The Sedona City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 10, approved $1.3 million in improvements to its wastewater treatment plant.

The improvements, which have been discussed for months, involve upgrading the dry beds at the treatment plant.

Carollo Engineers presented council with four options that ranged in cost from $850,000 to $4.7 million, and the city staff recommended approving the $1.3 million option.

cityofsedonalogoCouncilwoman Nancy Scagnelli wanted to know how long the dry beds would last, and was told there were times when they lasted 20 years.

“It’s $1.3 million today, and in another 15 years it would be another $1.3 million (plus inflation),” she said.

What concerned Council-woman Pud Colquitt was the possibility the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality could change its regulations at any time.

“We have to be very careful we choose something that lasts 10 years,” she said.

Council was informed it could expect the dry beds to have a longer life. Council members were also told the type of weather the area receives will impact the beds’ longevity.

Mayor Rob Adams shared Colquitt’s concerns about ADEQ, but was told the city would not be affected as long as they kept up the dry beds and treatment plant.

Adams also wondered why the $750,000 proposal ended up being $850,000, and he was told by the engineering group that the extra $100,000 is the result of piping that needed to be replaced because of its condition.

Council briefly discussed going with the $1.6 million project, but it was told by Assistant City Manager Alison Zelms the $300,000 in additional expenditures would have to be recouped in some way, such as raising sewer rates for residents.

Colquitt said city staff’s recommendation was the one the council needed to approve.

“It gives us 10 years before we have to look at it again,” she said.

Carollo Engineers informed the city the dry beds would probably last about 10 years before needing to be replaced.

Colquitt said another reason to choose the $1.3 million project over the more expensive ones was not knowing when or if ADEQ was going to change its requirements.

“We don’t have to spend that amount of money right now,” she said, adding treatment plants are constantly changing how to do things.

“They have a life,” she said. “We are trying to be very careful with the money.”


Michael Maresh can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 125, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Nine residents have pulled packets to run for the Sedona City Council next March, but the packets with at least 198 valid signatures must be submitted to the city clerk’s office no later than Wednesday, Dec. 9, 5 p.m.

Candidates can run for either mayor, a four-year council term or a two-year council seat.

Three of the seven candidates have filed political statements of organization, and they had to list the seat they want.

Community activist Mike Ward is seeking a four-year council term as is Don McIroy, an attorney and president of the Mingus Mountain Republican Club.

Dennis Rayner, an opponent to the State Route 89A lighting issue and a retired physicist from DuPont Corporation, seeks a two-year term.

cityofsedonalogoMayor Rob Adams, Cliff Ochser — president and owner  of Evening Sky Tours, Barbara Litrell — former president of Keep Sedona Beautiful, former Vice Mayor Jerry Frey, local musician Tommy Acosta and community activist Eddie Maddox have not filed their political statements of organization yet, and therefore have not had to list the seats they seek.

Former City Clerk Pat Sullivan, who is handling the 2010 council election, said candidates cannot submit more than 395 signatures in their packets, which includes nomination papers and financial disclosure statements.

The primary election will be Tuesday, March 9. The general election, if needed, is scheduled for

May 18.

Candidates receiving more than 50 percent of the vote are declared winners and will not have to run in the general election.

Michael Maresh can be reached at 282-7795 or e-mail

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sedona will now have another 32 rooms for lodging after the City Council voted 6-1 Oct. 27 to rezone a parcel of land at 95 Goodrow Lane from single family to lodging.

The Mahidia Villas at the Sedona Rouge Hotel and Spa will be an expansion of the existing 77-unit facility.

The Sedona Planning and Zoning Commission in September denied the rezoning request, which caused the developer to appeal that decision to council.

cityofsedonalogoSedona Community Development Director John O’Brien said there are two stipulations that must be met by the developer — regardless of whether Mahidia Villas is ever built.

Within two years, a new connection that goes through the new project to the traffic light at Rodeo Drive and State Route 89A must be built along with two other affordable housing units being made available to people.

“It will be much safer,” O’Brien said in discussing the connection. He said the individuals staying at the Sedona Rouge Hotel and Spa often cross State Route 89A without the help of a traffic light.

Each unit will vary in size from 325 to 1,115 square feet with a fireplace and kitchenette. The villas are proposed to be marketed to customers looking for a luxury experience. Visitors will check in at the main lobby of the Sedona Rouge to receive a free tour of the facility.

