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June 14, 2011

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Centennial: Vulture Mine

  |   Video
  • Discovered in 1863 by Henry Wickenburg, the Vulture Mine was Arizona’s most productive gold mine. Now, a group is trying to raise money to renovate the mine’s historic buildings. Bernadine McCollum and Penny Pietre, of the Vulture Mine Preservation and Restoration Association, discuss the mine and efforts to save its crumbling infrastructure.
  • Bernadine McCollum - Vulture Mine Preservation and Restoration Association, Penny Pietre - Vulture Mine Preservation and Restoration Association
Category: Culture   |   Keywords: mines, gold,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Tonight we continue our series check rating Arizona's first hundred years of statehood by taking you to the Vulture Mine in Wickenburg. Discovered in 1863, by Henry Wickenburg, the Vulture was the most productive gold mine in history. Since the mine closed in 1942, its historic buildings have fallen into a state of disrepair. The store is off limits to visitors because of safety concerns. It's walls are crumbling and the roof is near collapse. The 1880s head frame isn't much more than a pile of rubble. But concerned citizens have formed a nonprofit to try to save the Vulture Mine. Here to talk about their efforts are Bernadine McCollum, president of the Vulture Mine preservation and restoration association. And Penny Pietre, a member of the board of directors. Good to have you both here, thanks for joining us. Bernadette, it stopped in 1942, how long did the mine go?

Bernadine McCollum: Henry Wickenburg discovered it in 1863 and it periodically closed down, but pretty much stayed open until 1942 when it 14 was closed because the government shut all nonessential mining down.

Ted Simons: How much gold was mined there?

Bernadine McCollum: Supposedly about $200 million dollars’ worth.

Ted Simons: It just sits there and no one's out there?

Penny Pietre: It's sitting there falling party. Can I just say I first went to Vulture Mine 26 years ago almost. Almost all of the buildings were standing still and it looked like the workers had just dropped their tools and walked away, thinking they would be back next week. There were tools, plates on the tables, it was amazing. Through the years I started to take my grandkids out there and taught them all about Arizona history. We'd go out and imagine how the miners lived, what the kids did, what they played. It was a great lesson for them but now it's falling apart.

Ted Simons: Talk to us about the property. How big a property are we talking about here? How many buildings? What needs to be done?

Bernadine McCollum: The total property is about 250 acres more or less, and that's the privately owned section. And it's surrounded by Bureau of Land Management property. We're really interested in both of those pieces because the privately owned portion has about 23 buildings on it, and most of those are in a state of disrepair where you probably couldn't restore them. But there are about seven to ten that can still be restored. The assay building being one of them, sort of the signature building of the whole property.

Ted Simons: Who owns the property? Is there someone who has it for sale right now?

Bernadine McCollum: Yes. Right. There's recall ture mine properties, the actual owner of record and it is for sale. I don't believe it's listed on the multiple listing services but it is for sale and has been for quite some time.

Ted Simons: How long?

Bernadine McCollum: Well, 40 years.

Ted Simons: 40 years. And the plan now is for your group to buy this property and then do what? Make a museum out of it? Interactive displays? Like Williamsburg in Virginia?

Penny Pietre: Everything. This could be one of the largest Arizona history sites in the state because that's where Arizona history sites in the state, because that’s where Arizona history, part of it, started. If we lose it, that part of Arizona history is gone.

Ted Simons: Talk to us about how the history of Phoenix really is encapsulated here. Because Mr. Wickenburg wound up playing a part in Phoenix, correct?

Bernadine McCollum: Right. So a lot of the people who were associated with the mine were also financing different parts of the growth of the valley. One specifically the canal system, Jack Swilling associated with the mine saw the Hohokam canal system and got Henry Wickenburg and other people associated with the mine. They opened up those canals and Phoenix blossomed and here we are looking at 100 years of statehood.

Ted Simons: Ok, we talked about the fact that it's for sale. How much money does the group need? You not only have to buy the property and buy the buildings, you have to find a way to fix them up and get these dreams to come true.

Penny Pietre: Bernadine can tell you about the sale price. Once the place is in the hands of a nonprofit organization we're in line for a lot of federal and state grants to help with stabilizing, developing the educational centers, the tourist centers and so on. We're looking at a few million dollars to actually acquire the land. And then we're already lined up for three or four grants that we're going to be getting soon. There will be a lot more once we have the land.

Ted Simons: How is the fund-raising going so far?

Penny Pietre: Very well.

