Cities ponder history projects for Arizona centennial in 2012
The Arizona Republic 
Apr. 20, 2007

Jessica Coomes

A gunfight re-enactment and repairs to Hunt's Tomb could be among the history projects that will be popping up across Arizona in the coming five years.

Representatives of communities throughout the state rallied Thursday at Papago Park and started brainstorming how they could memorialize their chunk of Arizona history.

Many now will form local commissions and design projects in time for the state's 100th birthday on Feb. 14, 2012. "This celebration is going to be an opportunity for us to highlight for our young people what Arizona has,"
Senate President Tim Bee said.

The projects will come as the face of Arizona continues to change with new homes, developments and residents.

Preserving history in the midst of development is crucial in Florence, which has about 6,000 residents and is expected to have as many as 25,000 in five years, Mayor Tom Rankin said.

"One of the biggest things for me as mayor is to get the new people to hang on to our heritage, let them become part of our heritage," Rankin said.

He said he is mulling the idea of recreating the social lives of early residents with re-enactments of barn dances and box suppers, in which women make picnics, and men bid on the meals, and the winners get to eat with the cooks.

Rankin also said he has ideas of parades and a re-enactment of the town's only gunfight. All of that could draw people in to visit the town, he said.

Phoenix City Councilman Greg Stanton said he already is on a committee with representatives from Scottsdale and Tempe, and they are talking about how to improve Papago Park in time for the centennial.

The golf course needs to be improved, as do vegetation, signage, hiking trails and the pyramid that entombs Arizona's first governor, George W.P.

As one of Arizona's oldest communities, but the newest municipality, Star Valley could do a centennial project to build mountain trails, Mayor Chuck Heron said.

Star Valley, which is near Payson and has nearly 2,300 residents, became a town in 2005.

A point of pride in Paradise Valley is a small park with a statue of former town resident and 1964 presidential nominee Barry Goldwater. Town Councilwoman Jini Simpson said she could see the community's centennial project adding to the park.

Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley said he is brainstorming the feasibility of building a plaza among the county buildings in Phoenix as the county's centennial project.

These and other "legacy projects" could be funded with private and public money.

The state will be able to dole out $7.5 million: $2.5 million of public funds and $5 million yet-to-be-raised donations.

"Five years seems like a long time," House Speaker Jim Weiers said. "But it's not."

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