Dec 262014

By Francie Payne

Time passes so quickly, and this year it seemed to pick up the pace a bit. Even so, area residents and former residents were able to achieve a great deal, as evidenced in the following review of the news of 2014.


Winslow native David Wilkins was co-writer of The Time Machine, a Doritos commercial featuring him being lured into a cardboard “time machine” by a young boy where, for the price of his bag of Doritos, he is told he will be transported into the future. The commercial was one of five finalists in the largest online video competition in the world, Doritos Crash the Super Bowl World Premiere.

Stephen Pauken took over the duties as Winslow city manager.

Holbrook Justice of the Peace Evelyn Marez was selected as presiding judge for the justice courts in Navajo County.

The Navajo County Fair Board re-elected Mike Sample as president, and elected Rusty DeSpain as vice president and Valerie Slade as treasurer. The board had amended its bylaws the previous month to expand its membership from 15 to 21, Since that left 11 vacancies to be filled and only eight candidates, the board voted unanimously to allow all candidates to be seated on the board. The candidates included board members Wes DeSpain, Trent Larson, Steve Gouker and Leah Thompson, former board member Anna Amos, and Jason Lewis, Heather Scott and Paul Van Self.

Arizona State Parks Director Bryan Martin was in Winslow to speak with residents and officials about Homolovi and other state parks.

The Navajo County Board of Supervisors approved the creation of a new water improvement district to serve homes to be built by Pacific Holt in the Perkins Valley area west of Holbrook.

Six new members were seated on the Navajo County Historical Society Board of Directors, which is based in Holbrook, including Mary Bragg, Darlene Brinkerhoff, William Fee, Tammy Gray, Richard Peterson and D.V. Stuart.

The Joseph City Unified School District Governing Board re-elected Eldon Larson as president and Jennie Miller as clerk.

Pat Kirk received the Winslow Ministerial Association’s Good Samaritan Award for going out of her way to be of service to others.

Winslow High School’s School Support Forces earned the Overall Division II State Championship at the Spiritline Championship Competition held Jan. 25 in Prescott Valley. Members of the squad include Tiffany Mitchell, Skylar Soehner, Jennifer Brown, Alexa Gilbert, Arianna McKinley, Angelina Garcia, Marielena Petet, Delphi Lander, Fernando Pipkins, Kiersten Mileham, Mikayla Stapp, Jacqueline Ribera, Lilly Mangus, Haley Analla, Erika Holler, Abby Rogers, Emily Woods, Isabel Gonzales, Kala Fischer, Lindsey Williams, Gabriella Rockwell, Leticia Torres, Savannah Vasquez, Kiki Smith, Tieler Schutze, Head Tamie Ramsey, and Assistant Coaches Nicole Buonviri and Tessa Wadsworth.

The Holbrook High School Spiritline took home the state championship trophy for co-ed cheer from the Spiritline Championship Competition held Jan. 25 in Prescott Valley. Members of the squad include Harlee Sanchez, Terra Begay, Alaya Darling, Emily Baldonado, Tessa Candelaria, Cheyenne Gillespie, Brooke Whitten, Brianna Jimenez, Ciara Brown, Gwen Dush, Trina Tom, Kailen Matty, Mariah Kelley, Omar Jaquez, Patrick O’Brien, Kylah Spangler, Aaron Thomas, Jose Luna, Nathan McPherson, Violet Case, Megan Haussman, and Coaches Carey Kester, Nichole Lozano and Cheryl Carlson.

Teresa Foy was selected as finance director for the City of Winslow.

A late January report by the Arizona Department of Water Resources noted that December precipitation was less than 50 percent of the average across most of the state, leaving most of Navajo County in moderate to severe drought conditions.

The Hashknife Posse, under the leadership of Captain Mark Reynolds, headed out on the 56th annual Pony Express Ride from Holbrook over the Mogollon Rim to Scottsdale.


A ribbon cutting and dedication of the Northland Pioneer College Skills Center was held on the Painted Desert Campus in Winslow. The 26,000-square foot building houses instructional areas for construction, welding, megatronics, and industrial maintenance and operations, as well as computer labs, career planning and readiness, and space for future opportunities related to timber harvesting, energy production and potash mining. The skills center was built at a cost of $4,898,378.

