"Wow, what a ride," declared Star Valley Mayor Charles Heron at the start of his second state-of-the-town address at the Tuesday, Jan. 15 council meeting -- highlighting the balanced budget, water battles, chip-sealed streets, town hall expansions and annexations that tripled the size of he fledgling town.
Above all, he said the town whose incorporation was spurred by concerns about groundwater has lived by the environmental adage -- "don't eat your seed corn."
"Sustainable growth is a triangle with three blocks -- economy, community and environment.
"It's no secret that environment is the block that has been shortchanged in Arizona's rapid growth -- but that's the primary reason this town was formed."
The mayor's upbeat summary of the town's status came at the opening of a lightly attended town council meeting that also focused on town efforts to lobby for the donation of hundreds of acres of federal land for public uses, a tougher law for businesses approved by the county that don't confirm to town zoning or building codes, a review of $140,000 in federal grants passed along to the city by the state, approval of a new $17,500 four-wheel drive truck for the town's building inspector and an update on other town business.
Heron's state-of-the-town speech mostly highlighted the positive developments in the two years since incorporation.
For instance, a so-far wet winter that has delivered 22 inches of rain has eased the concerns about dropping well levels that played such a key role in the original drive to incorporate the town. The town has recorded rising water levels in 15 of the 16 wells in town since this time last year, including some wells that have risen an impressive six feet.
Heron also hailed a plan to develop a town ordinance that would regulate groundwater pumping and limit the drawdown of groundwater for non-essential uses.
He noted that sinking a well was an easy solution to sustaining growth, but not a sustainable one when well levels are dropping.
"Fritos are good, too, but not when you make them out of the seed corn," he said, referring to the seed stock farmers must not eat or sell, in order to plant the next year's crop.
Other developments the mayor highlighted included;
- Chip sealing two miles of road;
- Installing 155 new traffic signs;
- Moving the city hall out of a couple of rooms in the Baptist Church to a small leased office on Highway 260 at a cost of just $30,000.