ADOT Engineers Should Know in 2-Weeks How to Proceed on Highway-89 (Photo/Road Map Around Closure!)
ADOT Public Information Officer Dusten Krugel says geotechnical engineers will remain at the site of the landslide and highway closure conducting testing of the land there for the next 2-weeks to determine where the ground beneath the roadway remains unstable. Determining where the land is still shifting and the stability of the hard-pack is a precursor to deciding whether the road can be fixed where it lays, or must be rerouted to avoid future closures.
Krugel says ADOT will dispatch a fulltime Community Relations person to Page starting next week. The PR person will be on hand to answer questions and address concerns from local residents and business owners. Page Mayor Bill Diak says the ADOT PR person will conduct office hours on weekdays at City Hall.
Page Primary Season-it's Getting Thick
(Page, AZ--City Clerk Lori Anderson)
Page is in the thick of Primary Election season and Coconino County Recorder Patty Hansen reminds voters that they need to return their ballots on time in order for them to be tallied and count. 7 p.m. on March 12th is the absolute deadline to either drop off ballots in person at City Clerk Lori Anderson’s office in Page or to make sure they’re in the hands of county election officials in Flagstaff.
Hansen says voters mailing ballots should place them in the mail no later than Thursday, March 7th to make sure they are received by the March 12th deadline. Results from the election should become available election night.
Page City Clerk Lori Anderson says that six of the ten candidates competing for the three seats up for grabs on the Council will move on to participate in the General Election in May. Of the two candidates for Mayor, one is likely to win the election outright during the Primary. Any candidate can win the election outright during the Primary of they get more than 50-percent of the votes casts.
Southern Utah Joins AZ in Decline in Juvenile Crime
It’s not just Arizona that’s seeing a drop in its juvenile incarceration rates, Southern Utah is putting less minors in Juvenile Hall as well. A report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation today (Wednesday) shows a big drop in the number of kids behind bars, and at the same time, juvenile crime rates are also down. It says Utah saw a 20 percent decrease in its youth incarceration rate from 1997 to 2010 – but Susan Burke, who heads the Division of Juvenile Justice Systems, says state budget cuts could reverse the trend. Some service hours have been cut back and the agency might have to close facilities in Blanding and Cedar City.
"So, it’s ultimately going to end up with more kids locked up for more serious offenses, because we’re not able to give them the help that they need, when they need it."
Even as Utah looks at alternatives to incarceration, state lawmakers are considering Senate Bill 218, to require a broader funding base for receiving centers and youth service centers. Burke isn't sure that's possible.
"In the more rural areas where resources are very limited, those communities just have not been able to contribute. So my concern is, that if the legislature intends that every center has a broad base of funding support, we could be in trouble in some of those areas that just don’t have the local resources to do so."
Burke says she is proud of the progress in the system, including more comprehensive screening of young people at the local centers, and a new pilot program that allows some kids to remain at home to receive services.
Here Comes the Sequester
Barring last-minute action by Congress, the sequester starts to kick in Friday. According to a White House analysis, Arizona would lose nearly 28-million dollars from education, and hundreds of teachers and special education assistants could lose their jobs. Republican leaders accuse the president of exaggerating the impact of the cuts, but Mary Zerkel with the American Friends Service Committee says domestic spending shouldn't have to bear the brunt reductions.
"It is going to hurt people. And these programs have already sustained cuts, I think like 17.9 percent cuts in the 2010-2012 period, while the defense budget more than doubled since 1998."
Chris Hellman, a research analyst with the National Priorities Project, says there is much more fat to trim from the Defense Department.
"The Congressional Budget Office has looked at the defense budget and said, 'Even if you put sequestration into place with regard to Defense, it would only return spending to the levels that they were in, in 2006.' And those are high by historical standards."
Zerkel points out that defense spending makes up a much larger share of the budget than education and other social programs, so she thinks it has more waste to cut.
URGENT-Crash at SR 98 and Highway 89 (PHOTO)
(Page, AZ--Photo courtesy Page Police Captain Ray Varner)
A suspected drunk driver travelling northwest on SR 98 ran the stop sign where 98 intersects with Highway 89 at approximately 4 p.m. on Thursday. The motorist was driving a full size pickup truck when he allegedly ran the stop sign and slammed into an unoccupied ADOT vehicle parked at the intersection as part of the Highway-89 closure. Page Police Captain Ray Varner says a passenger in the suspected drunk driver's vehicle was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. The driver was placed under arrest and booked into the detention facility in Page. The incident remains under investigation.
URGENT-Page Declares Emergency
The city of Page has made an Emergency Disaster Proclamation in the wake of a landslide that has closed the main artery into town indefinitely. Page Mayor Bill Diak says a similar declaration by the state is on the Governor’s desk awaiting her signature. The declarations should pave the way for more federal dollars to pour into the area: in what form, no one knows yet. The Mayor also made it clear during Wednesday night’s City Council meeting that Sate Route-98 will continue to be the recommended alternate route to Page and Lake Powell for visitors well into 2013 and the city needs to be proactive in capitalizing on the new entryway into Arizona paradise.
Mayor Diak became teary eyed at one point during the discussion on the highway’s closure, underlining how seriously he takes the ramifications of the road’s closure on Page’s economy and how much he cares for the community.
