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Timber Mesa decides not to pursue bond election

SHOW LOW — After much debate, the Timber Mesa Fire and Medical District has elected not to seek voter approval for a bond despite the need to replace trucks and improve facilites.

In March, the district began considering options for a $15-17 million bond election to fund capital projects in accordance with their strategic plan.

The board discussed, in detail, the process and related research before deciding to go forward with a bond election.

Then, following the fire board’s May 28 meeting, the fire district indicated in a press release that they have decided not to move forward with a bond request.

“The Citizens Advisory Committee recommended that the district not pursue a bond at this time,” said Chief Bryan Savage to the Timber Mesa board during the May 28 meeting.

“The committee recognized and agreed that the district has significant capital needs, that the size of the bond was appropriate for those needs, and that a bond was the best way to finance those needs,” he further explained. “But, the committee was concerned about competing priorities on the ballot this year.”

“While the district has saved significant money in operating costs, that is very different from capital expenses,” said Savage. “The need to repair our facilities, the needs to improve our training programs and facilities, and the needs to replace fire trucks at the appropriate interval do not go away; and they only get more expensive if delayed.”

As a result, the district indicated that they will look at other ways to finance capital expense projects. That could translate into “a bond next year, a significant lease purchase debt, or the least desirable option, raising the tax levy to meet the need,” Savage indicated.

Tax rate reduction

“In each of its five years since the Lakeside, Show Low and Linden Fire Districts merged, the Timber Mesa Fire and Medical District has outperformed all financial projections, saving the tax payers in the White Mountains more than $10 million,” reported Chief Savage in the same press release which addressed the bond election decision.

“This trend is continuing this year as the Timber Mesa Board acted on May 28th to tentatively approve a budget which reduces the estimated tax rate from $2.99 to $2.97.”

Recently the Fire District absorbed the White Mountain Lake Fire District. “As a part of that effort, the board commissioned a feasibility study which stated that the district would require a tax rate of $2.98 for the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2019.”

And, although the difference is somewhat small, Savage said that the district is still doing better than what was projected despite “sluggish assessed value growth.”

“The concept of regionalization works!” he said. “We have improved services and reduced costs as a result of merger. The communities of the White Mountains took a risk — they placed their trust in us, and we were able to take four small fire districts and create one regional fire and medical provider.”

Jacoby gets 20 years in prison
Another Reed defendant sentenced

HOLBROOK — A judge sentenced Matthew Jacoby 36, of Show Low, to 20 years in prison last Thursday.

Last month, Jacoby pled guilty to attempted transportation of drugs for sale, participating in a criminal syndicate and involving a minor in a drug offense. As previously reported, he is one of seven defendants involved in what the prosecution calls a criminal syndicate involving the use, sale and distribution of methamphetamine. Those activities culminated in the fatal shooting of Show Low Police Officer Darrin Reed on November 8, 2016 at the Day’s Inn in Show Low.

All seven defendants were charged with Reed’s murder under Arizona’s controversial felony murder law, which says that if a person dies during the commission of certain felony crimes, the participants in those crimes can be charged with murder.

As previously reported, five of the defendants took plea deals and the murder charges were dismissed. Jason Hill was sentenced first. A judge sentenced him to 35 years in prison for second-degree murder.

The plea agreement for Maria Lies is not yet available so the status of the murder charge against her is unknown.

Jacoby's hearing started with the attorneys alerting Judge Dale Nielson to a mistake in the plea agreement.

It incorrectly read that Jacoby had entered into a “testimonial agreement” with the prosecutor’s office and that he would testify against the other defendants. Jacoby had not, and that language “should not have been there,” and they “all overlooked” the mistake, said prosecutor Lee White. Nielson ordered that language removed.

Law enforcement from various agencies showed up for Jacoby's  sentencing and some read statements describing the horror and life-changing loss of losing a friend and comrade in the line of duty.

