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Quartzsite, Arizona

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

2013-14 Desert Messenger publishing schedule released

Quartzsite, Arizona

Desert Messenger released the Publishing Schedule and Rate Card for the 2013-14 season. Desert Messenger is Quartzsite's FREE Community Paper, and will be celebrating 10 Years of serving Quartzsite and the surrounding areas.

Desert Messenger publishes the 1st & 3rd WEDNESDAY of the month from September through May with special Summer Editions in June, July & August. Desert Messenger is your local source for News, Events & Entertainment in and around Quartzsite, Arizona!

Be sure to check out the newly redesigned website, for more information on Quartzsite and links to popular websites, along with the current Rate Card and Publishing Schedule.

DM 2013-14 Deadlines

Desert Messenger Rate Card 2013-14

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Quartzsite Town Clerk seeks emails from Council & Board Members

By Shanana Rain Golden-Bear
Desert Messenger Editor/Publisher

Quartzsite, Arizona
Quartzsite Town Clerk, Terry Frausto, issued the following letter to Mayor and Members of the Common Council for the Town of Quartzsite and Members of Advisory Boards, Committees and Commissions regarding Emails as Public Records and Appropriate Limitations on Email Communications.

The letter is a reminder "that all emails to and from Council members, board and committee members and Town employees concerning Town business are public records. She cautions members not to communicate with four or more members of the same board, which constitutes a quorum. (Evidently Frausto forgot that the Municipal Utilities Commission consists of only five members, and a quorum would therefore be three members. Also, the Personnel Board is a three-member Board, so a quorum would therefore be only two members.)

Frausto then asks the council and board members to forward all emails regarding Town Business to the Town Clerk, even if "only one line is about Town business" stating it is a public record and must be preserved.

Frausto asked Council and board members for their "cooperation in searching your private emails for messages sent or received in the past that relate to Town business," so she may "properly preserve these public records."

However, the Arizona Ombudsman's Open Meeting Law Booklet, clearly defines limitations pertain to a topic that is or may be presented to the public body for a decision, not any issue regarding the very generic phrase, "TOWN BUSINESS"!


Section 7.5.2 Circumvention of the Open Meeting Law.
Discussions and deliberations between less than a majority of the members of a
governing body, or other devices, when used to circumvent the purposes of the Open
Meeting Law violate that law. See Ariz. Att'y Gen. Op. 75-8; Town of Palm Beach v.
Gradison, 296 So. 2d 473 (Fla. 1974). Public officials may not circumvent public
discussion by splintering the quorum and having separate or serial discussions with a
majority of the public body members. Splintering the quorum can be done by meeting in
person, by telephone, electronically, or through other means to discuss a topic that is or
may be presented to the public body for a decision. Public officials should refrain from
any activities that may undermine public confidence in the public decision making
process established in the Open Meeting Law, including actions that may appear to
remove discussions and decisions from public view.

For example, Board members cannot use email to circumvent the Open Meeting Law
requirements. See Ariz. Att’y Gen. Op. I05-004 at 2. “[E]ven if communications on a
particular subject between members of a public body do not take place at the same time
or place, the communications can nonetheless constitute a ‘meeting.’” See Del Papa v.
Bd. of Regents of Univ. and Cmty. Coll. Sys. Of Nev., 114 Nev. 388, 393, 956 P.2d 770,
774 (1998) (rejecting the argument that a meeting did not occur because the board
members were not together at the same time and place.) Additionally, “[w]hen members
of the public body are parties to an exchange of e-mail communications that involve
discussions, deliberations, or taking legal action by a quorum of the public body
concerning a matter that may foreseeably come before the public body for action, the
communications constitute a meeting through technical devices under the [Open Meeting
Law].” See Ariz. Att’y Gen. Op. I05-004 at 1. This may be true even if none of the
members of the public body respond to the email. Id. at 2-3. If the one-way
communication proposes legal action, then it would violate the Open Meeting Law. Id.
However, other one-way communications, with no further exchanges, are not per se
violations, and further examination of the facts and circumstances is necessary to determine if there is a violation. Id. at 3.

CLICK LINK BELOW to view letter:

Town of Quartzsite letter to council & boards

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ehrenberg teacher arrested for sex crimes

Blythe, CA
Riverside County Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement (SAFE) Task Force, arrested Russell A. Williams, 45, a teacher at Ehrenberg Elementary School, on July 17, 2013. Williams, of Blythe, Calif., is facing Felony charges of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor under 14  and sending/possessing obscene matter.

Williams is the focus of a 
Special Meeting of the Quartzsite Elementary School 
(QES) District 4 Board tomorrow July 25, at 8 am
in Ehrenberg Elementary School. 

