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Ben Shanahan, Arizona Daily Sun 

Coconino’s Michael Woods (left) wrestles a Chinle opponent on Wednesday during a multi-meet at Coconino High School.

CCC awards record-breaking scholarship funds

The Coconino Community College Foundation distributed a record-breaking $200,000 in scholarships to over 100 students for the 2018-19 school year.

As application season approaches, all students are encouraged to apply to the ever-increasing number of scholarships offered to Coconino Community College students exclusively through the foundation; this year's success has become the unspoken minimum goal for next year.

“There’s quite a bit of money to offer students and they’re not all dependent on you having an excellent GPA,” said CCC Public Relations Coordinator Larry Hendricks.

The foundation currently offers approximately 40 unique scholarships, many of which can be awarded to multiple students. Applications are open Dec. 15 through March 15 and the scholarships are awarded each May.

Ideally, the foundation hopes to distribute scholarships among all its students, not those of one demographic. Scott Talboom, executive director of the Foundation, works with donors to establish these unique scholarships for CCC students.

“I try to get people to give us broad criteria,” he said. “We don’t want scholarships to go unawarded because the criteria is too specific.”

Many of the foundation’s current scholarships have preferred applicants with the characteristics of students who actually attend the college, such as residents of Williams or Page, single parents and individuals with disabilities.

Faith Lee and Tiffany Burkart, two students hoping to become certified nurses, were both recipients of CCC Foundation scholarships that covered all their costs, including tuition, fees and textbooks.

Lee started her applications while she was still in high school and determining whether or not she would even be able to attend college.

“As a senior last year, I was very worrisome about how I would afford college…I didn’t have a scholarship fund,” she said.

She applied for a variety of scholarships, both internal and external, and was awarded several of each, including the Coconino County High School Senior Waiver worth $2,000.

“I was so surprised by the scholarships,” she said. “If I wasn’t able to get the help from CCC, I don’t know if I could take as many classes as I am now or be in college at all.”

Lee received enough scholarship funding to cover not only the entire 2018-19 school year, but also part of the coming year; she plans to apply again in the hopes of covering the difference and helping achieve her goals of becoming a nurse.

While Lee began her CCC journey immediately after completing high school, Burkart decided to seek a degree after years of working as a dental technician in Flagstaff. She received certification for her technical training, but had never attended a college or university until age 34, when she enrolled at CCC and became the first in her family to seek higher education.

Burkart was inspired to go to college by her four children -- Connor, Kayde, Isaac and Daniel -- who she and her husband, Dustin, fostered at birth and later adopted.

“I did not want my children thinking that college wasn’t important," she said. "They inspired me. I said, ‘I’m going to change the course of my life and go beyond what I thought I could.’”

Her children not only influenced her decision to attend college, but also her chosen field of study. Years ago, she and her husband received the medical training necessary to foster especially fragile children, like their boys, who were connected to varying forms of medical equipment and needed constant supervision. More than once, they even had to perform CPR on the infants.

Burkart said this experience has made her fearless in the face of crisis and eager to become a forensic nurse, which would allow her to work with law enforcement to advocate for women and children who have been abused.

“I had lots of foster children who needed a forensic nurse to advocate for what happened to them,” she said.

Her unique experience in the medical industry and passion for the well being of local children earned her a variety of scholarships, including the $8,300 CCC2NAU Raymond Educational Foundation Scholarship, which would follow her to Northern Arizona University if she decides to pursue additional educational opportunities there, such as a bachelor’s degree in nursing or a minor in forensics.

“I know it’s a piece of paper, but it’s more than that,” she said. “I have loved school. I am going to be sad when I’m done.”

Although both Lee and Burkart described the scholarship application process as easy, they also noted they spent considerable time on it, especially their essays, but admit it was time well spent.

“It was super easy,” Burkart said. “Yes, it took a couple hours of time, but that is nothing compared to what they give back to you if you are chosen.”

Lee added, “There can be scholarships for anything. Why not just go out there and see what scholarship you can get?”

Although the funding that scholarships can provide is often essential to students such as Lee and Burkart, Talboom said the value of being a scholarship recipient goes far beyond finances.

“We always think about the money and how important the money is, [but] I’ve had so many students say, ‘the money was great, but what was really important to me was that someone believed in me.’”

Seumptewa sentenced in front of mourning families

Judge Jacqueline Hatch said she expected the sound of a filled courtroom crying for the loss of Nicole Joe to haunt Vaughn Seumptewa, 37, for the rest of his life at his sentencing on Wednesday.

“It was almost like bells, but it was sad bells,” Hatch said. “So much pain for such a ridiculous act. So much pain.”

Seumptewa was sentenced to 18 years for second-degree murder, and two counts of aggravated assault on a health care worker in Coconino County Superior Court.

Last year on Christmas Day, Seumptewa was arrested for beating Nicole Joe. He left Nicole out in the Flagstaff cold unconscious and did not call the police for several hours, and she died before officers arrived.

Seumptewa attended in a blue jumpsuit in before the judge, his family and the large group attending on behalf of Joe. At the trial, he said he accepted the charges.

