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BUSD groundbreaking ceremony for new building

A project five years in the making is underway at Benson Unified School District thanks to funding from the State Facilities Board.

BUSD Superintendent of Schools Micah Mortensen presided over a brief groundbreaking ceremony held Monday afternoon at the BUSD’s new building site. Attendendance included members of the SFB, Mayor Toney King, City Councilmen Joe Konrad, Nick Maldonado and Lupe Diaz, along with County School Supt. Jacqui Clay, Benson School Board members and students among others.

Tucson-based Lloyd Construction will build the 17,000 square-foot facility, said Mortensen, noting the $3 million project is entirely funded by SFB.

“This is a great representation of people coming together for our students,” said Mortensen, during opening comments. He said the project had been initiated five years ago but because of a lack of funding fell by the wayside.

Lloyd Construction Company actually began moving earth a couple of weeks ago. When all is said and done, the BUSD campus will boast eight new classrooms complete with multipurpose room.

The project had gained SFB approval in years past but fizzled out, explained Mortensen. He said further discussions with Paul Bakalis, the SFB executive director and his team, got the ball rolling again.

“Paul came in as the new director of the SFB, set up a meeting with him… I remember sitting around that table that day, Paul’s energy, and him saying ‘we can make this happen; we want to make this happen.’ From that moment forward we got creative and before long that energy started mounting… that’s what we’re here celebrating today,” said Mortensen.

Bakalis reiterated Mortensen’s comments, while lauding the Lloyd Construction Company team for the quality of their work. He ended with an exuberant “Go Bobcats!”

“Thank you for putting your trust in us,” said Brad Lloyd of Lloyd Construction Company. “We’re excited to be part of this.”

School Board President Bob Bernal, who attended Benson Public Schools.

“We look forward to seeing the end project,” said Bernal, citing the teamwork on behalf of the involved parties. “This is something the community of Benson will be proud to have.”

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51st SPVLL Opening Ceremony!

Before big smiles, some sorrow, and against a perfect backdrop, San Pedro Valley Little League opened its 2019 season Saturday.

Following the traditional parade of teams down Patagonia Street to Mauldin Field at Lions Park, the usual jam-packed crowd turned out for the parade and Opening Ceremony festivities.

The joyfulness of the occasion quickly turned to somber when it was revealed one of Benson’s own little leaguers, Chase Manzo, is battling an ailment.

San Pedro Valley Little League President Trey Francione made the announcement, pausing several times to fight back tears. He spoke of the cohesiveness of the SPVLL community.

“Since I’ve been involved with San Pedro Valley Little League, this has been a family… all these kids they play against each other, with each other, seeing them grow up… it’s a close-knit group. One of our own this week, Chase Manzo, has got some serious health issues going on.

“Chase would like everyone to know he misses everyone and wishes he was here to play ball today.” Francione went on to introduce Dustin Crockett, who spoke on behalf of the Manzo family and offered led all in attendance in a prayer for Chase.

Crockett relayed to the crowd Chase was in his Tucson hospital bed with his uniform and cap on. “He wishes that he could be here today,” said Crockett, while serving as the go-between been the Manzo family and community.

“Rachel asked me to mention a few things. The more people know the more thoughts and prayers will go in for Chase and he’ll be able to get through this ordeal,” he said.

He went on to recount how during the week doctors discovered tumors during an examination. He then urged all players, coaches and spectators to join in prayer.

Francione gave a “shout out” to the Arizona Diamondbacks for their donation of league jerseys and caps, for all divisions. Every team in the league are Diamondbacks but in differing color schemes.

Close to 300 boys and girls will participate in Little League baseball and softball at a much improved Lions Park which now boasts a new concession stand and scoreboard among many other work improvements which continue and made possible through some $600,000 in Community Development Block Grant Funding.

Lisi Harris offered her usual stellar rendition of the national anthem with Joseph Ronquillo presenting the flag. George Haro, a former SPVLL player, longtime coach and former parks crew worker with the city, tossed the ceremonial first pitch, with niece Kaylo Haro, herself a former SPVLL and high school standout, catching the toss.

“He was actually a player 51 years ago when the SPVLL charter was started and has been involved off and on ever since,” said Francione while introducing Haro. “In recent years he has coached several of our teams, of all ages, baseball and softball. Anytime we needed a coach we could count on him.”

He also thanked the league sponsors, board members and volunteer, especially the umpires. Francione said abuse of volunteer umpires would not be tolerated.