The wild west show comes to town hall

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miss ellieMiss Ellie, a local farrier, proved Cave Creek wasn’t just boasting about its western heritage by coming to speak with her horse in tow. 
Photos by Linda Bentley

CAVE CREEK – While council was in executive session prior to Monday’s public council meeting, a circus-like atmosphere was forming in the parking lot with media, horses, a buffalo and people decked out in cowboy hats, boots and chaps.

Cave Creek had a resolution on the agenda challenging the city of Scottsdale’s slogan, which they trademarked in 2005, touting itself as “The West’s Most Western Town.”

As people poured in to the council chambers, the regular session began with Bob Moore taking to the podium for Call to the Public.

Moore complained that the water pressure in many areas of Cave Creek is 140 pounds, which he said was “clearly excessive.”

He said even with a pressure relief valve the excessive pressure has caused thousands of dollars in damage to many homes.

Moore stated the water advisory committee has become advised of the problem and urged the town to come up with a solution.

Sue Mueller, a Cave Creek Museum board member, invited everyone to the museum at 1 p.m. on Sept. 28 to celebrate Smithsonian Day. She also spoke of a large story board detailing the history of Spur Cross.

Evelyn Johnson, the museum’s executive director, said Cave Creek is home to architectural designer Paolo Soleri’s dome house and the museum has the only stamp mill within its original mining district.

She said the museum has produced a new book “Cave Creek and Carefree,” which she said would be available at 2 p.m. at the museum on Oct. 6.

As far as Cave Creek being a western town, Johnson said, “Western is not a style, it’s a way of life in Cave Creek.”

Nina Spitzer said the Cave Creek Information Center will be opening in October. She said they needed volunteers, even if only for a couple of hours a week. Interested parties may e-mail

Steve LaMar spoke to pay tribute to an “unsung hero,” and said for over 20 years Bambi Muller has dedicated her time to working on trails throughout the town “so we can be not just a slogan.”

Utilities Manager Jessica Marlow and a Water Works Engineers representative provided the town with an update on scope of work for the Water Works Master Plan, Sewer Master Plan, Fire Protection Master Plan and Water Infrastructure Management progress.

Council voted unanimously to approve the consent agenda with items 4 and 5, approval of a contract with Dickinson Write/ Mariscal Weeks for legal services and to approve negotiations and settlement for the reduction and payment of outstanding long-term legal fees, removed by request of Councilman Thomas McGuire.

Mayor Vincent Francia placed the two items at the end of the general agenda.

Arizona State Land Commissioner Vanessa Hickman gave a brief presentation about the state land department’s role and responsibilities as stewards of the trust lands.

Interim Town Manager Rodney Glassman introduced a resolution suggested by Vice Mayor Adam Trenk. The resolution challenges Scottsdale’s trademarked slogan as “The West’s Most Western Town.”

Scottsdale City Councilman Dennis Robbins, who is serving his second term on council, said, “In light of the resolution, council has asked me to read an open letter.”

Robbins stated Scottsdale has over 250 days of equestrian events each year. He said, “Scottsdale is proud of its roots but our brand is not up for grabs.”

Scottsdale resident Larry Rogoff applauded Cave Creek for its endeavors to hold its traditions of the west.

Eric Watson of Watson’s Hat Shop and soon-to-be haberdashery said the west is made up of craftsmen, artists and tradesmen and why he moved to Cave Creek from Ohio.

Jean Glass, treasurer of the Cave Creek Merchants & Events Association (CCMEA) and chair of Wild West Days, provided council members commemorative T-shirts and asked them to pass the resolution.

Johnny Ringo, business owner and president of the CCMEA, thanked council for support in keeping the western heritage alive. He warned Scottsdale that Cave Creek was taking over.

Bev Metcalf Brooks said she brought her first trail ride down in 1959, riding 200 miles in four days.

She said, “We’re not the west’s most western town. We used to be … I knew the real old working cowboys … It’s now a motorcycle town.”

larry wendtBuffalo Chip Owner Larry Wendt (r), decked out in full cowboy regalia, was swilling out of a bottle of bottle that looked like whiskey.

