Feb 012012

By Linda Kor —

The Town of Taylor is fast becoming a “green” community, thanks to upcoming projects and those completed in the past year. Town Manager Eric Duthie takes great pride in the community and the efforts it has made toward recycling and saving money.

The town has gone from having open evaporative ponds for its wastewater plant five years ago to a completely green solution plant. With this system the water is treated, then used by a local farmer on crops. A local farmer also uses the sludge left behind from the process to fertilize feed crops for animals. The process involves injecting the sludge eight to 10 inches underground, a requirement made by town officials. “A lot of places will (compress) the sludge then pack it into garbage bags to put in a landfill. This is much more efficient,” explained Duthie, adding that the use completes the cycle of feeding the land that feeds animals, that, in turn, feed the people, who return it back into the cycle.

Also being explored is the use of sludge to fertilize sorghum crops being grown by that same local farmer. The sorghum will then be converted into bio fuel in a process currently being tested at the Snowflake Power plant. “If this works out, I’d like to offer that service to other communities as a way to dispose of their sludge. I want us to be who communities look to as a model in this kind of process,” stated Duthie.

Like most communities, 2011 was a difficult year for Taylor, with the town laying off 29 percent of its workforce. “We have a great group here. It’s still a lot of work, but we are now running more efficiently,” stated Duthie.

Despite the budget setbacks, Taylor is moving ahead on projects to benefit the community.

Some of the projects set for completion in 2012 include the use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to pave the access areas at Rodeo Park for handicap access. The $250,000 grant will allow for twice the number of handicap parking slots, as well as access into the 5,000-seat grandstand. “I’ve gone to events and seen people with walkers walking two blocks to get the grandstands. This will be a major improvement,” said Duthie.

Another improvement will be the installation of emergency backup generators to support the water wells, lift stations and the pumps in the water tanks. If the power should fail, these generators will ensure that water and wastewater functions are not disrupted. The used generators are being provided by the state and will be refurbished in-house.

This year town officials will also be looking into selecting a site for a new water tank at the east end of Taylor to ensure sufficient water supply for that area of the community.

In an endeavor that Duthie takes a great deal of pride in, the town staff, without the use of outside consultants or engineers, created a water resource report for the next 100 years to present to the Arizona Department of Water Resources. According to the findings of the report, Taylor has the capacity to provide water for a community five times its current population of approximately 4,200 residents. “I’m very proud of this effort. We were able to complete the report ourselves without the costly use of outside consultants,” said the town manager.

The town has also begun the process of converting to paperless billing for its residents. Duthie said that more and more residents are signing up for the option to pay their bill online, saving the cost of paper, postage and time of the staff. The town council has also gone from paper packets for meetings to viewing the agendas and information online. “We were meeting twice a month and creating 14 notebooks for each meeting, plus having to deliver them all. Going paperless is much more efficient and cost effective,” he noted.

According to Duthie, the town will also be completing a new 10-year general plan this coming year with an eye toward commerce and growth. As part of that plan, Duthie is working to put Taylor in a leadership role as the county looks ahead toward new growth and industry due to potash mining, wind farming and other natural resource industries that are expected to increase over the coming years. Also included in that plan will be options for alternate transportation routes that will keep commercial traffic from traveling through residential areas as growth takes place.

Other expansion plans include the town’s Northeastern Arizona Training Center, which already provides training for fire, emergency medical and police departments throughout the region. The facility includes a five-story fire tower, modular building and drive track that is being utilized by various law enforcement agencies, as well as the community college. Duthie is hoping the facility will also be considered as the site for a regional dispatch facility, as well as a reserve police academy. “Taylor is a central location and that’s a benefit to people who need to travel for work from other areas of the county,” he explained.

He hopes that with location being a big part of every sales pitch, Taylor will be a top contender for expansion in commercial and residential growth in Navajo County.