As we enter the 2020s today, here’s a collection of all of our stories looking back at the 2010s, from education to weather, from the city to the county, as we compile the most important stories in that span.
The development around Flagstaff focused heavily on student housing during the past decade, leading to multiple projects creating a significant response within the community. Here’s a look at some of the biggest stories in the past 10 years.
Neither the largest, nor the first, student-focused development in the city, The Hub still defined the decade for development in Flagstaff.
Residents fought The Hub in council chambers, protested it on the streets and challenged it in court. The 591-bed project on Mikes Pike and Phoenix Avenue came to embody for many members of the public a shift in Flagstaff’s identity from a mountain town to a city.
The controversy over The Hub and development also became an issue during local races during the 2016 election, assisting candidates who had opposed the Hub into office, including mayor Coral Evans.
When the 763 bedroom student-focused development known as The Standard opened its doors in September, it represented the conclusion of a nearly seven-year saga that included litigation, protests and the eviction of 56 local families.
Beginning in 2013, developer Landmark Properties began work on the project, which sought to displace the residents of the Arrowhead Village mobile home park and build a large apartment complex. Eventually public pressure forced Landmark to rethink the project, but that didn’t stop the owner of the mobile home park from evicting its residents in hopes selling the land to a new developer.
In the end, Landmark was able to build The Standard, but not before its spokesperson sued then-Councilmember Evans for libel and threatened to sue the city over infrastructure improvements.
The development of Aspen Place at Sawmill dominated development coverage in the first few years of the decade as an area that was once the heart of the city’s logging industry became a mix of student-focused housing and boutique shops.
After the original developer ran into financial trouble in 2010, the commercial half of the development found its way to a property management company while the second half of the development first saw city ownership.
Soon, the city sold its land to North Carolina-based Campus Crest Development, which built the student-focused apartment The Grove. That development incorporated both townhomes and apartment buildings while EPC Real Estate RED Development and Van Trust Real Estate built luxury apartments to the north.
Throughout the years, development on the mesa came in the form of the BASIS school, a new city fire station, the San Francisco de Asis Roman Catholic Church and the Bungalows on Pinecliff, which wrapped up its second phase of development in 2019.
Concurrently, voters also decided to preserve 300 acres of grassland as permanent open space in 2016, protecting it from development.
The decade also saw a city-shaping partnership between the City of Flagstaff, the Arizona Department of Transportation, Harkins Theaters and the Arizona developer Vintage Partners and the first two phases of the project completed.
Vintage first finished construction on a new building for Harkins Theaters near the mall in 2016. Then, the company moved on to retrofitting Harkins’ former building, turning it from a theater into an office building to house ADOT and the Motor Vehicle Division. That work was completed just before the end of the year.
By the end of the third phase, Vintage will have rerouted University Avenue, connected Beulah Boulevard with Yale Street and created a new roundabout and a pedestrian tunnel under Milton Road. The project also includes the construction of a large student-focused development called Mill Town, which is set to provide a mix of student and affordable units as well as a commercial area.
The 2008 recession had an indelible impact on development in Flagstaff that continued well into the next decade, postponing some projects and outright ending others.
Perhaps the best example of this is Presidio in the Pines, a large master planned community that stalled after its developer ran into financial trouble in 2008. For years, the development, and those who had already put down money for a home within it, watched as the utilities and infrastructure began to crumble.
Eventually, with the help of a city bond and local developers Capstone Homes and Miramonte Homes, those who had put money down years before finally saw their homes built.
With Flagstaff City Council’s requests for citizens bonds to support a new municipal court building predating the decade entirely, it is notable that just a year before the decade’s end, the first bricks were laid in its construction.
The project, first to be completed as a combined city/county court building connected to the Coconino County Superior Court, eventually took its current shape on the southwest corner of Beaver Street and Cherry just last year.
Development in Flagstaff has long been impacted by Northern Arizona University, its students making up a sizable chunk of the city’s population.
But the university also purchased several properties this decade that could shape the city going forward. In 2016, the university bought the property still occupied by the OneAZ Credit Union on the corner of Butler Avenue and South Beaver Street.
Then in 2018, the university made three more high profile purchases, including the former Granny’s Closet property and the Super Pawn and Mandarin Buffet property on Milton Road. The same year, the university also purchased a 120-acre, currently undeveloped parcel where a new, extended Fourth Street will lead.
While little actual construction occurred just south of Flagstaff, developers outlined their plans for the next decade of development just as soon as the city extends Fourth Street to connect to J.W. Powell Boulevard. In 2013, Little America started working on plans to build on 537 acres of property that extends south of the existing hotel.
It appears Little America’s plans have been shelved for now, but the developers working on the Canyon Del Rio project are moving to build on 270 acres of neighboring property. In fact, Canyon Del Rio saw Council approve a requested rezoning for the project just this year.
Some things change, others stay the same. Although rumors continued throughout the decade, city officials have still had no luck in bringing either the popular California burger shack In-N-Out or the niche grocer Trader Joe’s to Flagstaff.
In 2010, city staff had been courting Trader Joe’s and in 2017 there were rumors that In-N-Out would soon open a Flagstaff location, but both efforts seem to have fizzled since then. For now, Flagstaff residents will still have to journey to Prescott to fill their fix for both.
As the second largest county in the contiguous United States by area, a lot is bound to happen within Coconino County every year. Here are just a few of the events that changed life in the county during the last decade.
Much of northern Arizona felt the impact of the shift toward renewable energy when the Navajo Generating Station in Page, one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the Western United States, and its affiliated Kayenta coal mine were closed this year. The plant’s majority owner, Salt River Project (SRP), announced in 2017 that power from the coal-fired plant could no longer compete with cheaper natural gas. Of the almost 500 employees at NGS, about 300 accepted positions in different SRP facilities, while others retired. Economic losses to the region due to the closures are expected to exceed $30 million annually.
Fort Tuthill County Park has been expanded and revised in numerous ways during the decade. In 2011, Pine Mountain Amphitheater LLC lost the contract for the park’s amphitheater, which was picked up by R Entertainment, a Phoenix-based group. Months later, the Coconino County Board of Supervisors voted to not hold July 4th horse races at the park — after 55 years of the tradition — when it lost the commercial partner that previously helped arranged the races.
The park was expanded by 50% — 200 acres — in 2016 when the county purchased adjacent acreage from the Arizona State Land Department for $5.3 million and the first phase of the Fort Tuthill Bike Park opened in 2015, with an expansion that began three years later, the same year the Snow Park was permitted to create man-made snow using potable water for their runs.
