“The only thing that is constant is change.”
Boy, those ancient Greek philosophers really knew their stuff.
The above quote, courtesy of Heraclitus, is really appropriate these days in the Gila Valley, as there’s a whole bunch of change happening now.
The directors of Our Neighbor’s Farm & Pantry, Max Crain and Sherri Clixby, announced their plans to retire; Patrick O’Donnell, executive director for the Graham County Chamber of Commerce, announced he was resigning his position at the end of the month; and Steve Ahmann told the Greenlee County Tourism Council he was resigning his presidency with the group due to other area commitments.
Add in that the United Way of Graham and Greenlee Counties is in the process of hiring a new executive director, and that’s a lot of change in a very short period of time.
We don’t believe change is a bad thing; however, in each of three cases of persons stepping down, we find ourselves wishing for no change.
Crain and Clixby had done a tremendous job with Our Neighbor’s Farm & Pantry, building it into a sustainable food bank for area residents in need. But, perhaps more importantly, Crain and Clixby have done amazing work with area schoolchildren, giving them hands-on lessons in Earth science as well as the benefits of healthy eating.
The work the two have done with area youths over the last nearly seven years will produce positive results in the area for decades to come.
In a relatively short period of time — slightly less than three years — O’Donnell has spearheaded an 18-percent increase in Chamber of Commerce membership; supported multiple events in the area, including the Courier’s Gila Valley Comic-Con, 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament and 15 Over/Under 40; and has developed multiple new, successful events, including The Wine, Art, History & Music Festival, The Home Expo and The Graham Blues Fest.
O’Donnell has been the face of Graham County to tourists during his tenure, and our local tourism industry is more successful due to his efforts.
Speaking of tourism, Ahmann has been tireless in his drive to increase tourism to Greenlee County. Which should come as no surprise to anyone who has had any dealing with the man — he 100 percent throws himself into whatever task he’s given.
Under Ahmann’s watchful eye, support for the Javelina Chase grew. And while the Clifton Hill Climb wound up being canceled this year, it wasn’t because of a lack of support by Ahmann, his committee and local officials (it was an insurance issue with the promoter). In fact, Ahmann and other officials are talking with a new promoter who is looking to come on board and revive the event.
Ahmann also spearheaded efforts to convince the Arizona Department of Transportation to continue funding maintenance and repairs on the Coronado Trail (U.S. Highway 191 north of Morenci), not only for safety reasons, but because the trail is a tourism asset and revenue generator.
The work of this group of diverse individuals has made Graham and Greenlee counties better, and each will be missed. Hopefully, their successors will be able to build on the great work these people have done and continue moving the area in a positive direction.
2018 also gave us a new Graham County manager, a new town manager for Thatcher and a new president of Eastern Arizona College.
It’s been a heck of a year in the Gila Valley in terms of change, which makes us wonder what’s in store for us in 2019.