Mon, Feb

Yavapai County rolled out a prescription discount program two years ago spearheaded by the Board of Supervisors and Board of Health. It is administered by Yavapai County Community Health Services.

Last month, residents used the program to reach a cumulative savings of $1 million, said YCCHS Director Robert Resendes. 

“Best of all, there is no cost to county taxpayers for to make these money-saving cards available to our residents. The cards may be used by all county residents, regardless of age, health, income, or existing health coverage, and are accepted at 20 county pharmacies,” said Terri Farneti, program coordinator. “There is no enrollment form, no membership fee and no restrictions or limits on frequency of use.”

For more information, call (928) 442-5596.

A group of young men and women from the Yavapai-Apache Nation gave their time last week to help clean portions of the Verde River that run through the Nation’s lands.

Great Seal of the Yavapai-Apache NationIt was a service project thought up by the nation’s UNITY council, also known as United National Indian Tribal Youth Inc., a national organization that serves to promote and unite the younger generation of Native Americans through service to their communities.

This most recent project brought out about 45 members of the Nation’s youth, according to Fran Chavez, spokeswoman for the tribe. They even gave up a portion of their fall break to help clean up the environment.

The young people weren’t out to specifically clean up the river in terms of stray trash and litter; instead they were out to tackle another serious issue that threatens the river’s ecosystem, one that’s unique in the deserts of Arizona and the Southwest.

The group set out to remove invasive foreign species from the riverbank and replace them with native plants.

It’s no easy task. Groups have been working for years to remove plants that, if they had their way, would completely alter the river’s ecosystem in favor of their own biological needs.

Common examples of invasive plants found along the Verde River include the tamarisk, also known as salt-cedar.

The plant, native to Asia, was brought to California in the 19th century for use as a decorative shrub. In the 1930s, the plant was used to try and fight erosion during the dust bowl. Over the decades, the plant has made its way to Arizona and other places throughout the West with uninten ded consequences.

Tamarisk adds to fire danger, according to the Verde River Greenway group, and it uses comparatively enormous amounts of water to grow. The plants also put salt into the soil and water, making it harder to use for other native plant species.

Other encroaching plants include the Russian olive and Siberian elm. It’s an uphill battle, but one that must be fought, say those who want to keep this riparian environment alive as generations have known it.

The group worked for three days on the project, Chavez said, wrapping up its work on Wednesday.

“It was a big success,” Chavez said. “This group does a lot of community service for the Nation.”

The group’s organizer couldn’t be reached for comment as of press time, but Chavez said the club hopes to take part in another cleanup in the near future.

They already have the uniforms. The group received funds from a Disney program, Friends for Change: Project Green, to buy matching T-shirts and supplies for the effort.

Not many people are prepared for the unexpected so when it happens, it is helpful to have someone to lean on.

In 2000, Yavapai County began a program to give people that someone to lean on: the Yavapai Chapter of Trauma Intervention Programs TIP is a group of specially trained volunteers who provide emotional aid and practical support to victims of traumatic events and their families in the first few minutes and hours following a crisis.

Carolyn Croft and her chocolate Labrador retriever, River, are ready to assist Trauma Intervention Program volunteers with comforting physically uninjured but traumatized people involved in accidents or other tragedies. Croft said 3-year-old River has the ideal disposition for the task and has completed a year of training for the job. He is the first TIP dog in Sedona and the Verde Valley.While emergency responders — fire and police — attend to physical injuries, TIP volunteers lend support to victims and their families. The volunteers are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

They are called by police officers, firefighters, paramedics and hospital personnel to assist family members and friends following a natural or unexpected death; victims of violent crime including rape, assault, robbery or burglary; victims of fire; disoriented or lonely elderly persons; people involved in motor vehicle collisions; or loved ones following a suicide.

Recently, TIP expanded their volunteer corps to include specially trained dogs.

