Tom - This week on Arizona Illustrated, we bring you stories from in and around the town of Sierra Vista.
Clea - I looked around.
I was like, I want to be mayor of this town.
He was like, Are you serious son?
Tom - Reintroducing beavers to the San Pedro River.
Mike - This whole interest in beavers has really snowballed in the public.
You know, beavers are the cool thing nowadays.
Tom - One of the top cyber and intelligence operations programs in the country Jason - The intelligence community, in general right now, is just harvesting their workforce from the University of Arizona.
Tom - And Sierra Vista is home to not one or two, but three German restaurants.
Annette - Hello.
Welcome to the German cafe.
I like to cook and I like to bake.
(Guitar solo that is hotter than Tucson in the summer by XIXA) Tom - Hello and welcome to another all-new episode of Arizona Illustrated.
I'm Tom McNamara, and we're coming to you from the town of Sierra Vista, home to 45,000 residents.
You know, in Spanish, Sierra Vista means Mountain View And from here on the newly renovated West End, it's easy to see why.
Sitting at the base of the scenic Huachuca mountains.
It's a great place for hiking, biking and birding.
And its often referred to as the hummingbird capital of the United States, it is the population and economic hub of Cochise County and home to Fort Huachuca.
That was home to many of the Buffalo Soldiers.
Clea McCaa is making history by becoming the first Democrat and the first Black candidate to become mayor in the city of Sierra Vista.
He began his walking on Wednesdays campaign to listen to residents concerns before winning the election.
And now his diverse background is helping him face the biggest challenge yet.
And that's bringing a new era of change to the city.
Clea - It's just a great place just to come, work, play and just live.
My name is Clea McCaa.
Title Mayor of Sierra Vista.
I've been here 42 years.
I went to high school here.
Buena High School.
After high school, I went to Northern Arizona University, graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice.
And then after graduation, I was commissioned into the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant.
I was leader in the Army.
Army officer retired as a 06, full colonel.
What made me run is always wanted to be in government.
Back in 1983, our football team was going to the state playoffs.
And our coach, he was asking every player, what do you want to do in life?
When he got to me, I was number 84, one of the last persons to get on the bus.
He got to me and I didn't...
I was, I looked around.
I was like, I want to be mayor of this town.
He was like, are you serious, son?
I was like, yes, sir, I want to be mayor of this town.
He was like, just get on the bus, go sit down.
So 40-something years later, here it is my my wish came true.
When I was starting to campaign to be mayor of Sierra Vista, I was thinking how can I touch people?
How can I get information?
Because I was I was green at this.
I didn't know what I was doing.
(Jay) The hoops and everything will move forward and well have a wider gym.
(Clea) So the Wednesday walks, we call them walking on Wednesday.
When I initially started interviewing people, interviewing businesses, their main concern, their main issue was they never saw people in government.
I walked around and actually started interviewing them, you know, writing a couple notes, seeing what their capabilities are, seeing what their issues were.
And, you know, took a couple of pictures.
I just wrote it up, put it on Facebook.
It took off.
(Jay) It's great to be able to talk to the mayor.
And he comes around and he's really accessible and he's visit our club more times than probably anybody else that's been in office here locally before.
I think it's really important for him to find out those things, those little areas in the community that you might not see from far away.
(Clea) Its usually probably three businesses per Wednesday.
And I end the write up with, wow, this is how, this is the capability that he has that he's offering Sierra Vista.
(Jay) He is coming down and seeing what's going on on the ground floor, what's the boots on the ground, what issues they're having.
I know for a fact that the communication that me and him have about the struggles is the same conversation hes had with everybody else that he's talking to when he's doing his WOWs.
(Clea) The people wants to see their government.
They wants to see their city council the mayor out in the public, out walking the streets, making sure that the people's voice is heard.
Something else that was asked about me being the first African-American person of color.
I was like, oh, I didn't know.
I didn't think that was an issue.
(Jay) About 70% of the kids that we serve are minorities, and over half of our kids come from underprivileged homes financially, qualify for free or reduced lunch at school.
So we have a lot of kids from diverse backgrounds.
As far as me as a black father as well as my wife is Hispanic and our two boys, seeing somebody of color be represented locally in our city and well-respected as well, like Clea is, it means a lot.
