VERDE HERITAGE 1917-1924: COTTONWOOD PROGRESSIVE ASSOCIATION

"On Tuesday evening at 8 o'clock the Cottonwood Progressive Association met in the old Rialto [Portola] Theater building for the last time after its organization on the evening of August 27, 1917, at which time the committee on organization consisted of Charles C. Stemmer, chairman; J. B. F. Wigginton, secretary; and M. J. Rounseville and Charles D. Willard, members. This was followed by the election of a set of permanent officers, J. A. McGimsey, being first president; Charles C. Stemmer, vice president; J. B. F. Wigginton, secretary; and Alonzo Mason, treasurer. As the executive board were M. J. Rounseville, Charles D. Willard, and Sam Steinberg. These officers held office until March, 1918, when Charles C. Stemmer succeeded J. A. McGimsey as president. W. M. Morse was elected vice president, Clifford Clock, secretary; and Alonzo Mason, treasurer, and served in that capacity until about 2 years ago. The executive board was then composed of J. A. McGimsey, M. J. Rounseville, and Sam Steinberg. Charles Stemmer continued as president from March, 1918, until April 15, 1924; J. A. McGimsey also serving during that time as member of the executive board, and John M. MacIntyre serving over 2 years as secretary-treasure of the association."

"ACCOMPLISHMENTS: During the existence of the association, the first grading on Main street was done by the association with funds it raised for that purpose. In the fall of 1918, the association invested $150 in poles, brackets and wire to give the town the first street lights, and considerable money was spent for hose and other fire-fighting paraphernalia. Through its efforts, Charles D. Willard was induced to build for the town the 35,000-gallon storage tank in addition to the original supply tank to the water system. It aided in the combatting of the influenza epidemic and its members were ever alert to every vital issue of concern to Cottonwood. It drew up and published resolutions supporting the popular demand for the Oak Creek cut-off and some few were always writing, laboring, and planning and toiling to make the future of Cottonwood a permanent and bright one."

"The association staged with the co-operation of the other towns in the district, the largest and most successful Labor Day celebration ever held in the district before or since and several of the town's citizens made great sacrifices to make it a success. The association applied over $250 on the chemical engine purchased for the town and $400 in the clearing of the ball park and the high board fence around it, in the face of the fact that the celebration cost over $2500 to stage. The exact figures are on the books."

"Through the association more harmonious relations have been brought about between the two smelting companies and Cottonwood and these resulted in the beautiful school building being erected for Clemenceau and Cottonwood. More street lights were added and a better method of paying for them inaugurated only last year. The matters of a public parking ground and better fire equipment have been given the attention of the association, and the officers who stayed through to the night of dissolution have no occasion for regret, and can truly state that they have made numberless sacrifices and spent hours of time, their own money and equipment in the interests of the public, and have the satisfaction of knowing, whether the town at large appreciates the facts or not, that for the limited power they had and more often the limited help and co-operation, they have built a foundation that will not crumble away."

"The association was born with the town, and brought it into prominence that, independently, it never could have achieved."

"TUESDAY'S MEETING: Returning to the events of Tuesday evening, Charles C. Stemmer, president of the association, called the meeting to order and stated that primarily a vote would be taken of those present as to whether or not they were desirous of going on with the Progressive Association with the election of new officers, or if they preferred to dissolve the old association and organize a new one. The notice was made by C. D. Willard, seconded by Harry Reilly, and carried, that the old society be dissolved. Stemmer put the matter through quickly and the dissolution was completed and the Cottonwood Progressive Association went out of existence."

"NEW OFFICERS: J. M. Foster, Jr., was appointed temporary chairman and Don Willard temporary secretary until the new association could be organized. choosing the new officers followed and the result showed that J. M. Foster, Jr., was elected permanent president; Ersel Garrson, vice president; J. O. Braley, second vice president; Donald Willard, secretary; C. D. Willard, treasurer; and 4 directors all to serve for 1 year from their election. All officers are directors also, making 9 directors in all. Immediately after the election of the directors a committee composed of Ersel Garrison, J. A. McGimsey, and Charles C. Stemmer was appointed to draft a constitution and bylaws and christen the new organization. Thus in a few brief moments after the expiration of one association another was created and an adjournment was taken until last night."

"Of the membership of the new organization there is a major portion of newcomers to the town. Most of them are young men. They are all fresh and ready for the fray. There are numberless matters in the future that will require their attention and it is the purpose of the organization to combine all the qualities of a chamber of commerce and, as far as consistent and legitimate, a city council, and thus promote the harmonious relations of the member among themselves and promote the general welfare of the town of Cottonwood."

"These neophytes perhaps would not care to listen to the suggestions of those who tried to be broad-minded and still meet all the conditions, but experience will teach them just what can be done and how it can be done. The men who form the official head of the new organization, and especially J. M. Foster, have lived in different sections of the country and Mr. Foster is well posted on conditions confronting unincorporated towns and is well schooled in how they are managed to the best interests of all concerned. There is no doubt that the new organization will be able to accomplish more than the old. There are more workers directly enrolled; they have a foundation to begin with and they have the moral support of the entire district. The problem of a public parking ground, better fire equipment, a fire company, and many other matters will be taken up by the organization at an early date, and in further issues of the News from time to time reports of their activities will be noted. The slogan for Cottonwood now is as very simple one: 'Watch Us Grow!'"

(Verde Copper News; Friday, April 18, 1924; pages 1 and 5.)

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