|A look back at stories from 2011|
|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Friday, 30 December 2011 00:00|
From spy balloons and economic development to nationally televised trials and local elections, quite a few stories made the headlines in 2011. As Camp Verde moves into 2012, here’s a look at some of the stories that were in the news.
■ Some residents of Camp Verde and surrounding communities become alarmed when a company named STARA Technologies, based out of Gilbert, approached town leaders for permission to open up a “spy balloon” testing facility inside town limits. The company chose Camp Verde, claiming the region had similar topography to Afghanistan, where the balloons will ultimately be used. The Town Council signed off on the project, but the company later changed its mind and looked for a different location.
■ Andrew Brooks and Preston Brogdon, two Marines finishing overseas tours of duty, are welcomed home by the American Legion Riders. The motorcycle group works to escort returning servicemen and women when they returns to the Verde Valley.
■ The Town of Camp Verde begins the process of revising its town codes in earnest. Many of the existing codes were copied from Yavapai County rules when the town incorporated in 1986. Originally meant to be temporary, the codes were sometimes outdated and led to problems and red tape headaches for residents.
■ The Camp Verde Chamber of Commerce turns 30. The chamber was formed in 1981 to better represent local business interests apart from the Verde Valley Chamber of Commerce that represented many businesses at the time.
■ The Camp Verde Journal turns 30. Founded in 1981 by Jerry Newton and Dimas Vasquez, the paper dedicated itself to covering local news in the lower Verde Valley. The paper was later sold a few years later and is today owned and operated by Larson Newspapers.
■ Yavapai County signs onto a regional trails plan with other local communities in the Verde Valley. The long-term goal of the effort is to eventually form a linked trail system throughout the area.
■ Clayton Young, assistant fire chief for the Camp Verde Fire District, is named the new head chief. He replaces Phil Harbeson who retired after nearly four decades of service dedicated to protecting the town.
■ The Pecan, Wine & Antique Festival draws a crowd to Camp Verde for a weekend to sample the nuts and fruits of the vine from local vintners. The festival is once again headed up by Verde Entertainments, a local group that took over the organizational duties after the town dropped primary sponsorship of the event.
■ Robert Gustafson, 55, of Rimrock, is sentenced to 21 years in prison after his involvement in a gunfight with Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office deputies. No one was injured.
■ The Yavapai-Apache Nation marks the 126th anniversary of its expulsion from the Verde Valley in 1875, an event known as Exodus. The tribes were forced to march three grueling days to the military reservation in San Carlos and weren’t allowed to return until 1900.
■ Yavapai College announces budget cuts, including the closing of its Camp Verde campus on Apache Lane. Financial reasons were cited, along with the changing nature of the use of technology in higher education.
■ Candidates running for the Camp Verde Town Council meet in a forum sponsored by the Camp Verde Chamber of Commerce and the Sedona League of Women Voters to discuss the issues, including mayoral candidates Bob Burnside and Steve Goetting, along with council candidates Alan Buchanan, Norma Garrison, Carol German and Bruce George.
■ The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors abandons the submitted plans for the Villas at Beaver Creek, a 137-condominium project first approved in 2005. The project could never get off the ground due to numerous setbacks and economic concerns.
■ The trial of self-help author and motivational speaker James Arthur Ray begins in Camp Verde, attracting considerable media attention. Ray was charged with three counts of manslaughter following an October 2009 sweat lodge event at a resort near Sedona that cost three people their lives: Lizbeth Neuman, 49, of Minnesota, Kirby Brown, 38, of New York and James Shore, 40, of Wisconsin.
■ The Town of Camp Verde hires Melissa Preston as its new finance director, a position whose duties had been carried out by the town manager since 2007. Preston has a background working in economic development and finance for the cities of Scottsdale and Glendale.
■ The town enters into negotiations with Arizona State Parks to keep Fort Verde State Historic Park open through the end of the fiscal year, June 30, for $25,000. The town, along with a massive volunteer recruitment effort, had stepped up the previous year to help keep the 19th century military post open to the public after the state park system’s budget was gutted by the Legislature.
■ Bob Burnside beats Steve Goetting to retain his seat as mayor. Alan Buchanan, Carol German and Bruce George also win their seats on the Town Council.