A winter recreation task force spent much of the decade working to reduce the gridlock along the Highway 180 corridor created by snowplay traffic. A snowplay area at Fort Tuthill was approved in 2016 to draw drivers away from Fort Valley Road, while other areas began to stagger their hours and Arizona Snowbowl and Mountain Line partnered to offer a free bus between Flagstaff and the resort. A new snowplay map was also created to highlight snowplay locations away from the corridor.
Wing Mountain ended its snowplay operations in 2017 when its concessionaire, Recreation Resource Management, requested a cancellation of its special use permit and removed all its structures and amenities from the mountain.
In 2013, the Navajo Nation opened its $175 million Twin Arrows casino and hotel complex 20 miles east of Flagstaff, the tribe’s fourth tribal casino. Soon after its opening, Twin Arrows had more than 1,000 slot machines, blackjack and poker tables, 200 hotel rooms, a gift shop and several eateries. The development prompted nearby creations like the 9,100-square-foot Navajo Blue Travel Plaza, a travel stop designed to showcase Navajo culture and characteristics, which is set to open in early 2020.
When local and national data revealed the high suicide rates in the region, organizations throughout the county began to work on new initiatives to combat the trend. In late 2018, community leaders in the areas of government, health, education and business joined to form the Stronger as One Coalition, a group that aims to increase the knowledge base and local resources for mental health.
A county report on suicide trends from 2010-16 showed that Coconino County’s suicide rate is higher than that of both Arizona and the entire United States. In 2018, there were 43. Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office has seen a drastic increase in calls for suicidal subjects. In 2010, it received 126 calls involving suicide; in 2017, it received 331 calls.
The Second Chance Center for Animals in Doney Park halted shelter operations in spring 2017 after years of financial losses. All animals remaining at the shelter were adopted or transported to the Humane Society of Sedona. A year and a half later, the facility was taken over by Paw Placement of Northern Arizona, which renamed the shelter to High Country Humane and won a five-year contract as the provider of animal shelter services for both the city and county, taking over from Coconino Humane Association in January 2019.
When Proposition 416 passed in November 2018, Coconino County transitioned to a system of merit selection for Superior Court judges, where voters no longer elect judges directly, but are allowed to decide whether an already elected judge should keep their seat after their first term. In the past, Superior Court judges were chosen through popular votes based on political party elections.
Merit selection places the responsibility of electing judges for their first term on the Arizona governor, currently Doug Ducey, after a vetting and nomination process that is open to the public. Merit-based selection would naturally occur once Coconino County hit a population of 250,000, but that isn’t expected to happen for some time.
The drive to Page from Flagstaff became much longer after a February 2013 landslide caused the collapse of a 150-foot-long section of Highway 89 at a place called the Big Cut, about 25 miles south of Page. It took the Arizona Department of Transportation two years and $25 million to rebuild. The project included moving the roadway about 60 feet toward Echo Cliffs and using that rock to construct a downslope buttress to stabilize the area. Highway 89T was created six months after the collapse to temporarily replace the 89 and a detour that swept travelers as far east as Shonto and through Kaibeto, 35 miles southeast of Page.
The County supervisors approved a major overhaul of the county’s 12-year-old comprehensive plan, which guides county land use decisions, in 2015. Revisions took about two years to complete as the county solicited public input through various community and focus group meetings. The plan includes new elements addressing sustainability and resiliency, updated maps of scenic roadways and wildlife migration corridors and a new section on economic development that emphasizes trends like e-commerce and home businesses and promotes adaptive reuse of existing buildings.
Much like the more recent Navajo Generating Station closure, Bellemont saw changes in the last two years when two large businesses — an SCA paper products plant and Camping World — closed, resulting in the loss of nearly 150 jobs.
The SCA closure was attributed to financial reasons and came a year after the company closed its affiliated Flagstaff factory for similar reasons. The Bellemont closure was projected to save the company about $17 million. The Camping World closure came after the company announced it was shutting down 37 stores across the country to focus more on the sale of its core product, RVs.
The Flagstaff City Council went through a pair of significant changes during the past decade while many issues either saw a conclusion or continue with debate to this day. Here’s a look at some of the city’s most impactful stories in the past decade.
There has been no larger issue this decade than the fight over the minimum wage in Flagstaff. The battle, taking place over the course of nearly five years and two elections, has defined the political moment and may continue to shape the city for years to come.
Throughout the fight, both those for and against the wage increase have pointed to Flagstaff’s most vulnerable populations for justification of their cause.
With the activist group Flagstaff Needs a Raise pushing a proposition onto the ballot in 2016, voters approved the measure with 53% of the vote.
With the help of dark money groups, the minimum wage question was put back on the ballot in 2018 in hopes that voters would this time vote against the new law. But it was to no avail, and voters upheld the city’s higher wage at a wider margin than in 2016.
The relationship between the City of Flagstaff and the state has not been an easy one throughout the past decade, particularly on the issue of state versus local control. There are no better examples of the fights between the city and state than the issue of plastic bags and the current dispute over the local minimum wage law.
Early in the decade, the city council and the city’s sustainability commission had considered various plastic bag bans in an attempt to reduce litter. Following the footsteps of other Arizona communities such as Bisbee, in 2015 the city was moving toward the implementation of either a fee or a ban of plastic bags within Flagstaff. But the state legislature soon put a stop to this, passing a law making it illegal for municipalities to place taxes or fees on such bags.
More recently, the legislature passed laws meant to discourage cities across the state from raising local minimum wages.
The laws outline that cities will bear any increased costs experienced by state-funded service providers due to local higher minimum wage laws, something that city officials have said could put future budgets “at risk.”
The issue of housing affordability is not a new one for Flagstaff, but this decade saw the transition of the issue as a glib joke that living in Flagstaff was “poverty with a view,” to a policy challenge.
The Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona put a finer point on the problem when the organization, working with local agencies, the university and business partners, created a study outlining the city’s affordability crisis.
The results were not encouraging, as the study found there was an unmet need for 3,000 affordable housing units. In response, the city council placed a $25 million bond to start addressing the issue before voters during the 2018 election. However, without a clear plan for how the money was to be spent, voters shot down the proposal.
After entering the decade under the leadership of Mayor Sara Presler, the city council and office of mayor took a distinctively conservative turn in 2012 with the election of Mayor Jerry Nabours and the election of Jeff Oravits to the council. Both had been strong critics of both the city and the council, and promoted fiscally conservative and small government values.
In 2016, the city council saw a second seismic shift in the opposite political direction when Mayor Coral Evans defeated Nabours in the mayoral race. Likewise, Councilmembers Karla Brewster and Jeff Oravits both lost out to more liberal candidates in the form of Jamie Whelan and Jim McCarthy.
After purchasing the land in 2005, the city council approved an agreement with the Navajo Nation in 2011 allowing the city to pump up to 7 million gallons of water a day out of the aquifers below Red Gap Ranch. The aquifer under Red Gap may be able to provide Flagstaff with water for the next century, but there is still little in the way of progress in pumping the water the 40 miles to the city, a project estimated to cost more than $200 million.
