SCIP's price jump is devastating. One of Oracle's most important businesses reports a stunning one month 50% hike.
How bad is it? Consider this post on Facebook from David Ranchy: "I emailed them and got a refund on the difference because they implemented it a month early but my bill at the cafe went from $2000 to $3000 in one month. Yuck"
When you stop to think about it the situation is even worse than it first appears because at the same time SCIP customers are getting rate squeezed the federal government is flooding "infrastructure" dollars into "renewables" nationwide. Let's not forget that SCIP makes no provision for interface with local solar/wind generation!
Check out the important Robert Bolton/Sheila Miles letter to Secretary Deb Haaland:
US Department of Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240
Dear Secretary Haaland:
Enclosed is a copy of an email we sent Senator Kelly who had responded to our request for help.
We live in Rural Arizona and get power from the US Department of Interior. Our Electric rates have increased over 50% in less than a year and are almost 40% more than average Arizona rates.
When we contacted San Carlos Irrigation District office (the electric utility), they said, "we have nothing to do with the rates."
Please see the forwarded letter below for the impact it has on ourselves and our rural communities.
Our home and many others in the area are perfect for Solar Electric. How about helping us by subsidizing PV cells for our homes and businesses instead of penalizing us?
Thanks for your attention; we look forward to hearing from you.
Robert Bolton & Sheila Miles
PO Box 211
Oracle, AZ 85623
(505)699-4173 & (505)603-3781
Some long time Oracle residents will remember efforts by local leaders to establish OREC (Oracle Electric Coop). The attempt by those stalwarts supported by the then thriving Oracle Town Hall researched and sought to implement a breakaway corporation focused on fixing the shortcomings of the San Carlos Irrigation Project’s electrical grid.
Ultimately it proved a bridge too far but in the process the community learned a lot about local control of infrastructure, obstacles to same thrown up by politicians and bureaucrats, and why our electrical grid staggers along with its head barely above water.
The problems that existed those many decades ago persist as a letter produced by Sheila Miles and Robert Bolton quoted in full shows. In fact they have metastasized since the OREC days.
Below is the Miles/Bolton letter:
Our community needs help. We are electric rate payers to the San Carlos Irrigation District, US Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Our utility rate in less than a year has gone from an effective rate of $.1303/ per kilowatt hour to $.1976 or an increase of 51.7%. This represents a $200 a month increase for our all-electric, 0 carbon emission home in Oracle, AZ. My wife and I are retired and in our 70’s. This is a huge increase for us.
To put our electric rate in perspective, following is a table of average residential electric rates in cents/kilowatt-hour for years 2022 and 2023 in the Mountain Region:
Mountain 14.22 13.09
Arizona 14.28 13.20
Colorado 14.67 14.40
Idaho 11.78 11.38
Montana 13.19 11.61
Nevada 17.39 13.17
New Mexico 13.89 14.13
Utah 11.45 11.19
Wyoming 12.62 11.75
San Carlos Irrigation District
We went from a rate slightly under the Arizona average to 38% higher or 5.48 cents per Kilowatt-hour higher than the current Arizona average
To add insult to injury the August bill contains an increase of 3.1 cents per kW-hour effective September 1 that has retroactively been applied to August billing.
There are no programs offered by San Carlos Irrigation District to buy back solar energy, subsidize solar energy or to help mitigate energy consumption as many Private Utilities do and are required to do.
Thanks for your help,
Sheila Miles & Robert Bolton
PO Box 211, Oracle, AZ 85623
When you stop to think about it, Oracle residents’ passionate defense of Way of Bean Coffee Club at the Pinal County Board of Supervisors on August 16 makes a lot of sense. On the one hand, Oracle has a long history of tensions with county oversight of local matters; on the other, Way of Bean Coffee Club fills a gap in the menu of spaces available to residents and visitors alike that is widely appreciated.
Several of these spaces are interesting and successful hybrids: Part business, part community gathering places. I’m thinking of Sue and Jerry’s Farmers Market; the Patio Cafe; Triangle L; Rancho Robles among others, Together with the Oracle Community Center, the Oracle Historical Society, the Oracle Community Learning Garden, the Oracle Center for the Arts, Rancho Linda Vista along of course with our faith communities, prospects open up for gatherings diverse in focus, appeal and size. Way of Bean fits so neatly in because it’s right sized for conversation, small concerts, readings, meetings, openings and the like. In other words it fulfills a need largely unmet by other venues.
