Sep 302011

By Teri Walker–

Government leaders across the state are seeking changes to public intoxication laws that will allow local municipalities to more effectively deal with drunken offenders in their communities.

Holbrook Mayor Jeff Hill has been serving on an ad hoc committee at the state legislature that is penning proposed changes to current state public intoxication laws to mandate 72-hour holds for individuals believed to pose a danger to themselves or society.

Hill reported on the committee’s efforts during Tuesday’s city council meeting. He said the committee is considering seeking authority for county health districts to assess a “small” liquor tax, which would be used to help fund community detoxification centers.

Hill expects to have an update on the committee’s legislative efforts during an upcoming council meeting.

Also during the council meeting, Holbrook Police Chief Mark Jackson presented Sergeant Eric Zimmerman with the Life Saving Award for his efforts in June to rescue a Holbrook man who was attempting suicide.

Sergeant Zimmerman pulled up to a home just as a man with a homemade noose around his neck stepped off a chair and began dangling from the eaves of his home. Zimmerman, with the assistance of the man’s family members, was able to relax the tension on the rope until another officer arrived on the scene and together, the group was able to cut the rope and lower the man to safety.

The assisting officer, Everett Olson, received the Life Saving Award in a previous council meeting that Zimmerman was unable to attend.

The council asked Jackson to bring Zimmerman before the council to award the commendation.

“We want to do more of recognizing the good things our officers do in the community,” said Jackson. “We do care and we appreciate all these officers do.”

Zimmerman has been with the Holbrook Police Department for six years.

In other council business on Sept. 27:

* Vice Mayor Charles Haussmann reported that he and City Manager Ray Alley met last week with Pat Avery, the president and CEO of American West Potash, and learned the company is on track to finish its geologic resource report on Oct. 1, and an economic feasibility study by late October.

“It’s clear they have a lot of experience as a mining company,” said Haussmann. “He (Avery) was positive (about the progress and findings of the company’s exploration), but couldn’t commit to anything specific.”

Avery has previously stated that he can’t talk about the specific findings from the company’s exploration of potash deposits east of Holbrook until it has formally released industry-required resource reports.

If the company undertakes mining operations in the Holbrook Basin, Haussmann said Avery anticipates it would operate three or four shifts per day, with 80 to 100 people working per shift. He said Avery anticipates beginning mine construction in 2013, if everything stays on track.

* Councilman Phil Cobb asked community members to consider adopting the animals available at Holbrook’s animal control facility.

He also encouraged people to volunteer for and attend the annual Halloween party at the Holbrook Elks Lodge.

* Councilman Myron Maxwell extended congratulations on the 80th annual Navajo County Fair, which was held Sept. 14-Sept. 18. Calling the event a “tremendous success,” Maxwell said the community looked good, and he commended the Holbrook Police Department and Navajo County Sheriff’s Office for their efforts to curb vagrant behavior during the fair.

Finally, Maxwell asked Chief Jackson to consider cracking down on the groups of jaywalkers who impede traffic in the community.

* Alley reported the city street department will be completing road construction on 11th Avenue by mid-week next week, then will move to the Tortilla Flats neighborhood to begin road improvements.

* Alley also said well testing for the city’s newest water well on McLaws Road has shown good results, which have been forwarded to Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) for review. The city is awaiting final permitting from ADEQ before it can build a well house and bring the well into service.

* City engineers GHD Consulting have submitted a preliminary wastewater system report to Alley. The city commissioned the study to learn the condition of the city’s sewer lines and whether community growth can be supported by the current wastewater infrastructure. Alley said he will be reviewing the report and will present findings to council members at their next meeting. He did say the report showed a bottleneck on Arizona Street, from Eighth Avenue to the sewage treatment plant west of Holbrook. Alley said the report findings will guide the city in determining where improvements to the sewage system are needed.

The next regular city council meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 11.

Photo by Teri Walker

Holbrook Police Chief Mark Jackson presents Sergeant Eric Zimmerman with the Life Saving Award for his efforts that resulted in preventing a Holbrook man’s suicide this summer.