Year in review

By Bob Hembree
Lake Powell Chronicle

Page is a busy little town with its events, its ups and downs, its slow but steady progress and its reviving sense of community. This year-end review is by no means comprehensive. The year’s events could easily fill volumes.
Horseshoe Bend parking lot construction begins.
Navajo Nation considers purchase of Navajo Generating Station and Peabody Western Coal Company’s Kayenta Mine.
Arizona minimum wage increases to $11 an hour (it increases to $12 an hour Jan. 1, 2020).
Page begins to feel the effect of the federal government shutdown that began Dec. 22, 2018. Services resumed Jan. 25, 2019.
Arizona Interscholastic Association begins girls high school wrestling league.
Tim Suan is hired as Page community development director.
Mayor Levi Tappan gives his first State of the City Address. Tappan, stressing community involvement, said, “The first thing we’re going to do is rebuild Page …. The world we live in now is different than it was a decade ago, a year ago, a month ago; even last week.”
Six Page wrestlers, Zachery Ruiz, Kaleb June, Ethan Tate, Kimball Begay, Ted Parkett and Cheyenne Richardson place first at the 3A North Championships

Steven Law resigns as Editor of the Lake Powell Chronicle to become public relations coordinator for the Page Unified School District. Michael Caywood is named publisher for the Chronicle’s revised business model. He said, “I’m hoping we make some changes, and bring some excitement to our readership, viewership, our audience.”
Three Sand Devils wrestlers, Zachery Ruiz, Kimball Begay, and Cheyenne Richardson earn state championships.
Shantell Manymules, Leah Reed, Sharmayne Crank, and Latasha Slim made history when they wrestled in the first official Arizona Interscholastic Association-sanctioned girls state wrestling tournament.
The Lady Sand Devils basketball team win a second straight 3A North State Championship.
The Grand Canyon celebrates its 100th anniversary as a national park.

Navajo Nation’s acquisition of the Navajo Generating Station from the Salt River Project stalls over SRP demands. Shortly after, Navajo lawmakers vote against legislation supporting Navajo Transitional Energy Company’s efforts to acquire NGS and the Kayenta Mine to keep them running.
City opens skatepark at John C. Memorial Park.
Hundreds of runners participate in Antelope Canyon Ultra.

Drew Sanders takes over as new chief at Page Police Department. He fills the vacancy left by Frank Balkan who left in December 2018. Balkan left because of differences with City Manager Michael Celaya. Page Police Lt. Timothy Lange acted as interim chief for five months.
Page High School Concert Choir earns ‘Excellent with Distinction’ at the State High School Festival.
Navajo Generating Station’s fate is sealed. Closure is imminent.
Carolene Ekis wins Page America Award at the 2018 Best of Page Award. Bill Diak is voted Citizen of the Year. Cathy Steffen is voted Humanitarian of the Year.
30th annual Arizona Special Olympics took place at the Page High Cyclone Stadium, despite federal government cutting support.
City cuts library budget, leading to reduced hours, early retirements and job transfers to other departments. Citizens organized and dominated City Council meetings for several weeks to voice concerns. Page Public Library wins America’s Star Award, ranking it one of the best in the country in the $200,000 to $399,999 budget category.
Page High School students perform the musical play, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” Director Lynda Nolan said, “It’s a play that shows the importance of the roles of women in the lives of men.”
Page resident Paul Baughman and crew hold the first Horseshoe Bend Obstacle Course Race, drawing over 200 racers from around the country.
Page residents are shocked when Ashley Ann Iverson is arrested for child pornography charges and alleged involvement with a child porn ring. She was transported to the Washington D.C. by the FBI for a long string of court proceedings that are still ongoing. The most recent information is she’s negotiating a plea bargain.

Page City Council continues to battle with traffic safety at Horseshoe Bend and the new city-financed parking lot. Among solutions discussed was a $5 walk-in fee. The idea was shelved the following meeting. The council passes an emergency ordinance prohibiting vehicles from loading and unloading passengers along the entry road to Horseshoe Bend. Violators face up to a $300 fine.
Page Middle School boys’ track and field team win state championship
Page High track and field win 3A North Regional championship
Page Police and Coconino Sheriff’s departments investigate the death of a 6-year-old girl. Her grandparents and mother were later charged with murder. The girl’s death was attributed to drugs.
Arizona becomes the 48th state to pass laws limiting cellphone use while driving. The law takes full effect Jan. 1, 2021.
Page High School graduate Paige Chee, at 16 years old, is nominated for The Congress of Future Medical Leaders.

