Hildale City Council Meeting

The Hildale City Council met in a special work session to address some ambiguities in the process of hiring city employees and what budgetary avenues they are paid through. The city has seen several employees move on to new jobs recently including the City Treasurer, lower level employees, and soon, the City Recorder. The meeting was also called to discuss appropriate roles and functions within each job description, the vision for Hildale going forward, and to draft a hiring policy.

Some of the ambiguities faced by the new city council members are due to an intergovernmental relationship with Colorado City. Because the Twin Cities work so tightly through the public works and utility departments, Colorado City plays a prominent role in hiring as well as paying those employees.

According to statements made at the meeting, running payroll through the Town of Colorado City made sense because Hildale didn’t have the budget to support its functions while maintaining competitive pay and benefits.

The council decided they would plan meetings with the appropriate parties in Colorado City to understand exactly how the intergovernmental relationship works and to ensure that Hildale City has the appropriate level of input on hiring decisions, duties, and funding. Once there is a full understanding of how the relationship works, they will determine if any changes need to be made.

Utility Board Appointments

The Hildale City Council made some new appointments to the Utility Board and Public Works Advisory Board for the Twin Cities. The appointments were made due to the expiration of the term of two Utility Board members and one position on the Public Works Advisory Board. One of the previous members of the Utility Board was Council Member Brian Jessop.

Hildale Mayor Donia Jessop nominated Hildale City Council Member JVar Dutson to the position. Council Member Brian Jessop was offered the appointment but declined due to conflicting work schedules. The Hildale City Council voted unanimously to appoint Jvar Dutson to the position.

Additionally, Mayor Donia Jessop nominated Jason Black to the Utility Board. Mayor Jessop stated in the meeting that she chose Jason Black because she needed someone who could report back “strong and concise.” She stated that she had considered several names but felt that he would do the best job. He was appointed with four yes votes and a single no vote.

The Public Works Advisory Board had a vacancy which was formerly filled by Hildale Mayor Philip Barlow. Mayor Donia Jessop offered to serve on the board. The council confirmed the Mayor to the position with four yes votes and a single no vote.

Squirrel Canyon Hike

The most traveled hike in the area is the Water Canyon, but it is not the only one. The Canaan Mountain Wilderness area is a vast parcel of land, and there are several routes to access it. One of my favorite routes is through Squirrel Canyon. The BLM has recently improved the trailhead with signage and parking. That trailhead offers a variety of hiking options, depending on the length of hike you are looking for. Squirrel Canyon is around three miles round trip and is, perhaps, one of the most beautiful canyons in the area. With running water, dense foliage, and an expansive overlook, this trek gives a spectacular view of the rock formations of the surrounding mountains.

Squirrel Canyon.jpg

One of the great things about this hike is how wild the area seems. I have traversed it alone many times, and it can feel eerie, simply because of the stillness and low visitation. There is no cell service, so it is important to plan and make sure that you have all the necessary hiking and safety gear. Waterproof hiking boots are recommended because there are a couple streams to cross depending on the season. Starting from the Squirrel Canyon trailhead, it is relatively easy to navigate. There is a map that will give you a good idea of the area. The trail is well defined, aside from a few areas where it can be obstructed by foliage and the creek bed.

The first part of the hike is down into the wash, heading east, and up the other side. The trail then continues east where you come across a barbed wire fence and gate with a yellow sign. Remember to keep the gate closed. From there you descend into another creek bed. This part can be confusing but there is a small tributary wash that leads to a grove of cottonwood trees on the other side, from there you will see the trail. This is the easiest part of the hike, a flat stroll along the creek for nearly one mile. The trail then forks after you reach the second cottonwood grove. This will be the first fork in the trail to the left, crossing the stream. This part can be tricky because it doesn’t look like there is a trail, especially when there are leaves on the trees. Cross the stream and head uphill, which will lead to another stand of trees and a grassy area. Once you are on top, the trail becomes well defined again.

This is my favorite part of the hike, which winds through beautiful stands of cottonwood and oak trees, and numerous small pockets of lush foliage. As you continue up the canyon, there is some masonry work to capture water from the stream. Shortly after that, there is another stream crossing. As the canyon narrows, it becomes more lush and verdant. The canyon walls offer shelter from the summer sun, which creates a mini-climate that seems completely alien to the surrounding areas. Eventually, the trail heads up the cliffside on the right side of the stream. The landscape shifts slightly from season to season, due to rains and the subsequent flooding that occurs in the canyon. The trail appears to be an old cattle trail, where they chipped out the side of the cliff. Flooding has washed out some of it, making it seem precarious, but with a good pair of hiking shoes, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Once you start heading up the cliffside portion of the trail, it is not much longer to reach the top. As you reach the crest, the surrounding canyons and cliffs offer a delightful panoramic view. The gigantic red sandstone feature is known as the beehive, and the trail continues northward, placing you squarely in the wilderness area that extends nearly to Zion National Park. I usually end the hike here, as many of the notable features of the Canaan Mountain Wilderness area are spread out and require route finding. This is an excellent place to take in the scenery and is beautiful at any time of year. If you choose to head northward, the trail is fairly well defined and will eventually lead to a broader view of the area that is breathtaking as well.