Bernadine McCollum: One of the things we're doing right now is the national trust for historic preservation has a contest “this place matters”. 100 historic sites were chosen for the contest and we're one of the 100. We're the only Arizona site so we really need the state of Arizona is really need to do support us on that so we can win the prize. The top prize is $25,000. There's a $10,000 and $5,000 but we would sure like Arizona to rally around us to win that $25,000.

Ted Simons: Can we get information on that particular contest?

Bernadine McCollum: If you go to savevulturemine cargo, go to the home page and click on that.

Ted Simons: Let me be a contrarian for a second. Why do we need to save the Vulture Mine?

Penny Pietre: It's the history of half of Arizona. It's there. If these buildings disappear, we can't preserve a good look at what Arizona history looked -- was 100 years ago. It's gone. So many things came out of this mine, and actually it's the history of the West, as well. The miners, a lot of them came from California after the gold rush there. Chinese, Mexican, Yugoslavians, people from all over the world came to Arizona to work the Vulture Mine and eventually other mines. So we need to preserve the history. The gold that's out there now is its history. And that's more valuable than anything that might be scratched out of the earth at this point.

Ted Simons: Again, you're part of this organization, this group to save this mine. It's in pretty bad shape and looks like it's been neglected and abandoned. You try to get people to care but a lot of folks don't care or don't know bit. Why is it so important to you?

Bernadine McCollum: It’s important to me. Well how I really got started, I took my sister out there. I'd been out a couple of times before. All of that history just crumbling to the ground and no one doing anything about it. I got Penny and other people I know, if someone's going to save this it needs to be now. Because if we wait two or three years, there’s not going to be anything left to save.

Ted Simons: Is there any thought of turning this into a functioning mine again? That is just too far-fetched right now?

Bernadine McCollum: That's not what we are about at all. We want to preserve the history of the people out there, the hard work that went into making the state a state. You know, it's the whole history of the western United States out there.

Ted Simons: That is how you see it, as well?

Penny Pietre: Absolutely.

Ted Simons: Some people say, let's -- and again, how much commercialization do you want to see for this thing? You get a museum and people wearing period costumes, you might attract a bigger crowd than maybe the place can handle.

Penny Pietre: We'll handle them. We want this to be educational. As I’ve said I've taken my grandchildren out there, Charlie and Lucas are now 13 and 11. They know the place well. They have learned all about Arizona history throughout the talks that we had going through this mine. How people lives, what they thought of, what they wrote. Looking at the schoolhouses. There's an old piano in the schoolhouse than probably 100 years old. The keyboard is locked up and rusted but you can still feel the history of the people who lived there. It's pretty amazing, you need to come out and visit

Ted Simons: Last question, I believe I saw an19 edition of ghost adventurers? Is the place haunted? They looked like they were out there with their equipment and I think they found some ghosts.

Bernadine McCollum: We had a ghost tour out there. We've got a little movement on the needle.

Ted Simons: Good. Thank you both for joining us tonight.

Penny Pietre: Thank you very much.

Men’s Health

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  • Wayne Tormala, Men’s Health coordinator for the Arizona Department of Health Services, talks about nationwide health indicators that show Arizona men leading and lagging in various categories.
  • Wayne Tormala - Men’s Health coordinator, Arizona Department of Health Services
Category: Medical/Health   |   Keywords: health, men,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Arizona men are quitting tobacco and have some of the lowest cancer rates in the country. That's the good news concerning men's health in our state. Now for the not so good news. Centers for disease control rank Arizona men in the bottom half of overall health in the nation. Joining us now is Wayne Tormala for Arizona health services. Bottom half for overall health in the country. What's going on here?

Wayne Tormala: That's a good country. We're leading the nation, we have over 85,000 men quit smoking last year, which is great. We do have low cancer rates. A lot of people, a lot of men are getting things detected late. They are not getting in for those checkups. We know that over half the men don't get regular checkups, over half the men are overweight or obese, over half the men admit they don't eat enough fruit and vegetables, and don't get regular physical activity. While they think they are doing well in surveys, when we test men we find it's not the case.

Ted Simons: Let’s talk about regular checkups, what does that mean? At a certain age should they be more regular? What's going on?

Wayne Tormala: We're talking about age appropriate. At 40 they should have an annual prostate exam or at 50 a colonoscopy. We're talking about inheritance, genetic makeup, do you have a health history. What's in your blood that might be predisposing you to something. Age appropriate and risk appropriate screening.

