By Nick Worth
A preliminary plan to restore the Henning Building and other historic buildings in the Horsehead Crossing District of Holbrook was presented to the city council Tuesday evening.
Rick Rupkey made the presentation on behalf of the Horsehead Crossing Development Company.
“We have three directors in the company,” Rupkey said, noting that Henry Taylor and Clinton Shreeve are two of the directors.
“The third one is me,” Rupkey said. Taylor is president, Rupkey is vice president and Shreeve is treasurer of the company, which has filed for 5013C status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
“We have three things in common,” Rupkey told the council. “One, we’ve done well. We’re not doing this for profit. Two, we all have family or interests in Holbrook. Three, we really want to do this.”
Rupkey said the group plans to restore the Horsehead Crossing area.
“We believe the rescue and restoration of historic sites will bring economic benefits through the creation of jobs,” said Rupkey. “An increase in tourism will stimulate the current lodging, food, fuel and entertainment businesses already in Holbrook,” he noted
Rupkey then cited the major attractions near Holbrook and the city’s rich history as selling points for tourism.
Reading from the company’s proposal, Rupkey said, “This scenario can only happen, and sustain itself, if and when Holbrook has a meaningful, beautiful historic district to wow these folks when they arrive.
“We’re not doing anything new here,” he said. “Flagstaff, Winslow, Snowflake, Taylor and Show Low have all done this.”
Rupkey said the initial funding for the group has come from the directors, but that they have been investigating other funding sources and have received encouraging replies.
The group plans to start its work on the Henning Building, which Rupkey reminded the council, is on the National Register of Historic Sites.
“We know how to take it apart and we know how to put it back together with electricity and the building up to modern code,” Rupkey said. The Henning Building has stood empty since 1935.
Councilman Wade Carlisle asked Rupkey if the group had checked with planning and zoning, and if there were any concerns.
Rupkey replied that they had checked with the county and the city, and there were no concerns he was aware of.
“There will be no signage that wasn’t on the original buildings,” he said.
“How much time have you spent down there looking at that site with your team?” asked Vice Mayor Charles Haussman.
“Less than 10 hours, but that’s enough,” Rupkey said. “We know we can do this.”
“You want the city to deed this over to your group for restoration?” Haussman asked.
Rupkey replied, “Yes.”
“If everything goes your way, how long until you start moving forward on this?” Haussman asked.
“Immediately with the architects and engineers,” Rupkey answered.
Alley then told the council he would like to move as rapidly as possible, because the buildings are deteriorating.
“But we need guidelines as to what the city expects in the facades,” Alley said. “We need a time line, or the building will continue to get worse.
“We also need a reversion clause,” Alley added.
Carlisle said he wants the group to demonstrate financial ability to undertake the project and Mayor Jeff Hill said he agreed.
“I, for one, am excited, but we need to protect the city as well,” Hill said. “I would very much like to see something concrete.”
“I have a big hang-up with that,” said Rupkey. He said the corporation’s non-profit 501C3 application is currently being reviewed by the IRS and he has no idea how long that will take.
“How can I give a time line when I don’t know when the gun goes off?” Rupkey said. “We don’t want to give the deed back after putting $40,000 to $50,000 into it.”
Councilman Bobby Tyler asked how the development would affect the families living in that area, and Rupkey said it would only affect the vacant lots, first.
Alley noted that the zoning will not allow businesses that do not fit with a historic district.
“We do not intend to be a bad neighbor, but the residents could decide we’re not a good neighbor,” Rupkey said. “If they wanted to relocate, we could help them financially to relocate.”
The council asked city staff to work with the city attorney to come up with a request for proposals to transfer the property to an entity in order to preserve the buildings.
The only speaker during the call to the public regarding items on the agenda, which was held prior to Rupkey’s presentation, was Eva Purvis, who expressed concern over the Horsehead Crossing Development Company.
“I heard Ray Alley is going to be the director of the Horsehead Crossing Development Company,” Purvis told the council. “Did he assign himself to this? Is he getting paid extra for this? Who assigned him to this?”
Hill told Purvis her questions would be answered during Rupkey’s presentation under the new business portion of the meeting.
Alley and Holbrook Police Chief Mark Jackson addressed the council regarding some needs of the police department. Alley said he and Jackson have met and identified several areas of improvement that can be made at the department.
“The bottom line is, what we need immediately, is a policies and procedures manual done by a company which has done them for the Snowflake-Taylor Police Department, the county sheriff’s office and others in the state and nationally,” Alley said. He also said the department needs to look into making interdepartmental agreements with other agencies that can assist the HPD when called upon.
Another area identified by Alley and Jackson as needing improvement is in the proposed addition of a patrol lieutenant, to take some of the burden off Lieutenant Jody Harrelson, who currently supervises the patrol sergeants, handles internal investigations, is in charge of evidence and also does IT work for the department.
