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Wed, Nov

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.

With most precincts reporting, Arizona has posted preliminary primary election results. Yavapai County has posted all 112 precincts. Voter turnout in Arizona was 25.21 percent. Yavapai County turnout was 38.2 percent.

U.S. Senate

With about 12 of 15 Arizona counties and most of the other three counties' precincts reporting, incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain won reelection with 279,173 votes or 56.15 percent. He defeated challengers Jim Deakin, with 11.7 percent or 58,149 votes, and former U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth, with 31.92 percent or 158,729 votes.

McCain’s chief contender will likely be Rodney Glassman, who leads the Democratic party nomination for U.S. senator with 84,635 votes, or 34.2 percent. Glassman defeated opponents John Dougherty, with 23.8 percent or 58,898 votes; Cathy Eden, with 26.37 percent or 65,224 votes; and Randy Parraz, with 14.35 percent or 35,499 votes.

They will face Green Party candidate Jerry Joslyn and Libertarian David F. Nolan, who both ran unopposed for their parties’ nominations.

U.S. House of Representatives, Arizona District 1

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick [D-District 1] ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination and garnered 40,883 or 98.65 percent of the vote.

After a large field of eight candidates, Republican Paul Gosar won the nomination with 19,900 votes, or 31.03 percent. Gosar defeated Bradley Beauchamp, with 15.89 percent or 10,189 votes; Russell “Rusty” Bowers, with 14.46 percent or 9,275 votes; Sydney Hay, with 22.78 percent or 14,610 votes; Joe Jaraczewski, with 2.15 percent or 1,376 votes; Jon Jensen, with 2.46 percent or 1,576 votes; Steve Mehta, with 8.02 percent or 5,142 votes; and Thomas J. Zaleski, with 2.95  percent or 1,894 votes.

The Green Party and the Libertarians did not seek to challenge Kirkpatrick.

Governor

Incumbent Republican Gov. Jan Brewer won 400,921 votes, or 81.56 percent, and defeated Matthew Jette, with 3.34 percent or 16,428 votes; Dean Martin, with 6.06 percent or 29,807 votes; and Buz Mills, with 8.73 percent or 42,933 votes.

Libertarian Barry J. Hess won 1,125 votes, or 43.07 percent, and defeated Ronald “Ron” Cavanaugh, with 18.42 percent or 481 votes; Bruce Olsen, with 20.75 percent or 5420 votes; and Alvin Ray Yount, with 7.89 percent or 206 votes. There were 258 write-ins.

Green Party candidate Larry Gist and Democrat Terry Goddard, currently Arizona attorney general, both ran unopposed. They will face Brewer and Hess in the general election.

Arizona State Senate, District 1

Incumbent Republican Arizona State Sen. Steve Pierce will face Democrat Bob Donahue. both ran unopposed and neither the Libertarian nor Green parties fielded candidates.

Arizona House of Represenatives, District 1

Democrat Lindsay Bell will face Republicans Karen Fann and Andy Tobin for two seats in the Arizona House of Representatives. Republican Noel Campbell was defeated in the primary. Neither the Libertarian nor Green parties fielded candidates.

Current tribal chair loses primary, still up for council seat

It’s a two-way race for the position of chairman of the Yavapai-Apache Nation Tribal Council following the results of the Aug. 7 primary.

Great Seal of the Yavapai-Apache NationRoberta Pavatea garnered the most votes for the chair seat with 132 votes. Coming in second for the position was David Kwail with 122 votes. Incumbent Thomas Beauty earned 92 votes while current Vice Chairman Norman Smith earned 72 votes.

Pavatea and Kwail will be facing off for the Saturday, Sept. 18, general tribal election.
Nancy Guzman and Robert Jackson Sr. will be on the ballot running for the vice chairman’s seat. They earned 154 votes and 199 votes respectively.

Beauty will still be on the ballot for a seat on the tribal council, along with 10 others: Laura Cornelius, Billy Garner, Benjamin Jackson Jr., Libby Johnson, Dave Kinsey Jr., Tanya Moore, Dennis Sine Sr., Norman Smith, Carol Williams and Lottie Wilson.