Page High student Anna Kidman is selected for All-State Honor Choir
The Chamber Page-Lake Powell presents Page High graduate Patrick St. Germain with a $1,000 scholarship at Coconino Community College’s 2019 commencement.
Horseshoe Bend traffic continues to dominate City Council meetings. Then City Manager Michael Celaya tells the council, “we’ve made mistakes.” Police Chief Drew Sanders, already short-staffed, got a taste of how bad things can get on Memorial Day weekend. It got so bad the Arizona Department of Transportation had to close U.S. Route 89 and the Horseshoe Bend parking lot for nearly two hours. He asked the council for $50,000 to take proactive measures for July 4 traffic. He needed equipment and funds to cover police and staff overtime. Council approved unanimously.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area proposes a fee for Beehives Primitive Campground. NRA officials said the fees allow the National Park Service to invest in the improvements necessary for public safety and sanitation.
Academy Drum and Bugle Corp, featuring North America’s top student musicians, rehearses at Page High Cyclone Stadium, then performs a Send-Off Show before heading to California.
The John Wesley Powell Museum closed its doors to the public after most the building was flooded. Remodeling plans were already in place. The flood moved the timing closer. No date was given for reopening the museum.
Coconino County District 5 Supervisor Lena Fowler is named chair of the board of supervisors.
Page City Council approves $50,000 in grants for business facelifts. Local businesses showed little interest.

Page Police arrest suspect Elias Isaac Laughter three days after Dollar General armed robbery. No money was taken, but robber snatches clerk’s cellphone to prevent him from calling 911.
Glen Canyon Recreation Area receives $50,000 in funding to begin construction of the Glen Canyon Rim Trail. The new trail will go from the rim of Horseshoe Bend to the Glen Canyon Dam, with possible future connection to the City of Page’s Rim View Trail.

Police proactive planning pays off for July 4 Horseshoe Bend traffic. Police Chief Sanders said the HSB operation was a success.
Leland “Bubba” Billie is named head football coach at Page High School. He replaces Mitchell Stephens, who resigned after leading the Sand Devils to a 18-5 record the past two seasons.
Big John’s Texas Barbecue is burglarized, police later arrested a suspect, Dalton Oberbeck, a former employee.
Direct descendants of the Powell family visit Page for 150th anniversary of the Powell Expedition.
Mark Regan Burkett is arrested for Reno murder. Burkett, a registered nurse at Page Banner Hospital, was extradited to Washoe County Jail in Nevada to face charges. The case is still ongoing. The next court date is scheduled for early Jan. 9, 2020. Records show he’s currently out on bail.
Page City Council votes not to renew City Manager, Michael Celaya’ employment contract. Celaya served one year.
The Page City Council unanimously approves $8 million ‘Rainy Day’ fund.

Lake Powell Chronicle turns 55-years-old.
Ryan Hensman of Page is booked into the Coconino County Jail. The suspect was charged with one count of sexual conduct with a minor under 15 and three counts of sexual assault.
An unidentified man’s body is found in a pond at Lake Powell National Golf Course by National Park Service divers.
The last trainload of coal is delivered to Navajo Generating Station from the Kayenta Mine.
Page Police arrest traces to Zimbabwe crime ring.  According to police, “The investigation revealed Madyira went to the UPS sorting facility in Page and attempted to take possession of a package containing numerous cell phones that had been ordered by fraudulent means, using a local nonprofit organization’s shipping information. When contacted by police, Madyira provided a name and forged identification card that were not his own.” Madyira was booked as “Jacob Daniel Smith.” Police soon discovered Madyira’s real identity with a fingerprint match. A Chronicle investigation discovered Madyira, then 25 years old, was arrested and convicted in 2013 for a similar crime in Cincinnati, Ohio. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 months and one day for selling a list of stolen identities to a Zimbabwe crime ring. The ring used stolen identities to obtain at least $5 million in fraudulent tax refunds.
Northern Arizona Region Re-Employment Center opens.

