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Greater Sedona made it through another year bringing with it new development, betterment of education and a few new roads, but not without a bit of controversy to make things exciting.

By Greg Ruland
Larson Newspapers

Greater Sedona made it through another year bringing with it new development, betterment of education and a few new roads, but not without a bit of controversy to make things exciting.


n Richard Thelander: Police arrested Sedona Red Rock High School Career Technology Director Richard Thelander, also know as Richard Brueckner, at his home in Cornville on Aug. 9 on charges of theft and fraud stemming from a divorce that left his first wife in serious financial difficulty.

Police alleged Thelander cleaned out the joint bank accounts he owned with his former wife and ran up credit card debts on other joint accounts, ultimately costing his estranged spouse as much as $120,000.

Thelander resigned from his position at SRRHS and also his position on the Pace Academy Board of Directors.

n Dibor Roberts: The Cornville woman was forced off the road by a Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office sergeant for allegedly speeding on Beaverhead Flat Road after 10 p.m. June 29.

Roberts alleged she tried to signal to the sergeant that she feared he could be a police impersonator and wanted to pull over in a populated, well-lit area.

During the stop, the sergeant broke Roberts’ window and snatched her cell phone from her hand as she attempted to call 9-1-1 to validate the stop.

Roberts’ indictment by the Yavapai County Grand Jury was thrown out in November when a Superior Court judge ruled the grand jury did not hear all of the relevant law, including lesser crimes that might apply.

The Yavapai County Attorney’s Office obtained indictments again on the same charges less than two weeks later.

Roberts faces as much as a year in prison on charges of resisting arrest and unlawful flight.

* Randy Faulkner: Sedona Tire & Auto, a longtime Sedona fixture, was raided in March by FBI agents searching for evidence related to charges that the business owner, Randy Faulkner, conspired to transport hundreds of pounds of marijuana from Arizona to Indiana, where he is currently confined in a federal lockup awaiting trial.

* Rafael Rosas: The manager of El Rincon, a popular local Mexican restaurant, was arrested March 23 on charges he embezzled as much $100,000 from his employer before he was fired from his position.

* David K. Skjerven: A Village of Oak Creek resident who sold insurance products in several states, had his Arizona insurance license revoked after law enforcement officers in Minnesota charged him with 10 counts of securities fraud and the North Dakota securities investigators alleged he was involved in a classic Ponzi scheme.


In response to the deaths of four pedestrians, the Arizona Department of Transportation proposed a plan to install 76 streetlights between Airport Road and Dry Creek Road along Hwy. 89A in West Sedona.

The plan was met with howls of protest from local dark sky advocates who object to the plan on the grounds that it will blot out their view of the stars from their West Sedona homes.

The city formed an advisory committee to study alternatives, which could include lighted crosswalks, a traffic light at Andante Drive or a lower speed limit.

‘Gabriel of Sedona’

The Global Community Communications Alliance, formerly known as Aquarian Concepts, a nonprofit organization considered by the Internal Revenue Service to be a bona fide religious group, placed $13 million of its Sedona real estate up for sale and made plans to move approximately 100 of its adherents to an isolated ranch near the Arizona-Mexico border.

GCCA leader Tony Delevin, who calls himself “Gabriel of Sedona” or “Gabriel of Urantia” refused to comment on the sale or pending move.

Announcement of the property sale brought out several former GCCA members, who told stories about their experiences inside the group that caused several to opine that the religion is actually a cult, an allegation strenuously denied by current GCCA spokespeople.

Sedona Red Rock News’ coverage of the story lead to winning the first-place Community Service/Journalistic Achievement award from the Arizona Newspapers Association.


The Sedona Red Rock High School girls track team won the state track and field championship for the first time under the leadership of head coach Harry Schneider.

The team was also the first from SRRHS to win a regional title.

Hwy. 179 improvements

Controversy in the Village of Oak Creek pitted neighbors and friends against each other on several issues this year, including the progress of Hwy. 179 improvements, the wisdom of a special tax to maintain new landscaping along Hwy. 179 and a gate that blocks access to the Piñon Woods subdivisions.

* Business owners in the Village persuaded more than 1,000 Village residents to sign a petition asking Gov. Janet Napolitano to intervene to speed up construction of Hwy. 179 improvements, which seemed to be moving at a snail’s pace.

* By Oct. 12, the first roundabout at Back O’ Beyond Road was completed and progress on two other roundabouts was far enough along that all three roundabouts were fully functional by Dec. 21.

* A consortium of Village stakeholders, including representatives from all of the area’s homeowners associations, urged Village residents to sign a petition in favor of the taxing district to ensure that roughly $1 million in grant money administered by the ADOT will be spent on trees, flowers, planters, trash bins, benches and other improvements to spruce up the Village’s look.

