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Sierra Vista Salvation Army thrift store to close in September

SIERRA VISTA — Salvation Army officials confirmed Wednesday that they will close the Salvation Army Family Store and Dropbox in Sierra Vista in late September, saying the move is part of an effort to streamline operations in Arizona and “to be good stewards of resources.”

The nine employees of the Sierra Vista store, as well as those working at the Salvation Army’s Tucson thrift store on Sixth Avenue, were informed of their stores’ closures on Monday at a meeting in Tucson. Sierra Vista store manager Dolores Meraz said they will close on Sept. 27. Meraz said she has worked at the store for 12 years and will not be reassigned to a different job with the Salvation Army. She declined further comment, saying she was asked not to speak publicly on the matter.

Dalita Lovett, Salvation Army’s development director for the Western United States and Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARCs), said in an email and phone interview that the store closures are one piece of a larger reorganization of Salvation Army’s services in the Tucson and Phoenix districts. Neither the Tucson nor the Phoenix ARCs have been running at capacity in recent years, Lovett said, so the centers are being consolidated at the Phoenix ARC.

The ARCs provide free residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation services for six months to people battling substance abuse and addiction. The Salvation Army currently has 17 ARCs in the Western U.S.

The Phoenix ARC serves both men and women, while the Tucson facility only provides services to men, a factor in the decision to consolidate the services in Phoenix. With the Tucson ARC closing at the beginning of October, the Salvation Army didn’t have the need for as many thrift stores — which directly fund the ARCs — in Tucson and Sierra Vista, Lovett said.

“The stores, the four locations (in Tucson and Sierra Vista) are what funded the Adult Rehabilitation Center there,” Lovett said. “All the funds, all the proceeds — people buy goods at our stores and that’s what actually funds the rehabilitation center. And so Sierra Vista and the Tucson location on Sixth Avenue, those operations will be completely closed.”

Lovett said she did not have financial figures for the Sierra Vista store available, but acknowledged that the two stores’ revenue and the cost to operate the facilities played a role in the decision to shutter them.

“Definitely, we need to look at where the income is made, where we have a better opportunity to service the communities, where we could make sure that, operationally, we could actually service people,” she said. “So, some truck routes are going to be discontinued ... and we feel that the (two remaining Tucson locations) will be able to be run very smoothly by our Phoenix center. Those two were selected because Phoenix will be able to transition very quickly and take those over.”

News of the Sierra Vista store’s impending closure was not well received Wednesday.

Daniel Grant, a 39-year-old Sierra Vista resident who was visiting the Salvation Army Family Store, 280 E. Wilcox Drive, on Wednesday afternoon, said he frequents both the Sierra Vista location and the Salvation Army thrift stores in Tucson and was “very disappointed” to learn of the closures.

“I had no idea,” Grant said. “I like this place, come here very often — you have to come a lot to find the deals. I’m really surprised it’s closing.”

Meanwhile, Sierra Vistan David Pendry, whose son has worked at the store for about four years, questioned why the Salvation Army would close a store that he estimates brings in significant revenue.

“Overall, there certainly should be no loss of money,” he said. “It’s all free (to the Salvation Army) — it’s donated and then they sell it.”

Pendry, whose son has Asperger syndrome, also expressed concern about the ability of his son and other store employees to quickly find other employment.

“Before working (at the thrift store), he couldn’t get jobs,” said Pendry, who added that his son has a degree from Wayland Baptist University in Sierra Vista and has taken classes at Cochise College. “It was hard to find people who would take him. He’s got to be in a situation where he does something and repeats it. ... He has to have a job where he works at something for a while and gets used to it, then he does a good job at it.”

Lovett, though, said the Salvation Army is prepared to reassign some employees to other jobs within the organization and help others find work elsewhere through the organization’s outplacement services.

“That’s one of the things that we are committed to,” Lovett said. “Some employees will receive severance packages, as well, based on their length of employment.”

Lovett noted that the closed stores will be sold, with those proceeds being placed in an endowment which helps fund the remaining ARCs.

Sierra Vista Salvation Army Capt. Carlos Souza, who does not directly oversee the Family Store, was unable to be reached Wednesday for comment.

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Lining the halls: System crash leads to rocky registration week at Buena

SIERRA VISTA — Buena High School’s halls were buzzing this week, even though students don’t return to class for another week.

The air filled with heavy sighs and chatter as more than 300 parents and students waited in more than a half dozen lines in the cafeteria and near the main office in order to complete the registration process on Wednesday, the fourth day of registration.

“We hear the horror stories that this takes four hours,” said Samuel Brown, who had joined the line at 6:45 a.m. “I had to take leave and block off four hours to be here.”

Knowing the registration process takes time due to the large number of students enrolled in the high school, Principal Kristen Hale advised parents of what they could do beforehand to expedite the process.

“As I shared in my parent emails home, parents and students are able to email their counselors any changes that they need to avoid the long lines for schedule change,” Hale said in an email. “Additionally, fees are able to be paid online through MySchoolBucks. This was established last year and our finance office has been able to improve the process for this school year.”

“Also shared in parent emails was that yearbooks are purchased through a separate website which can be found by visiting Buena’s main page. Students are able to check out a locker at any time during the year if they wish to do so. Historically, less than 50 percent of our student population have opted to use a locker.”

Pam Enright, who has a child at Buena, had completed and paid online but still found herself waiting in line for an hour. She was waiting in line to speak to a counselor about her son’s schedule.

“I think those who play sports or who have something after school should register first so they can have their lighter classes at the end of the day (since they will leave early),” Enright said.

It was the general consensus that the scheduling line was the longest and took the most time. Earlier in the week, the system the district uses for scheduling glitched, causing mistakes in schedules as well as rendering parents and students unable to view them on their phones.

The district released the following statement on their website in regards to extended wait times that many experienced on Friday: “Due to unfortunate technical issues with Synergy, the program behind our StudentVUE and ParentVUE portals, many of you were unable to access student schedules as expected on Friday, July 19. This caused delays at our early registration for band and JROTC students and senior registration day, and also frustrated many parents and students who wanted to view their schedules and pay class fees early.”

“The same program also caused schedule errors for some students, particularly in their 2nd and 7th periods. Our counselors are on hand at registration to help fix this problem. If it is a minor problem, our counselors encourage you to send them an email about the issue. They will work to correct the problem outside of registration time.

“Our early registration day is often a ‘dress rehearsal’; it serves as an opportunity for us to work through our processes and fine-tune them for registration week. That being said, we apologize for the extended delays that were experienced.

“Six counselors as well as staff who have been trained are assisting and fixing schedules for those who need it.

“We have been working through scheduling issues as quickly as possible,” Hale said. “I personally have joined in with several others to help move the lines more quickly. We have every member of our team working to assist with this process. Families have been able to multi-task by sending one member of the family to one station while the other waits in a separate line.”

Freshman registration is Thursday beginning at 8 a.m. and will conclude at noon. Friday is a makeup day for all grades and will also run from 8 a.m. until noon.


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