Reed’s widow Cathy Reed and son Chance Reed read their own statements. Reed’s daughter Cheryl could not attend, but her statement was read as well. Chance scoffed at the oft-repeated suggestion that drug abuse is a “victimless crime.” He told the judge that had he known he would never see his dad again, he would have hugged him “a little longer” the last time they said goodbye.

Defense counsel Criss Candelaria took aim at the felony murder law, and echoed what Jacoby's parents had said—that Jacoby was far removed from Reed’s killing; that Jacoby was at his parents’ home repairing a dishwasher for a neighbor on the day Reed was killed.

Candelaria had worked with Reed when Candelaria served as a prosecutor. He said he felt the loss too. The attorney asked the judge to view his client as a user – an addict. He said that Jacoby was no co-conspirator or accomplice to murder.

Prosecutor White noted that under the felony murder law, someone can be held liable for a murder if that person wasn’t even in the state of Arizona when the murder happened. She refuted the view that Jacoby was distant from the participants and deserved leniency. She asked for 25.5 years.

Nielson noted that Jacoby has two prior felony convictions.

He settled on the maximum of 13 years on one count and seven years on the other two. One of the seven year sentences will run concurrently while the other will run after the 13 year sentence for a total of 20 years in prison. The judge also imposed a fine of about $1,800. Jacoby will receive credit for 737 days for time already served—he will be around 54 years old when he is released.

Richardson set for settlement conference


ST. JOHNS — Accused killer Joshua Cade Richardson will appear at a settlement conference August 12 in the Apache County Superior Court.

As previously reported, Richardson is accused of first degree murder in the death of Terrilynn Collins (then 54) at the Collins’ family retreat in Concho Oct. 3, 2017. Richardson is also charged with burglary, two counts of aggravated assault and one count each of attemped armed robbery and attempted vehicle theft. He has pled not guilty.

Richardson, then 14, allegedly went to the Collins’ residence in 2017 and shot Collins in the face during a burglary. Collins died at the scene.

Richardson faces aggravated assault charges for allegedly putting Collins’ daughter and her roommate in “reasonable apprehension of physical injury” while using a “revolver handgun, fixed blade knife, and hockey stick,” according to a charging document dated January 4, 2018.

The attempted armed robbery concerns Collins’ daughter; the attempted vehicle theft concerns a second daughter. Richardson has been charged as an adult. He turns 17 next month. The Arizona Department of Public Safety handled the investigation.

A clean-shaven Richardson sat quietly in a mustard colored jail jump suit next to his attorney during the most recent hearing.

The case has been delayed as both sides continue to supplement their investigations and while Richardson went through a competancy evaluation. An offical found him competent to stand trial.

Defense counsel Cindy Castillo told The Independent that she received a call from Richardson’s mother about 3 a.m. the day after Richardson was taken into custody and immediately drove up. She arrived just in time to tell DPS, who had also just driven up from Phoenix, that her client had no comment.

An analysis of cell phones used by witnesses has also delyaed the case. Those phones are still in police custody. The analysis is “imperative to Joshua’s defense” wrote Castillo in a March 4 court filing. Specifically, there is “contradictory evidence” of events, including when Richardson arrived, when witnesses contacted Collins, when Collins’ husband was contacted and when 911 was called, Castillo wrote. That call may have been delayed by up to 45 minutes. The analysis could reveal if there was any “deleted information” from the phones, Castillo wrote in March. This is significant in light of the prosecutor’s statement in the charging document that Richardson was “acting alone or with one or more persons” in the burglary, which forms the basis of the felony murder charge.

But phone analysis costs money. Money that Richardson, 16, does not have. Castillo said that meta data analysis of a cell phone costs about $10,000; the court has authorized $2,500. Castillo said she understands the issue of limited court resources.

The August 12 settlement conference will include a “Donald” hearing, named for a supreme court case. The judge will explain to the defendant the range of penalties a conviction would carry, in the event a plea offer is made. In this case, there will be an out-of-county judge brought in for the conference. Richardson is being held at the Coconino County Jail (in the part of that facility for juveniles).