Archive for Underserving the Verde Valley

Wills and Sigafoos undergo a sudden epiphany when it comes to concern for the underserved student population

Claim they will do something about access for the underserved in the County

Commentary Bob Oliphant

Per the article in the Verde Independent of April 21, 2017 it appears that Yavapai Community College President Penelope Wills and Board President Ray Sigafoos have undergone a sudden epiphany when it comes to concern for the underserved student populations in the County. The article suggested they were “considering putting more money in the pockets of students who need it most.”  It went on to say that they had “expressed interest in finding ways to increase access to education for the underserved lower socioeconomic populations within the County.”

The article quotes Sigafoos as claiming that: “I’ve made the point the last 10 or 12 years, that when we increase the tuition, we ought to be putting aside a bit of that tuition toward some sort of institutional scholarship, so we can keep those people who need those extra dollars.

Pardon me if I find Mr. Sigafoos’ statement hard to swallow and the sudden change in direction by Penelope Wills less than persuasive.  Here is why.

Read More→

College For Kids Summer Program on Verde Campus lags behind Prescott

Verde offers about half the courses available in Prescott

The summer College for Kids program offered by Yavapai College is about ready to get off the ground.  This year, as in years past, the residents on the East side of the County will be offered fewer classes and registration will lag behind Prescott by about two weeks.

college for kids 3college for kids 3The College for Kids program registration has already opened on the Prescott Campus (April 20).  The program on the Verde Campus is not expected to open for registration until May 1, according to the College.  There is no specific College for Kids program in Camp Verde or Sedona.

There are 25 courses listed in the curriculum for the Verde Campus.  However, six of them are contracted out to the Missoula Children’s Theatre.  There are 40 classes listed on the Prescott Campus. 

Persons interested in registering for the Prescott summer program should click here for more information.

Persons interested in registering for the Verde summer program can register online or may call 928-634-6530.  Additional details for the Verde program can be found by clicking here

College schedules 2 of 15 special cultural events in Verde Valley

So far, 1 in Sedona, 1 on Verde Campus, 13 on Prescott Campus

The schedule for sharing major cultural events throughout Yavapai County during the months of April and May has been released by the College.  So far, it appears that of the 15 events scheduled during those two months, only 2 are scheduled for the Verde Valley.

No others are scheduled for anywhere else in the County other than on the Prescott Campus.

The following is the summary published by the College of the forthcoming cultural events, which are subsidized by all the residents of Yavapai County. However, most or them are enjoyed by only a few who have reasonable access to them who live in Prescott/Prescott Valley at the 1,100 seat Community College dinner theatre on the Prescott Campus.


Mountain Institute JTED relationship with CTEC pays off

MIJTED reports receiving more than 9,000 post-secondary credits from Yavapai College in last six years

It was reported in the Daily Courier on December 29 that the Mountain Institute JTED (Joint Technical Education District)  has received more than 9,000 post-secondary credits at Yavapai College. Those college credits were awarded over the past six years.  It also issued more than 1,600 third-party industry certifications.

There is nothing comparable to this in terms of numbers of College credits from Yavapai College for CTE training being awarded on the East side of the County.

West County Wins Again

The MIJTED states that its mission and vision is to provide the highest quality of career and technical education to students in western Yavapai County as well as get them trained, certified, and hired in the workforce. You may read the entire story by clicking here.

The largest benefit to MIJTED students is no doubt the construction of the Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC) by Yavapai Community College at the Prescott airport.  So far, the College has invested around $20 million in taxpayer dollars and grants into that facility. East County residents were not involved in the decision to locate the campus at its present location when the decision was made in 2007.

Unfortunately, the CTEC facility is not available to high school students on the East side of the County.  It is also challenging to access it by non high school students on the East side of the County.  The facility was built essentially for Prescott and Prescott Valley residents using tax money from throughout the County.  The lack of access by East County residents has not troubled the College, which does not run any transportation from the East side of the County to CTEC. It has likewise made no similar investment in CTE training for residents living in the East part of the County.

