Silver Belt presents 2020 year in review

GHS graduation Covid-19 style


Globe ranks most dangerous City in Arizona

The Arizona Silver Belt has received phone calls from business owners and community members concerning a few articles that went viral naming Globe as the #1 dangerous city in Arizona. The articles have been shared on Facebook and each one has many comments.

“Only in Your State” and “Homesnacks” released the top 10 dangerous cities in Arizona. Both state that the City of Globe ranks number one for the most dangerous city in Arizona. The articles show that Globe has moved up from number two spot last year to number one. According to them, you have a 7.5 percent chance of property crime and a 2 percent chance of being a victim of a violent offense. “Only in YourState” says that its conclusion is based off of FBI statistics.

The article from “Homesnacks” took a list of cities with a population around 5,000 to come up with a potential list of 48 cities in Arizona. The end result was Globe being #1 as well. If you read about “Homesnacks” you will see that they are based in North Carolina and that they deliver bite size pieces of infotainment about where you live by using data, analytics and a sense of humor to determine the quality of life. This can be very discerning for people who are looking for a place to visit or move to.


Concerned About Corona Virus?

Gila County Public Health Advice

News coverage of viral outbreaks prompts phone calls to epidemiologists and health professionals Gila County’s Public Health Director has been fielding queries over the past few weeks, and shared this update about the ‘Corona Virus.’ The good news? Similar to other, more common, contagions - awareness and preventative hygiene are the best ways to stay healthy. “Although there is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection, the best way to prevent any respiratory infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus,” said Michael O’ Driscoll, Gila County’s Public Health Director. “This includes: washing your hands often with soap and water – and for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; again, often. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands – and avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, stay home and get well – rather than infecting your coworkers. And always cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.”

GPD rebuilds after battling staffing issues for years

Globe Police Department has over the years become unpopular with many citizens. Maybe it was a bad run in with law enforcement, or a case that didn’t get handled properly, whatever the reason Chief Dale Walters did his homework on the department before coming to Globe and accepting this position.

One key for retention in this community is to try to pull from this community. Chief Walters finds it’s very important to try and get people who are from here, want to live here or have ties to the community other than their job. They have hired a number of people that were here, from here or are moving here. Walters believes that a police department should be part of the community and should invest in the community they serve.

For the first time in many years, the Globe Police Department is fully staffed meaning more efficient work can be done in different areas.


Globe-Miami reacts to COVID-19

Health Care professionals recommend staying home

While local grocery stores are running out of commonly used items like hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and wipes, the message from health officials with regard to the current coronavirus (Covid-19) is to remain calm, and practice social distancing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that for the next eight weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the U.S. According to the CDC these large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of Covid-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities. Examples of large events include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings and other types of assemblies. At press time, President Donald Trump held a White House briefing and changed that recommendation to consist of 10 people or less. Trump asked that the American people avoid discretionary travel, as well as eating and drinking at bars, restaurants and food courts.

While at press time, the state of Arizona had a confirmed 18 cases of Covid-19, the danger of transmitting the virus to our more vulnerable population is real.

GUSD prepares to capture hearts digitally during school closures

Governor Doug Ducey announced on March 20 that Arizona schools will be remained closed through April 10 – adding another two weeks to the original delay due to the coronavirus pandemic. While this extension adds more stress to struggling parents and concerned students, the team of educators at Globe Unified School District has been preparing and operating on the assumption that the closure would extend beyond the original two weeks.

Teachers and administrators at GUSD are faced with a new challenge. How does school function without being in session?

According to Debbie Leverance, GUSD coordinator of special projects, the schools are working on ways to keep students and parents connected during these unusual circumstances.


Sewing 500 masks for CVRMC

Local seamstress Bunney Kessler has been doing her part to make masks for healthcare workers and hospitalized patients affected by Covid-19. And she’s not alone; a Facebook group titled 500 Masks for CVRMC now has 44 members. The group is hoping to fill a missing void in hospital supplies by creating 500 usable masks and donating them to Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center.

Evelyn Vargas, from CVRMC, approved a pattern for use, and a team of seamstresses city wide got to work.

Feeding Kids during a pandemic

When school’s out, the Globe Public Library steps up, providing outreach, information, and lunch to hundreds of kids daily. What is known as the Summer Lunch Buddies program during June and July, doesn’t have a name right now, but this same program is continuing to provide food to hungry young people in the wake of a pandemic – drive-thru style.

