By Nina Crowder
San Manuel Miner
Mammoth had several visitors from legislators on Tuesday, Aug. 13, to address some of the community’s concerns and issues. Vice Mayor Frances Wickham gave a brief history about each of the visitors starting with Democratic Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor.
Taylor currently is the senate minority leader and has served fifteen years as state legislator. She has established an exploratory committee for the secretary of state. If something were to happen to the governor, the secretary of state would take the governor’s place. Wickham said, “Sen. Barbara McGuire is one of our hardest working elected officials, she obtained close to half a million dollars for Pinal County a few months ago.” McGuire has worked to pass bills regarding illegal dumping and CPR education in schools. She was also awarded legislator of the year by the Arizona Heart and Stroke Association. McGuire is working to create more things for rural communities. Supervisor Pete Rios was also in attendance. He has performed tremendous work for many years here in the local area. Vice Mayor Wickham thanked everyone for coming on such short notice.
Sen. Taylor addressed the public about the last legislative session and how she looks forward to how we can make a difference here in Arizona. Educational budget cuts were addressed as well as direct services for seniors and DES, CPS and what can we do to add funding to these areas. During the legislative session the budget was worked on and discussed heavily. Taylor said, “It is so important to have someone protect the rights of voters and not to try to eliminate or minimize individuals.” Integrity is very important and she will not forget the rural communities or any communities in Arizona. Taylor is a third generation native Phoenician, received her master’s degree in Political Science and is happily married with three children.
Sen. Barbara McGuire has been in communications with Mammoth Town Council members and Vice Mayor Wickham regarding some DES issues and CPS issues, basically state services to the rural communities. It is not only happening here in Mammoth, it is happening in Kearny and other areas where they are trying to consolidate and close down. They do not understand the technology disadvantage experienced in rural areas.
Sen. McGuire was very proud to provide Pinal County with funding that was taken from them. They will be able to use it to benefit the rural areas that Supervisor Pete Rios is now overseeing. McGuire said she wanted Sen. Taylor to see why she loves the district she represents and why she feels so passionately about the people who live here. Recently McGuire had the opportunity to speak with President Obama about jobs for rural Arizona. President Obama referred her to U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shawn Donavan and she is waiting to hear back from him. McGuire also indicated that she is working on bringing a data center to the Mammoth area which would employ local people.
Supervisor Pete Rios said he wanted to welcome and thank the two senators that have come down here. “We always appreciate them coming to rural Arizona because for generations people in rural Arizona believe that people in Phoenix (Maricopa County) don’t give a hoot about the rural areas, so we really appreciate them coming,” he said. Rios has worked with Sen. Taylor in the U.S. House of Representatives for several years, knows her personally, and thinks she is really a good person. Supervisor Rios said he really appreciates the senators working with the governor on a bipartisan basis on the Medicaid expansion. “This is something that has really helped rural Arizona put billions of dollars back into the economy,” he said. “There will be tens of thousands of people that deserve healthcare that will qualify for healthcare again. So, I commend you for your work.”
Lynn Zeiler spoke about a major concern: education. “Because we are a rural area we are forgotten and that is not right, we need to be incorporated into the urban,” she said. She believes that the legislators importance and her importance is education. She also commented that the community has recently been informed that there is a gentleman that is trying to put a marijuana dispensary put in Mammoth. Zeiler worries about the safety and security of the children. Zeiler expressed her opinion and realizes there are several opinions. Her main concern is the children of the area and that services provided that are safe. She has looked into other areas that have marijuana dispensaries and the crime that is associated with them.
John Ryan, superintendent and principal of San Manuel High School, spoke about the concern of technology. He said that he has technology but not the infrastructure to support it. “As funding is looked at especially for mandates and testing please consider that we are not capable of running all the technology we have due to funding for the proper infrastructure,” he said.
Mrs. Paine spoke about the AED how it can be used to save lives and many of the rural schools do not have them. Mr. Paine also spoke about having students learn CPR. Sen. McGuire is working very hard to push for CPR to be taught in schools. They are looking at which schools are lacking AEDs and trying to get local partnerships to provide those AEDs. Mr. Paine also brought up there is a need for a fire training facility. “If the fireman are not trained properly how are they to be required to fight fires safely when they happen,” he said. Sen. McGuire is going to look into this.
Vice Mayor Wickham brought up issues with veterans and how they have to go to Tucson for proper care locally. Zeiler brought up that there is no support for veterans old and new in rural areas. Sen. McGuire said, “There is talk about setting up a veterans program to eliminate homelessness amongst the veterans throughout the state of Arizona this is being looked at very seriously.”
“Congresswoman Kirkpatrick has set up a specific facility in the Casa Grande area to go to for veterans issues and it’s only a phone call away,” said McGuire. “ If you can’t get in contact with her, by all means give me a call and I will make sure she gets the information and I will follow up to make sure a liaison has contacted you.”
Gina Chavez provided some additional information regarding the care for veterans. Chavez works with a company out of Tucson called The National Community Health Partners. They recently obtained a grant for $1.5 million to provide services for Pinal County veterans. It is the hope of the organization to be able to sub-contract case management, coordination services, counseling services, etc. In the meantime, Supervisor Rios has given a referral about perhaps getting a building donated that would serve hundreds of people. “We are looking at it as a one stop shop,” said Rios. The building happens to be the old Republic Plastics building in San Manuel the owner is very seriously looking at donating the building to a nonprofit organization. The Tucson administrative team is currently putting a proposal together for the owner.
“We are very excited about the possibilities of having a center of this size, that would serve veterans, seniors, even housing a youth center there… the most exciting thing about the whole component is the availability of public transportation,” said Chavez. “This grant would be providing two buses to run continuously throughout the day to transport all clients.” This would be a wonderful resource to have in the local community. Regular updates will be provided as to the progress of this exciting opportunity via the newspaper and the local town website. The name of the organization in San Manuel is Adelanta Juntos Coalition, there phone number is 520-385-3028.
There are many positive issues being worked on. Sometimes baby steps are required, but if you have immediate concerns, please feel free to contact Sen. Taylor or Sen. McGuire and/or Supervisor Pete Rios, they are eager and willing to listen and help.