BISBEE — The Cochise County Board of Supervisors approved a $68,198 grant for the Housing Authority of Cochise County Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) from the CARES Act Program as requested by Anita Baca, county Housing Authority director, during Tuesday’s meeting.
“This is a supplemental grant to the existing HOPWA administered by the Housing Authority of Cochise County (HACC),” Baca explained. “It is a one time award for HOPWA–eligible households impacted by COVID-19 and may be used for short term rent, mortgage and utility assistance payments to prevent homelessness for a period of up to 24 months.
“Funds may be used to provide relocation services for eligible persons or their household members not living with HIV/AIDS. It can also cover hotel/motel lodging costs for a quarantine. HACC receives household referrals from the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation.”
In other business, 79 acres owned by Lisa and Michael Carroll in the Babocomari area were downzoned from TR–36, residential homes on 36,000 square foot lots, to RU–4, one single family dwelling per four acres, as the supervisors unanimously approved the request.
Daniel Coxworth, Community Development director, explained the owners wanted the land, which was once slated to become a subdivision, to revert back to its original zoning in 2006.
Supervisor Ann English noted the area at the time was thought to be a big growth area and rezonings for subdivisions were frequent prior to the 2008 recession. “This is in everyone’s best interest.”
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Supervisor Tom Borer was approved to be a member of the Association of Defense Communities, comprised of communities which have U.S. military activities present. The county has not been a member previously.
“We have Fort Huachuca in our community and this will give us a voice,” explained Borer. “We want to be involved.”
Membership in the ADC has an annual fee of $450.
Borer also asked about his membership on the non-public organization the Cochise Conservation and Recharge Network, a committee comprising the county, Bisbee, Sierra Vista, The Nature Conservancy and the Hereford National Resource Conservation District.
He felt as an elected public official, it was not appropriate for him to be a voting member and said a staff member would be better so there could be no conflict of interest.
English disagreed with him saying, “It doesn’t register to me as a conflict of interest.”
Supervisor Peggy Judd also pointed out there were other associations the county belongs to which are not publicly advertised. “I feel comfortable with you representing us.”
Borer was still not comfortable representing the county in a non–public meeting, but county deputy attorney Britt Hansen said he would discuss the question of conflicts of interests with Borer after the meeting.
County administrator Ed Gilligan suggested adding a county professional staff person along with Borer.
The county will spend $100,412 on membership to 25 different agencies next year.
The supervisors also approved a grant award from the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission of $69,335 to be used by the county Attorney’s Victim Witness Program to provide crime victims compensation for injuries and other losses received as a result of an incident in the county, as requested by County Attorney Brian McIntyre.
The grant, which requires no match, allows $21,500 in administrative costs which is used to pay the salary and benefits for a part-time coordinator.
McIntyre told the Herald/Review the sum “probably does not cover” what is necessary for each victim, but payout depends on the offense committed and requests are determined by a volunteer victim compensation board. Some victims of crime do not need the help.
Cochise County deputy Lt. Curtis Wilkins received approval to spend $105,000 for an annual subscription to Cogniac Corporation for visual observation automation for the Southeastern Arizona Border Region Enforcement (SABRE), a group within the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office. Cogniac has worked with Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection and other law enforcement and military agencies.
The sum will be paid out of the sheriff’s Arizona Border Security and Law Enforcement sub-account.
The amount covers the monitoring of 600 cameras to track illegal activity along the Mexico border on known or suspected smuggling routes, he explained. The Border Patrol installs them and the county provides the cameras and software, some of which are installed outside of the county.
The covert surveillance cameras can generate hundreds of images per hour and as cameras are added to the system, the number of images may double or triple. SABRE has five deputies assigned to review “the thousands of images received,” of which “less than half” show images of smuggling, said Wilkins.
Cogniac software will sort through the images in “a timely fashion,” finding those of actual people so authorities can be sent to the location as quickly as possible, he said.
“The whole process takes a few seconds and the accuracy rate is over 90 percent and improving,” noted Wilkins.
The supervisors also approved a $92,228 grant from the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission to fund overtime for the Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Division in support of narcotics and smuggling investigations.
The 25 percent match will be paid out of Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations funds.
English asked to see an accounting of all the overtime covered by grants for the Sheriff’s Office and Wilkins agreed to gather the information.
SIERRA VISTA — It may be late, but the monsoon rain is definitely welcomed.
In 24 hours the Sierra Vista and Hereford area was drenched with 1.5 to 2 inches of rain, and more to come. Carl Cernigilia, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Tucson sector, said in the last 30 days Sierra Vista received 2-3 inches of rain and Fort Huachuca has received more than 3 inches of rain. A bulk of the total rainfall came on Wednesday and Thursday.
Cernigilia said more rain is likely to come in the next couple of days because there is still monsoon moisture in the area. He said it doesn’t look like it will move out until Saturday. In order for more rain to fall, the sun will need to shine through.
“Basically there’s a lot of monsoon moisture in the air,” he said. “That will be the case tomorrow too. With a little bit of sunshine it’ll rain.”
The Arizona Department of Water Resources’ Quarterly Drought Status April — June 2020 report indicates that Cochise County is not in a drought, but the weekly map showing current drought conditions for July 21 indicate the county has areas that are in a moderate drought and are abnormally dry.
According to the Arizona Department of Water Resources’ Monthly Drought Status Summary for June, “A combination of minimal precipitation in June and warmer than normal temperatures since May led to significant evaporation from soils and vegetation.”
The monsoon rain and moisture came late this year, but that doesn’t mean it will stay longer. Cernigilia said it’s too early to predict if the rain storms will last through September 15, the official end of the monsoon..
“That would be nice if it did,” he said. “It’s too early to tell.”
According to the Arizona Department of Water Resources, “The last two monsoon seasons were relatively dry across most of the state, though southeastern Arizona had favorable monsoon precipitation the past two years. There are currently no strong climate model trends to indicate how wet the monsoon may be this summer.”
Residents should be alert for flood advisories as the rain continues to fall and remember to not drive through flooded washes.