Recap of the News of 2001
- January - February - March - April - May - June -
- July - August - September - October - November - December -
o Births o Deaths o
Increased postage rates came in with the New Year. It now costs 34¢ to mail a letter. Also increased were fee rates at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It now costs $5 for a permit for a week. They continue to offer an annual permit for repeat visitors at a cost of $15.
Ballet Folklorico El Cobre presented Noche Navideña in December and the proceeds were donated to the school music department in January.
Area residents were warned to watch for counterfeit currency after bogus bills showed up here.
Thirty people from Ajo and surrounding areas attended a grant writing workshop.
Thirty-nine members of the Tucson Symphony performed Moztly Mozart for an audience of about 300. The event was sponsored by the Ajo Council for the Fine Arts.
The EZ Access project was completed in front of the newly renamed Desert Senita Community Health Center. Landscaping was completed in February. A sign was also added to complete the new image of the health center.
Phoenix bus service began on January 8 which delighted many Ajo residents. The service is by reservation only. Transportation to the airport and other Phoenix locations is available for an additional charge. The service was expanded in June to two trips a day twice a week.
A Leave-No-Trace course was offered by the staff of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. The three-day course involved short day hikes into wilderness and a drive across the Camino del Diablo.
A Mexican national died after his vehicle overturned when it was stopped by US Border Patrol agents. A second man fled the scene. The vehicle contained a load of marijuana.
The Salazar-Ajo Branch Library was closed for remodeling.
Student First money in the amount of $3,047,000 was approved by the state to fund remodeling and equipment at the Ajo School. The 29 projects had been approved and were scheduled to go out to bid at the beginning of 2002.
After 16 years, Dr. Linda Elliot, closed her office here to concentrate on her veterinary practice in Ahwatukee.
A Sonoran Desert National Monument was created by President Clinton as he left office. The area is east and south of Gila Bend & is administered by BLM.
School board members Bob Bryant and Kord Klinefelter were sworn in following their re-election in November.
The annual Vaudeville & Variety Show was presented by the Ajo Community Players with local talent. The show was directed by Steve Migdon.
Fundraising efforts brought the Arizona Humane Society's Mobile Unit to Ajo for three days to spay, neuter, and vaccinate cats and dogs. The crew of the unit saw 117 of Ajo's animals.
An Ajo Ambulance unit was destroyed in an arson fire.
Frank Alvillar, who had been Pima County Sheriff's Department Ajo District's detective for 15 years, retired after more than 27 years with the department. He had been a role model and mentor for young deputies. Bill Clements was promoted to fill the position.
All seats were filled for most of the 23rd annual Fiddlers Contest at the Mocambo Ballroom.
The Piecemakers quilting group held its annual quilt exhibit and sale.
Representatives from Granite Construction and the engineering firm that designed the Deep Pond Wastewater Treatment system being built in Ajo spoke to interested residents about the capacity and operation of the new system.
Street lighting improvement continued to be a topic of interest among many residents in the area served by APS. Since the current equipment can no longer be repaired, Ajo is becoming darker. Unless a change is made by 2011, the current system, if still in operation, will be prohibited. Some residents are exploring the possibility of establishing a Street Lighting Improvement District.
The weather was cooperative and the day of the Sonoran Shindig was cool, a little windy, but clear. Nearly fifty different event spaces held food, sales items, and information about the Sonoran desert and its residents.
Khenany reappeared in Ajo after an absence of several years. The seven Sonoran musicians played folk music on traditional instruments from Mexico and South American countries to a full house at Dicus Auditorium.
The Ajo High School varsity basketball season ended with the boys at 2 wins and 13 losses in non-tournament play. The girls team had 5 wins and 10 losses.
Gateway Communities Workshop in Joshua Tree, California, was attended by representatives of Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, International Sonoran Desert Alliance, Chamber of Commerce, WPCCC, and Hia-ced O'odham. They brought back ideas for promoting the Ajo area while continuing to protect its natural assets.
Read Across America took place on March 2 throughout the Ajo school all day and into the evening.
The first annual Ajo Chamber of Commerce Scenic Loop Walk-a-thon raised funds for the CofC. About 20 walkers finished the 8-mile trek enjoying the warm spring weather.
The annual O'odham Day at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument brought out a large crowd to enjoy entertainment, food, and programs about the Tohono O'odham by tribal members and NPS staff.
WPCCC volunteers manned the site at the Ajo Landfill for the 10th year to provide an opportunity for residents to properly dispose of household hazardous waste materials.
Esperanza Workman, who worked at Ajo's bank for 25 years, retired on March 30.
The Desert Artists' Guild's 57 participating artists put on a show and sale. About 130 people attended the event.
