Letters to the Editor August 25, 2006

Property owners should be protected from bureaucrats

Editor:

Having read the recent article on the Private Property Rights Protection Act being placed on the fall ballot as a proposition involving eminent domain, I would like to make a case for voting yes on the measure. Clarkdale Mayor Doug Von Gausig was quoted in the article. I'm glad he has awoken to the fact that planning decisions affect the value of property. He and others have already laid groundwork for opposing this valuable measure with scare tactics, claiming there will be a plethora of lawsuits if the measure passes.

Town and City Councils and Planning and Zoning Commissions already have a strict standard for approval of projects and should be held accountable in circumstances where they deny a person or entity the right to use their property within the guidelines of existing law or when they make frivolous decisions based on non-relevant emotional criteria. These decisions are already subject to court review and could at any time be deemed a "taking," requiring compensation from the offending governing body.

Every Planning and Zoning Commission and Town or City Council in the area commonly crosses the line and denies a use that might ultimately be judged to be a "taking." The expense of litigation, the negative image created when one chooses to litigate, and just plain old common sense have intervened in many instances to protect these government agencies from damage claims.

Currently it is quite common for activists to gain appointments to these commissions and to seek elective positions to manipulate the system for personal reasons. In rural communities such as ours, it is also common for unsuspecting locals to gain appointment to these commissions to then be emotionally manipulated by activists. There is no place in our system for this type of subversive activism. These positions should be filled by responsible, objective individuals who understand the law.

For example, the decision to take a portion of the Verde Cafe property was abhorrent. The original issue involved parking. The business owner felt the parking in the Town's plan was inadequate and would negatively impact his business. I agreed then and I agree now. The proof is in the pudding. I have an office on Main Street in Camp Verde and watch my business neighbors struggle daily with parking issues. The "Main Street Beautification" transformed Camp Verde's Central Business District into a beautiful place but many businesses failed during the construction phase and others continue to struggle here because the project eliminated most of the on-street parking. Our Central Business District is no longer business friendly.

Business at the Verde Cafe has suffered in another way. Some citizens and town employees, hearing one side of the story, have chosen to boycott the restaurant. The sad thing is, not only are they missing a good meal, they are also contributing to a grave injustice perpetrated by misinformation and bad judgement. Sadly, too, the owner is considering selling the restaurant and taking his talents elsewhere.

The referendum, if passed, will tighten the guidelines on takings and make it more difficult for governmental agencies to cross the line and take or affect the value of personal property. Appointees, electees and bureaucrats tend to forget their stewardship role and need some reminding.

A perfect example is easily seen on Highway 260 just east of Wal-Mart in Cottonwood. There are a number of signs along 260 that read "State Trust Land - No Trespassing." How can a resident of this state "trespass" on state land?

In conclusion, Von Gausig is typical of the Stop-The-Growth crowd who will say anything to scare constituents into believing business and growth are bad. I encourage support of the proposition. The measure is important to Arizona property rights.

Bob Womack

Camp Verde

Give Mingus Union the help she needs

Editor:

Mingus Union High School left Jerome in 1972 trailing clouds of glory and splendid traditions. As principal of the school then, I shared in the pride our students, faculty, and community had in our beautiful new facility. I know that it became a model for schools throughout the state and nation.

During the nearly 40 years that have passed since, Mingus Union entered the hearts and lives of thousands of students and community members who are proud to have been part of it.

Now this glorious school needs a bit of help. I'm very frustrated that I can't vote "yes" in November to help her, but I hope that she, as well as the whole lovely Verde Valley will hear my prayers for success in the bond election -- even though those prayers are from far away Tucson.

I know that one can't really love brick and mortar, but I shall always love the spirit of Mingus Union. Please give her the help she needs on Nov. 7.

Ernie Gabrielson

Tucson

Great programs abound at C-OC

School is back in session! We have many exciting programs in the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District (COCSD), one of which is our Child Find program. COCSD conducts a variety of activities to locate, identify and evaluate children from age 3 through eighth grade who may be in need of special education services.

This process includes children who attend private schools or are home-schooled. Local Education Agencies (LEAs) are responsible for conducting a thorough and complete Child Find process to determine the number of parentally-placed children with disabilities attending private schools and home schools, located in the LEA. This total count is necessary, even if the child is not receiving special education services.

The public school system works with the Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP) in order to cover the wide range of ages: birth through age 21. If eligible, the Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP) or the public school system will offer early intervention or special education services according to the child's needs.

When children are "found," they are referred to a specialist within their local area to screen their development. The screening helps identify any areas of concern that need to be evaluated further. In order to receive early intervention or special education services, a child must be evaluated to confirm they have specific delays or disabilities that fall under state definitions.

There are specific categories of school-based disabilities that range from mild speech impairments to more severe cognitive delays. The categories are: autism, emotional disability, hearing impairment, mental retardation, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, preschool moderate /severe/ or speech/language, specific learning disability, speech and language impairment, traumatic brain injury, and visual impairment. The majority of students nationwide are identified as students with specific learning disabilities.

Early Intervention

Early intervention supports and services assist families of children who are eligible by helping children ages birth to 3 years develop to their full potential. In Arizona, early intervention services are provided through the Arizona Early Intervention Program and can be contacted at (888) 439-5609 or www.azdes.gov/azeip.

Preschool

Preschool special education services for children ages 3 to 5 provide special strategies to help children reach their developmental milestones. The Cottonwood-Oak Creek Preschool is located within the Dr. Daniel Bright Elementary School campus. This year we are excited to also have the Buena Vista Community Preschool located within this campus. COCSD offers monthly Child Find screenings for children ages 3-5. Screenings look at five areas of child development, including; thinking (cognitive), motor (muscle control), communication (how well your child uses language or is understood), social/emotional/adaptive (how your child care's for himself, gets along with others), vision and hearing. If you are concerned about an area of development for your child, please contact the Special Services office at 634-6743 for an appointment.

Kindergarten-eighth grade

Special education services for school-aged children in kindergarten through eighth grade provide specialized instruction and services to assist children in the educational environment. Children learn at different rates. All new students enrolled are screened in areas of development that affect learning. Specific information can be found about these areas on the Arizona Department of Education Web site (www.azed.gov/ess/childfind). Click on K-12, or contact the Special Services department of your local school district. COCSD employs a variety of certified specialists in order to meet the needs of all disability categories.

You can find more information about Child Find including resources and developmental milestones at www.azed.gov/ess/childfind or contact Special Services at COCSD at 634-6743.

Patricia Osborne is the Special Services director at Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District.

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