A search that began on April 19, after the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a severely damaged aircraft found in the forest, finally yielded some answers on Friday, April 24.

The downed aircraft was reported to be in the Secret Canyon Wilderness Area, within Coconino County and between Sycamore Canyon and Oak Creek Canyon, according to Gerry Blair, public information officer for CCSO.

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Flames errupt at the Corner of Hwy 89A and Mountain Shadows on Tuesday, April 21. Sedona police and firefighters quickly responded to the fire and were able to keep it contained. Stay tuned as more information becomes available.

President Barack Obama signed the stimulus bill Feb. 17 and now Verde Valley communities wait to see how much money trickles down for local road projects.

A stoplight at Airport Road made the list of regional improvements recommended to the Northern Arizona Council of Governments by the Verde Valley Transportation Planning Organization.

NACOG will be responsible for distributing any federal stimulus dollars for roads to both Yavapai and Coconino counties, along with Apache and Navajo counties, according to Chris Fetzer, NACOG manager of transportation planning.

Project lists were prepared by various local organizations, such as the Verde Valley organization, and submitted to NACOG, Fetzer said. NACOG will use the lists to create a master list of projects to be funded after it learns the amount of money it will receive from the Arizona Department of Transportation. ADOT will be the direct recipient of the federal dollars to be distributed for state projects.

Whether Sedona get its stoplight is still up in the air.

“We don’t know how far the funds will go,” Fetzer said.

On the Verde Valley list, the stoplight is ranked fourth on a list of five projects.

Ranking above Sedona’s project is $826,010 for Yavapai County to improve 3.8 miles of Cornville Road, $780,000 for pavement replacement on South 6th Street in Cottonwood and a combination of two Clarkdale projects totaling $804,100. Fifth on the list, after the Airport Road stoplight, is $500,000 for resurfacing a portion of Salt Mine Road in Camp Verde.

Sedona’s project includes the traffic signal, sidewalks and intersection improvements for $731,584. However, stimulus money would be used to pay for half of the project and the city of Sedona would pick up the remaining amount, according to the letter submitted to NACOG by John Bradshaw, the transportation organization chairman.

Bradshaw, also a member of Sedona City Council, could not be reached for comment.

On the county level, Yavapai County Director of Public Works Phil Bourdon said the county came up with a total of four projects for federal funding — only one of which is in the Verde Valley.

The Cornville Road project entails breaking down the road’s pavement, rejuvenating it with oils and laying it back down from Aspass Road in Cornville to Beaverhead Flat Road.

Yavapai County Administrator Julie Ayers said exactly how stimulus money is distributed locally — which projects will be funded and how much — is still uncertain.

“There’s still a lot more questions than answers out there,” Ayers said.

And those questions won’t be answered in the near future.

“It will be several weeks until that [funding information] is available,” Fetzer said.

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It may be a big, smelly mess, but regional and state authorities are hoping it’s a problem cities in the Verde Valley can deal with together.

On Feb. 26, authorities from Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and Northern Arizona Council of Governments asked Verde Valley mayors if their cities would be interested in a regional solution for wastewater.

According to ADEQ’s Linda Taunt, under Section 208 of the Clean Water Act, the federal government encourages communities to work together to get more for their money.

ADEQ is expecting extra money from the recently signed stimulus bill to go to Section 208 and if the Verde Valley cities are interested in working together, there may be money and staff available, Taunt said.

Funding for Section 208 would look for key words like “recharge, reuse, regionalization, collaboration and environmental benefit,” she said.

The state is expected to receive roughly $270,000 for Section 208, ADEQ Communications Director Mark Shaffer said Wednesday, March 4, and about $105,000 must pass through regional planning agencies, like NACOG.

“There are currently eight such governmental entities handling CWA 208 money,” Shaffer said, “so how it will be divided has yet to be determined in the Verde Valley or any place else in the state.”

Shaffer estimates regions will have up to two years to spend the money.

