My name is Woody Cline and I am running for re-election for Gila County Supervisor District III. I am a cattle rancher and a small business owner. And I know firsthand how tough this year has been on our constituents and businesses owners.
I spent 19 years working for the United States Forest Service in fire and land management. This experience has helped me to be able to work with the issues we face during these catastrophic fires as well as the after effects.
I have heard a number of times that the county doesn’t do enough for economic development. I have attended a number of planning sessions and meetings since I have been in office. We have several problems that need to be addressed while we are recruiting businesses into our area. Some of the issues continually brought up are: broadband, housing, and the appearance of our communities.
Businesses have indicated that they cannot or will not locate in Gila County because we don’t have reliable high-speed internet. County staff has worked diligently for the last few years on this issue and we are now in a great position to make that happen. The county recently obtained a $19M E-rate grant that will expand broadband for education and new infrastructure to provide high speed internet county-wide to every school and library. This grant allows Gila County to take advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity to provide high speed internet to the schools and libraries at zero cost to the local communities. Just recently, the Board of Supervisors funded a broadband study, further emphasizing that reliable connectivity is key to economic development.
Gila County is a beautiful county and has a number of recreation and tourism opportunities. To capitalize and promote those opportunities and increase tourism the county launched the Discover Gila County website in 2018. The website not only promotes our recreational opportunities, but it also promotes local businesses, restaurants, events and highlights our western heritage. Here is a sample of some of our most recent numbers: Close to 65,000 visitors to the website in 2020; over 2,500 people have liked the page in 2020 alone; 9,479 Facebook followers and 1,233 Instagram followers. In 2019 the website won the Golden Prospector Award of Merit from the Arizona Association of Economic Development.
We have accomplished a lot as a board since I have been in office and you have to work together in order to get the major issues handled. However, I have had some projects that I tackled that have affected not only District III, but all of Gila County as well.
When I ran for office in 2016, one of the issues declared in my campaign was youth work programs to help build our local workforce. In 2018, I pledged $50,000 from my budget to fund the workers that were placed in the cities and towns in Gila County. I have worked with the Tonto National Forest staff to implement a Youth Conservation Corp crew in Gila County and that was funded this summer with a crew working in the Payson and Tonto Basin areas. We are currently working on a grant application for next year, with crews proposed in Payson and Globe.
The first year I was in office, the Hayden Motel was brought to my attention by the Mayor of Hayden. After looking into it, there were a lot of issues with the building. There were
delinquent taxes and the lien was in the State of Arizona’s name, there was suspected lead and asbestos in the building materials, and it was literally falling down due to a micro-burst that occurred in 2010. Working with the Governor’s Office, the Arizona Department of Revenue and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality we obtained title to the property and just recently the last of the old building was torn down and the lot will become a large pull out area for travelers.
When I first came into office, I noticed the senior centers were requesting funds to help with their budgets. After looking into the issue, I found that funding over the years had gradually been cut to the point where they were really struggling to make ends meet. We developed a formula based on the number of seniors that received home delivered meals and case management services and after discussion with county management we now include the senior centers as a line item in our budget. My office also applied for $50,000 to Resolution Copper’s COVID-19 community outreach program for the Hayden Senior Center and the application was awarded. I feel that taking care of our seniors is a moral and social obligation.
I feel that I have gotten a lot done, but I have more to do. A project that I have spent a great deal of time on is obtaining ownership of the Tonto National Forest Pleasant Valley Administrative Site in Young, Arizona. Gila County would become the owner of 85 acres of beautiful forest service land along with a number of buildings. Our plan is to work with a non- profit to provide veteran’s services that would include a retreat facility. We are in the final stages of obtaining a permit which will allow a non-profit to begin providing services, but the ultimate goal is to gain ownership for the County.
I also want to gather our cities and towns and community groups together twice a year to discuss local issues and to provide updates to each other regarding projects and local issues. This will help to continue to build on the unity we have been fostering for the last four years.
Again, I am running for Re-Election for Gila County Board of Supervisors District III. I would appreciate your vote on November 3. A vote for Woody Cline is a vote for Gila County.
/s/ Woody Cline