Although no one knew it at the time, when former city manager Kevin Berke left Flagstaff to take up the position in Paradise Valley in January 2015, he thrust Flagstaff into a nearly five-year transitional period.
In the wake of Berke’s departure, the city experienced four city managers holding the position in both interim and permanent capacities until the city council hired Greg Clifton following an external search in 2019.
Of the four to hold the position throughout the latter half of the decade, former City Manager Josh Copley held the position the longest, first appointed in June 2015. Copley left the position just under three years later however, citing “discourteous treatment,” by two unnamed members of city council.
After a redistricting process was completed in 2011 by an independent commission, the decade saw a shift in political power in Arizona’s 1sr Congressional District. At the beginning of the decade the district, which includes Flagstaff and large swathes of northern and eastern Arizona, was represented by Republican Paul Gosar.
But after the commission redrew the maps, the district became more favorable to Democrats and Gosar opted to run in the state’s 4th Congressional District. Since the maps changed, the district has only been represented by Democrats in the form of Ann Kirkpatrick and Tom O’Halleren.
The city found itself struggling over how Flagstaff’s less fortunate populations should be treated throughout the decade.
In 2013, a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union ended the city’s policy of arresting panhandlers, arguing it was a violation of the First Amendment. Following the lawsuit, the Flagstaff Police Department, working with the Shadow Foundation, rolled out a program to provide vouchers to those asking for money with mixed results.
In later years, the city and police department would again find themselves questioned over policies that restricted where those without homes could sleep at night. But even as activists accused the city of “criminalizing sleep,” the council decided against repealing the city’s law prohibiting people from camping within city limits on public property.
Throughout the decade progress made on the city’s Rio de Flag flood control project can be described in a single word: slow.
The estimated cost of the flood control project, deemed vital for the safety and economic development of the city, has only continued to increase. That wasn’t helped when in 2010, cracks were discovered in a dam requiring the project to halt and costing millions of dollars.
In 2018, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, after long lobbying efforts on the part of city officials, finally received funding to finish the final design documents.
While the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide would not occur until 2015, two Flagstaff couples worked to make sure they wouldn’t have to wait that long.
Flagstaff couples Meagan and Natalie Metz and Renee and Robin Reece were plaintiffs in the lawsuit that eventually defeated the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, nearly a year before the U.S. Supreme Court moved the country in a similar direction.
Pardon the redundancy, but you’d be hard pressed to find a more significant event to top the list of the decade’s science and medicine stories than 2019’s year-long Lunar Legacy celebration, which topped our accompanying year-in-review list.
But we did find another moon-landing related story from earlier in the decade that could rival this year’s moon revelry.
That would be July 21, 2012, when Neil Armstrong himself came to Flagstaff to dedicate the Discovery Channel Telescope at Lowell Observatory.
Armstrong, the world’s first moonwalker, recounted for an audience of 750 at the High Country Conference Center his harrowing experience in 1969 attempting to put down on the lunar surface.
It was a rare public appearance for the reserved astronaut and it turned out to be his last, as Armstrong died Aug. 25 from complications of heart surgery.
Armstrong had trained in Flagstaff with other astronauts in 1962 and took a mule ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon two years later.
“Forty-three years from now, some of you younger folks will know just how important the DCT had become,” Armstrong told the audience. “You will have seen the discoveries … you will have seen the knowledge that its use provided. And no doubt you’ll see future mysteries that it revealed for future astronomers … to solve.”
The $53 million telescope took its first images later that summer, enabling local astronomers to produce world-class research by giving them ample time to make observations without the intense competition of most other telescopes its size. The project was also featured in a documentary that aired on the Discovery Channel, and the observatory expects its astronomers to be featured in the future often.
The New Horizons spacecraft made the closest flyby ever of Pluto, coming within 7,800 miles before whizzing off to the outer reaches of the solar system. Flagstaff’s Lowell Observatory, as the place where the dwarf planet was discovered in 1930, proclaimed this the year of Pluto and hosted more then 1,6000 visitors at its flyby celebration.
In addition, the first paper published from New Horizons data in October described shifting glacier-like bodies of volatile ice, patterns of sublimation and landscape-altering winds as a few of the forces that have shaped the dwarf planet’s surface. And a team at Northern Arizona University’s Astrophysical Ice Lab helped astronomers determine the composition of the ice on Pluto. The lab grew several hundred ice samples composed of different mixtures of nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide. By measuring how light is reflected by the ices, they could create individual “light fingerprints,” then compare those fingerprints with those recorded by New Horizons to get an idea of what the ice is like on Pluto.
Flagstaff lost one of its homegrown heroes in August when pediatric neurosurgeon Nate Avery died after a fall at Lake Powell.
Avery was born in Flagstaff and graduated from Flagstaff High School in 1985. He was admitted to the University of Arizona College of Medicine in 1990, and in 1994 he was selected for the neurosurgery residency program at the University of Kentucky. Avery returned to Flagstaff in 2001 and practiced neurosurgery at Neurosurgical Specialists. The Averys had been deeply committed to the Flagstaff community, volunteering and supporting numerous organizations, including the Whale Foundation and Flagstaff public schools.
Near the end of 2013, the historic Clark Telescope was removed and underwent a two-year restoration. The effort came after a large fundraising campaign in 2013, which raised about $250,000 to refurbish the dilapidated 117-year-old telescope. It reopened in 2015.
On Aug. 21, for just a couple of minutes, the moon traveled between Earth and the sun, creating the first total solar eclipse to cross the country in nearly a century. In Flagstaff, more than 700 people made their way to Lowell Observatory’s Mars Hill campus, dawned cardboard eclipse glasses and turned their eyes skyward to see the moon cover about 70 percent of the sun.
The experience was even more dramatic 1,000 miles away in Madras, Oregon, where Lowell hosted another eclipse event directly in the path of totality. An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people attended and the entire event was broadcast live by the Science Channel, putting Lowell in the national spotlight.
Eileen Friel, who became the first woman to lead Lowell Observatory since its founding in 1894, left after just a year on the job. Friel resigned to pursue other opportunities, the observatory reported. Her resignation came six months after the observatory announced it had to lay off three employees and reduce the hours of five others. Officials at the nonprofit Flagstaff institution cited a struggling economy and the need to shift operating resources to the upcoming $44 million Discovery Channel Telescope.
William Lowell Putnam III died only a year after passing the responsibilities of sole trustee of Lowell Observatory to his son, W. Lowell Putnam IV. He was 90 and served 26 years as the fourth sole trustee of the Flagstaff observatory founded in 1894 by his great uncle Percival Lowell. During his tenure, the number of astronomers on staff grew to 18. The facility saw the addition of a new, 6,500-square-foot visitor center and an archive facility that houses the observatory’s collection of rare photographic glass plates, manuscripts, library of scientific publication, and other documents and artifacts.
