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Powering forward: SSVEC introduces first electric car to fleet

SIERRA VISTA — When it comes to electric cars, it took some convincing for Karl Berryhill.

The fleet foreman in Benson for Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative had ridden in early models and wasn’t impressed with the distance they could go or their features.

But, when he started researching different electric car models about a year ago for SSVEC, his mind began to change.

”I just became intrigued by it and I said ‘well, I’m just going to see how it goes,’ and in the beginning I was totally against it just because there’s a lot of components of this, coming from a mechanical standpoint, that seem very dangerous.” he said. “After researching, it became more and more like, ‘wow thats pretty neat.’”

”As I started contacting other cooperatives that have things of that nature I learned how happy they were to have it.”

SSVEC welcomed the first electric car to its fleet of vehicles used for local trips a couple weeks ago, following in a trend across the country of cooperatives making the switch to more sustainable vehicles.

The local electric co-op sees the car as a show of their commitment to renewable energy and technological advances.

SSVEC Public Relations Manager Eric Petermann said it not only affirms that commitment, it gives staff the chance to get comfortable with this new technology.

”I think it’s consistent with our effort to try and be forward thinking,” Petermann said. “There are quite a few cooperatives around the country that have started utilizing this technology to inform members and to keep pace with it.”

”It also gives our fleet staff excellent experience as there’s a lot to learn with this.”

The car is a 2019 Chevy Bolt and cost about $40,000. It is a popular model among other cooperatives because of its affordability and the distance it can travel.

”I was concerned over room and how it would fit us and what we need as far as a pool car ... we were just trying to get all those factors and the Bolt hit every marker,” Berryhill said.

”It became more and more exciting as I started to see the range capabilities of regeneration and what it could do as a benefit to the co-op rather than a hindrance,” he said.

”The range is 238 miles but that is considered on flat land putting it on a track until it runs out. In our environment you use a little bit of power getting up the hill, but when you come down or are in traffic the motor is turning the generator and recharging the batteries.”

By comparison, the smaller model of Tesla costs at least $20,000 more and only has 30 more miles of range than the Bolt.

There are three different levels of charging, starting at a slower level that plugs into a wall socket and could take up to nearly 50 hours to charge a totally dead battery, to level three charging stations which could charge the car in an hour or so.

As electric cars become more normalized and the technology improves, more charging stations are being installed.

With the range capabilities of the Bolt and charging locations in Willcox, Benson and even Tucson, running out of charge won’t be a problem.

Mechanic Daniel Myers said that worries over enough charge were quelled for him once he started driving it.

“The more and more charging stations they put up, the more and more people will see it and it will become more appealing to them,” he said. “The community knows we have it and they want to know how we liked it.”

”I said it’s nice, better than I thought it was going to be.”

Along with the distance range of the Bolt, it has many safety features and can charge the battery as it is being driven.

Berryhill said that when driving it from Willcox, he actually gained nine miles as he sat in traffic in a construction zone.

The car will also serve as a marketing tool, with a custom SSVEC branded design adorning it and will be taken to educational or outreach events.

SSVEC is excited to have more of their staff try out the car and will wait and see if this is something they will get more of in the future.

”When I brought it over it was like the ice truck came to a bunch of kids because everybody in the business office wanted to go out and drive it,” Berryhill said. “We are an electric cooperative, we are trying to bring in solar power — trying to do all these other things —why not try electric vehicles?”

New details on nine dead, two injured in shootout in neighboring border towns

BISBEE — Shootings rocked citizens and authorities of Agua Prieta in Mexico, Cochise County and Naco on Monday as word of ten people killed in a cartel shooting was posted on social media.

Sheriff Mark Dannels said he was up in a helicopter with a visiting sheriff helping the Border Patrol in Douglas when he received a call from Chief Deputy Thad Smith. Dannels was told of the shootings south of the border. He said he did not see any emergency vehicles near the port of entry from the helicopter.

“The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office has been advised of significant violence occurring in Mexico in the towns of Agua Prieta, Naco and Nogales,” said a post on the sheriff department’s Facebook page.

“The fighting is reportedly being waged between two cartel factions and the death toll has been unofficially reported at 10 as of this time. Your local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies will remain vigilant in monitoring border security and additional information will be released as it becomes available.”

As of Wednesday, after speaking with law enforcement officials in Naco and Agua Prieta, the Herald/Review was told the total number of dead included eight men and one woman. In Naco, a woman and a 12-year-old child were also injured in the crossfire and taken to University Medical Center in Tucson.

In the first incident, Naco, Sonora Police Chief Julian Bojorquez said he heard gunshots at around 5 p.m. Monday. By the time officers arrived, they found four people dead in bullet-ridden vehicles and the woman and the child with bullet wounds.

Bojorquez said the Cananea General Police of the Republic, which oversees the Naco Police Department, was handling the investigation and beefed up security for the town to prevent any further bloodshed.

“They have taken positions around the town to keep it secure,” he added.

He was unable to provide any details as to who the shooters or the deceased might be or if a feud between cartels was to blame. He did say the bodies were found with no identification and one of the vehicles had an Arizona license plate.

Mauricio Larios, a dentist with an office close to the port of entry in Agua Prieta, said the shooting did not take place near the border, but was actually more than 40 blocks away.

Still, it left him and his staff a little rattled and they abided by a voluntary curfew of 8 p.m. People were requested to stay off the streets and businesses were asked to close. “We were asked to take precautions.”

Lt. Colonel Marcus Vinicius Ornelas Quesada, Agua Prieta’s comisario general, said there wasn’t an official curfew issued, but reports on social media called for one and some residents decided to follow it.

In the second incident, he confirmed there was a fight between two different groups, but would not call them cartels or name them. The shooting there took the lives of four men and one woman in two different vehicles. One was a Chevy Malibu with an Arizona license plate and the other a Chevy Silverado with a Sonoran plate.

It’s been six or seven years since we’ve seen anything like this,” Ornelas Quesada said. “We are taking precautions and have assistance from the government to have more people on the streets around the city. There are more than 200 people across the city in banks, schools, to make sure everybody is safe. We don’t expect any more trouble.”

He compared it to the violence in American cities where shootings occur regularly and people still visit the sights and enjoy the metropolitan areas.

Ornelas Quesada and Borquez say their cities are safe and visitors are welcome to come and enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes found south of the border.

Herald/Review sales representative Marithza Diaz acted as an interpreter for this report.

Hammer Down Racing Media  

Brian O’Brien (41) and Mike Vaughan (19) race door-to-door in an exciting finish to the Pro Stock main event Saturday at Tucson Speedway. Vaughan took the checkered flag with O’Brien in second.