Danny Cox, a flight medic for Classic Air Medical, is honored after completing his 2,000th patient transport mission for the air ambulance transport service on Sept. 4.
Page Police investigate the deaths of Page residents Julie Ann Wilson, 56 and Lavar David Whitmer, 49. Police said, “The preliminary investigation did not reveal an apparent cause of death.” The case is still under investigation. Police are currently waiting for DNA testing.
All Nations Seventh-day Adventist Church and F5 Challenge provide free dental care and medical services for two days. Eight dentists, a family physician, and a dermatologist set up a temporary tent clinic.
Navajo Generating Station enters its final phase of operation. Plant manager, Joe Frazier said, “After several years of discussion, negotiations, many news reports amid even more speculation, and – most recently – planning for the decommissioning phase, NGS became a two-unit power plant.” About 300 NGS employees will transfer to other Salt River Project facilities.
Page High School’s color guard takes first place in the fall season’s first outdoor competition.

Paul Baughman and crew follow the successful Horseshoe Bend Obstacle Course Race with Lake Powell OCR. The oldest participant was 70-year-old Linda Usher from Massachusetts.
All-American Fuels is burglarized. A window was smashed, and a small amount of cash, beer and cigarettes were stolen. Page Police arrested suspect DeMarcus Pacheco a week later.
Page Hospital employees raise over $4,000 for our local nonprofit organizations through our Better Together Campaign.
Three homes are destroyed by fire in Page. The community was quick to help victims with donations.
Hundreds of men and women stand in line at the PERA Club to apply for Navajo Generating Station decommissioning jobs.
Page High’s annual homecoming week features a bonfire, a car smashing event, a Powder Puff game, a homecoming parade down South Lake Powell Boulevard, a football game against the Ganado Hornets, among other events. The theme for homecoming was “Devils steal the show.”
Page Police responded to a fight near Safeway and arrest suspect, Kendall Ray Lane. An officer was stabbed in the face and forced to use his weapon against Lane, shooting him in the arm. Both were released from the hospital the same evening.
17th annual Page-Lake Powell Balloon Regatta is greeted by perfect weather. The three-day event filled the town with locals and tourists from near and afar.

Page High School Runnin’ Devils win the 3A State Cross Country Championship for the sixth year in a row
Three Page High School students are selected to attend the Western International Band Clinic. Antonia Muskat, Timothy Snell, and Cailin Baughman are the only students from Arizona invited to attend the prestigious event.
Downtown Page observes Veterans Day with a parade.
After 45 years of providing power, the Navajo Generating Station shuts down permanently. Shayne Jones, NGS maintenance manager said, “Three turbine generators sit idle and quiet. The DCS screens in the control rooms no longer display operating systems of a live power plant. The cooling tower plumes which in winter created their own clouds and sometimes weather patterns will soon be invisible. The steady hum that can be heard for miles on a calm day is now as quiet as a mouse.”
Darren Coldwell begins as Page city manager. Coldwell comes from Montana. He served as county administrator for Lincoln County, mayor of Troy, and served on the Troy school board.
Golfers raised money for the Page Little League Baseball and Softball program at the Page-Lake Powell Golf Course. Trent Sutherland, president of Page Little League said, “SRP was a huge part of what kept the league going. Now that that’s gone, we’ve had to come up with different ways to bring money in to keep the Little League program going. This is our first annual golf tournament course.”
To help raise funds for the annual Shop with a Cop/Firefighter program, the Page Police Department plays a basketball game against the Page Fire Department. Page PD won with a score of 25-24. The event at Page Middle School, raised about $1,100.

In addition to improvements in front of Horseshoe Bend, Page officials begin working with Arizona Department of Transportation to make U.S. 89 intersection safety improvements.
The Lady Sand Devils carry home the trophy at this year’s Lake Powell Holiday Classic after defeating the Tuba City Warriors 42-30 in the tournament’s championship.
The Sand Devils basketball team are this year’s champions at the Sedona Invitational.
Shop with a Cop/Fireman program raises $10,982 in donations from the community through the police and fire departments’ basketball fundraiser, Hot N’ Sweet Donuts, and Antelope Canyon Tours by Carolene Ekis Fundraiser. “We had a total of 85 children on the list that qualified and had 73 children show up for the event,” said Sandi Klain, executive management assistant for Page Police Department.