Mon, May 20

Verde Valley deserves, needs, strong court system

The Republican Party Oath includes a phrase that the most effective government is government closest to the people.

Let's hope the most exclusive Republican Party club you'll ever find ‹ the Yavapai County Supervisors ‹ will keep that in mind as they go through the process of determining future facility needs for the county.

Folks in the Verde Valley never should be so foolish as to suggest that this side of Mingus Mountain deserves an equal share of those facilities with our Prescott counterparts. Prescott is the county seat. It deserves the largest share of those facilities. If we don't like that basic fact, we should do more than just talk about splitting off and forming our own county government.

But we definitely also should stand our ground whenever there is the slightest hint that any part of Yavapai County government should be exclusively Prescott.

The current focus of the facilities discussion lies with the criminal justice system. Following the lead of Presiding Judge Robert Brutinel, the supervisors seem receptive to the creation of what is best described as a criminal justice center. Such a center would consolidate the courts and jail facilities. Good idea. Any time you can minimize inmate transport to and from court, the safer we all are.

But let's make sure such plans call for proportionate criminal justice centers for both the Verde Valley and Prescott. We already have a new jail thanks to former Sheriff Buck Buchanan's push for jail district taxing authority.

And, as County Public Defender Janet Lincoln noted, it is an unfair burden to require every defendant and their family residing in the Verde Valley to have to travel to Prescott to handle their cases. We're certain those people closely watching the legal proceedings of Robin Lynn

Robbins, for example, would not think it fair to have to travel to Prescott to watch the wheels of justice slowly spin in this case.

Currently, about 40 percent of the county's criminal caseload originates here in the Verde Valley. Roughly one-third of the civic caseload represents lawsuits filed in the Verde.

We should have proportionate facilities and a fair share of the judges, prosecutors, public defenders and probation officers to handle these Verde Valley cases. What good reason is there to adjudicate them in Prescott?

It all goes back to that most basic principle of what constitutes good government.

We'll see how important that is to good Republicans like the ones we have governing Yavapai County.

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Here's a tip for those of you who enjoy seeing a well-oiled machine in action.

Take in a Mingus Union High School freshman girls basketball game.

The girls won their most recent game against Phoenix Moon Valley in a 50-19 blowout. That gives the girls a perfect 7-0 start to the season going into their next game Jan. 3, 7 p.m., at home against Flagstaff.

In their first seven games, the Mingus girls have outscored their opponents 354-154. They are averaging 51 points a game and holding their opponents to an average of 22 points a game.

Their dominance is such that the starters ‹ Shaina Gyce, Christina Hagberg, Jade Young, Kelsey Wokasch and Sha-Nae Randall ‹ are only playing six to seven minutes a game.

The team is coached by Christy Tuell. She is more than capably assisted by Verde Valley coaching legend Vince Randall. Vince has been coaching basketball in the Verde Valley since 1960. For years, his teams at the Clarkdale-Jerome School were among the best small-school junior high teams in Arizona.

These girls are worth a look. They've got game.