At the Feb. 27 Council meeting, Mayor Andy Wood delivered an apology to 12-year-old reporter Hilde Lysiak for Marshal Joe Patterson’s handling of their February 18 encounter that subsequently went viral on the internet. 

“The governing body of the town of Patagonia would like to apologize for the first amendment rights violation upon Hilde Lysiak, a young reporter who is in our community,” Wood said. 

Other less controversial actions taken on Feb. 27 included the approval in principle of the placement of a memorial boulder with plaque to recognize Brent Bowden’s service to the town and restoration of the town’s former use permit procedure. 

That action means the Planning and Development Committee will separately make recommendations to the Council and the Council will approve or deny such applications. Joint meetings for this purpose will no longer be held. 

Also on Feb. 27, the Council tabled further action on the feral cat problem after hearing that the Marshal is still investigating the regulations used in Sierra Vista and Cochise County. 

The Council also scheduled a March 20 workshop to discuss appropriate ways to recognize veterans and was advised of a proposal by an organization called Spirit World 100 to stage a 2-3 day event in town on the second weekend in November, possibly conflicting with, or possibly complementing, Veterans Day activities. 

The March 13 meeting was most notable for the large number of people who spoke in support of Marshal Patterson’s work on behalf of the town in the wake of considerable negative press resulting from the incident involving Patterson’s encounter with the young reporter noted above. 

During the call to the public, numerous attendees lauded the marshal for keeping the town safe and his willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty. The final comments, offered by Carrie Bowden, brought robust applause from the audience. 

Later in the meeting, Council went into executive session for more than an hour with Marshal Patterson, a meeting that Patterson had requested. The Council then approved accounts payable and adjourned without issuing a report from the executive session. Most of the audience had left the meeting by that time. 

Planning & Development Committee Chairman David Budd explained the need for separating items of upcoming business into two future meetings. 

He reported that on March 26 an open hearing would be held on the use permit application submitted by Red Mountain Ranch, LLC for a parcel on Harshaw Road, and on March 28 the committee would consider two applications for a variance. 

Before going into executive session, citing her long years of service to the town and her familiarity with its operations, the Council named Isabel Van Nest as interim Town Manager until a permanent manager is hired to replace David Teel who has retired. 

The Council also postponed discussion of the town’s recycling program because John Hays, Santa Cruz County solid waste manager, was not present, and also rescheduled discussion of road restrictions.