Douglas City Council recognizes retiring BP agent

Retiring U.S. Border Patrol Agent in Charge of the Douglas station Dion Ethell is presented a commemorative plaque at the Sept. 29 Douglas City Council meeting from Mayor Donald Huish. Also shown from rom left are councilmembers Mitch Lindemann, Margaret Morales, Michael Baldenegro and Jose Grijalva.

DOUGLAS — The Douglas City Council recognized Dion Ethell, who is retiring as the Douglas Station Patrol Agent in Charge, at a special council meeting Sept. 29.

According to Douglas Mayor Donald Huish, Ethell has served the community for over seven years as head of the Border Patrol Station in Douglas.

“Ethell rounded up a more than 20-year illustrious career in Border Patrol service in different capacities,” a press release from the city stated. “Ethell has been a leader in many areas such as tribal liaison, environmental stewardship, strategic communications, and intelligence, amongst others. He’s also been honored to speak and attend distinguished locations such as the White House, Office of National Drug Control Policy, Pentagon, Capitol, NASA, and the National Border Patrol Academy.

“I am honored to present this special award to Mr. Ethell who has been a friend and a champion for the city of Douglas not just here but when he visits Washington and other places.”

Ethell was joined at the special meeting by his wife Sherry, who also previously served for Customs and Border Protection as a contractor to assist in environmental stewardship.

“As a family, they have been great contributors to the community and our country.” the release stated. “They are faithful parents and have raised and hosted many children in their home over these many years. Ethell is as committed to family as he has been to the safety of the community.”

Ethell said he appreciates the community support and its continued support for the Border Patrol agents that are working here..

“Just because I’m leaving, the Border Patrol is not,” he said. “I’ll take home friendships, I’ll stay in the community of Cochise County, this will be my forever home.”

Ethell thanked the council for their service, stating that “like Border Patrol service, (service on City council) sometimes goes unnoticed.”

He also presented the mayor, Interim City Manager Luis Pedroza and Police Chief Kraig Fullen with small gifts as a token of appreciation.

In other action at the meeting, the mayor and council approved the establishment of the city of Douglas Charter Review Committee.

According to background information provided to the council, charter provision Article XIV, Section 8 mandates that a citizens committee shall be appointed by the mayor and council every six years and charged with the responsibility of reviewing the charter and recommending proposed charter revisions to the mayor and council, if any changes are deemed necessary.

The administration asked each council member to provide a citizen’s name to represent them on the committee. The following individuals were approved: Mayor, Melissa Dye; Ward 1, Sylvia Hurtado; Ward 2, Fernando Morales; Ward 3, Linda E. Dodge; Ward 4, Diego Guerrero; Ward 5, Scott Lehman; Ward 6, Fernando Betancourt.

Appointments with the intent for its members to review council’s recommendations pertaining to the city charter, for members to meet, review, discuss and recommend any pertinent changes to said charter.

“I want to thank each and every one of the members of this committee,” Huish said. “It always does my heart good to see the people of Douglas step up and want to help out.”

J.D. Rottweiler, president of Cochise College, made a presentation on what the college is doing pertaining to educating through a pandemic.

“We recognize what makes a difference in people’s lives are people,” Rottweiler told the council. “People make up families, families make up communities, communities make up counties, counties make up states, states make up our country and hopefully through all that, individuals make a difference in the world. That’s what the college is trying to do.”

Rottweiler noted that during this crisis, which is not over, he and his staff have been doing everything possible to make sure all those who attend Cochise College are safe. He touched on what the college is doing with the Southeast Arizona Law Enforcement Training Academy, fire science, nursing, aviation and cyber security and virtual reality development.

“When we talk about essential fields, essential employees, we realize education is essential, not necessarily more than education itself but in what it produces and the opportunities it provides people,” he said. “We know that even though we may be in a crisis we can leave nothing for tomorrow that can be done today.”

Rottweiler said he is aware the college has to rise to the challenge.

“During the pandemic, we took the opportunity to reevaluate and reaffirm the college’s mission, vision and guiding statement,” he said. “What really came out of that was community engagement.”

Rottweiler announced that effective Oct. 1 Douglas native Abraham Villareal will be the dean of the Douglas campus.

“He will have responsibilities as the administrator in charge, but more importantly, he will answer through community engagement,” Rottweiler said. “He hasn’t found this out yet, but he works for you, mayor. We need to make sure we are addressing your needs. We need to know what the city is doing so we can be shoulder-to-shoulder with you to support your initiatives to really make things happen.”

Rottweiler outlined some enhanced facilities that will be provided.

“Over the course of the last 12 years, my tenure as Cochise College president, we have spent over $20 million in new construction, remodeling on the Douglas campus.” he said. “We see it as an incredibly important asset. We continue to struggle a little bit on the Douglas campus in the sense that we currently have about 800 students utilizing the campus. But the campus is built for 2,000. We’ve got to find more ways to get students on campus, and we think we can do that through unique programs.”

He said the college was recently appropriated $6 million that will be used for the development of the First Responder Academy.

“This is going to build off of our police academy by including fire science as well as emergency medical,” Rottweiler said. “We’re also seeing an interest in dispatcher academies. We’re going to leverage the assets of the Douglas campus which includes housing, wide open spaces. We can start fires, things you may not want to typically do in an urban area. We’re proud to say this is going to be here. We’re going to set it up so we can do inter-agency training.”

During the pandemic, he said Cochise College donated 11 ventilators, all of its personal protective equipment and administered 11,846 COVID vaccines by students and faculty across Cochise County.

Rottweiler added he is hopeful for the proposed port of entry expansion project, which will benefit not only Douglas but also Cochise College.

“For us, in the end every day is a new day, and we’re going to continue to look at that as a new positive, a new opportunity to impact our community as we try to fulfill our lofty mission, which is providing those educational opportunities that lead to four key things — social responsibility, community engagement, meaningful careers and lifelong learning,” he said. “We think the future is really bright if we can get the whole pandemic thing under control.”

Huish thanked Rottweiler for “raising the bar” at Cochise College, adding it has shown the city it needs to do the same.

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