The board will decide to terminate Williams, as he allegedly violated A.R.S 15-550. “Unprofessional conduct of a teacher”.

Apparently Williams did not immediately report the arrest or charge to his supervisor, Jacque Price, QES Superintendent. School policy states an employee of the school "who is arrested for or charged with any nonappealable offense listed in ARS. 41-1758.03 (B) AND who does not immediately report the arrest or charge to the person's supervisor is guilty of unprofessional conduct and the person shall be immediately dismissed from employment..."

Williams taught 5th grade last year at the Ehrenberg School, according to Price. She stated, "He's been teaching long before I arrived and was dedicated to his students." 

When asked if there had been prior complaints, Price said, "every teacher has complaints, but there was no particular complaints of this nature."

The agenda appeared on the QES website, but parents complained of not seeing the posting in the usual locations in Quartzsite. Price told Desert Messenger she is short staffed at the present, so didn't post the "courtesy notice" of tomorrow's meeting agenda in Quartzsite as usual. She said she is only required to post the agenda on the school's website, which she said met the requirement of posting within 24 hours of the scheduled meeting.

UPDATE: QES Press Release issued Friday, July 26th:

During an open meeting held on Thursday, July 25, 2013, the Quartzsite Elementary School Governing Board voted to terminate  Ehrenberg Elementary School teacher, Russell A. Williams, after finding he was in violation of A.R.S. §15-550 and Governing Board policy GBEB. Mr. Williams was arrested on July 17, 2013, and failed to immediately contact his supervisor to notify her of the arrest.

If you have information regarding Mr. Williams, you may contact the Riverside County District Attorney's Office by calling 951-955-5400 or toll-free at 888-374-1235.  You may also contact Superintendent Jacque Price at 928-923-7900 or the La Paz County Sheriff's Office at 928-669-9560.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Quartzsite Residents question proposed sewer rates & Notices

By Shanana Rain Golden-Bear
Desert Messenger

Quartzsite Town Manager Laura Bruno issued the following Public Notice Intent to Increase Waste Water Fees and Service Fees, dated July 10, 2013. (see below). This notice was posted on the front page of the Town's website. 

A public hearing is scheduled for 
Tues. August 13th, 2013 at 6:30 pm at Town Hall. 

In the Town's Official Public Notice, below, the Town Logo and Letterhead is conspicuously missing. Even the Town Hall address is buried in a paragraph on the last page, and there's no phone number for contacting Town Hall listed anywhere. Compare this to the Notice sent out to water users which does contain the Town Logo, Letterhead and easy-to-find contact information. 

Qtz. official proposed sewer rate Public Notice

This past week, Quartzsite water customers then received the following 3-page Notice of Proposed Sewer Rate Increase. When questioned why the two notices appear to be so different, Bruno stated at yesterday's Town Hall meeting that council had asked her to expand upon the notice and send out information to water customers. Since Quartzsite Council as not held a meeting since July 9th, (before the Official Notice of July 10th) the Council as a whole could not directed staff to expand on the notice; however individual council members may have requested the action privately.

Quartzsite only has 446 individually water-metered single family homes, yet has 3,362 master water metered RV/Mobile Home/Deeded Lot Parks. 

Residents in RV Parks or Mobile Home Parks usually do not receive separate water bills, as the Park owners are the responsible party. It's obvious the majority of Quartzsite water uses have NOT seen the following document, so Desert Messenger felt responsibility to post both here on this site. 

Of particular interest to Quartzsite sewer customers is the chart on page 2, showing existing rates and proposed rates, which is conspicuously missing from the Town's Public Notice (above) posted on their website. 

Also note the two pie charts displayed on the following document, are NOT included in the Town's Public Notice (above). 

The pie chart displaying the major components of the 2013-14 budget is on the Town's Public Notice, yet is missing from the Notice to water users. Residents are wondering why there is such a difference of information being distributed to the public. 

sewer rates notice to Qtz. residents -  

The following is an OPINION COLUMN which appeared in yesterday's Desert Messenger: 

SEWER Rates 
by Skip Gallup, guest columnist 
Most of you have received a letter from the TOWN OF QUARTZSITE regarding the proposed sewer rate. Sewer rates are complicated – IF that is how you want to present them. 
   The letter states in the third paragraph, first page, “nor does it ensure that year-round residents are not subsidizing seasonal users.”  It continues that, “All utility rate structures should be fair equitable and defendable; unfortunately, the Town’s current rate structure is not.”

