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YuCount Newsletter MARCH 2020


Post Date:03/05/2020 11:21 AM

I hope you are enjoying March in Yuma County, along with all our winter visitors.  

March includes a number of notable dates:

  • March 7 is officially national Employee Appreciation Day, which is an opportunity for all of us express our appreciation to employees and coworkers. Yuma County has designated the month of April each year for our largest employee recognition events (more on that later).
  • March 8 the rest of the country moves ahead one hour for Daily Savings Time, while Arizona stays the same.  
  • March 17 is St. Patrick's Day – the wearin’ of the green!
  • March 17 is also Election Day - the Presidential Preference Election, only for registered Democrats, takes place on this date.
  • March 19 is the official first day of Spring.
  • March 31 is César Chávez Day, to recognize the Latino civil rights leader who led non-violent protests in California during the 1960s and ‘70s in support of farmworker rights.  

In addition to these dates, there are plenty of special events happening throughout the month of March for you, your family and friends to enjoy! They include:

  • Midnight at the Oasis, March 6-8 - Classic car show and Nostalgia Festival for classic cars 1972 and older (about 900 cars are expected to be on display).
  • Yuma Airshow at MCAS, March 13-14 - The Show will feature military and civilian demonstrations, including F-5 Tiger II, AV-8B Harrier demonstration, MV-22 Osprey demonstration, and Tora Tora Tora Commemorative Air Force.
  • Music on Main, March 14 - to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
  • Easter Egg Hunt, March 29 at Yuma Palms (with various start times by age group).
    You can get all the details for these events and more at

As mentioned, April will be Yuma County's Employee Appreciation Month proclamation and, on April 15, our recognition event for employees who have reached years of service milestones with Yuma County, as well as our annual County and Courts Employee of the Year nominees, Safety Excellence Award nominees and announcement of the winners in each category. Please mark your calendar and plan to attend Wednesday, April 15 from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm at the Historic Theater in downtown Yuma.

March is an important time in our annual budget process. The Budget Review Team is in the process of meeting with every department director and agency head to learn about their budget requests and their highest priorities for next fiscal year.  It is also a time when the Arizona Legislature is in session. The County monitors the bills being introduced and their impact on the County and our ability to provide services or to pay for unfunded mandates imposed by the State, and these bills can have a big impact on next year’s fiscal year. I will keep you updated as the budget process continues.

I appreciate what you do for the County residents, businesses and your coworkers every day and all year long. Please keep up the good work to serve our Yuma County community. 

Thank you.

Susan K. Thorpe
Yuma County Administrator


Jaime Velazquez has been with Yuma County Adult Probation for thirteen years.  In that time, she has promoted from administrative assistant, to drug court substance abuse counselor, and now she is a Court Services Supervisor.  In addition to her continued upward mobility within the department, Jaime has further improved herself by completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Addiction and Counseling.  She currently supervises Adult Probation’s financial unit which is tasked with monitoring the collection of court ordered assessments, maintaining compliance with minimum accounting standards, and overseeing department efforts to improve the collection of probation fees.  Jaime has been instrumental in supporting her staff in identifying probationers who are delinquent in court ordered restitution to victims to ensure that they are considered for review at the county’s monthly Restitution Court hearings.  In fact, this year, Jaime and her unit were able to double their efforts from last year in assisting officers by identifying delinquent probationers who were submitted to the State’s tax intercept program.  Adult Probation fees have been declining for the past six years due to several factors, but Jaime and the efforts of her unit have begun to show positive growth in that fund this year thanks to all of their hard work.

Jaime’s background as a former administrative assistant and substance abuse counselor in the Drug Court Program have made her indispensable to the department in other areas as well.  Jaime continues to support the Drug Court Program by assisting with program referral assessments each month.  Additionally, Jaime manages the department’s cognitive based program referrals, reviewing every one of the referrals for appropriateness and placement in programming.  Jaime maintains the department’s active list of referred probationers, collaborates with outside agencies to develop and execute department Memorandums of Understanding, and coordinates quality assurance reviews to ensure our probationers are getting the best experience possible.


Katie Strom began working as the Judicial Assistant to Commissioner Three in August 2017.  
During 2019, Commissioner Three was assigned both civil- and family-court cases, with
family-court cases constituting a significant majority of the caseload.   

