South32’s Snake Oil

I’ve been listening to the positive reviews of what South32 will bring to the communities of Patagonia, Rio Rico and Santa Cruz County. This is a story often repeated in rural America. Jobs, opportunities for prosperity, better schools, and a reason to stay at home for the American dream. What needs to be considered is what is left when the mineral of the moment falls below a value that a multinational corporation finds profitable. Look to history, look at mining boom towns of Arizona and the west. What is the economic value of a mining economy after the minerals are no longer profitable or available?

History tells the story. The cleanup and the abandonment of mines and communities are left to the locals and taxpayers to cleanup and rebuild. How do you rebuild an economy that has sacrificed its livability for short term profits? Look at the long-term prosperity of our community. What is Patagonia without its water? What is Santa Cruz County without a clean environment?

History tells us mining devastates communities and leaves ghost towns. Patagonia and Santa Cruz County have been here before. Why do it again? Like winning the lottery or a Roadrunner cartoon. Those beating the drum for development leave with a pocket full of cash and no regard for what is left behind. Promises of prosperity and a better future have been heard many times in history.

In this world of large cities and populations looking for a breath of fresh air, Santa Cruz County offers relief and escape. A place to raise a family, retire, enjoy a clean environment, and enjoy those values which are becoming so rare in this world. Water, clean air, and open spaces are not what South32 is offering. We know this. The economy of Santa Cruz County can do better and be more prosperous, not by embracing a philosophy of the past. Reject those that sell snake oil and riches; embrace what we have, a reasonable economy, a good place to live, work, visit and enjoy; a special community.

Jonathan Smith

Show Us the Ore Trucks

I live in Casas Arroyo just west of Sonoita and in Sun City, Oro Valley. We commute on State Highway 83, as do many others who come to recreate, along with residents of Sonoita, Elgin or Patagonia who go to Tucson for appointments and shopping, as you well know.

Along with countless others, we are afraid that we’ll be sharing this scenic highway with 30 trucks carrying the ore to Interstate 10. As time goes on we’ve been told there will be more trucks daily.

My point in reminding you of the above is that if South32 Hermosa would park one of these trucks in Patagonia near the train station, I believe we could deepen the reaction and aversion to sharing the roads with these behemoths.

Or perhaps in the next edition you could run a photograph of what we’re going to encounter in transit.

Thank you,
Jane Leonard

Harshaw Road Near Collapse

Our property is about a mile and a half southeast of Patagonia on Harshaw Road. Harshaw Creek has a 90 degree bend at one point on our property and the bend is causing significant erosion under Harshaw Road. More than 15 feet of creek bank have washed away and our barbed wire property fence is now suspended ten feet into the air. Two large mesquite trees that were helping to hold the creek wall together have been washed downstream. The erosion is at such a point now that it is cutting under the road bed. I am doubtful that the road will survive another monsoon season.

I have diligently reported the problem for the last three years to the county, and there have been no tangible results. One year county workers put stakes with fluorescent flags on them along the road, but those have been washed downstream as more of the creek bank
eroded. Another year, they painted some pretty pink lines on the pavement and in the creek bed, but did nothing further. I’ve shown South32 pictures of the erosion, hoping that they would be motivated to keep the road open, since they drive their trucks up and down it all day long.

None of my actions have had any real effect, and it is only a matter of time before either the road washes out, or (worse), somebody drives their vehicle off the ten foot bank into the creek bed. You can see the damaged area yourself: it is about 50 meters north of the first cattle guard outside of Patagonia. Please be careful on Harshaw Road—it is on the verge of collapsing.

Jeff Buchanan

Ordinance Not Enforced

In 2008 the Town of Patagonia passed ordinance 15-5-8 requiring that all subdivisions require a 100-year water adequacy report from the Arizona Department of Water Resources before any construction can begin. The mayor should be asked as to why this ordinance was not enforced for the 23-unit housing development currently being built on Roadrunner Ave and why this ordinance will not be enforced for the 60 lots to be developed above the school.

Our town ordinance, in compliance with Arizona state law, states that four or more lots/parcels divided on unimproved land is a subdivision. If the mayor refuses to accept this definition then it is incumbent upon her to solicit a legal opinion from our newly appointed town attorney.

Lonnie Goff

County Should Give More Notice

Thank you so much for your article by Marion Vendituoli concerning the Santa Cruz County Board and staff and their actions.

It is so concerning the way they conduct business. Meetings that are not known to the public, making it difficult to interact with the citizens. I was a town selectman in Maine for three years. We had to notify our residents of meetings pertaining to town business, in various forms of media, at least 30 days in advance. Why all the secrecy?

We now have the inmates running the asylum.

Thank you again for the wake up call.

Bill Eckhardt
Rio Rico

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