■ The Verde Valley Archaeological Center moves into office space in the Fort Verde Plaza shopping center along Main Street. The center is the culmination of efforts by the Verde Valley Archaeological Society to provide a home for artifacts from the region, along with serving as an educational resource and potential engine of economic development.
■ Lloyd Oliver, 88, the second to last of the original Navajo Code Talkers and resident of Camp Verde, dies. Oliver and his fellow Navajo used their own language to create a code during World War II that the Japanese were never able to break.
■ In a ruling from the bench in Camp Verde, Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Tina Ainley set bail for Ricardo Costa, a man accused of molesting children, at $75 million, believed to be one of the highest in American history. The bail amount was eventually ruled “constitutionally excessive” by the Arizona Court of Appeals. Costa would later plead guilty and be deported to his native Brazil.
■ The U.S. Geographic Survey releases a study identifying the likely source of the water in Montezuma Well, a natural wonder that formed thousands of years ago as a limestone sinkhole. The water is believed to seep in through a basalt formation, explaining the elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the water that make it impossible for fish to survive.
■ The Camp Verde Unified School District Governing Board eliminates the position of director of operations, putting former Camp Verde High School Principal Chris Schultz out of a job.
■ The U.S. Geological Survey releases a new groundwater model for the region, the results of a five-year study. The model could shed light on the effects pumping groundwater from the Big Chino Aquifer could have on the Verde River, but people remain divided on the model and its accuracy, the group in Prescott that wants to pump the water and those who are afraid the plan would endanger the Verde River.
■ A virus temporarily shuts down most Yavapai County government computers.
■ The Camp Verde Town Council approves the sale of alcohol at the upcoming CornFest, in part because the Crawdad Festival, where beer was sold to raise money, is no longer being held.
■ The Yavapai-Apache Nation Development and Finance Institution earns federal certification from the U.S. Treasury Department, allowing the agency to expand its services, including funding micro-loans for business startups and larger loans for business expansion.
■ The Verde Valley Questers organization discusses its efforts to restore the George Hance house, the home of one of the town’s early settlers and first postmaster for the community.
■ The Camp Verde Town Council proceeds with plans to purchase 17 acres of land off of Industrial Drive for $1.4 million. The town had been renting the land for use as an equipment yard for a decade.
■ Budgetary concerns force the Camp Verde Unified School District to make some tough choices. The school board votes to eliminate art programs in order to preserve vocational welding instruction.
■ Local high school students in the Class of 2011 turn the tassel as they receive their diplomas.
■ The Town Council approves its policies governing the sale and production of medical marijuana in town limits, following a statewide referendum approved legalizing the substance the previous November. The town decides to stick with the bare minimum restrictions on medical marijuana required by state law.
■ The new Camp Verde Town Council members take their seats after officially being sworn in.
■ In lieu of a full-fledged event this year, the local Camp Verde Relay For Life holds a rally to raise money for the American Cancer Society while building up momentum to hold a relay at Camp Verde High School in 2012.
■ The ranchers at Rainbow Acres, the home for developmentally disabled adults, are on the air, after a generous donation provides them with their own radio equipment to broadcast daily news and events from around the ranch.
■ The Arizona Department of Transportation releases information determining that the Black Bridge over the Verde River on Montezuma Castle Highway requires at least $50,000 worth of repair work and upgrades.
■ James Arthur Ray is found guilty of two reduced charges of negligent homicide. He is later sentenced to two years in prison.
■ The Town of Camp Verde is awarded a $100,000 grant to be used for housing rehabilitation efforts for residents who qualify.
■ CornFest turns into a weekend-long event, organized by another local group, Camp Verde Promotions. Hundreds come out for the taste of corn on the cob bathed in butter.
■ Camp Verde public schools show general improvement in scores on the Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards, or AIMS.
■ Work continues full swing on massive additions to Beaver Creek School, additions funded through a $3.2 million bond approved by voters.
■ Melissa Preston is transferred from finance director to a new position, economic development director for the Town of Camp Verde. Mike Showers is hired as the new finance director.
■ After years of discussion, work begins on building a modern trailhead at Copper Canyon. The work proceeds with help from the U.S. Forest Service and volunteers who donate their time and materials.
■ Ron Ramsey is hired on as the assistant magistrate for the Camp Verde Municipal Court.
