• Dine’ College, Tuba City Branch—The Tuba City rains have grown a new plant—this one is a learning tree. It’s happy birthday and congratulations all rolled into one as the students of the Tuba City Branch of Dine’ College get a brand new campus.
I have served on the steering committee for this project and know how much hard work and dedication has gone into nurturing this little seed of hope into the new building you can now see standing proudly behind the hogan administrative center. Every step of the way the committee was supported by advice and information from Board of Regents member James Bilagody and Tuba City Campus Director Harold Joseph.
This is a big step forward for the residents of Tuba City and the surrounding communities. I hope you find the leaves of knowledge from this new tree will bring you much success. Education is the best tool we have to help our communities and it has been an honor and a pleasure to work with everyone on the steering committee of this project including Ed Little Sr., Dolly Lane, Marsha Griffin, Lenora Lewis and Mike Johns along with our consultant Cameron Daines.
• Leupp teen crew beautifies community—At the last minute this year some funding came through and I was able to provide support to the Youth Center in Leupp through Youth Opportunity Program Coordinator Tish Jensen. She worked very hard to find teens that wanted summer jobs, and the crew she developed was outstanding.
For weeks they worked to paint over graffiti in the Leupp, Birdsprings and Tolani Lake communities, plant trees outside the social services building, and install a ‘welcome to Leupp’ sign at the end of town.
In addition, the teens were able to learn skills for job hunting, became familiar with the One Stop program the county offers to assist with job searches, and practiced team building and work skills. The teens left the program with a feeling of accomplishment, a lot of donated school supplies, and, of course, a paycheck.
My hat is off to these young people and if you get a chance to visit the Leupp Youth Center, stop in and see their work. Thanks to Tish Jensen and Carol Curtis of the Coconino County Career Center for their leadership in this second year of the Leupp teen crew program.
• From forest thinning to firewood—Coconino County Public Works Director John Dobrinski asked to meet with me one day to explain that he and Art Mathias from the Cooperative Extension Service were wondering if there was a need for firewood outside of the Flagstaff area. This is like asking if we need rain in this arid country.
John and Art had cooked up a plan to take the trees that were being cut in residential areas around Flagstaff for fire prevention, cut them into smaller logs and bring them out to rural communities. John thought we could easily combine this program with the transfer of garbage services that the county runs, and he was right. Talk about a perfect fit.
We are now several weeks into the program, and here is how it works: local fire crews using federal and state fire prevention funding cut small trees from areas where there are too many trees. They cut the trees into log sized pieces and load them into empty containers. The containers are taken to Tuba City and Leupp, where the logs are emptied and then the containers are left there for garbage collection. The full garbage containers are taken back to town and the process starts all over again.
Thanks to John and Art, the County is able to provide firewood to rural residents, working with specific chapters. Supervisor Liz Archuleta from District 2 and I each provided funding to make this project a reality. We call it “Operation Warm Hearth.”
• Planning for parks—Supervisor Louise Yellowman has been holding meetings with different community groups to learn what the members of the Tuba City community want to see when they get the new park that will be built using the Parks and Open Space funding the voters approved last year. Our county parks and recreation department staff is assisting Supervisor Yellowman with this quest.
So far a skate park is getting a lot of votes. Also on the list for future years is work on Grand Falls picnic and recreation area near Leupp. The County staff is working with the Navajo Nation Parks Department to develop ideas for how to build Grand Falls into a wonderful facility.
I took the new County Manger, John Holmes, out to see the falls, and we met one of the game wardens for Navajo Nation Fish and Wildlife. There we learned that eagles nest in the cliffs along Grand Falls, and that will be one of the pieces of information we will need to gather to create the right kind of facility that people can enjoy while protecting our natural resources.
Believe it or not, this list includes just a few of the projects we have in the works right now. Other issues that I don’t have room to discuss are the on-going county road maintenance program and our solid waste partnership with the Navajo Nation. Maybe I will find space for those next time.
Meanwhile, don’t forget that Supervisor Yellowman and I have some funding for community projects for residents of Coconino County. If you would like an application, please contact my office at 928-779-6764. Until then, I hope the summer rains are coming to your part of the county and bringing lots of good to your families. Leave your umbrella at home and enjoy the moisture!
(Deb Hill is Coconino County Supervisor for District 4, which includes portions of the Navajo and Hopi reservations.)