Katie has been instrumental in implementing a number of improvements, which benefit the
overall Yuma County judicial system and the large numbers of self-represented litigants
who appear in family court.  Most domestic-relations cases involve self-represented litigants on
both sides.  A recurring concern is that many self-represented litigants do not know how to
move their cases along to conclusion.  After a long-enough period of inactivity, such cases are
placed on the dismissal calendar and are subject to dismissal after the passage of 60 days.

Prior to 2019, Katie assisted in revamping the process by which Commissioner Three gives
notice to family-court litigants that their cases are in danger of being dismissed due to
inactivity.  In addition to simply warning litigants of an approaching dismissal deadline (which
had been the prior practice), the written notices also provide step-by-step instructions, which
can be followed to keep cases moving toward a final adjudication.  (Ideally, self-represented
litigants should be able to get their family-court cases resolved by way of a default judgment,
instead of having their cases dismissed, due to a lack of information about how to navigate the
court process).

In 2019, Commissioner Three revised the language used in its written dismissal-calendar
notices.  Also in 2019, the written dismissal-calendar notices used by Commissioner Three
began to be used by the other Yuma County family-court divisions.

In early December 2019, an Administrative Order reassigned responsibility for the family-court
default calendar to Commissioner Three.  At that time, litigants requesting to schedule a
default hearing often needed to wait somewhere between 2.5 to 3 months to get a default
hearing scheduled, due to a large backlog of self-represented litigants requesting such
hearings.  Katie immediately started scheduling such hearings at a much faster rate.  She also
pre-screens the hearing requests, determining whether the litigants are eligible to proceed by
way of default, which reduces the need to vacate the hearings later, due to ineligibility.  As of
the filing-date of this nomination, the backlog for family-court cases awaiting default hearings
has been cut from approximately 2.5 months down to approximately 3 weeks.  It is expected
that the backlog will be completely eliminated shortly.

Katie has also been the “go-to” judicial assistant for the new e-filing system for pleadings and
orders in civil cases.  She has assisted in training other judicial assistants to navigate and use
the e-filing system.  In 2019, in addition to performing her regular duties handling a very high
caseload for Commissioner Three, Katie also handled all the e-filing duties for another
Superior Court judge during a period of staff turnover.


LeeAnne excels at her job. Proof of this are her past pay-for-performance
evaluations; for the last five (5) consecutive years, she has earned an “Exceeds” rating on
her yearly evaluations. LeeAnne has done an exceptional job in providing customer service
and leading her division. LeeAnne’s hard work and commitment to complete and post her
payroll runs and file all required Federal and State reports have helped the County stay in
compliance, reduce liabilities, and save funds correcting mistakes. For the last few years
LeeAnne has been able to complete required W2s before deadline and hand deliver them to
departments saving County on postage and assuring County employees receive their W2 in
a timely basis.

LeeAnne’s professionalism is commendable as she has taken upon herself to learn and
implement new required processes. For example, last year she lead the system changes
needed and was required to account for the new retirement options the State now offers. She is
often a reference when making changes to our Oracle system, when new processes are to
be implemented or developed not only in the Financial Services department, but Human
Resources as well, saving the County on implementation and testing charges.
She strives to keep abreast of new processes, law, and new technology to make sure the
County provides the best service possible with the least use of tax dollars.
She has also been asked, and took on the responsibility of being part of the Human
Resources upgrade.

19.5 YEARS

Suzanne possesses a quiet strength and resolve that is best exemplified through her ability to coach, support and empower those around her. Her creativity and willingness to take risks has resulted in creative and innovative programming that is engaging and inclusive. She and her team strive to raise the bar, year after year, and their efforts are consistently recognized by leaders in the industry. Most recently, Yuma County was recognized with the inaugural “Get Fit! Don’t Quit” Award which acknowledged the program’s creative and innovating health strategies including the award winning “BodyWalk” interactive exhibit which has become a rite of passage for countless Yuma County 3rd graders.  She has taken an active leadership role in promoting wellness activities including the Yuma County Family Fun Festival, Walk to School Day, and diverse Yuma County HEAL Coalition community events. She is currently spearheading the Community Collaborative Learning Project, whose goal is to reduce childhood obesity in Yuma County. Perhaps most impressive is the fact that the expansion of nutrition and physical activity education services has been made possible in part through her proactive efforts to seek and procure outside grant funding. She successfully manages limited resources, supplements when possible through grant funds, and looks for ways to improve the efficiency of the program. As a supervisor she is accountable, transparent, and inclusive. She encourages her team to solve problems, take on new challenges to develop their skills, and encourages the sharing of new ideas, thus promoting continuity and growth within the organization.