A year earlier, Putnam made national headlines when he sought to name an asteroid after Trayvon Martin, a black teenager from Florida was was fatally shot by George Zimmerman in a landmark “stand your ground” case.
Flagstaff’s TGen North laboratory, which open in the late 2000s, established itself in the past decade as arguably one of the highest profile genomics labs in the nation, specializing in epidemiology, diagnostics and therapeutics.
2010: In the wake of a cholera epidemic following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, TGen researchers were able to track how the contagion spread by collecting and sequencing strains of microorganisms that caused Cholera.
2014: TGen was featured on the PBS documentary series Frontline, in an episode titled “The Trouble With Antibiotics.” Microbiologist Lance Price’s research team looked at how often Flagstaff women are getting urinary tract infections from supermarket meat. They collected samples from grocery stores across Flagstaff as well as DNA samples from the urinary tract infections of patients at Flagstaff Medical Center and other testing labs. They looked for strains of E. coli in the meat that matched the E. coli strains in the DNA samples, allowing them to draw connections between meat sources and infections they’re causing.
2016: TGen partnered with Northern Arizona University to develop a new genetic-based test for the potentially fatal Valley Fever that takes just an hour and so far has been accurate every time. A similar genetic test has proven promising for detecting Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
2019: The institute has been developing a database of drug-resistant bacteria cases in health care facilities throughout Arizona and New Mexico as part of its efforts to “Prevent HAARM”: Healthcare Associated Antimicrobial Resistant Microbes. The database is still in the works, but will eventually allow medics and researchers to search by location, organism or drug to gather information as new cases arise.
The year marked W.L. Gore & Associates’ 50th anniversary in Flagstaff. The company started out developing electronic products like wires and cables but has since shifted its focus to creating an array of medical devices and expanded to become the city’s largest private employer.
Among other expansions, a variety of new schools and programs shaped Flagstaff’s K-12 education during the past decade, providing more options for students and school staff.
In the beginning of the decade, because of low enrollment, the Flagstaff Unified School District governing board voted to close four district schools: Sinagua High, Flagstaff Middle, South Beaver Elementary and Christensen Elementary. The board also voted to create Sinagua Middle School, expanding the middle school program that was already hosted inside its building. It was FUSD’s first new school in eight years.
BASIS Charter School, an Arizona-based chain of academically rigorous, college preparatory public charter schools, opened its $7 million McMillan Mesa facility in 2011 for students in grades 5-10. Additional grades were phased in later, and it is now a K-12 school with about 900 students. BASIS Flagstaff had its first class of graduating seniors in 2014.
In an effort to make legislators increase funding for education in Arizona, teachers throughout the state walked out of their schools in April 2018. In Flagstaff, nearly 500 supporters, dressed in red, marched to City Hall to support this #RedforEd movement, which asked for a 20% raise for all teaching and certified staff, competitive wages for all classified staff, returning school funding to 2008 levels, no new tax cuts until Arizona per-pupil spending reached the national average and yearly raises until Arizona teacher salaries met the national average.
Many schools, including Flagstaff Unified School District, Basis Flagstaff, Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy and others, were closed until local teachers and students resumed their normal schedules after six days of protests, when Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed legislation granting teachers an average 19% pay increase within three years. Flagstaff teachers held another rally in May 2019, though, to draw attention to the unmet demands of the Red for Ed movement.
FUSD officials began to make efforts to increase pay for its teachers prior to the 2018 walkouts. The FUSD governing board approved a substantial pay raise for district employees in 2013, the first of such raises in five years. The following year, FUSD abandoned its “stepped” teacher salary schedule in favor of a “stepless” system, which allows teachers to turn in each credit of post-secondary coursework as they earn it for small salary increases in the next academic year.
Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy created its campus on Fort Valley Road and added seventh and eighth grades in 2010, increasing its total enrollment cap to more than 300 students. It wasn’t until 2018 that it added sixth grade.
In 2011, Northland Preparatory Academy added a 100-student sixth grade, increased the capacities of its seventh and eighth grades and constructed a second classroom building. The physical expansion cost $3.2 million for 14 classrooms, a large multipurpose room, administrative space and 60 new parking spaces and helped reduce the large number of students on the school’s wait list.
Both FUSD and Coconino County have seen numerous superintendents during the decade. Barbara Hickman, former FUSD assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, was appointed district superintendent in early 2010. She held the role for six years before accepting a job at the Colorado Department of Education and was replaced by FUSD’s current superintendent, Mike Penca.
When Coconino County Superintendent of Schools Cecilia Owen retired in 2010, Robert Kelty, a fourth-grade teacher at Puente de Hozho Elementary School, was appointed to finish her term. He resigned four years later to accept a position with Teach for America. Page educator Risha VanderWey was then appointed to the position, where she served until this year, when she left to become the superintendent of Tuba City Unified School District. The Department of Dine’ Education’s Tommy Lewis, Jr., was appointed by the Coconino County Board of Supervisors in November to complete VanderWey’s term, which ends Dec. 31, 2020.
State standardized testing began to look different in 2015 when the AzMERIT (Arizona’s Measurement of Educational Readiness to Inform Teaching) test was implemented to replace AIMS (Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards). Developed by the American Institutes for Research, AzMERIT is based on Arizona’s controversial College and Career Ready Standards, known elsewhere as Common Core. Unlike AIMS’s traditional pencil-and-paper method, AzMERIT can also be delivered electronically. FUSD opted to go entirely electronic for the new test.
In the wake of the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, all FUSD schools were updated with new safety features, requiring all visitors to walk through the school offices, the front door of which can be locked electronically. Teachers and staff now wear lanyards that carry electronic keycards and identification and a computer records each person who enters or exits the school. The renovation and electronic key installation projects were paid for with funds raised from a 2006 bond.
At the end of the 2014-15 school year, Kinsey Elementary School was renamed Kinsey Inquiry and Discovery School (K.I.D.S.) to reflect its new status as a magnet school, becoming the sixth magnet program or school within FUSD, allowing it to enroll children from all over Flagstaff, not just those within the Kinsey attendance zone. Its mission is to provide learning experiences inspired by the environment, cultures and community of northern Arizona through place-based learning.
FUSD’s alternative middle and high school, Project New Start, was transferred from its old home next to the city public works yard near Thorpe Park to the former Christensen Elementary in late 2010, a space that allowed it to enroll more students. Following an “underperforming” rating from the state (based on standardized testing scores) less than two years later, Project New Start began issuing diplomas to its students instead of sending them back to their prior schools for commencement and extending the school day by 30 minutes to allow time for extra support.
