Group continues to work to restore Heritage Fund

[Source: Bonnie Bariola,] – The Arizona Heritage Alliance continues working toward the reinstatement of the State Parks portion of the Heritage Fund. Heritage Alliance President Elizabeth Woodin said, “since the drastic, secretive removal of half of your Heritage Fund in March 2010 by state legislators, the diverse, enthusiastic, engaged, all-volunteer Arizona Heritage Alliance board and membership have been working ever-more vigorously to increase the visibility of the Heritage Fund to the citizens of Arizona, to protect the Fund and its objectives, and to devise a plan to recapture the plundered dollars and statutory language of the State Parks Heritage Fund.”

The Arizona Heritage Alliance was one of the leaders of the 2013 Environmental Day at the Arizona Capitol in February 2013. Meeting with several bipartisan legislators, Representative Ethan Orr (R-Tucson) agreed to introduce HB 2594, Local Transportation Assistance Fund; Restoration, which would have reinstated the State Parks Heritage Fund in its original form.

Also in February 2013, the House Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Committee made a motion that carried by a vote of 8-0-0-0; however, this measure was suppressed in the State House before it could even get a full debate.

In June of 2013, Arizona Heritage Alliance Board President Elizabeth Woodin and Board member Russ Jones (former legislator from Yuma) made a presentation to the Governor’s Natural Resources Review Council (NRRC) regarding the restoration of the State Parks Heritage Fund. They asked the NRRC to recommend to Governor Brewer to put this valuable program back into the state budget, especially the grant program.

Benefits to Florence

The Heritage Fund supplied valuable programs and resources for both Arizona visitors and especially jobs for residents. The Heritage Fund provides economic, environmental, education, tourism, and quality of life benefits that are far too important for this fund to be lost forever.

Florence residents have benefited from the Heritage Fund in the past because it provided grant funds for partial construction costs for: Heritage Park, Clarke House rehabilitation, Silver King Marketplace rehabilitation, Chapel of the Gila and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church rehabilitation, True Value Hardware, 2nd Pinal County Courthouse, several private residences, and the Harvey/Niemeyer House.

Had a Heritage Fund Grant not been in place when the east wall of the Chapel of The Gila collapsed back in the early 1990s, it would have been lost forever. Also, if the Heritage Fund had not been available as the first grant assistance for the Florence Preservation Foundation (FPF), the Silver King/Florence Hotel would have been razed many years ago.  The Heritage Fund provided several Heritage Fund grants for the FPF during the stabilization of the building.

It is also thanks to the Heritage Fund, the FPF, and Donovan Kramer, Sr. for saving the very important Clarke House which is now home to the Florence Reminder and Blade Tribune newspaper.

Members of the Heritage Alliance continue to expand partnerships with historic preservation groups, Arizona League of Cities and Towns, Arizona Parks and Recreation Association, Arizona Forward and other appropriate organizations. Hopefully all of these activities are moving us closer to regaining the missing half of the Heritage Fund, which is an essential building block for a better and stronger quality of life and economic future for all Arizonans.

For additional information about the Arizona Heritage Alliance go to

(Editor’s Note:  Bonnie Bariola is a member of the Arizona Heritage Alliance representing the Florence Preservation Foundation.)

Clarke House in Florence saved with help of the Heritage Fund

[Source: Bonnie Bariola, Florence Reminder & Blade Tribune] –The Historic William Clarke House was saved for future generations to enjoy, thanks in large part to the Heritage Fund. The William Clarke house was built in 1884 as the home to newlyweds, William and Ella Clarke. The house was furnished with elegant new furniture from California. Except for three years, 1885-1888, the Clarkes resided in the Clarke House on Main Street in Florence. Ella first taught school and later became the postmistress while William worked in prospecting and mining.

During this time the Clarke House gained social prominence when the Clarkes hosted many tea parties, ice cream socials, musicals, and concerts. The last of the Clarke relatives passed away in 1956 at which time all the fine furnishings were sold at auction.

This territorial adobe house was abandoned for three years. The first real preservation effort in Florence began in 1959 when a group calling itself “The Go-For-Broke Associates” purchased the Clarke House from the estate of the last member of the Clarke family, for the purpose of “preserving it for its historic interest.” Unfortunately, this group was unable to rehabilitate or make an attempt to preserve the building.

Over the years rain caused the adobe walls to become unstable. Because of the potential danger to the public, the Town Council began discussions of condemnation of the building. In 1973 Miss Shirley Weik, Extension Agent of the Cooperative Extension Service at Casa Grande, paid to have a new iron fence constructed around the entire perimeter of the property. At that time portions of the roof were in serious need of repair yet the basic fabric and interior detailing remained intact.

Grant awarded

The house remained abandoned until 1994 when the town attorney, with assistance from Realtor Joe O’Betka and Ophelia Padilla, were able to gain title to the building and grounds from the descendants of the original twelve Go-For-Broke investors. At that time the town’s grants writer applied for and received a Heritage Fund grant for $105,000 to begin rehabilitation of the Clarke House.