This hike, while known to many locals and the more adventurous types, makes a wonderful day hike. It is typically used to access the arch, but that requires a day and route finding but is well worth it. It can also be a loop hike that heads back down through the water canyon. I have not done that yet but it’s certainly on the list.

 

Squirrel Canyon.jpg

New Colorado City, AZ Councilmember Appointed

At the Colorado City Town Council meeting on December 11, 2017, a new council member was appointed following the resignation of Councilmember Tony Barlow. At the meeting, Mayor Joseph Allred nominated Joanne Shapley to fill the vacant spot. There were no other nominations and the council unanimously voted to appoint Shapley to the position. She immediately took her place on the council after taking the oath of office, which was administered by the Town Clerk, Vance Barlow.

The position will come up for a vote in the 2018 election, meaning Shapley will serve for less than a year before likely running for the position in November. The Colorado City Town Council now consists of Joseph Allred, Anthus Barlow, Karen Barlow, Ralph Johnson, Jeffrey Jessop, Joanne Shapley, and Donald Richter.

Note: A previous version of this article left out Mayor Joseph Allred and Vice-Mayor Anthus Barlow. Both serve on the council.

Liquor and Tobacco Sales in the Twin Cities-OPINION

Historically, alcohol and tobacco sales have not been allowed within Colorado City or Hildale City limits. This has forced businesses to set up shop outside city limits thus forcing alcohol drinking residents to travel just beyond Colorado City limits to purchase their boozy wares. Bee’s Marketplace, the closest purveyor of alcoholic beverages, is literally a stone throw beyond city limits (with a good throwing arm).

According to the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association, in a new report, Arizona and Utah state law prohibit dry counties. A dry county is a place where the sale of alcohol is illegal despite state and national law. There are, however, several examples of dry cities in Utah, although Hildale is not listed among them. Blanding, Utah recently considered the issue in a public referendum which failed to overturn the prohibition. Alcohol sales have been prohibited within city limits since the early 1900’s. I was unable to find any dry towns in Arizona, aside from Colorado City. Increasingly there have been attempts by active and prospective businesses to persuade both Councils to allow the sale of alcohol and tobacco, with very little success.

The Hildale City council tabled consideration for consent to a beer and tobacco sales license on January 16, 2018, until next month, pending the completion of appropriate paperwork. According to statements at the meeting, the request, made by the Border Store, has been denied several times. The issue was raised in the last Colorado City Town Council meeting as well. The Dollar General store brought a request before the council that was unanimously denied. The only business to successfully navigate the waters of approval for alcohol sales is the Edge of the World Brewery, which has yet to open. They were able to get approval for a microbrewery license, allowing them to serve beer in their taproom, despite the unanimous no vote from the Colorado City Town Council.

The arguments for allowing the sale of alcohol within city limits, as expressed by Jim Provenzano, District Manager for Dollar General, at the December 11th, council meeting follows a reasonable line of thinking. According to the minutes from that meeting, “DG wanted to sell alcoholic beverages as part of the bigger business plan and noted the increased tax revenue to the Town. He noted that other stores in the area just outside of the Town were selling and felt that with the location it would be a good fit for their store.” They determined that the location was not near a church or school and clarified that they only wished to sell beer and wine, not hard liquor. It was determined that they expected both local and highway traffic sales and that around 90 percent of DG stores sold alcohol. Mr. Provenzano also stated that there would be increased revenue for the town due to increased sales. DG also made clear that there are procedures and infrastructure in place to ensure that age verification requirements are met, as it is with their tobacco sales.

The Mayor requested that Marshal Jerry Darger comment on the issue. According to the minutes, “Marshal Darger voiced his concern with having alcohol readily available and noted that although abolition does not work, as alcohol becomes more readily available, there is an increase in DUI and Domestic Violence police calls and that in his opinion, the quality of life tends to go down. He also noted several major accidents and deaths that involved juveniles and alcohol.” The minutes also indicate that Mayor Allred voiced his views, “Mayor Allred stated that his personal opinion is that alcohol does about as much good for society as tobacco which is not any good to society, so he is not in support of it. He stated that the detriment to the country from alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, etc. is great. He also noted that the ultimate decision will be made by the State Liquor Board.”

