WILLIAMS - The Williams Historic Commission will meet tomorrow at the Williams City Hall chamber, 113 South First Street. The commission will review and may recommend approval of the new Williams sign ordinance revised February 26, 2014.
The goal is to reach out for Christ to locals and tourists who have problems with English. He currently has Bibles and circulars in about 30 different languages. He has already given out 4 in the Navajo language and 1 Chinese.
Preaching the gospel is not exactly the mission of the ministry. It is a place for research and Bible Study. People will be able to get Bibles and other Christian books in different languages for free. The reference library and videos will only be available at the mission.
He plans to set up a coffee pot and a place for people to come in, research, fellowship or just pray. The ministry will open at 10 am and run until 6 pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday. As more people are able to volunteer time, the center may open on other days. He invites anyone who is willing to volunteer to serve the ministry.
The ministry area will consist of Bibles and Christian books to hand out. He also wants to set up a reference library for study and has a couch on the way. He is in need of shelves, possibly a small desk and other furnishings.Mike is also the Service Officer for the VFW and hopes to add helping homeless and other veterans in need. He has some items he will only issue to veterans.
He hopes to expand the outreach to single mothers. The current plan is to evaluate their needs and to find the appropriate agency to help.
He is planning to invite members of the ministry Teen Challenge come in to speak to teens about drug abuse and suicide.
The Hope for the World mission is accepting donations, but is not a 501(c)3 for tax purposed. Mike is considering that option. He is seeking volunteers of any Christian faith to assist. Those with foreign language skills are especially welcome.
The latest prediction is a 10% chance of rain tomorrow night rising to 20% during the day Friday and 30% Friday night.
Wind gusts of 24 mph are possible tomorrow during the day. Winds will be 11-16 mph Thursday night with gusts up to 23. Winds over Friday are expected to be 8-13 mph during the day dropping at night.
The long-range forecast shows rain ceasing over the rest of next week with temperatures rising to the sixties.
Starting on March 7 the Catholic Church will hold a fish fry every Friday during the season of Lent following the 5 pm Mass in Crossan Hall. Adult plates are $5. Children’s grilled cheese or fish and tarter tot plates are $2. Drinks and deserts are included.
The Catholic Church is located at 900 West Grant Avenue in Williams.
Although we received the expected moisture this week, the amount predicted did not come. We received only a dusting of snow instead of the 1-3 inches. Even the 1-3 inches would not have done much to stay the drought and the level 4 restrictions.
According to the NOAA weather predictions, we have a 30% chance of rain and snow the rest of the day dropping to 10% chance tonight. Starting Monday with temperatures rising to near sixties by Thursday. The long-range forecast shows that Friday there is a slight chance of moisture returning to sunny on Saturday.
PHOENIX – One of the most visible projects on Interstate 17 is moving onto the final phase of construction.
Since the January 2013 start of the $11.8 million safety improvement project south of Camp Verde, the Arizona Department of Transportation has moved approximately 350,000 tons of dirt and boulders from Copper Canyon to clear a path for the construction of the first-ever climbing lane (and third travel lane) on southbound I-17.
When complete, the additional southbound lane through the final two miles to the top of Copper Canyon will make it easier for motorists to pass large trucks and slow-moving vehicles whose speed drops because of the sustained grades along this stretch of highway (mileposts 280-282), which is the primary travel route linking Phoenix and Flagstaff.
Since early 2013, motorists traveling late at night on I-17 (primarily between 11:30 p.m. and 3:30 a.m.) have had to plan ahead to avoid more than 70 planned one-hour closures required to safely remove the rock material from the mountainside of Copper Canyon. Those restrictions ended with the final overnight blasting closure on Feb. 18, but additional lane restrictions are anticipated in the future as crews move to pave the new lane.
Southbound I-17 climbing laneWith the blasting phase of the project completed on Copper Canyon and the project 80 percent finished, crews have already begun building the subgrade for the new pavement on the climbing lane, which will add a third travel lane for motorists to climb to the top of the steep Copper Canyon.
