Posted: Jun 5, 2013 By: Hunter Moore
Flagstaff, AZ — The Navajo County Board of Supervisors recently participated in the National Association of Counties' (NACo) 2013 Western Interstate Region (WIR) Conference in Coconino County/Flagstaff, Ariz. to discuss public and forest lands, disaster preparedness, disaster recovery, public-private partnerships, tribal issues and other topics important to western counties and communities.
The conference provided county officials with the opportunity to hear national speakers, discuss federal legislation and network with other county officials from across the country.
Featured speakers included Bruce Bugoski, personal motivational author and columnist; Ed Fox, vice president of state and local affairs, Arizona Public Service (APS) Company, and James D. Ogsbury, executive director of the Western Governors Association.
Breakout sessions explored topic including: Public-Private Partnerships: Utilizing the Private Sector to Address the Needs of Your County; Smart Justice Practices and Cost Savings Measures; Forest Health: The Economics of Treatment versus Large-Scale Forest Fires; Beyond Civility: Communication for Effective Governance; A Multi-State Overview of Sage Grouse Conservation Efforts in the West, and Recovering After Disaster and Protecting Your Community from Further Disaster.
The conference also featured Sheriff KC Clark as one of the guest panelists who discussed cross-commissioning of Sheriff's officers with Native American tribes. “Counties are increasingly struggling to deal with response times in rural areas while dealing with shrinking budgets. County Attorney Brad Carlyon and I have had to find creative approaches to collaborate and solve problems and this cross-commissioning effort has worked.”
Navajo County Attorney Carlyon, who also represented the Arizona Association of Counties in his role as their Second Vice President, echoed the Sheriff's comments. “I think that WIR is a good forum to exchange innovative work. While it hasn't been easy, Navajo County has been able to find some productive ways to serve our Native American communities and I am glad that so many people at the WIR conference were curious to know what we have accomplished. Our county has seen that increasing efficiency and public safety often go hand-in-hand, and the cross commissioning idea has really provided us with a chance to improve our stewardship of public resources.”
Supervisor David Tenney (Navajo County District IV), who is also Arizona's State Representative to the WIR organization, was very complimentary of the event, “The WIR Conference is one of the most important meetings of the year for county officials interested in economic and rural development, land use, and other western issues. I was very impressed with the amount of work that Coconino County put into this conference. I know that their Board and their staff spent over a year preparing for every detail. The substance of the conference was on point, and I hope that our friends in the west leave Arizona with an improved sense of what we are facing in the Southwest.”
Navajo County Board Chairman Johnathan M. Nez also attended the conference, “This was one of my first NACo experiences, but I enjoyed how this conference brought NACo and WIR leadership together with county officials from across the country in one place,” said Nez. “I think it is safe to say that we are all looking for solutions for the unique challenges facing our western communities, but it was productive to discuss different aspects of our issues with other county officials who are dealing with the same problems.”
Supervisor Jesse Thompson, Supervisor Sylvia Allen, and Supervisor Dawnafe Whitesinger (Navajo County Districts II, III and V respectively) were also in attendance and participated in a number of events and discussions.
In addition to the conference seminars, Supervisor Allen was able to attend a tour of the Schultz Pass Flood Project to learn about the devastating effects of the Schultz Fire and how Coconino County is working with several federal and state agencies to control the flooding that is still occurring after the fire. “It is remarkable to see how much devastation has taken place from this one fire,” said Supervisor Allen. I hope that our residents will be extremely cautious with fire this summer, and that our federal government will give us the ability to take care of our forests effectively. We cannot afford to have additional catastrophes and incur such high costs. We need to put industry back in the forest in a meaningful way before it burns. It needs to start producing for our taxpayers again.”
WIR is affiliated with NACo and is dedicated to the promotion of western interests within NACo. Its membership consists of fifteen western states with membership funded through the individual state associations.
For more information about WIR, contact Ryan Yates at 202.942.4207 or visit www.naco.org .