Diamond Star Council Hits Ground Running

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Due to some pressing issues, most notably stopping the town of Payson from using their water to build subdivisions, the new Diamond Star Town Council agreed to meet weekly for the time being.

"I think time is of the essence," Councilor Art Lloyd, who made the motion, said. "We've got some storm clouds on the horizon, and there are decisions we're going to have to think through and make fairly quickly."

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Randy White (standing) shares a light moment with attendees as he opens the first Diamond Star Town Council meeting. Ronnie O. McDaniel (seated) was later elected interim mayor and White interim vice mayor. The council meets tonight (Tuesday) at 6 p.m. at the Diamond Star Fire Department.

Meetings will be held every Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Diamond Star Fire Department, commencing Nov. 8.

At its initial meeting Thursday evening at Phil White Ford, the new town council also elected Ronnie McDaniel mayor and Randy White vice mayor.

"It's a historic thing for us to go through," the new mayor said in brief opening remarks. "There's going to be some bumpy roads, but I think these are the people up here who can get us over them."

Diane McDaniel was appointed interim town clerk. She will not be paid for her services. Fredda Bisman, a municipal attorney from the Valley, said the town cannot wait until it's able to pay a clerk to fill the position.

"A town clerk is critically important as you get started to keep your minutes, to publish your agendas and your notices -- all the things that are required by the open meeting law now that you're an incorporated town," Bisman said.

The council also authorized Lloyd to pursue a line of credit for the new town with local financial institutions.

Thomas Belshe, member services director for the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, was at the meeting to provide organizational support.

"You do have to open a line of credit until such time as you have your state shared revenue," Belshe told the council. "There is some you receive immediately the first full month after incorporation."

The new council also voted to retain Bisman's law firm -- Mariscal, Weeks, McIntyre & Friedlander -- to represent the town.

"I'm with a 60-attorney general practice firm, but we have a municipal law section and several of us represent cities and towns," Bisman said. "I would be very honored to work with you."

Elections to replace the interim town council will be held early next year.

"Because of the date you incorporated you have time to complete all the statutory-required items before the March-May election cycle," Belshe told the council. "State statute requires you to do a spring election."

After the meeting, McDaniel, a retired judge, said he would not be a candidate for mayor at that time.

"You never say never, but I'm 99 and three-quarters percent sure I won't run," he said. "Retirement is too good."

Also after the meeting, Belshe told the Roundup that the incorporation of Diamond Star caught his organization somewhat by surprise.

"Normally we've already done several meetings with cities considering incorporation," Belshe said, "and we're pretty far down the road. We didn't find out about this until about a week ago."

About 100 people, including a contingent bearing a sign that read "Friends from Payson," showed up to support the new council and to continue the celebration that erupted Tuesday when the Gila County Board of Supervisors accepted petitions bearing the signatures of 977 residents and declared the town incorporated.

The decision marked the culmination of a 10-month struggle with the town of Payson, which was originally asked to annex the community.

Most in attendance at the historic first council meeting agreed with McDaniel that the road ahead will not be easy. But this was a night to savor a hard-fought victory.

The crowd laughed easily, even when they discovered the public comment section was accidentally left off the agenda.

"So the new council screwed up already," somebody quipped from the back of the room.

Several members of the new council emphasized that all meetings will be open to the public, and that a public comment session will be on all future agendas.

See related stories:


Supervisors approve Diamond Star incorporation (Nov. 4)


Diamond Star reaches out to make peace with Payson (Nov. 1)


County may grant Diamond Star town status Nov. 1 (Oct. 25)

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