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Survey seeks input on downtown entertainment district

SAFFORD — Safford residents have been invited to let the city know, through an online survey, whether they would like to see an entertainment district added to Downtown.

A state law passed in 2010 allows cities to designate an entertainment district. The law allows for case-by-case exemptions to certain liquor license requirements. Currently, properties located within 300 feet of a church or school cannot obtain a new liquor license unless the property is a restaurant generating 40 percent of its revenue from food sales, a hotel or motel with a restaurant, a special event or festival, or a nonprofit performing theater with 250 or more seats.

An entertainment district, which the City of Safford is considering, could potentially attract a variety of new businesses. It would allow the City Council to request the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control to approve exemptions to the distance requirement. The council would hold a public hearing to receive citizen input before voting to designate an entertainment district.

With nine churches on or near Main Street, the 300-foot rule eliminates many properties that could house a winery, microbrewery, tasting room or beer and wine bar. If an entertainment district was approved, the City Council could decide case by case which types of liquor licenses would be exempt from the rule. Types of licenses include beer and wine bar, beer and wine store, craft distiller, microbrewery, winery, tasting room, bar and liquor store.

The city is seeking input from Safford residents, business and property owners, and faith-based organizations on whether an entertainment district would fit the community.

Interested citizens can take the online survey and leave comments at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/saffordentertainmentdistrict. The survey will be open until July 7, 2019.

Bringing the ranch to the people

THATCHER — What better way to demonstrate the value of raising cattle than with a light snack?

David Bell Photo/Eastern Arizona Courier  

Casey Warner, of the Eureka Springs Ranch in Bonita, offers a sample of a beef food item to Deevon Motes when the Graham County Cattlewomen demonstrated inside the Bashas’ store on Saturday

Graham County Cattlewomen were at the Bashas’ store in Thatcher on Saturday to demonstrate its mission, “To promote beef through education and outreach activities to Graham County residents and visitors.”

The group prepared samples of food from beef, showing how to make delicious items from even the cheapest cuts.

“We’re part of the Cowbelles, who have been around for 100 years,” said Bunny Dryden, of Black Rock Ranch, south of Fort Thomas.

“We want our younger generation to start understanding and appreciating the value that beef brings . . . the nutrition and all of the things the cow brings: the ball bearings, the tire, the makeup, the medicine, the jelly Gummi Bears and all these amazing products we use throughout our day. We can’t go without a cow every day.”

The Cattlewomen also informed visitors to the store about just how much ranching takes place in area.

David Bell Photo/Eastern Arizona Courier  

Bunny Dryden, of the Black Rock Ranch south of Fort Thomas, left, shows Cheryl Foster ways to prepare cheaper cuts of beef to produce the most flavor.

“Within Graham and Cochise counties are some of the largest ranches (in Arizona) being managed,” Dryden said. “It’s a large industry, and we have a large economic impact. The state leans on dollars the ranchers produce for schools and taxes. The ranch industry has gotten us here because of the way we’ve grown, and we understand the value of the land and the natural resources.”

The next outreach event for the Graham County Cattlewomen will take place in October, when local fourth-graders take part in Ranch Day, an opportunity to experience a snippet of what happens on a ranch on a typical day.

“What that does is introduce fourth-graders . . . to all the ways that ranching impacts their lives. They get to see a branding on a cowhide or on wood, they get to create their own brand, they understand all the products that come from a cow and the fact that there are still ranchers,” Dryden said.

Update: Highway 70 reopens, San Carlos Tribe issues pre-evacuation notice

BYLAS — A fire that started Saturday, June 8, near Bylas has grown to about 300 acres and forced the closure of U.S. Highway 70 for about 9 hours MOnday.

Arizona Department of Transportation announced the closure of the highway, between mileposts 288 and 294, between Globe and Safford, at 10 a.m. Monday. The closure was due to heavy smoke in the area, causing unsafe visibility.

“Motorists planning to take this route should consider delaying travel or take an alternate route,” ADOT wrote in announcing the closure.

ADOT announced the highway's reopening at 7:11 p.m. Monday.

Meanwhile, the San Carlos Apache Tribe issued a pre-evacuation notice for Bylas residents living near the Gila River in the Ready To Go and Navajao Points areas.

"The San Carlos Police Department is closely monitoring the situation and will notify the public through public service announcements and social media," the tribe wrote in the notice.

The Southwest Coordination Center said the unnamed fire is located about 22 miles southeast of San Carlos and a type-3 incident team is on order. Type 2 and Type 3 aircraft have also been assigned.

Cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

Editor's note: This story was edited Monday, June 10, 2019, at 7:46 p.m., with information about the highway reopening and the San Carlos Apache Tribe's pre-evacuation notice.