March 10, 2021
Councilor Finch gave an update about the County’s COVID vaccination efforts to date, reporting that approximately one-third of county residents have been vaccinated. He and Mayor Wood acknowledged some complexity in the statistical reporting processes.
Keith Dennis, from the Southeast Arizona Governments Organization (SEAGO), gave an extensive presentation on the complexities of applying for funds from a low-income community grant program through the AZ Dept. of Housing. Patagonia is identified as a “colonia” within 150 miles of the border, potentially eligible for an estimated $412,840 in the current grant cycle. Types of projects that might receive grant money include public works projects like drainage, water and sewer systems, or housing issues like accessibility, mold and “blight.” If the Town wishes to apply, SEAGO will explain timetables, clarify the Town’s administrative responsibilities, and help with submissions. A few ideas were discussed, including a recreation center for the Town, solar charging station for electric vehicles, library support, and youth and senior facilities.
Affirming her group’s intention to “protect the water and wildlife of the Patagonia Mountains from 21st century industrialized mining,” Carolyn Shafer presented an update of recent activities for Patagonia Area Resource Alliance (PARA). She opened with an explanation of the scope of currently active members in PARA’s community of national and local conservation groups, lawyers and science professionals. They are crafting responses to four open comment periods on proposals by two mining companies.
A 30-day extension has been obtained for the mine-water discharge permit sought by South32. PARA has requested that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) intervene in the South32 Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, needed to built a second treatment plant at the Hermosa site. The EPA responded that they are reviewing the AZ Dept of Environmental Quality (AZDEQ) draft permit modifications and fact sheet to ensure conformance with the Clean Water Act. PARA has gotten Harshaw Creek included on the State list of protected waters.
Shafer also summarized recent actions of the Town’s Flood and Flow Committee, which she chairs. The Committee will work with the Forest Service to create long-term Watershed Restoration Action Plans, focusing on Harshaw Creek as the Town’s officially designated Municipal Watershed. At its Feb. meeting the Committee had voted to recommend that the Town Council file comments with the AZDEQ concerning the AZDPES permit.
March 24, 2021
Mayor Wood reported that 514 people in the Patagonia zipcode (85624) had been vaccinated for covid-19, nearly 40% of Patagonia’s population.
Marshal Patterson resigned, to be effective August 1. He noted that he’d made the choice to leave town’s employment on March 17 of this year, the tenth anniversary of his initial employment. He added that he’d be helpful in the transition, had applied for the 4th of July parade permit, and that there were ongoing investigations.
The selling of a portion of Town property was approved, keeping the Town’s wastewater treatment plant on about half of a roughly ten-acre piece that straddles Sonoita Creek below the Paton Center.
Councilor Finch gave some of the history and location complexity of the piece. Discussion concerned buildability of the piece, given floodplain considerations, its possible use for conservation easement, and the potential interest of Tucson Audubon or The Nature Conservancy.
Extension of the Doc Mock Park tree program was approved, adding 20 more trees to be sold, with a waiting list of ten purchasers already existing.
The Town’s Library Advisory Board was approved to add two new Board members, Sondra Porter and Debbie Robinson.
A proclamation by the Mayor and Council was approved, declaring Tuesday, April 13 as “Town of Patagonia Municipal Employee Recognition Day.” As a thank-you, Manager Robinson is arranging a steak fry.