Audrey Palma, an American Legion Auxiliary chaplain, VFW supporter and longtime community volunteer, was honored for her role as Benson’s 2022 Fourth of July parade grand marshal at Monday’s council meeting.
The Salute to Our Soldiers parade drew 51 entries.
In presenting Palma with her award, Benson Mayor Joe Konrad expressed the city’s appreciation for everything Palma does as she advocates for Benson, from supporting its schools, to its veterans and other nonprofit organizations.
“I was very honored to be selected for this award,” said Plama, who added that she plans to continue to support the Benson community.
Arizona G&T Cooperatives, another Fourth of July parade supporter, was honored for helping to make the parade a success every year.
“Arizona G&T Cooperatives has been a big supporter of the parade for 18 years, including donating the audio/visual services for the city of Benson,” said Brad Hamilton, a city engineer and director of city works.
G&T donates all the audio/visual services for the parade, including setting the equipment up and taking it down. It’s an effort that represents 20 to 22 man hours of work, Hamilton said.
“We really appreciate G&T’s support and would like to present the cooperative with a plaque,” Konrad said while handing the plaque to J.D. Wallace, communications, social media and marketing administrator for AZ G&T.
“Arizona G&T Cooperatives appreciates Benson and appreciates all the support this community has given for the 60 years that we have been here,” Wallace said. “We wouldn’t be able to have a successful headquarters without this city and its support.”
Nonprofit Benson Clean & Beautiful is proposing to start a community garden and hopes to have the city’s support as it moves forward with the project.
Clean & Beautiful President Cindy Allen addressed the council with the idea, explaining that the project cost a lot in materials, but hoped to apply for grant funding, volunteers and support from the city.
Allen said she has met with Ann Aust of Huachuca City regarding that town’s community garden and was able to learn from some of the efforts.
While Clean & Beautiful is known for its mural projects, Allen said that murals have hit a saturation point, so the organization is looking at the community garden as a potential new asset for the town.
Konrad said he liked the idea and that the council would request the cooperation of city staff to assist with the prospect.
Ordinance 616, regarding a .9924 tax levy on property within Benson, failed by a 3-3 vote. However, after some discussion, a .9096 levy, consistent with what property owners paid last year, passed.
Konrad, one of the three dissenting voters, said Benson’s property owners are weary of tax increases, even when talking pennies on the dollar. Council unanimously approved the previous .9096 amount.
Elton Bowman, representing the all-volunteer group “Brighten the Path,” was the meeting’s only call to the public. Bowman and his friend, Pam Masters, have co-organized citywide cleanup campaigns that started in 2018. Those efforts have grown into a network of sub-projects with success. However, Bowman is turning to the city for cooperation through free large item pickups, street cleaning and enforcement of state statutes that prohibit illegal dumping.
Bowman, Masters and a group of volunteers who are dedicated to keeping Benson litter free have been successful in managing specific locations, but now want to go after alleys and right-of-way areas that get cluttered with litter and illegal dumping.
“We’re turning to the city for their cooperation on this,” Bowman said. “We have volunteers out there nearly every day picking up trash somewhere in the city. It’s made a difference, but it’s not enough.”
The next city council meeting is 7 p.m., Aug. 8, in the city council chambers, 599 S. Dragoon St., Benson.