Second phase of $119 million Master Building Plan well underway

Money flowing like water; huge amount of funds going to Prescott campus

The Penelope Wills’ administration is continuing to pour money as fast as it can into various construction projects throughout the College system.  However, the largest amount of money by far is for, you guessed it, the Prescott Campus.  

money flowing like water 3The efforts by the Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee and the two Verde Valley representatives on the Governing Board to slow down and require the administration to justify these multi-million dollar projects have been for naught.  Wills’ has never had her hands on so much tax money she can spend without interference from the Board.

Here is the latest information on current building projects as of December 29, 2015.

Building 29 on Prescott Campus

Demolition and utility location is underway for the Regional Economic Development Center, Building 29 as design nears completion. Construction documents are expected to be complete on December 16. Construction is scheduled to begin January 11 and continue through June 1, 2016.

Building 31 on Prescott Campus

Site utility location and other civil engineering functions are underway for Lifelong Learning, Building 31. Lifelong Learning staff will be moving to Building 1 Room 200 on December 16 and will return to Building 31 on or about June 1, 2016 which is when construction is scheduled to be complete.

Building 15 on Prescott Campus

Programming of Building 15 is scheduled to kick-off in March of 2016.  According to the College budget, it will spend over $5 million on renovating and construction on this facility.


Chino, CTEC and Prescott Valley will be receiving ramadas for use as outdoor seating. Work is underway to construct the foundations for these units with assembly expected to be complete and ready for use by the end of January.


Buildings 29/30/31 on Prescott Campus:  Pavement Rehabilitation – In design. (Actually most likely capital expense disguised as preventive maintenance.)

Sedona Center Stucco Repair/ Painting – Completion November 13

Sedona Center Roof Replacement – November 16 through December 15

ADA Parking Lot Modifications at the Verde Valley Campus – In design–probably capital project disguised as preventative maintenance.

Smith Group continues control

The Verde Valley Campus and Prescott Campus Wayfinding and Open Space Committees continue to secretly work with SmithGroup/JJR to develop a plan for open space improvements for fiscal years 2016 through 2020.

2015 in Review: Verde Valley suffers heavy losses

Penelope Wills’ administration and West voting block romp over East County in 2015



In reviewing 2015 it is clear that the once again the residents of the East side of Mingus Mountain were trampled by the political power of the West County Wills’ administration and the three-member voting block representing the West County.  Virtually every effort by the Verde Valley to stop the wild spending spree for more and more construction and renovation under the current Administration failed.  A call to come together and “cooperate” in solving the post-secondary education issues in the Verde Valley was ignored by College President Penelope Wills’ and her handlers. They no doubt raised a champagne toast at their year-end party to their continued political post-secondary educational trouncing of the Verde Valley.  Here is the record:

Stomping on high school students for revenue. The Penelope Wills’ administration announced at the December 8, 2015 Governing Board meeting that it was moving ahead on charging each high school student who takes a dual enrollment class at a high school in Yavapai County at least a $10 per credit fee. The administration ignored a letter from all eight Verde Valley Superintendents opposing such a fee. The administration also ignored a letter delivered to the Board containing the unanimous recommendation of the Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee opposing such a fee.

Folks say Wills administration should leave. A poll conducted by the Sedona Redrock News in the late fall showed that 90% of the persons responding were dissatisfied with Yavapai College and its current administration.  Click here to see the poll. Given Wills’ comfortable salary, it is very doubtful she will ever leave. 

Wills’ keeps tight reigns on Verde Valley. The Wills’ administration continued its strategy of filling top administrative spots in the Verde Valley with trusted Prescott employees with the appointment of Kelly Trainer as Assistant Dean. The top four administrators on the Verde Campus/Sedona Center all reside in the Prescott area and are considered Wills’ loyalists.