ADOT will start final paving operations for the project in early summer when temperatures are ideal for this type of work.
In addition to the climbing lane, ADOT is also building a two-mile-long merging lane between the State Route 260 junction and General Crook Trail traffic interchange (mileposts 285-287), which is located just before the approach to Copper Canyon. The merging lane will allow larger vehicles to gain speed before merging onto I-17 while also providing more room for passenger vehicles traveling past slower traffic.
PHOENIX — Construction work on a series of bridge rehabilitation projects along the Interstate 15 Virgin River Gorge corridor in Arizona is underway, and motorists traveling between Mesquite, Nevada, and St. George, Utah, should plan ahead for delays in both directions through the work zones, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.
On Monday and Tuesday, March 3-4, northbound and southbound traffic is scheduled to be switched to the northbound lanes at Virgin River Bridge No. 2 and Bridge No. 3 (both at milepost 13, approximately 15 miles north of Mesquite, Nevada) and Bridge No. 7 (milepost 22, approximately 15 miles south of St. George, Utah) to allow work on the southbound bridge deck surfaces to begin.
I-15 will be narrowed to one lane in each direction at each of the bridge locations and delays are expected. Anticipated completion for this $2.8 million improvement project is this summer.
Drivers should allow 15 minutes extra travel time weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Additional delays may occur on weekends due to heavier traffic volumes and special events — including spring break from mid-March through late April.
Next month, ADOT is expected to start the reconstruction of Virgin River Bridge No. 6 (milepost 16, approximately 21 miles south of St. George, Utah). This significant $27 million rehabilitation project will include the replacement of the bridge’s superstructure (girders, deck and railings), as well as widening the roadway through the narrow passage of the gorge.
With limited alternate routes due to the remote location of the I-15 Virgin River Gorge corridor, ADOT urges drivers to plan ahead, allow extra travel time, slow down and drive carefully through the work zone, and be alert for construction equipment and personnel.
ADOT works to inform the public about planned highway restrictions. Unscheduled restrictions or closures may occur, and construction schedules are subject to change.
At the council meeting on February 27th, various business issues concerning Williams were raised.
One was the issue of sales tax. Sean Casey noted that Williams is among the highest in the country. The Williams city council voted to remove sales tax on the sale of groceries which was a tremendous step. The point was raised that more attractions had the potential to keep sales taxes down.
There used to be a bowling alley in the building behind Goldie’s Laundry, which was used by Rosa’s Cantina. A few years ago long-time Williams resident Marv Mason attempted a movie theater, but was denied by the council. The city also attempted an outdoor ice skating rink which failed due to weather conditions.
Another attraction that is probably not marketed as well is the new Veteran’s Memorial at the Memorial park on the west end of town near Family Dollar. In that same area, the city allowed a swap meet for years to support the scholarship efforts of the Kiwanis Club. Last year they made the decision not to allow people to stay over night near their set up which caused most of the people to avoid the swap meet. Rumor has it that the city will rescind that order.
The city also had a big attraction with Rendezvous Days which brought in thousands of people over the Memorial Day weekend. It included a parade which is no longer held. Over time it was brought down. Some of that was due to weather conditions which moved the Rendezvous to the Bob Dean Rodeo grounds. In the mid-90s, they used to close off up to four blocks of downtown for vendors which attracted a lot of foot traffic. The original owner of the Grand Canyon Coffee and Cafe complained that food vendors would hurt his business before one of the Rendezvous Days events. About midway through the event he had to close because he ran out of food.
The repeated noise complaints brought to light that there is no noise ordinance in Williams. The Canyon Club and Sultana routinely turn their jute boxes up to full volume. Adjacent businesses have complained that the noise has actually diverted customers away. The Canyon Club left its outside speakers on all night on one occasion disturbing customers at the Red Garter Bed and Breakfast. Recently they seem to have lowered the volume on the outdoor speakers. The Canyon Club also has Karaoke, the volume of which affects the Grand Canyon Hotel and other residents in the area. Pancho’s and the Italian Bistro have competing outdoor speakers.
