Kingman wants to be America's best community

HUBBLE RAY SMITH/Miner<br>Tim Estes, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.-based Dycom Industries CEO, talks with Kingman resident Cere Tabbert.

HUBBLE RAY SMITH/Miner<br>Tim Estes, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.-based Dycom Industries CEO, talks with Kingman resident Cere Tabbert.

KINGMAN - A Florida-based telecommunications company has been assigned to help Kingman go after a $3 million top prize in America's Best Communities competition and sweetened the pot with a $15,000 donation toward those efforts.

America's Best Communities contest is a $10 million economic development initiative sponsored by Frontier Communications, Dish, CoBank and the Weather Channel.

Kingman was selected as a quarterfinalist in the competition in April and was awarded $35,000 to develop a comprehensive community revitalization plan.

"We're excited about getting to know Kingman," Tim Estes, chief operating officer of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.-based Dycom Industries, said last week. "Being born and raised in a small community of 3,000 in North Carolina, I'm deeply rooted in rural America and our company is deeply rooted in rural America. This is an opportunity for us to get to know you."

Speaking to the core group of planners at Dambar Steakhouse, Estes said the main thing he wanted to do is come to Kingman and see what's being planned.

Dycom, a specialty contractor in the telecommunications industry, will provide expertise in developing the plan with assistance from Walt Donovan, vice president of business development and a resident of Chandler.

"From talking to people here, we've got some good ideas. We just need to filter down those ideas and figure out what to do going forward," Donovan said. "It's a great little community. It's got name recognition from Route 66. It's in an excellent location, right on the path between Phoenix and Las Vegas. There's a lot of potential to not only be a drive-through community, but a destination community."

A couple of preliminary ideas being tossed around include a pedestrian walkway bridge over Route 66 from the Powerhouse Museum and Visitors Center to Locomotive Park, and four miles of hiking trails in the Monolith Garden park that would make it a regional destination for outdoor adventurists.

The goal of the contest is to spur economic development and revitalization in rural cities in 27 states. The top three finalists will be awarded $1 million, $2 million and $3 million to make it happen.

The next step for Kingman is to raise $15,000 in matching funds by Aug. 6, and develop a customized action plan by Nov. 6. The Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce has committed $5,000 to the matching funds.

"We need to get the community behind this revitalization plan," said Cere Tabbert, a citizen volunteer for the Kingman team. "We need to communicate as much as we can and talk about making a plan the community can get behind."

A community forum is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Mohave County library, 3269 Burbank St.

Chamber executive Yvonne Woytovich said she worked extensively with the group on researching and understanding Kingman's economic challenges.

"We're making sure we make the greatest impact on the greatest number of people. We all want to see amazing things happen in Kingman," she said.

One thing Woytovich learned from the contest is that Kingman is not alone in its economic struggles.

She said Kingman would eventually share its revitalization plan with other rural communities so that they too might prosper.

Becky Potts, regional president of Frontier from Salt Lake City, said she's been talking about America's Best Communities for a while now.

Former Frontier CEO Maggie Wilderotter launched the idea during a visit to Kingman last year.

"We are so passionate about the communities we work, live and play with," Potts said. "We wanted to come up with ideas to give something back to communities. I was so pleased that Kingman was on the list. It's truly a great community with a big heart, certainly worthy of the big prize. We'll see how that works out."