Members of Ajo's Masonic Lodge provided tickets for about 110 of Ajo's school children to attend the Shrine Circus on Saturday, March 3. The Masons have been active in several programs with school children this year.
The annual Pick up & Picnic Day saw ugly litter being eliminated from many areas ? at least for a little while.
The first armed robbery to take place in Ajo for many years happened on March 17 at Amigo's Liquors. The man was apprehended within an hour of the robbery because a watchful customer saw him enter a home nearby. All the money was recovered.
The Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and Pima County Parks & Recreation co-sponsored an overnight camping trip for teens that included a trip to the top of Childs Mountain, a demonstration of triangulation with a compass, programs about US Border Patrol, a magic show about Leave-No-Trace principles, and a hike.
Teachers, administrators, and board members worked on a performance-based compensation program for Ajo's school. Teachers in the district will be able to get additional money from the state if their goals are met each year through the program. The goals for the coming year are improvement in reading, school attendance, and attendance at parent-teacher conferences.
The Jewel of the Desert Workshop put on by the Desert Artists' Guild was attended by 11 artists who wanted to learn painting techniques.
The Drachman Institute from the UofA presented its completed Comprehensive Community Plan to residents. The plan recommended several development possibilities to increase economic stability in the community and identified potential funding sources.
Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson attended the Western Pima County Community Council on April 5 to get input from residents on the 2700 acre parcel surrounding the airport. Residents expressed concerns regarding water, development of the airport, and their hope that a casino would not be built there if the Tohono O'odham Nation received the parcel. Bronson said the county was not interested in taking over the parcel, but that the county could assist with some infrastructure.
The traditional Easter sunrise service was held in the Plaza following a month of ecumenical Lenten services at local churches.
At the annual awards banquet in Tucson, three Ajo SAVs were recognized. Frank Cesarec was named Ajo's Volunteer of the Year for 2000, Wes Snell received an award for 1000 hours of service, and Karen Snell received an award for 7500 hours of service, as well as the highest award an SAV can earn, the Dean L. Sellen Memorial Award.
At an open house at the Desert Senita Community Health Center, plaques were unveiled in honor of those who donated time, money, or equipment to the renovation.
Ajo Improvement Company's application for a rate increase was granted.
The Ajo Masons awarded bicycles to two fourth grade readers. In December they awarded two more bicycles and monetary prizes to third and fourth graders.
The Cinco de Mayo crowd enjoyed the entertainment, food booths, activities, and visits with friends in addition to a beautiful warm day in the Plaza.
Teachers Daisy Farmer and Linda Shilling, library aide Stella Vasquez, and three cafeteria workers Josephine Mendez, Margaret Goodman, and Cecilia Ramirez, retired from the school staff.
Ajo High School varsity spring sports saw the girls' track team place first at two of its meets and second in two of its meets; the boys worked hard but didn't place as well. The golf team had 6 wins and 19 losses. The boys' varsity baseball team had 3 wins and 11 losses in non-tournament play while the girls softball team had 4 wins and 9 losses.
Rose Cameron was chosen as Ajo Woman of the Year by Xi Gamma Pi.
Don Olsen announced his plans to build a new supermarket at Hwy 85 & McMahon.
Ajo Ambulance requested, and later received, a rate increase from the Arizona Department of Health services.
Anders Thomas Peterson was valedictorian of the 2001 graduating class of Ajo High School. Christina Vega and Lourdes Moreno were co-salutatorians. Yeni Marilyn Sandoval and Jonathan Carman were graduated with distinction. Nelson Lewis, Nellie David, Eva Cabanillas, Rebecca Mann, Samuel Pegg, Hyrum Grissom, and Carol Ann Guthrie were graduated with honors. In all, 28 students received high school diplomas.
Fourteen of twenty undocumented aliens who were left in the desert by a smuggler, died on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. The men were found about 25 miles south of Dateland by US Border Patrol agents. This was one of the largest number of deaths in a single incident in the area since 1980 when the bodies of 14 immigrants from El Salvador were found at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
The summer reading program at the Salazar-Ajo Branch Library began when school ended. Programs were presented to kids including a puppet show, a program about animals, one on magnets, and ocean life. The participants had a chance to see zoo animals and some Sonoran desert animals.
Deaths in the desert became a more controversial issue when group called Humane Borders began installing water stations to provide water for the undocumented aliens along the border..
HUD Section 8 and Moderate Rehabilitation programs became accessible by phone and mail. The City of Tucson Housing Authority has improved its services so that permit renewals, forms, and applications can be processed through the mail thereby reducing long trips to the city for Ajo residents
The Full Gospel Fellowship began worship in its new location at 1900 N. 2nd Avenue. The building was once a Baptist Church.
