Spirit of Carefree award goes to Steven Woods of Tech4Life

Les Peterson Steve Woods
Les Peterson and Steve Woods

CAREFREE – During the April 11 meeting, Councilman Mike Farrar asked to pull the March meeting minutes from the consent agenda and noted his comments regarding street closures were not included.

Town Clerk Kandace French said the minutes were not a transcript of the meeting but she could insert them.

Mayor Les Peterson mentioned the April Fools articles in Sonoran News and said he received numerous phone calls about the Christmas one with about half saying they thought it was a good idea.

Peterson also corrected a statement he made previously about the ownership of Café Bink and stated owner Kevin Binkley welcomed a new partner in December, Chef Justin Olsen, who has worked with Binkley for several years at each of his restaurants.

During Call to the Public, Joseph Jacobson said he was supposed to meet with the town to discuss issues with trees and signage since the bicycle lanes were installed.

Peterson said he would contact Jacobson.

Jacobson said that was what he was told last month and hoped it will happen this time.
During Current Events, Peterson noted the participation at the outdoor concerts has been very good.

When Sanderson Lincoln became involved with the town and entered into an agreement for the naming rights to the outdoor pavilion, Peterson said they also wanted to provide an annual award to people who have demonstrated broad community involvement and their contributions toward making Carefree a better community for its residents. They came up with the Spirit of Carefree award.

The 2016 award, a dichroic glass sculpture created by local artist Peggy Pettigrew-Stewart, was presented to Carefree business owner Steven Woods of Tech4Life.

As the town kicks off its budgeting process for the new fiscal year, Town Administrator Gary Neiss said the town was looking at ways to offset the $35,000 annual increase to its Rural/Metro contract.

He said one of the ways would be to capture the lease for ambulance service, which would amount to $30,000.

According to Neiss, the other estimated $5,000 could come from payments received for response to out-of-town non-subscribers.

Councilwoman Cheryl Kroyer said that was a really creative way of dealing with the issue.
Responding to questions, Central Arizona Rural/Metro Chief Ted Beam explained ambulance fees are regulated by the Arizona Department of Health Services and regardless of which company provides the service, the fees throughout Maricopa County are identical.

Farrar questioned why on one page of the lease agreement it reads “American Medical Response” and on another page it says “Rural/Metro.”

Beam said it’s all the same and that it’s American Medical Response dba Rural/Metro.
Council voted unanimously to approve the amendments.

A representative from Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office announced Capt. Kip Rustenburg had accepted a promotion and her replacement had not yet arrived.

Neiss provided an update on the remodeling of the 33 Easy Street building for the new council chambers and said it will take a couple months longer than expected but should be completed by November or December.

Peterson announced there will be two budget workshop sessions, the first one on Tuesday, April 18 with the second one on the following Tuesday, April 25.

Peterson gave a brief background on the Carefree Christmas Festival, which he called a wonderful event and the only signature event for the town.

He presented a brief history of event, which he said started out as a music event at the Carefree Resort and grew into the Carefree Christmas Festival.

The funding was partially underwritten by the town and organized by volunteers.

Peterson turned the floor over to Marketing Director Gina Kaegi to present the overall strategy for this year’s event, although they both reiterated what was being proposed was not totally set in stone.

Kaegi said the town wishes to extend the festival to the entire month of December and plans to do the festival in collaboration with the Carefree-Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce (CCCCC).

She said they would like to have a tree-lighting ceremony under the sundial and thinking about switching to a daytime parade at around 10 a.m. with other events throughout the day.

According to Kaegi, they’ve always brought in real snow and it’s very popular.

Kaegi also would like to involve area nonprofits.

Peterson said he believes the outline for this year’s festival is a very strong approach.

He said to keep it fresh you need to keep doing what is popular and eliminate the things that are not.

Jennifer McGirr, chair of the CCCCC said a daytime parade will be much safer and the chamber is very excited to help.

Kroyer said Kaegi has come up with some really great ideas to keep the festival going and stated, “Gina is an idea machine.”

Farrar said he was excited to see it being formulated but also wanted to thank Jo Gemmill, who has overseen the festival for the past decade.

Farrar said if the town is thinking about charging for admission he didn’t want to see a charge for children and suggested getting Foothills Community Theater involved somehow.

Peterson said they could perhaps combine the people and animal parade.

Farrar asked if they’ve considered allowing Carefree residents to attend for free.

Kaegi said they haven’t but can.

She said the event is a collaboration and partnership with many folks.

Kaegi said, “There’s no reason why it can’t be the best event north of the 101.”

Councilman Jim Van Allen said he was all for it but was skeptical about putting it together in eight months when it traditionally takes a year.

Van Allen also said he was also never a big fan of the fireworks, which cost about $5,000.
Gemmill said this was the first she’d seen of the proposed festival and said it was very encouraging.

With 10 years of experience involved in putting the festival together, Gemmill said she hopes they take into consideration people’s expectations.

Gemmill said the event should remain free and noted the electric light parade and fireworks were both signature parts of the event.

She said when you change tradition, people get upset.

Peterson thanked Gemmill for her wonderful contributions over the past decade, for which she received a standing ovation.