What a regional wastewater treatment plant might look like is entirely up to local elected officials and residents, he said.

Mayors from Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Jerome and Sedona agreed to take the issue back to their city councils for a consensus to investigate.

Clarkdale is currently working with Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick [D-District 1] for a wastewater plan that is “shovel ready,” Clarkdale Mayor Doug Von Gausig said.

Since Clarkdale and Cottonwood are working on new plants, Taunt directed the cities to continue ahead with their plans and then work regionally when the time comes.

“Clarkdale is desperately in need of a good system. Jerome will need to update theirs,” Taunt said. “Together we might be able to come up with a long-term solution.”

Sedona is currently searching for a solution to dispose of its effluent.

Although its wastewater treatment plant has the capacity to take in and treat 2 million gallons a day if the entire city were connected, it can only dispose of 1.6 million gallons a day.

Currently, Sedona’s wastewater plant takes in 1.2 million gallons daily. A solution to dispose of a future increase in effluent is estimated to cost roughly $3.5 million.

With Oak Creek and the Verde River in the area, it is important that the five cities have the most up-to-date infrastructure, Capalby said.

Now, with the troubled economy creating a reprieve in development, it is a great time to catch up on wastewater infrastructure and to best protect the vital water sources, he said.

According to Taunt, some of the stimulus money would go directly to NACOG, who would be able to staff some of the long-term projects.

“We want to make sure this area is able to capitalize on this opportunity, and it’s desperately needed,” Capalby said. “We’re not always concerned with quantity. We’re concerned with quality. With the remaining water we have in this area, it’s critical we protect it.”

NACOG is curious if the communities are interested in working together on wastewater issues, Executive Director Ken Sweet said.

“As the [Section] 208 administrators, we’re willing to look at it at a local level if the communities are, but if you don’t want to, we won’t mandate or dictate that, but we do think money is available,” Sweet said.

Clearly, there is a lot of cooperation in the Verde Valley for regional wastewater solutions, Sedona Mayor Rob Adams said.

Overall, it was a worthwhile meeting, according to Capalby.

“I think everyone understands the issue to have the most up-to-date infrastructure to meet the needs of the area,” he said.

Sedona City Council agreed to move ahead, in order to plan ahead, for the future disposal of the city’s treated wastewater.

On Feb. 24, council voted 6-1 to grant Carollo Engineers a $152,125 contract to begin seeking necessary permits for an aquifer recharge project at the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

Councilwoman Pud Colquitt voted against the motion, stating the city is acting piecemeal, which she called “dangerous and expensive.”

The awarded amount will allow Carollo to look at options to dispose of the city’s effluent, primarily focusing on injection wells.

Carollo will determine if the city’s wastewater plant is a feasible site for an injection well, the feasibility of selling or using water credits and how much it would cost the city to upgrade the plant to A+ treatment.

The engineers will also work with the city’s Wastewater Effluent Disposal Land Use Task Force on options other than injection wells. The contract came as a result of a May 2008 Burgess & Niple water reuse study.

After learning the results of the study in July 2008, council directed staff to begin the process, including seeking permits, for an aquifer recharge/water reuse project.

The wastewater plant currently takes in 1.1 million to 1.2 million gallons per day and has the capacity to dispose of 1.6 million gallons of effluent per day.

If the entire city were connected to the plant, the estimated average daily flow would be about 2 million gallons per day.

Although the plant has capacity to take in and treat the estimated 2 million gallons per day, it does not have the capacity to dispose of 2 million gallons of effluent daily.

Carollo originally proposed a contract for $921,932, which could be broken up into six phases and would look at putting injection wells at the wastewater plant or on one of two state land sites — Sheepshead Wash or Gyberg Wash. If Carollo determines the wastewater treatment plant is not a feasible site for an injection well, council could approve a new contract for them to look at the two state land sites.

Building injection wells at the state land sites would require leasing state lands — $250,000 per acre for 20 years — and installing $1 million in piping to get the effluent from the plant along Highway 89A to the site.

