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Over the last few years, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office has been at the forefront of the battle against criminalizing mental health conditions — and now, thanks to a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, YCSO is getting a helping hand.File photo/Larson Newspapers

With the funds, the YCSO Mental Health Collaboration Program enters its planning and implementation stage. The ultimate goal of the program is to support law enforcement responses such as mental health courts, pre-trial services, diversion and alternative prosecution and sentencing programs, treatment accountability services, training for officers and reentry services to address mental illness and substance abuse disorders.

A vote in December could spell a major victory for science-minded students at Mountain View Preparatory.Mountain View Prep students Kayla Stewert, left, and Marco Castrita complete a quiz on chemical mixtures, solutions and what will dissolve, before moving onto the conservation of mass in Kelli Rhoda’s eighth-grade science class. In November the school was named one of the 25 school semifinalists in the second annual Northrop Grumman Foundation Fab School Labs contest, aimed at promoting STEM education by awarding five grants of up to $100,000 each.

Following a competitive grant proposal process, in November the school was named one of the 25 school semifinalists in the second annual Northrop Grumman Foundation Fab School Labs contest. Aimed at promoting STEM education by awarding five grants of up to $100,000 each, the contest requires schools to argue their case with an online video — a video that is then evaluated by the public and voted on.

One man was killed in a three-car collision on Cornville Road near Verde Santa Fe at about 4 p.m. Nov. 23.A 31-year-old Cottonwood man was killed in a  three-car collision around 4 p.m. Nov. 23. The driver of a Ford Escort in which the man was killed has been charged with manslaughter, aggravated DUI, extreme DUI, four counts of endangerment, four counts of aggravated assault and two counts of criminal damage. A rear passenger suffered minor injuries. The driver of a Mercury van was airlifted to Flagstaff Medical center.

Justin Allen Goemaere, 31, of Cottonwood, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office. He was riding in the front seat and not wearing a seat belt. Officials are conducting an autopsy.

Hundreds of students at Cottonwood’s Mountain View Preparatory vowed to make the world a kinder place Tuesday, Nov. 15.Full of energy and charisma, “Kindness Ninja” Brian Williams has the students of Mountain View Prep cheering with excitement while searching for the kindest school in America, on Nov. 15. Williams came to Mountain View Prep to challenge the school to a niceness competition, in which West Sedona School and Big Park Community School were also taking part.

In concert with local group SedonaKind, MVP hosted Think Kindness founder, Brian Williams, a self-described “Kindness Ninja” — a man who came prepared not only with a t-shirt proclaiming the title, but a fourth-degree back belt. A nationally recognized kindness advocate, Williams promotes kindness in schools and communities, engaging people in an effort to improve lives and reduce bullying.

Cottonwood’s Georgie’s Cafe has been inviting diners in for a free full-course Thanksgiving meal for two decades.The Old Town Mission General Manager Kellie Wilson, Director of Maintenance Billy Rodriguez, Grocery Rescue Agent William Woodruff and Assistant General Manager Jill Marie Sweet, from left, will be among the staff holding a Community Thanksgiving Brunch from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 23, at their location in Cottonwood. The mission will also distribute turkey dinners on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

This year, it’ll be business as usual. On Thursday, Nov. 24, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Georgie’s staff — yes, every single one of them — will be on hand to serve the communities of the Verde Valley.

It’s easy to imagine help in the form of the basics: Shelter, food or medical intervention.

But, as Canadian national and part-time Rimrock resident Colleen Baldwin proves, items that we take for granted — items that are easy to dismiss as frivolous — have the power to change lives. As part of the grassroots Purses of Hope effort, last holiday season she began gathering and helping to distribute used purses, each filled with everyday essential items for women, throughout the Verde Valley.

The city of Cottonwood Verde Valley Military Service Park unveiled phase one of its planned installation on Veterans Day, Friday, Nov. 11.Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens stood next to Verde Valley Military Service Park Committee Chairman Ronald Luce at the flag-raising ceremony of the park, thanking everyone who made the project possible. The unveiling took place on Veterans Day, Friday, Nov. 11. It was also one of Joens’ final acts as mayor as she is set to step down at the next council meeting.

Located adjacent to the Yavapai County Government Cottonwood Annex building, 10 S. Sixth St., the site now features a 70-foot central flagpole with a 12-by-18-foot U.S. flag surrounded by five 30-foot poles with 5-by-8-foot service flags. The park recognizes residents of the Verde Valley who have honorably served in the five branches of U.S. military.

The benefits of active and community-engaged career and technology education programs are innumerable, according to Valley Academy for Career and Technology Education Superintendent Bob Weir.High school students in Valley Academy for Career and Technology Education’s fire science certification program get hands-on experience fighting training fires. According to VACTE Superintendent Bob Weir, graduates often come out of high school and enter the firefighting field earning between $40,000 to $60,000 per year.

In his position since July, Weir said that VACTE has already taken major steps forward in promoting itself to eighth-graders and high school students throughout Sedona and the Verde Valley. Recently, Weir directed a survey sent out to eighth graders in Camp Verde, Cottonwood and Sedona to determine what CTE programs they would most like to see offered through VACTE.

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