   My original complaint was not as stated. The complaint was that unoccupied lots must pay full rates and business did not.
   In fact under the current rates any private home property owner (year round or seasonal) are supporting the business owners.  I have owned my lot in town for over 18 months and have paid the Town over $1000.00 and have not used any water/sewer.  The town has been aware of this for years.   The Mayor was alarmed at one meeting and talked to me afterwards claiming that this had to change now as he was getting ready for reelection and did not feel he would be elected if this continued.   The Mayor and Council have done nothing to get this changed.   
   Now a proposed rate is given as the answer.   If it is fair and equitable, WHY do the Single Family Users pay the highest rate and WHY are they automatically charged sewer usage of 3,000, or 5,000 or 20,000 gallons each month regardless of actual usage?  And if you own your own lot and live in an RV, you will be charged as a single family.  But if you live in an RV in a Park, you will pay 50% less per year for sewer service, for the same home.   WHY the difference?  
   I agree with the $15.00 charge for EACH customer/lot, perhaps.  If you add 446 single family homes and 3362 other lots, just using that total and divide that into the fixed cost of the sewer plant you arrive at just under $15.00 each.   However, some businesses in town will be charged $15.00 and others $48.00.  How is this reflective to their “fair” share of the fixed cost? Motels are going to be charged at $5.48 per room.  Does $5.48 also cover the rest of the motels operations?  The fixed cost should be equal for each customer IF each customer uses the same amount of the plant facilities.  For example, does an RV use the same amount of the sewer plant that a business with public restrooms?
   Each “lot” in town must be accounted for when designing the sewer plant and capacity reserved for each “hook-up”.  At least that is what the Town’s sewer expert claims.  Using the number of “hookups” and dividing that into the fixed cost gives the “base rate” for sewer/water rates ASSUMING each lot will use the same amount of the sewer plant.
   That still leaves the operating costs to handle.   That is covered by the gallons of usage.  The Town is using the figure that each single family dwelling uses just over 136 gallons of water each day.  That is the figure that is claimed to be proper from the ADEQ.   But no one will define a single family dwelling.  In Quartzsite I would be surprised to find that much usage, and certainly not the average for “single family dwellings” in our town.  The ADEQ does allow exceptions, if shown evidence.  Why doesn't the town look at their records and determine what is the average for Quartzsite?
   What is the cost to produce a gallon of water and process a gallon of sewer in Quartzsite?   The town must know this answer in order to follow their own codes.  To date no one has been able to answer that question.  If you do not know that answer, HOW can you determine the proper rate?
   The table on page two shows $20.10 for single family and the table on page three shows $15.00.  Why the difference?  The $20.10 includes 3000 gallons of sewer, BUT paragraph four on the second page claims commodity charge will be $0 if no water usage occurs.  The Town is proposing that the Single Family hook ups will pay for a minimum sewer usage EVEN if they do not use any water or discharge any sewerage.   NO OTHER CUSTOMERS have a minimum charge and yet the letter clearly states “fair and equitable” and “$0 if no water is used”.
   Confused,   I started by saying “Sewer rates are complicated – IF that is how you want to present them”. Perhaps now you will understand that statement.
   The council/town determined to hold meetings when the winter visitors were not in town. Some of these “visitors” actually own property and are concerned as year-round residents.  The Town could have held meetings last winter, but the choice was made to NOT HOLD MEETINGS. 
   What we really need is a meeting where all factors can be discussed.  Not argued, debated or shouting at each other, just a good honest discussion with answers.  I am sure that a solution can be achieved in a spirit of harmony and good will ending with a fair rate for all.  This type of meeting is needed, with all the politics left at the door. [Public Hearing is set for Aug. 13 at 6:30pm at Town Hall]

Friday, July 5, 2013

Ongoing battle between La Paz County Sheriff and Quartzsite Police Chief

Quartzsite, Arizona- During Wednesday's Coffee with Cops meeting, Quartzsite Police Chief Jeff Gilbert read the letter (see below) received from La Paz County Sheriff John Drum. According to the letter, Drum has "rescinded" Quartzsite Police Department's (QPD) "authority to 'concurrent jurisdiction' throughout the unincorporated areas of La Paz County." Drum "expects" QPD to contact his office immediately if any Quartzsite Police activity extends into the Sheriff's Office jurisdiction. Drum also stated any self initiated investigation would need "pre-approval."

Gilbert told the crowd that the matter has been handed over to the Town Attorneys. Gilbert stressed that the residents in the unincorporated communities just outside of Quartzsite, namely La Paz Valley and Rainbow Acres, would still be protected by law enforcement officers.