Pretending to be drunk, Wendt said Cave Creek has a history of doing things a little differently.
He stated, “Scottsdale sent these mounted police up here with English riding gear.”

Bob Fox from Wild at Heart said Scottsdale has Porsches while Cave Creek has horses.
Ira Weitz said the Laundromat in Cave Creek has two machines that say they’re for horse blankets only. He also challenged Scottsdale’s western town claim and said their own website boasts having the finest urban center for a city with a population of 217,965.

TC Thorstenson said his new business, Hogs and Horses, opening this fall, is not a bar with an arena, it is a western theme park with a bar.

Thorstenson said the real cowboys have all left Scottsdale.

Last, speaking from the back door of the council chambers with her horse poking its head in, was Miss Ellie, a local farrier who introduced her daughters and her horse before they mounted up to ride home.

Trenk moved to pass the resolution as the various sections were read by each member of council.

The motion passed unanimously with Francia, who seconded the motion, voting “Hell yes!”
Council voted 5-2, with Bunch and McGuire dissenting, to approve a Pavement Management Plan for $70,000.

Finance Director Robert Weddigen asked council to approve an increase in purchasing thresholds from $500 to $2,500 to save employees time and paperwork.

He also asked council to consider the use of a purchasing card program which he said would save time, money, eliminate all the credit cards currently being employed and make the town eligible for cash rebates.

The increase was approved unanimously with direction to staff to bring the purchase card program back to council.

Glassman’s proposed agenda items to make gray water recycling and solar powered water heaters mandatory for new construction went over like a lead balloon with the public.

Everett Bell spoke during public comment and scoffed at the mandatory nature of the proposed ordinances. He said it should be based on need, especially since it may not benefit the homeowner but only subsequent owners of the property.

Don Sorchych said Bell took the words out of his mouth and urged council to vote no.

Bill Allen said many homeowners have water softeners which limit the ability to use gray water for irrigation.

Scott Dahne agreed with Bell and Sorchych in opposing the proposal.

Johnny Ringo said, “As far as solar goes, just leave my property alone. I’d like a no vote.”

Ron Iverson said he didn’t think council had enough information to move forward on the item and said it takes a certain amount of water to make septic systems work properly.

Eileen Wright said the systems to pump gray water for use in irrigation costs “thousands and thousands of dollars,” and urged a no vote.

Francia said, “No way shape or form should this be mandatory.”

Nonetheless, Durkin moved to direct staff to investigate incentivizing conservation efforts.

Councilman Charles Spitzer seconded the motion and said, “This is exactly why we have a water advisory board.”

The motion passed by a vote of 5-2 with Bunch and McGuire dissenting.

Glassman’s request to continue the settlement negotiations in Freeman v. Cave Creek to the first meeting in October passed unanimously.

Glassman was provided direction for the process of hiring a permanent town manager in a motion by Trenk, who provided a timeline, a selection committee made up of Glassman, Trenk, Francia and another outside person, and said the salary range would be $135,000 to $180,000 with a target of $155,000 – because Cave Creek needs a “top-shelf person” for the job.

Bunch pointed out Cave Creek was a right of center town and questioned Glassman being on the committee while asking that resumes be available for review by all council members.

Councilman Reg Monachino stated, “The comment that Glassman, because he’s a Democrat, would only find us liberal, commie do-gooders is absurd.”

Trenk’s motion passed unanimously with the amendment that applicants could request to have their names redacted.

Council voted unanimously to have independent counsel review the contract with Dickinson Wright for legal services and then bring it back for approval.

Glassman sought council direction to pay off some long-term legal fees by negotiating a lump sum payoff to save the town money. Upon learning council had no knowledge of the fees he said he could bring back the details and billing, so council would know what it was from.

Glassman also said the former town manager’s lawsuit is not covered by the risk pool insurance and the litigation is not covered by the contracted monthly fees to the town attorney.

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