The Williams city council, of course, is in the precarious position of having to balance between business concerns, the codes intended to maintain the Historic District, and the voter.
WILLIAMS -The Williams City Council chambers were packed as the Soaring Eagles Zip Line ride passed another hurdle to approval. The Council voted unanimously to approve the special use permit to keep the Zip Line ride in its current location with certain conditions.
Logan Checketts gave his presentation complete with a video from their YouTube channel. Before the video he stated that he has had calls from people who say that they are coming to Williams for the Zip Line ride. He also expressed his desire to be a productive business in the community.
The public participation started with Daniel Robert Watt, co-owner of South Rim Wine Garage, saying with the initial costs of the Zip Line behind, the operating costs would be lower. He said that he understood how difficult it is for new business in the city. He has kept his doors open during the winter to support the community. He also noted that his grandchildren rode the ride and loved it.Dennis Nelson, who was involved in the construction of the stage, said that he agreed with many that are not opposed to the Zip Line itself, but are opposed to its current location. He said that there are businesses in town who like the look of downtown and understand complying with the rules to maintain the historic look of downtown Williams.
“Having said that, I don’t think there’s anything you can do with the Zip Line to make it consistent with the look of what the historic district should be and I think it’s very important to think about as you make this decision,” Nelson said. “It’s not just about the Zip Line now. It’s what you want downtown Williams to look like five, ten, fifteen, twenty-years from now.”
Checketts has repeatedly mentioned the amount of money put into Route 66 theme with the garage look, classic car and antiques. He has not had to theme any of his other rides.
Nelson also noted that whether the Zip Line is taken down this year or later that the city should ensure that funds are available to make repairs to the parking lot and area of the towers.Dan La Paglia of Canyon View Realty spoke at length about the problems of the location. He said that he, “…dotted every ‘i’ and crossed every ‘t’ down to the very last in order to comply with what this community, and the fathers of this community state, and the Historical Society, that a historical district should look like.”
He was concerned from the beginning when the Zip Line went up without any consultation. He also said that he did not believe it complies with the intent of the historic district. The noise is a concern to La Paglia because it is difficult for him to consult with clients. He complained about the parking situation. He did say that Checketts has been cooperative about the noise by turning the music down and the parking by asking his employees to park elsewhere. When the Zip Line is in operation, however, he has no parking because of the customers.
His other concern was about liability. He said he is not knowledgable about the weather and what would happen if lightning struck the Zip Line with someone on it, but he had to go and ask them to shut it down during a thunderstorm. He said a lady told him the same thing as he was on his way to the site. La Paglia also noted that the chair was occasionally placed over Grand Canyon Boulevard and it could be a distraction to drivers. He said that if he were to sell his property, he would have to disclose about the noise. He also noted that the council was originally only going going to allow it in its present location for one-year and was surprised to learn of the efforts to keep it.
“I believe these guys are cooperative. I believe the city ought to do it. I do not believe that it should remain where it is,” he said ending his comments.
Sean Casey of Bearizona spoke to the council saying that in the 1980s, this town was dying. “The historic district was no such thing. It was storefronts.” What brought it back, he said, was attractions—somehing to do.
“That saved downtown,” he said. “I think we all agree that downtown would not be historic and pretty without an attraction.”
Casey pointed out that we have less than 1.5 day stays in the Williams hotels. “Where I come from there’s fifty attractions and our average stay is four-days or 4-and-a-half.” He said that the Zip Line needs to be where it is for foot traffic.
As for that section being historic, “I think Holst has a nice building. Pancho’s. The Realtor has at least kept up. But in-between there it looks semi-ghettoish and has for apparently a long time.”
He mentioned the Williams Aquatic Center and Dollar General which does not fit into the historic district.
The Grand Canyon attracts 4 million people compared to 2.5 at Mount Rushmore, he noted. He complained about taxes in the city which are among the highest in the country. There are other problems which make business difficult in Williams, such as water and buy-in fees.
