BISBEE — Touted statewide as a boon to tourists, the ambitious Sun Corridor Trail stretching from Las Vegas, Nev., to Douglas is getting serious consideration from the counties it will cross, including Cochise.
During Tuesday’s meeting of the county Board of Supervisors, Supervisor Peggy Judd led the conversation on a Memorandum of Understanding between the counties of Cochise, Pima, Mohave, Coconino, Maricopa, Pinal and Yavapai.
According to the Sun Corridor Trail Alliance website, the 1,500-mile trail will begin in Douglas and will wind north through Tombstone, Tucson, Phoenix, Black Canyon City, Prescott, Jerome, Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Sedona and Flagstaff before continuing west to Kingman and Bullhead City and up into Nevada, ending in Las Vegas.
The mission of the Sun Corridor Trail Alliance is to “engage citizens, communities, non-profits, and local, regional, state and federal governments to establish a dynamic organization dedicated to planning, developing and sustaining a world–class interstate trail.”
“The trail will provide visitors with a unique blend of Southwest heritage and diverse iconic landscapes, as well as new tourism and recreation opportunities, expanded, resilient and sustainable economic benefits, and a sense of connectedness with neighboring and regional jurisdictions,” it states.
The project is led by the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department, Pima County Natural Resources, Pinal County Trails and Open Space and the National Forest Service Department. It will “link together some of the most scenic, and significant, regional trails in the southwestern United States along a burgeoning economic, transportation and tourism corridor. After a mapping exercise and a focused discussion, it became apparent that many of the pieces to knit this unique system together were already in place, or in the planning stages.”
“I want to support it,” said Judd. “It will be similar to the Arizona Trail.”
Supervisor Ann English noted there was no financial obligation in the Memorandum of Understanding.
Supervisor Tom Crosby wanted to be sure the county was not going to be obligated and questioned a few statements within the MOU, but Christine Roberts, chief civil county attorney, said, “The MOU is not a contract. It’s not legally binding.”
Roberts indicated the MOU was addressed by the counties and together the agreement was reached.
English said, “This is not harmful to us if we sign. It will bring people here.”
Judd added the MOU would help secure funding from private and public opportunities.
“Without it, there would be no way to get the funding,” she said.
English and Judd approved the MOU, Crosby opposed it.
The supervisors unanimously approved COVID–19 testing contract awards to Chiricahua Community Health Clinics Inc. and Embry Health through Feb. 28, 2022. CCHCI will charge $29.20 per test, Embry $12.50 at a 100 test minimum.
Tammi Jo Wilkins, emergency preparedness specialist, said, “This contract awards authority to the selected bidders to establish COVID–19 testing sites based on a previously approved intergovernmental agreement with the Arizona Department of Health Services to fund the testing sites. Cochise County seeks to rapidly expand the availability of testing through partnerships with qualified COVID–19 testing vendors. Testing vendors may expand testing in Cochise County through stationery and mobile testing sites, including testing in long–term care facilities.”
Wilkins said $520,000 was allocated for COVID–19 testing from an Epidemiology Lab Capacity grant through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CCHCI stated in documentation the virus decreased the demand for the CCHCI fleet of mobile vans for their intended use of primary care, so those units have been used to support COVID–19 testing. These mobile units can rapidly be deployed within one to two days’ notice from bases in Bisbee, Douglas, Willcox and Sierra Vista. The mobile units can be used for walk-up or drive through modality. To date, 42 “walk-up/drive though” testing events have been successfully deployed by CCHCI since the first event on May 9. The units are available six days a week or as often as required.
“Since the pandemic began, CCHCI staff involved in our community testing events have worked weekends. This practice will continue based on the specific needs of our communities,” documentation stated.
Embry Women’s Health launched drive–through testing sites 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with seven testing locations in Cochise County.
Embry documentation stated, “To keep every testing site fully supplied, we have our own network of reliable drivers and a fleet of vehicles. The primary goal of the couriers is to keep all sites fully stocked with various personal protective equipment and testing supplies. We also have a mobile maintenance team who supports all IT and facilities needs for every site. These teams work concurrently to ensure that all sites remain at optimal operational efficiency to meet their high demand.”