That’s how free enterprise is supposed to work, right?
The key to all this seems to be entrepreneurial talent, energy and inspiration. Most of us know that to survive and thrive as an enterprise of whatever sort in a small town is really hard. It’s way more than being in the right place at the right time, It’s carving out relationships over the long term with mind bogglingly hard work. No exceptions here.
Which brings me to the role of local government. Given that the disposition of local government is mostly rule making and punitive in nature, small business is up against it. Every election cycle there’s a lot of talk about the importance of small business; you know - about jobs, community services and the like. But when push comes to shove it’s the big players that get most of the positive outcomes. Right? The reason is obvious.
Is there a small business in Pinal County that can afford to hire arguably the most powerful lawyer/lobbyist/flak catcher in our county, Jordan Rose and her Scottsdale based firm? If so, I’m not aware. Is there a small business in Pinal County with the resources to flood the coffers of politicos up and down the ladders of power? If so, I"m unaware. I rest my case.
Which is why it’s so important for ordinary citizens to weigh in as we did on August 16.
(Come to think of it, surprise, surprise, that’s the whole point of my book - Sometimes David Wins; Organizing to Overcome Fated Outcomes.)
I’ve never witnessed a more eloquent defense of community values (as in neighbors caring for neighbors) than at the Pinal County Board of Supervisors on August 16. (See for yourself: https://pinalcountyaz.new.swagit.com/videos/269374, starting about 1:3.)
When County officials threatened to bring the “Cease and Desist” hammer down on the Way of Bean Coffee Club and us, members of the club, my blood started to boil. To be honest, it felt like a gut punch. And it’s happened before to our town as Justin Palmer, lifelong Oracle resident testified. Justin tried to educate the supervisors and county staff about our recent history in which the Board of Supervisors fought two of Oracle’s most successful businesses - the Zip Line and the Patio Cafe. He went on to state “I can’t believe this is even on the agenda - this is not an issue; so I would hope you would let it go and let it be because we seem to be able to run our town ourselves just fine without a whole lot of help from the county.” Sadly they didn’t seize on his history lesson or his generously offered face saving escape hatch.
Strangers to Oracle in the crowd were genuinely moved by what they heard. Their comments included praise along the lines of “this is what our country needs”, “people who disagree with each other are talking over coffee at Way of Bean”, “look at the left, right and center come together for the community”, and finally, “I want to join the Way of Bean Coffee Club.” Amen, brothers and sisters, amen.
Courageous and gratifying to all was the refusal of Way of Bean owner Kristina Olivarez to cow tow to the insulting posturing of county officials who admitted they don’t know what they are talking about when it comes to private membership clubs. In the face of their ignorance of constitutional law and the enterprise concept Kristina has chosen to advance, she stayed cool. Wow! God bless her for that. That’s way more restraint than I or likely many of the rest of the 60 or so citizens present could have exercised. Kristina didn’t explode even after the officious deputy county attorney strutted out his gobbledegook and the five supervisors split for an executive session.
After all this came the final word of the day from the supervisors: Come back in three months, they said, and BTW the “Cease and Desist" order will hang like the sword of Damocles over Way of Bean Coffee Club and us, its members.
For myself I take it personally as I suspect do a lot of others around here. I think the supervisors are in for a rude awakening as the stupidity of their rigidity becomes ever more clear.
Wild pig stuck between two of these bars
Dang! We missed a photo op in the hood when a small Javelina got caught in a neighbors gate trying to escape her back yard. The gate pictured here features iron bars 3 1/2 inches apart. A confab ensued as several walkers including Kaz and myself joined the discussion. A family with two youngsters in a stroller happened by ... to good effect it turned out because the dad helped another handy guy who also lived nearby succeed in prying the steel bars apart just enough to release the freaked out, now exhausted wild pig.
The javelina’s predicament resulted from jamming its head through two of the gate's bars but finding itself unable go forward. Nor would its hind end slip through despite a desperate scramble that exhausted the poor creature. The alternative of last resort was to shoot the critter. Anyway, all’s well that ends well with neighbors helping neighbors help a javelina in distress.
Owning an older home presented myriad challenges. Plumbing was the first. Being city-suburb dwellers, such matters had always been invisible to us. Two toilets didn’t flush properly, and all the faucets leaked. We called Oracle’s one plumber, Delbert “Dub” Ragels, owner of Dub’s Plumbing. He showed up a couple days later. After greetings and a few niceties, he fixed the worst offending faucet and suggested that we’d better learn to change the washers ourselves or we’d soon run out of money.