The program went through several name changes: to Christensen New Start School in 2012 and to Summit High School the following year. In 2015, Summit High School received accreditation from AdvancED, the agency that accredited all FUSD schools, allowing Summit students to attend post-secondary institutions like universities, trade schools and community colleges.
But Flagstaff, over the past decade, seemingly has been subjected to more than its share of weather “events.” Most involved snow, of course, but our well-earned reputation as an escape from the Valley swelter also has been challenged by the weather gods.
• Jan. 21-23, 2010: A three-day snowstorm centered in on Flagstaff, dropping 45.7 inches of snow during that period. Jan. 21, the first day of the siege, saw 19.6 inches, and there was no letup. To make matters worse, 3.39 inches of rain fell before the snow took hold. The Arizona National Guard was called in to help bring the city out of its snow-induced paralysis. Both Interstate 17 and 40 were closed for more than a day, and Williams had significant flooding.
• March 18-20, 2012: A two-day storm brought 29 inches of snow to Flagstaff. Not a record or anything, but this blizzard certainly took its toll on the populace. In all, the business towed nearly 40 cars that had slid off the road, broken down, parked in off-limits areas or become stuck in the snow. Arizona Department of Public Safety responded to 120 vehicles that had slid off the road, 18 collisions with no injuries and eight collisions with injuries. Skiers, though, rejoiced: The Snowbowl got 53 inches of powder.
• June 28-29, 2013: People speak in hushed tones about the hottest day ever in Flagstaff, the storied 97-degree scorcher on July 5, 1973. Well, June 28, 2013 came only one slim degree from matching that mark. It was part of a heat wave in which Flagstaff suffered through 90-plus degree temperatures for five straight days. But Flagstaff was downright chilly compared to Phoenix in this stretch. On June 29, Phoenix’s high reached 119 degrees. A Daily Sun story noted that Interstate 40 was jammed with cars fleeing the Valley kiln and that there were no vacancies at Flagstaff hotels.
• Dec. 31, 2014 – Jan. 1, 2015: The Great Pinecone Drop festivities faced serious challenges when 16.9 inches of snow fell on Flagstaff on New Year’s Eve and the next morning. And it wasn’t just Flagstaff; snow levels across the state dipped to below 3,000 feet, blanketing areas with snow where it is a rare sight, such as in Page, where 4.5 inches fell. Authorities responded to 63 accidents where vehicles slid off icy highways. They also saw 23 collisions, three of which caused relatively minor injuries.
• Jan. 19-24, 2017: A series of storms, spanning more than a week, dumped 36 inches of snow in Flagstaff and nearly 8 feet on the San Francisco Peaks. When all was said and done, the stretch became the 10th biggest snow event in the city’s history. The storms also helped make it the 12th wettest January on record in Flagstaff.
• June, 2017: June lived up to its reputation as Flagstaff’s hottest month, bringing a string of seven consecutive days with temperatures above 90 degrees. That was second only to 11 straight days of temperatures above 90 degrees in 1990. The temperatures helped make it the fifth hottest June on record, but the top temperature of 93 still fell 4 degrees short of the city’s all-time record high of 97 degrees.
• July, 2017: Flagstaff saw 4.48 inches of rain — 1.3 inches more than normal — making it the 15th wettest July on record. The National Weather Service also reported that between June 15 and July 30, Flagstaff received nearly 2 inches more precipitation than normal. Monsoon rains led to tragedy in July, however, when rainfall on a recent burn scar created dangerous flash flood conditions in a swimming hole north of Payson that swept away and killed 10 members of an extended family from Phoenix.
• July, 2018: Flagstaff proper averages 2.75 inches per month during monsoon season — which generally runs from June 15 through Sept. 30 — but as of early July, 2018 had already seen 3.14 inches at the airport weather station, compared to a July average of 2.61 inches. The two most significant rain days this year were July 15, when downtown Flagstaff received about 3 inches in just over an hour, and July 18, when the San Francisco Peaks above the Timberline area received between 5-6 inches of rain within two hours, causing flash flooding and damaging property though much of the Timberline area. The July 18 storm that swept through Flagstaff resulted in a 100-year event, according to the National Weather Service. Those are storms that have a 1 percent chance of happening every year, and in the Flagstaff area they are defined as precipitation falling at 2 inches or more per hour.
• Oct. 7, 2018: Snow fell, the 9th earliest measured snowfall in Flagstaff history, the earliest being Sept. 19, 1965, when 2 inches fell in the city, according to the National Weather Service. October was also the month in which a small tornado moved through Two Guns, east of Flagstaff.
• Feb. 21, 2019: Nearly 36 inches of snow blanketed Flagstaff, breaking the more than 100-year-old daily record for accumulation. (For more details, see our Weather year-in-review story.)
• Summer, 2019: Monsoons were renamed nonsoons. Flagstaff recorded 2.08 inches of rain in the season, 25 percent of normal. (For more details, see our Weather year-in-review story.)
Though 10 years is only a sliver of the histories of Northern Arizona University and Coconino Community College, the last decade transformed the two institutions and their campus communities. Here are a few of the topics reflecting the changes in Flagstaff higher education since 2010:
Following the retirement of John Haeger in 2015, the Arizona Board of Regents appointed Rita Cheng as NAU president with a starting salary of $390,000 a year. She has since received more than $200,000 in annual bonuses from the Regents, who extended her contract until 2021.
Before NAU, Cheng was the chancellor of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. In her first interactions with local staff and students, Cheng said she intended to expand the horizons for women and first-generation and nontraditional students.
Alongside NAU’s new president, the CCC Governing Board also selected a new president for the college in 2015: Colleen Smith, who previously worked as the district senior vice president of academic affairs for Collin College in McKinney, Texas. She replaced Leah Bornstein, who left Flagstaff to become the next president at Aims Community College in Greeley, Colorado.
When Smith began the role in early 2016, becoming the sixth president of the college, she said outreach in the community and spreading the word about CCC would be some of her main focuses.
A decade’s worth of development began on the NAU campus with projects like its $30 million San Francisco Street parking garage, a six-story structure that holds about 1,400 cars. It also constructed its International Pavilion, the five-story Science and Health Building, Aquatics and Tennis Complex, Academic and Student Services building, Honors Residential College, Kitt Recital Hall and several residence halls built by American Campus Communities.
Both the DuBois center and Science Annex both were given significant renovations and the university expanded its acreage with the purchase of the Granny’s Closet and Super Pawn/Mandarin Buffet parcels off Milton Road, as well as a 120-acre parcel at 1301 S. Fourth St. The three purchases totaled nearly $11 million.
ABOR also approved NAU’s construction of a $139 million STEM academic/research building that will be placed in the space held by soon-to-be-demolished Peterson Hall, one of the campus’s oldest buildings.