In the case of Edge of the World Brewery, the State Liquor Board granted the license, no word on whether they have granted it for DG. The Council ultimately voted unanimously, recommending disapproval. The state of Utah is a little different. It does not appear that they are willing to override the wishes of local governments.

What are your thoughts? Should the local governments of Hildale and Colorado City approve the sale of alcohol within city limits? What about granting restaurants the ability to serve alcohol?

 

Mohave Community College Celebrates Increased Math Success

Among the educational disciplines, mathematics is perhaps most consistently viewed as the most challenging. National education discussions tend to center on the need to improve performance in the area of mathematics. According to a news release from MCC, “The need to improve student math skills is no secret in Arizona. Only 40% of elementary, middle school, and high school students passed the math portion of the AzMerit standardized test during the 2016-2017 school year, according to the Arizona Department of Education.”

To address low math scores, MCC implemented a new transitional math program which is seeing tremendous success. The program was put in place to help students ramp up to college level courses if they didn’t come out of high school with the ability to engage in college-level mathematics. “The percentage of students successfully completing transitional math courses jumped from 62% in the Fall semester of 2016 to 88% in 2017. For students taking 15-week courses, the success rate jumped from 68% to 91%,” according to the news release.

MCC utilized a computer-based math program along with extending more staff support to guide students toward success. The program extended beyond campuses to include online students, who also saw impressive gains in their scores. For online students, scores increased from 45% to 84% within the same time frame. MCC board members and administrators were elated with the results. Board Trustee Judy Selberg said, “For online pass rates to jump from 45% to 84% is incredible.”

MCC is a tremendous asset to our community, providing opportunities for the advancement of careers and lives. Mohave County is one of the poorest counties in the nation and Arizona and, unfortunately, ranks among the lowest in the nation on several key metrics of educational success.

 

Asian Salmon

With the beginning of a new year comes the inevitable push for a healthier diet: more fruits and vegetables, less junk food, exercise, and all the rest. One of the issues that come along with the goal of fostering a healthier lifestyle is finding recipes that are also flavorful. One of my go-to recipes is a riff on teriyaki salmon. While there is sugar in the teriyaki sauce, it contains other flavorful ingredients that pack tons of flavor into the salmon (or chicken, shrimp, or pork). The recipe begins with a marinade. Most of the marinade doesn’t end up being consumed, so the sugar is minimal. I pair the salmon with roasted vegetables, which can be prepared on the same tray as the fish, depending on how many servings you intend to make. Typically, I will use asparagus, green beans, brussels sprouts, or broccoli, either individually or mixed. It is delicious with some red bell pepper, carrots, and onions if you like some color and variety. The sky is the limit as far as variations go.

 

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup sake

¼ mirin

1/8 cup brown sugar

1 tsp fresh minced ginger

1 tsp fresh minced garlic

1 tsp chili paste

 

4-inch salmon filet (should serve two)

2-3 heads of broccoli

1 carrot

1 small onion

1 red bell pepper

Sesame seeds

Vegetable oil

Sesame oil

Salt and pepper

 

The first step is to combine the soy sauce, sake, mirin, and brown sugar in a small saucepan, over medium heat. After the liquid comes to a boil, add the ginger, garlic, and chili paste. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. In a shallow dish or bowl, pour in the marinade and place the salmon in meat side down. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes and up to 3 hours. The next step is to prepare the vegetables. Cut the broccoli into small pieces, leaving an inch or so of stem. The pieces should be about a ½ inch in thickness generally. The goal is to allow for relatively quick cooking. Cut the bell pepper into ½ inch strips. The onion and carrot should be cut into ¼ inch slices. Combine all of the vegetables in a bowl and put in 2 tbsps. of vegetable oil, 1 tsp of sesame oil, salt, and pepper, and toss to evenly coat. This will allow for better caramelization of the vegetables.

Preheat an oven to 450 degrees. On a baking tray spread a tbsp. of oil in the middle of a tray, remove the salmon from the marinade, and place skin side down. Arrange the vegetables around the salmon on the tray. Sprinkle the salmon and veggies with sesame seeds. Dress the veggies with some of the marinade if you like, a couple tbsps. Place in the oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes.

 

 

 

Hildale City Council Resolves to Look for New Legal Council

The first City Council Meeting with the new Council Members and Mayor was held on Tuesday, January 16, 2018. The meeting began with a spirited round of public comment, with the primary topic being the consideration of the termination of Blake Hamilton, who has served as legal counsel for Hildale City and represented the city during the DOJ case.

