Winslow City Council receives reports, updates on activities

By L. Parsons

In the May 9 meeting of the Winslow City Council, various city entities presented their reports.

Bob Hall, CEO of the Winslow Chamber of Commerce and director of the Visitor’s Center, advised the council that 340 visitors from Arizona signed in to the center between February and April and 455 from out of state. The website garnered nearly 18,000 hits. He reported that $10,000 was spent on advertisement, which included 15,480 pieces of printed promotional pieces used both locally and around the world to advertise Winslow, and nearly 6,000 maps were distributed.

The Visitor’s Center also added a pergola to the front of the building, and launched a mobile app that takes users on a virtual tour of Winslow and surrounding attractions.

Hall invited the public and council to take part in the Historic Arizona Route 66 Association Conference planned June 30 at the Chamber of Commerce. The conference will feature Route 66 business owners and enthusiasts sharing ideas on how to improve commerce along the Mother Road.

The annual report from the Old Trails Museum was given by Director Ann-Mary Lutzick, complete with a PowerPoint presentation of happenings. Visitors to the museum increased in number from 2015 and volunteer time was banked at nearly 2,000 hours. The website garnered nearly 15,000 hits and the social media following increased to 600 members.

New projects include expanding the textile collections and paper files, and replacing the light fixtures throughout the museum.

Lutzick spoke about the many upcoming events, as well as involvement in events passed. Special mention was given to the High Desert Fly In and Gala, which will be held in September this year instead of in July as it was previously. Lutzick invited members of the public and the council to volunteer and to become members of the Winslow Historical Society.

Animal Control Officer Stratton Salyers gave the quarterly status report for his department. In February, the shelter began with four cats. The facility took in one cat, adopted one and sent one to a foster family. Thirty-four dogs began the month, 12 were processed, three returned from fostering, 12 were adopted, six fostered, three transferred to partner shelters and no animals were euthanized.

March saw three cats taken in and one adopted. Twenty-seven dogs began the month and 33 concluded it. Sixteen were taken in, three returned from adoption, nine returned from fostering, 13 were adopted and one was put down due to illness.

In April, six cats started the month and the month ended with five. Fourteen dogs were processed, two returned from adoption, 11 were adopted and five animals were euthanized due to illness.

Councilman Harold Soehner noted to Salyers the closing of The Second Chance Center for Animals in Flagstaff and asked, “What effect will that closing have in Winslow?”

Salyers responded, “It may impact us greatly in moving animals who are not being adopted here to other shelters.”

Salyers noted that 30 to 50 animals went to Second Chance last year. “We will continue to work with other shelters like Yavapai, but we will miss having Second Chance so close,” he said.

He went on to explain that the Animal Control has seen an influx of animals with life-threatening illnesses. One of those illnesses is a new strain of the Parvo Virus. “The signs are different than the Parvo we are used to seeing. There is not as much blood, the animal shows lethargy and the sickness moves quickly,” he explained, noting that the rise in rodent populations may be contributing to the spread of this virus.

City Finance Director Elias Jouen presented the tentative budget for 2017-18 for discussion, which proposed an increase in city employee salaries by three percent, sewer and solid waste rates by three percent and water rates by two percent. The entire budget proposal can be viewed on the city’s website, www.winslowaz.gov, by clicking “departments” then “finance.”

Pulled from the consent calendar for further discussion was a rejection of bids for the La Posada Train Depot Rehab Project.

City Manager Steve Pauken explained that the low bid to improve the depot exceeded the engineer’s estimate by $600,000. The city is in the process of locating alternative funding for the project through the Northern Arizona Council of Governments (NACOG) transportation fund, as well as re-scoping the improvements.

Pauken asked to amend the item to read, “The council will reject all bids unless alternate funding from NACOG and or the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) contribute to the cost.”

Soehner moved to approve the amended item and the motion passed unanimously.

An intergovernmental agreement between participating jurisdictions and the city regarding the White Mountain Regional Special Response Team (SRT) for a term of five years was approved.

The call to the public brought forth Chamber of Commerce CEO Bob Hall to invite public and council to attend the annual Taste of Winslow fundraiser scheduled at 4 p.m. on Friday, June 9, on the patio at PT’s Bar, located at 1500 E. Third Street. The event will feature food from restaurants around the city and an auction. Funds raised at Taste of Winslow are used locally to support various organizations including the Because We Care party and Little League. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce, located at 523 W. Second Street.

Brian Snyder of Red Sands Christian School informed the public and council that the school made an offer on the Armory building, formerly Northern Arizona Academy, located at 502 Airport Road, including the adjacent rodeo grounds. Snyder explained that they are officially removing themselves from the conversation surrounding the rodeo grounds, and the offer would be for only the armory building. Red Sands Christian School will remain in bid for the armory building.

Laurie Lashomb of the Winslow Sweetland Community Garden invited community members to bring their children to the Chamber of Commerce on Saturday, May 20, for a free planting class and a plant to take home.

She also addressed the council with concerns of “apathy and lack of commitment in city leadership,” citing instances when commissions were scheduled to meet but did not due to their city leadership not being present. Lashomb urged the council to encourage city leaders and chairpersons to further commit to their organizations.

Ken Evans addressed the council on behalf of the Winslow Masonic Lodge, inviting those who wish to attend to a rededication ceremony for the lodge that has been rebuilt following a 2015 fire. The event begins at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 27, at the lodge, located at 315 N. Kinsley.

Michelle Pennington questioned the council on the proposed water rate increases due to begin in July. She noted that she was under the impression that the water rates would remain the same due to previous conversations with city leadership. She also addressed issues such as the police being shorthanded and asked if there was a reason the city was not hiring more officers. Finally, she asked if the city planned to find a public communication space as soon as June 1, when the “Scoop” becomes a subscription based source.

Lani White had questions for the council as well. First, she inquired about, “getting together to get questions answered,” regarding the rodeo grounds and asked if it were better if questions were submitted to the council in advance of the public meeting. Further, she showed concern for and questioned the city practice of hiring real estate and title processing firms from outside of Winslow.

The council is unable to respond during call to the public.

Councilman Tom Chacon asked for the issue regarding the rodeo grounds be placed on the agenda for the next council meeting to ensure proper discussion will take place before the council and the public.

The council also recognized the Winslow Police Department Employees of the Year, and approved the appointment of Dan Brown in the position of chief of police beginning immediately.

Pauken mentioned there are still vacancies on the Planning and Zoning Commission, as well as the Historic Preservation Commission.

Proclamations were approved for the week of May 14-20 as Police Officers Week and May 15 as Police Memorial Day in Winslow. May 20 was proclaimed Kids to Park Day in an effort to encourage parents to take their kids to parks around the state. Children are urged to visit a neighborhood, state or national park.

Council members Judy Howell and Marshall Losey were absent and excused.

The next meeting of the council will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23, in the council chambers, located at 115 E. Second St.