Ted Simons: 73% of Arizona men are obese?

Wayne Tormala: Overweight or obese.

Ted Simons: 73%?

Wayne Tormala: Three out of four.

Ted Simons: Also likely to have high cholesterol. Why is that?

Wayne Tormala: I think it's linked to diet and activity. If you're not getting a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables and a lot of physical activity, you're more prone to having high cholesterol. If you're not getting screened you might have it and not know it.

Ted Simons: 75% of men in Arizona don't eat enough fruits and vegetables. It's hard to get dudes to eat right, isn't it?

Wayne Tormala: We do have a website called where you can do a find "manly diets." Too often men think eating healthier means I've got eat rabbit food or salads for the rest of my life.

Ted Simons: Give me an example of a manly food that's good for you.

Wayne Tormala: Well, you can eat reasonable portions of lean protein, lean red meat, chicken, fish. The CDC has gone away from the food pyramid now. If a fourth of your plate was fruit about the size of a baseball. There's a manly symbol. About a fourth of your plate is vegetables. A fourth was maybe a six-ounce or 8-ounce piece of lean meat or fish, you've got a healthy diet going.

Ted Simons: There's a lot of information out there about how much exercise, how vigorous, how often you should do it per week. The numbers that are thrown at you, you don't know what to think.

Wayne Tormala: I think you need to keep it simple. Most men, if they can get out for 20 to 30 minutes, elevating their heart rate a bit almost every day, that's sufficient. You don't have to run the marathon or lift 200 pounds in the gym. The main thing is to be active. We like to tell men, find something you like to do. What’s fun? Is it walking the dog in the morning? Taking the steps instead of the elevator? Parking a little farther from the office door so you walk a little longer.

Ted Simons: Worse than national average with stroke, obesity, blood pressure, heavy drinks. Is there something about Arizona that attracts? Is it because it's so hot we're so doggone tired?

Wayne Tormala: There's something to be said for a sedentary lifestyle. When it's hot we're taking the car everywhere. The city is spread out, many men don't really live that close. You don't walk to the grocery store to get your food like you might in many places around the world. The spread-out geography. You gotta get in a car or on a bus station. Screen time, computers, TV, not to mention the Blackberry and everything else.

Ted Simons: How far -- I don't want to go too far afield but we hear so much in Arizona especially about watching your kids around water. Every year there are kids that wind up drowning. You get this information out. Your information is good information, a good warning sign. But it doesn't seem like these numbers move a heck of a lot. Is there a way to get this information out or to make it stick?

Wayne Tormala: Part of what we do, getting on the media like this and getting the word out. We also work at local networks. Who do men listen to each other and to their kids. If you can get the message in the mouths of the kids. Many men will say I finally quit smoking when my daughter asked me to quit smoking. They expect health officials and everybody else to talk about the dangers of tobacco. When your child comes up to you, it makes a big difference in your life. We try to get those trusted messengers. Who I listen to in my life, who's going to make me change my behavior. If we can get the message out on that level, we feel like we can make a difference.

Ted Simons: So what do you want Arizona men to take from these numbers what do you want Arizona men to take from the website? What's the websiteaddress again?

Wayne Tormala: Well we have two, and for tobacco cessation, to quit smoking. I want men to know that there's silent killers within. If they don't go to the doctor every year and get their blood checked and find out what's going on, if they wait until they actually feel bad, a lot of times it makes the situation much more hard to manage.

Ted Simons: Alright, Wayne, good to have you here.

Wayne Tormala: I appreciate it.

Special Session: Extended Unemployment Benefits

  |   Video
  • Arizona Capitol Times reporter Luige del Puerto explains why nothing was accomplished during the recent special session on extending unemployment benefits.
  • Luige del Puerto - Arizona Capitol Times reporter
Category: Legislature   |   Keywords: government, jobs,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: That was former U. of A. President Robert Shelton. Some lawmakers accused the Governor of trying to throw them under the bus. It was supposed to be a special session to extend unemployment assistance. In the end, lawmakers refused to extend those benefits. No more unemployment checks after this week for about 15,000 Arizonans. Here to tell us how this happened is "Arizona Capitol Times" reporter Luige del Puerto. Thanks for joining us.

Luige del Puerto:Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons:We're talking 20 weeks of unemployment checks, an extension for 15,000 folks, but a lot more probably would have gotten on the list between now and the end of the year.

