Terrorism prompts tighter security measures, airport closures in Mohave County

Mohave County law enforcement agencies heightened security, Hoover Dam and Mohave County offices in Bullhead City closed, airports barred departures and area residents reacted with horror in response to terrorism that struck New York City and Washington, D.C., this morning.

"It's frightening," Meadview resident Stan Hughes said this morning, after he arrived for breakfast at a Kingman bowling alley.

"This reminds me of World War II and the Kamikaze pilots."

In response to the terrorism, the Kingman Police Department put its officers on extra alert, and department officials will follow events as they unfold on the West Coast, Police Chief Larry Butler said.

However, he said he would not place extra people on duty this morning unless it is warranted.

"We'll just play it by ear," Butler said.

"Mostly, we'll be chasing rumors."

Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan plans to check with state and federal officials to coordinate law enforcement needs in the county, sheriff's spokesman Steve Johnson said.

"The human reaction is to be more alert," Johnson said.

"But there is nothing to indicate there are any targets in Mohave County.

But we are not going to bury our heads in the sand either.

We'll do whatever it takes to make Mohave County safe."

The Kingman Fire Department has put its stations on high awareness because of the terrorist attacks, Capt.

Greg Duncan said.

Duncan's counterpart at the Golden Valley Fire Department, Rudy Barboa, said his crews have been placed on standby emergency.

"We are prepared for any triage to handle multiple emergencies," Barboa said.

Butler said he is more worried about what takes places at Hoover Dam, in adjoining Clark County, Nev.

The federal Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Hoover Dam, closed the visitor center and parking lots for security reasons this morning, a bureau spokesman said.

George Kraft said motorists were allowed to cross the dam before officials closed it..

Sgt.

Bob Cencelweski of the Arizona Department of Public Safety said highway patrol officers diverted all traffic to Las Vegas from Hoover Dam this morning onto State Route 68 through Laughlin.

Extra DPS officers will be on highways 68 and 93.

Mohave County Manager Ron Walker said county officials closed offices in Bullhead City, adding the road across Davis Dam would be closed.

While motorists may face restrictions, those planning to fly out of Kingman and the Bullhead-Laughlin International airports are being grounded until further notice, officials there said.

Officials could not be reached for comment at the Lake Havasu City Municipal Airport.

"What we are doing is advising no departures until further notice," Kingman Airport Manager Bob Najaka said.

He added the Federal Aviation Administration notified him about the ban on departing flights around 7:15 a.m.

today, and he awaited an update later this morning.

"Based on listening to the news, I am going to be advising people not to become airborne," Najaka said.

He added that he planned to contact private pilots this morning.

The Kingman Airport has about 50 to 100 flights a day, including takeoffs and landings, he said.

America West Express operates commuter flights to and from Prescott and Phoenix.

The Bullhead City-Laughlin airport has canceled departing flights until further notice, Executive Director Norm Hicks said.

"We will only be landing aircraft, not departing (planes), with the exception of air ambulance," Hicks said.

County government officials are monitoring the situation, Public Works Director Dick Skalicky said.

Jerry Hill, emergency services director, said he attended a meeting two weeks ago in Prescott during which emergency services officials assessed potential terrorist acts.

They identified dam sites as likely targets for terrorists.

The terrorist incidents saddened Kingman Mayor Les Byram and local residents.

Byram said he was "astounded," adding, "I regret that such a thing could happen in this country.

We do not know whether this is the end or the beginning of additional attacks.

It's a bad day for America."

The terrorist act in New York City came close to home to Louis Tkach, a nine-year Kingman resident who formerly lived in Johnstown, Pa.

He said one hijacked plane went down in Somerset, Pa., about 15 miles away from where he used to live.

"I just can't believe that all this could happen in one day," said Tkach, who watched television news this morning at the emergency room at Kingman Regional Medical Center.

Houston resident Andrew Winchester, a contractor at North Star Steel, said he was listening to the radio in his motel room when he heard the first report at 5:45 a.m.

of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center in New York City.

He turned on the television before leaving for KRMC to attend to an injured worker.

"It's unbelievable," he said.

"That plane that hit the tower must have contained an atomic bomb because the World Trade Center has steel railings and plenty of reinforcement.

I saw the plane hit the second tower, and it must have had high explosives to knock a hole in the building the way it did."

Kingman resident Laurie Stanley said she has long had a mistrust of airlines and their security procedures.

"This just makes me sick," Stanley said.

"I'll probably never fly again after this."

Miner reporters Ken Hedler, Terry Organ, Marvin Robertson and Jim Seckler contributed to this story.