Monday, January 23, 2023

Please assist our opposition to the expansion of APS above ground power lines!

 

Please assist our opposition to the expansion of APS above ground power lines!


Dear Village of Oak Creek resident,


As you may be aware, Arizona Public Service (APS) has proposed a 13.7-mile new powerline to run between McGuireville and the Village of Oak Creek (VOC). The purpose is to provide a backup power source in the event of an outage in the current single line into each community.


Big Park Council is not opposed to improving infrastructure, but it is opposed to APS’ conventional above-ground powerline that would mar the scenic vistas that residents and visitors currently enjoy, depreciate property values near the new powerline, and add to potential wildfire hazards in the event of a downed powerline. We support burying key sections of the project.


APS needs special approval from the U.S. Forest Service since most of the powerline would run across Coconino National Forest. Its main justification is what it claims are numerous power outages in the VOC, especially during the summer monsoon season.


The Council has tried several times to obtain detailed outage information from APS, which claims it is proprietary. However, there is a way that we can collect this information with your help!


Any APS customer can obtain detailed power outages for the last three years at their home by logging into the APS website here. If you scroll to the middle of the page, you will find an option to see your outage history over the last 36 months. Click on the “See Your Outage History” and it will display the date and duration of each outage.

However, if you do not have a username and password, you will need to create one first. Once you see your power outage information, we would ask you to go to our survey and fill in the results. All information will be kept strictly confidential. The Council will compile this data to use in our advocacy work on behalf of the VOC community.


We also have two additional survey questions that we would like you to answer below the table.


All of this should take no more than 10 minutes of your time, hopefully much less! This information is critical in helping the Council respond effectively to APS’s obfuscation. One of its real reasons for denying the public access to neighborhood outage information are shareholder profits. Once APS recovers the cost of construction, the new powerline will increase its revenue from VOC customers (on top of its proposed systemwide rate increase, pending before the Arizona Corporation Commission, of approximately 23%)!


Thank you in advance for your participation in this survey. The survey will be open until February 6th.


Click on the link below to begin the survey.


Sincerely,

John Wichert, President

Big Park Regional Coordinating Council


SURVEY LINK

Monday, January 16, 2023

BPC Annual Meeting Highlights & Community News



COMMUNITY NEWS

Meeting Highlights follow, keep scrolling down!

With the success of Novel Night in October 2022, the Sedona Public Library in the Village will again hold a Novel Night fundraiser in 2023. As soon as more information if available, we’ll let you know.

DEADLINE EXTENDED To Friday, January 20thAs you know, the Big Park Council is assisting an effort to better understand the current broadband situation in the Greater Sedona area. This local survey is being done to determine if VOC/Big Park may qualify for Federal Funding to install a fiberoptic network.


Click HERE to go to the survey. Information provided from the survey will go directly to Tom Binnings and James Curry of the Greater Sedona area group that is spearheading this effort.

Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office (EMERGENCY EVACUATION)In October of 2022, a new emergency notification system from the Yavapai County Sheriff's office was launched. CODE RED will no longer be used. If you haven't already done so, click HERE to sign up for the new system.


Nixle (ROAD CLOSURES): This Community Information Service helps keep you and your family safe, informed, and connected to your community 24/7. With emergency alerts, important advisories, community updates, and traffic information, you will receive up-to-date information impacting the areas near you by cell phone, e-mail and on the web. To sign up for Nixle, click HERE.


USDA Coconino National Forest Office of Public Information (WILDFIRE & PRESCRIBED BURNS): This office is the originating collator of information on any wildfires impacting the forest and their email notification is the official source for the various wildfire reporting websites. The VOC/Big Park area is completely surrounded by the Coconino National Forest. Remember that the first several hours of an incident are focused on fire suppression, and NOT releasing information to the public, however, as soon as they can, information comes out from this source first. Click HERE to sign up for their emails.


APS (POWER OUTAGE): APS will send text/email alerts directly to you if there is a power outage in your area. In order to get on their list, you’ll need to set up an account with them, but you can view their outage map without doing so. Click HERE to go to their Outage Center.