Luige del Puerto: That's correct. The 15,000 are the people who would be immediately affected by the nonextension of this jobless aid program. That program expired on Saturday and that's why the governor called for a special session on Friday, the day before. But many more could still be beyond 79 weeks, which is the current program. And would be needing those additional 20 weeks and they will not get it as a result of what happened.

Ted Simons:And what happened is the Governor calls a special session. She needed, what, two thirds vote, emergency action so people wouldn't miss a check. Did this thing ever even come to a bill? Did they ever get to consider anything?

Luige del Puerto:One of the difficulties was to gauge how much support the Governor's proposal had in the legislature was the fact that a bill was never formally introduced. We don't know exactly what that bill would look like. It's correct that the governor needed a two thirds vote, so that once passed and signed into law it would take effect immediately. A two thirds vote for something as controversial as this one as it turned out was too high of a threshold.

Ted Simons:Let's talk about what happened down there.Because it sounds to me like the Governor didn't have the votes she thought she had. Sounded like certainly the more conservative lawmakers were looking at this as a chance to tack on some other tax cuts ideas. And some just didn't like the idea in the first place.

Luige del Puerto:You know, it almost seemed like the perfect mix for the conservative, the fiscally conservative lawmakers to rail against. To them it's an Obama federal stimulus bailout program, some felt it was social welfare. Some of them thought that it would basically be increasing the state deficit and we would be borrowing money, binding future generations to pay for today's expenses. There are certainly elements in the legislature who viewed this legislation that way. The fact that the Governor needed a two thirds vote made it all the more difficult to reach that threshold.

Ted Simons:It sounds as those some lawmakers -- again, people who are long-term unemployed and would use this month in to infuse some sort of stimulus, it is a stimulus package in a sense. Because you would stimulate the economy in some sense.I doubt -- very few are using this to pad their savings account.

Luige del Puerto: One argument for it, the Governor repeated several times Democrats had been clamoring for this extension for months now. This is money that's going to come in. It's money that we're not spending state money. This is federally funded, we're getting money from the Feds. We're getting about $3.5 million a year. The money will come in and be spent in our economy and it will be helping people, you know, in the process. Certainly that call wasn't heeded by this legislature.

Ted Simons: It sounded like some lawmakers were upset with the Governor for, what, not pushing hard enough or talking to them over the weekend?

Luige del Puerto: At the risk of it sounding like a he said, she said story, here's what happened. The Governor thought she had secured a deal with the Senate and had the votes to push this through. The Governor thought if they could get it out of the Senate the house later on would be persuaded to follow through. Of course, it didn't happen. Now, we asked Senate President Russell Pearce if there was a deal with the governor. He said what the governor was told was there was a possibility there would be the votes for it. Then he said on Thursday last week he had basically called the Governor's office to let them know there wasn't the votes for it. But of course the call by then had been made the night before. So certainly we wouldn't be having this conversation if the governor had lined up and secured those votes firmly. We don't know who said it, basically we don't know who spoke too soon.

Ted Simons: So correct me if I'm wrong here, the Governor could -- I don't know if this is legal or not -- another governor in North Carolina did this by way of executive order, go ahead and approve this plan. She's not going to do that though, is she?

Luige del Puerto: I'm not as familiar with the issue. The way I understand it, our governor doesn't have the authority to do so. The other governor had the special authority to basically do it in case there's a gridlock with the legislature. I don't think our governor has the same authority.

Ted Simons: What about the idea of another special session down the line?

Luige del Puerto: That's certainly a possibility. Russell Pearce said they are going continue and try and negotiate with the governor for a compromise or for -- to strike a compromise, and he said they wanted to end the session because they didn't want to stay in session and be spending taxpayers' money while they are having those negotiations. There are lawmakers, Republicans, hoping to see a second special session called. And for legislative leaders to come to a final compromise with the governor and get this done.

Ted Simons: Before you go, I want to make sure we know there were many, some Republican lawmakers down there who thought no matter what the reason, this is a bad idea a disincentive for people to find work. It's a government handout, at no cost to the state but still it would hurt the federal deficit. These folks were never on board to begin with.

Luige del Puerto: They were never on board to begin with. I don't think there was any kind of a deal to be had to persuade this group of lawmakers9 to go in and support what the governor was wanting to do. The key for the Governor of course is not to -- to keep trying to reach out to those people. To reach out to those who could be persuaded, who are saying, okay, let's wait and see what you have on the table and maybe it's something we can support.

Ted Simons: Alright Luige, thanks so much, we appreciate it.