With funds provided under a federal programfrom the USDA, the Globe Public Library is just one of several drop off locations sponsored by Destiny School. According to Globe Librarian Adrea Ricke, all food is ordered and prepared by Dairy Queen. Mickie Nye, Michelle Nabor, and Amanda Zufelt are key people involved, but it takes their entire staff to get all the food ready. The team is also able to provide sack lunches, disposable silverware, condiments and more for the meals as is needed. “We drive to Dairy Queen Monday through Friday and pick up all the components for a sack lunch and a sack breakfast with the idea that the children are getting lunch for the day and breakfast for the next day,” said Ricke.


Oropeza arrested on murder charges

Monday morning, April 27, multiple agencies responded to a 911 call reporting a structure fire and two bodies located within a residence on Bancroft Way.

Tri-City Fire and Globe Fire Department began firefighting efforts and were able to confirm two adults, were located within the residence. They were confirmed deceased with what appeared to be gunshot wounds. They were later identified as Jose Oropeza, 67, and Katherine Oropeza, 70, both from Claypool.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety and Pinal County Sheriff’s Office completed a traffic stop on the person of interest, Abram J. Oropeza, who was transported to the Gila County Sheriff’s Office for questioning.

Abram J. Oropeza, 18, from Claypool, who was identified as the grandson of the victims, was booked into the Gila County Jail on charges of two counts of First-Degree Murder, two counts of Arson of an occupied structure, and two counts of Tampering with physical evidence.

Graduation or bust for the class of 2020

The grandstands in Globe, Miami, and San Carlos won’t be full of proud parents this weekend. Balloons and roses won’t align a stage of awards for the class of 2020. Hats will not fly for this resilient class that has waited their whole lives for this prestigious moment, but there will be pomp amid all this circumstance.

The class of 2020 has proven to be a strong class that unfortunately had to give up their class trip, Senior banquet, and Prom due to a global pandemic.


Gila County Contact Tracers take on difficult job

As the number of positive cases of Covid-19 continues to increase daily, the Gila County Health Department would like to remind Globe-Miami and Payson communities that they are on elevated alert when it comes to social distancing, hand washing, and being out in public places.

“The probability of risk associated with local community spread of Covid-19 in these communities appears to be at our highest risk to date,” said Stella Gore. Gore is one of two communicable disease investigators for the Gila County Health Department. For Gore and lead investigator Shaunae Casillas taking on the roles of contact tracers during the Covid-19 pandemic has been quite the unique experience.

“It is a very exciting and ever-changing position,” said Gore.

Bush fire grows

As of Monday morning the Tonto National Forests expanding Bush fire has increased to 14,371 acres. Thanks to Arizona’s hot, dry and windy conditions the fire is at 0 percent containment. The Gila County Sheriff’s Office has put the communities of Punkin Center and Tonto Basin into a GO notification. This evacuation status includes Tonto Basin, Punkin Center from Hwy 188 and A-Cross Road to Hwy 188 at Rambo Realty. This includes all residents on both sides of the highway, and both sides of the creek.

Residents of Tonto Basin and Punkin Center should evacuate to a shelter or with family or friends outside of the dangerous areas. The American Red Cross will be opening a shelter at the Lee Kornegay School located at 4635 E. Ragus Rd., in Miami, Ariz. The Gila County Emergency Operations call center is available for any questions at 928-402-8888.

Mask up Globe: Proclamation divides locals

On Saturday, June 20, Mayor Al Gameros signed a controversial proclamation requiring citizens of Globe and those visiting to wear a face covering in public spaces where social distancing is not possible. Gameros joins Arizona mayors and supervisors that were forced to make a decision on mask requirements, when Governor Doug Ducey passed all responsibility on local governments. After elected leaders pleaded with Ducey to take an active role in mask mandates due to a spike in Covid-19 numbers, Ducey changed his stance to allow for local governments to implement mask and face covering polices and determine their own enforcement.


Globe Police order body cams

Body Cams have been on the list of needed items at Globe Police Department for years and even the officers of the department have been requesting them, but with a limited budget, items are prioritized.

With the increased civil unrest and concerns across the country, body cams are now on the City Council’s agenda.

With help from Globe City Manager, Paul Jepson, and the city finance department, they were able to find the funds to put this into motion. GPD will be working with Axon.


CVRMC celebrates recovery

Marivel Hurtado emerged from the south entrance of Cobre Valley Hospital on Friday, Aug. 7 to the loving acclaim of friends and family, the mayors of both Globe and Miami, police cars and even trucks from Globe and Tri-City fire departments. They first paraded by her hospital window many waving signs of faith and hope, before she appeared with an escort composed of those who had helped to bring her through “the valley of the shadow.” 

After driving herself to Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center on June 28, things got scary for Hurtado and her family. She had to go on a respirator, but Hurtado prevailed and on Friday, Aug. 7 she was released from the hospital. 

