Board agrees to look for new site for county building in Colorado City

The Mohave Daily News/March 17, 2009

Kingman - Despite a dire warning from the spokesman of the Colorado City polygamist church, the Mohave County supervisors agreed Monday to look for another site for a county facility in that city.

At the previous meeting, the board voted to end a five-year lease with Mohave Community College to use a modular building in Colorado City. The lease expires March 31. Colorado City is home to a polygamist group, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The county sub-leases part of the building to the Arizona Department of Economic Security and to the Defender's of Children, a group that advocates on behalf of woman and children who are victims of the polygamist sect in Colorado City. The Mohave County sheriff's deputies and county attorney's office investigator Gary Engels, who is investigating sexual crimes, also uses part of the building.

District 1 Sup. Gary Watson supported the search for a new building as long as it would be for county, state and federal functions.

Colorado City Manager David Darger said he had concerns of lumping all Colorado City police officers as unfit to be officers and that the sheriff's office has sent a message of retaliation on residents of the polygamist community. He claimed sheriff's deputies have been rude and the county has placed a financial burden on the city with "coordinated attacks."

FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop said he was on his way to Texas after the meeting and sees the same "attributes" in that state as in Mohave County. Texas law enforcement officers raided a FLDS compound in Texas in April 2008. Jessop warned the supervisors, as well as county, state and federal law enforcement, of "expenditures" against the county unless the vendetta against the community stops. He added that the city welcomes county services but not a vendetta of hate.

"Don't paint the community with a broad brush as being all bad," he said. "We're not opposed to law enforcement, just their attitudes."

Sheriff Tom Sheahan again promised the board that his deputies will remain in the area to enforce the laws in the incorporated and unincorporated areas throughout the county. The sheriff said there was a pattern of misconduct when six Colorado City police officers were decertified as law enforcement officers in recent years. He also said making threats against honest law enforcement is a "foolish mistake."

"My deputies will go anywhere I tell them to go and will do anything I want them to do," Sheahan said.

The sheriff also questioned several photos shown by Jessop of sheriff’s office patrol cars in and around the community.

Jessop said the photos were not taken by him but by "other entities." Sheahan also said there were several other locations his office could use in Colorado City.

At the previous meeting, Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith said the county's presence is needed in Colorado City to look into allegations of sexual conduct of underage girls in the community by members of the polygamist church.

In a letter to the board, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard also said his office had concerns with the loss of the building, which would be a setback for the victims of polygamy in Colorado City.

MCC Chancellor Mike Kearns previously said there was a decline in enrollment at the MCC campus in the area partly because of the county's occupation of the building. Community members sought several class programs, which they threatened not to attend because of the county's presence.

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