Christensen Appointed To

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Gila County District 1 Supervisor Ron Christensen appeared on C-Span last week to field questions on domestic terrorism from a rural perspective.

"A big issue is how rural counties would be affected by an attack in, say, Phoenix," Christensen said.

"The Palo Verde (nuclear power) plant would be the biggest target in this area, but dams and waterways are also possible. At the very least, it would be very disruptive. We take for granted our basic systems, yet look how they can be disrupted by something as simple as lightning.

"If something got blown up, we'd have a real problem on our hands."

Christensen, who has been appointed to serve on President Bush's Homeland Security Task Force, spent much of the week in Washington, D.C., working to establish guidelines and priorities and meeting with legislators and other government officials. He says rural areas face special challenges.

"It's very costly to keep everybody at this heightened state of readiness," he said. "I told the White House we do not have the resources in rural America to indefinitely meet this challenge financially, and they are well aware of that."

Questions called in during Christensen's appearance on C-Span came from around the world, and dealt with a wide range of terrorism-related issues, including the anthrax scare and the security of food and water sources.

"I basically answered the questions and told them to be more vigilant and observant," Christensen said.

It's the same advice he recommends for Gila County residents.

"We want them to take a cue from the federal government, which is cracking down on things like student visas, and be aware of their surroundings and of suspicious people.

"We especially want them to pay attention to what they get in the mail," he said. "Because of the mail scare, no area is immune."

On the other hand, Christensen said there is no reason to panic.

"There's not much danger where we live, but when people travel and go back and forth to the Valley, they especially need to be more cautious and vigilant," he said.

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