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Fielding friendships: Girls Confidence Camp draws 200 from around the region

SIERRA VISTA — With the start of the new school year just days away, Acacia Barnett took some time to help local girls build their confidence before the first bell rings.

“We’re getting them prepared to go back to school,” Barnett said. “This helps them with how to deal with a bully or ‘this is how I talk to someone to make a new friend.’ “

Barnett, a Sierra Vista native, started the Girls Confidence Camp three years ago because she noticed there wasn’t anything for girls in the area besides sports to help grow their confidence.

“I felt there wasn’t anything in town for girls,” she said. “There’s always sports, but nothing for your inner health.”

Jasmyne McKinney, 13, attended her second Girls Confidence Camp last week. She said what she enjoys about the camp, and made her want to come back, was meeting new people, as it helped her make friends at school last year.

“I felt confident before, but it made me feel better,” McKinney said. “It helped me be less shy.”

Her mother, Danielle Manasco, noticed a positive change in her daugher and said she is happy Jasmyne is now sticking up for herself.

In the first year of the Girls Confident Camp, Barnett had roughly 40 attendees, and the next year the number of campers doubled. This year’s camp, which was held Thursday through Saturday, had 200 girls from as close as Sierra Vista to as far away as Tucson and Douglas.

“It was scarier thinking about (having 200 girls) than (it was) once everyone got here,” Barnett said.

Automotive, cooking, makeup, fitness, wood crafting, anti-bullying, bath bombs, health, suicide prevention and safe social media were all topics at this year’s camp.

“I want to have suicide prevention because it’s really prevalent right now,” Barnett said. “Bullying, that’s another part of suicide.”

Another major focus of the camp, to help with building confidence, is female empowerment. One of the reasons Barnett wanted the camp to be centered around females is to show them that no matter where they come from or what they look like, they can do anything, including having their own business.

The camp is run through Barnett’s latest endeavor, her nonprofit Hattie B. Black Women In Progress-BWIP, which was inspired by her late grandmother.

“This promotes that everyone is different and it’s OK,” Manasco said. “The girl empowerment is very important, and being able to lift each other up.”

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Sheriff's roundtable to discuss securing border, Supreme Court ruling in favor of Trump's border wall

The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to allow President Donald Trump to pay for his long-coveted border wall with Department of Defense funds is one of the topics that will be discussed at a Cochise County Sheriff’s roundtable Wednesday.

The session — described by Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels as a classroom setting of sorts — will include a handful of legislators and/or legislative aides from Arizona and other states and likely some U.S. Customs and Border Patrol supervisors and agents.

Dannels, who is chairman of the National Sheriffs’ Association Border Security Committee, as well as an appointed member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council in Washington, D.C., said he is pleased about the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling, issued late Friday.

“I’m glad to hear that,” the sheriff said Monday. “Securing our borders contributes to the quality of life in our community.”

The roundtable discussion — from 7 to 9 a.m. at the Sheriff’s Office Range House — will be a “Congressional presentation on our local initiatives to secure the border,” Dannels said.

At another roundtable event in June, Dannels told the Herald/Review that Cochise County has been on the frontlines for drugs and smuggling for many years, but that the Southeastern Arizona Border Regional Enforcement task force (SABRE), a large-scale camera surveillance system, and other local efforts, have almost halted drug smuggling in the county since 2015.{/span} A story featured on Arizona Public Radio last week mentioned that Mexican drug cartel bosses are skirting around the Cochise County border for fear their drug emissaries will be nabbed and prosecuted locally. Cartels often use children as drug mules, confident that they will not be prosecuted, especially as adults. But Cochise County has been prosecuting such drug carriers as adults, at least in part leading to the shift in entry points, Dannels has pointed out at previous speaking engagements.

The Supreme Court’s decision late Friday removes a stay issued by a lower appeals court that initially blocked the Trump administration from constructing six wall projects in New Mexico, Arizona and California. That would include a section within the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. U.S. District Judge Haywood S. Gilliam ruled in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union in late June. The ACLU represented the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition.

A July 25 story on National Public Radio’s “The Buzz stated that “most of the lawsuits deal with the potential environmental impacts of extending and replacing border fencing in Southern Arizona. The Center for Biological Diversity filed suit almost immediately after the proposal was released.”

“We are absolutely, fundamentally opposed to this project because of the extreme amount of environmental devastation it would cause,” Laiken Jordahl, borderlands campaigner for the conservation group, told “The Buzz.”

Jordahl also mentioned that construction of a wall would hurt the flow of the San Pedro River. According to the Nature Conservancy, the San Pedro River is one of only two major rivers that flow north out of Mexico into the United States and is one of the last large, undammed rivers in the Southwest. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the only justice to issue an opinion, also mentioned potential harm to the environment in his writing.

Dannels disagreed with that assessment, saying that there is already “existing wall” along certain portions of the southwest that has been “respectful to the environment.”

“I think we need to be balanced on how we approach this,” Dannels said. “We’ve been very good to our lands and I don’t see that changing in the future.”