The general election will be held Sept. 18 from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Polling places have been set aside at the social services building in Middle Verde, the community building in Clarkdale and the land and water building in Camp Verde.

Regional fire districts and government agencies have lifted a fire ban that has been in effect for several weeks, but restrictions on burning still remain in unincorporated areas of Yavapai County.

Moisture and humidity played a role in the decision, according to Verde Valley Fire District Chief Jerry Doerkson; controlled burns have been exceptionally difficult to manage.

Many of the districts are following the lead of the U.S. Forest Service.

The Coconino National Forest lifted its ban Wednesday morning, according to spokesman Steve Harper. The Prescott National Forest did the same, along with the Camp Verde Fire District.

 “It’s good to go,” CVFD Spokesperson Barbara Rice said.

Rice added that typical restrictions against burning trash are still in effect.

The manslaughter trial of a self-help author and motivational speaker has been delayed after the presiding judge has been asked to take on another case.

James Arthur Ray, 52, was arrested earlier this year after three people died in an October 2009 sweat lodge ceremony at the Angel Valley Retreat Center southwest of Sedona.

Lizbeth Neuman, 49, of Michigan, Kirby Brown, 38, of New York and James Shore, 40, of Wisconsin, died after exposure to conditions inside the sweat lodge, a large tent-like structure that was heated to sauna-like temperatures. The ceremony was part of a weekend event that cost attendees nearly $10,000 a head.

Ray pleaded not guilty to the charges of manslaughter; the trial was originally set to begin Aug. 31, with at least 50 days set aside for arguments.

Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Warren Darrow has presided over the case, but was recently assigned to the Prescott murder case against Stephen Democker, accused of beating his ex-wife to death.

The judge previously handling the case is experiencing health problems, leaving the very busy Darrow as the next choice to take over.James Arthur Ray, 52, was arrested earlier this year after three people died in an October 2009 sweat lodge ceremony at the Angel Valley Retreat Center southwest of Sedona.

Ray’s defense team continues to pursue a change of venue for the trial, arguing that the publicity here in the Verde Valley may taint a potential jury pool.

Ray defense attorney Thomas Kelly has argued that changing the location may provide more room for what he expects to be a heavily attended and publicized trial.

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk had earlier told the court the state has no objections to the idea of moving the trial, since neither Ray nor the victims have any ties to the area.

Still, the prosecution objected to the defense’s recent efforts to move the trial on the grounds that they filed too much paperwork, but the court recently waived length limitations on motions filed by the defense.

The court also ruled that the state could ignore length rules when it files responses as a result of the decision.

Darrow has indicated that the trial might not be able to begin until November if he remains assigned to the case.

In the meantime, Ray is free on bond to continue conducting business from his base of operations in California, and from there, throughout the country.

Darrow is expected to hear further motions in the case Tuesday, Aug. 10.

More than 30,000 acres of Coconino National Forest situated in the lower Verde Valley could be designated wilderness, where mountain bikes and all-terrain vehicles are banned, but only if Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart recommends it and Congress approves.

On July 10, the U.S. Forest Service issued a report about the 10 most likely candidates for wilderness designation within Coconino National Forest. Included on the list are six lower Verde Valley areas, Black Mountain, Cedar Bench, Cimarron-Boulder, Davey’s, Hackberry and Walker Mountain.The process from recommendation to approval could take one year or 20, said Sara Dechter, U.S. Forest Service social science analyst working on revisions to the Coconino National Forest Management Plan.

Before recommendations are signed, however, the public will have its say about potential wilderness, Dechter said.

USFS will meet the public to hear comments at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 27, at Red Rock Ranger District headquarters, 8375 SR 179, near the Village of Oak Creek.

Wilderness area designation is a small part of the Coconino National Forest Management Plan overhaul now being conducted by USFS. The last comprehensive revisions to the plan took place in 1987, Dechter said.

