The Arizona Highlands encompass a strip of land that runs from southeast to northwest in central Arizona. Its boundaries are defined by the Mogollon (pronounced muggy-on) Rim on the south to the edge of the Colorado Plateau on the north with elevations ranging from about 3,500 in the Verde Valley to almost 8,000 feet in the Prescott National Forest. The most densely populated areas of the Highlands encompass the cities of Prescott, Prescott Valley and Chino Valley. These cities are home to five Rotary Clubs, three in Prescott and one each in Prescott Valley and Chino Valley.
 
The Rotary Club of Prescott or, as its members like to call it, “THE” Prescott Rotary Club, is the second oldest club in District 5495 having received its charter on October 1, 1921.  The Club meets at noon on Fridays at the Guacamaya Mexican Grill on west Gurley Street.
 
The very first service project of the Club was raising funds for a new playground on Gurley Street. Over the years this playground has seen many expansions and refinements into what is today a modern sports complex complete with a skateboard park and ball field. It is now known as the Ken Lindley Field having been named in the 1970s after a Prescott police chief killed in an automobile accident. 
 
The club's focus project for this year was the renovation of plots within the Citizens' Cemetery. To date, three plots have been refurbished—two since September 2017.  Citizens' Cemetery, utilized from 1864 to 1933, is a 6.5-acre cemetery containing about 3,400 burials, of which 934 have markers. Throughout the years the head stones shifted, disappeared, broke and became covered by weeds. Club members and friends turned out with gloves, shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows and dedication to preserving Prescott's history. The work for each plot involved digging up the old gravel, weeds and ground cloth, hauling it away, laying down a thick new plastic weed barrier, sifting dirt from the new gravel, hauling the new gravel to the site and carefully spreading it on the plastic. One site was a family plot with five adults and several infants, and the other plot held the remains of five men who died in a tragic sawmill explosion. The club’s work was directed by volunteers from the Yavapai Cemetery Association who have many years of experience in the process.
 
At its May 1 meeting, the Rotary Club of Prescott-Frontier will celebrate its 45th anniversary. For about 35 of those years, the club has collaborated with the Prescott Unified School District to sponsor and provide student scholarships to the Frontier-Rotary Summer Math and Reading Clinic. The elementary school students targeted by this clinic are those that are six to 18 months behind in reading and math; in other words, the students that struggle but do not qualify for special services. The success of the club’s annual wine tasting and auction fundraiser, “Grapes-4 Grades,” has provided the financial support for the summer school program. And with even more lucrative fundraising successes in recent years, the club has been able to expand its support to other school district programs, as well as projects outside the Prescott community.
 
The Prescott-Frontier Rotary Club has also become involved in supporting several district and global grants. Locally, contributions will be helping financially-needy high school students acquire online credits for graduation, help build a pre-school playground and buy books to give to younger students. Internationally, the club has contributed funds to help buy a medical van to service the villages supported by the Caborca, Sonora, Mexico health ministry, hearing aids for the poor in Acapulco and other international projects supporting basic education and needed health services.
 
This year’s Grapes-4-Grades fundraiser will be held again at Watters Garden Center, Iron Springs Road in Prescott on Sunday evening, June 24 starting at 5 p.m. Tickets are available for $50 each online at the club website, at Watters Garden Center or from individual club members. The Rotary Club of Prescott-Frontier meets Tuesdays, noon at the Guacamaya Mexican Grill on West Gurley Street.
 
The Rotary Club of Chino Valley, through the Million Word Reading Challenge and in partnership with the Chino Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) and Mingus Springs Charter School (MSCS), is raising the literacy levels of Chino Valley students. Each year the club partners with four schools involved in the project and challenges students to read books. Students are required to take a short-computerized quiz upon completion of each book to test comprehension and record the number of words in the book. Rotary Club members visit each school quarterly and have a “root-beer float” or pizza party with the highest reading class at each grade level. At the end of the school year Rotarians attend each school's award ceremony, where every child who has read over a million words receives recognition and some type of award. Prizes for students who have read the highest number of words range from Amazon Gift Cards, Kindles and, for the highest reader, a Kindle Fire. The Rotary club has been able to effectively utilize district grant awards to support their Million Word Challenge project for successive years.
 