Wow—now you know why millions in construction money is available to Wills. The Arizona Tax Research Association (ATRA) released a report in September, 2015 showing that Yavapai College is collecting double the amount of property tax per full-time student than is the average in Arizona.  You may read the report by clicking here.  Despite this evidence, Wills’ insisted on increasing student tuition and property taxes in 2015.

You’ve got to be kidding. A wine tasting room was opened on the Verde Campus with the College setting $50,000 as the revenue goal for the room in its first year of operation.

Don’t tread on me. The suggestion by the Board Advisory Committee for a joint meeting with the Governing Board, the Administration and the Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee to discuss a long list of post-secondary educational issues affecting the Valley  was snubbed by Wills’ and the three-member voting block on the West side of the County. In response to the Advisory Committee’s Chair’s request for a meeting, District Governing Board Chair Pat McCarver said in ignoring the request:  “You shouldn’t have to negotiate with our own committee.”

So, I was fibbing; I’m a politician. New District Governing Board member Steve Irwin had his first chance to vote on a property tax increase in June. During his campaign for the Board seat in 2014 he had promised that “A vote for me equals no new taxes.”  Irwin was the swing vote that pushed property taxes up once again for County homeowners.  So much for facebook political campaign promises.

Property taxes go up. The Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee recommended to the Governing Board that it not increase property taxes at its June, 2015 meeting. The District Governing Board (3-2) voted to increase taxes.  This was the 6th time in the last ten years that property taxes have been increased. (The dissenting votes were the two Verde Valley representatives.)  Residents now pay more in primary property taxes to Yavapai College than to Yavapai County.

Keep hitting the College students for more money. The Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee recommended no tuition increase in 2015. The District Board 3-2 voted to increase tuition—the 10th time tuition of some kind was increased in the last ten years.  (The dissenting votes were the two Verde Valley representatives.)

What? You need a plan? Not in Prescott. The Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee recommended that there be a short moratorium on building projects until a strategic plan that included the Verde Valley and Sedona be in place.  It was ignored at the June, 2015 Board meeting by a vote of 3-2.  (The dissenting votes were the two Verde Valley representatives.) Read More→

Cottonwood Journal Extra Newspaper Slams College Appointments

Says “College staff will never care from far side of mountain”

An editorial in the December 23 Cottonwood Journal, written by Managing Editor Christopher Fox Graham, slammed the continued appointment of the Deans hired to supervise the Verde Valley and Sedona College facilities who live outside the area (and have no intention of moving here).  The editorial was based on a front page story in the same issue, “Board fumes over college staffing.”  The article reported on the most recent Dean to be hired for the Verde Valley, Kelly Trainor, who resides in Prescott.  (The online version of the newspaper article may be found by clicking here.)

Deb McCasland 4

The Blog has pointed out in earlier postings that the top 4 administrative appointments to the Verde Valley Campus and the Sedona Center have all been Prescott area residents.  And none of the appointees have indicated they will move from the Prescott area to the Verde Valley.


Graham wrote:  “A lot of phrases come to mind when we think of how Yavapai College views the Verde Valley, but `I think the Verde Valley is getting shafted,’ is perhaps the best, spoken by none other than Yavapai College District Governing Board member Deb McCasland, who along with Al Filardo, represents Verde Valley interests.”  He asked one to imagine that the Governor of Arizona flew home to California after a day’s work at the state capital and analogized the image to the Prescott resident administrators running the Community College in the Verde Valley.

Does Penelope Wills intentionally make these appointments to control the Verde Valley?

He pointed out that “Deans who do not live in the Verde Valley do not hear concerns from neighbors, nor do they bump into residents at the grocery store, nor do they enroll their children at Mingus Union, Camp Verde nor Sedona Red Rock high schools and hear about their children’ friends’ college plans.  They have no community connection to the Verde Valley, which perhaps is exactly what Wills wants.”  (The complete editorial may be read by clicking here.)

