County and NARBHA Institute host innovative Justice Summit

FLAGSTAFF – Coconino County, led by Chairwoman Liz Archuleta, and the NARBHA Institute hosted the Justice Summit Monday, May 15. The Summit brought together leaders from across the U.S. to elevate awareness of criminal justice issues and innovate discussion.

Over 200 participants representing government agencies, non-profit organizations and the private sector attended the day long summit. Speakers and panelists led discussions elevating justice-related best practices and inspired interdisciplinary innovation.

“I’m honored that experts and researchers in criminal justice and mental health from across the country attended today’s summit,” said Chairwoman Archuleta. “The speakers provided excellent learning opportunities that will shape the County’s vision. Coconino County is a nationally recognized leader for our criminal justice policies. We will take the robust ideas from the summit and continue to institute innovative and data driven initiatives that will have positive outcomes for our communities.”

Nationally renowned speakers headlined the Summit including, Miami-Dade County Judge Steve Leifman who gave a presentation regarding mental illness in jails. Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman presented on local solutions to justice reform. Speakers and panelists also included representatives from Harvard Law School, the Columbia University Center for Justice and northern Arizona.

During the final panel of the summit, participants were given a unique opportunity to collaborate and identify ways they could inspire local action in their communities.

“We are delighted to partner with Coconino County to host the Justice Summit,” said Mary Jo Gregory, President and CEO, The NARBHA Institute. “The Summit enabled leaders from throughout northern Arizona to hear from national experts on criminal justice and mental illness and engage in robust discussions with their peers. We greatly valued the dialogue.”

The NARBHA Institute is the nonprofit, public-charity partner in Health Choice Integrated Care, the Integrated Regional Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA) for Northern Arizona. Founded in 1967, it is the new name of the Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority.

“Today’s summit was an exciting step forward for making our community healthier and safer,” said Superior Court Judge Dan Slayton. “Collaborative efforts such as this and our Criminal Justice Coordinating Council are the reason why we are increasingly recognized as one of the most innovative justice systems in the nation.”

Justice Reform is one of five top strategic goals adopted by the Coconino County Board of Supervisors. In the next year, the County will be evaluating existing programs and policies and the impact of those programs on people and the system.

County prepares for 5th annual Veterans Stand Down

FLAGSTAFF — Coconino County, in conjunction with area veteran’s advocate groups, will host the 5th Annual Lance Davison Memorial High Country Stand Down. The event connects homeless veterans and their families with the services they need.

The Stand Down will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, May 19, at the Flagstaff Armory, 320 N Thorpe Road Flagstaff. Hundreds of northern Arizona homeless and at-risk veterans are expected to attend. Veterans will have access hot meals, hygiene kits, clothing, surplus, legal assistance, employment services, dental, vision and medical assistance, haircuts, Veterans’ Court and Notary services, information on disability and survivor benefits, and more.

“We greatly value our returning veterans from all wars and think they should have access to help and the opportunity to truly stand down,” said District 4 County Supervisor Jim Parks, whose office is helping to coordinate the event. “It is an honor, as a member of the Coconino County Board of Supervisors, to work with so many dedicated organizations helping connect veterans to the services they need.”

Services and logistical support offered by Coconino County, Flagstaff Courts, Coconino County Superior Court, Williams Courts, Coconino County Public Health Services District, Arizona StandDown Alliance, Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Arizona Department of Economic Security, Veterans Administration, the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation and many others. This year, food will be provided by Sodexo, coffee provided by Starbucks and beverages provided by Nackard Pepsi.

The public is also invited to attend the Armed Forces Parade at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 20, in Downtown Flagstaff.

The High Country Stand Down was started by the local veterans’ community and retired Coconino County Supervisor Mandy Metzger over five years ago.

Native fish project, 25 years in making, comes to fruition

In mid-May, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) will stock Gila topminnow into Arnett Creek, near Superior, with the expectation that the species will establish a population. The addition of Gila topminnow will be the final step in a project that has been in the works for more than two decades.

Back in 1992, AZGFD, Tonto National Forest (TNF), and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service identified an opportunity to re-establish a native fish community in Arnett Creek.

After environmental planning, a fish barrier was built to deter re-entry of non-native fishes, the stream was chemically treated to remove nonnative fishes, and in the late-1990s a few native fish were stocked. Those fish did not establish populations, and a subsequent drought greatly reduced the amount of perennial water habitat in the system.

The partners re-evaluated the stream in 2007 and determined that the small amount of habitat was most suitable for longfin dace and endangered Gila topminnow. The plan was to stock longfin dace first, and if they established a population, to move forward with Gila topminnow. Longfin dace were stocked in 2007, and they have established a population. So the partners continued to plan for introducing Gila topminnow.

Finally, all of the environmental planning has been completed, and Gila topminnow will be stocked.

“Hopefully they will establish populations, because establishing new populations is necessary to recover the species so that it will no longer need protection under the Endangered Species Act,” said Tony Robinson, AZGFD’s Gila River Basin Native Fishes Lead.

Historically, topminnow were the most abundant fish species in the Gila River basin from western New Mexico to southern and western Arizona. Over time, habitat loss and degradation brought the topminnow to the brink of extinction. Habitat improvement and reintroductions, such as at Arnett Creek, are contributing to substantial, recent advances in the species’ recovery.

AZGFD will be collecting the topminnow from a pond near Amado owned by one of its partners in topminnow conservation under the Safe Harbor Agreement for Topminnows and Pupfish.

Native fish are just one part of the Arnett Creek story. During the last year of planning, Tonto National Forest has also partnered with AZGFD and other local groups to help protect and restore Arnett Creek.

Arnett Canyon is used by horseback riders and hikers. There were many trails in the riparian area, so TNF and its partners improved the main trail and fenced the riparian area to focus people and riders onto the main trail. TNF and AZGFD also worked collaboratively on repairing fencing and installing drinkers for the local rancher’s livestock.

Closures on Interstate 17 north of Camp Verde continue Tuesday for emergency utility repairs

Windy conditions on Monday prevented crews from completing the emergency utility repairs on Interstate 17. Work and temporary closures are scheduled to continue Tuesday, May 16, approximately four miles north of the State Route 260 junction.

North and southbound traffic on I-17 will be stopped at milepost 291 while utility crews work to repair power lines and poles. Closures are scheduled to occur between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., with each closure expected to last approximately 15 minutes.