“I took someone from this earth that I didn’t need to, and this earth is going to be a sadder place without her,” Seumptewa said.

Ben Shanahan, Arizona Daily Sun 

Judge Jacqueline Hatch listens to Vaughn Seumptewa as he makes his final statements before being sentenced to 18 years in prison Wednesday morning in the Coconino County Superior Court.

Friends and family of the victim came to the sentencing, many wearing bright red shirts reading “Justice for Nicole Joe.” Members of Seumptewa’s family also attended the hearing.

Joe was described by her family as a kind woman who loved cooking and had two children that are now without a mother. Sarafina Joe, Nicole’s sister who spoke on behalf of her family, said that they were disappointed with the sentence and hoped that the judge would have been more severe.

“Give him the max,” she said. “What he did to my sister is inhumane. He beat her. He jumped on top of her. He left her out in the cold, then brought her inside and left her in the apartment for 16 hours and didn’t even bother to call the paramedics. Who in their right mind would do that?”

Hatch agreed with the terms of the plea agreement that asked for an 18-year sentence for the second-degree murder charge; the maximum charge was 25 years, according to the plea agreement. The judge found Seumptewa’s drunken state as a mitigating factor in his sentence.

Krischelle Seumptewa, Seumptewa’s sister, explained that while she grieved for what happened to Nicole Joe, she blamed the alcohol, saying that killing was not a part of Seumptewa’s character.

“These charges, I don’t understand them,” his sister said. “I know they went through a lot as alcoholics, but it’s not him, I know for a fact. It’s not him.”

Ben Shanahan, Arizona Daily Sun 

Friends of the late Nicole Joe hold up signs outside of the Coconino County Superior Court Wednesday morning during the sentencing of Vaughn Seumptewa.

In addition to being given credit for the 337 days Seumptewa had already served while awaiting his sentence, his two counts of aggravated assault on a health care worker ran concurrently, or at the same time, as his main 18-year charge.

In addition to deputy county attorney Stacy Krueger, Coconino County Attorney Bill Ring was in the courtroom for the sentencing and described Vaughn’s actions as cruel.

“Nicole Joe’s death was a tragedy and completely avoidable to allow the victim to come inside on an icy cold Christmas Eve,” Ring said. "That’s all this case needed. It is his violence followed by his heartlessness that caused this death to occur.”

Seumptewa’s public defender Steve Harvey described the sentence as harsh yet reasonable.

“It’s sad for everybody,” Harvey said. “The two families were very close, and it’s really just a big loss for everybody.”

Ex-Rep. Ed Pastor, Arizona's 1st Hispanic congressman, dies

PHOENIX — Former U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, who championed liberal causes as Arizona's first Hispanic member of Congress but was known for his bipartisanship, died after suffering a heart attack, his family said Wednesday. He was 75.

Pastor, a Democrat, served 23 years in Congress until deciding in 2014 against running for re-election.

Pastor won a 1991 special election for the House seat vacated by fellow Democrat Morris K. Udall and was re-elected 11 times. He had previously been a Maricopa County supervisor, aide to Arizona Gov. Raul Castro in the 1970s and a high school teacher.

Ronnie Lopez, a lifelong friend and finance chairman of all of Pastor's congressional campaigns, said he suffered a heart attack Tuesday night while dining at a Phoenix restaurant with his wife, Verma. He died at a local hospital.

Laura Pastor, a Phoenix City Council member and one of the former congressman's two daughters, said he "will be remembered for his commitment to his family, and his legacy of service to the community that he loved, the state of Arizona and the nation."

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, called Pastor "an Arizona trailblazer and true public servant" and ordered flags lowered statewide to half-staff.

Lopez grew up with Pastor and said "he personified the best of what a statesman is."

"He didn't care if you were a Democrat or independent, Republican, rich or poor. If he could help you he would," Lopez said. "You can see his footprint throughout this state and this community."

Pastor was born in Claypool, Arizona, a small mining town about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of Phoenix, where his father worked in the copper mines. He was the first in his family to graduate from college, earning a bachelor's degree in chemistry at Arizona State University.

He taught chemistry at North High School in Phoenix, according to a biography by the Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service at ASU. He later served as deputy director of a community nonprofit, the Guadalupe Organization, then earned a law degree at ASU.

He joined Castro's staff after law school and focused on enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, then successfully ran for county supervisor in 1976. After his election to Congress in 1991, he eventually rose to leadership posts, becoming chief deputy whip and serving on the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

"There was no one more capable, hardworking and kind," Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said in a Tweet. "Arizona is a far better place because of Ed Pastor."

Longtime Republican consultant Chuck Coughlin said people from both parties knew to go to Pastor.

"Ed was the guy whether you were a Democrat or a Republican in Arizona you could go to and ask him to help you," Coughlin said. "He would always try and help people regardless of your political affiliation. That's why I loved him -- you'd call and he would always say 'what can I do for you.'"

U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Democrat who represents Pastor's old congressional district, said Pastor "dedicated his career to protecting the civil rights of every American and making the American Dream accessible to everyone, including the most vulnerable in our society."

