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College board member fights for Verde Valley


If Deb McCasland has her way, the Verde Valley will someday have a Yavapai College Career and Technical Education Center to match the facility in Prescott. McCasland, a Yavapai College District Governing Board member, represents communities in the Verde Valley including Beaver Creek, Camp Verde, Cornville, Middle Verde, Montezuma and Verde Lakes.

Following the resignation of board member Al Filardo in 2016, McCasland’s voice has been the most vocal in support of allocating a greater share of the college’s funds toward programs and facilities in the Verde Valley.


“What I hope to see is that we have a really great JTED program in the Verde Valley,” McCasland said. “The college could do this great thing on their own .... We need to do it for our students in the Verde Valley, whether they’re in high school, college or an adult .... I keep throwing the idea out, but it’s my vision for the future. You get a building, you identify what you’re going to do.”

McCasland said finding a facility to house a CTE program may be easier than it initially appears: Tentative queries in the Verde Valley led her to believe up to three individuals may be willing to donate buildings to the college.

According to McCasland, establishing a CTE facility in the Verde Valley is a distinct possibility, but it will require the board to prioritize it over projects in the Prescott area — an act of will that McCasland said cannot happen unless the composition of the board changes. McCasland mentioned board chair Ray Sigafoos in particular as a staunch ally of President Penny Wills and her agenda.

“The president should not be able to sit back and do whatever she wants to do,” McCasland said. 

“The board is her supervisor .... It’s the job of the board to challenge and question the president. I’m taking on that job. We need to be specific on what we want the college to accomplish.”

As a result of her desire to see a greater share of resources — especially those dedicated to CTE facilities and programming — make their way over Mingus Mountain, McCasland said she is actively seeking candidates for the governing board’s District 1 and District 2 seats.

Those seats, respectively occupied by Sigafoos and newcomer appointee Connie Harris, are up for election in 2018. McCasland already has interested parties.

McCasland was careful to add that not all developments are negative: The renovation and reopening of the Sedona Center, which now features two state-of-the-art commercial kitchens and hosts a fully enrolled culinary program, is a major positive.

“We finally spent some money in the Verde Valley .... It’s about time,” McCasland said. “I think the development they did with the Sedona Center is beautiful and great, and I hope they do everything they can to keep it running.”

But, as McCasland noted, there’s always room for more in the growing Verde Valley. The college’s capital improvement plan should be available in early 2018, and she will be prioritizing her viewpoint.

“I’m dropping hints we need to rearrange those funds and allocate them to the Verde Valley,” she said.


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