By Sam Hosler
Mayor, Town of Kearny
Every day, like any human being, I make use of the knowledge and skills that I possess, all the while wishing I had more knowledge and more improved skills.
When I was elected Mayor of Kearny I realized that I had a steep learning curve ahead of me. I used to attend Town Council meetings regularly in the company of my late friend, Pastor Ed Grant, who had deep interest and concern for the people of the town. As an Episcopal priest for many years, I had worked with congregations large and small, leading worship, overseeing committees, chairing meetings, and developing church programs and the finances to further them. I have drawn upon this knowledge and these skills. But I still have much to learn.
In many ways, our town government is going well. We have a top-rate Town Manager and a Town Clerk whose abilities simply astound me. Our fire department and ambulance service are a source of pride. We have fewer town employees than any place in Arizona, yet they get more accomplished and have real pride in their work.
Let me lay out the areas which I personally think demand much attention, because these are the things which keep me awake at night.
Our economy (and that of the whole Copper Basin) needs drastic revision and improvement. We are historically tied to copper, but each year fewer of our residents actually work at ASARCO. All of rural Arizona is still in a keen financial slump. We make less money, we spend less money, and in general the value of our homes and businesses is decreasing.
As I have mentioned before, our town’s infrastructure is wearing out. We are taking steps to make things better, but this is going to be a long road. Water is key for us and for every community in Arizona.
We are now working with the towns of Mammoth, Winkelman, and Hayden to develop a new model for a unified police department. The old model is expensive, inadequate in providing service, and does not allow sufficient in-service training. As we work on a new model, with a single police chief, common dispatch service, regular training and improved communications, we also have to consider the fact that we do not have a lot of money in any of our towns, so we cannot throw money around to solve problems. Rather, we have to find new ways of working together, The task force is working hard on all of this. I hope that soon we will be able to give an interim report on how things are going.
Finally, the Shipman and Kearny River fires demand a creative response to restore the river and its area, and we need to find ways to keep such fires from ever occurring again. I an thankful that the Winkelman Natural Resource Conservation District, ASARCO, the Town of Kearny and state and federal agencies are working on all these things.
In all of this, I have great hopes. Recognizing what needs to be done is always the first step in resolving the task.