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Sat, Oct. 19

County hunting for facility site in Arizona Strip

KINGMAN - The county still hasn't found a new place for its facility in the Arizona Strip/ Colorado City area. The Board continued its discussion of possible building sites from April during its meeting Monday morning.

The Board has been seeking to purchase or lease a new property in the Colorado City area since February, when Mohave Community College announced it would not renew the county's lease for the current location. The lease expired April 1 and the county has up to six months to remove an office trailer on the property. The trailer houses offices for the Mohave County Sheriff, County Attorney, Arizona Attorney General, Arizona Department of Economic Security and a non-profit organization, Defenders of Children.

The Board is considering the possibility of housing the Moccasin Justice Court, MCSO and CAO in the same building. But where that building would be located is still up in the air.

Last month, Mike Hendrix, deputy county manger for developmental and public works services, told the Board his office had narrowed the search to three possible sites; two in Colorado City and a third in Fredonia.

At that meeting, two residents of Colorado City spoke out in opposition of the county purchasing the two lots in Colorado City. The two residents had donated the properties to the United Effort Plan Trust and would rather see the properties stay within the church.

The trust controls all the property and funds owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It was taken over by a Utah court fiduciary in 2005, after it was determined that church leaders were misusing trust funds.

At the same meeting, Moccasin Justice Court Judge Mitch Kalauli raised concerns about damage to the court's credibility if it was co-located with the Sheriff, AG and County Attorney offices in Colorado City.

Defendants may not feel that they would be treated fairly if the court was located within Colorado City, especially if the Sheriff and County Attorney offices were located in the same building.

The Board requested Hendrix meet with Colorado City Manager David Darger and seek out additional building sites.

Hendrix told the Board Monday that he was able to meet with Darger and briefly view additional sites last Thursday. But, he could not tell the Board if the sites would meet the county's needs better than the first three sites his office had found. He also did not have time to contact the owners of the properties to see if they would be willing to sell to the county.

He did notify the Board that the Arizona Department of Transportation might be willing to temporarily store the county's office trailer.

County Manager Ron Walker said it might be better if Hendrix's office knew exactly what the Board was looking for. Did the Board want to house the Justice Court, MCSO, CAO and other offices in the same building or have two separate buildings?

"I would like to look at all the possibilities that might benefit the people of Mohave County," said Supervisor Gary Watson, suggesting that Hendrix look at both a single building for the court and county offices and the possibility of two separate buildings. He also asked that Hendrix expand the search to the Scenic/Beaver Dam area.

"In light of the fact that this is going to be a $600,000 to $700,000 investment, without the purchase price of the land, it needs to be in the best interest of the people," Watson said. "I just want to lay all the cards out on the table."

Sheriff Tom Sheahan said he preferred his office to stay in the Colorado City area.

Darger told the Board that the Colorado City Council had passed a resolution stating that the Justice Court should be separate from the rest of the county offices in the area.

Supervisor Buster Johnson asked if the county couldn't purchase or lease a property in the area temporarily and save the purchase of piece of property until the county budget cycle.

"A lot of work needs to be done to determine what kind of facility we need," said Board Chairman Tom Sockwell

Walker pointed out that the county still needed to move the office trailer off the current site and the justice court was running out of space in its current facility.

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