“This is Oracle,” he said with a grin, “but don’t get me wrong, I like the business.”
Read the rest of the Episode 4 here: frankpierson.substack.com
During our first few days in the new house, a balding white haired man (about my age now) drove an ancient four-wheel drive Ford pickup from the road straight to our front door on what wasn’t intended as a driveway. So who the hell is this rude old guy and what does he want?
Stiff of back (like mine is now), ever so carefully placing each foot, he lowered himself down from his truck - breathing heavily with an oxygen tank in tow. “Bill Collier,” he announced holding out his calloused right hand, “the neighbor right behind you.” Before we could respond he followed with, “Just thought I’d drop by to meet you folks and bring you up to speed on the neighborhood and its history”.
(Visit frankpierson.substack.com for the entire Episode 3.)
On our first visit, we were blown away by the oaks, the majestic Santa Catalinas rising at towns edge, wild growing iris, mysterious granite outcroppings. Not desert, not mountain - somewhere in between - a “transition zone”. And so it became for us, geographically and personally from one way of life to another.
Most of Oracle was hidden away in the nooks and crannies of ridges and washes, all somehow carved out from the Santa Catalina foothills facing a desert plateau. Every view, even a handful of feet away, opened to new vistas, different plant life. A place of infinite visual discovery.
We didn’t know a soul. We had no relationships to build on. We’d never been through such a place much less considered actually buying in to it.
Follow our story: The complete Episode 2 is up on frankpierson.substack.com
Looks about the same as when we moved to Oracle in 1979.
New York City was drowning in debt. Felix Rohatyn and the Municipal Assistance Corporation had just taken over the government moving it even farther from ordinary citizens. Crime was spiking. A series of bizarre murders, several nearby us in Queens, scared everybody half to death. A couple was shot returning from an evening out at a disco. A Barnard student was shot dead in the face. Mayor Beame and local law enforcement were helpless. He showed up one day near our apartment when Kaz confronted him: “Do something you asshole, “ she shouted to his face.
I had a meltdown of sorts one afternoon in Astoria Park. Sitting with my dog Roofer I put my arms around his neck and started telling him my troubles (okay, I was crying). As man’s best friend Roofer was a good listener with an ear for lament. I told him my work seemed to be going nowhere and I wanted out of the city.
Meanwhile, David Berkowitz, Son of Sam, was also engaged in dog conversation, one that included demonic instructions of murder and mayhem.
My work – “community organizing” - in light of the cataclysmic events unfolding all around us seemed piddling. I was exhausted by trying to play the hero. We were lonely for relationships that we didn’t know we missed. A weird limbo we struggled to get our heads around.
Visit https://frankpierson.substack.com/ for the complete Episode 1. I'm looking to post a new episode every other week. Free sign up.
This is It: No knead bread right out of a Dutch Oven.
BTW I'm writing my Oracle book on https://frankpierson.substack.com/
Serialized in "Episodes" that capture some of the events and people we've known over the years since we moved here in 1979. What does substacking and bread making have in common? Trying out new things.
I'm not sure when I first met Reg. Given his elephantine memory he may recall details of our first encounter but I don't. I suspect it had something to do with Kaz and my involvement with the purchase of the triangle of land around the Oracle Post Office from his family. Anyway, I'm here to say the guy is amazing. For one thing he's buried more local folks than all preachers combined. (Or so I believe without hard numbers to back me up.) He has been wrangling burials for more decades than most of us have been alive. He recalls family histories like nobody else in town. And he comforts the grieving with singular respect and compassion. Plus he's funnier than hell.
It’s not a “city” or a “town”. To qualify as either, boundaries must be set and a local government incorporated. So what the heck is it?
Oracle is a place identified on a map of indeterminate location. The Oracle Fire District has boundaries. The Oracle School District has boundaries. We have an Oracle Post Office, a shared justice court and a shared zip code. What does this add up to?
Oracle isn’t defined by any lines. It’s something else entirely different. The bottom line is Oracle is a figment of residents’ (and some visitors’) imaginations. Made up out of whole cloth from stories residents have told themselves beginning more than a century ago. Oracle is a civic life form sustained by local hopes, dreams, and real world accomplishments. It is quite literally a story town living on energy derived from stories told and retold.
