I-10 west of Willcox to close Aug. 20-23

Motorists on both directions of Interstate 10 to the west of Willcox should expect a short detour the weekend of Aug. 20-23 while work crews pour a new concrete surface as part of a bridge deck replacement project, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Both directions of I-10 will close at Exit 336, which will require drivers to detour onto the exit and entrance ramps, from 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20, to 6 a.m. Monday, Aug. 23.

Drivers should prepare to reduce their speed as they approach the work zone and exit I-10. Delays are possible.

The closure is one of several planned during the bridge deck replacement project, which is scheduled through late 2021.

Foundation awards $38,000 to several Gila Valley nonprofitsThe Arizona Community Foundation of the Gila Valley awarded $38,000 to nine nonprofit organizations serving Graham and Greenlee counties. Grants were awarded to organizations supporting projects in social services, healthcare, environment, animal welfare, and more. The 2021 grant recipients include:

• Aravaipa Watershed Conservation Alliance

• Desert Cat Rescue & Sanctuary of Arizona

• Gila Watershed Partnership of Arizona

• Graham County Search and Rescue Squad

• Mount Graham Safe House, Inc.

• Nalwoodi Denzhone Community

• Our Neighbors Farm & Pantry

• Pima Volunteer Fire Department

• Southeastern Arizona Community Unique Services

Each year, grants awarded through this competitive grant process are funded for the community, by the community. Individuals and businesses donate to ACF of the Gila Valley’s endowed field of interest funds to keep the resources within local communities.

DUI arrests

• Aug. 5, 4 p.m., 1100 block of West Thatcher Boulevard: Estevon Pino was arrested on suspicion of aggravated DUI by Safford Police after witnesses reported he was driving recklessly and he failed field sobriety tests.

• Aug. 6, 12:30 a.m., 13th Street and 9th Avenue: Sergio Flores was arrested on suspicion of DUI by Safford Police when he failed field sobriety tests following a non-injury accident.

• Aug. 7, 3:30 p.m. 1500 block of Reay Lane: Marc J. Ferguson, 54, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after a Thatcher Police officer said he saw Ferguson try to run over another man with his vehicle. Ferguson was also booked on outstanding warrants and TPD has asked the Graham County Attorney’s Office to file aggravated assault, endangerment, and possession of a dangerous drug charges against him.

Man facing trespassing charge

A Thatcher man was booked into the Graham County jail Aug. 3 after his neighbor told police he walked into her house uninvited and then tried to re-enter through her bedroom window.

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According to a Thatcher police report, a West Bingham Street resident told police that a man wearing all black walked into her home around 2:30 p.m. and she immediately escorted him out. The man then went to the rear of her house and tried to get in through the window.

After she called 911, the woman said she saw the man hide in some bushes across the street.

A Thatcher officer wrote in his report he found Jesus Ramirez hiding in a bush on his own property and he “appeared to be under the influence of some drug.” Twice Ramirez told the officer he was getting a piece of wood or little sticks, but denied going into the woman’s house.

“Jesus’ answers and demeanor was off and it was hard to get a clear answer from him,” the officer wrote.

Ramirez was arrested on suspicion of criminal trespass and disorderly conduct. According to the report, he admitted at the jail that he uses methamphetamine daily.

Nude man arrested

A 33-year-old Thatcher man was arrested on an outstanding warrant after being found sleeping in the nude in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Gila Valley Institute Aug. 6.

According to a Thatcher police report, a woman who cleans the institute on North College Avenue entered the building around 6 a.m. and heard someone snoring.

When officers arrived, they found Jon John LeBaron sitting nude in a chair and nearby was a clear bag containing a crystal-like substance and a lighter, the report stated.

LeBaron told officers he’d entered the building the night before when people were still there, but he didn’t remember anything after that point. He said the lighter and the bag were not his, but an officer wrote in his report that LeBaron appeared to be under the influence of drugs.

LeBaron was arrested on an outstanding warrant, but church officials did not want to press trespassing charges, although other church officials said LeBaron had been caught sleeping in the building twice before a few months prior.

Safford woman scammed

A Safford woman fell victim to a computer fraud and lost more than $5,200 as a result.

According to a Safford Police Department report, the woman called police Aug. 3 to report that the day before she’d been working on her computer when an audible alarm sounded and a phone number appeared on her screen.

The woman called the number and over the next several minutes was transferred back and forth between people claiming to be from Microsoft and Chase Bank and who said her computer and bank account had been compromised, the report said.

At the direction of one of the representatives, the woman spent nearly $5,228 on Vanilla Gift Cards and she sent pictures of the cards and the card codes to the Microsoft representative, according to the report. It was only after she was asked for additional funds that she realized she’d been the victim of a fraud, the report said.

Board of Supervisors

approve tax rate

The Graham County Board of Supervisors approved property tax rates Monday for taxing authorities across the county, like school districts, towns and fire districts, most of which had already been passed and approved by those municipalities.

At a previous meeting, County Manager Dustin Welker said they reduced its tax rate this year by 15 cents from $2.75 per $1,000 to $2.60 per $1,000.

The board also approved a plan to use $253,000 of Community Block Development Grant funds to pay for retrofitting both the water fountains and the rubber floor of the playgrounds at the Graham County Fairgrounds. The grant was initially slated to go towards funding a homeless respite center in the county, but Welker said the county believes it can redirect money from the county’s share of funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act to fund the respite center.

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