The public comment portion of the meeting began with an interesting split between some residents who expressed concern about Hamilton’s ability to represent Hildale, taking into consideration the Department of Justice discrimination case, which found that the cities of Hildale and Colorado City discriminated against members of the community based on religion. Some also expressed the view that Hamilton had facilitated city land sales that lacked transparency and “due process.” A common thread between the comments made in favor of seeking new legal counsel focused on the image of the city going forward. The implication seemed to be that there was a need for new representation to move Hildale beyond the era of FLDS control and the difficult, costly, legal situations that arose from that dynamic.

On the other side of the argument were, primarily, current and former elected representatives and employees of the Twin Cities, including former Hildale mayor Philip Barlow, Fire Department Chief Kevin Barlow, and Colorado City Mayor Joseph Allred. They expressed support for his professional ability, reputation, and moral character. They cited examples of his skill in navigating difficult municipal government issues in the past. A citizen who previously served on the Utilities Board, expressed support for Hamilton as well, noting his professionalism and ability as an attorney. A colleague of Mr. Hamilton’s, also took to the podium to testify to his ability and character.

At the end of the public comment period, Hamilton himself addressed the council. He stated, “I am saddened that this is on the agenda because I love this community. I love Hildale. I have not been trying to exploit Hildale to line my coffers. I’ve been trying to do what’s right for Hildale, and it has been a very difficult time. I am not perfect. I make mistakes. But, I don’t have regrets with the way I’ve represented Hildale. I’ve given my very best advice.” He said that there were times that his counsel was not followed, saying, “There are times that I think it hasn’t been followed, and ultimately, it has cost the city millions of dollars. I know I’ve saved the city millions of dollars.” He went on to state that he was excited about the changes coming to Hildale and the opportunity to get out from under what he called “this mountain of litigation.” He continues, “I see that there is a bright future for Hildale, and I want to be a part of that.”

The City Council ultimately decided to seek new legal counsel. JVar Dutson, Maha Layton, Doran Jessop, and Jared Nicol voted in favor of the motion, with Brian Jessop voting no.

Note: A previous version of this article said Doran Jessop voted no on the measure. It has been corrected to reflect the accurate vote.

New AZ Strip BLM Director

The BLM’s Arizona Strip District is responsible for the management of 2.8 million acres of federal land. This land includes two national monuments and stretches from the Grand Canyon to the Utah-Arizona border. This land is some of the most remote in the nation and hosts lands that are set aside for protection as well as economic purposes.

The Arizona Strip District will have a new district manager, Michael Herder, following the retirement of Tim Burke on December 30, 2017. Herder has worked for the BLM for 30 years, beginning his career working in the Arizona Strip District as a biological technician, and working in the district for 20 years. He has worked in various capacities, including national policy and budget projects. His experience includes serving as an associate and then district manager for the Ely District in Nevada, as well as BLM Nevada Associate State Director, temporarily.

Ray Suazo, the BLM Arizona State Director, appointed Herder to the position. According to Suazo, “Mike is an experienced land manager who has demonstrated the ability to deal with a variety of challenging issues. He has fostered positive working relationships with local, state, federal, and tribal partners as well as local communities and other stakeholders. We are lucky to have him in Arizona and welcome him to our leadership team.”

The Arizona Strip District has around 65 employees and a variety of management responsibilities. Herder began working in this new capacity in the beginning of January. “

I’m happy to be back in this region, and I’m looking forward to the opportunities to collaborate with great partners on the Arizona Strip,” says Herder.

New Park in Hildale City; Johnson Park

Along with the renovations taking place in Cottonwood Park, some may have noticed the excavation work taking place on a parcel of land on the corner of Utah Avenue and Hildale Street, near the Most Wanted Bed and Breakfast. This project will a project by the UEP Trust intended to foster a stronger sense of community and provide a welcoming public space for kids and families.

The preliminary plans for the park include the addition of 36,250 square feet of new grass and 17,556 square feet of concrete sidewalk to facilitate jogging and walking. There will be two parking lots, one to the north and one to the south of the new park and a new outdoor restroom facility.

Beyond the landscaping, there will be two playgrounds, one for toddler aged kids and another for older children. The plan indicates that there will be a splash pad at the southern end of the park, which will be perfect for the summer months. Along with those additions are a couple tetherball stations and a ball court. The final element indicated in the sketch is a children’s museum located at the southern end of the park.

The park will be dedicated to community fathers such as Elmer Johnson and others. This park will no doubt be a welcome addition to the community. With it’s close proximity to the school and the City Hall, it will go a long way toward beautifying the area and being a place for families to come together.