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CUSD board announces possible church swap within Kenilworth property
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COOLIDGE — The historic former Kenilworth School has often shifted roles over the decades, and is once again in the process of changing tenants. The most likely outcome is that the building will switch from the Calvary Chapel church to the New Destiny Christian Center.

During its latest meeting, the Coolidge Unified School District board discussed the future of the property, first built in 1912, after its latest tenants moved out during the pandemic.

“The Calvary Chapel church were great tenants,” said Director of Business Services Alyssa Garrett. “It is in the best shape it can be. But they have since moved out. It’s a unique facility, but sitting vacant, that property is a liability to the district.”

Both Garrett and Superintendent Charie Wallace expressed a desire to lease the building to New Destiny Christian Center, which currently uses the cafeteria at the Coolidge Alternative Program. The district is currently planning to move the middle school program to the CAP school.

“They have been great tenants,” Garrett said of New Destiny. “They improved conditions, it is beautiful in that cafeteria, and they are very interested in relocating out to Kenilworth. I think that would be a great move for the district.”

In 2015, the property was appraised at $275,000. If the district did decide to sell, it would have to determine a new valuation. However, Coolidge voters already approved of the site’s potential sale. Wallace said that there are several interested potential buyers.

Board member Linda Heath said it would “break my heart to have it sold off and become a subdivision.”

During a presentation on final budget revisions, Garrett noted that the district had lost 87 students since the beginning of the year, with enrollment dropping to below 2,000 overall.

As a result, the district reduced its expected budget by around $420,000. The district had already lost almost $1 million in funding due to enrollment drop-offs in 2020.

Garrett said that the district expected some of those students, who were not participating in online learning, to return for in-person classes, but that those numbers would not be known until later in the summer. According to Garrett, any budget increase from returning students would have to be reflected in the next school year.

The district is still eligible for COVID-19-related federal funding, for things such as social distancing requirements or nursing supplies.

As they do each year, the board recognized outgoing staff, many of them retiring after decades of service to the school district. They are: Carmen Quintero, second grade teacher at West School; Justin Flowers, teacher at the Coolidge Alternative Program; Carmen Navarro, a migrant teacher for the district; and Diana Mattingly, registrar at Coolidge High School and Coolidge Junior High School.

An administrative assistant at West Elementary, Mary Easley, was also recognized after resigning due to personal reasons. Wallace said the board was “sending positive thoughts her way” and described her as “a dedicated and committed employee.”

Students who received outstanding character awards are eighth grader Jessica Hernandez, seventh grader Aubryna Valenzuela, fifth grader Belen Carreto, fifth grader Mateo Longoria and second grader Jonathan Carrisalez.

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DAV military museum showcases Coolidge veterans’ proud history
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COOLIDGE — When Disabled American Veterans Chapter 36 relocated to Main Street last year, the members didn’t forsake their old site along San Carlos Park. That building is now the DAV Military Museum, which officially opened to the public on May 8.

“What they’ve done is heart rending,” said Coolidge DAV Cmdr. Ronnie Smith. “All gave some, and some gave all. When I was in Vietnam, a lot of the guys didn’t make it back. That’s why we do what we do.”

According to Smith, part of the idea behind the museum is to help educate students about American military historic and what veterans experienced.

“Freedom is not free,” Smith said. “They don’t know what everybody had to go through in order to obtain that freedom, so we thought that would be a good thing to start a museum.”

Smith credits Dale and Bonnie Schoenberger for putting the museum together and noted that city officials were very supportive in conceiving the idea.

“It’s always a pleasure to partner with the DAV here,” said Mayor Jon Thompson. “They’ve done quite a bit for Coolidge, the veterans and the people they serve. It’s a very humbling experience to walk through there and see the things these gentlemen have done for their country and their families.”

The museum collection contains over 200 pieces, including hand-painted models, uniforms, historic memorabilia such as food rations and artwork by area veteran Palmer Miller.

Miller, who was inducted into the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame, attended the museum’s opening and offered his best wishes.

“This work has come from the heart,” Miller said. “Thank you for allowing me to put my artwork up here and honor our veterans and military.”

Admission to the museum is free. The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Coolidge Military Museum opens

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Coolidge cleanup crews take out the trash
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COOLIDGE — Wind blows garbage off a truck; cotton detritus tumbles over the road from a nearby field; rowdy teens throw a party and ignore the empty bottles and cigarettes they leave behind.

There are many ways for litter to accumulate, even in a smaller city, and while cleanup efforts were stymied by the pandemic, the trash piled up.

On Saturday morning, a group of volunteers led by the Better Human Coalition and city of Coolidge officials spent several hours picking up litter and cleaning city streets that were most in need. An initial group of several dozen volunteers, including Mayor Jon Thompson, met at San Carlos Park downtown and then spread out to various locations in order to tackle as much of the city as possible.

“It’s always needed,” said City Councilman Ben Navarro. “It seems like people forget where a trash can is.”

Navarro said he filled up his entire truck bed with garbage and tires picked up along Vah Ki Inn Road.

A major purpose of the cleanup was to raise awareness for Coolidge’s Adopt-A-Street program, which allows residents to “adopt” a section of street that they then pledge to maintain and keep up. The city, in partnership with the electric utility Arizona Public Service Co., provided water, garbage bags and vests for those who attended.

According to Navarro, Thompson was at one point tackling the collection of garbage bags off of Main Street by himself. Other areas that volunteers targeted included the western portion of Coolidge Avenue and a large north-south portion of Kenworthy Road between Vah Ki Inn Road and Central Avenue.

Rene Garling, who along with Heather Baer have been hosting smaller cleanups on a biweekly basis, said it was “awesome” for the city to put together a larger effort. Garling said she initially became focused on trash pickup after seeing a man lying in trash after a fatal car accident several years ago.

Garling and Baer said they’d first gotten around 40 people to clean up North Arizona Boulevard, behind Safeway.

“We posted a video on Facebook showing how bad it was,” Garling said. “I do the calling out a little bit. It gets reactions, it’s better that way.”

Navarro said the city would probably do another major cleanup effort in October when the weather is a little cooler.

“It’d be good to get everybody out here twice a year,” Navarro said. “You try to get what you can, do what you can. We had a good turnout this time.”