The Flagstaff and Prescott communities mourned when the U.S. government confirmed the death of Kayla Mueller, an aid worker, Prescott native and 2009 NAU graduate while in the hands of Islamic State militants, 18 months after she was kidnapped while working in Turkey. She was 26.
When Kayla’s death was announced, members of the United Christian Ministry, of which Mueller was a part, decorated the Campus Ministry Center in lights in her honor, spelling out “K M” and #kaylalove on the building. She was also inducted into the Social and Behavioral Sciences hall of fame at NAU.
This year’s military operation that found and killed the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was named in her honor.
As the years progressed, so did the number of students studying at NAU. In 2010, fall enrollment at the Flagstaff campus was 17,529. This year, it was nearly 23,000.
In the early part of the decade, the ABOR enrollment goal for the university was set at 25,000 students on the Flagstaff campus by 2020. In 2015, ABOR set the 2025 goal: a total of 34,909 graduate and undergraduate students across all campuses by 2025.
Four years ago, both NAU and CCC were hurt by the state budget for the 2016 fiscal year, which cut aid to universities by more than 10 percent and kept funding flat for all rural community colleges.
At NAU, the loss totaled $17.3 million, resulting in layoffs and delayed construction on new buildings.
Though CCC’s funding remained constant, unlike the cuts to Maricopa and Pima Community Colleges’ budgets, it received only $1.8 million from the state, compared to the $3.3 million it got in 2008, before cuts began, resulting in some program losses.
In response to financial cuts, both NAU and CCC increased student tuition and fees several times during the decade.
NAU tuition and fees for in-state undergraduates first topped $10,000 in 2015, following a 4% increase from the previous academic year. From 2011 to 2018, mandatory fees for NAU students increased by more than 50%. Such fees include a health and recreation fee, a financial aid trust fee, an information technology fee, a student activity fee, a green fee and a fee for student council. By 2018, the total cost of tuition and mandatory fees for in-state undergraduates at NAU had surpassed those at Arizona State University; however, NAU maintained its Pledge Program, guaranteeing students their starting tuition amount for four years.
At CCC, Board members approved a $3 per credit hour increase in February 2017, citing no other feasible alternative to fund needed faculty. CCC tuition remains the highest among community colleges in the state because its property tax levy is the lowest in the state. Though it has been on the ballot several times this decade, voters have not approved increases to the levy.
In an effort expected to save around $245,000 a year, the CCC board reduced its Page Campus, eliminating one full-time staff position, two part-time staff positions, three full-time instructor positions and three part-time instructor positions, downgrading it from a campus to an instructional site, according to the Higher Learning Commission accreditation body. With the reduction in staff, CCC administrators expanded the number of televised courses transmitted live from Flagstaff and encouraged students to take online courses to fill in the gaps.
NAU provosts have been in motion throughout the decade, following the departure of Liz Grobsmith in 2012. She held the position for 10 years and was replaced by Laura Huenneke, who stepped down in 2015 to return to teaching. James Coleman, the first to be appointed by President Cheng, succeeded Huenneke, but stepped down a year later. Dan Kain, who had served as the Vice Provost for the previous six years, replaced Coleman until he resigned in 2018 to return to teaching, as well. The current provost, Diane Stearns, interim dean of the College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences, was appointed in March 2019.
As of 2017, NAU’s provost had the institution’s second-highest salary, behind the president, at $260,000.
According to annual Clery Reports, sexual assault reports on NAU’s campus increased for three years in a row, placing its count above both Arizona State University and University of Arizona. The reports of sexual assaults, categorized in the report as rape, increased 34 percent from 23 assaults in 2016 to 31 assaults in 2017. Out of the 31 reported on-campus sexual assaults in 2017, 25 happened in residence halls.
NAU Police Department officials said police statistics “don’t come anywhere close” to the rate people are sexually assaulted and added that, because NAU houses so many students and freshmen, the number of reported sexual assaults is going to be higher than other state universities. They attributed the increase in reports to both the growing campus and a greater emphasis on reporting, much of which comes from other groups like Campus Health Services or Victim Witness Services.
Many different stories carried on for much of the decade, including the condition of forests around the area as well as the continued push for uranium minining.
This decade’s wildfires, such as the Schultz Fire and Wallow Fire, have impacted the minds of land managers in northern Arizona in ways that will outlast this decade as forests continue to dry and the measured temperatures continue to rise.
While the 2010 Schultz Fire was small by today’s standards, 15,000 acres, it led to post-fire flooding that hit homes in Timberline, Fernwood and parts of Doney Park. The flooding also tragically caused the death of a 12-year-old girl.
During the 2019 Museum Fire, the only more-talked about fire was the Schultz Fire. The lessons learned from the loss of life, property and property value will continue in this county for some time.
The Wallow Fire was the largest in Arizona history to date in 2011. The Wallow Fire was a grim example of how bad fires can get in northern Arizona, burning 538,049 acres from the White Mountains near Alpine into western New Mexico.
While the Wallow is not on the tip of the tongue for politicians in Flagstaff, you can’t speak with fire experts in northern Arizona without hearing the echoes of the Wallow Fire’s devastation.
United Nations climate scientists released a report showing the planet has 10 years for the world to fight against its carbon emissions and warming climate.
Flagstaff City Council started a Climate Action Plan to frame ideas to reduce climate impacts in light of local, regional and international researchers showing the impacts on climate health. Ponderosa pine forests across the region are being ravaged by bark beetles and fire, scientists measure, as they project what a change in Flagstaff’s temperature will make it feel like — Prescott or Gallup, New Mexico.
Rain-and-snow flooding events, where warmer rain quickly melts colder snow causing floods, have become more common in northern Arizona as temperatures warm.
Northern Arizona has a legacy of uranium mining that extends back into the past, through the present and into the future.
More than 700 dirty mines litter eastern Arizona on the Navajo Nation and continue to impact native peoples. This decade saw continued opposition to mines currently on the edge of the Grand Canyon National Park. Then-President Barrack Obama set up a moratorium against the uranium mines citing a lack of understanding their impacts, and current President Donald Trump has opened lines of communication to reconsider that moratorium.
The Havasupai Tribe on the reservation deep within the canyon warns that allowing the mines to continue could potentially poison their main water supply and the source of their tourism economy.
The highly controversial form of logging was suggested, but eventually rejected due to the impacts of dragging fallen logs through northern Arizona’s beloved-forests.
Despite that, logging has continued in other forms like ground-based and helicopter logging and mechanical logging around northern Arizona to reduce the region’s dry and overgrown forests. The Four Forests Restoration Initiative, the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project, the Williams Restoration Project, and many other projects that have cropped up around the west show how bad the problem has gotten.