Chino Valley is geographically the largest and most rural community in the Tri-City area, though its population is only about one-third of the roughly 40,000 people that populate each of its neighbors to the south, Prescott and Prescott Valley. The Rotary Club of Chino Valley meets at the Chino Valley Community Center on Wednesdays (except the first Wednesday of the month) at 11:30 a.m. It’s a “brown bag” lunch affair.
 
The Rotary Club of Prescott-Sunup with 59 members is the largest club in the Tri-city Arizona Highlands area. Prescott Sunup has a history of involvement in supporting the local community as well as involvement in district and international projects. Sunup Rotary has been the impetus behind maintenance of a veteran’s memorial on the courthouse square, informational signage in the downtown area, preparing meals for the homeless and local cleanups of distressed properties. A significant highlight for Sunup Rotary was in 2014 when the club was awarded a $90,000 Global Grant to replace the Yarnell water system’s computerized control that was ruined during the 2013 Yarnell wildfire.
 
The club currently features two main projects on its website. “Flags for Patriots” is a project to support US Vets, the Boy Scouts and the Sunup Rotary Foundation. For a $29 annual donation, a 2’x3' American flag will be erected in front of your residence on six national holidays. Memorial Day, Flag Day, July 4th, Labor Day, 9/11 and Veterans Day. The second annual “Double Down Casino Night” is coming in just a few days on May 12. Once again it will be held at the Prescott Rodeo Grounds, but this year it will be held outdoors. This fundraiser is a collaboration between four Rotary Clubs. The primary beneficiary of this year’s fundraiser proceeds benefits the Yavapai Exceptional Industries (YEI), a charitable organization providing a care and paid work environment for adults with disabilities. Visit the club website, to for more information and to order tickets.
 
The Sunup Rotary meets Wednesday mornings, 6:30 a.m. for breakfast at the St. Michaels Hotel located at the north end of “Whisky Row” in downtown Prescott. 
 
The Rotary Club of Prescott Valley is the smallest club in the Tri-City area. The club currently meets on Tuesdays, noon at the Prescott Public Library. With just seven active members, the club has struggled over the past several years to maintain its viability. Yet, the PV Rotary Interact Club at Bradshaw Mountain High School, with 40-plus members, is one of the largest and most active in our district. The PV Rotary/Bradshaw MT HS Interactors participated in a “Feed My Starving Children” food packing project and packed enough meals to feed 156 children in Thailand for a full year. The Interact club also participates in Arizona “Crutches for Africa,” which is an ongoing service project that sends hundreds of crutches, wheel chairs and other equipment to countries in Africa each year. Visit the club’s Facebook page to see what else they are up to.
 
Currently the PV Rotary club is working with the City of Prescott Valley, The Prescott Valley Chamber, SIGNALAZ (Fain Group) and other community organizations and businesses to revitalize its signature project. The Rotary Balloon Rally is scheduled to take place the weekend of September 22-23, 2018. In addition to the rally itself, there will also be a full venue of arts and crafts, bounce houses and water slides for kids of any age, local talent on stage plus beer and wine for those who are of legal age and wish to partake.
 
The theme of this year’s balloon rally is “Business Giving Back to the Community They Serve.” The club’s collaboration with members of the business community has thus far resulted in $10,000 donated to the Yavapai County Big Brothers Big Sisters Organization (BBBS) to be used for opening an office in Prescott Valley, where there is currently the greatest need. 
 
Balloonists from all over Arizona will be attending. The club is seeking sponsors for this event. Sponsor levels range from $500 to $5000. Sponsor benefits vary, but include commercials on Hometown Radio, banner displays, meal packages and, of course, rides in a hot air balloon, among a number of other benefits. Contact Rick at 928.777.2386, or Chuck at 928.777.0767. 
 
Submitted by Noel DeSousa, Assistant Governor, Rotary District 5495, Area 18