“People sometimes will talk to a dog where they may otherwise be hesitant. When there’s a dog, people go to them and it helps calm them down,” TIP volunteer Carolyn Croft said. She and her chocolate Labrador retriever, River, work as a team. “The dog would be mostly to comfort someone like children or the elderly. Plus, they will focus on the dog rather than the situation.”

Sometimes a dog can comfort in ways a human cannot. Dogs never say the wrong thing, don’t ask questions, won’t judge and always offer unconditional love. Trained therapy dogs sense when someone needs comfort.

River is already used to comforting people. He is a Delta Dog and regularly goes to Verde Valley Medical Center and the Mingus Center in Cottonwood. River also visits local schools.

To become a TIP dog, River had to pass the Delta complex rating which Croft said he did easily. With the rating River is allowed to go anywhere as long as he is wearing his vest or his bandana to identify him as a Delta/TIP dog, she said.

“We went to Prescott and did special training for TIP, and again over on this side with Crystal Craycroft. River did absolutely perfect,” Croft said as River accepted a pat and went to rest in his favorite spot — on the cool tile under the kitchen table. “He’s just a natural. He does what he’s supposed to do.”

River is the first and, so far, the only TIP-trained dog in Sedona and the Verde Valley.

River does not push himself on anyone. Croft said he gets up close to people and lets them come the rest of the way. At the hospital, he’s tall enough to put his nose on the bed. People pet him, they talk to him, scratch his ears and hug him, especially the children, she said.

“Dogs are amazing. It seems he can read my mind, and knows what day it is or when it’s time to go somewhere. He seems real sensitive to people’s needs,” Croft said.

Croft adopted River when he was 1 year old nearly three and a half years ago. The owners who had him could not keep him and advertised in the newspaper. Croft called the number and took him.

“He’s been a wonderful companion. River’s the first dog I’ve had that became a Delta Dog, and now a TIP dog,” Croft said and gave her pet a treat. “He works for cookies. I make my own so I know what’s in them.”

The TIP program serves several agencies within Sedona and the Verde Valley like the Sedona Fire District; Sedona Police Department; Verde Valley Fire District; Verde Valley Medical Center in Cottonwood and Sedona; city of Cottonwood; Cottonwood police and fire departments; and Clarkdale, Camp Verde and Montezuma Rimrock fire districts.

Anyone who is interested in helping people traumatized by a crisis and would like to work with police officers, firefighters and nurses on emergency scenes can attend a training course that begins Tuesday, Nov. 2, in Cottonwood. For more information, call 713-6625.

“If people have a dog and want to see if they qualify to be a TIP dog, they can call the same number,” Croft said.

Two years ago, a grassroots effort to end affirmative action in Arizona failed when supporters did not get enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot.

This year, the Arizona Legislature voted to see that voters get a chance to decide the future of affirmative action in the Tuesday, Nov. 2, election with Proposition 107. Proposition 107, also known as the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative, would prevent the state from giving special treatment to or discriminating against someone on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.

It would put an end to affirmative action created in the 1960s to provide opportunities to groups that had been historically excluded and discriminated against.

A major proponent of ending affirmative action across the United States is Jennifer Gratz.

After graduating high school in 1995 with a 3.8 GPA and a fairly active student resume, Gratz applied to the University of Michigan, but was rejected.

An investigation turned up the fact that the university was giving special preference to certain applicants base on their race.

Gratz sued, and her case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where the justices gave Gratz a victory and ended the racial preference program at the school, but only there.

The experience drove Gratz to dedicate herself to trying to fight affirmative action everywhere. Today Gratz serves as director of state and local initiatives for the California-based American Civil Rights Coalition.

She stopped by Camp Verde last week on a tour to share her feelings on affirmative action.

“Affirmative action started out as a good system that was supposed to have no regard for race,” Gratz said. “But it’s morphed into something else.”

Gratz argued that by giving people special treatment due to race and gender instead of treating everyone fairly, affirmative action has itself become a violation of American civil rights.