"If we are needed, we will be there for you!" Gilbert stressed. "It's about protecting the public first," he said. Gilbert explained, that many times, QPD officers are the first on the scene, even if it's located outside of Town Limits. With such a large county to cover, often La Paz County Sheriff Deputies are not available in the area, and QPD is called out.

County Attorney dissolved the county Task Force, known as C.A.D.R.E. on June 13th. Police Departments of Quartzsite and Parker were members of the Task Force prior to Drum taking office in January. Since then, Drum and the two Police Chiefs have been at odds in public, sending multiple press releases to local media. Drum made it clear he wants to form his own Task Force, but with recent events, it's unclear whether the only two incorporated Towns in the county will join.

Chief Gilbert also announced QPD's new "No Drugs…No Thugs…No Crime" Campaign aimed at the prevention and the apprehension of illegal drug and criminal activity in the Town of Quartzsite.

Gilbert said, "The recent events that have resulted in the dissolution of the joint drug task force by La Paz County officials has led the Quartzsite Police Department to take a different approach in its fight against illegal drug and criminal activity."

“No Drugs…No Thugs…No Crime”

In a press release issued July 1st, Gilbert stated, 

The police department has already implemented efforts that have led to the arrest of five individuals for felony drug offenses and one individual for misdemeanor drug offences in the past few weeks.  Illegal drug activity is often the catalyst to other victim crimes such as burglary, theft and assaults.

The Quartzsite Police Department will continue to work with all Local, State and Federal agencies to further drug investigations and to deter criminal activity driven by such crimes.  “We will take an aggressive approach to enforcement and prevention through enhanced efforts by the members of this department.”

Recently, the Quartzsite Police Department was assisted by the Parker Police Department in conducting a search warrant after a felony drug arrest.  “Chief Mendoza and I are committed to working together effectively as our criminal activity often crosses boundaries.”

Citizens are encouraged to report illegal drug activity or any information that could lead to the arrest of subjects involved with any type of criminal activity.  Please call the Quartzsite Police Department at (928) 927-4644 or Central Dispatch at (928) 669-2281 and always remember to call 911 if it is an emergency. 

Gilbert assured local residents that the Quartzsite Police Department will continue to serve and protect the public.

Sheriff Drum to QPD

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July and free summer eBook for your enjoyment

Editorial by Shanana Rain Golden-Bear
Quartzsite, Arizona

Happy Independence Day!

As we celebrate our Independence today, I want to share with you a wonderful project I am involved with called "The Gratitude Book Project: My Favorite Summertime Memory!"

It's an eBook full of fun and poignant stories celebrating the joys of summertime - from trips to the shore to sweet, juicy mangoes and "crummy" family reunions.

Download your free eBook here!

It features 70+ authors of past and present editions of The Gratitude Book Project,
this time answering "What is your favorite summertime memory?"

My article is about my annual preteen trips to visit my grandparents halfway across the country. It's on Page 49. The memory made me smile, and hope you do too!

The "summer shares" are guaranteed to make you smile and laugh - and maybe bring back a favorite summertime memory for yourself, too!

Pick up your free eBook here!


Feel free to share the link with others:

Shanana Rain Golden-Bear

Editor/Publisher Desert Messenger,
Quartzsite's FREE Community Paper

PO Box 3185, Quartzsite, AZ 85359

Monday, July 1, 2013

Prescott releases names of 19 fallen firefighters in Yarnell Hill Fire

Granite Mountain Hotshots - 

Fallen Firefighters

PRESCOTT, AZ (July 1, 2013) The City of Prescott is mourning the loss of the 19 heroes of the Granite Mountain Hotshots who gave their lives yesterday fighting the Yarnell Fire.
The City of Prescott is first and foremost committed to assisting those who have been impacted by this tragedy and tending to their needs. The City asks that the families and others in mourning must be afforded the space they need to begin the healing process.
The Granite Mountain Hotshots who lost their lives are:
  • Ashcraft, Andrew - Age: 29
  • Caldwell, Robert - Age: 23
  • Carter, Travis - Age: 31
  • Deford, Dustin - Age: 24
  • MacKenzie, Christopher - Age: 30
  • Marsh, Eric - Age: 43
  • McKee, Grant - Age: 21
  • Misner, Sean - Age: 26
  • Norris, Scott - Age: 28
  • Parker, Wade - Age: 22
  • Percin, John - Age: 24
  • Rose, Anthony - Age: 23
  • Steed, Jesse - Age: 36
  • Thurston, Joe - Age: 32
  • Turbyfill, Travis - Age: 27
  • Warneke, William - Age: 25
  • Whitted, Clayton - Age: 28
  • Woyjeck, Kevin - Age: 21
  • Zuppiger, Garret - Age: 27


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