Cottonwood Cemetery theft.
A Cottonwood man has been arrested after he allegedly stole items from the Cottonwood Cemetery, and police are seeking to identify other possible victims. On May 4th, a man taking care of the Hispanic portion of the cemetery saw another man taking items from headstones. Earlier in the day, a Cottonwood Police officer was at the cemetery on 1st Street and contacted 42 year old Mark Benassi. Benassi didn’t have any items in his possession at the time and let officers search him. However, an investigation has confirmed Benassi is the person stealing items and damaging headstones at the cemetery. He was located at his home where 40 stolen objects were found. Benassi has been booked on theft and criminal damage. Anyone who believes they are a victim of these thefts is asked to visit the Cottonwood Police Department’s Facebook page for individual pictures of the recovered items. If you recognize an item, call Evidence Technician Tristica Kendall at (928) 340-2108.
Sedona defensible space.
Sedona residents will be getting some help in creating defensible space around their homes. Sedona Fire Station 4, located at 391 Forest Road in the uptown area, is accepting yard waste today, tomorrow and Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm. The 16th annual Firewise Cleanup is free and open to all Sedona Fire District residents. Yard debris, including brush, tree and shrub trimmings, as well as bagged leaves and pine needles may be dropped off during this event. All weeds, leaves, grasses and pine needles must be bagged. Appliances, hazardous materials, garbage, mattresses, cactus trimmings and household waste won’t be accepted. The city of sedona will also hold a cleanup event this Monday through next Saturday at the Maintenance Yard on Contractors Road.
Fire season prep along highway shoulders
Watch for delays since ADOT is also reminding anyone traveling to be aware of potential fire hazards. To get ready for the fire season, ADOT crews mow vegetation along highway shoulders in the winter and spring. However, drivers and passengers can play their part by not tossing cigarettes that can be blown into grass and brush. Drivers should also check and secure tow chains that could create sparks. Make sure nothing is hanging beneath your vehicle and dragging on the pavement. Don’t park in tall grass, as the heat from parts under your vehicle can start a fire.
Oak Creek Canyon fire
A log cabin is a total loss following a fire in Oak Creek Canyon. Just after 8 Tuesday night, multiple callers reported to the Sedona Fire District a fully involved structure fire near Highway 89. According to Fire Marshal Jon Davis, first arriving units recognized the challenging nature of the fire due to the remote location, access and water supply. Additional resources from the U.S. Forest Service allowed crews to focus the majority of resources on the structure while they helped with a brush fire. Mop up at the cabin and surrounding vegetation lasted well into the night with some crews remaining on scene until Wednesday morning.
Flood relief plans
Work is getting underway to bring flood relief to some Prescott Valley areas. In 2016, Atkins North America performed the Prescott Valley Flood Plain Delineation Study, which remapped flood plains for 3 drainage ways. Engineering Division Manager Ron Pine explains flood hazard areas have been identified. Pine says Atkins has been retained to go ahead and give the Town of Prescott Valley a memorandum that essentially prioritizes projects. The hazard areas include the Lakeshore, Loos and Lone Cactus Drives washes. Design work is expected to be finished within the next 2 months.
Fraud suspects being sought
Fraud suspects are being sought in Prescott and Cottonwood. A warrant has been issued for the arrest of 60 year old Prescott resident Mark Whittington by the Prescott Justice Court and the Arizona Registrar of Contractors. The warrant stems from 5 separate incidents investigated by the Registrar of Contractors since 2016. Whittington faces 11 counts that include fraudulent schemes, forgery, theft and contracting and advertising without a license.
He’s described as a 6 foot tall white male, weighing 260 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair. Cottonwood police are looking for 49 year old Traci Koelzer. Koezler was the Old Town Association Treasurer and the suspect in a fraud investigation. The financial loss is yet to be determined, but it could be more than 100 thousand dollars. It appears she left the area after learning about the investigation. Anyone who knows about the whereabouts of Whittington or Koelzer is asked to call their local law enforcement agency.