In a marathon meeting Tuesday evening – following the cancellation of Council’s previously scheduled meeting due to the Telegraph Fire – council discussed flood and mitigation efforts, the strategic action plan for 2023 and heard from residents before approving funding for the rehab of the long-neglected pool at the community center.
This is PART one of our three-part coverage of this meeting. Part 2 and 3 will cover the SAP discussion and funding of the community pool.
Members of the Globe City Council: Mayor Al Gameros, Vice Mayor Mike Stapleton, and Council members Freddy Rios, Mike Pastor, Jesse Leetham, Fernando Shipley, and Mariano Gonzales. All members were in attendance.
Moment of silence
Council opened with a moment of silence in honor of three local residents who have recently passed. John Marcanti served as councilman from 1978 to 1980, as well as county supervisor, was a volunteer firefighter for the Globe FD for 25 years, worked with the Knights of Columbus, and was helpful to the Boys and Girls Clubs. Betty Cochrane worked for the city and the museum for 15 years. Buck Cormack was a schoolmate of Mayor Gameros, was Mayor Gameros’s best man when he was married in 1975, and was the father of Capt. Kendall Cormack of Globe Fire.
Mayor’s COVID and Fire Update
Mayor Gameros reminded people that COVID isn’t over and asked people to respect others who make the decision to wear a mask.
“We’re still seeing 300 to 400 cases a day statewide, and we’re now seeing more young people, in their late teens and twenties, contracting it.” –Mayor Al Gameros
The mayor and Council thanked the incident team and the firefighters for the amazing job they did and reported that Council had taken steps to get BAER (Burned Area Emergency Response) teams into the Pinals to prepare for the flooding that will take place.
Mayor Gameros, Council member Gonzales, and City Manager Paul Jepson went to the capitol last week and testified before the House and the Senate, prior to the Legislature signing a $100 million bill to help with fire mitigation. $25 million will be dedicated to having prison crews work in the forest and another $75 million will go to the communities. The group requested a portion of the money go to Miami.
City Recognizes Employees
Chief Gary Robinson was recognized for 20 years of service to the City. Chief Robinson was a captain in the Fire Department from 2009 to 2013, served as deputy chief, and became fire chief upon Mayor Gameros’s retirement from the Fire Department in 2015. He became an engine boss in 2006.
Adolfo Ortiz was recognized for 15 years of service to the City. Ortiz is one of the main people who responds to after-hours needs for the Water Department.
Gabriel Andrade was recognized for 5 years of service. He currently works in parks, helpfully fills in a lot of voids on the on-call list, and also often works special events. His grandfather Greg Andrade worked for the City for many years.
Community Recovery and Flood Mitigation Efforts Discussed
Salvation Army Community Resource Center
Capt. Michael Dominguez, incident commander for the Salvation Army, reported on available services to local residents for community recovery. Dominguez said the community resource center at the old Safeway will continue to be open until Saturday, offering water, snacks, food boxes, and financial resources available to residents directly impacted by the fires.
After June 26, long-term recovery will take place out of the local Salvation Army office near City Hall in Globe. People will need to call ahead to make an appointment. People directly affected by the fires may receive assistance with their needs. The Salvation Army will have a local phone number that will be made available.
Gonzales noted that the state emergency operations center (EOC) had been activated due to the number and severity of incidents across the state.
El Capitan residents seek assistance with recovery
Tari Infante and Todd Strawdinger of El Capitan, who had recently moved into their house – just 2½ months before the Telegraph Fire consumed their home and property – spoke about their concerns regarding flooding and mitigating the risk of mud and rock slides.
“Rocks are already rolling down the hill onto our driveway,” said Infante.
They expressed concerns including the maintenance of their road, cleaning up toxic waste from damaged solar systems, refrigerators, etc., and testing well water to ensure the fires hadn’t contaminated the drinking water. They also noted that some of their neighbors would have difficulty accessing information and resources because they aren’t on social media.
Gonzales suggested they start by contacting Gila County Emergency Management, which will “bring to bear all the county agencies that will be involved.” In addition, he noted the services being provided by the UofA Cooperative Agency, Red Cross and Salvation Army.
Infante concluded her remarks with this:
“El Capitan residents might not be seen from Globe, but we all call Globe our home town. … We work here. We go to school here. We go to church here. We go to events here. … We appreciate your concern and any help.”
Taking Action to Mitigate the Aftermath of the Fire
Jerry Barnes, Engineering Director, reported on work being done related to the fires. “The recent fires burned more than 200,000 acres,” he said, “whereas the Pinal Fire of 2019 burned 7,000.” The danger of flooding and debris is much greater with the burn scar of the Telegraph Fire, and Barnes said the City is acting with urgency to complete the rehabilitation work. The process was aided when the Governor issued a declaration of emergency for both the Telegraph and Mescal fires on June 9.
On June 16, Mayor Gameros, Jepson, Gonzales, and Barnes attended a special joint committee meeting at the state legislature for appropriations for fire suppression. The state senate adopted House Bill 2001, and Gov. Ducey signed it on June 18. The law appropriates $75 million of general fund money for wildfire emergency response efforts.
