A Great Day for the Races

“The centennial celebration of the Sonoita Races this year was the biggest and best ever,” says Jim Cosby, president of the fairgrounds. “Thanks go out to the co-chairmen Deborah Fellows and Diane Collins and all the volunteers.”

The first weekend in May, large crowds filled the fairgrounds to capacity. Adding more betting stations and a new beer garden made their stay more enjoyable. The Turf Club was sold out. Over 5,000 cans of beer were sold. The weather was great despite a few minutes of rain.

Sixteen exciting horse races filled the two-day celebration. Two new special races presented this year included the “Wounded Warrior Race” to focus attention on our wounded vets and their families, and the “Race of the Eagles,” that pitted three horses each from Mexico and the U.S. against each other.

The Sonoita races are always scheduled to coincide with the running of the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky. This year the favorite, and the winner, was American Pharaoh. The thoroughbred was trained by Nogales native Bob Baffert. Locally, people bet $36,000 on the derby and a large crowd of betters lined up after the race to cash in their winnings.

The attendance count and the financial gains of the races haven’t yet been calculated, but there is no doubt that this centennial celebration of the races was the best yet.

Pastor Chuck Carlson and his wife Elaine

Pastor Carlson Retires

Pastor Chuck Carlson of the Sonoita Hills Community Church retires this month after serving 12 years as their pastor.

During that time he faithfully fulfilled his calling and saw his congregation increase in size and importance in the community.

He has also been instrumental in presenting the annual Hero Sunday celebration, the Shoebox gifts at Christmas and monthly serving at the Crossroads Mission in Nogales. Pastor Carlson also served the community as Chaplain for both the Sonoita-Elgin Fire District and the local Rotary Club, and was chaplain for the Santa Cruz County Faith Based Emergency Response Team.

Chuck Carlson was born in Nebraska in 1947, the son of a minister. He graduated from North Dakota State University in 1969, then took graduate studies at Iowa State. At that time he married his sweetheart, Elaine. He graduated from the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois in 1982.

In 1985, he and Elaine discovered that Arizona was to be their final destination and moved to Sierra Vista. Pastor Chuck began serving local congregations and starting new churches. In 2003 they formed the Sonoita church and have been there ever since. Throughout the years, Elaine Carlson has assisted her husband at the Church and working at Buena High School.

Fortunately for the community, Pastor Carlson and Elaine do not plan to leave the area. Elaine continues her work at Buena and Pastor Chuck will continue serving the community in various chaplaincy responsibilities. He will also be able to find time for his favorite hobby—golf.

Pastor Carlson’s last sermon at the Sonoita Hills Community Church will be Sunday, June 28 at 10 am. The public is invited to a farewell celebration of his ministry at 11 a.m. that same day.

John Flynn to Serve as Fire District Administrator

With the recent resignation of four of the five Sonoita-Elgin Fire District Board members, the board lacked a quorum which put the governance of the fire district in limbo. The County Board of Supervisors was called in by law and appointed an administrator to replace the fire district board.

The supervisors searched the state and selected John Flynn as the administrator to replace the fire district’s board of directors. He will serve as the board until general elections are held in November of 2016.

Flynn is the managing principal member of Policy Logic, LLC, a consulting firm. He lives in the Scottsdale area. He has 30 years experience as a firefighter and in providing special administrator duties to various fire districts when needed.

Flynn received exceptional praise for delivering superior services when he was fire chief of the Apache Junction Fire District. He also served as an interim administrator to the White Mountain Lake Fire District in Navajo County. In addition he has served on the Board of Directors of the Arizona Fire District Association.

The new administrator received a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Arizona State University and has had additional education in management and fire science. Chief Joseph DeWolf believes Flynn is fully qualified to be the administrator of the Fire District for the next 18 months.

Until November 2016, Flynn will have full board authority and will be compensated $1,500 per month plus expenses. He will be commuting to Sonoita monthly to preside over meetings with the fire chief to administer the district. Additional information is available from the fire district at 520-455-5854

Notes From the Sonoita Fairgrounds

Two new members have been appointed to the fairground board to fill open positions. With the passing of George Masic and the resignation of Roland Cowan, the board added Kristin Tomlinson and Dean Fish.

Nine volunteers from the America-Corps organization are now in Sonoita spending ten days working on projects to improve the fairgrounds. They will be cleaning up the grounds and painting the grandstands as well as renovating and painting the interior of Pioneer Hall and Gardner Hall. The 4-H barns will also be upgraded. This government-funded volunteer organization, often called the “domestic Peace Corps,” will be in Santa Cruz County for 12 weeks and will finish their term in Patagonia and Tubac.

The next big event at the Fairgrounds is the Versatility Ranch Horse Competition on June 11 and the three-day Quarter Horse Show on June 12-14.

More information is always available on Facebook at sonoita.fair.grounds1 and on the web at www.sonoitafairgrounds.com.