Supporters of Proposition 107 frame the debate in terms of a fight for civil rights, and Gratz quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech when he said he wanted to live in a world where people weren’t judged by the “color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Gratz said with all the other issues that have put Arizona in the news, she’s met many people who didn’t realize this initiative was on the ballot this year.

Affirmative action can be a double-edged sword, Gratz said. Gratz talks about a black woman she met once in her travels.

“This woman, she told me that she had to keep her guard up, that she had to make sure she didn’t have an off day or make a mistake, or else everyone is going to say, ‘Oh, she just got in because of affirmative action,’ instead of her own merits,” Gratz said. “I want to be able to own my accomplishments, to own my future.”

Proposition 107 also has opponents, including the League of Women Voters of Arizona, American Association of University Women Arizona, Arizona Education Association, Greater Phoenix Urban League and the Arizona Public Health Association.

“Prop 107, better known as the Anti-Equal Opportunity initiative, will eliminate important programs that ensure academic success for Arizona’s students,” wrote members of the Arizona Education Association. “Today’s students are the workforce of the future. Without programs that help students learn study skills, access internships and prepare for the workplace, Arizona’s students will fall behind.”

Others worry if Proposition 107 passes, it will set back the efforts of women and minorities after centuries of discrimination.

Diana Gregory with the Greater Phoenix Urban League said this initiative is being stirred up by out-of-state interests who want to make a “test case” out of Arizona.

Other states including California, Washington, Michigan and Nebraska have passed similar measures.

Either way, it will be up for voters to decide Nov. 2.

Yavapai County school districts are signing on to a new forest fee management association to distribute millions of dollars in federal payments to area schools, according to Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter.

Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim CarterThe new association will control how millions of federal dollars will be allocated to schools going forward. The association replaces the Fee Advisory Committee, which historically allocated the funds and admitted the county superintendent as a member.

The superintendent cannot be a voting member of the new association. Yavapai College will also have no vote, a significant change intended to enhance independent decision making to jointly benefit school districts, according to Carter.

The new association will manage a kind of federal tax payment known as forest fees, which are payments due the county each year as required by federal law, Carter said.

Also known as payments in lieu of taxes, the federal program transfers a portion of all money raised on federal lands to counties in lieu of property taxes, Carter said.

The program is intended to make up for property taxes the county is unable to assess on national forest land.

It allows the county to receive a portion of all fees collected by the U.S. for timber operations, livestock grazing, mining, water, recreation and other uses of national forest land.

Forest fees to Yavapai County amounted to $680,000 last year. Previous forest fee payments, reserved by the Fee Advisory Committee, amounted to another $1 million or so.

Earlier this year, the committee allocated $1.4 million of the money to the Yavapai County Education Technology Consortium. The consortium will install and maintain broadband Internet for all county schools, Carter reported.

Most school districts have already signed on to the new, independent association, a move required to qualify for broadband Internet provided by the consortium.

Carter said he agreed with the decision to create a new forest fee oversight group even though it will not have him as a voting member.

Under the former committee’s management, the joint interests of the district benefited. For example, the committee used forest fees to pay for a grant writer who was available to all school districts to help on grant projects.

School districts received a combined $14 million from grants written with the help of the grant writer, Carter reported.

Payments in lieu of taxes to be allocated by the new association could exceed $2 million next year, according to Carter.

The crowd may have not as been as big as organizers would have liked, but it didn’t stop people from keeping the energy level up Friday, Sept. 10, as Camp Verde came together to celebrate the town’s third annual Relay For Life.

More people did start to show up over time, and the people who have worked hard for relay all year spent the night walking a makeshift track at the town’s soccer field.

Bridget Shuflin puts candles into luminarias during the lighting ceremony at Camp Verde’s annual Relay For Life event Friday, Sept. 10. The ceremony was especially emotional this year due to the recent death of a former relay participant, Cathi Fringer, only two weeks prior to the event.Camp Verde’s relay is just one of thousands of such events held annually across the country and internationally, and collectively they represent the largest source of donations for the American Cancer Society.

