Board sees brighter future for Valle Vista golf course

Dismal economy and past infighting have decreased memberships

SHAWN BYRNE/Miner<br><br>
The fairway on Hole No. 1 at Valle Vista Golf Course is green and waiting for action.

SHAWN BYRNE/Miner<br><br> The fairway on Hole No. 1 at Valle Vista Golf Course is green and waiting for action.

KINGMAN - The economic calamity the world has found itself in has been felt in sectors such as insurance, banks, local governments, school districts - and golf courses. The folks at Valle Vista Golf Course have been mired in a financial dilemma, but they are optimistic about the near future and are doing the necessary things to keep the course playable.

The April 2009 edition of the Valle Vista Newsletter reported to the community that "we're darn near broke." The association asked for early assessments to be paid, and the newsletter reported many individuals have done that. However, the money collected now will most likely have a negative impact on next year's budget.

Two bright spots for Valle Vista are the $172,000 in outstanding receivables and the recent hiring of bookkeeper Jerri Lovvorn.

"We're sitting on the crux of things," said Shirley Alvitre-Johnson, secretary of the board of directors. "We've got someone now who is qualified to do the books."

The accounting at Valle Vista has been an issue in the past, but the problems are hopefully becoming a thing of the past. The six members on the board of directors have been in place since January, and the last seat should be filled shortly.

"It's very difficult right now with what the board has inherited," Alvitre-Johnson said. "It's not insurmountable, but we do have restraints."

Valle Vista boasts 4,300 properties and 866 homes. The golf course has approximately 200 memberships with 112 of those on an annual basis.

This seemingly small number of memberships has the board looking outside the box for other solutions. Alvitre-Johnson said the same video company that worked with Hualapai Mountain Medical Center shot footage on Wednesday in Valle Vista in a concerted effort with the new hospital to draw people to work at HMMC and reside in Valle Vista.

The board is also starting a committee to look for grants which would focus on the environment or saving water.

"We have tons of things working," Alvitre-Johnson said.

Golf course is playable

Because of recent cutbacks, Valle Vista had scaled down to only one maintenance employee at the golf course. A second employee was hired to maintain the course recently, and the board expects to hire a third person soon.

In the meantime, Valle Vista has had to rely on a volunteer force headed by former superintendent Randy Keatley to keep the course in decent playing shape.

"The course is good," said Bud Kelso, chairman of the Budget & Finance Committee. "Randy and the volunteer force have been working hard."

A walk around the course did indeed validate Kelso's claim.

"The course is greening up real good," Kelso said. "It's looking good after the winter doldrums, and we're actually having to cut it."

Bob Floyd, a resident of Valle Vista, is satisfied with the condition of the course from a player's perspective.

"I've been surprised," Floyd said about the volunteers.

"The fairways are in decent shape and we're not yet through the real big growing."

Floyd was taking his grandson out for a round of golf in hopes of passing down his love for the game.

"The greens are always in good shape," Floyd said.

"It's a challenging course. It's not in championship condition, but it's a good medium-type course and does have some water hazards."

Where will the fish go?

One cost Valle Vista is working on diminishing is excess water charges. Alvitre-Johnson said the association paid $76,000 last year for water.

The golf course is currently draining the ponds around the course in favor of a desert-indigenous floor, which the board feels is more appropriate considering its location. The pond at Hole No. 2 has been drained and the fish there have been transferred to Hole No. 12.

That hole is expected to be drained some time in July or August and that has raised another dilemma that has to be solved. Where will the fish go?

Rick Roback, president of the board, said he was told by the Arizona Department of Game and Fish that the fish - bass, grass carp and possibly even coy - cannot be transported live off the course. He said a solution has to be found by the time they drain No. 12.

"We have a little breathing room," Roback said. "But we have to make a decision within a week or so. Not too many guys are anxious to put on waders and grab fish."

Some ideas to ease the situation have been floated, such as holding a fishing tournament. But this has some roadblocks as well. The course's insurance restricts it as to who can be on the course during play.

"If we don't get them out, they will die," said Roback, a former tournament fisherman. "I'm not a big fan of that, but right now I don't know what other option we have not being able to transfer them anywhere else to live."

Roback said he is more than willing to listen to anyone who has a solution to the problem.

Looking forward

Money is tight for Valle Vista, but the folks there believe they will overcome the present challenges. The board wants to put its political infighting behind it and return Valle Vista to a place that offers plenty of amenities and a wonderful life experience for its residents.

"The ultimate goal of the current board is to be transparent and to let the community know everything that's going on," Alvitre-Johnson said.

"It's all good stuff going in the right direction."