Task 410 Under Task 410, Carollo will determine the cost of upgrading the wastewater plant’s effluent from B+ to A+, which would allow the city more options for disposal.

Carollo will coordinate with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to determine if Sedona must upgrade to A+ for an injection well at the plant due to its proximity to Oak Creek.

According to Interim City Manager Alison Zelms, the city’s plant, and either of the state lands sites, may require A+ treated effluent for injection.

“We have a B+ plant but we already have things that would make it easier to get to A+ than other plants,” Zelms said. “So it’s a bit of an unknown.”

Task 431 and 431B Carollo will determine the feasibility of the city’s wastewater treatment plant location for an injection well. Under this task, the engineers will work with ADEQ, Arizona Department of Water Resources, Arizona Geological Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The study will determine the applicability of the soils for injection, potential impacts on existing groundwater, the depth of the aquifer, and it will solidify test drilling parameters.

If the site is not feasible, the city could approve another contract with Carollo to do the same study at one or two state lands sites.

Task 500 Carollo will do an evaluation to determine the city’s interest in water credits. Although Sedona does not have a direct need to reuse its effluent, there are communities around the state that may be interested in purchasing the city’s water credits.

“We could inject into the ground without water credits or we could inject and get water credits for the future,” Director of Public Works Charles Mosley said.

According to Mosley, the city could draw out what it put in at a later date, or another city or agency could draw out the water after buying Sedona’s water credits. Task 600 Carollo will advise the city on its options.

More than 100 residents showed up to watch what some described as a “three-ring circus” at the Sedona Fire District Governing Board Wednesday, Feb. 25.

A frequently confused and chaotic discussion of the proposed Chapel area fire station eventually resulted in a 4-0-1 vote in favor of moving forward on construction, provided the project’s financing passes muster.

The board directed Assistant Chief Terry Keller to ask SFD’s architect to release building plans to a contractor so the contractor can establish a guaranteed maximum price for the project.

When plans are released, Keller will also take them to the city of Sedona to obtain required permits, which come at a cost.

Estimated costs from the city for building fees, sewer fees and developmental impact fees will run the district $60,000, Keller said, and SFD will

pay a deposit on that this month.

There’s no point in asking the contractor for a guaranteed maximum price and paying for building permits if construction is going to be put on hold, Keller said.

The board also asked for a rundown of financing, including interest rates, before they make an ultimate decision on the proposed station.

Board member Charles Christensen abstained from the vote.

Board member Liza Vernet previously proposed a similar motion to proceed with the station and ask staff to come back with a payment scenario, but she was shot down by Chairman Don Harr and board members Christensen and Bert Berkshire.

According to Business Director Karen Daines, the station is estimated to cost $2.6 to $2.7 million.

“Taxes won’t go up for this station and taxes will go down by 20 percent by 2012,” Daines said.

The district plans to pay for the station with $1.4 million of one-time monies it receives this year, plus $200,000 already in capital reserves for the project. It will finance the second $1 million over 10 years at an annual debt service payment of $130,000.

Although the district is lowering the mil levy rate from 1.65 percent to 1.55 percent for the upcoming fiscal year, Daines said she feels comfortable with the $130,000 annual debt service.

The district has $3 million in a general fund reserve, which will not be touched for station construction, she assured.

The SFD staff’s 15-minute presentation to the board also included SFD response times, which are currently at 12 minutes, 32 seconds for the Chapel area.

When Station No. 3 in the Village of Oak Creek is out on a call, response times for Uptown or West Sedona crews to reach the Village are 17 minutes, 21 seconds.

“For patients experiencing cardiac arrest, medics must arrive within 4 to 6 minutes to make a difference,” Keller said. “Between 6 to 10 minutes, brain cells are dying and at 10 minutes, the brain is dead.”

Many Chapel area residents spoke in favor of a station closer to their homes to ensure faster response times.