Kaz and I live in the oldest platted and zoned subdivision in Oracle. Some of the homes are older than ours which was built in the late 1940's but the neighborhood anchored by the Oracle Park has held up pretty well. As many of us stroll around our neighborhood, when something happens - or threatens to happen - to a property that we all know well we worry about its fate.
“Will the new buyer put six homes on it?” “Grade and blade after chainsawing the fabulous old trees?” “Build SaddleBrooke style homes that will stick out like sore thumbs?” We didn’t know but anticipated the worst. So much so much so that some of us schemed up an idea for a group purchase … which we all knew was just a fantasy.
So we waited with bated breath.
The moment of truth came when the "For Sale" sign came down signaling the deal had closed.
Let me back up for a moment. The property in question has wonderful natural features but had fallen into dangerous disrepair. Shacks with holes in the roofs, windows busted out, pack rats running rampant, 50 gallon drums full of god knows what. A colossal challenge to any new owner. Conditions suggested an aggressive assault by heavy equipment, including front end loaders, back hoes and trucks to clear the place at great cost was likely. OMG!
On one of our walks we noticed small changes beginning to happen. Weed whacking for pathways and to reduce fire risk; rusty metal gathered and neatly placed on one pile; block and reusable materials placed on another. No heavy equipment, just a pick up truck and a couple about our age apparently doing all the meticulous work! So who the hell are these miracle workers we wondered? What do they think of the “subdivide whisperers” who populate some of the real estate agencies around town?
One morning they were working away as we passed by so we wandered over to say hello. Kaz took the lead with introductions. “Hi, we’re your new neighbors from a couple of properties over. Good to meet you.”
"Good to meet you too!”
The conversation unfolded from there. Much to our amazement the couple described struggling to overcome obstacles put in their way by the seller to the purchase of land they had fallen in love with. Yes, especially the trees. They refused to give up until they succeeded. Their intention? To build a modest home down the road - themselves. And BTW they’re not ready for retirement at 75.
Welcome to the neighborhood!
Darrell and Rodney complete the wraparound walkway and handicap access at OCC.
Work like this has an indelible impact on our town.
Credit Kaz with the pics as the work continues.
Check out the grand improvement for yourself when next at the Oracle Community Center.
When I arrived at the Oracle Cemetery to see how the brush clearing with a volunteer team was going I was greeted by fellow board member Justin Palmer. He reported that yes the work was going on but there had been a glitch.
The first dead tree the group attacked was home to a colossal nest of bees and they weren't happy being invaded.
"Everyone was stung and one guy was hit eight times."
"So they packed it in, right?"
"No, they moved to another area and are hard at work." And so they were.
I've never seen these guys around town but I sure hope they come back. I understand Alicia Bristow with the Visitors Center connected them with Justin ... and that's how a lot of good stuff happens in Oracle. A connection that turns into a positive impact. Amen to that and more.
Now back to Justin for a second. Among other roles around town he's the drummer for the Mother Cody Band. I caught his/their act at the Oracle Community Learning Garden celebration the other day and he/they were great. (Special kudos to Jennifer Rinio for her spectacular rendering of White Rabbit.) A local band on the rise!
Sharon Holnback’s “Atmosperics” installation at the Triangle L Art Ranch reminded me of a moment spent with Bruce McGrew many years ago in his studio. Kaz and I were wandering around Rancho Linda Vista with no particular purpose when we stopped in. One of Bruce’s watercolors illuminated by a ray of sunlight was hung against a back wall. I just stood there staring and stammering - mouth no doubt agape. “It’s the light, Frank,” he said with a broad gesture of his right hand. “It’s the light.”
Kaz and I wanted to experience Sharon Holnback's "Atmospherics" before it closes next week. So we texted her and she suggested meeting in the Triangle L Ranch Gallery after the board meeting of the Oracle Cemetery Association on which we all serve. We know Sharon as a friend and brilliant local creative. Her vision and hard work inform GLOW which is an illuminated trail carved out of ranch property that has gained international attention for its innovative immersion in mind boggling installations of light and shape. So we anticipated something out of the ordinary. We got that and more.
On our visit to Sharon's domain, in addition to admiring her work, she spoke of the two weeks she recently spent on retreat at the Morris Graves Foundation. It's a one- person-at-a time thing into which gaining entry is beyond difficult. Graves himself, a genius creative who passed away more than two decades ago, was something of a mystic when it came to artistic expression. Sharon's portfolio of accomplishment seems to fall into that fold.
Now I'm left wondering where all this comes from. You may wonder too if you venture over to the Triangle L before it's too late.