Jim consistently "shows up" for work.  Always on time (ahead of his schedule, truth be told) and willing to jump in as a team player under any circumstance.  He is dependable to a fault.  He is able to grab a guitar and do a children's story time, provide computer and technical help, and do careful, meticulous, historical research...all in the same day.

Jim, because of his years of experience, has internalized the core values of public librarianship, to be of service to the public and to ensure patrons have access to quality information.  He is genuinely committed to service and effectively serves library patrons through the lens of "old school" librarianship, applying traditional and time-honored reference librarian skills to an array of patron demands.


The Yuma County Indigent Burial Program is designed to help families who, at this difficult time, are financially unable to handle disposition arrangements for their love ones.  Ms. Castillo has exhibited a higher level of knowledge in her position as the Indigent Burial Specialist.  She conducts due diligent, searches including investigating the need for indigent burials, heir searches, VA status searches, property research, financial research, and INS research.  This year she has implemented interviews with family members on all indigent burial cases where family is involved.  By doing so, there has been decrease in indigent burial cremations, thus saving Yuma County funds.

This year was the first time a bid process was done for the program.  Ms. Castillo researched with various counties throughout the state on how they picked the funeral homes/mortuaries for their indigent burial program and the majority of the counties use the bid process.  She prepared the bid packet to present to the local funeral home/mortuaries for their indigent burial program and the majority of the counties use the bid process.  She prepared the bid packet to present to the local funeral homes/mortuaries interested in participating in the program. The packet was reviewed by the County Attorney and when all revisions were done; the bid packet was sent to all the local funeral homes/mortuaries, giving them all the opportunity to submit their bid.  Bids were reviewed and the proper documentation was submitted to the Board of Supervisors for final approval, and for the first time the Indigent Burial program is now contracted

The Yuma County Safety Excellence Award program consists of staff recognition, rewards for a job well done, acknowledgement and affirmation. When staff is recognized for their contributions, they naturally engage at a higher level and safety awareness increases.  The overall goal of a safety recognition program is to drive positive safety behavior and ultimately impact losses to an organization.
Adolfo Lopez, Public Works
Louie Rivera, Public Works
Cyrinda Williams, Public Fiduciary
Barbara Diaz-Health District
Lynn Harlow-Smith-Health District-Emergency Preparedness
Steve Banuelos-Juvenile Center
Quinton Martin-Public Works
Jose Gonzalez-Public Works
Mag Valenzuela-Public Works
Christian Figueroa-Public Works
James Franco-Juvenile Center
Daniel Paz-Library

Personnel in our County departments has increased in the last twenty years, creating crowed offices, like our Human Resource Department and the Office of Budget & Management.  It took over three months of construction to finish the new offices in Human Resources and OMB.  Now the employees have space and meeting rooms that they need for their job responsibilities.

Click on the video to check out the new offices.
Democrats get to choose who will go forward to the Primary Election as the Democratic Presidential candidate on Tuesday, March 17.
You can vote at any of our convenient voting centers that can be found at  Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Remember, only democrats are eligible to vote! 

If you have any questions regarding this election you can contact our Voter Registration Office or Election Department.
The Yuma County Library has started a program called "Full Steam Ahead." STEAM is an educational program where children learn the uses of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.  Funding for the Children’s program and the STEAM products are provided by
Library Services and Technology Services. This program also gives the Library opportunities to create and design programs that are needed to help children learn.

Visit our Library website to know more about our events and program calendar.
March Fun Facts: 
  • The month of March was named for the Roman god of war, Mars.
  • Tuesday, March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day. According to folklore, St. Patrick used the three-leaved clover (shamrock) in his teachings about the Holy Trinity.
  • March 29-31 are the Borrowing Days. According to lore, the last three days of March have a reputation for being stormy.
  • March’s Zodiac signs are Pisces (February 20 to March 20) and Aries (March 21 to April 20).