The project is also incorporating solar power and will provide an increased tax base to the city. Another strength of the project is it is designed to work with the existing topography of the site.

The weaknesses are the vehicular connection which will serve as a long driveway with a parking lot, and the community housing needs were not adequately addressed as outlined in the Community Plan and Housing Policy.

The new spa pavilion is proposed to be an extension of the Sedona Rouge Hotel and Spa to complement and integrate the existing facility and will be 25,319 square feet.

The lone dissenter to the project was Councilman Dan Surber. O’Brien said Surber wanted three affordable housing units, not the two that the developer agreed to.

O’Brien said the project can go forward with any speed

the developer wants, but must have a construction building permit.

Council was told by the developer attaining financial backing for the project could be difficult because of the hard economic times in the housing market.

Councilwoman Pud Colquitt said there were many reasons why she voted to rezone the property and added she could

not think of a reason why to oppose it.

“It’s a very good project that is income producing,” she said. According to the staff report, Sedona Rouge and Hotel and Spa is on the high end of tax receipts for the city, raising about $500,000 in the last year.

She added the special-use area and zoning to lodging is what should be there.

“Sedona Rouge has been a very good neighbor,” Colquitt said.

One more seat will be up for grabs in the spring Sedona City Council election after a 5-2 vote determined Vice Mayor John Bradshaw’s entire remaining term won’t be filled by appointment.

Councilwoman Nancy Scagnelli and Pud Colquitt voted against opening the seat for election in the spring. Instead, they wanted to appoint a candidate to serve the entire term.

cityofsedonalogoThe vote came after the council unanimously passed an ordinance to allow the seat to be filled by election with an emergency clause putting it into effect immediately upon approval.

Bradshaw recently announced his resignation with 30 months remaining in his term. How to fill the seat became an issue with residents worried an appointment would create a council with three appointed mem-bers and only four elected.

Bradshaw, who eventually voted in favor of using an election to permanently fill the seat, said he was concerned not enough people would run to ensure voters had a choice.

A council with half its members appointed is not acceptable, Jawn McKinley, a Sedona resident, said. The council needs to make sure Sedona has a chance at democracy.

Filling the seat by election maintains the fundamental right to vote that is held sacred in the United States, Councilman Cliff Hamilton said. Hamilton knows 18 people interested in running, eight who were at the meeting.

“The underlying principle trumps all arguments for going by appointment,” Councilman Mark DiNunzio said.

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, Scagnelli said, and she said council has had good luck with its appointments. Currently Colquitt and DiNunzio are the appointed members on council.

It comes down to stability on council, according to Scagnelli, and leadership for the city. Council could be left with only Hamilton with two years of experience and DiNunzio with less than a year after the next election.

There is a perception in the public that the system for filling vacated seats is broken, Mayor Rob Adams said.

Council will now collect applications to fill the seat by appointment until the spring election at which time, a two-year seat for the remaining term will appear on the ballot.

An effort to recall two Sedona Fire District Governing Board members fell approximately 50 signatures short in the Yavapai County elections office Oct. 13.

Voter registration offices in Yavapai and Coconino counties reported neither Don Harr nor Charles Christensen, both SFD board members, could be recalled.

“They didn’t have enough valid signatures,” Yavapai County Elections Director Lynn Constable said.

sedona_fireIn a letter Constable addressed to Karen Schmitt, a driving force behind the recall, she wrote 1,799 valid signatures were needed to recall each candidate.

According to the letter, only 1,749 signatures to recall Harr could be verified and 1,742 to recall Christensen.

“We are so close it squeaks,” Schmitt said. She blamed the shortfall on notary issues and unregistered voters signing petitions.

Schmitt consulted a lawyer and said she will continue to pursue the recall in whatever way legally possible.

Schmitt submitted 236 recall petitions with 2,205 signatures to recall Harr. She submitted 233 petitions with 2,168 signatures to recall Christensen.

After petitions are submitted, Constable said her office checks for content — all lines on the

petition are filled out including signature and date.

During the first evaluation, Constable’s staff declared 228 of the 236 petitions to recall Harr valid, dropping the signature count to 2,095.

According to Constable’s letter, three petitions containing 42 signatures were eliminated because the circulator affidavit was not complete, three petitions with 43 signatures were removed because signature dates were after the notarization date, one petition with 11 signatures contained signatures without a date at all, one petition with 10 was not notarized and four other signatures were removed due to incomplete information.