The fundraiser started in 1985 when just one doctor in Washington state, Gordon Klatt, walked around a track for 24 hours straight. People started coming out to join Klatt’s walk and before long, Relay For Life was born.

The society estimates Relay For Life has brought in around $3 billion in donations over the past quarter-century to help researchers find a cure, and to help those diagnosed with cancer and their families deal with the consequences of the disease.

Of course, the all-night event is just the end to months of fundraising. Most of the money is collected by teams of people who work together against the other teams in the spirit of a little friendly competition.

This year, the local Camp Verde teams were able to raise more than $10,000, event co-organizer Lathana Fulton said.

Particularly impressive was the work of 6-year-old Madison Vines, who raised more than $1,100 of that figure by herself.

“We’ve gone international with the event in several countries, and that’s a feat we’re proud of,” said Tim Carter with the ACS in Flagstaff. Carter said the event’s slogan, “Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back,” perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Relay.

“We want to celebrate those who have survived, we want to remember those who lost their fight against cancer and we want to fight back, all night long,” Carter said.

It’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t been affected by cancer in one way or another, event co-organizer Karen Conover said, whether they’ve been diagnosed themselves or know someone who has.

It was a message that hit especially close to home for one fundraising team. Cathi Fringer, who had worked to raise money with the Choices 4 Life team, lost her battle with cancer last month. A special ceremony in honor of Fringer was held later in the night, along with the luminaria lighting ceremony. Luminarias are traditional Mexican lanterns, consisting of a candle set in sand inside a paper bag. The glowing bags lined the track in honor of those who have fought cancer.

However, Fulton and her fellow organizers like to point out, relay isn’t just about remembering sad memories. It’s supposed to be a good time, which is why the crowd had some help in its all-night mission by a DJ and a series of live musical acts. There were also sandwiches, coffee and cotton candy to keep the energy level up.
Not to mention, there was lots of taekwondo and related acrobatics.

One fellow decided to play the actual part of cancer, dressed in a protective body suit and charging people a buck to kick him.

The survivors also played a big role in the event. After serving as the guests of honor at a special dinner, they took to the field for the first lap to enthusiastic applause. Then came the caretakers, a group Conover said were a special kind of heroes.

Ultimately, organizers of this event and others like it hope that eventually they’ll never have to hold another relay again. But until a cure is found, they’ll soon be busy getting back to work planning next year’s event.

A faulty test cylinder containing 150 pounds of chlorine sprang a leak at a Clarkdale mineral extraction operation, releasing a small amount of chlorine gas, but injuring no one, Clarkdale Minerals Development Manager Tom Piccioli said.

The test cylinder is one of three chlorine storage units located at the plant subject to regular inspections by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. Two different cylinders containing potentially deadly chlorine currently operate the plant, said James Murray, Clarkdale Minerals project manager.

The leak was caused Aug. 24 by a valve that was not properly attached to the test cylinder due to defective threads, Piccioli said.

“At no time was anyone in any danger whatsoever,” he said.

The leak was discovered shortly after 7:30 a.m. when a strong odor of chlorine was detected in the experimental area. According to standard procedures in such situations, all employees were evacuated to a central area away from the laboratory, Murray said.

Employees wearing protective gear entered the laboratory with chlorine sensors to verify the leak and then called Clarkdale Fire District to the scene.

“The leak was minor but rendered the building unsafe to occupy,” according to Clarkdale Fire Chief Joe Moore.

The Clarkdale Fire District secured the scene and called in the Camp Verde Fire District hazardous materials team.

Using a special tool for such situations, the CVFD team capped the cylinder within 12 minutes of entering the laboratory. A short time later, the company that originally delivered the cylinder removed it from the scene, Murray said.

