The recent filing of notice of claims by residents of Yarnell has caused concern among fellow residents and by donors. The Steering Committee of the YHRG has discussed not only the right of those who have filed notice, but also the impact of those on neighbors, past donors and potential new donors who want to help the community of Yarnell recover. We recognize that filing notice is not the same as a lawsuit, and that this legal process will take many months—probably years—to be resolved. We remain committed to identifying ways to meet unmet needs. That means that must be attentive to the concerns and feelings of our donors, as well as our neighbors. We are asking that residents who filed claims and who have been assisted by generous donations reimburse the equivalent of the assistance they received, if and when they receive any payout on their suits, if they do in fact, file a lawsuit. And we will move on to do the work ahead of us. We will not let this development pull us off course, and will continue to pursue positive activities and events to help our community recover from the Yarnell Hill Fire tragedy.
Yavapai County Recognizes Yarnell Hill Recovery Group
The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors formally recognized and thanked members of the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group for their service at their meeting on Monday, November 4. Yavapai County Emergency Management Coordinator Denny Foulk praised both individual members of the YHRG and the organization as a whole for their efforts, and presented handsome wooden plaques acknowledging their service. Click to read more....
Communications Director Frances Lechner's response on behalf of the YHRG steering committee to the "Yarnell Hill Fire Serious Accident Investigation Report," released September 28, 2013:
"We are pleased to see that the investigative report has been concluded, and extend our sympathies to the families of the 19 Firefighters who are still left with unanswerable questions. The Yarnell Hill Recovery Group has focused its efforts and attention on rebuilding, but we recognize that part of the recovery effort is dealing with the emotional impact of the fire, not just the physical damage. We were disappointed that the report contained no analysis, no lessons learned as far as the homes that were lost to fire. This gap leaves many Yarnell residents in an emotional and information limbo, and this must be addressed as part of the recovery process."
Phase 1 Building Guidelines Released
The Steering Committee has released the construction guidelines that will guide them in replacing homes for the uninsured. The guiding principle will be like for like, based on the Yavapai County Assessors tax rolls. Manufactured homes will be replaced with manufactured homes. Stick-built homes will be replaced with stick-built homes with approximately the same footprint and number of bedrooms and bathrooms. The exception will be in the case of a two-bedroom, one-bath home, which will be replaced with a two-bedroom, two bath (or one and 3/4 bath) home. Because the cost of a stick-built home is roughly twice the cost of a manufactured home, the hope of replacing manufactured homes with stick-built homes is not possible. The guidelines also cover options for homeowners as well as the building review and approval process between the homeowner and the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group. At present, the value per square foot of a stick built home has not been finalized and will be added to the guidelines when that figure has been determined. Read the full guidelines here.
The Communications Committee is working on a current needs list to post on the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group website. If you have a need for material items you'd like to have donated, email email@example.com.
Documentary on Yarnell
Frances said that a while back, Pastor Paul Jones had the idea that there should be a documentary about Yarnell. He put the word out, and that word eventually found its way to a young filmmaker in Phoenix named Eric Carroll. Pastor Paul and Frances were quite taken with Carroll, who said he wanted to make a documentary about love that grows out of disaster. His ultimate goal is to submit the documentary to the Sundance Film Festival. The filming won't cost Yarnell a dime, and Frances will be introducing Carroll to many community members.
The first construction permit has been issued in Yarnell, and another is in process with Yavapai County Development Services. The first permit, issued Aug. 1, is for a manufactured home in Glen Ilah. Click the link above to read more.
Show your support for Yarnell by attending these events this Labor Day weekend: The Yarnell-Peeples Valley Chamber of Commerce is celebrating the "Grand Re-opening of the Yarnell-Peeples Valley Commercial District" on Labor Day weekend, Aug. 31 to Sept. 2. Everyone is encouraged to come out and support Yarnell merchants. Click the link above to read more.
The Yarnell Donation Center is no longer accepting donations of clothing and household items in preparation for its closing on Aug. 31.
"We have met the needs of Phase 1, meeting the immediate needs of our residents for food, clothing and housing," says Yarnell Hill Recovery Group Donations Committee Chair, Kaye Huckelberry. "The Yarnell Distribution Center was never meant to be open forever. We're now moving into the next phase of our recovery, which is the rebuilding phase.Click the link above to read more
YHRG Financial Statement
The Steering Committee released its first financial statement, listing all income and disbursements through Aug. 15.
As of that date, donations total $317,948.56. Most of that money has been received from individual donors. Of those donations, just over $110,000 has been earmarked by the donors for a specific use.
The Steering Committee has disbursed $37,734.63, leaving a balance of $280,213.93.
In addition, the Yavavpai County Community Foundation has $733,000 earmarked for Yarnell, and the United Way has $232,000. The Steering Committee is working out the details with each organization about how these funds will be disbursed. Neither of these organizations is taking out an administrative fee, so 100 percent of that money will go toward meeting the needs of Yarnell and Peeples Valley residents affected by the fire.
In all, we have a total of roughly $1.25 million we can use to rebuild.
Scott Shephard, Vice Chair of the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group has stepped down from that role in order to focus on the Yarnell Community Center, where he serves as Executive Director. The YCC was the command post for many relief activities during the month of July in the wake of the fire, and is now ready to assume its role as a community hub for resources, meals and activities - and to expand the reach of its services. In his resignation letter, Scott said, " I am proud to have been on the original Steering Committee and feel blessed to have worked so closely with true leaders and such caring and sincere human beings. I have gained even a greater respect for all of you. This decision has zero to do with my confidence in the committee, in fact, it demonstrates my confidence. As I could never feel correct about this if the "steering" was in doubt. I am certain of your integrity and ability."
After assessing the shift in demands and needs after the first six weeks of activity, the Steering Committee asked Bob Brandon, chair of the Facilities Committee, to step into an expanded role as a Steering Committee member. "The rebuilding efforts will soon begin in earnest," commented Chuck Tidy, YHRG Chair. " Bob's steady, capable presence, his stature and history in the community, his background in construction and service focus made him an excellent addition to the team as Reconstruction Director." Kathleen Stowe will step into the position of Vice Chair, and focus more on internal development of the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group, and tightening the coordination of Committee efforts. With much of the coordination work of securing temporary housing, generators, food vouchers and other immediate needs completed, Kathleen's managerial experience and abilities can be used more fully as Vice-Chair.
Guidelines for Phase I of Yarnell Recovery Efforts Released
The steering committee released its guidelines concerning the rebuilding of homes for the owners of uninsured primary residences. The Guidelines were developed based on research done by the Finance Committee, and refined by the Steering Committee.
The Guidelines are based on several core principles:
1. That applicant information which would identify the owners remain confidential, so that Steering Committee members make decisions based on the merits of the applicants need.
2. That well-built homes will improve the community and the tax base, regardless of who the owner is.
3. That the economic status of uninsured homeowners of primary residences be considered so that their preference (and ability, based on zoning requirements) to have a manufactured home will be honored.
We anticipate the first ground breaking to take place in early September.