The same evaluation of petitions against Christensen lowered the number to 226 from 233 dropping the number of signatures to 2,093.

Petitions against Christensen contained similar problems. Of the seven dropped, three petitions with 41 signatures were removed because the circulator affidavit was not complete, three petitions contained 23 signatures dated after the notary date, one petition contained five signatures without dates and six additional signatures were removed due to incomplete verification information.

Constable then forwarded the petitions to the appropriate voter registration department where staff again evaluated the validity of the signatures.

The voter registration offices verify people who signed the petitions live within the Sedona Fire District and were registered to vote on the date they signed a petition.

Constable’s office sent 2,095 signatures to recall Harr to the registration offices and 1,749 were deemed valid. For the Christensen recall, 2,093 signatures were forwarded and 1,742 were verified.

In Constable’s five years as elections director, she said this is the first time a recall effort didn’t contain enough signatures following review. State statue isn’t clear as to what Schmitt can do next, so Constable recommend she consult a lawyer.

Additional signatures cannot be added to Schmitt’s effort after petitions are submitted to the county, according to Constable.

Schmitt said her efforts to recall Christensen and Harr will continue.

“If nothing else, we brought this to the attention of people that were not aware,” Schmitt said.

Harr and Christensen did not return phone calls requesting comment by press time.

The city of Sedona will hold its 2010 primary election on Tuesday, March 9, 2010, and its general election on Tuesday, May 18, 2010. This will be a vote by mail election. Three council seats for a four-year term, the mayor’s two-year term, and the question whether the mayor shall be elected by the people or appointed by the council beginning in 2012 will be on the ballot.

Depending on council action Tuesday, Oct. 27, an additional seat may be open for a two-year term. A candidate is declared elected at the primary election if he/she receives 50 percent plus one of the votes cast. The mayor and council members will assume office after the general election following the City Council’s election canvass.

cityofsedonalogoCandidate packets will be available at 8 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 29, in the Sedona City Clerk’s Office, 102 Roadrunner Drive, Sedona, Arizona, 86336. Candidate nomination forms must be filed in the City Clerk office, between 8 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 9, and 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 9.

To run for local office, a candidate must be a qualified elector at the time of election, be at least 18 years of age on or before the election, have resided within the Sedona city limits for one year preceding the election, and have had his/her civil rights restored if the person has been convicted of a felony.

To register to vote in this election, a resident must be a citizen of the United States; be 18 years of age or more on or before the date of the general election next following his registration; be a state resident for a period of 29 days prior to the election; reside within the Sedona city limits for 29 days prior to the election; and, have the ability to write one’s own name or make his mark unless prevented by physical disability.

Voter registration forms are available at Sedona City Hall, the Sedona Public Library and the Sedona Post Office. Registration can also be done online at If you wish to obtain voter registration forms for distribution, please contact the Yavapai County Voter Registration Department at 639-8100 or the Coconino County Voter Registration Department at (928) 774-5011. Voter registration for the city’s primary election closes Monday, Feb. 8, 2010, and Monday, April 19, 2010 for the general election.

For more information, please contact the City Clerk’s office at 282-3113.

The U.S. Small Business Administration set up shop in Sedona following the Sept. 10 flood, but the office hasn’t seen much traffic.

The SBA established a temporary office at the Sedona Chamber of Commerce’s business office in West Sedona to help business owners apply for low interest disaster loans Oct. 8. As of Oct. 14, only about five applications had been picked up and none had been returned for processing, according to Yolanda Stokes, SBA communication specialist.

“It’s been really quiet there,” Stokes said. However, sometimes it takes business owners some time following a natural disaster to assess the actual monetary damage to their operation.

SBA-10-16Richard Lynch, owner of Sedona Adventure Outfitters & Guides, said he just finished filling out paper work for an SBA loan. He found out about the opportunity when an SBA representative stopped by his shop on Coffee Pot Drive.

“I’m just overwhelmed with getting things back and running,” Lynch said.

On the day of the flood, water poured down Coffee Pot Drive, diverted by a nearby culvert, running in the back door of Lynch’s shop and out the front, thanks to quick action by Lynch’s staff. Lynch wasn’t there at the time of the flood. He was in a canyon and the owner of the building was in Alaska.

Lynch estimates he lost approximately $20,000 in damaged merchandise and labor used to clean up the mess left by the flood.

