The past year will forever be remembered as the year we struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus impacted every aspect of life. People lost their jobs or experienced furloughs and lay-offs. Zoom meetings and working from home became the norm along with masks and social distancing. Graduations, weddings, funerals, county fairs, concerts, plays and sporting events still went on, but in new, innovative ways. Yes, life went on in spite of the virus in 2020; let’s recap.

January

Neal Lee Tuomi, a Morenci contractor, was indicted on 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. The case is pending.

Graham County Community College Board awards Eastern Arizona College $1.3 million to renovate alumni library.

February

Karen and Matt Frye open the Clifton Hotel Bar.

Jill Wearne is sworn in on the Duncan Town Council, replacing Maryann Mendoza, who resigned

Morenci miner Matthew Misener is killed and his former wife, Georgina, and Eduardo Montano Jr. are arrested on first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder charges. They both later plead guilty to conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and second-degree murder. Montano was sentenced to 33.75 years in prison; she’s awaiting sentencing.

Isabella Campbell wins the Greenlee County Spelling Bee. Bryant Figueroa takes second and Lily Kindle takes third place.

The Greenlee County Chamber of Commerce hosts its annual dinner with a Roaring ‘20s theme.

The Duncan Unified School District accepts a $131,000 grant from Freeport McMoRan for its welding program.

The Morenci girls and Duncan boys basketball teams fall in the first round of the state tournament.

Duncan resident Emmett Darnell is killed in a rollover crash on U.S. Highway 70 along with Kade Nelson and Mason Gann. A truck cruise in their memory is held and ribbons pop up all over the Gila Valley to honor them. Classmates also refurbished the teens’ pickup trucks and hold a parade/community memorial for them in Thatcher in May.

March

The United Way of Graham and Greenlee counties award the Duncan Fire Department a $165,000 grant for equipment upgrades.

Greenlee County diagnoses its first COVID-19 patient on March 29.

The Mt. Graham Safe House helps its 6,000th domestic violence survivor.

April

Ghost Hunters airs a two-hour Clifton episode on the A&E Network.

Greenlee County engingeer Phil Ronnerud retires after more than 30 years and is replaced by Reed Larson.

Greenee County Schools Superintendent Tom Powers announces his retirement.

Iran Dewayne Munn, 45, of Memphis is accused of trying to lure a 16-year-old Greenlee County girl into a life of prostitution. He later pleads guilty to attempted child sex trafficking and luring of a minor for sexual exploitation. He is awaiting sentencing.

May

Eastern Arizona Colleges holds a virtual ceremony for its 522 graduates.

Keanna Cortez and Lucas Basteen receive valedictorian honors for Morenci, Duncan high schools, respectively.

The Lunt Dairy closes after more than 100 years.

The United Way of Graham and Greenlee counties award first responders more than $300,000 for communication upgrades.

June

Sienna Frazer, 11, of Clifton receives an honorable mention in the Bashas’ Donut Flavor Craze Contest.

Angel Ontiveras of Morenci High School and Hannah Hilton of Duncan High School receive the DAR Good Citizen Award.

Construction begins on the Greenlee County Search and Rescue’s new building.

The Greenlee County Board of Supervisors pass a mask mandate to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

The Tamarisk Beetle arrives in Greenlee County to the delight of Gila Watershed Partnership, which is counting on it to rid the area of non-native, invasive salt cedar.

July

The Biggest Small Town 4th of July event is held in Duncan, against the advice of the Greenlee County Health Department.

The Morenci Unified School District begins distance learning on July 29 before moving to a hybrid learning model Aug. 17.

August

The South Eastern Arizona Sportsmans Club works on Coronado Trail habitat.

Greenlee County Board of Supervisor David Gomez defeats Nick Castaneda in the primary election.

The United Way of Graham and Greenlee counties awards Art Depot a $25,000 grant.

Duncan Unified School District begins distance learning on Aug. 5 before moving to in-person learning Aug. 17.

September

Lillian Christine Hancock is awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys Association’s Advisory Council.

Alex Blake is sworn in on the Duncan Town Council, replacing Susan Rios, who resigned.

The Zorrilla Bridge is reopened following a $1.6 million rehab project and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Greenlee County Fair held with an emphasis on livestock, auctions

October

The Greenlee County Chamber of Commerce holds a 2020 candidates forum.

The Arizona Community Foundation names Leslie Ray Volunteer of the Year.

Fairbanks Middle School and Morenci High School are designated A+ schools by the Arizona Educational Foundation

Eastern Arizona College holds a mass prayer event inside the football stadium.

November

The 4th Annual Coty Denogean Suicide Awareness Walk is held.

Eastern Arizona College puts on Stadium Stories

Greenlee County economic development coordinator Akos Kovach files a $625,000 age discrimination claim against the county.

Greenlee County Board of Supervisors Richard Lunt and David Gomez win their re-election bids along with Sheriff Tim Sumner. Bryan Boling becomes schools superintendent and JoAnn Cathcart becomes county assessor. The Clifton General Plan is also approved by voters.

The Clifton Library receives a $4,000 grant to digitize the Greenlee County Historical Society.

The Daly Diner in Clifton has its business license suspended for allegedly violating the county’s mask mandate, a protest is held and the restaurant is placed up for sale.

December

Eastern Arizona Colllege live streams “Messiah” and Festival of Carols on YouTube.

The Duncan P.R.I.D.E. Society announces it will be replacing the roof on the historic Billingsley House.

Christmas on the Old West Highway is held in Duncan over the objections of the Greenlee County Health Department.

Longtime county employees Linda Durr, Vicki Cook and Grace Valenzuela retire.

Britton Shuck, 28, of Morenci and Jaimee Rodriquez, 20, of Duncan are killed in a head-on collision on north U.S. 191.

The COVID-19 vaccine arrives in Greenlee County Dec. 22.

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