FORT HUACHUCA — The Pentagon announced Wednesday that Fort Huachuca is losing $30 million originally tabbed for a building on post as part of the $3.6 billion in Department of Defense funding being diverted to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
The $30 million was to be used to construct a “ground transport equipment building” on Fort Huachuca, according to a Pentagon document listing the lost, or at least delayed, projects.
The money was originally directed toward the U.S. Army post in Sierra Vista in fiscal year 2018, with construction of the building scheduled for 2020, the document states.
President Donald Trump declared a border emergency in March, which allowed the $3.6 billion in DoD funds to be diverted to construction of the border wall. Multiple lawsuits have been filed in an effort to thwart the move, including some by conservation groups in Cochise County, who point to possible damage to the San Pedro River ecology as a basis for their claims, among other reasons.
Fort Huachuca officials did not have immediate comment on the matter Wednesday evening.
“We just received official notification of this project being put on hold this afternoon. Fort Huachuca leaders are still evaluating the impact,” Fort Huachuca public affairs officer Angela L. Camara wrote in a text message to the Herald/Review.
Camara did not have a time frame for a response from Fort Huachuca officials.
Following Trump’s emergency order in March, Arizona Sen. Martha McSally asked Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan if using defense funds to pay for construction of the border wall would hurt Arizona, according to Arizona Public Media.
“There are four projects in Arizona that are appropriated in (fiscal year 2019) and you broadly said those projects across the country will not be impacted by this, just to be clear. Correct, Mr. Secretary?” McSally asked, according to AZPM.
“That is correct,” Shanahan answered.
In a press release Wednesday afternoon, McSally said “unforeseen environmental issues at the construction site” had already delayed the Fort Huachuca project.
“We need to secure our border and protect our military; we can and should do both,” McSally said in the release. “As soon as the emergency was declared, I went to the mat to fight for Arizona projects and succeeded by receiving assurances from the highest levels of the Department of Defense. However, this one project at Ft. Huachuca was already delayed because of ongoing environmental cleanup that is taking longer than expected.
“The fact of the matter is that had the Army completed this sooner, the project would not have been delayed and would not have even been up for discussion. I spoke to Acting Army Secretary (Ryan) McCarthy to convey my frustration with the delay and he assured me that this project will be completed in a timely manner once the cleanup is complete.”
Arizona District 2 Representative Ann Kirkpatrick released a statement decrying the “attack” on the fort.
“I represent the district that is home to Fort Huachuca, our backyard reaches borderlands; these attacks are personal to us,” she said.
“Today, the President has made it clear he is willing to protect his own political chamber over our military resources. And ultimately, this type of decision-making puts all Americans at risk.”
“Fort Huachuca is such a vital asset to our local economy and our entire national security; this decision harms important planned projects intended to support our military in Southern Arizona, across the United States, and overseas,” she said.
SIERRA VISTA — Although an ongoing canine parvovirus outbreak is currently forcing the Nancy J. Brua Animal Care Center in Sierra Vista to temporarily suspend animal adoptions, as well as intakes, they will still participate in this weekend’s AdoptaFest pet adoption event.
“We definitely are going to have a presence there,” said Arleen Garcia, the city’s animal center supervisor.
But instead of dogs, the shelter will have feline friends looking for new homes. For the first time, the shelter is working to have the cats ready for same-day adoptions by making sure they are already fixed and chipped.
“We have a plan to make sure they are comfortable, we’re going to just bring a handful of kitties at first and then rotate them out during the event, take some back and bring some others,” she said.
Factors like heat and tolerance will factor into how long the cats will be kept at the event.
“If they are doing well, they can stay as long as it takes, but if they are getting tired, we will rotate them out,” Garcia said, noting volunteers will help facilitate those transfers.
With the center still dealing with the ramifications of a recent parvo outbreak, Garcia said they decided it was best not to bring any of their dogs this time.
“We don’t want to risk it,” she said. “We really want to make sure nobody else has caught the virus.”
But those hoping to adopt a pooch, whether it’s a puppy, senior dog, or somewhere inbetween, will still have many other rescues and shelters bringing their best boys and girls to Cochise County’s largest pet adoption event, said organizer George Broxton.
About 10-12 local shelters and rescues will be on hand, as well as several local bands, food vendors, and lots of activities for kids. A fundraiser raffle will also benefit Friends of the SV Animal Shelter, which works with many local rescues and shelters, Broxton said.
The idea, Broxton said, is to create an event where people can go and see all the different pets who need homes, raise awareness about issues like spaying/neutering and vaccinations, all while having a good time.
One of the shelters that will be in attendance, Rescue Adoption Volunteers, will have at least 10 dogs there, said volunteer Sheila Dahoney.
“We love it,” she said. “People know this is coming, so they will wait, because they have a better chance of finding their new best friend because of all the shelters and rescues involved.”
Dahoney said in previous years they have adopted anywhere from 15 to 20 dogs or more.
“I actually had to call our board members and have them bring more dogs out,” she said. “It was awesome; people are so excited to be there.”
She said their group will have mostly puppies and smaller dogs, but they are still deciding exactly which animals will be featured, and what the adoption rates will be.
Cats from the Brua shelter will be $50 and come fixed, microchipped, vaccinated and have a free veterinary visit included in the fee, Garcia said. All the shelters and rescues at the event will have different fee schedules, she added.
Anyone looking for a cat from the city shelter will need to verify they are able to provide a good home. If they rent, that means having landlord approval and pet deposits already taken care of. Also, any other pets in the home must be up to date on rabies vaccinations.
“If everything is good, they should be able to take the kitty home the same day,” she said. “Some people think we’re a little too strict, but it truly is better this way.
“We try to work it out as best as we can,” she added. “We want them to go to homes, but we want them to go to good, responsible homes.”
If a potential adopter needs time to find the needed paperwork or pay a deposit to their landlord, the shelter works to hold the animals until their new home is ready for them, she said.
Broxton said he wanted to do something to address the problem of overcrowded shelters. While the focus is often on getting pets in good homes, he said the benefit goes both ways.
“When you have a pet, that changes a lot for you — I know it did for me,” he said. “I have responsibilities now. I have an animal that depends on me, that loves me.”
He encouraged everyone to attend Saturday’s event, even if they’re not sure they are looking for a new friend.
“Come on out, bring your pets, see what all the local shelters are doing and have some fun,” he said.