BISBEE — A commission of 11 people has been formed to help oversee the redistricting process which may change boundaries of the Cochise County Supervisors and legislative districts as it appears the county lost more than 6,000 people since the 2010 Census.
Supervisors Ann English, Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby approved the committee members during Tuesday’s meeting.
The committee is comprised of representatives of the cities and the county districts. They include Sierra Vista Mayor pro tem Rachel Gray, Willcox vice mayor Tim Bowlby, Benson councilmember Pat Boyle, Bisbee resident Elizabeth Bernstein and Douglas resident Rene Molina.
Crosby appointed Jerry Hatfield and Yvonne Mayer to the committee. Judd recommended Nancy–Jean Welker and Cheryl Glenn. English appointed Cornelia Munoz and still has one seat to appoint.
The 2010 Census put the county’s population at 131,346. In 2020, it is 125,922, a 4.1% decline, according to the latest Census figures. This population decline will create new boundaries in each of the three Supervisors’ and legislative districts.
In 2010, District 1 had a population of 46,917 and encompasses Sierra Vista, Palominas and Hereford, according to the information available.
District 2 had a population of 42,361 in 2010 and spans from the eastern edge of Sierra Vista, south to the border with Mexico, east to the border with New Mexico, north to Portal and west to Tombstone.
District 3 had 42,068 in 2010. It runs from the border with Pima County, east to Fort Huachuca, north to Whetstone, St. David and Benson, east to Willcox and includes Sunsites, Kansas Settlement, San Simon and Bowie.
The committee members will be shown the existing boundaries and where new lines could be drawn to adjust the population changes. Once they have reached agreement, it will go before the supervisors and the public for approval.
The Census Bureau has yet to release data on the smaller cities in Cochise County.
The supervisors also approved a memorandum of understanding that allows Cochise County detention health staff and Community Medical Services to continue medication-assisted treatment for current patients and initiate treatment for patients when appropriate.
Megan Kennedy, county detention health services manager, said the agreement allows patients incarcerated at the county jail to receive good care while encouraging a healthier lifestyle of those in custody and individuals who are released back into the community. Approval of the MOU allows county detention medical services to provide a level of care that aligns with the care individuals receive while in the community.
She said medication assisted treatment “is the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies to provide a whole patient approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.
“Per the National Standard of Care for jails, patients enrolled in a community substance-abuse program should be given consideration to continue medication–assisted treatment while incarcerated. The National Standard of Care for jails also lists a compliance indicator as follows; ‘Inmates entering the facility on MAT have their medication continued, or a plan for medically supervised withdrawal is initiated.’ An individual’s chances of relapse and overdose are significantly higher in cases where they are rapidly detoxed from MAT rather than the continuation of treatment.”
She explained treating pregnant inmates coming off opioids at the county jail with the appropriate medical treatment was better than transporting them to Maricopa County.
“This can become expensive to Cochise County and can also pose multiple transportation and court appearance problems,” she said. “It has also recently become less of an option. Maricopa County has their own patient population to care for and are not obligated to provide these services to other counties. It would benefit Cochise County immensely to be able to care for these individuals at the Cochise County Detention Facility.”
In a continuing effort to remove failed subdivisions, the supervisors approved the abandonment of Ramsey Reserve Estates, which has been on the books since 2007 with no on-the-ground improvements as requested by Community Development Director Dan Coxworth.