sent a bookmobile to Cottonwood once a week. The driver told people then if they could find a place, the service would provide the books.

Members of the Cottonwood Civic Club got some space in a Quonset hut behind the civic center. A library board was form-ed and the library received assistance from the Yavapai County Library.

Around 1970, the Bookmarks was organized and received a $50,000 match grant to build a library. The city gave $10,000 and other money was raised through books sales, bake sales and special events. Individuals and businesses also donated money.

“But they were about $1,000 short. Thanks to Jennie Garrison, she put up the money,” Joens said.

That library, at 401 W. Mingus Ave. was dedicated Oct. 13, 1973.

Additions were made as the demand grew, but by 1980, officials knew they needed to start working toward a new bigger library.

In 1992, voters approved a 0.2-percent sales tax to build a 15,300-square foot library. By mid-1994, they moved into the new building at 100 S. Sixth St. The building was designed so it could expand.

The expansion has book racks, movie racks and cubby holes to read in along with a small stage and auditorium behind the circulation desk, which is ideal for small performances or to read to a group of children.

A large open doorway connects the old section with the new one.

Upstairs is a mezzanine with more books and panoramic views of the mountains from the many windows. Access is by a carpeted stairway or elevator.

At a table in the mezzanine, one boy just couldn’t wait and pulled a book off the shelves to have his mother read to him. Others walked up and down the aisles making comments like, “It’s pretty awesome,” and “Wow, this is great.”

One young man turned and said to his friend, “This is cool,” as he bounded up the stairs.

With the new addition, O’Neill said it makes a lot more room in the adult area for more books and publications.

“It’s beautiful,” O’Neill said as he looked around while people wandered through the new section. “In library land, it’s all good, especially for the children.”

The Cottonwood Public Library is located at 100 S. Sixth St. It opens Monday through Saturday at 9 a.m. Closing times vary, Mondays at 5:30 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 4 p.m.

The library is closed Sunday. They can be reached at 634-7559.

Lu Stitt can be reached at 634-8551 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


A storm that blew through the Verde Valley Saturday, July 19, caused power problems and damage in Verde Village Units 1, 2 and 3 and in Cornville.

The high winds blew down 10 Arizona Public Service power poles along Prairie Lane from Cliff View to Mesa drives.

About 4,700 customers went without power until Sunday, July 20, or Monday morning, July 21, according to Senior Customer Service Representative Gari Basham at the Cottonwood APS office.

“There were no poles down in Cornville, but the power went out. The ones that went down carried the feeder line that serves Cornville. Once we found the trouble, our operations center in Prescott was able to start switching power around,” Basham said.

To help out, APS had 20,000 pounds of dry ice delivered to Cornville people for them to keep their food chilled and frozen.

By Monday morning, Cornville still had no power, nor did people along the east side of Cliff View Drive.

Along with the new poles and electric lines, the crews needed to replace two transformers.

“I think everybody is back in service now,” Basham said.

APS crews from Phoenix, Flagstaff, Prescott and Cottonwood worked through the night Saturday, July 19, and Sunday, July 20, into Monday replacing the poles and damaged equipment.

Basham said the storm build-up was tremendous.

There was a lot of height to the clouds, so there was a lot of wind within the storm. When it hit the Verde Village area, it came with incredible force.

“You could see afterward that the poles behind Cliff View were pushed west and the ones down Prairie Lane toward Unit 1 were pushed north. It’s like the wind came down and split in two directions,” Basham said.

Many homes in the area lost a lot of shingles and several fences were pushed down by the wind. A cherry tree in one front yard was completely uprooted. Several large junipers were blown so hard they leaned westward, but remained rooted.

“We were sitting in the living room and felt the vibration of it — the wind and the tree falling. There was dirt all over the front porch,” Patrick Thorne, 13, said.

Paul David’s fence blew over as he watched from his kitchen. When he heard the tree fall, he looked out front and saw the poles go down.

