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12/28/2013 12:23:00 PM
This is the End ... of 2013
Community leaders look back at accomplishments
Camp Verde Town Manager Russ Martin says he is “very fortunate” to be working together with Town Council and others within the Verde Valley on the SR 260 project. “We are excited for the possibilities.” VVN/Bill Helm
Camp Verde Town Manager Russ Martin says he is “very fortunate” to be working together with Town Council and others within the Verde Valley on the SR 260 project. “We are excited for the possibilities.” VVN/Bill Helm
To Library Director Kathy Hellman, the biggest success is approval of a 17,000-square-foot library. Top, the new design. Bottom, the current library. VVN/Bill Helm
To Library Director Kathy Hellman, the biggest success is approval of a 17,000-square-foot library. Top, the new design. Bottom, the current library. VVN/Bill Helm

Bill Helm

VERDE VALLEY - This is the end ...

Of our elaborate plans, the end

Of everything that stands, the end

No safety or surprise, the end

I'll never look into your eyes, again ...

Jim Morrison was not singing about the end of the year. Not this year. Not that year. Not any year.

As the sun prepares to set on 2013, it is natural to look back at the elaborate plans, decisions and accomplishments that made 2013 the year it was for Verde Valley residents.

Steve Ayers began the year as staff reporter with the Bugle. But before he could say Valentine's Day, Ayers had become Camp Verde's Economic Development Director.

"I learned [this year] that if you keep your eyes forward and stay focused, anything is possible," Ayers says. "Of the many successes this year, I'd have to say getting the funding to widen State Route 260 is the biggest ... it puts [Camp Verde] in a position where we can begin to plan for development along the corridor."

Ayers points to the Town's first comprehensive tourism website and new visitor center as additional successes for 2013.

Town Manager Russ Martin also includes SR 260 among the Town's successes for 2013.

"I feel very fortunate to be in a position to be a part of some great people working together on the council as well as within the Verde Valley on this project," Martin says. "We are excited for the possibilities, and most of all for the hope that this will provide safe travel in the future so that families that have been devastated by accidents [on this stretch of highway] can see that progress here will hopefully avoid future accidents."

In 2013, Beaver Creek Transit volunteers drove close to 23,000 miles on a single, eight-passenger van and another 12,000 in privately owned vehicles, taking passengers to the bank, the grocery store, medical and social service appointments, and the occasional leisure activity.

Nicknamed the Beaver Buggy, BCT "gave individuals needing transportation some independence from having to request rides from friends, neighbors and relatives or do without," says director Janet Aniol.

Looking to 2014, Aniol says the Beaver Buggy will continue to participate in regional transportation meetings and to partner with other provider agencies.

"Next year, we will provide rides on a limited but gradually expanding basis to the nearest Yavapai-Apache Transit van stop (Cliff Castle Casino Hotel) to provide Beaver Creek residents access to other YAT and Cottonwood Area Transit routes," Aniol says. "With permission from Camp Verde, some drop-off/pickups will be made at their van stops."

There have been several changes to the Camp Verde Marshal's Office this year, including a new commander, two motorcycles, nine Chevrolet Tahoes, mobile data computers, a new animal control building and the added responsibility of handling dispatch services for Jerome and Clarkdale.

"Our goal is to ensure the safety of our citizens and to equip our employees with the necessary tools to accomplish the given assignment and to be able to work as efficiently as possible with limited manpower, says Marshal Nancy Gardner."

Gardner cites "the value of networking with other departments" among the things she has learned in 2013.

"Utilizing the knowledge of other agencies has been huge," she says.

In June, Camp Verde resident Charlie German took the oath of office as mayor. For the most part, German says, the job has been what he expected it would be.

"I am a little surprised with the public's perception of 'the mayor can get this fixed,'" German says. "Being mayor in Camp Verde is different than in a large city where the mayor is a full-time position and where it is a position in which [he or she] has specific powers within which he or she operates.

"I believe as the community becomes more aware of how this process works, it too will function even more effectively," German adds. "It does require more time by council, but the payoff is potentially the best possible decisions can be made."

On Dec. 19, the Camp Verde Fire District board announced a verbal agreement with Montezuma-Rimrock Fire District Chief Terry Keller to become CVFD's next fire chief. Keller will replace Fire Chief Clayton Young, who retires on Feb. 1, 2014, after 39 years with CVFD. Keller has served as fire chief with MRFD since February 2013, after spending 24 years with the Sedona Fire Department.

Keller considers 2013 a success because of what MRFD was able to accomplish.

"I'm amazed at what we got done," Keller says. "I think I did more than I thought would get done. It's been fun here. Garnering the trust of the community has been a success. I've gotten nothing but support."

Keller says he is looking forward to "a smooth transition to Camp Verde and to successfully put together a budget, while also being mindful of the community and the taxpayer ... save some money while providing expanded services."

As Keller will be working with a different fire district in 2014, he also will be working with a different governing board. With that in mind, 2013 was also a year of change for CVFD Board Chairperson Steve Darby, as he took over the head coaching responsibilities at Camp Verde High School for the departed Luke Steege.

"[Becoming] a high school football head coach [is] something I have dreamed of for a long time," Darby says. "Being a head coach has been so much better than I thought it would be. I have had the privilege of being a part of, and leading, so many great young men. We really do have some amazing young people at our schools."

In addition to leading the Cowboys football team this past year, Darby and his wife of 29 years welcomed a new edition to the family. They became grandparents.

"It's a feeling I can't put into words," Darby says, "one of the most incredible experiences of my life."

Kathy Hellman considers 2013 a year of many successes. To Hellman, the Camp Verde Community Library Director, the biggest is Town Council's approval to build a 17,000 square foot library.

"Although I hoped to see construction begin on the library [in 2013], we have moved steadily forward with the project throughout the year," says Hellman. "One major goal was to get the library more involved in the community."

In 2013, the Camp Verde Community Library also created a Teen Advisory Board and began offering community activities and programs as a collaboration with the Town's Parks and Recreation Department. The library also participated in the Fort Verde Days Festival through its Creator Faire, hired four new part-time staff, continued the Summer Reading Program, and offered new programs, such as computer classes, Geek the Library, monthly brown bag lunch programs, teen game days, early literacy programs and e-reader help.

Though the Beaver Creek Public Library is not building a new home for its services, it did hire a new community librarian in Cottonwood resident and Northern Arizona University student Devon Artrip. With an Associate's Degree in Education from Yavapai College, Artrip says working at the Beaver Creek Library has been a triumph for her.

"Leaving my former job felt like a big failure this year, but I'm grateful for it because it allowed me to enter into a new job that has taught me new skills and opened new doors," Artrip says. "[And] I am hoping to have more events that the residents of Beaver Creek will enjoy."

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• The A-B-C's of 2013

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