Curtis Plumb was selected as the District 3 Department of Public Safety Officer of the Year for 2013. He was awarded a new Governor’s Office of Highway Safety utility patrol vehicle.

Mylee Demuth, daughter of Paul and Lelia Demuth of Holbrook, took first place at the state level in the 8 and 9-year-old girls’ division of the Elks Hoop Shoot.

The Holbrook Roadrunners won the Division III state wrestling championship, bettering 49 other teams in the division to earn their first title since 1990. Shem Bowman was Holbrook’s lone individual champion, winning the 195-lb. division with a 5-0 record. Second place finishes went to Kevin Self, who was 4-1 at 170 lbs., and Nikko Ferniza, who was 4-1 at 182 lbs. James Ramirez was third at 126 lbs.; Theron Johns, fourth at 120 lbs.; Clayton Hunt, fourth at 160 lbs.; C.J. Plumb, fourth at 220 lbs.; and Levi McClellan, fifth at 138 lbs. Other members of the team were Samuel Plumb, Domonic Spencer, Noah Barela, Shane McGraw, Jedde Bowman and Angel Aguilera. The squad was coached by John Bokker and his assistants, R.J. Alvarado and Nick Moyte. Team managers were Samantha Serna and Demi Phaturos.

Winslow’s Jace Hardy earned the Division III state championship, wrestling at 170 lbs. Placing sixth were James Martinez at 162 lbs., Quinton Begody at 182 lbs. and Trey Hardy at 220 lbs. The Bulldogs finished 11th in the tournament.

The Holbrook Junior High School eighth grade girls posted a 9-0 record and claimed the White Mountain League basketball championship trophy. The Lady Roadrunner squad included Tashina Nelson, Twylah Clark, Dakota Dick, Tyler Pacheco, Tamika Begay, Kendra Monroe, Jessica Todacheenie, Elena Smith, Carla Plumb, Aiyana Gary, Makenzi Thompson, Rayanna Wauneka, and Coaches Loriel Beck, Keith Wheeler and Chris Obren.


Winslow High School’s Shandiin Armao was named the Division III Section IV Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year and her coach, Jarron Jordan, was named the sectional Girls’ Coach of the Year. Armao and Halle Hayes were named to the All Section First Team, and teammate Marcella Joe made the second team.

Stevin Nelson of Winslow was named to the All Section Boys’ Basketball First Team. Bulldogs Keenan Keams, Milland Thomas and Trelonnie Sanders earned places on the second team.

Teyah Goldtooth of Holbrook was named to the Division III Section IV Girls’ Basketball All Section First Team. Lady Roadrunners Summer Olney and Rochelle Nez made the second team.

The Winslow City Council approved the expenditure of $197,000 for the construction of a skate park, which was expected to be completed in about three months.

Colonel Kim Colton of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was in Winslow for a meeting regarding the Winslow levee. She noted that the project was looking good, that she was confident that the levee would be constructed and that most of Winslow would eventually be out of the floodplain. She also noted that there was $750,000 in the federal budget earmarked to complete the feasibility study in 2015.

Marlin Gillespie of Holbrook was honored with a plaque and life membership status in the Navajo County Historical Society after 33 years of service to the organization.

As part of its Women’s History Month observance, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service honored Joseph City area rancher Sindy DeSpain Machusak as a Woman of Courage, Character and Commitment.


Raul Mendoza outlined his plans to retire as Holbrook High School counselor and basketball coach. He plans to continue mentoring youth through his church, spend time with his three grandchildren, work in his garden and exercise, things he has not had as much time to spend on as he would like.

Several Winslow coaches and athletes were inducted into the Navajo Nation Coaches Hall of Fame or Athletes Hall of Fame. Those honored were coaches Art Griffith and Paul Landis; and athletes Isaac Bonds and Byron Luther. Hopi High School coach Rick Baker, a graduate of WHS, was also honored.

