Before I get too deep into this month's column, I'd like to remind everyone (especially those of us without kids in school) that indeed our local schools are back in session. Please exercise heightened caution when driving near school campuses and remember: school crossing zones are posted for 15 mph and no passing. Local law enforcement will be out in force this month to help remind the motoring public that children going to school need to be safe when they cross major streets.
Speaking of school-age children and getting ready to return to the classroom, the Pinal County Health Services District will be hosting free Back-To-School-Immunization walk-in clinics this month. Every year, thousands of children become ill from diseases that could have been prevented by basic childhood immunizations. It's not only a matter of ensuring that your child is healthy, but also taking steps to ensure that they don't miss critical time away from day care or school.
The County Health clinic in Casa Grande will be providing children's immunizations in August on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. The clinic is located in Building E of the County complex at 820 E. Cottonwood Lane. In Stanfield, the clinic (located at 36711 W. Papago Drive) will administer shots on August 10th from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Maricopa parents can bring their children to the Mobile Health Clinic – located at 44265 W. Garvey Avenue – Wednesdays between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. If you're unsure about times or locations, please contact my office (520.836.0003) or 1.866.960.0633 or go to the County's website http://pinalcountyaz.gov.
By the way, even though school's back in session – it's still mosquito season which means that we're still at risk for exposure to West Nile Virus-positive mosquitoes. Residents should continue to take precautions especially if there's activity planned for outdoors during the evening or nighttime. Long sleeves and a liberal application of bug repellant are recommended. Home owners are also urged to take steps to eliminate any places where water can stand stagnant: mosquitoes can breed in the smallest wet places so be on your guard. For more information, call 520.866.6200 or 866.287.0209 extension 6200.
I promised you last month that I would talk about some of the things that Pinal County is doing to doing to diversify our local economy and lead us out of our economic doldrums. From my perspective, there are three truly significant "game changing" projects at or just over the event horizon.
Game Changer 1: the Resolution Copper project that's headquartered in Superior. Deploying cutting edge technology that will remove high grade copper from a depth of nearly a mile, the mining operation will employ some 1,400 people at average annual salaries of approximately $70,000. The economic boon to state, county, and local governments will be in excess of $2B over the 40 year life of the operation. Currently awaiting Congressional approval of a land transfer proposal (HR 1904, sponsored by Congressman Gosar) – without any federal funds involved or sought – the project could start to impact our economy by the end of this decade if approval is granted by the 112th Congress this year. Needless to say, I and my Board colleagues strongly support the Resolution Copper project.
Game Changer 2: Union Pacific Railroad's classification yard proposed for the Red Rock area (hereafter called the Red Rock project). The classification yard (the second biggest, most important kind of rail yard any rail system operates) will supplant UPRR's Tucson yard and bring several hundred existing and new jobs to Pinal County after the $200M construction takes place on 950 acres. The proposed site is on state land and UPRR has been discussing the matter with the Arizona State Land Department for some time and is hopeful of their formally calling for the auction of that land before the end of 2011.
The Board of Supervisors approved a Comprehensive Plan amendment for the project in 2007 and it's been hanging fire since then. This Board of Supervisors and virtually every local Pinal government (and economic development entity) is supportive of the Red Rock project: ancillary and transportation-related businesses and industries invariably follow these major rail yards. The Red Rock yard will be a dynamic catalyst for economic development for Pinal County and Arizona in my opinion.
Game Changer 3: the Phoenix Mart. This 1.5 million square foot building, to be located in Casa Grande, will bring wholesale buyers from North, South, and Central America to western Pinal County. The project is being capitalized with Chinese private sector funding and will generate some 3,000 U.S. jobs for our Pinal County economy. The nuts and bolts of this spectacular project have been covered in other media outlets so I won't repeat that which you already know. However, I will say that Pinal County played a significant role in the project's coming here and we've continued to provide assistance to the City as Phoenix Mart moves from concept to reality. We will have a two-way portal into China and the global marketplace – an opportunity not given to many counties and cities.
Finally, congratulations go out to the Casa Grande Alliance and its Executive Director Cindy Schaider. The Alliance was chosen by the White House to be featured as a "Champion of Change" in the 2011 National Drug Control Strategy. Director Schaider traveled to Washington, DC in early August to participate in an event in the White House. Kudos to the Alliance, its staff, and the countless volunteers and collaborating agencies that labor tirelessly to make our communities drug and alcohol free.
David Snider, Supervisor
Pinal County District 3