2009 Williams Year in Review: Part IV
More notable news stories in Williams from the past year
Controversial Legion mural complete
A colorful mural now graces downtown Williams. The Legion of Honor mural, designed to honor veterans past, present and future, was completed August 21.
The mural, located on the wall above the shop windows at 117 E. Route 66 was painted by local artists Mike and Sandy Rusinko and measures 10 feet tall by 48 feet in length.
Al Dunaway with the American Legion Grand Canyon Post said that since the mural has been completed, public response has been overwhelmingly positive.
"It's amazing. People are stopping in the street to take pictures. People are standing on the sidewalk taking pictures. Channel 12 News was up here Wednesday and put it on the news in Phoenix 4:30 and 10 o'clock news Wednesday night. The response has been overwhelming for it," he said.
Dunaway felt sure the mural would generate a positive response from town residents as well as tourists passing through.
"I thought that this was going to be an eye catcher like nothing else in town when it went up and the response has all been basically positive. Everybody loves it," Dunaway said.
A proposal for the mural was authorized by city officials at the regular meeting of Williams City Council July 9. The decision came after the matter was tabled for further review on May 14 after vigorous debate between Legion members and the Williams Main Street Committee on whether the mural conformed to city guidelines for downtown Williams.
L.P.'s celebrates 30 years
L.P.'s Excavating celebrated 30 years of business this year. The company first began in 1979 when the Pittenger family moved to the Phoenix area from Ohio.
Prior to the move, Larry worked as a truck driver and farmer among other occupations. Lori worked as a restaurant manager and at various office jobs prior to their relocation to Arizona. Shortly thereafter, the family made the move to the Williams area, Larry said.
"We liked the area. It was nice coming up from Phoenix to relax and go fishing and just hang out. We had friends up here," he said. "When we first moved here Lori drove the truck and I did the pipe work."
Currently, L.P.'s Excavating works throughout northern Arizona, including recent jobs in Flagstaff, Prescott and other locations. The company can be seen at numerous jobs sites in Williams as well, where the business is based and where many of L.P.'s employees live. Those same employees have often been credited with helping volunteer time and equipment for the city as well.
"This is my town. We try to help where we can," Larry said. "There's just a ton of people in Williams that helped us reach these goals of ours. It's hard to thank all of them."
The Pittengers were also given national recognition this year after they were named a finalist for Contractor of the Year in the February issue of Equipment World magazine.
'Disney's Christmas Carol' train tour stops in Williams
Despite a few technical issues, the train tour for 'Disney's Christmas Carol' film offered a fun glimpse into author Charles Dickens' "Christmas Carol" experience when it stopped in Williams at the Grand Canyon Railway May 29-31.
Disney's version of the classic Christmas tale, starring Jim Carrey, hit theaters in November. Besides Williams, the tour's only Arizona stop, Disney visited over 40 other cities across the U.S.
Thunderstorms caused a few glitches upon the tour's arrival in northern Arizona and forced organizers to screen a trailer for the new film in the Grand Canyon Railway's hotel area, rather than inside an inflatable 3D theater, which had to be dismantled prior to the event due to rain and hail issues. Despite the weather, large crowds came out for the weekend event, including Williams Mayor John Moore.
The mayor, assisted by Bob Gault, vice president of Walt Disney Motion Pictures Studios special events, and David Lim, chief marketing officer for Amtrak, cut a red ribbon at the opening of the May Christmas event. Students from Heritage Elementary School were also on hand to sing Christmas Carols to the gathered crowd.
Cemetery fees increased
City officials voted to raise the cost for cemetery plots for non-residential customers during the regular meeting of Williams City Council Aug. 13. Costs for non-residents will now be set at $1,200, though fees did not change for residents who wish to purchase a plot.
Chief Building Inspector Tim Pettit recommended changing the current fee structure, which will effectively raise the price for a gravesite for non-residential buyers, while keeping the price the same for residents of the area.
"We're keeping residents as it is," Pettit said. "Residents would be $300, that's what they are now."
Pettit added that residents can buy plots for family members, no matter where those family members are from.
The cemetery plot rate increase was first considered due to mortuaries in other areas buying plots up as a result of the cheaper fee.
Council member Kevin Young suggested raising the price for non-residential buyers to $1,200 after an initial recommendation set at $900, in order to make the Williams Cemetery less appealing for out of town mortuaries.
Yes I Can's "Great Adventure" event a
Organizers held a successful motivational event Sept. 20 at Lost Canyon. The event featured a number of guest speakers including former NFL players and a comedian
Yes I Can Secretary Doris Ann Mertz said the committee worked hard to make this year's event original and fun, as well as different, for those who attended the 2008 event.
"It's still a motivational program, but with different speakers. This year we've added in a comedian," Mertz said. "Jay Schroeder, he's the former Redskins quarterback. He's supposed to have a really inspirational message. Ray Perkins, he's our other guest speaker, he played for the Cowboys and Cardinals. He's done an event here before. It was a school-based event. He's really good. He's got a good message."
Event organizer and president of the Yes I Can organization, Bill Sutton, said most kids have never heard the kind of positive messages the three-hour event provides.
"We're trying to bring a good message to our young people," he said. "We're trying to bring a message of success and doing the right things. It's almost like a success motivational seminar for youth. We know of nothing else out there like that, that we're doing."
Five hundred tickets were available for the event that featured a live band, skits and free prizes in addition to the motivational speakers in attendance.
Sultana and Twister's honored
Twisters '50s Soda Fountain and the Route 66 Café was named one of this year's top 25 best places to eat in the April, 2009, edition of Arizona Highways. Jason and Stefanie Moore have owned Twisters for the last three years.
Jason Moore said he had no idea that a critic would be arriving at Twisters for the prestigious magazine.
"We had no clue. Apparently they send out a food critic and that would have been some time last year. Apparently they judge on the cleanliness, service and the food served at the restaurant. They judge on those three criteria," Moore said, adding that he has always prided his business on providing great food and great service to his patrons.
Along with Twisters, one of the city's longest lasting, and most beloved, fixtures earned national recognition recently when the Sultana Bar was named one of the best bars, not just in Arizona, but in the entire United States of America.
In it's October issue, "Gourmet Magazine" named the local Williams establishment as one of the best when it comes to American bars, based on bars that have been in operation for 60 years or more. The Sultana Bar has been in operation for 97 years. It opened in 1912. The bar also boasts the record of holding the longest continuous liquor license in the state of Arizona, according to owners Marc and Teresa Stevens.
Sultana Manager Nick O'Neal said the bar has been a favorite among Williams locals since its inception.
"It's just a good old western bar," he said. "People come here to kick back and it's always been the place where people come to gather with their friends."