The Winslow Public Library welcomed Garry Rogers, a former Winslow resident and author of Corr Syl the Warrior, the 2014 OneBookAZ for teens, who spoke to those attending of his work.

Dr. Jeff Meeks of Holbrook received the highest honor a speech or hearing professional can receive in the state when Honors of Association were bestowed on him at the Arizona Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention in Tucson.

Allan Affeldt and his wife, artist Tina Mion, who restored La Posada Hotel in Winslow, purchased La Castenada Hotel in Las Vegas, N.M., a mission-style hotel built in 1898. It is also a former Harvey House, and is in need of extensive restoration.

Winslow author Mark Bordner’s new novel, The Mighty First, Episode 1, was released nationwide by Tate Publishing and Enterprises.

Fire restrictions were implemented by Navajo County nearly a month earlier than usual due to exceptionally dry conditions.

Winslow Mayor Robin Boyd presented retiring City Attorney Dale Patton with a special pocket watch to commemorate his 25-plus years of service to the city.

The Holbrook Chamber of Commerce reinstated the Community Awards program, honoring Paul Ortega and Wendy Skevington as Man and Woman of the Year; Talaina Fisher, Youth of the Year; Hopi Travel Plaza, Business of the Year; and the Holbrook Painted Desert Kiwanis Club as the Civic Organization of the Year.

Michael Locaspino was named Holbrook High School’s 2014 Mr. Roadrunner. Also in the running were Kevin Self, first runner-up; Miguel Martinez and Dendrick Jones, who tied for second runner-up; Nehemiah Manygoats, third runner-up; and Coy Begay. Together they raised more than $5,200, with $2,000 going to fund the annual Travis Yazzie Memorial Scholarships and the remainder going toward the adoption of a room at Ronald McDonald House in Phoenix.


The Winslow City Council unanimously approved a one-year contract with Ellen. M. Van Riper to serve as city attorney.

Jacob Boyle of St. Johns was selected to replace Holbrook Unified School District Business Manager Garry McDowell, who was set to retire at the end of June after 30 years of service to the district.

Holbrook High School alumnus Ryan Baldonado, a freshman at Presentation College in Aberdeen, S.D., and a member of the Saints baseball team, was named the college’s Newcomer of the Year and Player of the Year. Baldonado was also selected for the North Star Athletic Conference All Conference First Team.

Holbrook Elks Lodge No. 2450 honored Saretta Gardner and Kevin Self as the Holbrook High School Elks Students of the Year; Brooke Baldwin and Wyatt Johnson, Joseph City High School Elks Students of the Year; Tessa Chavez and Tyler Christensen, Holbrook Junior High School Elks Students of the Year; and Heather Layden and Joseph Burt, Joseph City Junior High School Elks Students of the Year. Honored as Teachers of the Year were Shirley Yazzie of HHS, Laurie Bowler of JCHS, Beth Baloo of HJHS and Teddi Baird of JCJHS.

Katelyn Pugh of Joseph City High School won the state championship in the discus event at the Division IV State Track Meet with a throw of 110’.

The Navajo Times honored Holbrook High School wrestling coach John Bokker as Head Coach of the Year and state champion Shem Bowman as the heavyweight division Wrestler of the Year.

The Navajo County Board of Supervisors approved selling the county’s portion of McHood Park to the City of Winslow. The park is valued at $664,100, and the city will receive it in exchange for covering the operation and maintenance costs of the park from 2014 to 2024.

The Lady Bulldogs of Winslow won the Division III State Softball Championship, defeating the Payson Lady Longhorns 5-3 to claim the title. The team included Elizabeth Cordova, Liz Lozano, Erika Jodie, Halle Hayes, Taylor Baca, Megan Lymer, Jaleisa Hayes, Ceyanne Benally, A.J. Vigil-O’Haco, Sierra Wilcox, Gabby Gonzalez, Katonya Begay, Andrea Bollin, Renee Bollin, Richelyn Villanueva, Alyssa Smith, Hailee Branson, Sarah Muse, Nikki Jauregui, Head Coach Kelli Fifelski, and Assistant Coaches Brian Wilcox, Mickie Baca, Richard Smith and Carlos Zamora.