ANNUAL MEETING HIGHLIGHTS

JANUARY 12, 2023


Call to Order: President John Wichert called the meeting to order at 9:00am.


Roll Call: Secretary Mary Pope confirmed a quorum of 14 member organizations present along with 3 alternates. No additional guests from the public were present.


President John Wichert welcomed attendees with thanks to Camille Cox for the strong foundation of the organization and her assistance with his orientation. He also expressed appreciation for her continued service to the Big Park Council (BPC). He then recognized Colleen Hinds, VP as representing the future of a younger organization, and acknowledged Mary Pope and Patty Reski for the countless hours devoted to the organization, experience, and wisdom. He further expressed appreciation to David Gill as a fount of information, wisdom, and continuity of service within the community as well as for his time spent orienting the new officers on planning & zoning. John then thanked all committee chairs, liaisons, representatives, and alternates for their service. He expressed a concern that additional volunteers would be needed to do the many jobs that Camille had assumed during her tenure. He noted that more young volunteers are needed as well as an outreach program to raise awareness of BPC within the community.


The meeting agenda was approved by acclamation on a motion by Dave Norton seconded by Paul Sullivan.


President’s Report: John Wichert began the annual appointment of Committee Chairs by noting that the chair of Planning & Zoning (P&Z) has yet to be filled with conversations currently taking place. He expressed the need for an interim chair and Bob Marriott offered to serve. John then listed the current P&Z committee members and the Council agreed that the list should be confirmed after the new Chair is appointed. P&Z is a standing committee and as such, its members are appointed by its Chair and approved by the Council. He then affirmed the appointment of Duane Thompson as the P&Z APS subcommittee chair and listed other committee chairs for 2023 as:


  • Art in the Roundabouts – Rolf Funk & Steve Fiedler

  • Emergency Preparedness – Gwen Hanna & Mary Pope

  • Community Plan – Camille Cox

  • Dark-Sky – Dave Norton & Curt Schneider


There were no objections to the appointments of these committee chairs and all were approved by acclamation. As Dark-Sky is also a standing committee its committee members will be confirmed at the February meeting.


John then confirmed his appointment of Paul Sullivan, USFS liaison and Steve Fiedler VVTPO liaison. He commended Paul on his long tenure as USFS liaison and at Paul’s request, asked if anyone was interested in replacing him, to call or email. Both liaisons were approved by the Council by acclamation.


An Audit Committee is appointed each year in January with John calling for volunteers and noting that this is a short-term assignment, reviewing the prior Year’s financial paperwork. One of the committee members must be an Executive Board (EB) member, and Colleen Hinds volunteered. The two additional members will be Dave Norton and Neil Pope. Colleen will set up a meeting.


John then presented the schedule of EB and Council meetings for 2023 as:

  • Executive Board at 3pm: Jan 3, 31, Feb 28, Apr 4, May 2, 30, Jul 4, Aug 1, Sept 5, Oct 3, 31, Dec 5

  • Big Park Council at 9am: Jan 12, Feb 9, Mar 9, Apr 13, May 11, Jun 8, Jul 13, Aug 10, Sep 14, Oct 12, Nov 9, Dec 14


He noted that the July 4th EB meeting will likely be changed. There were no objections, and the schedule was approved by acclamation. All meetings are open to the public. Contact Bigparkcouncil.inquiry@gmail.com to attend.


Secretary’s Report: Mary Pope asked if there were any adjustments to the draft council minutes from December 8th meeting and hearing none, Bob Marriott moved, Carolyn Fisher seconded, that the minutes be accepted as written. Motion passed unanimously.


