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Jan 042013
 

By Francie Payne
September
Navajo County officials secured a new power source for the county complex in Holbrook by installing solar panels on the complex grounds. The ground mounted solar array was expected to provide approximately 55 percent of the Holbrook complex’s energy needs.
Kelli Fifelski was hired as Winslow High School’s head softball coach, replacing Becky Barris, who re-signed the post. Fifelski is a second grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary School.
Pioneer Forest Products officials noted that they were making great strides in the development of what they call their “wood utilization campus” in Winslow. Pioneer has been actively building the local workforce necessary to thin more than 300,000 acres of Ponderosa pine over the next 10 years. That included hiring contractors in order to begin the construction of the mill scheduled for the first of the year. The contractors, in turn, will hire the necessary employees. In addition, Pioneer has contacted many loggers in Arizona and across the West. “For the most part we are planning to hire locals to carry out operations for Pioneer, and we expect this will mean several hundred new jobs throughout rural Arizona,” said Pioneer President Herman Hauck.
Pascal Berlioux was selected as the new director of the Eastern Arizona Counties organization, replacing Larry Stephenson, who retired.
A nearly $5 million contract was awarded to Whiteriver Construction to build a skill center on the Painted Desert Campus of Northland Pioneer College in Holbrook. The 26,600-sq. ft. facility will initially house the welding and building construction programs, and provide space for computer-based testing, shared functions and future program development, likely associated with potash mining. Construction was slated to begin in October and be completed prior to the fall semester 2013.
Catalyst Paper extended the closure date of the Snowflake mill and the Apache Railway from Sept. 30 to between Oct. 5 and 19.
The Navajo County Board of Supervisors cancelled several school district governing board elections be-cause each seat drew only one candidate. The board then appointed those candidates to the seats they sought, including Olivia Jaquez, Richard Nichols and Ferral Knight, Holbrook; Shea Flake and Carol Palmer, Snow-flake; and Beth Carlson, Roberta Hadnot and Marian Scheid, Winslow. Robert Martineau was appointed as the Joseph City School District’s representative on the Northern Arizona Vocational Institute of Technology Gov-erning Board and Robin Palmer was named the Snowflake School District representative on the NAVIT board. Frank Lucero of Holbrook was appointed to the Navajo County Community College District Governing Board.
The 2012 Navajo County Fair proved to be a success, with 28,296 visitors attending, an 11 percent increase over the previous year.
Passport Potash announced receipt of an updated 43-101 mineral resource estimate for its Holbrook Basin project. Measured and indicated resources totaled 278.3 million tonnes of mineralized material with an average grade of 14.89 percent. This is the equivalent of 41.48 million tonnes of KCI (potash). The new mineral re-sources estimate represented an expansion of 101.30 percent in indicated tonnage and 14.57 percent in inferred tonnage over the previous report filed in March.
Navajo County Attorney Brad Carlyon was honored as the 2012 Leader of the Year in Public Policy for Public Safety by the Arizona Capitol Times at the Leaders in Public Policy Awards ceremony held Sept. 27 in Phoenix.
Joseph City High School celebrated Homecoming with Jacob Fields as king and Lexi Edwards as queen.
October
The sale process for Catalyst Paper’s Snowflake mill attracted several prospective bidders. Qualified bid-ders were required to submit an indication of interest in the sale by Nov. 1, and a purchase or investment bid by early December. If more than one qualified bidder remained, an auction would be scheduled.
Alice’s Place, a domestic violence shelter in Winslow, received a $20,000 grant from the Mary Kay Foun-dation. The money would be used to provide critical support for Laura’s House, a newly opened shelter.
The 2012 Navajo County Rodeo Queens, including Little Buckaroo Queen Ashlyn McCleve, Princess Paige Creasy, Teen Queen Bridgett Kennison and Queen Halle Fry, were crowned by members of the Navajo County Board of Supervisors.