The Holbrook Unified School District honored Daniel Mitchell as the Holbrook High School Teacher of the Year; Brian McMahon, Holbrook Junior High School Teacher of the Year; Roni Orton, Indian Wells Elementary School Teacher of the Year; Kerry Perkins, Hulet Elementary School Teacher of the Year; Stephanie Peters, Park Elementary School Teacher of the Year; Ramona Joe of IWES, Elementary Teacher New to Teaching; Taylor Lee of HJHS, Secondary Teacher New to Teaching; and Peggy Redmond, Support Staff of the Year.

More than 75 percent of the state, including most of Navajo County, was reclassified as suffering from severe drought, according to the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

Andon Hatch, the son of Ralph and Leida Hatch, was valedictorian for the Holbrook High School Class of 2014. Curtis Plumb Jr., the son of Curtis and Beth Plumb was salutatorian.

The Joseph City High School valedictorian was Laura Bushman, the daughter of Ralph and Janet Bushman, and the salutatorian was Brooke Baldwin, the daughter of Lance and Lynette Baldwin.

Earning honors as co-valedictorians of the senior class at Winslow High School were Megan Lymer, the daughter of Brent and Stephanie Lymer, and Andrew Greenwood, the son of Tom and Sharon Greenwood. Kevin Decker, the son of Jay and Jenny Decker, was salutatorian.

Kawika Stant, a graduate of Holbrook High School and Prescott College, was named head girls’ basketball coach at Desert Hills High School in St. George, Utah.

Joseph City High School senior Madison Fields was selected as the Arizona Interscholastic Association Student-Athlete of the Year for 2013-14.

Shem Bowman of Holbrook High School was tapped as one of Arizona’s six All American wrestlers, chosen from among the state’s 2,200 varsity wrestlers.

Robin Boyd was re-elected as mayor of Winslow, and Harold Soehner and Curtis Hardy were re-elected to the city council. Former councilman Thomas Chacon was also elected to the council.

Nikko Ferniza, a graduating senior at Holbrook High School, completed kindergarten through 12th grade without missing a day of school.


The second phase of a $4.5 million renovation of the Navajo County Jail in Holbrook started with the demolition of the old kitchen and booking facilities.

President Obama announced that he intends to put further restrictions on coal fired power plants that provide electricity to millions by mandating a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2030. In the past 10 years, Arizona Public Service Co., which operates Cholla Power Plant in Joseph City, has spent more than $350 million to upgrade the power plant to meet the stricter environmental regulations imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Winslow Bulldog Colton Corum was named to the All Section V Baseball First Team and honored as Co-Player of the Year by Arizona Baseball Coaches Association. Joining him on the first team were his teammates Matt Cirre, Adam Montoya and Kuster Kinlicheenie.

Winslow Councilman Harold Soehner was elected vice mayor by a 6-0 vote of the council.

Apache Sitgreaves National Forests Supervisor Jim Zornes outlined the success of the 10-year White Mountain Stewardship Contract, which was set to expire Aug. 9, to the RealAZ Corridor group. He noted the goals of the contract, including forest restoration in eastern Arizona, introducing industry to the region, treating 150,000 acres of forest lands and stimulating economic growth. Zornes said the contract was responsible for sustaining 15 local industries and 300 to 325 full-time equivalent jobs per year.

Miss Navajo County Kylie Koerperich of Holbrook received the People’s Choice Award at the Miss Arizona Pageant.

Navajo County earned two national awards for Navajo County Drug Stories, and the Family Advocacy Centers in Holbrook and Show Low. The National Association of Counties named the county a recipient of two 2014 Achievement Awards in the areas of Criminal Justice and Public Safety, citing the innovation of those involved with the programs, and commitment of both initiatives to serving county communities and improving the lives of Navajo County citizens.

Lance Heister took over the reins of the Winslow Unified School District following the retirement of Superintendent Doug Watson.


Editor’s note: A review of the news of the second half of 2014 will be published in the Dec. 31 edition of the newspaper.