Even a week before her release back to her own home and faithful grandson Drake Garcia, who is happily “spoiling” her as she had been happily spoiling him for his whole life, according to her daughter and Drake’s mother, De Annette Hurtado-- even then she might not have made it all the way home. 


Ranchers struggle with forest fire aftermath

Emotions ran high during a Sept. 16 Gila County Cattle Growers Association meeting, where a group of ranchers discussed funding and resources available pertaining to post fire rehab. Gila County’s 2020 forest fires have burned up 288,048 acres of land along with miles of fencing, piping, gates, guard rails, and necessary vegetation. Grazing lands that will not be growing back anytime soon have left local ranchers in a rough predicament.

USFS Range Program Manager Chandler Mundy, who attended the meeting remotely, assured permit holders that the forest service was working to obtain the needed BAER funding to aid in rebuilding. Mundy stated that they have requested $543,000 in funding to help build back infrastructure materials like fencing and pipeline. The requested funding would only cover a small portion of what ranchers have lost due to the fires, and wouldn’t provide the labor needed to rebuild.

“We are in a worse position than last year following Woodbury,” said Mundy.


Early Voting breaks records

Early voting for the 2020 election continues to break records, even in Gila County.

“This has been the craziest election I have ever been through,” said Gila County Recorder Sadie Bingham. “I have never seen a turnout like this.”

As of Friday, Oct. 16, a total of 25,002 voters have requested an early ballot or came in and voted early. “We have verified 6,000 ballots and, as of Friday morning, we still have approximately 5,000 to verify,” said Bingham.

County tabs firm to develop broadband plan

With a $50,000 grant from the Arizona Commerce Authority in hand, Gila County is poised for the next phase of its plan to establish county-wide broadband service.

The grant, awarded to the county in March, will be utilized for a $50,000 contract with planning and design consulting firm Kimley-Horn to develop designs and costs for Phase 2 of the county’s strategic broadband plan. In their Oct. 6 meeting, the Gila County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the contract.

“We started with the idea of looking for something that’s affordable for residents and available countywide as much as possible,” said Assistant County Manager Homero Vela. “If somebody lives 20 miles off the road, they may not get broadband.”

The county has been looking  into broadband since January, when it hired a Utah-based consulting company named EntryPoint Networks. Working with EntryPoint to start crafting a plan, a strategic planning team visited with six local cities and towns to discuss the need for and benefits of a broadband network.


Public safety gets CARES Act funds; small businesses left to struggle

“There’s not a lot of us left standing. I only have a couple of months more and I’m probably not going to be able to stay. It would be a blessing to know that my city would like to try and help me keep my door open,” said Cindy Phillips from Turn the Page Western Wear.

Phillips, along with Christie Cothrun from the Globe-Miami Chamber of Commerce, addressed the Globe City Council at the Nov. 10 meeting following a presentation from City Manager Paul Jepson on how $843,484 of federal CARES act dollars was allocated for public safety use. 

While city officials stand by their budgeting decisions stating that funds were used for what they were intended for, small businesses shuttered for months by the pandemic appear as an afterthought next to big-ticket items like a type 3 fire truck and five new police patrol vehicles. 


County code enforcement looks back on 2020, ahead to future

Looking into such complaints as dry weeds and other fire hazards, roosters and building without permits, Gila County’s Code Enforcement Division covers a lot of territory. The division, with offices in Globe and Payson, is part of the county’s Community Development Department. In a Nov. 17 meeting, county supervisors were briefed on some of its progress this year and its plans moving ahead.

To help tackle the weed issue, for example, Code Enforcement will start holding monthly hearings from March through May; hearings are now every other month.

“We get a lot of complaints down in the Tonto Basin/Roosevelt area in the spring months when those weeds dry out,” said Community Development Director Scott Buzan. “We’ve had a couple of fires down there that got really close to those communities, so folks get very concerned of the neighbors that don’t maintain their property.

“We’ve noticed that on the every-other-month schedule, by the time we issue the 30-day letter or the violation and have scheduled it to go to the next hearing, the weeds have been there for two months or so,” he added.

Lopez honored by community

Damian Lopez, better known as DJ, a retired fire captain from Globe Fire Department and   employee of SCAHC, passed away from Covid-19 complications after weeks of being hospitalized.

Lopez, who retired from Globe Fire Department after 20 years of service, leaves behind five daughters and three grandchildren, and each one has many stories of what a great man he was.

The outpouring of love and support from many people across Globe, Miami and San Carlos showed the family how many lives were impacted by Lopez.


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