John Holst of the Red Garter Bed and Bakery spoke next and stated that after a year of operation it was apparent that this was not going to be a $270,000 a year income to the city. He said that it is interesting that it has split the community. He said that while it may draw some people into Williams, the majority of the riders of the Zip Line are people who are already here. He disagreed with Sean about the ability of the historic district to draw people to this community.
He also said it was a good thing, but in the wrong location. He said it is an impact on the historic downtown. But he did say that a compromise would be to allow one more year to allow them to recoup some more on their investment with a definite ending date in which they would have to move the attraction to another location.
“When the railroad was looking at getting going again, it was the efforts of the efforts in the downtown area, the restoration of the buildings, the sidewalks coming back…, that really encouraged the railroad, I think, to say, ‘Yea. We’re going to sixty-million dollars to be neighbors to this historic district’,” Holst said.
Speaking next, Thomas Ross of I-40 Fleet Rentals said that three people spoke against the project because of its location. He said, though, that he agrees with Casey that it needs to be in that location to be an attraction for foot traffic. He noted that the Zip Line pays a lot of rent to the city and it does not take water. He said that he read a lot of the minutes from the City Council meetings and they generally approve things approved by the Planning and Zoning commission.
He told Dan that he has a lot of pictures of properties for sale, but no one wants to pass to look because of the “ghetto” between where the hooker is in the window and his property. “Nobody wants to walk past there,” he said. He claims that the traffic goes to the Zip Line and then goes back. He added that his kids like to ride.
“That’s [the Zip Line] always going to be just that one other thing. Maybe someday we’ll have a skating rink. Or a movie theater. Or a bowling alley. Or a nice park with a gazebo … and trees. Maybe someday we’ll have something like that, but right now we don’t.”
Logan Checketts then faced the council for questions.
Council man Frank McNelly asked about the liability insurance. Checketts said that the insurance was a million-dollar per occurrence and a million-dollars aggregate which is standard throughout the Zip Line industry. There were no injuries or incidents during the operation last year. He said he worked with City Manager Brandon Buchanan on the amount.
McNelly also asked, at the recommendation of Planning and Zoning, that there be a surety bond to ensure that if the Zip Line failed that there would be money to make the repairs on the parking lot and tower area.
Logan said that he felt that the $25,000 that he pays the city before he can open the ride would be surety enough to fix the areas. Later in the session, McNelly said that he was not satisfied with the answer and wanted a separate bond to cover expenses. Logan agreed to a separate bond but City Building Inspector Tim Pettit estimated that the cost of potential repairs would be around $2,000.
Councilman Dr. Jim Wurgler asked about the upfront payment to the city of $25,000. Logan explained that with the $25,000 and the 3% sales tax, the Zip Line paid just over $30,000 to the city. He later explained that the goal this year is to reach $100,000 and grow from there.
Councilman Lee Payne clarified that the Zip Line, according to Checketts, wanted a three-year term contract so that he would not have to go through this process every year. If they cannot arrange a longer-term contract, however, he would be satisfied with another year and re-visit the issue later. He eventually asked for the initial $25,000 plus another $25,000 on top of the sales tax revenues. Checketts said that would be possible.
Payne said, “It was not the cities intent to lease that parking lot.” He said that he supports the work that the Historic Commission did to create the historic district and the parking lot is a big part of that effort. He said that from what he was hearing the only way to determine if the ride would be successful is to remain in that location for a longer period of time.
Logan replied that the longer term contract was best for his business, but he would take a one-year term and go forward from there.
Vice Mayor Don Dent pointed out that the original intent was to give one year to get the attraction going and then move it east to BNSF railroad property that was leased by the city. Dent said because Checketts went to BNSF first, that deal fell through. His issue is the ride takes up room vehicles used to turn around.
Councilman Payne made the motion to approve a special use permit for a term not to exceed two years. This would allow him to operate next year without going through the permitting process if the venue is successful this year. The council unanimously approved the special use permit. For the record, Mayor John Moore said his vote would have been yes.
The city must now negotiate a new lease for approval at a future council meeting.