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Looking Back–Focused on the Future

As the clock high above the historic Coconino County Courthouse marks the passing of the hour and the roar of another train can be heard slicing through downtown Flagstaff, it is difficult not to notice that our community’s recent past is still alive.

While the hitching posts and dirt roads have given way to pavement and the horsepower of the modern pickup truck and SUV, our community remains fortunate enough to experience life much like generations before. Although technology has brought efficient communication, transportation and manufacturing, it has not changed our sense of community and the need to pack into the narrow streets in celebration around the Weatherford Hotel or our historic Courthouse.

Celebration will again return to the Courthouse on Feb. 14 as county officials and residents gather throughout the day to commemorate Arizona’s founding 100 years earlier. While Arizona became a recognized state in 1912, Coconino County had already been established 21 years earlier on Feb. 19, 1891.

The county was formed from 70 percent of Yavapai County following 18 months of meetings between Arizona territorial legislators, Yavapai County officials and citizens from Flagstaff and Williams. At the time, residents in Williams and Flagstaff felt that a disproportionate amount of tax revenue was being funneled to Prescott, the county seat.

Following discussions with territorial lawmakers, Governor John N. Irwin signed an order recognizing and creating Coconino County.

While our local history remains close to us all, our thoughts now turn to celebrating our state’s anniversary of becoming the 48th state admitted into the United States.

We encourage all our neighbors and friends to help celebrate our state and County’s vibrant history by participating in a number of events, including tours of the historic Courthouse at 200 N. San Francisco Street, which will be ongoing from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Feb. 14. During the tours, visitors can view historic architectural drawings and learn of our Courthouse’s storied past.

Tours will continue as past and present Superior Court judges gather at 9:00 a.m. for a plaque presentation. At 10:00 a.m., visitors can participate in discussions and learn about various historical markers in the area. At 11:30 a.m., officials will dedicate the Centennial Tree, planted on the Courthouse lawn to commemorate the historic anniversary.

Those interested in learning about the “Old Jail” can learn about the facility from a display at the County Administration Building at 219 E. Cherry Ave. from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

At the same time and location, the Coconino County Board of Supervisors will formally recognize and celebrate our centenarians and their stories of life over the past century.  The Coconino County Centennial Celebration Committee has worked to track down county residents 95 years and older to help share their stories and photographs, which will also be placed on the county’s website. The hope is that by sharing their experiences, the generations that follow will look back fondly on how far our community has come.

Our transition and prosperous growth as a community over the past 100 years is one that deserves to be shared and not forgotten. By following in the steps of the generations before us and again coming together as a community to recall the triumphs, advances and missteps of our city, county and state, we can better prepare for the unknown future that lies ahead. FBN


Mike Townsend is a native of Flagstaff and serves as interim Coconino County manager. 

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