City shortchanged its citizens
The City of Cottonwood should be proud.
City officials should be proud that they have inspired me to write my very first Letter to the Editor in 32 years of living here in the Verde Valley.
This letter is in relation to the ongoing issues with "Recovery Alternatives" and the citizens of the neighborhood that they are moving into. I was not able to attend the board of adjustments meeting; I was helping to watch the children of my in-laws that share a property line and a water supply well with the location of concern. They left the kids with us while the center's representatives had future recovering inhabitants there with their small children, pleading on the center's behalf. After my in-laws returned, they said they should have taken their kids also.
I was able to attend a couple of the earlier public meetings so I am familiar with the overall "lay of the land." Trying to rehash all of that information would take more than a single letter, so I am just going to get to my main point of concern.
After an entire meeting of presentations by the lawyers paid for by the members of the community directly affected, the decision was reached in minutes with little or no deliberation in favor of the recovery center. This really makes one wonder if the minds were not already made up before the meeting was called to order.
When I asked the attendees of the meeting the reason given by the city for its decision, I was told the fear of being sued by the center was the main factor in the city's conclusion.
Now I understand that it was not a unanimous vote; there was one vote against. I believe that member lives in the area of concern.
Now after that, I have to ask who does the City really represent, the tax-paying citizens or a federal grant-funded, non-profit organization?
Now, I have nothing against the recovery center and agree that it is a much-needed service. In fact the citizens of the area it is being inserted into have no ill will to the center, just its placement and implementation.
I wondered about the way it just sort of slipped into the location without any notice. I specifically inquired about that fact during a previous meeting. All of the citizens of the area had to hear about the center from rumors and second-hand information. Not very up front now, was it?
So, after months of stress, meetings, looking for legal representation, paying for the representation out of their pockets, and trying to go through all of the correct channels the good citizens of the area have run into a brick wall made up of people that they might have elected.
I guess this group of locals gets to take one for the team. I wonder how things might have gone had the center picked a home next to some of the other members of the deciding crew. Where will it end now ... look down your street, do you see any for sale signs? They might be the next place that the City is afraid to get sued over. Will it be next to you? Will you find out about it from the waitress at breakfast?
The real irony of this whole thing is that the center is funded with federal grants, so we all pay for it in the end. I understand that the city does not want to go to court and have to pay out piles of money like Sedona did (they even had pay for the center's legal fees). There were other places here in town that were available, that were zoned correctly and ready to be used. In order to use the current location it needs to be hooked to city sewer and water. On top of all that, there are now several concerned citizens that have not had a positive experience with community representation and have heightened awareness of the location.
I sincerely hope that everything works out, but I am very disappointed in our local system. I feel that the whole process should have been handled in a much more up-front way. But in the end, it seems that due to an interpretation of a law and fear of litigation these types of centers can do whatever they want as long as they are allowed to.
So … will you be ready to take one for the team when it’s your turn?
Thank you to the citizens of the area affected, and thanks again to the City of Cottonwood for giving me a reason to voice an opinion. It felt good, I am just sorry it was for such a poor reason.
Keep church and state separate
I would like to comment on a recent letter, "Turn Back to God before He turns His Back on you," by Peggy James and William Rheinfelder.
The Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment, etc. etc. "or prohibiting the free exercise of religion." You can, Peggy and William, as long as you don’t do it in state-operated buildings. The context of this clause means you have that freedom, just don’t do it in Uncle Sam’s domain. It was the intent if the writers of the Constitution to keep the government neutral. It’s all rather simple.
You religiomanics or rapturemongers want it all. You can pray to your mystic and supernatural god all you want in your churches, synagogues and mosques. Just don’t ask the government to help you do it.
Faith is the acceptance of an idea regardless of any proof. Spirit is an intangible essence of the body. Spiritualism is something immaterial or transcendent. A miracle is a supposed suspension of natural law, violations, exaggerations, misinterpretations.
The 10 Commandments are mantra, a doctrine, a roadmap for living. There is no historical truth or history except in the Bible and that isn’t history.
Religion arose to deal with ignorance, fear of the unknown, death and weakness in human kind. God is a metaphor for natural law, the supernatural; life’s forces and everything else that man doesn’t understand.
The cemeteries are full of believers. When the body dies, the spirit and soul die, too. We are born. We are young. We mature. We age. We die.
And, that is all there is folks.
Volunteers make park what it is
Thank you to everyone who showed up Sept.22 at Dead Horse Ranch State Park to help us move the fish from the old lagoon to the new eight-acre lagoon.
The staff was truly inspired by the vast number of volunteers who took time off from their busy schedules to make themselves available. Because we have never been involved in fish transportation before, we feel we must apologize to you for the vast amount of time your talents went unused.
In order to ensure the survival of the fish before, during and after the transfer, the utmost care had to be taken by Game & Fish and us. This lead to the lengthy waiting periods you endured. Your enthusiasm, good humor, and patience made the afternoon heat more bearable.
Even though you didn’t get as dirty or tired as we promised you would, we really appreciate that you were there. We hope you will not look upon this project or us to critically, and please keep volunteering.
Your involvement in our riparian area, park and community is essential and very appreciated.
S. Max Castillo
Verde River Greenway Coordinator