Mayer American Red Cross Shelter closing

PHOENIX – The American Red Cross Evacuation Shelter at the Mayer High School in Mayer, AZ is closed effective immediately.

For those people in the community who need help recovering from the flood, please visit the Individual Assistance Service Center located at Mayer Recreation Center, 10001 S. Wicks Ave. Mayer, AZ 86333. Hours of operation will be Sunday, July 23, 2017 and Monday, July 24, 2017, from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm, each day.

If immediate assistance is needed, please call the Red Cross at 1-800-842-7349.

ADOT Blog: Arizona’s silver-screen highways reel in filmmakers

[Please visit the ADOT Blog to see a multimedia presentation of this article.]

Hollywood loves Arizona’s highways and picturesque landscapes.

Filmmakers have been bringing their lights, camera and action to Arizona highway locations for more than 75 years. Director John Ford sent a crew here in 1939 to shoot “Grapes of Wrath” on Route 66, and last year Michael Bay filmed scenes in Arizona for the fifth installment of the “Transformers” series.

Parts of “Transformers: The Last Knight,” which opened June 21, were filmed at Luke Air Force Base, a Valley junkyard and along Loop 303 and State Route 88. Paramount Pictures obtained a permit from the Arizona Department of Transportation to shoot its highway scenes (you can see the 303 ever so briefly at 2:14 in this preview).

“We had numerous action sequences that involved specialty vehicles, aircraft and pyrotechnics on ADOT highways,” said Denton Hanna, “Transformers” location manager.

He praised ADOT for its assistance and problem-solving while Paramount was filming in Arizona.

“I cannot overstate the importance of ADOT in the success of filming these action road scenes in Phoenix,” Denton said.

Arizona’s proximity to Hollywood, clear weather and scenic highways across a variety of terrain lure filmmakers here for big budget films, westerns, documentaries and commercials. Many of those shoots involve highway scenes that require an ADOT permit.

ADOT officials work with the Arizona Office of Film & Digital Media, to assist film and other media productions.

ADOT issues no-cost permits for filming along its highways with the understanding that film productions generate significant spending within the state.

The “Transformers” production had close to 300 people working at Arizona locations for three weeks, boosting the economy through buying meals, lodging, fuel and other ancillary spending.

ADOT’s requirements for film permits, including adequate liability insurance, safeguard the state’s investment in its highways and ensure there are no costs to taxpayers.

The agency issued 12 film permits in 2015, another 18 in 2016 and 12 already this year through this month, according to Jennifer Cannon, ADOT manager of statewide permit services.

ADOT tries to accommodate film productions even when a producer’s stunts get outlandish. One crew tethered a vehicle from a crane off the Navajo Bridge in an automobile “bungee jump.”

Every precaution was taken to prevent damage to the bridge or debris falling into the Colorado River, Cannon said.

“We don’t generally say no,” she said. “We try to figure out a way to make it happen.”

That can involve a lot of back and forth between ADOT and location managers to protect the traveling public and still get the shots filmmakers want.

ADOT is working with a filmmaker for a complicated shoot recently with multiple cameras and hundreds of extras marching along State Route 80 from Bisbee to Lowell in a historical re-enactment. Typically, the highway can only be closed for short intervals.

“Overall, we want to keep traffic and business flowing,” Cannon said.

A recent shoot south of Sedona involved short closures of SR 179 to film a bicycle rider near Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. The footage is for a pharmaceutical commercial.

Cannon ticked off a handful of car brands that have recently filmed commercials in Arizona, including one on US 93 near Hoover Dam.

Of course, big budget movie productions get the most attention when they visit the state, spending millions of dollars and hiring local workers and contractors.

Arizona’s motion picture history covers a road atlas of locations for films like “Little Miss Sunshine,” and “Kingdom” from a decade ago to “Forrest Gump” and “Three Kings” in the 1990s.

In “The Kingdom,” filmed in 2006, a stretch of the Loop 202 was a stand-in for Saudi Arabia with highway signs in Arabic temporarily posted on overpasses.

In 1994, Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump was filmed running in downtown Flagstaff. In another scene, he’s shown jogging past the giant twin arrows at the Twin Arrows Trading Post west of Winslow. He ends his epic three-year super-marathon on US 163 in Monument Valley just north of the Arizona line.

Downtown Flagstaff and other Northern Arizona highway locations were also used for location shots in “National Lampoon Vacation,” the 1983 comedy starring Chevy Chase, that featured a humorously brief visit at a Grand Canyon scenic overlook.