The presentation also covered the chronology of the Chapel station project and addressed the concerns of some residents, who told

the board they were blindsided by a bigger, three-bay

station.

“We want to be able to have enough space,” Business Director Karen Daines said prior to the meeting. “You don’t want to go back and retrofit because that’s more costly to the public.

“We’re trying to be good stewards and think long-term about the needs of the public."

Sedona Recycles ended fiscal 2008 in the black.

Stringent budgeting in the fourth quarter when the prices and markets for most of its recycling materials plummeted allowed the nonprofit to end the year with a little money left over.

“We had a very good year through September, but for the last four months [including January] our materials sales have dropped about 46 percent on average compared with last year,” said Ron Mohney, treasurer. “We’re projecting a net surplus for 2009 predicated on an anticipated modest rebound in materials’ prices and successful fundraising.”

Reductions in wages are also budgeted to save $30,000 but the big savings in 2009 will come via a new vehicle purchased in 2008.

The vehicle caused a one-time hit on Sedona Recycles 2008 income statement of $95,000 but will save more than $30,000 in fuel and over $20,000 in repairs and maintenance in 2009.

According to Executive Director Jill McCutcheon, some markets are already improving.

“From all-time low material prices in November which saw cardboard at zero, markets are beginning to slowly move upward,” McCutcheon said. “Prices are still well below average and are at one-quarter of the all-time high prices of one year ago.”

At present, McCutcheon said the price of cardboard is now at $36 per ton, plastic prices have risen only slightly after dropping to 25 percent of their former price, aluminum has regained 7 cents after falling 60 cents per pound and steel has fully recovered to its price of one year ago.

Glass never fluctuated during the period, a condition McCutcheon attributes to the fact that it’s not processed in China.

Despite having to adjust to straitened conditions, Sedona Recycles determination to educate the public is stronger than ever.

“We encourage everyone to think beyond the bin,” McCutcheon said. “It is not enough to recycle and not know where it is going and what it becomes. We all need to be responsible for the impact and the outcome.”

Buying recycled products is recommended as well.

“Looking into 2009, we’re expanding our no-cost recycling opportunities in Sedona with the aim of increasing the community’s recycling rate and achieving the city’s zero waste goals,” McCutcheon said. “We are also concentrating on fundraising efforts, seeking new members — individuals, families, businesses and corporate. Every level of membership offers free electronics recycling for one year.”

The nonprofit is also expanding its outreach efforts.

First up is a clothing exchange on Saturday, April 25, one week after Earth Day.

“This will be an opportunity for folks to clean out their closets, glean some new duds, and support their local recycling center,” McCutcheon said. “There will be a small admission cost which entitles each person to a chair massage, product samples, and other goodies that the community is donating.”

Sedona Recycles is also hosting a Scrapture Contest.

Local artists will be selected to participate and the proceeds from the Scrapture Auction will come directly to Sedona Recycles.

Taking part in Sedona Recycles educational outreach program are the Sedona Charter School and all three schools in the Sedona-Oak Creek Unified School District. “The Recycle Challenge consists of recycling aluminum beverage cans and by doing so, helping to fight litter, saving valuable resources, conserving energy, and earning money,” said Briana Sternberg, Sedona Recycles ‘outreach director.

Each school is provided with containers to recycle their aluminum cans and the money earned from recyclables can be used by the school to purchase materials, pay for field trips, or enhance programs.

“We’re working together to make a better environment for

the next generation,” Sternberg said.

According to James Bishop Jr., president of the Sedona Recycles board of directors, tossing one aluminum can into the trash is the equivalent of throwing away six ounces of gasoline.

“Every single person in Sedona can help us raise funds by bringing their recyclable material to the recycling center on Shelby Drive or to one of our drop-off sites,” said Bishop. “There’s no sense to burying money in landfills these days. The EPA estimates that 75 percent of what Americans throw away could be recycled.”

Sedona Recycles can be reached at 204-1185 or through its Web site at www.sedonarecycles.org.