With a strong turnout and and plenty of energy Oracle residents gathered again to consider the future of American Avenue. Building on comments offered at a meeting two weeks ago, Jeff Zucker led the group through a problem area identification process that pinpointed key concerns of meeting attendees.
Informed by a map that identified serious accidents over a five year period, the urgent need to address safety issues posed by current conditions on Oracle's main drag seemed paramount in the group.
Exactly where this is headed remains to be seen, but judging from convenings to date prospects are encouraging. With prime movers like Deb Breen and Mary Huebner, Liz Tuck and Jean Wilcox taking leadership roles Oracle will likely be the beneficiary.
North Bonito and Estill. Way too close for comfort.
. We have no idea how it started. Kaz and I find cigarette butts (always possible source of ignition) and mini flavor of the week liquor bottles scattered around the area from time to time. Maybe the source?
A neighbor reports hearing a 3 wheeler and a car pass by around 3am !!! Then smelled smoke, discovered there was a fire at the edge of his property and called the Oracle Fire Department! He keeps his propery well cut so it didn't spread! Yes we think it could be someone flicked a cigarette.
The other day Kaz came home reporting she was almost rear ended turning into Oracle's Sun Life Health Clinic. A hard charging pickup nearly put her in the emergency room or mortuary. Thankfully she pulled off American Avenue just in time to avert disaster.
In recent months at least two wrecks happened near where American Avenue joins Evergreen. And we can look forward to more if changes aren't made because traffic is increasing along with business activity; not to mention pedestrian walkabouts and bicycling.
Local architect Jeffrey Zucker led a discussion of safety and revitalization of Oracle's main street after the regular lunch at the Oracle Community Center. Notes from the meeting included the several focus areas of interest: Reduced speed limits; Bike lanes and pedestrian paths; Crosswalks; Intersection improvements; Signage; Appearance.
The follow up is planned for May 16, 5:30 at the OCC.
Several decades ago there was some talk around Oracle about a "vortex" or "crystal vortex". Sort of "like Sedona" it was said. Now, with all the creativity going on around here I'm beginning to wonder once again what's going on. Several events/openings are cases in point.
If a "vortex" doesn't help explain the magic of Andy Rush's work or Jeremy Ajani Jordan's performance last Sunday afternoon at the Oracle Center for the Arts, what does?
Don't get me wrong. I'm open to other suspected "sources" from the religious traditions I know best, namely, the Inner Light and the Holy Spirit. But one thing I can say for sure is that something is going on that is quite mysteriously good.
If you see me comin' better step aside
A lot of folks didn't and nobody died
One fist with pens, the other with change
If the right one don't getcha then the left one will
Twenty bucks for an authographed copy!
For many area gardeners the Oracle Community Learning Garden plant sale is a big deal. It's where we purchase starts of all kinds of vegetables and exchange experience with different varieties.
It's refreshing as all get out, not just because the young plants are ready to go into the soil, but also because all kinds of different folks show up for conversation about the what and how. I recall one of the first organizational meetings at Trowbridge Hall years ago when Jim Pollock presented a futuristic plan. Fast forward to Saturday and there it is in full bloom.
Gardeners are typically generous with their knowledge. A pretty good example of how to grow community one plant at a time.
People came out of woodwork from Oracle and beyond to remember Jim Caid and support Oracle Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation. In fact the turnout at Way of Bean Coffee Club was astonishing. The guesstimate of one attendee was upwards of 100 but no one was counting. The fellowship of community was the dominant mood.
You really can't overstate the importance of events like this - honoring community builders whose values ripple out far and wide. Jim's beloved wife Jill (now widow) pictured here with me courtesy of Laura Flores was a big reason why so many showed up. Among Oracle's most talented artists she perseveres through the grief of irreparable loss - even to the point of mounting a show featuring her own and Jim's work opening April 14 at the Oracle Center for the Arts.
Right here I could go on about Jill and Jim at great length but the upcoming show will do a better job than I ever could. I will say a word bowing in the direction of the two venues chosen by Jill for the fundraiser and art show. When you stop to think about it they both play vital roles in our community. Without places and spaces like Way of Bean and ORCA our community would be diminished and less creative than it currently is. Both help lift our spirits by being there when we need them most.
Kaz and I moved to Oracle in 1979. The house we bought dated to the late 1940s. With little advance knowledge of the place, we set out to build a new life together, intending to settle in and raise a family.