Because the leak was so small, Moore decided there was time to call in other agencies to take part in an impromptu training exercise, Murray said.

Verde Valley Ambulance Co. provided medical and rehabilitation services as needed, Cottonwood Fire Department conducted decontamination operations and Jerome Fire Department watched out for the crews on scene.

“In my opinion, they did an excellent job,” Piccioli said.

The primary chlorine cylinders used to operate the plant are located in a separate building. The cylinder that leaked was located in a lab where technicians are investigating new processes to increase the yield of metals from slag, Murray said.

“The two primary cylinders that operate the plant are in full compliance with all state and federal laws,” Murray said. “We have triple redundant alarms that will shut down systems. The building is monitored 24 hours a day. We have not had any incidents” since the company began using chlorine in February.

Located at 500 Luke Lane, Clarkdale Minerals uses chlorine to extract gold, silver and other minerals from the pile, which contains about 20 million tons of material. The pile contains about 0.5 ounces of gold per ton, along with silver, copper, zinc and a ferro silicate byproduct, according to the company’s parent, Searchlight Minerals.

The developers behind a plan to build a 137-condo development along the former Beaver Creek Golf Course have six months to come up with $1.3 million in financial assurances for the project, following a decision last week by the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors.

Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor Chip DavisThe board gave its approval to the plan to divide some of the land for the construction of condominiums in 2005, but the developers are accused of not living up to their end of the agreement with the county, including a promise to make sure there were financial assurances in place.

Ron Schabatka and Seth Williams are the men behind Beaver Creek Land and Water, the corporate entity pushing for the development.

The recent economic downturn didn’t leave the developers’ plan unscathed; the golf course, which was a major cornerstone to selling the condos, shut down along with a popular restaurant near the location.

The stalled project has strained feelings in the community. Many residents have been vocal about their desire to see the Board of Supervisors revoke the permissions in place to proceed with the building of the subdivision.

Many residents have told county supervisors they just want the golf course to be maintained and eventually reopened, and the continued closure of the course has wreaked havoc with their property values.

William Ring, a Flagstaff attorney representing the developers, argued his clients want the same thing — a functioning golf course. Investors in the project argue by shutting down the condominium project, the chances are slim the golf course will reopen anytime soon; they say selling the condos would generate the money needed to reinvest in the golf course.

Other residents, however, told the board last week the developers had no interest in the community, and were stalling on the project until a new buyer comes along to renovate the course.

Janet Aniol, president of the Lake Montezuma Property Owners Association, likened the developers to “pirates,” something Ring vehemently denied.

Another disenchanted resident, John Squire, told the board that for all the concern he believes the developers have for the community, they might as well be “two businessmen from Dubai.”

Others spoke on behalf of the developers’ characters. Joel Gilgoff, a former coworker, described Schabatka as a hard worker and dismissed the talk that he doesn’t care about what happens in the community.

Ring went on to outline what he considers the good-faith progress being made through meetings with the county’s employees at the direction of the Board of Supervisors.

“I personally and professionally resent the characterization of my clients as pirates,” Ring said, arguing it’s next to impossible to engage in any useful or meaningful negotiations with people with those kind of attitudes. His clients have been working diligently as hard as they can to see this project turn into a success that benefits the community.

Kala Pearson, with the Beaver Creek Regional Council, said her group and others have in fact tried to have productive discussions with the developers about residents’ concerns, but their suggestions have been routinely “rebuffed and ignored.”

The issue of revoking the project has been before the board four times now.

The developers argue, in part, the county can’t revoke approval, because some of the lots have already been sold to other parties.

Following an executive session to obtain legal advice and a public discussion, the board voted to give the developers six months to prove they can meet the original stipulations for moving forward with the project, stipulations Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor Chip Davis said the community had originally helped develop.

Until then, Davis said no permits would be issued for the project.

“We need to balance the needs of the community with legal property rights,” Davis said.

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