“The poles snapped like toothpicks. I couldn’t believe how much damage was done in such a short time,” David said.

In Verde Village Unit 3, along East Granite Drive in the 3000 block, a trailer had its carport blown down and cooler knocked over.

During the monsoon storm season, the winds coming in with the storms can be very strong and can cause considerable damage. David said this storm was not a tornado as many thought, but it had extremely strong winds.

Lu Stitt can be reached at 634-8551 or e-mail |This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

An early morning walk along the Verde River for one Cottonwood woman got exciting when she spotted a black bear.

The bear was near the path she was traveling next to Riverfront Park in cottonwood around 8 a.m. May 25. She called 9-1-1 and Cottonwood police officers arrived a few minutes later.

“At first he was in a pasture to the east of the park eating grass, so we watched him for a while, thinking he’d just move on. About 20 minutes later he showed up in the grassy area at the park, so we pushed him back into the trees by the river and then we pushed him up into one and stayed there waiting for game and fish,” Sgt. Ryan Gildehaus said.

The officers taped off the area and kept people back. Several onlookers arrived to see what was going on after they heard the officers yelling and saw them trying to coral the young bear.

Arizona Game and Fish officials estimated the bear’s age at less than two years old. Although he is a black bear, his coat still had a lot of brown, tan and cinnamon in it.

A few times the bear tried to leave the tree but was frightened by the crowd below and climbed higher and rested on a large limb.

“He was up there about two hours. It took a couple of darts to tranquilize him because of the wind and that he was so high in the tree,” Gildehaus said.

The Cottonwood Fire Department brought a ladder so the game and fish officers could get close enough to get a good shot, but the bear climbed down a little and the ladder was not needed, according to Fire Chief Mike Casson.

The first attempt was only partially successful, so they called Cyndi Sessoms, executive director of the Verde Valley Humane Society, who arrived with another tranquilizer dart.

After the dart hit the target, the bear weaved and fell from the tree — about 40 feet to a small wash bed, Casson said.

The game and fish officers and Cottonwood police and fire officials rolled the bear onto a tarp and carried him to a waiting mobile cage.

“Once down, the paramedics treated the bear’s wounds from the darts and checked him over for other injuries from the fall, but didn’t find any others. The fall was sad, but he was fine,” Gildehaus said.

C.D. Adams and others from Game and Fish took the bear for further evaluation and then took him to Cordes Junction where he was released into the Pine Mountain area.

“We have black bear on Mingus Mountain, Black Mountain and in Sycamore Canyon. He could have come from any of those places,” Gildehaus said.

The bear is only the second one found within the city limits in the past several years, he said.

Some of the information in this article was provided by Chuck Tyler who was at the scene when officials captured the bear.

Lu Stitt can be reached at 634-8551 or e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Detectives with the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office are still looking for a Chandler man who disappeared in March on his way home from Flagstaff.

James Allen Martinson, 37, was last seen at a Pic-N-Run convenience store about five miles south of Flagstaff.

Martinson, who works in Flagstaff during the week, had last talked to his family in a phone call earlier in the month.

The afternoon he was seen at the store, Arizona Department of Public Safety Officers found Martinson’s dark green Nissan Pathfinder on the side of I-17 near the Stoneman Lake exit. Not realizing the vehicle belonged to the missing man, officers tagged the Pathfinder and moved on.

Martinson’s family found the vehicle while looking for him the next day. It still contained personal items, including Martinson’s cell phone and wallet.
A search of the area turned up nothing.

Martinson is 5’6”, 165 pounds with green eyes, brown hair, worn short with a light goatee. He typically wears polo shirts, and is believed to have been wearing a Nautica jacket over a red shirt with a black cap and a backpack when he disappeared.

Detectives are looking for someone who might have had contact with Martinson, and anyone who might have information as to his whereabouts or locations he might frequent.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office at 1-928-771-3260 or Yavapai Silent Witness at 1-800-932-3232.

Mark Lineberger
Larson Newspapers

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