(Un)Clean Sweep

Sullivan Hotel, circa 1915 (Photo source: Jerome Historical Society)

[Source: Jana Bommersbach, Phoenix Magazine] — It was such a thrilling day when the $150,000 ceremonial check arrived to save the old Sullivan Hotel on Main Street in Jerome. Most of the town celebrated that November day in 2007, because this state grant meant one of the most important preservation projects in the town’s history. After all, Jerome doesn’t have money of its own to restore its buildings, which all date to the early 1900s.  It’s so small that all 400 residents pose once a year for a picture of the entire town, and if it didn’t count on tourism to boost its economy, Jerome wouldn’t be there at all. Saving what it has is crucial to its very existence, so its residents certainly want to save the Sullivan Hotel.

It was built as a brothel run by the famous Madam Jennie Bauters – once the richest woman in the West – who came to the Arizona Territory specifically because it was one of the few places that allowed women to own property. The brothel later expanded and became a hotel, then a shop for artists.

Today, the four-story building is owned by Mary Wills and Sally Dryer.  It houses two Nellie Bly businesses that employ 12 people.  There’s plenty of room for even more shops – and more jobs and more sales tax money – if the building were restored and stabilized.  Mary and Sally are so committed to making that happen that they mortgaged the home that they share and borrowed from everyone they know once the grant was awarded.

AsSeenInPMThen they got the town itself to become the fiscal agent for a state grant from the Arizona Heritage Fund (private citizens can’t get these grants outright but can partner with municipalities).  The grant would cover 60 percent of the project while Mary and Sally would finance the other 40 percent.  But to get ready for the grant, which was to be dispersed as work was completed, the women had to spend a ton of money up front.  So far, they’ve spent some $170,000, trusting that a hunk of that would be reimbursed by the grant.

Today, that ceremonial check hangs in the window of Nellie Bly Kaleidoscopes shop, defaced with big black letters that read: “Insufficient Funds.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Viewpoint: Arizona State Parks robbing Peter to pay Paul

[Source: Camp Verde Bugle] — Talk about bittersweet.  In rather twisted fashion, the Sullivan Hotel’s loss is Fort Verde’s gain.  A temporary stay of execution was issued to such Arizona properties as Fort Verde State Historic Park and Red Rock State Park.  At Friday’s meeting of the State Parks Board, Director Ken Travous announced that by cutting and suspending Heritage Grants, as well as other cost-cutting measures, the agency was able to make up $5 million in its decimated budget.  That meant not closing an additional eight parks, at least until July.  But this was robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Ask Mary Wills and Sally Dryer about being “robbed.”  After being approved for a $150,000 Heritage grant to sustain the old Sullivan Hotel in Jerome, taking out loans and mortgaging a house, the women were told in February that State Parks was canceling the grant.  It damaged Wills and Dryer financially, the last thing the state should be doing.

What the move may have saved State Parks in money has cost it in respect and reputation around here.  The board also went down the path of supporting a controversial House bill that will allow the state to take funds meant for land preservation and use it for the State Parks budget.  That smacks of underhandedness. Reneging on a promise, which is essentially what the Heritage Grant was, and going directly against voter intentions to snag more money are bad ideas.

Yes, the Legislature cut $36 million from State Parks’ budget.  And yes, come July, it may cut another $12 million.  It’s painful, possibly fatal for some parks. But limiting park hours or completely shuttering more would be preferable ethically to shifty moves that make anyone question State Parks’ honesty. While it was nice to hear, on the eve of the History of the Soldier event, that Fort Verde and other parks were temporarily spared being shuttered, it’s bittersweet to know such parks are staying open at such a cost.

Insufficient Funds: Jerome’s Sullivan Building stabilization in limbo after Arizona State Parks grant “swept”

Mary Wills and Sally Dryer with "updated" check from Arizona State Parks (photo: Jon Pelletier)

[Source: Jon Hutchinson, Verde Independent] — Two Jerome women have operated a Jerome shop for 20 years.  In recent years, they bought the historic Jerome building they occupy in order to restore it and then won a state grant make that happen. That was a thrilling day. Today, that grant is biting back and threatening their livelihood.  Mary Wills and Sally Dryer are now wondering how the State Parks Department could “raid” the voter-approved Arizona Heritage Fund to pay salaries instead of the preservation for which the Heritage fund is intended.

The $150,000 grant they were awarded in 2007 has been cancelled with $112,930.27 left unspent. The grant was cancelled the same day the Jerome State Park was closed.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]