Coco County PIO Post Clear Info On Highway Closure on County Website
Coconino County is doing its part to clarify the correct alternate route for motorists to travel to Page from Flagstaff with an online map, and to remind sojourners that Highway 89A remains open at Bitter Springs onward.
County public information officer Nathan Gonzales says he has posted current and correct information on the county’s website at:
Gonzales says county emergency services manager Robert Rowley continues to meet with ADOT officials and Navajo Nation Chapter representatives on the closure of Highway 89 twenty-five miles south of Page. Gonzales says the county has also kept up the pressure on ADOT to ensure proper signage directing motorists to either Page or Highway 89A from Highway 89 is clear, visible, and strategically placed.
Four Forest Restoration Draft EIS Released
The U.S. Forest Service has released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Four Forest Restoration Initiative. The draft EIS can be viewed online at
Forest Service spokesperson Jacqueline Banks says the document analyzes about one million acres on the Coconino and Kaibab National Forests in northern Arizona.
The initiative involves a collaborate effort between a number of stakeholders associated with the Kaibab, Coconino, Tonto, and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. Banks says the overall goal of the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) is to restore the structure, pattern and composition of the historic fire-adapted ecosystems, providing for the reduction of ground fuels, forest health, and wildlife and plant diversity. One key objective of the project is accomplishing that while creating sustainable ecosystems along with industries in the long term. Appropriately-scaled businesses are expected to play a key role in the effort by harvesting, processing and selling wood products. The restoration-based work opportunities are expected to create jobs across northern Arizona.
The project has been endorsed by First District Congressional Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, whose sprawling district encompasses portions of the forests.
Juvenile Offender Decline
In Arizona and nationwide, fewer juveniles are being incarcerated. At the same time, the juvenile crime rate is down sharply. A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation says the nation and Arizona are moving in the right direction, but still have a long way to go. The report urges further expansion of community-based alternatives to detention. Beth Rosenberg of Children’s Action Alliance says for most youthful offenders, counseling or community service are much better alternatives.
"I think we all, as juveniles, have done something that maybe would have gotten us into trouble. Adolescents take risks, they make stupid mistakes, but that’s part of adolescent development. Give kids an opportunity to make that mistake and learn from that mistake."
Dr. Kellie Warren runs Florence Crittenton Services in Phoenix and is a former deputy director of Arizona Juvenile Corrections. She says Arizona is creating more community diversion programs for low-risk offenders, while the agencies involved are doing better at collaborating.
"I think we need to get to those kids sooner, wrap services around them and their family, and I believe those initiatives are helping the crime rate and are also helping divert those kids out of juvenile justice."
The Casey Foundation report recommends incarceration only for youth who pose a threat to public safety, and small, treatment-oriented facilities for those who must be confined.
URGENT-Sequestration Impacts on Grand Canyon, GCNRA, Grand Circle
With the nation’s clock ticking toward the so-called sequester—a major cut in funding to numerous government agencies, rangers at Grand Canyon National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area have contingency plans in place to minimize impacts on visitors.
Access to National Park areas in the Grand Circle will remain open, but lines at entrance stations may be longer. Grand Canyon National Park spokesperson Maureen Oltrogge says some of the areas that may be affected by sequestration include: Visitor Center hours of operation, the hiring of seasonal employees, ranger led programs and talks, maintenance, road weatherization, and trail maintenance.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area spokesperson Denise Schultz says the government financial showdown may cause the delay of refilling permanent park positions, a cut back on all nonessential overtime for employees, and a reduction in nonessential travel. Either way, parks and recreation areas within the Grand Circle will remain open to visitors.
Page Tourism Board says Yes to Fireworks on the 4th of July, Schedules Budget Work Session
It was a lengthy but interesting Tourism Board meeting inside City Council Chambers on Vista Avenue in Page Tuesday night. It was the first meeting for new members Richard Buck, Morningstar Wilson, and Gay Ann Ward. Marketing Page and the city’s Tourism website garnered much attention early on, but Board members declined to discuss an old proposal for marketing Page on a Sedona cable access channel, and said “no thank you” to hearing another presentation from DC Internet Technology operator Evans Craig for website and mobile site services.
City Attorney Robert Wingo addressed the board regarding the importance of adhering to the state’s Open Meeting and Conflict of Interest laws. Every state in the nation has similar laws that forbid the discussion of city business by a quorum of members of governing bodies outside of a public meeting that the public must be properly notified in advance of. Wingo says conflicts of interest might involve a board member voting on an issue that they or a family member might gain material benefit from.
There were some fireworks during the discussion on financing the city’s annual Independence Day pyrotechnical display. Pulling off the annual event is neither cheap nor easy, and can cost as much as $20-thousand, including in public safety personnel overtime, to execute. Board members voted in favor of funding the annual event with an eye toward gaining some financial support from local businesses in the form of sponsorships.
A request for up to $10-thousand to help fund the city’s annual Wings and Wheels event died for a lack of motion from the Dias, but a request from organizers of the Cruising Lake Powell event for marketing and promotion for $2500 was granted. Expect Wings and Wheels organizers to approach the Board with their request for funding after the board discusses its budget for the next fiscal year.
Tourism Board members will assemble for a special work session to focus on budget and the department’s application for grant requests on Thursday, March 14th at 5:30 p.m.