These funds can be used for:
- Fire suppression and prepositioned fire suppression equipment and staff
- Capital expenditures and equipment associated with fire suppression and efforts
- Mitigation projects to address post-fire flooding and other effects that may occur as a result of the fire or fire suppression
- State and local agencies’ emergency liabilities for emergency shelters, wraparound services, and support activities, such as the animal shelters and their support
- Financial assistance to landowners for emergency repairs to infrastructure damage resulting from fires or fire suppression activities. (This is limited to $10 million but Barnes pointed out that other funding mechanisms are also available.) A community meeting will be held to inform city residents of different avenues of funding and programs available.
- Reimbursement of agency cost shared or eligible claims from a state or federal emergency (reimbursement for expenses)
An additional $21,541,800 was appropriated for the state Department of Forestry and Forest Management for fire mitigation, which will fund 122 full-time positions, plus vehicles and operating expenses for those vehicles, to supervise inmate crews to fight fires and undertake hazardous vegetation removal.
Barnes reported that on June 21, the City met with state, federal, and local officials, including Forestry and DEMA (Department of Emergency and Military Affairs) to discuss methods of getting out the word to the public about flood mitigation resources that will be available.
“Flyers will be passed out, notices will be sent out to residents via social media,” said Barnes, adding that “comments may appear on water bills to let people know they have help available for current needs and to prevent future damage through flooding.”
Barnes encouraged residents to seek higher ground during flooding alerts rather than trying to get out of the area. One of the biggest problems in flash floods, he noted, is impact to structures. Barnes said that in a situation where a bridge has to be closed, residents might be unable to leave the area quickly, and for this reason, he said people should seek higher ground instead of attempting to leave the area.
Sandbags were also discussed, and Barnes explained that the county currently has one sandbagger and has been putting sandbags on pallets ready to deliver where needed. The county has also ordered a second sandbagger that will probably be located in Miami.
Barnes added that the City of Globe plans to obtain another sandbagger for the Public Works yard. “People will be able to come down and bag their own sand,” Barnes said, “or people can take advantage of pre-made sandbags that will be located throughout the city for access.”
Pallets are in short supply and the County is requesting that anyone who has pallets they can contribute to contact Carl Melford at the county.
The city will apply through the county for DEMA funding. DEMA will identify federal programs that can provide funding where possible rather than using funds from the $75 million available from House Bill 2001.
The county is now looking for cooperative contracts for creek cleanup. The City will use similar contracts for mitigating floodways and hopes to piggyback on some of the cooperative contracts. The county is using state and county procurement methods, and the City will do the same.
A chief problem of the mitigation will be obtaining access to private property. The City will use a generic temporary construction easement (TCE) asking for permission to clear dead and downed material that could be a flood hazard. In the last mitigation, Barnes reported that a lot of private property owners refused to allow the City access and took it upon themselves to do cleanup, but he hopes this time owners will be willing to allow the City to do it, due to the severity of the situation. The county has provided a GIS map that shows all private property in areas of concern and information about the owners.
“If we get a big flood, this is going to be bad. There’s a lot of acreage.” –Engineering Director Jerry Barnes
Barnes explained that the heat of the fire caramelized the ground, so water doesn’t saturate as it normally would. Barnes said the runoff “comes down at us up to four times as fast…. We have rain gauges up on the Pinals, or the County does rather, but when the rain hits, it’s already to us by the time we get notified. So that’s why we’re big on getting out there and getting this stuff done.”
The City will be holding a meeting with the hospital to discuss provisions to make sure the hospital will be safe, and the County is building an additional access road to the hospital in the event Russell Road becomes impassable.
A joint meeting with all agencies is scheduled, and the City will be setting up meetings with local contractors. City department heads will be discussing strategies for submitting applications through DEMA to make the city safer and to prepare for the next fire incident.
“It’s not if there’s another fire, it’s when there’s another fire. It’s just the nature of where we live. We’re surrounded by forest service, and it’s going to happen. Every time it happens, let’s be better prepared next time.” –Engineering Director Jerry Barnes
Barnes said that due to the urgency, pre-flooding mitigation must be started possibly even before approval is obtained from DEMA.
Council member Shipley, who owns an insurance agency, noted that most people don’t have flood insurance. He said if anyone is worried about flooding and wants to obtain flood insurance, they should realize that insurance companies require a waiting period, so people should look into the insurance sooner rather than later due to the waiting period.
See Part 2 of our coverage of City Council Meeting of June 22: Strategic Plan, Capital Improvement Projects…
See Part 3 of our coverage of City Council Meeting of June 22: Community Pool
Full minutes can be found by going to the City Hall website at https://www.globeaz.gov/government and clicking on Agendas/Minutes in the bottom left-hand corner.
The Globe City Council meets every second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 6:00 p.m. at City Hall. The meetings are currently open to the public at 25% capacity. Members of the public are requested to wear a mask when entering and exiting the Council chambers. Seating is limited to allow for social distancing.
Members of the public can also participate in City of Globe public meetings by viewing the meeting live on YouTube. To view the Council meeting live stream, go to the City of Globe’s YouTube channel (search for City of Globe Arizona). Or click on the “Live Stream on YouTube” link at the top of www.globeaz.gov.
To speak to agenda items before or during the meeting, you can call or text (928) 200-0154 or send an email to email@example.com. If you desire to speak to the Council during an agenda item, please contact the Council in advance and include your phone number on your request.
Patricia Sanders lived in Globe from 2004 to 2008 and at Reevis Mountain School, in the Tonto National Forest, from 2008 to 2014. She has been a writer and editor for GMT since 2015. She currently lives on Santa Maria island in the Azores.