Route 66 and US 89 figured prominently in two counter-culture road movies. In “Easy Rider,” (1969) Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper cruise on motorcycles across Northern Arizona and the Navajo Reservation before they connect with Jack Nicholson in New Mexico.

Musicians James Taylor and Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys hit the Arizona road in a high-performance 1955 Chevy for “Two-Lane Blacktop,” (1971) a road movie that flew under the radar gun when it was released.

Going way back to “Grapes of Wrath,” Route 66 was briefly featured in bookend scenes with the Joad family from Oklahoma entering Arizona at Lupton and leaving the state on the Old Trails Bridge in Topock.

After filming “Transformers” in Arizona last summer, Wahlberg gave a shout-out to Arizona on Instagram: “Hey Arizona. Thanks for letting us shoot T5 here. It’s been awesome. Amazing, amazing state here.”

Coconino County earns National Achievement Awards for innovative programs

FLAGSTAFF — The National Association of Counties (NACo) awarded Coconino County multiple Achievement Awards and other recognitions. The awards honor innovative development within county government programs that enhance services for residents.

“We are honored to be among one of the counties to receive achievement awards from NACo” said Chairwoman Liz Archuleta. “We’re very glad to be recognized by NACo for our County Departments and the innovative programs they implement to improve the lives of the citizens of Coconino County. On behalf of the County, I would like to thank NACo President Bryan Desloge for his recognition, and congratulate all other award winning counties for their hard work and dedication.”

The following Coconino County programs were recognized by NACo and received Achievement Awards:

  • Adult Probation Distance Learning in the category of Criminal Justice and Public Safety
  • Collective Impact Initiative in the category of Human Services
  • Diversity and Inclusion Program in the category of Personnel Management, Employment and Training
  • Professional Development Academies in the category of Personnel Management, Employment and Training
  • The use of video directly observed therapy in the treatment of Tuberculosis in the category of Health
  • Rural County Outreach to Special District Partners for Annual Compliance and Service Improvement in the category of County Administration and Management
  • Teen Clinic Accessibility in the category of Health

The following program received the Achievement Award Best in Category:

  • Adult Probation Distance Learning

NACo 100 Brilliant Ideas at Work for the following programs:

  • Adult Probation Distance Learning in the category of Criminal Justice and Public Safety
  • Collective Impact Initiative in the category of Human Services
  • Diversity and Inclusion Program in the category of Personnel Management, Employment and Training

Digital Counties Survey Top Ten for counties with 150,000 people or less – Identifying the best technology practices among U.S. counties, including initiatives that streamline delivery of government services:

  • Coconino Information Technology Services

Nationally, awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the comprehensive services counties provide.

NACo President Bryan Desloge said, “Counties overcome complex challenges, provide essential services and constantly do more with less. We applaud these Achievement Award-winning counties for outstanding efforts to improve residents’ quality of life.”

The National Association of Counties (NACo) unites America’s 3,069 county governments. Founded in 1935, NACo brings county officials together to advocate with a collective voice on national policy, exchange ideas and build new leadership skills, pursue transformational county solutions, enrich the public’s understanding of county government, and exercise exemplary leadership in public service.

Paving on Interstate 40 west of Williams begins Monday

WILLIAMS – To address the beating a section of Interstate 40 just west of Williams has taken over many winters, the Arizona Department of Transportation will begin reconstructing five miles of roadway in both directions on Monday, July 24.

The $34 million project, which will start with the eastbound direction between mileposts 156 and 161, will literally rebuild the roadway from the ground up, including laying a new foundation.

Drivers heading east on I-40 toward Williams and Flagstaff will cross the median on a temporary road and share lanes with westbound I-40 traffic through the project area, with one lane of travel in each direction. Drivers should slow down and budget for extra travel time.

Crews will rebuild the westbound side of the interstate next summer.

ADOT is currently repaving 12 miles of I-40 in each direction closer to Flagstaff between mileposts 179 and 191. The $13.9 million project, which is about halfway complete, includes minor bridge repairs at the Bellemont, A-1 Mountain and Riordan overpasses as well as new guardrail.

Drivers should use caution and watch for construction personnel and equipment while paving is underway.

Schedules are subject to change based on weather and other unforeseen factors. For more information, please call Coralie Cole, ADOT senior community relations officer, at 602.501.4899 or email: ccole@azdot.gov. For real-time highway conditions statewide, visit ADOT’s Traveler Information Site at www.az511.gov, follow ADOT on Twitter (@ArizonaDOT) or call 511, except while driving.

