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Clarkdale balances charm of old with new growth in 2015

Recreational use of the Verde River drew heated debate last year. Some Clarkdale residents asked for restrictions, complaining of noise and littering, particularly from tubers. Others, such as watercraft users and commercial guides, sought continued access. (VVN/Vyto Starinskas)

Recreational use of the Verde River drew heated debate last year. Some Clarkdale residents asked for restrictions, complaining of noise and littering, particularly from tubers. Others, such as watercraft users and commercial guides, sought continued access. (VVN/Vyto Starinskas)

CLARKDALE - The historic community of Clarkdale showed signs of moving forward in 2015 as it sought a tricky balance between preserving the charm of old while embracing the new opportunities of growth.

Verde River kayak applications drop from 6,000 to 1,415 this year

Seeking ways to find a balance between exploring the Verde River and destroying it, Town Council set a limit of 9,200 commercial users for 2015 during a Jan. 13 meeting.

As it turned out, that number was never reached.

Come May 22, the number of actual permits applied and issued was 1,415.

Recreational use of the Verde River drew heated debate last year. Some Clarkdale residents asked for restrictions, complaining of noise and littering, particularly from tubers.

Others, such as watercraft users and commercial guides, sought continued access.

According to Gayle Mabery, town manager for the town of Clarkdale, the only vendor who had applied for permits was South by Southwest. Last year's vendor, Verde Adventures, did not complete the permit process.

Former Clarkdale police officer awarded $1 million in parked bus mishap

Serafin Razo, a former Clarkdale police officer, was awarded $1 million by a Yavapai County Superior Court jury in a case charging negligence against a Clarkdale-Jerome School District bus driver.

The verdict stems from an incident that occurred Feb. 2, 2009 when Razo stopped bus driver Gary Naylor for inoperative clearance lights. According to the plaintiff's attorney, as Razo entered the bus, the driver reached to switch on the clearance lights but instead hit the lever to close the passenger door. The plaintiff's attorney stated the door struck Razo in the head, allegedly knocking him unconscious.

Due to the incident, the plaintiff's attorney said Razo suffered mild traumatic injury leading to loss of earning capacity, since Razo lost his job as a police officer as well as a potential pension and that he couldn't lift more than 15 pounds.

The defense attorney argued that the plaintiff had already suffered multiple back and neck injuries before the accident. Furthermore, the defense stated that the officer was not knocked out, but simply rubbed his head and was able to call dispatch.

Superintendent Kathleen Fleenor says there is consideration that defense may seek a re-trial.

Plan to remediate toxic soil moves ahead

Clarkdale residents had an opportunity to make their comments known by Aug. 17 to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) about an upcoming soil remediation plan.

The plan by Freeport Minerals Corporation is to remove and replace toxic soil and replace landscape on the property of interested Clarkdale owners.

Lead, arsenic and copper particles were emitted by the nearby United Verde smelter until it ceased operation in 1953.

Members of the Clarkdale town staff and council spent two days in late May visiting Bisbee, which is completing a soils remediation program similar to one proposed for Clarkdale by Freeport Minerals Corporation.

Apache Elder Vincent Randall shared family stories, Clarkdale history

Apache Elder Vincent Randall presented "History of the Apache" to a packed audience at the Clarkdale Memorial Clubhouse on Aug. 15. The event was sponsored by the Clarkdale Historical Society and Museum.

A lifelong Clarkdale resident, Randall graduated from the present-day Northern Arizona University and taught in Clarkdale from 1963 to 1992. He coached his boys' basketball teams to five state wins and a girls' basketball team to a Division 2 Final Four.

Randall also served as Tribal Chairman for the Yavapai-Apache Nation where-at 75 years of age-he continues to be employed as Cultural Director.

"A child is a product of their community," said Randall. "Growing up in Clarkdale I had the opportunities. I was respected and was given high hopes and given goals."

"It's pretty all right, as they say in Indian talk," Randall said.

Habitat for Humanity recipient pays-off Clarkdale home mortgage

In 1995, Victoria Rodriguez-Luevano was a single parent raising four kids by herself. The recent college-grad was working long hours at a minimum-wage job and lacked the necessary funds to move from their one-bedroom apartment.

"Me and my daughter shared the bedroom and the boys took turns sleeping on the living room couch or on the floor," said Rodriguez-Luevano.

Thanks to a bit of savings and a lot of sweat equity by her family, she became the first homeowner sponsored by the Verde Valley affiliate of Habitat for Humanity.

Twenty years later, Rodriguez-Luevano payed-off her mortgage.

On Sept. 19, a "mortgage-burning party" was held in her honor at the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Cottonwood.

New RV park announced

A 61-space upscale RV park was approved by Town Council this fall.

The Rain Spirit RV Resort will be built just south of the Verde Canyon Railroad at 551 N. Broadway.

The 9.52-acre commercial site had been previously improved for the Verde Valley Christian Church, with utilities, water and wastewater already in place.

The Rain Spirit RV Resort is scheduled to open late spring of 2016, according to Owner Gary Clouston, a California custom-home builder who will live on-site with his wife and children.

The Rain Spirit RV Resort will be subject to Clarkdale's 3-percent retail sales tax, as well as 2-percent bed tax.

Verde Canyon Railroad celebrated 25 years

On Nov. 23, the popular tourist destination Verde Canyon Railroad celebrated its Silver Anniversary.

"The first year, there were 14,000 people. Now, we have 96 to 100,000 a year," said Propeck. "We're nearing 2 million total passengers," said Teresa Propeck, marketing director of the Verde Canyon Railroad.

The railway first snaked through the canyons of the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area carrying loads of copper ore during the copper boom of 1912.

Now, the four-hour trip takes passengers on a 20 mile tour of seasonal color, roaming wildlife and American Indian ruins.

Sales tax revenue lagged but showed glimpse of future growth

For the first time in months, Clarkdale reported an increase in overall sales tax revenue, with collections up 1 percent in Nov. 2015 compared with Nov. 2014.

The housing market has re-ignited Construction tax revenue in Clarkdale, with new subdivisions (such as Crossroads at Mingus) as well as existing subdivisions (such as Mountain Gate) building additional homes.

Sales tax revenue reports from the Arizona Department of Revenue reflect the economic health of 12 industry sectors, ranging from Accommodations to Wholesale Trade.

Clarkdale consistently placed last in sales tax revenue growth this year when compared to the nearby communities of Camp Verde, Cottonwood and Jerome.

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