The 0.6% sales tax approved by voters for education went into effect on June 1, making the sales tax here 5.6% for most items.
The Tohono O'odham Community College graduated its first class. Degrees and certificates were awarded to 29 students. Despite the belief of some that coyotes have been eradicated from the areas, experts say the apparent overpopulation of rabbits and quail this spring is a natural phenomenon and the coyote population will catch up. Arizona Game & Fish personnel say they have no predator control program in effect in this area.
Steve Rainey of Ron's Foodliner was selected as one of ten Arizona Partners in Education for his support of the local public schools.
When the bank opened its doors on June 22, it was as Stockmen's Bank. Stockmen's bought eight branches in Arizona from Community First National Bank.
Many students spent part of their summer earning money and learning about the world of work in state and county summer youth programs.
The Ajo Desert Sharks swim team participated in several swim meets through the summer. About 60 team members brought home winning ribbons and awards.
Several members of Red Raiders football, volleyball, and basketball teams participated in summer sports camps to improve skills and gain added experience.
US Representative Ed Pastor introduced a bill in the US House of Representatives that would give US citizenship to enrolled Tohono O'odham members who live in Mexico. It was hoped that this will reduce their difficulty in visiting other tribal members and relatives in the US.
The Fourth of July celebration, largely organized by Steve Rainey of Ron's Foodliner, included a mini triathlon, a parade with Bob & Julia Fulkerson as grand marshals, and free entertainment. There were pie and watermelon eating contests, a talent contest, music, and swimming games in the afternoon, followed by an Air Force flyover, fireworks, a light show, and dancing in the Plaza. Many thought it was the best Fourth ever.
Undocumented aliens continued to cross the border throughout the summer. Some made it to their destination, some were taken back to Mexico by US Border Patrol, some were arrested for crimes, and yet others died from exposure to the arid heat.
The courthouse was dedicated in honor of G. T. "Tom" Alley on July 20. Alley was a prominent figure in Ajo history. A businessman and investor, Tom Alley came to Ajo in the 1930s. He served on the Pima County Board of Supervisors from 1943 until 1950. He later served in the Arizona House of Representatives from 1972 until 1976. He died December 24, 1994, in Tucson.
The Pima County Sheriff's Department Ajo station had a new telephone switch installed that provides the Ajo district with faster calls between Ajo and Tucson offices. While other numbers have changed, the 911 lines remain the same and should still be used in case of emergency.
Table Top Telephone began offering DSL service.
The high school band learned a lot at their annual camp. Students marched and performed for the community at the Plaza during the week.
Most national park areas were reported to have fewer visitors, but Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument was one of four areas in the state with increased visitation.
The Desert Sharks swim team continued attending meets and placed fourth in the countywide end-of-the-season meet in Tucson.
A welcoming sign was placed on the highway by Pima County Community Services.
Power outages throughout the month had different causes. Power was shut off several times as Ajo Improvement made repairs and tested equipment. Severe storms downed poles through a wide area and power in some areas was out for three days. APS, Pima County Sheriff's Department, SAVs, and Ron's Foodliner distributed ice and dry ice to residents in need; local groups, churches, & the Red Cross set up emergency shelters for those who needed to cool down. Temperatures remained above 100° during the most serious of the outages.
After receiving a rate increase in April to offset increased wholesale energy costs, Ajo Improvement Company applied for a rate adjustment to help recover $1.2 million they have lost due to energy costs increases. A hearing to gather public input regarding the new application is scheduled in Ajo on January 10, 2002.
Caitlin May began work as Ajo's public health nurse. She says she plans to work with other agencies to improve health in the community.
The Ajo Unified School District #15 governing board, after discussions in meetings, with teachers, and with parents, decided to allow non-student participation in curricular and extra-curricular activities and to charge a rate comparable to the amount that would be received if the student were enrolled as a student.
Five new teachers began the school year with students on Monday, August 20, in the Ajo public school system.
The International Sonoran Desert Alliance was awarded a grant to continue its work with youth-based conservation projects. In addition, ISDA continues to work on getting a recycling program in operation in Ajo.
"You know it's hot in Ajo (Why or Lukeville) when you have a tailgate party and all you use to cook with is your tailgate." This winning entry was submitted by Robert B. Maxfield.
Ajo Calvary Christian Academy, operated by the Ajo Calvary Baptist Church, began classes on September 4 with about 20 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade learning in a Bible-based curriculum.