With title to the property and a Heritage Fund Grant, the town was looking for someone to take over title and provide the match of $45,000 to begin rehabilitation of the property. Fortunately the owner of the Casa Grande Valley Newspapers, Donovan Kramer Sr., agreed to assume title to the property and provide the match for the existing grant and rehabilitate the property as home to the Florence Reminder and Blade Tribune.

In an agreement with State Parks and the town of Florence, The Florence Preservation Foundation, a nonprofit organization, agreed to be the sponsor and administrator of the grant. An additional grant was written by the Foundation in 2000 for $52,000 with Mr. Kramer providing match of $52,000. It should be emphasized that Mr. Kramer contributed far more money to this project than just the $97,000 match for the grants. The $157,000 Heritage Funds provided leverage for approximately $300,000 in private funds to be spent.

Proud to preserve history

Donovan Kramer, Jr., publisher of the Florence Reminder and Blade-Tribune, said, “Restoring the Clarke House as a home for the Florence newspaper was a project that was dear to the heart of my late father, Donovan Kramer Sr. He was proud to join many Florence residents in their quest to preserve the history of such a special town, so integral to the history of Pinal County and Arizona.”

This is yet another example of how the Heritage Funds were used to save a historic property in Florence. In 1990 the voters of Arizona voted to use $10 million of lottery funds for historic preservation, conservation, and trails. Due to difficult economic times, the Legislature deleted the verbiage from the Arizona Revised Statutes in 2010. HRC 2047 would send the Heritage Fund verbiage back to the voters to let them vote once again, to return them to the Arizona Revised Statutes. Please contact your legislators asking them to please support HRC 2047 to Restore the Voters’ Heritage Fund.

The passage of the Heritage Fund would create jobs in this difficult economy as well as help save more historic properties the same as the William Clarke House.

Commentary: 22 years later, Arizonans may have another chance to vote for historic preservation

[Source: Bonnie Bariola, Florence Reminder, 2/9/2012] – In 1990 the people of Arizona voted unanimously to approve an initiative to allocate $20 million from Arizona Lottery Funds to the Heritage Fund, with $10 million going to Arizona State Parks and $10 million going to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. The initiative was very specific as to the use of the funds by both the State Parks Board and the Game and Fish Commission.

The State Parks portion of the Heritage Fund was to be distributed as follows:

  • State Parks Acquisition and Development (17%): Up to $1.7 million annually;
  • State Parks Natural Areas Acquisition (17%): Up to $1.7 million annually;
  • State Parks Natural Areas Operation and Management (4%): Up to $400,000 annually;
  • Environmental Education (5%): Up to $500,000 annually;
  • Trails (5%): Up to $500,000 annually (Grants);
  • Local, Regional and State Parks (35%): Up to $3.5 million annually (Grants);
  • Historic Preservation (17%): Up to $1.7 million annually (Grants).

Although the initiative contained the following statements “All monies in the Arizona State Parks Board Heritage Fund shall be spent by the Arizona State Parks Board only for the purposes and in the percentages set forth in this article” and “in no event shall any monies in the fund revert to the state general fund,” in February 2009 the State Parks Board canceled or suspended all Heritage Fund grants that were 1 to 90 percent complete. At that time the Legislature stopped providing funding for Arizona State Parks. Then in 2010, the Legislature not only canceled funding the State Parks portion of the Heritage Fund, they also removed the language from the Arizona Revised Statutes that allocated these funds to Arizona State Parks.

The Legislature continued to fund the Arizona Game and Fish Commission’s portion of the Heritage Fund.

In spite of the Arizona Heritage Alliance having been formed for the purpose of attempting to prevent the Legislature from sweeping the Heritage Fund, the Legislature succeeded anyway. Since 2009 the Heritage Alliance members have worked diligently attempting to reinstate the State Parks portion of the Heritage Fund, this time to include language in the initiative that would really protect the monies from being taken by either State Parks or the Legislature.

Ballot initiative: Representative Russ Jones has introduced a Bill (HCR 2047) that, if approved, would once again put an initiative on the ballot for the people of Arizona to make the decision whether or not they wanted a portion of the lottery funds to go toward Conservation and Preservation by means of the Heritage Fund. HCR 2047 is cosponsored by seventeen additional representatives, one being Rep. Frank Pratt from District 23.

At the request of Arizona State Parks and the Heritage Alliance, Northern Arizona University prepared data showing the economic impact one year of the Heritage Fund had on the state of Arizona.

“Total direct expenditures from the Heritage Fund in 2007 were $12,895,267 spent on both land acquisition and construction related to maintenance and repair. The direct program expenditures resulted in indirect expenditures of $4.6 million and induced expenditures of $8.5 million for a total economic impact of $26.1 million. Direct expenditures resulted in 125 direct jobs, 33 indirect jobs and 66 induced jobs, for a total of 224 jobs from ASP Heritage Funds. Estimated total taxes for these expenditures (state, local and federal) were $3.3 million.”

