Ron Getto remembers his days working on Wall Street, where he raised huge sums of money to fund projects that he never got to see come to fruition.
On Saturday morning he was standing in the middle of Starlite Lanes, the bowling alley in Flagstaff that he bought with his wife Karen in 2010, surrounded by throngs of bowlers during the 37th annual Bowl For Kids Sake fundraiser.
The event raises funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff.
“It’s amazing to help raise this money and see exactly where it’s going and the good that it is going to do in the community,” Getto said.
Starlite Lanes is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year on Route 66 right next to the Museum Club.
“I believe we are the fourth owners in 60 years.” Getto said.
“I inherited this event and had no idea what I was getting into but went with the flow during my first year in February of 2011. I immediately found out how important we are as a community fundraising platform.” He said. “We support well over 50 charities a year.”
That support for the community comes in a number of forms.
Getto said close to a thousand individual bowling lanes a year are used for fundraising on top of the Kids Bowl Free program, which gives 15,000 free games to 3,000 kids in a thousand families every year.
For Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff, Starlite Lanes has been a perfect fit for their organization, said Executive Director Kelly Elliott.
“It’s not just a great opportunity to fundraise but it’s also a great opportunity to recruit volunteers from the teams who participate.” Elliott said.
“We wouldn’t be anywhere without Ron and Karen and Starlite Lanes.”
While Starlite is celebrating its 60th anniversary Big Brothers Big Sisters also just had an important birthday, too. November marked the 50th year that the organization has been serving the Flagstaff community.
The goal for Saturday’s event was to raise $25,000. Flagstaff Medical Center raised almost a third of that by bringing enough teams to take over all 16 lanes of the bowling alley for two hours from 9 to 11 a.m.
“Each hour they raised more than $4,000 for a total of over $8,000. It’s so great. They get all of the different departments to put up a team and then they are all competing with each other.” Elliott said.
“Every team must raise at least $250 to bowl for an hour. This year we had 130 teams registered.”
The money raised is used to support the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program, which helps children get connected with an adult in the program.
Elliott said children are often on a waiting list for a “Big” for three months to a year, with 50 kids on the list at any given time. Most are boys.
Elliott’s hope is that those coming to have a good time and raise money for a good cause will take the next step and volunteer to become a Big Brother or Big Sister.
For information on volunteering go to www.flagstaffbigs.org or call (928) 774-0649.
Bright orange bicycles could become a new fixture in Flagstaff after the Flagstaff City Council opted Monday to move forward with an agreement with a dockless bike share company to bring the concept to the city.
The council directed city staff to move forward with a six-month pilot program with Spin, a bike share company from San Francisco, to bring between 200 and 300 bikes to Flagstaff for the program.
The bikes will be accessed through the Spin app, where the user can add money to his or her account and use the phone to scan the code on a bike to unlock it and rent it. After completing the ride, the user then uses the app to end the ride and lock the bike, and the account is charged based on how long the rider used it.
The rentals cost $1 per hour and those with a valid Northern Arizona University email address can rent for half price.
The dockless model means the bicycles are not deposited at a defined station after use. They can be parked within the city’s right-of-way on sidewalks and other areas that the city can choose to designate as acceptable parking areas.
Spin’s app contains directions about where parking the bike is and is not acceptable, and the next user of the bike is asked to rate how well the previous user parked the bike. Acceptable places for parking, according to the app, include the “furniture zone” of sidewalks, which is anywhere that accommodates street features like lights, benches, newspaper kiosks and utility poles, and in any bike rack.
The app tells users not to park on sidewalk corners, against trees or inside any flower beds or planters and on sidewalks on blocks where there is no furniture zone. The app says on blocks without sidewalks, “bicycles may be parked if the travel lanes and 6-foot pedestrian clear zone are not impeded.”
Other cities that have the service have designated specific areas as appropriate parking places, and businesses can choose to have an area of private property designated as a parking area as well.
When a user opens the app, the GPS technology in each bike will tell the user where the nearest usable one is. Each bike has a solar-powered lock and GPS system and meets federal safety standards.
Dockless bike sharing programs operate within several other Arizona cities, including Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale and Mesa.
In cities where the service already operates, many residents have voiced concern about the bikes cluttering city streets or being parked on private property.