This month’s online seminar, ‘Building Resilience: Bouncing Back After Extraordinary Events,’ will be available on-demand beginning March 1st. The online seminar can be accessed by visiting the SupportLinc website ( and clicking the 'Monthly Feature' tile.
Main Library
1.  March 3: The Census: Why It's Important. 2:00 p.m.
2.   March 7: FRANK Talk...Through My Eyes-The Impact of Implicit Bias. 11:00 a.m.  “Implicit bias” can cause us to have feelings and attitudes about other people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, age, and appearance. How can we learn to navigate the world as seen through the eyes of people different from us? Come and join the discussion about how implicit bias can lead to a phenomenon known as stereotype threat. Facilitated by Matthew Whitaker, Ph.D.  
3.  March 28: Into Self-Publishing. 10:00 a.m.  

Foothills Library
1.  March 7: What is the Census? 3:30 p.m.
2.  March 12 & March 26: Look UP! Stargazing at Foothills Library. 7:00 p.m. Meet in the parking lot. Bring your own telescopes & lawn chairs. Library telescopes provided by Friends of FH Library. Cloudy skies will cancel this event.  

Heritage Library
1.  March 5: U.S. Census: Why is it Important. 6:00 p.m.

San Luis Library
1.  March 5: Census Information Session. 4:30 p.m.

Wellton Library
1.  Wellton 2020 Community Art Exhibit. March 10 - March 14. Funding for art creation events at the library and local schools was made possible by a grant from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. Come in to view artwork by students, amateur and professional artists, and photographs of all ages.
2.  March 17: Stand Up & Be Counted. 5:30 p.m.  Local officials will tell you how information you report to the Census impacts the county, town, schools and library. Join Yuma County District 3 Supervisor Darren Simmons, Town of Wellton Manager Larry Killman, AUHS District 50 School Superintendent Greg Copeland, Wellton Elementary School District Superintendent Lisa Jameson and Yuma County Library District Grants & Special Projects Administrator Maria Gnagy.

The Census is currently underway, and collection of information is being conducted primarily online.  The library has computers dedicated to completing Census forms, and library staff can help if you feel less than computer savvy.

Clerk of Superior Court
Jesse Butler-Courtroom Clerk II

Development Services
Carlos Gonzalez-Deputy Zoning Inspector/Planning Tech.

Facilities Management
Yanitza Williams-Custodian

Karla Rogers-Dispatcher
Marcella Wyatt-Courtroom Clerk I

Public Works
Samuel Deckard-Solid Waste Technician 

County Attorney
Joshua Davis – Attorney IV
Theresa Fox – Attorney IV
Claudia Gonzalez-Jimenez – Attorney IV

Development Services
Beatriz Estrada – Administrative Support Associate

Legal Defender
Kirstin McManus – Attorney IV

Martin Alvarado – Technical Services Specialist/Volunteer Coordinator
Valerie Weber – Branch Manger
Laura Serna – Library Administrative Specialist
Yuma County Financial Services had its department’s Second Annual Chili Cook-Off competition on National Chili Day, February 27, 2020.
Each Division entered a pot of chili, and each employee was allowed to vote for one favorite.

The winner by a landslide was the chili prepared by Hector Wakamatsu of the Financial Reporting Division. Hector’s chili was a traditional chili with a tomato base, beef, and beans, and a GREAT slow burn.

Congratulations, Hector!

Taking the second-place prize was Brenda Mendez of the Compliance Division. Brenda’s chili was a vegetarian chili made with lentils. Variety is the spice of life!

Looking forward to next year!

On July 15, 1918, County Assessor, A.B. Ming filed a letter received from D. G. Henderson, State Tax Commission, with the Clerk of the Board regarding the Arizona & Swansea Railroad Company, stating that the railroad was not exempt from taxation per Chapter 91, Session Laws of Arizona 1909, and requesting the property owned by the railroad be added to Yuma County's 1918 assessment and tax roll.  The Board agreed with the request and so moved to add the property as listed in the letter for a total of $19,724.07.  The property included two locomotives: one was 68 tons and estimated at $8,239.225 and the other a 55-ton locomotive that had been dismantled.  There was a baggage and mail coach, 3 boxcars, 4 flat cars, water, and roadway tank, a Ford Motor Car (estimated value $275) and tools, equipment, and furniture for the railway.

Submitted by
Ginger Hamilton,
County Administration
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