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality officials announced their intent to file suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failure to take timely action on the state’s implementation plan for regional haze, and for splitting the decision on Arizona’s statewide plan into two parts. ADEQ Director Henry Darwin noted that, “The regional haze program is about improving visibility by 2064, not about protecting public health.”
Jim O’Haco of Winslow received the prestigious National Private Lands Fish & Wildlife Stewardship Award from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. He traveled to Hilton Head, S.C., to receive the award for projects he has implemented on lands belonging to the O’Haco Cattle Company.
Northland Pioneer College will receive nearly $2 million over the next three years as its portion of a $13 million grant to five Arizona community colleges. The intent of the grant is to strengthen and broaden the talent pipeline for energy and mining industries in the state. NPC will use the funds to equip its new Skill Center, which is slated to open in the fall of 2013 in Holbrook.
Prospect Global Resources Inc., parent company of American West Potash, and Sichuan Chemical announced a more than $2 billion agreement over a 10-year period. Under the agreement, Sichuan will purchase at least 500,000 metric tons of potash annually, or 25 percent of the projected output of American West’s Holbrook Basin project.
Holbrook’s Hidden Cove Golf Course was chosen as the pilot location for Golf Course Obscura, a pro-posed show for the Travel Channel.
Pat Avery, president and CEO of Prospect Global Resources, Inc., announced that his company had entered into an exclusivity arrangement for a $100 million investment with an affiliate of Apollo Global Management, L.L.C. Proceeds from the financing were to be used to continue the development of the proposed potash mining facility being developed in the Holbrook Basin by Prospect’s wholly owned subsidiary, American West Potash.
Members of the Navajo County Board of Supervisors held a special meeting to decide if they should condemn the Apache Railway under eminent domain in order to preserve it as a valuable part of the county’s infrastructure. Following considerable discussion, the decision was not to do so.
November
Incumbent Barack Obama defeated challenger Mitt Romney in the 2012 race for the presidency of the United States. Congressman Jeff Flake was elected to the U.S. Senate and former Congresswoman Ann Kirk-patrick was returned to Congress as representative of Arizona’s District 1.
Sylvia Allen won the race for the District III seat on the Navajo County Board of Supervisors. County Assessor Cammy Darris, County Attorney Brad Carlyon, County Recorder Laurette Justman, County School Su-perintendent Linda Morrow, Sheriff K.C. Clark, County Treasurer Manny Hernandez, Division III Superior Court Judge John Lamb and Division IV Judge Michala Ruechel were re-elected. Division II Superior Court Judge Bob Higgins, who was appointed to the bench, was elected to the post.
The Snowflake Town Council approved a resolution to pave the way to purchase the Apache Railway and its assets in an effort to stop Catalyst Paper Co. from dismantling and selling the railroad, and if that fails, to begin the condemnation process.
Winslow welcomed some old friends back to the city as members of the Famous Santa Fe Indian Band gathered for their first ever reunion. They were honored at a reception at La Posada and took part in the Win-slow Christmas Parade. The band was formed in 1923 at a Santa Fe Railway employee party in Winslow, and was disbanded in 1963. The band made as many as 50 appearances a year, and represented Arizona at the first Eisenhower inaugural parade in 1953 in Washington, D.C.
The float entered by the Arizona Department of Corrections-Winslow Complex won the Sweepstakes Award in the 66th annual Winslow Christmas Parade.
Navajo County would face a shortfall of more than $300,000 if federal sequestration goes through, County Governmental Affairs Director Hunter Moore told the Board of Supervisors. He noted that the impending “fiscal cliff,” which includes changes in tax law and sequestration, would lead to budget cuts across the board in several county programs.
The City of Holbrook received a $100,000 grant for improvements to Petroglyph Park. The money will be used to install concrete pads, pathways, benches and trash receptacles at the park.
Passport Potash entered into a joint exploration agreement with the Hopi Tribe to explore for potash on the Hopi private land sections that are checker boarded with Passport’s southern land holdings in the Holbrook Basin.