In addition, Alley said he and Jackson want to pursue reclassification of the police department.
“Even with our $4,000 raises, we’re going to be paying $2,000 less than the sheriff’s office,” Alley said. “We need to re-evaluate our classification even at the lowest level.”
Alley said he realized the council had decided to put together a task force to address the needs of the department, but that he felt he and Jackson had made some progress toward identifying what is needed.
“We want to continue down this path for a couple more weeks,” Alley said.
“When you build something, you need to start with a strong foundation,” Jackson told the council. He said the existing policies and procedures manual used by the department was something a former chief pulled off the Internet. He said a manual prepared by the Lexipol company will cost $5,950 for the first year.
Jackson explained that Lexipol will send the department its Arizona policies and procedures manual, and the HPD will then go through it, removing what doesn’t apply, like the policies and procedures for helicopters. After HPD makes deletions and changes to suit the department, the revisions will be back to Lexipol, which then consults and makes suggestions.
“The finished manual will be available to officers online,” Jackson said. He said the HPD can also subscribe to a daily training bulletin (DTB) covering a certain aspect of the manual, which is emailed to the officers daily and contains a test at the end.
He said the cost of the Lexipol subscription with the DTB would be $4,450 after the first year. Jackson also noted Lexipol automatically updates the manual when state laws change, such as the recent change in marijuana laws.
Alley told the council revisions to the Lexipol manual can take a long time, depending on how many people are working on it. One local department has been at the task for 13 months, he said.
“In my mind, this is the way to go to get the police department on solid ground and to hold people responsible,” Jackson said. “This is the way we need to go. This will hold the officers accountable for things they’re not accountable for now.”
Councilman Phil Cobb moved to have Jackson purchase the Lexipol subscription, and to continue to work with Alley on identifying the needs of the police department. The council approved the motion unanimously.
District III Navajo County Supervisor Sylvia Allen gave a presentation to the council on the Mexican Grey Wolf.
Allen told the council the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has plans to stop controlling the spread of the wolves outside the range where they have been found for the past 20 years, which are Catron County, N.M., Greenlee County and southern Apache County.
According to records kept in Catron County starting in 2006, there have been 104 cattle deaths related to wolves. More alarming, according to Allen, there have been 154 wolf/human interactions, with 110 of those occurring on private property.
Allen then told the council of a 2008 Navajo County ordinance that forbids the introduction of predatory animals into the county and of a move to list the wolves as an endangered species.
“If they move it to endangered status, we won’t have the ability to defend ourselves,” Allen told the council. She then urged the council to adopt a similar city ordinance regarding the introduction of predators.
In other action Sept. 24, the council:
* Heard a report from Carlisle, who said he has done two ride-alongs with the police department and has identified some resource needs.
According to Carlisle, the video systems in two of the police cars are not working and the department’s AR-15s need to be set up.
“Iron sights are not good enough for what these guys do,” Carlisle said. He also said there is not sufficient ammunition for the officers.
Carlisle further noted that there are resources in the city that could help out on non-law-enforcement issues that take up a lot of the officers’ time.
* Heard a report on paving from Alley.
He said city crews will pave 380 feet of West Mendell Road. He also said crews will finish paving Sixth Street by Hunt Park, completing the road work in the park area.
Alley said all the electrical fieldwork for the electrical upgrade at the airport, funded by a Federal Aviation Administration grant, is completed. The installation of the upgraded system is set to go forward.
Alley also reported security cameras are now mounted indoors in five locations on city property where vandalism has occurred in the past.
* Heard a report from City Finance Director Randy Sullivan, who told the council the city received a $15,000 rebate from Arizona Public Service Co. for installing a variable drive controller on one of the water well booster pumps.
* Heard a report from City Clerk Cher Reyes on the Brownfields Grant. She said the grant is moving forward, but asked that any action regarding the agenda item for awarding a bid be tabled, as she had just received several proposals the day before.
* Approved a plat map change from the Holbrook Land Fund, which split a single commercial parcel into nine parcels. The parcels are located between the Burger King restaurant and the Taco Bell restaurant on Navajo Blvd.
* Heard again from Purvis during the closing call to the public for non-agenda items.
Purvis began by apologizing for her earlier erroneous claims of Alley’s involvement with the Horsehead Development Company, but then added that she has found where Alley was made temporary city manager, but cannot find a record of when he was made permanent city manager.
“I listened to him during this meeting and he said ‘I did this’ and ‘I did that,’” Purvis said. “When was his last performance review?”
She said she had requested copies of Alley’s performance reviews, but they were not provided to her. She then said Alley’s performance had not been reviewed.
Purvis then began to shout something about Sullivan and Hill cut her off for not following the rules of the call to the public.
The council is not allowed to reply to any comments or questions during the call to the public on non-agenda items.
* Heard from Joe Charondo, who spoke on various topics, including his ideas for a school and Wi-Fi access.
By Nick Worth