Community representatives and teachers met in the first of a series of planning sessions to form a partnership between arts in the community and arts in the schools. Funding was later granted by the Arizona Community Foundation. The Ajo School Art Project (ASAP) will begin activities in January and will focus on visual, performing, and cultural arts.
The Desert Senita Community Health Center began collecting pennies to raise funds for an automatic blood pressure monitoring system.
The school began a monthly poster contest. Entries based on a variety of topics have been judged every month and prizes were awarded.
Darryl Sandidge began work as a physician assistant at Desert Senita Community Health Center. PA Bridget Tevis moved to Payson.
Dan Morales, counselor at the Ajo school, was recognized for his efforts by the National Youth Leadership Forum.
The Ajo Copper News staff did some research to find out if the cost of living really has doubled in the past five years and if it is cheaper to live in Ajo or in Tucson. Costs were generally higher than costs five years ago. While some day-to-day costs are lower in the city, housing costs are lower in Western Pima County. Many intangibles cannot be calculated in dollars, they include availability of employment, clean air, crime rates, schools, security, recreation, and the area ambiance.
Property owners were thrilled when tax statements were delayed, until they found payment would still be delinquent if not received by November 1. A processing company mailed about 200,000 statements with the incorrect zip codes and bar codes and about 1,000 with incorrect addresses. A new firm was hired to reprocess them. All reprocessed statements were received within about a week after discovery of the error.
The new president of Tohono O'odham Community College, Robert Martin, formerly of Haskell University in Kansas, said he hopes to see growth and the establishment of college centers in each of the 11 districts of the Nation during his tenure.
Silvia Howard was hired as executive director of the Ajo District Chamber of Commerce. Since she and some of the board members have little experience with the expectations of the job, they decided it would be best to conduct several small events and concentrate on the Sonoran Shindig in February. They cancelled the fall festival planned for November.
Nicholas Gomez and Martina Müller are foreign exchange students from Ecuador and Germany, respectively. They are living in Ajo and attending Ajo High School until May.
Homecoming was filled with the traditional activities. Students built floats, held a parade through town, selected Jose Campa as king and Stacy Bryant as queen, and, with returning alumni and other Ajo residents, attended a football game (Valley Union won 58-to 29). The homecoming dance was held Saturday night.
The Red Raider Football team ended its season with a 4 win and 4 loss record. The Lady Raiders ended their season in fourth place. They lost in the playoffs to Tohono O'odham.
The Sheriff's Auxiliary Volunteers conducted KidCare Photo ID sessions for kids at Ajo Calvary Baptist Academy, Pima County's tots program, and in Lukeville. The program provides parents with personal safety identification for their children.
Nikol Price joined the staff at the Salazar-Ajo Branch Library as librarian. She resigned in December for a position with Glendale's library system as a children's librarian.
Teachers, school board members, and administrators disagreed on requirements for distribution of sales tax money from Proposition 301. It was left to each school district to decide on the distribution with some guidelines from the state. The first 60% was no problem but guidelines for the last 40% left some choices for the school board. After several sessions with teachers, the board decided that individual contracts for non-traditional teacher-student time (when teachers are not scheduled with students) were appropriate. Teachers disagreed, saying they already earned the money and shouldn't be required to perform any extra tasks to receive it. By December 1, all teachers had agreed to contracts and received the first allotment in their year-end checks.
The Humane Society's Mobile Pet Clinic visited Ajo for a second time. They saw 43 animals at the vaccination clinic and performed 45 spay or neuter surgeries.
Vandals overturned and damaged benches on the Ajo school grounds, again. The benches were part of a natural area that was intended for individual contemplation, study, and relaxation. The area was created by art classes, vocational classes, and elementary gifted students with assistance from the staff of the ISDA. Despite the problems, a butterfly and hummingbird garden was planted with the help of ISDA staff and Janice Cantu's class. A pollinator garden was also planted at the Ajo Calvary Christian Academy.
A brunch in honor of popular pianist Ted Paul was held at the home of JoDean & Sally Morrow on October 24. Though Paul was ill and unable to attend the family was represented by Bob Moreno.
Nellie David, a 2001 AHS graduate, reigned over Mesa Community College's homecoming celebration.
The annual fundraiser of the Ajo Council for the Fine Arts was Romance of the Outback was an evening of music by Australian piano player, David Scheel.
The high school band competed in Eastern Arizona College's Band Day. They received a rating of Excellent.
The Ajo Community Players presented Steel Magnolias.
The Ajo High School Drama Club presented It was a Dark & Stormy Night under the direction of Gloria Vandament.
The Ajo office of the Pima County Health Department and Desert Senita Community Health Center had flu shots available for those over 65, at risk, or who just wanted to avoid the flu.