Forest industry still has not revitalized itself across the entirety of northern Arizona, but forestry experts are putting their hope in 4FRI’s next phase as a way to help find their way out of the woods.
Arizona Snowbowl is working on its new master plan that would shape the development on their 777-acre plot for the next 20 years.
Snowbowl has been using reclaimed wastewater for their snow since the City of Flagstaff signed a contract with the resort to create artificial snow. This decade saw the dismissal of the Hopi Tribe’s snowmaking case against the winter resort in the Arizona Supreme Court in 2018. The resort also had its the longest winter season in 2019.
The proposed Grand Canyon Escalade development got too close to being developed for the comfort of many.
The proposal to a Phoenix developer to create a gondola, hotel, and skywalk above the Little Colorado River failed to surpass Navajo Nation approval. The confluence where the Colorado River and Little Colorado River meet has been a historic meeting for over a century. Many feared the gondolas would monetize the beauty of a tribal sacred site for many tribes into a tourist attraction.
At the end of the decade, the number of Mexican gray wolves in the wild reached a minimum of 131 wild wolves in 32 packs.
In 2017, a plan was created to recover the federally protected species and turn its management over to appropriate states and tribes after delisting it. Biologists and wildlife managers were divided on the plan, having different opinions on the strategy for reviving the species.
The decade saw the ruling by a federal judge suggesting the management rule for the wolves needed to be revised, conservation groups hoped that would mean the boundary and population would be modified.
The steep increase in visitation that came after word of mouth, Instagram and media coverage. At peak visitation, the wild and scenic river saw 86,333 people in 2015. The Coconino National Forest then implemented a permit system in order to better control the huge increase in visitors.
Now in 2018, 14,602 permits were reserved and 34,444 permitted people went to the creek. More information about the comments and management plan is expected to be released in 2020.
Around the region, the people’s use of public places is increasing causing national parks and recreation managers to reconsider how to permit the public to use land owned by the government.
Between 1992 and 2014, the Grand Canyon National Park’s visitation stayed between 4 and 4.7 million visitors. But between 2015 and 2018 park visitation increased to 6.3 million. Since 2013, Glen Canyon Dam has increased from 1.9 to 4.2 million visitors. Other parts of northern Arizona like Sedona and Fossil Creek are also symptoms of increased visitation that is cited back to social media, news reports and word of mouth.
With the decade coming to a close, here’s a look at the most important and impactful stories in Flagstaff since 2010.
Beyond the significance a death of an officer can have on a community when they’re killed while responding to a domestic violence call, his death was the first officer fatality in the line of duty filmed on body camera.
Hundreds of citizens and law enforcement from around the state came to his memorial. Citizens placed blue lights on their porch to honor the sacrifices Stewart and officers make on a daily basis.
To this day, officers are shown the video of Stewart’s death around the country as an example of how the routine and deadly parts of an officer’s job are intertwined. And a bust sits silently off of Butler Avenue reminding the community of Stewart’s sacrifice.
It is one of the few cases that has led to the death penalty. After being placed on death row, Bible was executed on June 30, 2011.
People who lived in Flagstaff at the time remember the names: Judge Richard Magnum, Camille Bibles (no relation), and the 9-year-old victim Jennifer Wilson. Many remember where they were when Wilson’s body was found tied up on Sheep’s Hill on the east side of Flagstaff.
“I believe this case changed Flagstaff forever. Richard Bible stole some of our innocence and charm. It shocked us as a community to the core,” said then-county attorney David Rozema.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting in October 2015, as more details surfaced of what happened late that night, students on NAU’s campus described what had occurred not as a “school shooting” but a “shooting at a school.”
Regardless of its framing, NAU student Colin Brough was killed and NAU student Steven Jones pulled the trigger. Nick Piring, Kyle Zientek and Nick Prato were all shot and wear the scars to this day.
The question remains whether Jones will see jail time for second-degree murder or aggravated assault, or walk free on his self-defense claims in his upcoming trial, after a mistrial in 2017.
The murder was the result of a fight between the Eastside and Westside rival gangs in Flagstaff’s Sunnyside neighborhood.
After a mistrial, Michael “Buddy” Vallejos was sentenced to 50 years in prison; Jeremiah Barlow pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 13.5 years; and Norberto “Beto” Ramos-Madrid was found innocent.
In May 2015, when Vallejos was found guilty, bailiffs and law enforcement jumped on Vallejos after he knocked over a water jug on the defense’s table, sending the courthouse on lockdown.
Flagstaff is no a stranger to national headlines from the court system, but it’s not often that the views of the judge become larger than the crime itself.
Former Judge Jacqueline Hatch’s words made national headlines after a September 2012 hearing in which she told a woman who had been groped by a former Department of Public Safety officer in a bar “if you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you.”
The victim demanded an apology, which Hatch eventually offered after a petition garnered more than 10,000 signatures.
After DNA in two separate cases of sexual assault and beatings led to a match, Flagstaff police officers began to suspect the city had a serial rapist.
The second victim was attacked in January 2013 after a man offered to drive her home from the bars downtown. She was found on Lonetree Road the morning after the attack.
The case was broken open when a female officer posed as a drunk college student and later testified that Gregory Woody Jr. groped her, tried to kiss her and picked her up in attempt to carry her to his truck early Aug. 10, 2013.
Woody Jr. was sentenced to 113 years in prison after being found guilty of six counts of sexual assault and a slew of related charges.
In 2014, the Flagstaff Police Department said purchasing 50 body cameras would help officials investigate allegations of excessive force, weeding out false accusations. In 2017, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office followed suit and purchased more than 100 cameras.
Since those decisions were made, thousands of hours of footage have been filed in thousands of cases that include allegations of police brutality.
The footage united the city when Tyler Stewart’s death was recorded. In recent officer-involved shootings, the footage has allowed for more detailed conversations on the decisions police officers make on a daily basis.
To say the federal slavery charges levied against the owners of a Flagstaff lingerie shop caught most residents by surprise would be an understatement.
Investigators called the case a “modern-day slavery” operation and alleged that nine Vietnamese workers were brought into Flagstaff and paid little to nothing for years of work. However, the case began to fall apart once it became apparent that the victims had lied to immigration officials.
The shop owners took a plea deal that ended in three years of probation and payments totaling $156,000 to the victims.
While there were only 10 arrests or over 100, Tequila Sunrise has become a yearly event that causes frustration for some and sparse early morning memories for others.
The annual event garnered national attention when a thousand “out of control” students gathered at The Grove for a party that spilled out into the streets in 2014, according to Flagstaff police officer Lance Roberts at the time. NAU’s Homecoming Parade used to travel through the same streets as Tequila Sunrise, but the university has since made the decision to hold the parade on campus to separate the university from downtown debauchery.