■ Team Native Spirit organizes a walk through Camp Verde as a way to raise money for its ultimate goal, participation in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day [Walk] for the Cure held later in the year in Phoenix to raise money and awareness to fight cancer.
■ The Camp Verde Marshal’s Office investigates a spike in thefts of scrap metal around town, including dozens of vehicle batteries from a golf cart dealer.
■ The Camp Verde Town Council agrees to try and sell some of the land it owns, including parcels along State Route 260 and Cliffs Parkway, in hopes of raising money to help fund construction of a new public library.
■ The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars join their color guards to participate in a special event marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the fourth plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.
■ Some big name performers come through town at Cliff Castle Casino’s Stargazer Pavilion, including Willie Nelson and Ziggy Marley.
■ Town Marshal Dave Smith announced he will be retiring from the Camp Verde Marshal’s Office at the end of the year, after serving the town since 2003.
■ Residents rally against the sale of “bath salts,” a legal designer drug that has since been temporarily banned by the federal government.
■ Americorps Vista and Yavapai County work together to raise more than 3,000 pounds of food, much of which is distributed near Beaver Creek.
■ Michelle Moscardini earns her spurs when she wins the title for the 51st annual Colonel’s Daughter competition. The competition is inspired by a book written years ago by a soldier who was stationed at Fort Verde.
■ Elijah Hassgoods and Shyeanne Davis are named Camp Verde’s Little Guy and Little Gal, earning them a spot in the upcoming Fort Verde Days Parade.
■ Roberta Pavatea, Dave Kinsey Jr. and Nancy Guzman win seats on the Yavapai-Apache Nation Tribal Council.
■ In an effort to raise money to reopen the popular Ranch House Restaurant at the Beaver Creek Golf Course, organizers host what’s billed as the first annual Ranch House Round Up, a day of fun and activities that raises several thousand dollars for the effort.
■ The town celebrates the 55th annual Fort Verde Days weekend. The Camp Verde Calvary is honored as the parade’s grand marshal.
■ FFA groups from Camp Verde High School and Mingus Union High School come together for the first joint Young Aggie Day, an opportunity to meet some new people and perhaps have a little friendly competition.
■ Local musicians hold a benefit concert at a local bar to raise money to send care packages to troops overseas.
■ Residents gather downtown to celebrate “Kingdom of the Spiders” reunion night, including a showing of the 1977 William Shatner horror flick that was filmed in Camp Verde.
■ Todd Bostwick, a former Phoenix city archaeologist at the Pueblo Grande Museum, is hired as the Verde Valley Archaeology Center’s first executive director.
■ Camp Verde High School defeats Mingus Union High School in football 41-31, the Cowboys’ first victory over the Marauders and the first meeting of the two teams in more than 20 years.
■ Trick or Treat Main Street once again fills downtown with costumed children looking for a sugar rush.
■ The Town Council suspends collecting development impact fees in light of new state regulations, effective Jan. 1.
■ Local agencies, including the Camp Verde Fire District, participate in Vigilant Guard Arizona, a disaster drill involving hundreds of agencies and the largest of its kind ever held in Arizona. The drill was based on the assumption that the Phoenix area was experiencing massive flooding and that terrorists had detonated a nuclear device.
■ The Yavapai-Apache Nation completes construction on new homes for tribal members.
■ The Camp Verde Unified School District Governing Board votes to eventually move the district’s administrative offices into the old Yavapai College campus on Apache Lane that was closed earlier in the year.
■ Warnings are issued after a rabid fox attacks a woman in her yard in Rimrock.
■ Kevin Williams, 49, is fatally shot in the head after a confrontation with his brother. The Camp Verde Marshal’s Office ruled the shooting was in self-defense.
■ Camp Verde celebrates 25 years since incorporating in December 1986.
■ The Yavapai-Apache Nation wins an important legal battle in the California Court of Appeals, allowing efforts to continue over a disputed $28 million loan made to the Iipay Nation in San Diego County to help build a casino.
■ The Camp Verde Parade of Lights lights up downtown.
■ Town Manager Russ Martin narrows the search for the new Camp Verde Town Marshal to six finalists — three from Arizona, three from out of state.
■ Santa Claus comes to town.