Recycling opportunities and solutions were explored at the International Sonoran Desert Alliance. Larry Glickman said several options are available and continue to be pursued.
It was announced that Gibson Park would be renamed for the late Forrest Rickard, a longtime Ajo resident who died earlier this year in Tucson.
The cross from the former Catholic school in Ajo was salvaged and erected in the cemetery in honor of those who died in the September 11 terrorist attack.
Marge Hagen, serving a 15 year sentence for attempted arson of an occupied structure, was denied parole by the Arizona Department of Corrections. She is popularly believed to be the arsonist responsible for a series of fires in Ajo.
Dr. L. P. Hammett, who has been the dentist for generations of Ajo residents, said he will close his Ajo office in January. He will continue to see patients in his Chandler office.
Veterans raised the flag in the Plaza on Veterans' Day in memory of those who died in service of the country.
Frank Zubec, inventor of the Elusive Cube, visited Hop David and spoke to classes in Ajo and Phoenix. The toy is a construction set that can also be used to demonstrate volume formulas and other geometry concepts.
The first annual Ajo Open Studio Tour featured the studios of seven artists.
Residents took part in meetings with Pima County planners regarding acceptable and practical land uses in the Western Pima County subregion. The 2001 Pima County Comprehensive Plan was an update of the 1992 plan from which Western Pima County had been excluded. Planners continue to work on the Pima County Conservation Plan that will combine information from the Comprehensive Plan with additional information and become the county's official plan by 2002.
The Desert Artists Guild held its annual Christmas art sale and show at the Federated Church.
The Ajo high school band and the community band presented a musical winter concert. The combined bands also joined the community choir for a Christmas concert dedicated to Ted Paul who helped arrange many of the songs & accompanied the choir for several years. The choir was directed by Susan Spitzer. The bands were directed by Joel Berresford.
Ballet Folklorico El Cobre performed the third annual Noche Navideña with several young people taking part. The event was directed by Lina Olais. They donated this year's proceeds to the health center and the volunteer fire department.
Donations continue to be received for an automatic blood pressure machine and a sterilizer that are needed at Desert Senita Community Health Center.
AmVets held a flag raising ceremony at 7:53 a.m. on December 7 in memory of the attack on Pearl Harbor sixty years ago.
Dr. Bonnie Lilley, a veterinarian from Tucson, opened an office in the Curley School. She offers low-cost vaccinations and regular veterinary services on the first and third Sundays of each month.
Another increase in area phone bills, this time due to the federal government, was announced. A telecommunications network subscriber line charge will become effective January 1.
Virginia Beauchel began as new manager of the Salazar-Ajo Branch Library. She has been working for Tucson Pima Public Library for six years in various location.
Concerts and parties filled the holidays.
Santa visited Ajo on Christmas Eve wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. His traditional arrival in the tower at the Curley School was enjoyed by a large crowd. He rode in his sleigh with a Rotary escort and spent some time talking with youngsters.
Christmas Day was celebrated in churches and home.
In 2001 we welcomed to our world:
Alizé Lizette Alvarez
Lorena Isabel Alvarez
Yaire Saharena Armenta
Jesus Rafale Barnett Jr.
Ashley Ann Blount
Mara Jade Brittain
Chloe Valentine Coker
Sarah Morgan Diaz
Ronald John Garcia, Jr.
Avra Mor Garmise
Amanda Iran Gonzalez
Brendan Michael Jeffords
Alyssa Krystine Lozano
Martin Humberto Mariscal Jr.
Dorina Teresa Heredia Martinez
Kristine Rose Nez Molina
Victoria Alize Montijo
Marcello Luis Moreno
Nathaniel Elijah Romero Ortiz
Ramsay Lynne Peters
Ashley Marie Taoka
Chase Camryn Totherow
Giana Nicole Vega
Raymond Daniel Vejar, Jr.
In 2001 we said sad good-byes to many friends & neighbors.
The obituaries of these people appeared in the Ajo Copper News during 2001:
Robert A. Allen
Mark F. Alley
Mary Alice Ashby
Alvin "Buzz" Bausman
Armando Bon Jr.
John W. Corp, Sr.
Gregorio N. Cruz
Fidel Gonzales, Sr.
Abe Parra Gray
Felix Miranda Sr.
Joseph H. Nelson
Lewis A. O’Neal
Mary Ann Ortiz
Getty Jo Kesler
Wayne King Jr.
Troy W. Leatherwood
Lois MillerJames Patrick
Clyde D. Peed
Louis M. Ramirez
William C. Reid
Ralph E. Shelly
Roy S. Shelly
Ruth J. Taylor
Verlin W. Taylor
Mary Jo "Jody" Walker