The Arizona Heritage Alliance President Elizabeth Woodin said, “This very productive fund administered by Arizona State Parks created hundreds of jobs and hundreds of thousands of dollars on the ground each year particularly in the rural areas. Those projects made life more pleasant and attracted more business and tourism. If the Legislature will not restore it outright, the least that can be done is to allow the voters to decide if they still want it. That is the fair and right thing to do.”

From 1991 through 2006 Florence received 18 Historic Preservation Heritage Fund Grants totaling $1,541,233, Casa Grande received 8 grants totaling $395,573, and Coolidge received 4 grants totaling $340,841. If the Heritage Fund can be reinstated, this funding source will again be available for not only Pinal County cities and towns, but for cities and towns all over the state to again rehabilitate their historic properties.

HCR 2047 is scheduled to be heard by three Committees. First is Agriculture and Water which is chaired by Representative Jones. This committee will hear it on Thursday, February 9, 2012 at 9 a.m. It is currently scheduled to be heard by two more committees on yet to be determined dates.

Please contact your representatives and encourage them to support HCR 2047 which would give the citizens of Arizona the opportunity to again vote to reinstate the Arizona State Parks Board Heritage Fund.

Just a few examples of what Heritage Fund has done for Florence

[Source: Bonnie Bariola,] – For those of you who do not remember, it is thanks to the town of Florence that many of the historic buildings on Main Street have been saved over the years. Through a voter initiative, in 1990 the Heritage Fund was approved by the voters of Arizona. Among other things, this fund provided $1.7 million a year toward historic preservation through a competitive grant process.

Prior to approval of the Heritage Fund, Florence’s Historic District Advisory Commission had been approached by a member of the local Knights of Columbus asking if the Commission supported the rehabilitation of the Chapel of the Gila. The Commission wholeheartedly supported this effort.

Upon receiving the initial criteria for applying for a Heritage Fund, the town’s Community Development Director determined the rehabilitation of the Chapel of the Gila would be a perfect fit. The Knight’s of Columbus member was contacted and the result was a public/private partnership between the town and the Diocese submitting an application — the town prepared and administered the grant and the Diocese provided the matching funds.

The fact that the grant application for the historic Chapel of the Gila ranked first in the first round of Historic Preservation Heritage Fund Grant applications should be mentioned. It should also be noted that before construction began, due to extreme rainfall in the spring, the east wall of the chapel collapsed. Since funding was in place it was possible to save the building; otherwise, it would have been necessary to demolish the entire building. The chapel is always one of the most visited buildings on the annual Tour of Historic Florence.

Clarke House: The William Clarke House has been saved due to the efforts of several organizations and people. Lois Stryker headed a group which put a roof on it prior to the town submitting the first Heritage Fund grant for it’s rehabilitation. Donovan Kramer Sr. then agreed to assume ownership of the property and provide the match for the grant, and the nonprofit Florence Preservation Foundation (FPF) volunteered to assume the administration of the grant. After several additional Heritage Fund Grants and many, many thousands of dollars from Mr. Kramer, this very important building on Main Street is now home to the Florence Reminder and Blade Tribune.

Silver King Hotel:
 Only with the Heritage Fund, the town of Florence, and the Florence Preservation Foundation are the people of Florence able to have the Florence/Silver King Marketplace as one of the most important buildings on Main Street today. In addition to Heritage Fund Grants and donations, it was necessary to find additional funding for this massive project. Transportation Enhancement Funds could be used for Historic Preservation but were only available to government entities. To obtain funding from this source, the FPF partnered with the town of Florence to obtain these funds. Over the years the Florence Preservation Foundation members prepared two separate applications totaling one million dollars with Town Council members approving these applications being submitted.

Each of these $500,000 grants required a $30,000 match. The town of Florence provided the match for the first grant with economic development monies it had received from the State of Arizona. A Heritage Fund grant written and submitted by the FPF provided match for the second $500,000.

McFarland Park: More recently the town assumed operation of McFarland Historic Park in order to have an additional tourist attraction for both visitors and local residents. State Parks used a portion of the Heritage Funds allocated to them to rehabilitate the building that houses the Park. Once that was completed in 2009, Jay Ream, Assistant Director of Arizona State Parks was asked what the plans for McFarland Park were.His reply was “Due to the extreme budget cuts to the parks system, the only use for McFarland is to lease it for an adaptive reuse.” This message was relayed to Town Manager Himanshu Patel, resulting in the Town Council approving a lease between the town and Arizona State Parks.

The Florence Main Street Board agreed to operate the park in addition to already operating the Florence Visitor Center. Again, after Heritage Funds made possible the rehabilitation of the building, due to a partnership between Arizona State Parks, the town of Florence and the Main Street Program, yet another building on Main Street is open to the public.

In 2010 when the Historic Preservation portion of the Heritage Fund was suspended by the Legislature, Florence had a total of five grants valued at $650,000 which were canceled or suspended. With the required matching funds, 1.3 million dollars would have been added to the local economy and five additional historic properties would have been saved.

Won’t you please contact the governor and your legislators and ask them to reinstate the Heritage Fund.