Unless a way to fund

maintenance of the landscaping is found, ADOT will stop payment on the grants. The cost to homeowners would be roughly $40 for a home with $500,000 in assessed valuation.

* Hundreds of angry Village residents also signed a petition calling on the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors to open the gate across Piñon Woods Drive, but District 3 Supervisor Chip Davis said the county made a deal with the subdivision’s developers to keep the gate, opened briefly to accommodate traffic and fire safety concerns during the Hwy. 179 construction, closed.

The county ultimately agreed to readdress the issue, but made no promises.


* By wide margins, voters approved more than $73 million in bonds and overrides Nov. 6 to support new construction and existing programs at the Sedona Oak-Creek School District.

The money — which means new classrooms, office space and an expanded performing arts center, among other things — does not mean taxes will increase, according to SOCSD representatives.

Property tax for schools will continue at the current rate of roughly $270 a year for a home with assessed valuation of $500,000.

* Sedona Red Rock High School won an “excelling” designation for one aspect of its programming for the first time, while Big Park Community School repeated for the fifth year in a row its designation as “excelling.”

* Just before the winter break, SOCSD Superintendent Kim Randall faced a room full of angry teachers and parents.

They urged the school board to undertake an in-depth review of Randall’s administration of the district, alleging the embattled superintendent failed to communicate with teachers and others in a professional manner and could not be trusted.

A petition signed by roughly two-thirds of the district’s teaching staff demanded the board take action.

The board responded by setting up a comunication format. Two board members will be available to meet privately to hear staff’s concerns.

Fire code

Nearly 3,000 voters went to the post office in support of a new fire code urged by the Sedona Fire District during a mail-in election Sept. 11. The lopsided victory went to fire safety advocates by a vote of 2,939 to 513.

The new code tightens up requirements for the installation of sprinkler systems in larger buildings and requires commercial structures to maintain separate telephone addresses for individual businesses.

The code, which brings the old code up to date with current standards, won with 85 percent of the vote.

Chapel of the Holy Cross

* Chapel of the Holy Cross was voted the No. 1 Wonder of Arizona in an online poll of readers of The Arizona Republic, beating out Canyon de Chelly, Montezuma Castle, Hoover Dam, the London Bridge in Lake Havasu, Lowell Observatory and University of Phoenix Stadium.

Some cried foul when it was revealed the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix sent out hundreds of e-mails urging parishioners to log on and vote for the chapel.

* The Sedona City Council voted 6-1 on Oct. 23 to take on added debt of $19 million to extend sewer lines into neighborhoods surrounding the Chapel of the Holy Cross.

Most of the new debt will be spent to fund sewer and drainage improvements for the Chapel area and drainage improvements for Harmony/Windsong area, while $6 million will be paid to ADOT to satisfy the city’s share of costs for Hwy. 179 improvements.

Uptown enhancement

Uptown business owners heaved a sigh of relief June 29 when Sedona announced the $3.6 million Uptown Enhancement Project was complete.

The project, which features award-winning Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant architecture and landscaping, took twice as long to complete as projected, but did not exceed its budget by more than 9 percent.

The modern, pedestrian-friendly design of the new Uptown also effectively eliminated 85 parking spaces, forcing motorists to make better use of the city’s public parking area.


n Brent Hickey, a Phoenix developer, proposed an 800-car underground garage for his Lomacasi development on the north end of Uptown.

Hickey told the Sedona City Council he plans to build a Tlaquepaque-style shopping center at the location, which probably means extinction for a Sedona historic landmark, a pioneer homestead built by the Purtymun family.

* The council approved the construction of 34,000-square-foot mixed residential and commercial development called Kallof Place in West Sedona, the first of three planned by local developer Paul Galloway.

The two-story structure, which will include a parking garage, is expected to break ground as soon as January.

* Fitch Industries won approval from council after hours of discussion to include lodging in its design for a new development on the former Sedona Cultural Park property.

Fitch Industries’ plan received council approval, minus lodging, in 2006. At that time, council wanted the corporation to do more research on how lodging at that location would affect traffic and other businesses.

The plan includes down-sizing the amphitheater and constructing a resort and village of commercial shops on approximately half of the property.

Vacation rentals

The Sedona City Council, despite threats of a lawsuit, decided to strengthen the city’s ordinance that prohibits homeowners from leasing their homes for less than 30 days by outlawing the marketing and advertising of such rentals.

Supporters of the law say that allowing people to rent their homes to vacationers for less than 30 days degrades Sedona’s quality of life and makes the neighborhoods less safe.

Opponents of the law say vacation rentals actually increase property values and make it possible for people who might not otherwise be able to afford a Sedona lifestyle to maintain their home for future retirement.

No lawsuit has been filed and no new law was on the books as of press time.

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