By Linda Kor
Once again, the year has quickly passed, and once again, it has brought change to the area and its residents.
What follows is a brief review of the past 12 months, noting newsworthy events, and the many accomplishments of your friends and neighbors.
Five vacancies were filled on the Navajo County Fair Board. Tim Kelley of Holbrook and Marshall Losey of Winslow filled two of the positions, while Mike Sample, Redgie Justman and Valerie Slade were re-elected to the board.
The Arizona School Boards Association chose Holbrook School District Governing Board President Linda Yazzie as one of the top five school board members in the state.
Olivia Jaquez was elected president of the Holbrook School District Governing Board, with Ferral Knight as vice president.
Ralph Bushman was elected president of the Joseph City School District Governing Board, with Julie Davis as clerk.
Jeff Johnson, pastor of Peace Lutheran Church, and Chris Olthouse, a longtime volunteer with the chamber, were elected to the Holbrook Chamber of Commerce Executive Board.
Ginny Handorf was elected chairman of the Navajo County Community College District Governing Board.
Holbrook High School seniors Kylie Koerperich and Samantha Smith were two of 15 students statewide chosen to compete for the Arizona Milk Producers Scholarship. Kylie was chosen as the winner.
Sylvia Allen and Dawnafe Whitesinger were the first women elected to serve as Navajo County Supervisors.
John Henling and Robin Henrie were appointed to the Winslow Planning and Zoning Commission.
Members of the Navajo County Sheriff’s Hashknife Posse celebrated 55 years of tradition with their annual Pony Express ride.
Hackman Capital Partners, in partnership with the Aztec Land and Cattle Company, purchased the Snowflake holdings of the Catalyst Paper Company. Included in the sale were the abandoned mill buildings, 19,000 acres of land and, most importantly, the Apache Railway Company.
Nature Sweet Ltd. announced that it was purchasing Eurofresh Farms based in Willcox and Snowflake.
The Conservation Fund, in partnership with the National Parks Conservation Association, completed the purchase of 4,265 acres of private land located within the borders of Petrified Forest National Park. Known as the McCauley Ranch, the newly purchased land lies east of the historic remains of Puerco Pueblo and will connect lands already protected within the park.
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office filed an appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to disapprove portions of the state’s implementation plan for improving air visibility and mandating costly air pollution controls for three coal fired Arizona power plants.
A demo of the video game TesserAct, created by Holbrook High School students Josh Barger, Clayton Walters, Jordan Autobee, Michael Ortega and Dwayne DeJohn, made it’s premier at the Roxy Theater in Holbrook.
Lawmakers considered a bill introduced by Senator Chester Crandell of District 6 and co-sponsored by Senator Jack Jackson Jr. of District 2, which would form a committee to consider redrawing county lines for Navajo, Apache and Coconino counties in order to create a new county encompassing the Navajo and Hopi reservations.
Cary Simpson was elected chief of the Holbrook Volunteer Fire Department following the resignation of Alex Baker.
Kathleen Smith took over the helm of the Holbrook Chamber of Commerce, replacing Teri Walker in the position.
Trent Larson was appointed to the Holbrook Planning and Zoning Commission.
The Navajo Nation and the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office signed a cross commissioning agreement that allows the sheriff’s office to respond to emergencies on the Navajo Nation and enforce Navajo Nation laws.
The Winslow Lady Bulldogs beat the Valley Sanders Lady Pirates 45-40 to become Arizona State Division III Basketball Champions.
A calculation error on the part of the Arizona Department of Education resulted in area schools receiving anywhere from $25,000 to more than $100,000 in additional funding.
Representatives of Overgaard Compassionate Care made a second attempt before the Board of Supervisors to obtain a special use permit for a medical marijuana dispensary in the Heber/Overgaard area, but were not successful.
The Indian Wells Elementary School Roadrunners capped a perfect season by winning the Nava-Hopi Area Junior High League Tournament. The team included Jeremiah Yazzie, Jaren Yazzie, Duran Clark, Jonathan Keyonnie, Jaken Todacheenie, Tyrell Yazzie, Daylon Nez, Theron Olney, Tyler Paul, Blayne Nelson, Corbin Charley, Hadley Wilson and Kevin Kanuho. They were coached by Daniel Orton.
