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Tucson-based Minerals Research Inc. is probably not a familiar operation for most Cottonwood residents, but the slag pile the company is processing in the center of town certainly hasn’t escaped anyone’s notice — for generations, in fact.

The 60-foot pile of iron by-product is nearly a century old, the unsightly remnant of copper mining, an industry that helped define the communities of the Verde Valley.

As the recently established Mission Produce Market proves, there’s a lot more going on at Old Town Mission than most people think.

Changing perceptions about the limited scope of the mission — providing daily meals and food for the homeless — begins with seeing the staff in action, talking with its employees, volunteers and guests.

In order to preserve its historic buildings, Jerome residents may face a new tax. “I have two words: Restoration tax,” said Vice Mayor Jay Kinsella at the April 11 meeting at Jerome Town Hall.

Kinsella had put the issue of how the town can preserve historic buildings on the agenda last month in response to the Cuban Queen — an historic bordello — falling in a windstorm. Kinsella said that the disrepair of the building in the years leading up to the storm was obvious and that this had something to do with its collapse. He said it was the responsibility of the town’s property owners to be guardians of the town’s history.

Before Camp Verde Community Library opened its new 17,000square-foot facility last November, Library Director Kathy Hellman led a tour of the facility and pondered the possibility that musicians might one day play in there — not in a room somewhere, closed off from the public, but among the books.

“Can’t you just see it?” Hellman said as she looked down from the second floor balcony.

Walking the Yavapai College Verde Valley Campus prior to 2010, you would’ve been hard pressed to picture a vineyard in the 13.5 acres of scrub land west of the main grounds — much less a facility like the Southwest Wine Center where the massive concrete racquetball courts stood.

Despite the apparent unlikelihood of it all happening, 2010 marked the year that planting began on what would become a wine-producing vineyard run by students enrolled in Yavapai College’s Viticulture and Enology program.

We may be closer to finding extraterrestrial life than previously thought — and it might not be that far away.

On Thursday, April 13, NASA held a press conference on the subject, “Oceans Beyond Earth.” Prior to the event, the organization hinted at discoveries that would impact the “broader search for life beyond Earth.” The conference coincided with findings presented in papers published by researchers with NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn and the Hubble Space Telescope.

The stars are within reach for one Yavapai College student.

Lori McDonald, a massage therapist and hairstylist with offices in Jerome and Sedona, has been invited to participate in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars Project, the aim of which is to attract and retain students in the science, technology, math and engineering fields critical to NASA’s future success.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Harvest Inc.’s 35,000-square-foot marijuana grow facility in Camp Verde is not its existence, but the acknowledgement by the company’s top executive that the community has a right to be concerned.

“The town will continue to be protective, and they should be,” Harvest CEO Steve White said, adding that in his view the permitting process to establish the facility took longer than he expected it would. “I think that’s representative of government officials and employees doing the best things in the interest of their residents. The town has been fair and professional, but the leadership and employees were initially concerned about this use.

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