County News

The Yavapai College District Governing Board at its annual retreat Monday, Sept. 12, voted 3-2 to suspend the Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee.

As of Friday, Sept. 30, the VVBAC — which has been tasked for the past two years with gathering data on the post-secondary needs of the Verde Valley region and reporting it to the Governing Board — will cease its efforts.

“We’re not giving up on feedback from the Verde Valley,” board Chairwoman Patricia McCarver said during the board meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 13, at Yavapai College Verde Valley Campus.
McCarver added that though the VVBAC will soon be disbanded, the college will be seeking different feedback from the Verde Valley region during the next year, focusing on access for under-served populations — “particularly those who live in poverty.”

VVBAC President Paul Chevalier countered that the suspension will effectively dissolve the committee completely, eroding regional confidence in the college.
Chevalier and several other individuals, including members of the Governing Board itself, reported surprise that the board had moved to suspend the VVBAC, and decried the swiftness of the decision and its lack of transparency to the public.

“I didn’t know until 9:30 this morning,” Chevalier said, adding that in his view the board had suspended the VVBAC because it represented the interests of Verde Valley residents too well, offering repeated recommendations that the board did not want to consider.

“We’re a prize committee,” Chevalier added. “I don’t think you’re ever going to get a committee this good, and I’m deeply sorry you made this decision.”

“I’m disappointed in this decision,” said Governing Board member Deb McCasland, who had offered one of the two dissenting votes. “I was expecting that item to be addressed today, to keep open communication.”

Board member and VVBAC member Al Filardo, the second dissenting vote, also expressed reservations about the process.

“I voted no because of the speed of which it all happened,” Filardo said, adding that he had not expected Governing Board member Stever Irwin to call for the motion to disband the committee. “Yesterday, someone said the mission [of the VVBAC] was completed. I can’t agree the mission is completed.”

Regardless, Filardo said that he agreed with board members who expressed a desire to hear from new voices within the Verde Valley community.

Board member Ray Sigafoos praised the decision and said that it would allow the college to gather data on smaller communities and under-served populations throughout the county, particularly the Verde Valley.

“I’m not unhappy to see the VVBAC go away,” Sigafoos said. “We want to have some more stuff.”

Many of the individuals who addressed the Governing Board during the meeting’s call to the public denounced the decision.

“The three members have once again effectively stifled the voice of the Verde Valley,” former board member Bob Oliphant said, adding that the VVBAC had been the most effective advocate for post-secondary education in the Verde Valley and that its suspension would not go unchallenged.

“If you want political war, you got it,” Oliphant said.

Sedona Mayor Sandy Moriarty praised the college for its work on renovating the Yavapai College Sedona Center.

She said that she had not come prepared to talk about the board’s decision on the VVBAC, and would not do so without further consideration.

“I had no idea of any actions taken yesterday .... I don’t believe in reacting quickly,” Moriarty said. “But I’m sure you’ll be hearing from the citizens of Sedona.”

Outside the meeting room, VVBAC Vice President Bill Regner summed up the decision, saying, “I guess we were doing something right.”


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