Lame duck keeps on chuggin'

I may be a lame duck, but I have some very specific plans to continue improving our county services through the final year of my term.

During a recent Board of Supervisors meeting, I said that I would like to see something done about animal control. We have a chunk of land over by the library in Kingman that we will be selling soon - maybe to Lowe's. I said that I would like to earmark around half of that selling amount to finance a much-needed multi-area animal shelter. I think that facility needs to be centrally located, not necessarily in Kingman, where it would serve the Bullhead City and Kingman area residents as well as some overflow from Lake Havasu City. We could do that if we consolidate it somewhere around Golden Valley.

The land we are looking at selling is appraised at almost $10 million. If we could sell for that much money, we should get started on finding a chunk of land for a new animal shelter, and, with the rest of the money, buy a large enough parcel to eventually construct a new fairgrounds. Our present fairgrounds within the city of Kingman, comprising 61.7 acres, has about four years left on a lease. I get a lot of calls from people complaining about dust and flies and traffic. The city has grown around our county fairgrounds property. I believe it is time to move the grounds and sell the old fairgrounds property. I would assume we could get in excess of $25 million for that land.

Those capital funds would make quite a down payment on the planned new Law and Justice Center. Our historic century-old courthouse is a beautiful building, but it doesn't serve our 21st Century needs.

District 2 Supervisor Tom Sockwell has done wonderful things for the Kingman area, such as helping to keep the county seat here. I believe we could certainly build a new animal shelter and new fairgrounds in Golden Valley to benefit all three cities and the rural communities. And in the process, we could get the money to speed up the building of a Law and Justice Center right where we have planned it near the new jail in Kingman. These are long-term goals that I would like to get started before I leave.

Continuing the improvement of our infrastructure is a primary goal, but there are other things that need to be done as well. One is that the old Sheriff's Office/hospital should come down. I love that old building and I have talked with everybody around town about what to do with it. Many would like to save the front. But nobody wants to pay for it, and it isn't something the taxpayer should have to fund. The building is condemned and looks like a slum. It needs to come down.

Also, there has been a lot of wild rhetoric printed and broadcast concerning the current county and city elections. There are a lot of people running for these jobs who don't have any idea about what they are saying. County candidates talk about cutting wasteful spending, but they don't have a clue about our budget procedures, six years of balanced budgets, the glowing reports we have had from the state auditor or even where to find any wasteful spending. Some of them have stated how the county needs to improve economic development and communications with the public. Where have they been the last few years? Perhaps they should take a look at our Web site or read a newspaper once.

Some candidates running for my job make statements about trimming the budget by cutting county staff. A candidate who wants to lay off a building inspector, a deputy, a cop or a firefighter doesn't understand that when the economy turns around, qualified people are hard to find. A fast-food restaurant can lay off a couple of employees and quickly replace them when the market comes back. But quality law enforcement personnel, firefighters, engineers and inspectors have to be recruited and can't always be found locally. Skilled labor is not a faucet that can be turned on and off.

When elected officials treat staff poorly, sooner or later, the only employees they will have left are those who cannot find other jobs. I am saying this because I heard candidates' statements and have read letters to the editor from their wives and friends over the years critiquing my performance. I find it amusing that 90 percent of them have never come to find out what really happens on a county level. A whole lot of what they are saying does not make sense.

I am also concerned about Kingman's water. Whoever is elected to the city needs to get involved in Phoenix and do something about that. City officials need to work with the Arizona Department of Water Resources and legislators to solve that problem. Speaking of the Legislature, we have a senator who heads of the Transportation Committee and yet our highways and our freeway are a mess. He will say Interstate 40 and the mass of potholes through the Kingman area is a federal problem. But he has a bill going through the Senate that will urge Congress to allow Arizona to secede from the Federal Highway System. That sure explains his Confederate flag.

All that aside, I believe voters will make wise choices on a city and county level and elect the best candidates who will show good leadership. I have enjoyed my years as a county supervisor and look forward to your help in continuing improvements to our services through the remainder of this term.