County Manager Seelhammer wins Gabe Zimmerman Service Award

FLAGSTAFF — The Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA) awarded Coconino County Manager Cynthia Seelhammer the 2017 Gabe Zimmerman Civic Leadership Award.

The Gabe Zimmerman Public Service Awards are a statewide competition created to recognize outstanding non-elected public servants in three categories – Community Builder, Emerging Leader and Civic Leader. The awards recognize the commitment and dedication of more than 100,000 professional public servants across Arizona.

The Civic Leadership Award recognizes extraordinary leaders who have demonstrated knowledge, skills and commitment to addressing Arizona’s long-term issues and the personal leadership capacity to make Arizona a better place for future generations.

“This award is a true testament to Cynthia’s dedication to outstanding public service and her desire to deliver exceptional services to the constituents of Coconino County,” said Chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors Liz Archuleta. “On behalf of The Board of Supervisors, we congratulate County Manager Seelhammer for this award and for her exemplary career in public service. It is well deserved and another example of the excellent work our employees do for our citizens every day.

Seelhammer has more than 30 years of experience working for small towns, large cities, and counties in three different states. As County Manager, she advances the organizational excellence of Coconino County by instituting many programs and policies demonstrating her passion for the employees, citizens and the organizational effectiveness of the County.

“CFA is an innovative organization that exemplifies public service and the need to bring the people of Arizona together,” said Seelhammer. “Our current form of local government was invented in the US about 100 years ago to end cronyism, be fair to taxpayers and build trust. It’s an honor to receive this award that recognizes the importance of building and keeping trust among the citizens we are dedicated to help. My success is due to the good work of colleagues who work every day to help make things better.”

In 2002, CFA was established as a nonpartisan, nonprofit resource to provide impartial analyses to identify long-term solutions to challenging issues. It combines research with collaborative partnerships to drive the state’s economic prosperity, quality of life and civic health.

Monsoon rain hits hard

WILLIAMS – The monsoon rain today hit hard flooding the streets and sending tourists scurrying for cover. The rain started about 2:15 and by 2:30 p.m. the streets were flowing. Many drivers seemed to forget about turning their lights on. The rain lightened up a bit in about 20 minutes, but continued to fall by 3:10 p.m. Lightning continued through the period and there is no telling when it will let up. This is the hardest rain this monsoon season so far. Residents and visitors should take care to watch out for flash flooding.
The chance for thunderstorms remains at 50% through Tuesday during the day, mainly after 11 p.m. It drops to 30% overnight. Lightning and flash floods are, of course, the main hazards during this period.

Diverging diamond interchange proposed for I-17 at Happy Valley Road

PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Transportation is proposing a diverging diamond interchange to replace roundabouts at the Interstate 17/Happy Valley Road interchange as a way to provide efficient and safe traffic flow for a growing area of north Phoenix.

A diverging diamond interchange has one major difference from standard diamond interchanges common around Arizona: Local street traffic makes a temporary shift to the left side while crossing the freeway, allowing for direct left turns onto entrance ramps without waiting at an additional traffic signal.

In examining options, ADOT determined that a diverging diamond interchange would be better able to manage the growing volume of traffic at Happy Valley Road and reduce the amount of time drivers spend waiting at traffic signals. It also enhances safety by reducing the number of points where directions of travel conflict.

More than 80 diverging diamond interchanges have been constructed in 29 states since 2009.

ADOT’s I-17 project also will include reconstructing the I-17 interchange at Pinnacle Peak Road, still as a traditional diamond interchange but with increased traffic capacity.

ADOT will host an informational meeting about the project the evening of Tuesday, July 25, with staff members available to answer questions:

What: ADOT meeting on I-17 interchanges project
When: Tuesday, July 25, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (formal presentation at 6:30 p.m.)
Where: Goelet A. Beuf Community Center, 3435 W. Pinnacle Peak Road, Phoenix

Building a diverging diamond interchange at Happy Valley Road also will have less of an impact on local businesses and commuters, since traffic will continue to use the existing interchange while most of the construction work is taking place. The project will replace the two roundabout intersections that have been in use at the Happy Valley Road interchange since 2001.

ADOT continuously seeks innovative approaches to enhance safety and improve traffic flow, and the diverging diamond configuration is one of the tools available as interchanges are built or upgraded. Diverging diamond interchanges also will be built at two locations along the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway: Desert Foothills Parkway and 17th Avenue.