Navajo and Hopi leaders met with federal officials and lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to discuss what steps, if any, can be taken to resolve the water rights issues surrounding the Little Colorado River. This summer, tribal members rejected the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act, even though tribal leaders were in strong support of the bill. The bill would have allocated $300 million for three drinking water projects on the Hopi and Navajo reservations in exchange for the tribes relinquishing future water rights claims in the basin.
Northland Pioneer College joined other community colleges in the state to form the Arizona Community College Coordinating Council, which will represent the common interests of the colleges in legislative, industry and public matters. Dr. Jeanne Swarthout, president of NPC, will represent the college on the new council.
Snowflake officials announced that Catalyst Paper Corporation and its United States affiliates would work cooperatively with the town as Catalyst seeks to sell the Apache Railway as an operating railroad.
December
Las Joyas del Desierto Mexican Folklore Dancers received both the Nutcracker Award as the best marching entry and the Tinsel Award as overall best entry in the Holbrook Parade of Lights.
A visit by several Arizona Game and Fish Department directors and managers resulted in the suggestion that the water pond at Holbrook’s re-use facility could be developed into a fishing spot under Game and Fish’s Urban Fisheries Program.
Twelve-year-old Harry Edwards of Holbrook drew the attention of Rock and Ice Magazine for his rock climbing abilities. Rock climbs range in difficulty from 5.1 to 5.15, and Harry has succeeded in climbing two of the most famous 5.14 routes in the United States, God’s Own Stone and Omaha Beach, both in Red River Gorge, Ky.
Catalyst Paper received a $12 million stalking horse bid from MLR Ventures, L.L.C. as part of the sales process for disposition of the Snowflake mill and the Apache Railway. The bid was an attempt to test the market value of the assets in advance of an auction.
The Pioneer Forest Products wood products mill set to be built in Winslow is slated to begin construction sometime in early 2013, according to Pioneer Associates CEO Herman Hauck. He noted that the price tag for the Winslow mill project will run about $230 million, and his firm is working to secure the necessary funding.
Two members of the Winslow High School speech team earned state championships at the annual Forensics League of Arizona Winter Trophy Tournament. Emmett Foster won the title in Dramatic Interpretation, and teamed up with Brittany Fischer to win top honors in Duo Acting.
The Little Colorado Water Conservation District Board of Directors elected to exercise the right of eminent domain to acquire the well field and pipelines of the defunct Catalyst Paper mill west of Snowflake.
Navajo County District III Supervisor J.R. DeSpain and District V Supervisor Jerry Brownlow were hon-ored for 12 years of service on the board. Both were to vacate their positions at the first of the year.
The Navajo County Board of Supervisors approved FCI Contractors of Phoenix to begin work on the new construction and remodel of the jail facilities in Holbrook. The $4 million project was expected to be completed by the end of 2013.
Holbrook City Councilmen Wade Carlisle, Myron Maxwell and Richard Peterson were the only ones to file candidate packets for the council seats they hold. City Clerk Cher Reyes noted that the March 12 election will still be held to allow write-in candidates to be considered as part of the ballot.
Northland Pioneer College students named to the All-Arizona Academic Team included Kimberly Fore and Ayla Hayden from the Holbeook-Painted Desert Campus, and Tashawna Jones and Teresa Keele from the Winslow-Little Colorado Campus.
James Molesa was named chief deputy of the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office. Molesa has 33 years of law enforcement experience, most recently with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Frank Lucero and James Matteson were sworn in as members of the Navajo County Community College District Governing Board. They will represent Districts 3 and 4, respectively.
Hackman Capital and its affiliates purchased the assets of the Snowflake paper mill and the Apache Rail-way for $13,460,000 and other non-monetary consideration. The buyer reportedly intends to continue to oper-ate the Apache Railway as a going concern.
Pacific Holt submitted the final plat for housing developments in the Perkins Valley area west of Holbrook.