Slow Down

Star Valley mayor fights to lower speed limit


Star Valley Mayor Chuck Heron is doing everything in his power to prevent another accident like the one Sunday, Nov. 11, that claimed the lives of two Valley teenagers.

Hope Williams and Charles Andrew Walters, both 18, were killed when their car collided with an eastbound truck driven by 27-year-old Luke Sadowski.


Star Valley Mayor Chuck Heron has been trying to get the Arizona Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit on a stretch of Highway 260 east of downtown Star Valley to the Gila County Maintenance Yard. Two students recently died on that same stretch of road, which has limited visibility and a sharp curve, Heron said.

Sadowski was transported to a Valley hospital with serious, but non-life-threatening, injuries.

The stretch of Highway 260 east of Star Valley between Steve Coury Ford and the Gila County Maintenance Yard, where the accident occurred, "has no visibility, the curve is too sharp and there is no real shoulder," in Heron's opinion.

He may be right.

According to Payson Police records, 12 accidents with serious injury have occurred from Highway 87 to Lion Springs Road in the last year. Payson PD has had a contract for police services in Star Valley since its incorporation.

Police Chief Don Engler said he wasn't aware of any other fatalities in that stretch of highway east of Star Valley in the last two years, besides the double-fatality last weekend.

But Heron said he could recall several serious accidents in that area in the last decade or so.

Heron wants the speed limit in that area reduced to prevent future accidents.

He appealed to an Arizona Department of Transportation District Engineer in March, but to no avail. The letter he received back indicated ADOT officials believed that "55 miles per hour is the appropriate speed for that area."

Heron said he called the district engineer who sent the letter and said he would keep it until another accident occurred in the area.

"Sure enough that accident last weekend was in the same stretch," Heron said.

While ADOT did move the 45 mph sign 500 feet east past Steve Coury Ford in April, Heron said it is not far enough.

The accident on Sunday renewed Heron's sense of urgency to get the speed limit lowered.

Heron said he spoke with ADOT Director Victor Mendez on Wednesday. Mendez assured Heron "he'd get right on it."

"(Mendez) promised someone would come out and re-evaluate the area," Heron said.

Heron's hope is that the 10-mile-per-hour drop in speed will allow for safer passage through that stretch of highway.

"We want it two-tenths of a mile east of the county yard," he said. "We want it 45 (mph) all the way down."

Heron said he is optimistic the change will happen soon.

"I'm holding onto good thought," he said.

Council looks into sewer treatment partnership

The Star Valley Council held a work-study session on Tuesday to discuss options regarding a sewer treatment plant partnership.

The town is in the process of condemning a portion of Brooke Utilities that services residents of the town. The purchase or development of a sewer treatment plant is another process the town will likely need to take on in the near future.

Town Manager Vito Tedeschi will look into hiring a consultant for review of the sewer treatment plant process.

In the special meeting held following the work-study, the council held a first reading and public hearing regarding non-conforming uses and structures in town.

The ordinance deals with the structures, which would not be in compliance with the regulations set forth if the ordinance is approved.

The council voted 6-0 to send the ordinance back to the Planning and Zoning Commission for clarification. The wording of the ordinance, which was sent to the council after being approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission, was confusing for some of the councilors. The Planning and Zoning Commission will review the ordinance at its next meeting in December and it will return to the council sometime in January.

The council voted unanimously to change banking services to Chase Bank, contingent upon Tedeschi reviewing offerings at First State Bank.

The council voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance adding modifications from the Model City Tax Code to the town's tax code, allowing for

local audits.

The measure will allow local audits, of which the funds collected will be used for the town's police services fund.

The council also held a first reading and public hearing on architectural design review guidelines.

The council voted 5-1 with councilor Art Lloyd dissenting on the guidelines, which were created by the Design Review Commission.

The guidelines include details about regulation of building design, color, landscaping and signage.

The Design Review Commission also included pictures of model building from around the Payson area, such as Sawmill Theatres, McDonald's, Chili's and Fargo's Steakhouse.

The council will hold a second reading on the issue at the Nov. 20 regular meeting.

Councilor Mary Ann Kotelnicki was not in attendance at the meeting.

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