The updated Regional Transportation Plan managed by the Maricopa Association of Governments, the regional transportation planning agency, provides funding for a project to reconstruct the I-17 interchanges at Happy Valley and Pinnacle Peak roads, scheduled to start as soon as fall 2018.

ADOT designs and constructs Phoenix-area freeway improvement projects based on the 20-year Regional Transportation Plan approved by Maricopa County voters in 2004.

AZGFD helps rescue population of native Gila trout following Frye fire

PHOENIX – Hiking steep trails wearing full fire gear Wednesday and Thursday, and often with backpacks holding aerated buckets of fish and other gear, the rescue team salvaged fish from two populations of Gila trout from the ash-blanketed slopes of Mount Graham.

During the aftermath of the 48,000-acre Frye fire, the 13 biologists and wildlife managers from Arizona Game and Fish and Mora National Fish Hatchery transported 79 Gila trout, a rare trout species native to Arizona and New Mexico, from Ash Creek and 111 from Frye Creek in good health to the Mora National Fish Hatchery in New Mexico.

The rescue came just before monsoon season when summer rains are likely to send ash flows toxic to fish down waterways following high-density wildfires such as the Frye fire.

Gila trout, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, are one of two native trout species in Arizona, along with the Apache trout.

“Populations restored in isolated headwaters are unfortunately vulnerable to the risk of post-fire flooding, making our salvage efforts critical,” said Tracy Stephens, AZGFD native trout and chub coordinator. “We could not have done this without the efforts of the Type-2 Incident Command Team, including USFS and BLM personnel from throughout the Southwest Region that coordinated our efforts and ensured our safety.”

In 2012, the nearly 300,000-acre Whitewater Baldy Fire – the largest fire in the history of New Mexico — burned through nearly half of the existing Gila trout streams and fish were eliminated from six of the eight streams that were within the burn area. Gila trout were evacuated from three streams following the fire, including Spruce Creek.

Those fish from Spruce Creek were transported to Ash Creek, where last week they once again were salvaged.

The South Diamond Creek lineage of Gila trout were introduced into Frye Creek beginning in 2009, and this wild population was the first to open to catch-and-release angling for Gila trout in recent Arizona history.

All Gila trout rescued last week are being held at Mora National Fish Hatchery. The fish from Frye Creek will be used to supplement the South Diamond brood stock. The fish from Ash Creek will be held at the hatchery until an alternative stream is identified, or if conditions in the creek are deemed suitable for the fish following post-monsoon evaluations.

See more information on the Gila trout.

Updated Arizona Driver License Manual now available online

PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division has released the updated Arizona Driver License Manual on the ADOT website. In addition to providing basic information essential to safe driving, the newest version of the manual also includes language to educate motorists on handling law enforcement traffic stops.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety, in partnership with local law enforcement agencies, created the language that outlines best practices for motorists who are pulled over.

The full details are contained in Section 7 of the manual, pages 56-57, which can be found here: www.azdot.gov/manual.

Among the major points detailed in this section are:

When observing a law enforcement vehicle with its lights on, a driver should yield to the right side of the road and stop in a safe location off the main roadway as soon as practical unless the officer directs the driver to a different location in a safe spot.
Drivers should comply with a law enforcement officer’s orders and failure to do so can result in an arrest.
Drivers should put the car in park and remain in the vehicle, and all occupants should keep their seat belts fastened. The driver should keep his or her hands on the steering wheel, wait for the officer to make contact, consider lowering the windows to help the officer see and hear inside the vehicle, turn on the interior light if it’s nighttime, and inform the officer of any weapons that may be in the vehicle.
Drivers should not reach around inside the vehicle unless informing the officer and receiving permission, nor should drivers get out of the vehicle unexpectedly or approach the officer.

For more information: https://azdot.gov/mvd.

American Red Cross opens Shelter at the Mayer High School

PHOENIX – – Tonight the American Red Cross Northern Arizona Chapter has opened a Shelter at the Mayer High School to support the community after a flash flood moved through the area. The Red Cross is working in coordination with Emergency Managers in Yavapai County.

As of 10:00pm 17 people have registered at the Shelter

The Red Cross would like to remind everyone to download the Red Cross Emergency app on their personal device. The Emergency app provides real-time and preparedness information, what to do during a flash flood.

Mayer High School – 17300 E. Mule Deer Dr. Mayer, AZ 86333