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Sedona-Oak Creek School District officials are searching for savings that would enable the district to increase salaries in next year’s budget.

“I want our school district to have the most competitive salary schedule,” Superintendent David Lykins told the SOCSD Governing Board when he presented the budget Feb. 7.

Last year, when Proposition 123 passed, the district used all the funds it received to boost salaries, which historically had been lower than other districts.

According to Sedona Red Rock High School Principal Darrin Karuzas and Assistant Principal Deana DeWitt, administrators are working to address results from the 2016 Arizona Youth Survey that indicate two out of five sophomores who took the survey did not feel safe at school.

First up, Karuzas said that he and DeWitt will be forming a student advisory committee in the next few weeks. It is not the first of its kind, but with the current iteration Karuzas intends to “really talk to them about real-life concerns,” becoming a “vehicle to talk and discuss” issues of safety, substance abuse and negative family situations reflected in the survey.

Mingus Mountain Republican Club met Tuesday, Feb. 14, for its monthly luncheon at the Veterans of Foreign Wars — Post No. 7400 in Cottonwood.

This month, the club invited Cottonwood Mayor Tim Elinski to speak about current challenges facing his city, and Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk to present on the effects of marijuana on the county.

Elinski said the main challenges facing Cottonwood at the moment included the lack of jobs and youth activities, homelessness, the lack of financial resources, the minimum wage increase and millennial flight.

To some, it’s the sticks and stems that are where the money’s at.

Arizona State Sen. Sonny Borrelli [R-District 5] introduced SB 1337, a bill that would allow the commercial growth and processing of hemp in Arizona.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not hard to put a price tag on progress — it’s $3 a day.

That’s how much it now costs to park in the heretofore free lot across from the immensely popular scenic overlook at the Sedona Airport. The new payment plan was instituted in November, according to airport general manager Amanda Shankland.

Two days prior to the year’s end, Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter announced the appointment of Village of Oak Creek resident Connie Harris to the Yavapai College District Governing Board.

The position — which represents YCDGB District 3, comprising the upper Verde Valley communities of Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Jerome, Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek — was created by the resignation of Al Filardo in December. The appointment is valid from Harris taking the oath of office during the YCDGB meeting Tuesday, Jan. 10, through Dec. 31, 2018.

The Arizona State Legislature and city governments don’t always see eye to eye — and this year is no exception.

During the Feb. 14, Sedona City Council meeting, City Attorney Robert Pickels gave an update on some of the bills before state legislators that may impact Sedona. To date, more than 1,050 bills have been introduced.

One of the items was House Bill 2116, which was introduced by Rep. Bob Thorpe [R-District 6] and co-sponsored by Rep. Brenda Barton [R-District 6]. It came at the request of the city of Sedona to clarify the zoning area within which property owners adjacent to an area subject to a rezoning application may protest. An amendment will be offered in the Senate which will include the subject property in the definition of a zoning area.

Motorists driving in Uptown this weekend should be prepared to see a few changes.

The city announced this week that the Public Works and Sedona Police departments are coordinating to ensure business access and traffic safety on State Route 89A through the Uptown area for Presidents Day. This is part of the ongoing transportation master plan to find ways to help traffic flows, especially during busy weekends or periods of the year.

How do you prohibit trail-goers from parking in front of one’s house while at the same time allowing homeowners and their guests to do just that?

This was a question city of Sedona staff faced in regard to parking in the Rim Shadows area, which is adjacent to a popular trailhead off Soldier Pass Road. The end result — residential parking permits.

The Sedona City Council voted unanimously to move forward with this approach during its Tuesday, Feb. 14, meeting.

At times you’ll hear someone say, “That person was meant to have that job.” Patrick Schweiss is one of those people.

For the last 13 years Schweiss has been the face — and executive director — of the Sedona International Film Festival. During the nine-day event he is everywhere and approaches each film, special appearance or concert with the same enthusiasm and showmanship.

Peter Marshall is best known for saying things like “circle gets the square” while calling on celebrities to answer a variety of crazy questions for a vamped up version of tic tac toe.

But that stint as host of the popular “Hollywood Squares” makes up just a small portion of his nearly 76 years in showbiz. His true passion — singing — was on full display during a live performance on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the Sedona Performing Arts Center. He was one of the featured guests at this year’s Sedona International Film Festival, which concludes this weekend.

“Prodigy” will premiere at the Sedona International Film Festival on Wednesday, Feb. 22, and Saturday, Feb. 25. The star of the film is Savannah Liles, a Sedona native now living in Los Angeles with her mother. At 11 years old, Savannah has already had an impressive acting career and is now celebrating her first feature-length film hitting the big screen.

In “Prodigy,” Liles plays Ellie, a borderline sociopathic girl locked in a maximum security facility. A psychologist is commissioned to work with her and soon discovers her dark past as well as outstanding intelligence. The two engage in a psychological chess match under the vigilant observation of experts staggered by Ellie’s case — a match that soon turns into a perilous situation.

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