The Indian Wells Lady Roadrunner A team finished the basketball season Feb. 12 by winning the Nava-Hopi Area Junior High League championship for the second year in a row. The Roadrunners finished the season undefeated with a mark of 14-0 and claimed the title with a two-point victory over a tough Winslow squad.
Passport Potash officials announced a resource estimate for the 121,000-plus acres of the firm’s Holbrook Basin property, as well as 13,000 acres of privately held Hopi lands. The report estimated a measured mineral resource of five million tonnes of potash.
The City of Winslow reported that the city’s dredge was upside down and completely submerged in Clear Creek. The possible culprit was a bullet hole in the hull of the dredge. The culprit was not found.
Passport Potash tripled its hiring estimate for the Holbrook Basin project. While originally estimated to produce 600 jobs, the recent resource estimate brought that number up to 1,800.
The National Parks Conservation Association and the Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit in defense of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional haze plan.
Pinetop resident Steve Gauker was elected to the Navajo County Fair Board to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Susan Henning-Shaw.
Prospect Global Resources announced the selection of Damon G. Barber as the new president and CEO of the company, replacing Patrick Avery. Also announced was the termination of a finance agreement with Apollo Global Management.
The Navajo County Board of Supervisors approved a settlement agreement related to Snowflake Power v. Arizona Department of Revenue and Navajo County. The agreement reduced the full cash value of Snowflake Power from $12,664,000 to $5,500,000.
Holbrook City Councilmen Wade Carlisle, Myron Maxwell and Richard Peterson retained their seats on the council following a primary election where a total of 240 ballots were cast.
There were seven candidates vying for four seats on the Snowflake town council during the primary election. Lynn Johnson and Councilman Kerry Ballard were declared outright winners due to the numbers of votes cast in their favor. Also, Vice Mayor Jason Whiting was the only candidate for that position and was declared the winner. A final count would determine if the general election would be held to fill the remaining two seats on the council.
Legendary healer and dancer Jones Benally of the Navajo Nation received the Heard Museum’s Hoop Dance Legacy Award. Benally, who is in his 90s, still performs and sings. He also provides traditional healing at the Indian Health Services facility in Winslow.
The Arizona Corporation Commission voted to take action against the proposed regional haze requirements that the EPA was attempting to impose on Arizona coal-fired power plants.
Governor Jan Brewer signed House Bill 2425, repealing the use of the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards tests in order for students to be tested with a new online performance assessment aligned with the new Common Core Standards.
Navajo County Sheriff KC Clark, acting as the state’s representative in the States Sheriffs Association, supported the association’s resolution in addressing violence in its totality, not simply as an issue of “gun” violence. “I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment,” stated Clark.
La Posada was named one of the best small hotels in Arizona by AzBusiness Magazine, which ranked the beautifully restored Winslow hotel fourth in the state, two ranks higher than the previous year.
Darlene McCauley, a student advisor at Winslow Junior High School, was named the school’s new principal by the district governing board.
Officials of NatureSweet Ltd. announced that the United States Bankruptcy Court in Arizona approved the sale of substantially all of the assets of EuroFresh Farms to NatureSweet’s subsidiary, Zona Acquisition Company LLC.
Holbrook Junior High School Assistant Principal Jeremy Hatch resigned to take the position of principal of Taylor Elementary School.
Winslow City Manager Jim Ferguson announced he would be resigning from the position he held for eight years, citing family health concerns.
After two previous attempts, Overgaard Compassion Care was finally able to obtain a special use permit to open a marijuana dispensary 11 miles outside of Overgaard.
The owners of Natural Herbal Remedies, Inc. were remodeling the Pow Wow building in preparation of opening a medical marijuana dispensary in Holbrook. While city officials were initially opposed to the opening of a medical marijuana dispensary within city limits, concerns regarding private growers in outlying areas outweighed their misgivings.
Northland Pioneer College began registration for the new Mechatronics Engineering Technology degree program geared toward work in potash mining and other areas, such as power plants, utilities and communications companies.
