Most Viewed Stories
Yuma Crossing honored as an Arizona Culturekeeper
As part of Arizona's ongoing centennial observances, the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area is among 10 recipients statewide honored as the 2012 Culturekeepers for making a positive impact on the state's history, culture, environment and economy.
While the recognition is welcome, said Charles Flynn, Heritage Area executive director, the honor really should be directed to the groups and individuals who laid the groundwork for more recent achievements through their grassroots efforts dating back to the 1960s to preserve Yuma's heritage and promote redevelopment of the riverfront.
Several of those residents were on hand to share in the Culturekeepers recognition during a special ceremony held recently in Scottsdale.
In further tribute to those early visionaries, plans are under way to create a Founders Plaza at the Quartermaster Depot that will be dedicated to them, Flynn announced this week. The tribute, a large rock, will read: “Dedicated to the many citizens and organizations who devoted themselves to reclaiming Yuma's riverfront and celebrating its rich history. Their efforts have resulted in a revitalized riverfront which includes Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park.”
Flynn said: “The real heroes are those intrepid souls who worked against all odds in the 1970s and '80s to preserve Yuma's heritage and advance the riverfront project. What has been accomplished in the last decade was only made possible through the efforts of the Yuma Crossing Park Council and other citizen groups. They drove this effort ... they set this agenda.”
Furthermore, he said, without their efforts, the Quartermaster Depot likely would have been lost as an historic resource for the community.
The Arizona Culturekeepers program was established in 2002 by The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in conjunction with the Sharlot Hall Museum and Arizona Historical Society. The selection committee is led by Marshall Trimble, official state historian, and was originated by the late Katherine “Kax” Herberger, a longtime Phoenix philanthropist.
Ten individuals or groups have been recognized each year since 2002, with the 10 honorees in 2012 completing the group of 100 this year, the centennial of Arizona's statehood.
Flynn, staff member Tina Clark and Tom Rushin, board president, represented the Heritage Area at the ceremony. Dunbar Norton, Jill Sloncen, Verda McCain and Margie and John Dallabetta attended the ceremony as representatives for the Park Council, along with Gwen Robinson and Reba Grandrud. Jones Osborn, Janice Alstatt Hayes, Steve Shadle and Rob Ingold were unable to attend.
Since the designation of the Yuma Crossing and Associated Sites National Historic Landmark in 1964, citizens of Yuma have taken an active role in telling the story of Yuma Crossing. Through alliances and partnerships, lands and building of the historic U.S. Army Quartermaster Depot were saved, restored and opened to the public. In 1980, The Yuma Crossing Park Council successfully galvanized local, state, tribal and national support for a grant to “master plan” the Arizona side of the National Landmark.
In 2000, Congress designated the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, with the work of the Park Council serving as the foundation and the inspiration. Today, the Heritage Area oversees operation of the Quartermaster Depot and the Yuma Territorial Prison, development of the East and West Wetlands, Gateway Park and other related projects.
“What has been accomplished didn't just spring up, it was built on a foundation,” Flynn said. “All the projects I've worked on go back to the vision that started in the 1960s.”
Joyce Lobeck can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6853. Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/YSJoyceLobeck or on Twitter at @YSJoyceLobeck.