In a Facebook group for Tempe residents, many people complained of seeing bikes left in the middle of sidewalks, in landscaped areas and even in people’s yards.
Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio posted to Facebook that he had fielded several complaints from residents about bikes parked inappropriately, and he and his staff had taken to moving the bikes after not getting a response from the bike-sharing companies. DiCiccio posted a picture of one of his staffers removing several bikes belonging to companies called LimeBike and Ofo, two of four bike share companies operating in the Valley.
“We found bikes in construction zones, blocking sidewalks, in ditches, and even in the middle of bus stops blocking public transit access,” DiCiccio wrote in a Facebook post. “This is unacceptable and I will continue to fight for solutions to problems like these in our communities.”
At the meeting, a representative from Spin said the company is working on a similar bike share plan with NAU. The company already operates on several college campuses around the country.
NAU already has a short-term bike rental system, where students and staff can rent a bike for free for up to a week. The bike, helmet and lock that the university loans out must be returned within a week, or the user is charged a late fee.
Unlike the existing program, a Spin bike can be left in a different location than where the rider found it.
However, at the council’s work session Tuesday night, a representative from Spin said if Flagstaff can get ahead of the bike share movement and set up a system, it could avoid some of the problems Valley cities have seen.
“The Valley and Dallas let a free-for-all happen,” the representative from Spin told the council. “Companies are deploying as many bikes as possible and trying to muscle each other out.”
In most cities where Spin operates, the company is required to move a bike that has not moved in the last seven days to a different location. In Flagstaff, if a city employee contacts the company about a bike parked inappropriately during business hours, Spin has one hour to move the bike. On off-hours, Spin will have 10 hours to move it, said David McIntire, the Community Investment Director.
“None of us want this to turn into something where there’s a large amount of clutter,” McIntire said.
However, if the city does not plan for the companies, there is nothing stopping one from coming in, he said.
“The fact is, if we don’t get ahead of it, they’ll come anyway,” McIntire said.
The sustainability department in the city will also be setting up a call line for people to call with questions and concerns about the bike program.
The bikes have already been tested for riding on city streets and the FUTS system, McIntire said.
The city and Spin could have a license agreement ready to be signed by acting City Manager Barbara Goodrich next month, and the bikes could launch in March or April.
More than 20 years after Coconino Community College District voters approved a tax hike to fund the building of the Lone Tree Campus in Flagstaff, the bonds are nearly paid off.
But if the district board has its way, voters will continue to pay the higher taxes for another seven years, only this time the money -- some $2.2 million annually -- will go toward the operating budget.
CCC’s governing board unanimously approved placing the tax extension on the November ballot last week. In a press release, the district said if voters approve, it plans to use the money to support and add to its current list of student programs, develop new programs to support training veterans for civilian jobs and retrain local workers for new local jobs.
According to the CCC press release, there would be no increase in the $2,226,000 being collected each year, with the seven-year extension starting in 2019.
The college's 2018 General Fund revenues were about $18 million and its 2018 expenditures were more than $17 million.
The current secondary tax was approved by voters in November 1997 to pay for $25 million in bonds starting in January 1999 for the construction of the Lone Tree Campus and the Williams and Page campuses. The college broke ground on the Lone Tree Campus in 2000 and the campus opened in 2002. Those bonds will be paid off in January 2019.
Board Member Nat White said, “We are in a unique position here to bring back discontinued programs, strengthen current ones and start new programs requested by Coconino County residents that will not cost the voters more.”
Board Chair Patricia Garcia said, “The college needs this initiative to provide affordable, quality education that we all want for our students.”
CCC has tried to override its property tax cap three times in the past: 2006, 2013 and 2016. The increases were an attempt to make up for losses in state funding and a frozen tax rate that is the lowest in the state. Each time the request was denied by voters.
White noted that unlike in 2016, this override will not seek to increase the tax levy, only continue it at the $2.23 million existing override level.
In response to the ballot defeats, CCC had to increase tuition to the highest level in the state, cut programs and staff and close some campuses.
The state has been cutting funding for community colleges since 2000 and, according to CCC, state funding made up 9 percent of the college’s general fund in 2018, down from 37 percent in 1999.