Co-Valedictorians Eryn Ruechel and Zachary Smithson gave speeches at commencement exercises for the Holbrook High School Class of 2013.
Joseph City High School Co-Valedictorians Lexi Edwards and Taylor Hill shared the podium at the school’s commencement, followed by Salutatorian Jacob Fields.
Winslow School District officials had solar panels installed at all five schools by Ameresco to help offset the electrical costs for the district, which was estimated to provide a savings of $1.5 million to $2 million over the next 20 years.
Winslow High School announced Emmett Foster as valedictorian and Brittni Sorenson as salutatorian for the Class of 2013.
The City of Winslow renamed City Park to the Hayden Walton Sports Complex in honor of the 13-year-old Winslow boy who tragically died after being struck in the chest with a baseball while playing in a Little League game the year before.
Tim Newton-Pender was hired as the new assistant principal of Holbrook Junior High School.
The Holbrook City Council clarified an agreement made with City Manager Ray Alley that the city would provide Alley with medical insurance after he retires until such time as he is eligible for state retirement. Under the agreement, Alley forgoes all raises in pay, including the $4,000 raise for each city employee included in next year’s proposed budget.
Twin Arrows Casino, located 35 miles west of Winslow, celebrated its grand opening with events featuring Navajo traditions, and showcasing the property’s 267,000-square-foot facility that houses state-of-the-art gaming, luxurious resort accommodations, fine dining and culturally infused architecture.
The Navajo County Community College District Governing Board approved a $45.1 million budget for Northland Pioneer College, with the board voting to keep the same tax rate as the previous year.
Mike Budenholzer, a 1988 graduate of Holbrook High School, was named head coach for the Atlanta Hawks. Prior to that position Budenholzer was the lead assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs.
Propelled Bird Software, a limited liability corporation owned by recent Holbrook High School graduates Josh Barger, Clayton Walters, Michael Ortega and Dwayne DeJohn, was moving forward, with its video game TesserAct receiving good reviews in gaming circles.
Passport Potash received approval for nine new exploration permits from the Arizona State Land Department, which added 4,703.66 acres of State Trust Land to Passport’s land package.
The City of Holbrook paid off debts for patrol cruisers, sanitation vehicles and equipment, a grader and a dump truck, as well as the annual payment for the wastewater treatment plant for a total of just over $1 million.
The Holbrook Unified School District Governing Board approved a proposed $25.5 million budget, $3 million over the previous year’s budget.
Joseph City School District officials announced the retirement of Superintendent Robert Klein. Joseph City Junior/Senior High School Principal Bryan Fields was slated to take on the job as an added position.
The Arizona House and Senate approved an $8.8 billion budget including Medicaid expansion that would provide coverage for 300,000 more Arizonans.
Sister Mary Bernard Derayunan, a Good Shepherd Sister, retired as director of Good Shepherd Center, Catholic Charities in Holbrook after 20 years of service.
The Navajo County Community College Governing Board approved a three-year contract for Northland Pioneer College President Dr. Jeanne Swarthout at $162,145.41 annually. Swarthout, who declined any salary increase, receives the lowest pay in the state for community college presidents.
The Joseph City Unified School District Governing Board approved a proposed $4.1 million dollar budget.
A request by Dixon Oates to obtain commercial zoning for property he owns east of Snowflake was denied by the Navajo County Board of Supervisors after area residents presented concerns over the use of the property to grow medical marijuana.
After a lengthy meeting and three executive sessions, the Winslow City Council voted to hire City Attorney Dale Patton as interim city manager for an additional salary of $1,250 for each pay period in which he fills both the role of city attorney and interim city manager.
Jacob Fields, a 2013 Joseph City High School graduate, was selected as the 1A-3A Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Male Scholar-Athlete Recipient. The prestigious award is given to students, per the AIA bylaws, “whose academic accomplishments are a positive model for others, who possess high levels of integrity and veracity, and who, in the objective determination of the selection committee, have benefited from their participation in high school interscholastic athletic programs.”
Editor’s note: Part II of the annual Year In Review will be published in the Jan. 3 edition of the newspaper.
By Linda Kor