Arizona school districts received a blow last month when the state cut $98 million from Arizona schools’ basic state aid and $21 million from soft capital for this fiscal year.

Although the Sedona Oak Creek School District is required to cut $115,000 from this year’s budget, teachers’ positions and their salaries will be saved.

According to Senate Bill 1106, passed at the end of January, SOCSD must cut $93,858 from their Maintenance and Operations budget, which pays for teachers’ salaries, and $20,919 from soft capital, which pays for things like books, computers and software.

Mingus Union High School District was ordered to cut $156,028 and Cottonwood Oak Creek Elementary District must cut $311,151. Camp Verde Unified District was forced to cut $115,297.

“That’s a pretty big chunk to cut two-thirds through the year,” SOCSD Superintendent Mike Aylstock said.

The kicker, he said, is that the state isn’t even going to benefit from the district’s cuts because SOCSD’s money is generated locally through property taxes and not state aid.

“But they have to treat everyone equally,” he said. There are 11 districts in Arizona that are forced to make cuts, even though their savings won’t go to the state.

A bonus, though, is that the bill exempted small school districts — ones with fewer than 600 students.

Thanks to efforts from Rep. Andy Tobin [R-District 1], they took it one step further and allowed exemption if the district’s kindergarten through eighth-grade school or ninth through 12th-grade school had fewer than 600 students.

“Since Sedona Red Rock High School is less than 600 students, we got a little break there,” Aylstock said, grateful of Tobin’s efforts. “It could have been worse for us.”

For the remainder of the school year, the bill allows districts to use soft capital allocations to go toward operations, which could come in handy, but Aylstock doesn’t think they’ll have to go this route.

SOCSD is fortunate that it carried over the maximum — 4 percent — into its M&O every year, he said, which gives it flexibility to make the state-mandated cuts now.

“We aren’t going to be reducing staff,” he said. “We aren’t going to be cutting salaries.

“Because of reserves we have in soft capital and the 4 percent carryover the district has done every year, we’ll be able to get through this year pretty much unscathed,” he said.

But based on the rumors, next year will be worse, he predicted.

On Feb. 12, Mingus Union High School District Board voted to make cuts in order to give money back to the state, according to Interim Superintendent Nancy Alexander.

MUHSD was ordered to cut $28,017 in soft capital, which is what it had left, so the district suspended all soft capital spending.

To help the M&O, the board voted to cut all transportation costs except those sponsored by the Arizona Interscholastic Association for sporting events.

“A lot of trips are planned that unless they have tax credit dollars or can fundraise, they’ll have to be suspended,” Alexander said.

The board also stopped all purchase order requests unless there is a health or safety concern to give relief to the M&O.

“There are all kinds of supplies that we’re doing without for the spring,” she said.

As for the economic stimulus bill passed Tuesday, Feb. 17, it won’t make up for the latest state cuts.

According to Aylstock, SOCSD is set to receive $59,600 under Title 1, which can help with remedial math and reading, and $140,600 under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for special education.

One potential problem with the federal funds is that the district can only use them for Title 1 and IDEA purposes, and not to offset its losses elsewhere.

MUHSD has used some of its M&O money for special education, so some of the IDEA funds may be allowed to go to the M&O.

“Whether or not they’ll let us supplant or not, we don’t know,” Alexander said. “If there are supplant restrictions there will be little impact on the M&O.”

A second problem is that if the district receives funds, it may not be until the end of the school year and only a small percentage can be carried into next year.

“When those kinds of numbers flow in at the end of the year, it’s going to be difficult spending

that kind of money,” Aylstock said.

Local superintendents met with Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick [D-District 1] in Prescott to take those concerns to Washington.

According to Aylstock, currently, the district could not pay a teacher’s salary with Title 1 funds.

“My main concern is that with all the uncertainties, that they don’t negatively affect the education we’re providing our students,” he said. “I call on parents and community members to contact our legislators and implore them not to balance the budget on the backs of K through 12 students.”

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