Verde representatives question appointment of Associate Dean to Verde Campus

Governing Board has no say in hiring as Prescott folks dominate Verde Valley posts

The Verde Valley representatives to the District Governing Board raised questions about the appointment of the new Associate Dean of the Verde Valley Campus in a story written by Zachary Jernigan for the December 18 edition of the Sedona Red Rock News.  The last four important positions in the Verde Valley have all been made by President Penelope Wills and have gone to Prescott employees who live in the Prescott/Prescott Valley/Chino Valley area.  (The names, positions, and residence of the appointments are contained in the diagram that appears below.)

Prescott dominatin in the Verde Valley 2


The Verde Valley is getting shafted

District Two Representative Deb McCasland told Mr. Jernigan during her interview that “I think the Verde Valley is getting shafted” with the hiring of the new Associate Dean, Kelly Trainor. McCasland lamented that “the board has no authority over the president” when it comes to hiring top employees.

District Three Representative Al Filardo told the News that he was putting the issue on the agenda for discussion at the January, 2016 Governing Board meeting.

Wills not very responsive

The News asked President Penelope Wills why  the college would not “expect an administrator to relocate to the area he or she would represent.”  Wills’ responded that she would “be glad to chat” but failed to provide the News with a time when she would be available or when she would next be in Sedona or the Verde Valley. Representative Filardo did not respond to the question.

College extends soccer field lease agreement with Prescott Valley

College now leases soccer fields in Prescott Valley and Prescott, which adds to the huge disparity in sports facilitates  between the East and West sides of Yavapai County

The Yavapai Community College Governing Board at the December, 2015 meeting agreed to a five-year contract with Prescott Valley for the use of the Mountain Valley Park Amphitheater for its soccer team.  The agreement may be terminated by mutual agreement upon 30 days written notice.

The Community College now has athletic facilities that are comparable to a four-year college or small university on the West side of the County.  The East side of the County, with about one-third of the population ,has nothing comparable. Furthermore, it takes part in virtually none of the athletic endeavors promoted by the Prescott administrators for Prescott and Prescott Valley.

The following is a comparison between the athletic facilities on the Prescott Campus and those on the Verde Campus, Sedona Center, and Camp Verde.  As you can see, almost all of taxpayer money over the last half century has been plowed into the West side of the County to build and lease athletic facilities the exclusion of about 75,000 residents on the East side of the County.

comparing athletic facilities

CTEC renovations completed for $5.2 million

College Celebrates “Grand re-opening” 

The public attended an open house event at Yavapai College’s Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC) at the Prescott airport on Saturday, October 10. The open house was intended to celebrate CTEC and learn more about the facility’s recent renovations and the valuable programs it offers. A brief program of welcome and remarks about the project was given to those in attendance.CTEC GRAND OPENING SHOP 2


The CTEC Campus is enclosed by a 108,000 square foot building, which sits on an eight-acre site. It houses 12 programs and the Yavapai College Rural Center for Entrepreneurship.

The $5.2 million renovation accomplished the following:

Added four new classrooms

Expanded space and labs for several programs

Incorporated 10,000 square feet of storage space

Enlarged the student computer commons

Created two computer labs

Replaced aging overhead lights with energy efficient LED lights

Added noise abatement features.

Programs offered through CTEC include Electronic Technology, Gunsmithing, Welding, Industrial Machine Mechanic, and Applied Pre-Engineering. The College reports that technical education is one of Yavapai College’s fastest growing offerings and prepares students for well-paying careers while helping to boost the local economy.

Blatant unfairness. None of the programs offered at CTEC today are available to High School students in Sedona and the Verde Valley.  Almost all of them are available to High School students on the West side of the County.  The unfairness of this situation has existed now for about 8 years, when the College administration closed down the development of the Northern Arizona Regional Skills Center on the Verde Campus and moved most, if not all, CTE training to the Prescott side of Yavapai County.