Since the move, the downtown party has become more tightly regulated by law enforcement, and has recently decreased in violations.
In December 6, 2012, a man was found dead covered in blood in a camper shell trailer on East Spruce Avenue.
That was the first investigated homicide in Flagstaff for more than two years. The most recent homicide at the the time happened in September 2010 when Charles Brown, 48, beat his girlfriend to death in an East Route 66 motel room.
When it came to the biggest sports story in high school and youth sports of this passing decade, filling out the top of the list was a no-brainer.
Running dominated the last 10 years. State titles piled up in cross country and in track and field. Teams went on impressive championship streaks and individuals stormed the fields to claim crowns. The Northland Prep Spartans boys cross country team put an end to a Hopi Bruins streak that was nearing its third decade of existence.
Outside of running, plenty of other programs from Flagstaff showed why elevation is a location of excellence in sports across the board. Volleyball, soccer and basketball teams all made statements, claiming a chunk of the decade as their own. Page also made its own marks in different sports.
Individuals became a part of the stories along the way in the forms of athletes and coaches. Their names added to the drama, the milestones and the first-evers.
The boys and girls programs of Flagstaff, Page and Northland Prep were nearly always at the top of their game this decade, and that’s exactly why they are the top highlights.
With famed cross country coach Trina Painter at the helm, the Flagstaff Eagles girls program won eight state titles in the past 10 years, with a runner-up result coming in 2014. The girls won three straight starting with a 2011 championship, and then with a title in 2019 increased their current streak to five consecutive Division II crowns. Flagstaff was third in the D-III state meet in 2010, when Eagles standout Tatiana Gillick took fifth as a freshman.
Gillick went on to win individual state titles in the next three years in overpowering fashion, beating all second-place finishers by at least 20 seconds in each of the three races. Courtney Lewis won a state title for the Eagles in 2015 and Hana Hall won the last back-to-back.
Gillick also won three straight state titles in the 3,200-meters run starting her sophomore year, and state titles in the 1600m in 2013 and ’14.
The Page boys cross country team won its sixth straight D-III state title in 2019. The girls Sand Devils squad added four in the past 10 years. Coconino cross country girls were the runner-ups at the D-III state meet in 2016 and ’17.
D-IV Northland Prep won three girls state titles, with Maya Smith winning four individual state titles to complete the championship varsity sweep. Smith won the 3200m and 1600m titles in 2015. Valentina Nyhart won an individual state cross country championship in 2013 as a freshman, and later would go on to run for Flagstaff.
The Northland Prep boys put an end to Hopi’s streak of 27 consecutive state championships in 2017 and held on for a gold repeat in 2018. The Spartans posted the low score of 57 points, while the Bruins had 68 in the 2017 upset between the D-IV teams.
The start of the new decade was the end of Sinagua High School sports. Sinagua became a middle school the next year, but one runner made sure to make the school’s final year, and his, memorable.
Brian Shrader completed the long-distance triple crown at the 2010 track and field state meet, winning titles in the 800, 1600 and 3200m races his senior year. He went on to run for Northern Arizona University.
The Flagstaff Eagles volleyball team, under longtime head coach Beth Haglin, won back-to-back state championships starting in 2012.
The Eagles won the 2012 D-II state title as the No. 1 seed over Arcadia in five sets, capping an undefeated season. Flagstaff followed up in a different division for 2013, also needing five sets to take the 2013 D-III crown as the No. 3 seed over Cactus.
Leading the Eagles all year in 2013 was senior Randi Powers, who recorded 23 kills in the championship game. Haglin was named the D-III, Section Three coach of the year in 2013.
The Northland Prep Spartans girls soccer team won a third straight 2A Conference state championship in 2019. In 2014, the team was the runner-up.
The Spartans were shorthanded on their quest to keep the hardware, down a key player in each of the last two years. The team’s success took off when co-head coaches Michael Blair and Keith Hovis took over, with their daughters playing key roles along the way.
Each of the three titles came with victories over Chino Valley as the Spartans finished undefeated in 2017 and 2019.
The Flagstaff and Coconino football teams in 2018 met for the 50th time as crosstown rivals, and the big game moved back to Cromer Stadium on the Coconino High School campus.
Prior to moving back to Cromer after a 40-year hiatus from the location, the majority of the crosstown rivalry games were played in the Walkup Skydome.
Coconino won the 2018 contest, 24-10, as the expanded seating for the venue was filled to capacity for the night.
The Flagstaff Girls Softball Little League 10- to 12-year-old All-Stars shocked the city of Flagstaff — as well as a bunch of teams — on the way to falling one game short of a berth to the World Series in 2018.
And the girls gained quite the following, as fans of the Cinderella team gathered in local sports bars to watch the wild run.
The Flagstaff All-Stars won the state title in their hometown before making it all the way to the West Regional finals, where they lost to Kirkland Little League in San Bernardino, California.
They won four state titles and had a runner-up finish in 2017 before going back-to-back the last two seasons. Page won as a D-III school in 2012 and 2015, then won two straight in 2018 and ’19 as a 3A team.
Over the decade, the Coconino wrestling program has consistently produced champs on the mats. A total of nine individual titles were won by Panthers since the 2010 state meet.
Coconino fell short of producing a champ in 2012, ’17 and ’18, but doubled up twice in 2010 and ’14. Moreover, Gabe Galaviz won three during his time with the Panthers, taking home gold in 2011, ’13 and ’14 — all coming in different weight classes.
In 2018, longtime Panthers head coach Jim Popham stepped away from the program. Having produced more than 400 wins and never suffering a losing record while at Coconino, Popham decided to take his talents to Valiant College Preparatory in Phoenix.
Page also had some success toward the end of the decade. In 2018, upon making the move from D-III to D-IV, the team had two state champs and followed suit in 2019.
After working more than 30 years, spending much of his time working at the Hal Jensen Rec Center for the City of Flagstaff in the parks and recreation department, Danny Neal retired in 2018. He announced he was retiring in 2017, but stayed aboard to help another rec center get off its feet on a one-year contract.
Kids who went to Hal Jensen, located down the road from Coconino High School, often came back to see Neal and tell him about how much he impacted their lives.
In 2019 former Coconino Panthers left-handed pitcher Avery Weems was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the sixth round of the MLB Draft. … Beach volleyball came to town, with Coconino starting its program in the 2014 spring season. Flagstaff started its program the next year. Coconino later built beach volleyball courts. … Mike Moran played a major role in several makeovers for Coconino. He took over the boys hoops team and football team in 2018 and led them to resurgent seasons. … The Coconino and Flagstaff boys hoops teams clashed in the postseason for the first time ever in 2018 when Flagstaff beat its crosstown rival in the 4A play-in round, 60-58.
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Post time: Jan-09-2020