Phoenix Mayor Thelda Williams and former Mayor Greg Stanton said Pastor, who served on the House Appropriations Committee, championed transportation projects such as funding for Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport improvements and construction of the metro area's light rail system.

"I adored Ed Pastor, and Phoenix is a better city because of him," Williams said.

"He wasn't a show horse, he didn't demand the limelight, he was just a workhorse and he got things done for folks," Lopez said. "He was loved. Schools, courthouses, bridges and parks are named after him."

Besides his wife and daughter, other survivors include daughter Yvonne, and a sister, Eleanor. Laura Pastor said arrangements are pending.


FILE - This 2017 file photo shows the annual Route 66 Fun Run, featuring vintage autos from all eras, on a street in Kingman, Ariz. A new U.S. Senate proposal would designate Route 66, the Mother Road that connected Chicago to Los Angeles and was once an economic driver for small towns across the post-World War II nation, as a National Historic Trail. (Kingman Daily Miner via AP,File)

Councilmembers feel hands tied over increased waste fees

With the recently passed climate change adaptation and action plan hanging over their heads, Flagstaff City Council directed staff to draft an ordinance increasing fees for solid waste pickup for the first time in 10 years.

Many on the council expressed frustration over how much they felt they must increase the rates to cover the projects staff say are either needed to prepare for the future of the landfill or to bring the city in line with the goals of the climate change plan.

“I too cannot even wrap my mind around why we would work so hard on a climate action plan and put things in place and then make decisions that would take that all away for our grandchildren,” vice mayor Jamie Whelan said.

And Mayor Coral Evans reminded Council that the city was playing catch-up with rate increases.

“I understand all the frustration that I think we hear here at the dais in regards to this. We really should have raised the rates years ago, but I know when I came in in 2008, we were in the middle of a recession,” Evans said. “Then, over the years, we have not had the ability to raise the rates, [often] because there was not the political will to do so.”

Under the council’s direction, solid waste fees could increase 7.5 percent annually for five years. That rate increase would only affect residents, however, with businesses and commercial entities only having their rates increased by 3 percent the first year. There would be no subsequent rate increases after that.

This is because in 2016, the state deregulated commercial waste, meaning businesses can now pay for a third party to pick up their trash and recycling, when before, the city had no competition in that arena. And that has eaten into some of their revenue, said Todd Hanson, the solid waste section director.

This is the reason for the smaller rate increase when it comes to waste pick-up for commercial entities, Hanson said, as the city must remain competitive with private waste collection companies or risk losing the majority of their customers.

In dollars and cents, the 7.5 percent annual increase would mean residential rates increasing from the current $17.73 to $25.45 over the next five years. The 3 percent increase for commercial entities would constitute a $2.21 increase in the rate for trash and a $1.38 increase for recycling pick-up.

This increased rate would allow the city to invest in the majority of the solid waste infrastructure staff believes is necessary, including replacing the city’s aging fleet of solid waste collection vehicles, and is generally in line with the recently passed climate change adaptation plan.

Some of these projects include infrastructure to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted by the landfill and for water infrastructure that could allow for future composting operations.

That was not the only option, however.

Council also considered two lesser rate increases of 5 and 3 percent annually, each for five years. The commercial rate would have kept its one-time hike in either scenario.

The 5 percent increase would have eventually raised rates to $22.64 after five years while the 3 percent option would have brought it to $20.55.

But these two options would generate far less funding for the landfill and thus eliminate the possibility of projects that bring the city in line with the climate change plan but also those that simply prepare for the future of the landfill.

For example, the 3 percent increase would not provide money to construct a new landfill cell just east of the current site, instead forcing the city to use its emergency cell. The emergency cell would otherwise be used in the case of a disaster that may cause a large amount of trash or rubble. Both the 7.5 and 5 percent options would allow for the construction of the new cell.

And given the waste-related infrastructure Council wants to complete, a majority felt, if not begrudgingly, the 7.5 percent option was best.

“I think that in the scheme of things, when you look at the actual rate increase, [it’s not as large as it may seem],” Councilmember Celia Barotz said. “I’m not saying it doesn’t matter -- of course it matters -- but what we’re going to be able to accomplish with it, I think, is critical and everything takes money.”

Whelan somewhat disagreed.

“I think it is quite a bit of money to ask of [residents], from $19 up to $25 in five years,” Whelan said. She added, however, that she felt her hands were tied if she wanted to support the infrastructure improvements and implementation of the climate change plan.

And Councilmember Scott Overton pointed to the debate over waste fees as an example of how difficult implementing the climate plan may be.

“This is one of the cautions I talked about with the climate action plan just last week,” Overton said. “If we’re going to go down the road of implementing all of the ideas within that document, if we’re going to take that on, it’s going to cost money to the citizens.”

Overton said he believed the 5 percent or 3 percent plans were reasonable.

In a statement to the Sun, the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce also expressed concern over the potential fee increases.

“We understand the city’s landfill has mitigation needs; however, maybe the mayor and council could consider general fund monies for landfill capital improvements, including the $3 million requested for the landfill road improvement, reducing the proposed fee increase,” the Chamber’s statement read.