Sedona Adventure didn’t lose money due to closing up shop during repairs thanks to a little help from Lynch’s landlord, who allowed him to utilize a vacant space next door while his shop was cleaned up. The business went a couple days without phones but was still able to get its scheduled tours out.

The business did experience a drop in sales in the days immediately following the flood, according to Lynch.

“It could have been a hell of a lot worse,” Lynch said. If the flood had happened at night his employees and other business owners around the city would not have been around to immediately mitigate the problems.

Lynch also believes assistance from the SBA loan program will bring relief. With the other issues businesses are facing, this will help, Lynch said.

Loans are available up to $2 million with a 4 percent interest rate for up to three years, according to Stokes.

SBA staff will be at the chamber’s business office until Thursday, Oct. 22, to assist people in applying for a loan or answer questions.

After the temporary office closes, business owners can obtain information and forms by calling (800) 659-2955, e-mail-

ing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visiting

The deadline to apply for a loan is Wednesday, July 7, 2010.

Trista Steers can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 124, or e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


A third victim of the “sweatbox” incident died Saturday, Oct. 17. The three deaths are now being investigated as homicides.

Lizbeth Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake, Minn., died at Flagstaff Medical Center, according to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office.

Neuman had reportedly suffered multiple organ damage following a sweat lodge incident at on Oct. 8 at Angel Valley Retreat Center, southwest of Sedona.

The sweat lodge event was part of a week-long Spiritual Warrior retreat hosted by self-help motivational speaker James Arthur Ray.

angel-valley-deaths-10-14Neuman was one of four patients airlifted to FMC. Seventeen other participants were taken by ambulance to Verde Valley Medical Center the night of the incident, according to the Verde Valley Fire District. Victims were treated for illnesses ranging from dehydration to kidney failure.

Between 55 and 64 attended the Spiritual Warrior retreat in early October. Authorities are uncertain how many participated in the sweat lodge and how many were inside the sweat lodge itself when the 21 people began to fall ill.

Two patients, 40-year-old James Shore, of Milwaukee, and 38-year-old Kirby Brown of Westtown, N.Y., died shortly after arriving at VVMC.

At the time of her death, Neuman was the last patient still hospitalized, YCSO reports stated.

Autopsies are still pending from the Yavapai County Medical Examiner as of Monday, Oct. 19.

Following a criminal investigation, YCSO detectives elevated the sweat lodge incident from an accidental death inquiry to a homicide investigation Friday, Oct. 16.

In 2005, Verde Valley Fire District transported another patient who may been involved in a sweat lodge incident at Angel Valley.

There was reportedly no building permit for sweat lodge. YCSO stated that Ray’s staff built the lodge. Ray stated that Angel Valley employees built the lodge.

YCSO detectives and Carlsbad, Calif., police served a search warrant at James Ray International headquarters on Oct. 14. Detectives were reportedly searching for medical information about the attendees of the Spiritual Warrior retreat.

Authorities were also searching for any information Ray had about the construction and use of sweat lodges and whether he or his staff had notified participants of the risks.

Detectives are trying to find and interview previous attendees, staff and workers at Ray’s Spiritual Warrior retreats or his similar events. Anyone with information should contact YCSO online at or by calling Yavapai Silent Witness at (800) 932-3232.

Ray refers to himself as “the rock star of personal transformation” and a “visionary.” Author of the book “Harmonic Wealth,” Ray was featured in the 2006 self-help film “The Secret,” and has appeared on “Oprah,” “The Today Show” and “Larry King Live.”

Ray hosts seminars and retreats about about using positive thinking and “the Law of Attraction” to generate wealth.

Ray reportedly refused to speak to YCSO detectives about the incident and left the state.

He has continued to host seminars mainly in Southern California and still offers reservations for his next Spiritual Warrior retreat scheduled in Sedona from Sept. 18 to 23, 2010.

The Web site for Ray’s Spiritual Warrior program reads, “There is no sacrifice — only greater and more magnificent results, wealth, adventure and fulfillment. You owe it to the rest of your life to get to Spiritual Warrior as quickly as you can. The investment is only $9,695 per person.”

No charges have yet been filed in the case.

Christopher Fox Graham can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 129, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Sheriff’s Office seeks information
Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office detectives are trying to find and interview previous attendees, staff and workers at James Arthur Ray’s Spiritual Warrior retreats or his similar events.
Anyone withinformation should contact YCSO online at or by calling Yavapai Silent Witness at (800) 932-3232.


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