On July 10, the USFS issued a report about the 10 most likely candidates for wilderness designation within Coconino National Forest. Included on the list are six lower Verde Valley areas, many named for the local landmarks they encompass: Cedar Bench, Black Mountain, Cimarron-Boulder, Davey’s, Walker Mountain and Hackberry.

Most of the potential wilderness areas are grouped together south of Beaver Creek and east of Camp Verde between Forest Roads 618 and 708, Forest Planner Yewah Lau said.

In the Walker Mountain potential wilderness area, the Gila chub, black hawk, lowland leopard frog and narrow-headed garter snake would benefit from the designation. In the Black Mountain potential wilderness area, the golden eagle would.Of the six, three were considered highly needed: Black Mountain, Walker Mountain and Hackberry, USFS records state. A high-need designation means “the area contributes considerably to recreational and ecological needs.”

Need is determined by several factors, including the location, size and type of other wilderness areas in the vicinity and the distance to get there.

Other factors include how much pressure there is from visitors who want to experience wilderness and whether the area is home to species of animals needing refuge only wilderness area designation can provide.

There are already 1.1 million acres of designated wilderness within 100 miles of Cottonwood and the Verde Valley, according to the USFS report.

In the Walker Mountain potential wilderness area, the Gila chub, black hawk, lowland leopard frog and narrow-headed garter snake would benefit from the designation. In the Black Mountain potential wilderness area, the golden eagle would, the report states.

Designation would ease pressure on several species in the Hackberry potential wilderness area, including the Mexican freetail bat, red bat, Townsend’s bat, spotted bat, greater western mastiff bat, lowland leopard frog, garter snake and yellow-billed cuckoo.Designation would ease pressure on several species in the Hackberry potential wilderness area, including the Mexican freetail bat, red bat, Townsend’s bat, spotted bat, greater western mastiff bat, lowland leopard frog, garter snake and yellow-billed cuckoo, according to the report.

“I want people to know this is very early in the process,” Lau said. “There’s really no proposal on the table yet. We really want to listen to the public before recommendations are made.”

“We want to hear about the trade-offs,” Dechter said. “In an area recommended as wilderness, what would be lost and what would be gained?”

Reports about the potential wilderness areas can be viewed online at www.fs.fed.us.

Defense attorneys for James Arthur Ray, the self-help author and motivational speaker charged with manslaughter, are requesting the Yavapai County Superior Court consider autopsy photos and other information as inadmissible evidence when the case goes to trial in late August.

James Arthur RayRay, 52, is charged with three counts of manslaughter stemming from the October sweat lodge incident that claimed three lives and injured several others at the Angel Valley Retreat Center southwest of Sedona.

Lizbeth Neuman, 49, of Michigan, Kirby Brown, 38, of New York, and James Shore, 40, of Wisconsin, died after exposure to conditions inside the sweat lodge, a large tent-like structure that was heated to
sauna-like temperatures.

In motions filed with the court, attorneys Brad Brian, Luis Li, Truc Do and Thomas Kelly are asking for the judge to exclude autopsy photos and information about Ray’s financial status and business dealings from being presented to a jury, as well as any information about a previous sweat lodge event five years ago where a man reportedly fainted.

The defense team argues the photos, financial information and earlier events have no bearing on the current case and would only serve to “confuse jurors” and “generate prejudice against Mr. Ray.”

The autopsy photos show nothing relevant to the cause of death, the motion states, a claim the defense backs up with an interview with one of the doctors involved with performing the autopsies.

Showing the photos would only “inflame the jury,” the motion argues.

Similarly, the defense believes that Ray’s financial status and business dealing have no bearing on this particular case.
The defense is also hoping to have the trial moved to another location outside the Verde Valley, but the prosecution is objecting because the defense submitted more paperwork than the rules of the court allow.

Kelly argued changing the location may provide more room for what he expects to be a heavily attended and publicized trial.

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk had earlier told the court the state has no objections to the idea of moving the trial, since neither Ray nor the victims have any ties to the area.

The trial is set to begin Tuesday, Aug. 31, in front of Judge Warren Darrow.

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Verde Valley Weather

Cottonwood United States Partly Cloudy (day), 64 °F
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