Mary reported that changes to the BPC officers were filed with the Arizona Corporation Commission as required. She then noted that there were no changes to member organizations and welcomed Dottie Milliken as a returning alternate for Las Piedras and Pat Robles as the new representative for CR Ranch. Pat replaces Ty deJong who will continue as an alternate. Pat hails from Oxford, Ohio and has degrees in urban planning as well as environmental sciences and natural area preservation as well as extensive business experience. She and her husband, Martin, moved to the Village in 2021. Pine Valley has also adjusted its alternates with Steve Fiedler stepping up and Lenore Hemingway and Phil Cox stepping down. Mary expressed appreciation to Lenore and Phil who have served the Council on many committees over the years, and who continue to do so.


Treasurer’s Report: Patty Reski noted that December had minimal expenses and the bank account was comfortable at $5200, up from year-end 2021 mostly because there were no in-person meetings, nor a need for professional technology support. She noted that all records are ready for audit as soon as the committee would like.


New Business: John Wichert informed the Council that well over 100 responses have already been received for the Broadband survey that BPC is assisting with. He noted that the survey closes tomorrow, and that Tom Binnings would be reporting the results to the Council at the regular meeting February 9th. There was much discussion regarding the importance of this survey and the need for representatives to circulate it within their communities to increase the number and locations of responses; especially along Verde Valley School Rd., a problematic internet “dead zone.” Mary Pope agreed to contact Tom Binnings to see if the deadline could be extended by a week and if so, will include a reminder in the meeting highlights. UPDATE: Broadband Survey deadline has been extended to Friday, January 20th.


John asked the Council members to consider working on two new task forces to be created at the February meeting: 1. IT/Website support/revamp and 2. Recruitment of new, younger council members and citizen participants. This task force would also consider possible additional member organization classifications to expand the Council’s base and community representation.


He then introduced Mary Pope to do the annual Refresher Training and New Member Orientation. Her presentation covered the History of the BPC, its purpose and structure governing documents, roles, responsibilities, and indemnification as well as the agreed Code of Conduct inclusive of procedures for conflict of interest and dispute resolution. Click HERE to download the presentation.


Committee Reports:

Planning & Zoning: John Wichert read David Gill’s report noting that the only matter potentially before the committee at this time is the Use Permit request by the Verde Valley School. The public meeting scheduled for last night had been deferred. No further information is available at this time.


Dark-Sky: Dave Norton noted that the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) annual report has been completed in both PDF and web-based versions. A sign acknowledging the Dark-Sky designation of Big Park/VOC is available, but there is currently nowhere with permission to hang it. The Committee has been invited to work with Jeremy Dye of the Yavapai County Development office on updating the county Dark-Sky ordinance. The committee is also working on a printed door-hanger to explain what “Dark-Sky” is and what is required to comply. During discussion, Bob Marriott mentioned that the Emergency Preparedness (EPPiC) committee is also struggling with methods to reach the three types of residents 1. Short term rentals, 2. Seasonal residents and 3. Full time residents. The first two are challenging. He suggested that the two committees work together on outreach solutions. Colleen Hinds noted that the proposed task force to encourage more participation in the BPC, could also help. It was also noted that there are numerous funding possibilities for community-wide postcard mailings such as APS.


VVTPO – Steve Fiedler submitted a written report of his meeting with ADOT which was read to the Council:


1. 179 and Cortez on SE corner, Team Fishel will be installing fiber optic to the View Motel. Excavation, boring on that corner. If they find a 4-inch PVC in ground, then they can pull fiber optic from Jack’s Canyon Rd. to View Motel. If a 4-inch pipe isn’t in the ground, then more extensive work will need to be done. Work to start week of Jan 16th.

2. Vista Village mall might be installing a right turn lane into mall off 179. This isn’t a done deal, possibly could end up back in court. Otherwise, design, planning and installation will proceed.


The meeting was adjourned at 10:28am.


Tuesday, January 10, 2023

2022 Dark-Sky Report

Each year, communities with International Dark-Sky designation are required to file an annual report with the organization.  In our community, the group that carries out this responsibility is the Dark-Sky Committee of the Big Park Council.

The report is provided here for your reading pleasure.  If you'd like to get involved with the committee, send an email stating your interest to bigparkcouncil.inquiry@gmail.com.

2022 Big Park - VOC Dark-Sky Annual Report