(Clea) Yes, I'm a Democrat.
A long line of Republicans.
I'm I'm all about the issues.
(Jay) What I'm seeing Clea taking steps forward is, working on clear communication.
We have things going on in our city, but making sure the things that's going on our city gets out to everybody.
What I love about Sierra Vista is it's a really giving and caring city.
Cochise County is really dense with how many nonprofits that we have for our area, but that's what makes us really unique is, you know, not only just the beautiful scenery and what we have going on in town, but the things we're trying to do to better the people and lives around us.
(Clea) Sierra Vista is home.
It's where I like to be.
People are just so respectful and it feels like a close knit family.
And I'm I'm having fun at this sir, Im having.
It is what I expected.
Just trying to trying to look at government, solve issues and I just love being a part of it.
You become a vibrant.
The San Pedro River starts about ten miles south of the international border and flows north into the United States, just east of Sierra Vista.
At one time, beavers were so abundant along the river it was called Beaver River, but they were trapped into extinction.
Now we look at beaver reintroduction efforts, so the people behind them, including Sierra Vista resident and documentarian Mike Foster.
(sound of running water) Lisa - As soon as someone spots something, please stop and let people know.
If it's a chew What we're going to do is stop and see if there are other chews in the vicinity, like in our viewshed.
We are looking at the health of the river, looking at beavers.
For the first time.
We are doing this binationally.
We have a saying in Mexico when it comes to river restoration.
Mejor castor que tractor.
Its better a beaver than a tractor.
Why do I need to be doing restoration when a beaver can do it better than we do?
And they're free and they They propagate.
And they're cute.
How can we work with beavers for restoring watersheds?
Restoring rivers in the Sonoran Desert?
The San Pedro River is such an interesting system.
It starts in the in the region of Cananea, Sonora, and Cananea is a mining town, and it flows north across the border somewhere south of Sierra Vista.
And it joins the Gila River in Arizona.
There are some stretches where you have still perennial flow.
It's it's a little bit on a sad condition because the last ten, fifteen years it hasnt flowed that often.
Except when its raining.
I work alot with river restoration and river conditions and the health of the watershed, and beavers do a lot of good for that.
I called this four, number four.
So these are fresh beaver chew chips.
We just found the beaver chew down there some fresh chips, and we're going to send these to Cochis college.
We're working with Steve Merkley, biology professor over there doing some DNA sampling off these chips to better understand the population of beavers out here.
This is both a labor of love and, of necessity, a work that has gone on ever since the first Beaver discovered his purpose on earth to cut down a tree, strip the branches and build a dam.
Beavers are misunderstood, you know, when they're creating their dams, they're cutting down trees.
And, you know, we all love trees and hate to see a nice riparian tree get cut down.
Like in the short term, it may look like, okay, they're degrading this environment, but in the long term, you're going to see really nice improvements in that river habitat because those dams will slow down that water will wet more of the floodplain, you're going to see more cottonwoods and willows pop up, more groundwater resources, which I think everyone can appreciate In Arizona.
I'm not aware of any real beaver based programs in a meaningful way that are happening in the state.
There used to be beavers in the San Pedro.
At some point it was called the Beaver River.
And then with the extinction of of beavers, now we're seeing the river as it is right now, thanks to the cows we had the river how it looks.
Cows kind of erode the soil, kind of changed the vegetation cover of that of that geography.
What's going on with beavers in the San Pedro?
One beaver dam was found clogging up an agricultural canal near the Colorado River, others were causing problems in a livestock reservoir, while still others caused problems in a sewage treatment plant near Phoenix.
The Beaver were captured in humane traps, examined and approved for relocation by veterinarians.
They implanted beaver with radio transmitters, then transported and released them into the San Pedro River.
The first beaver was released on the 3rd of March 1999.
By 2006, they made it into Mexico, so they migrated south from Arizona.
They migrated south into Sonora on the San Pedro.
In Mexico we didn't reintroduce beavers.
The beavers came to Sonora from Arizona.
That was that was very interesting in around that time, 2006, somebody counted up to 140 beavers.
And then suddenly that peak went down.
2017, 2018 BLM stop monitoring beavers.
Nobody else was monitoring beavers.
And then some of us start wondering, well, what's going on with those beavers?
And and nobody kind of knew what was going on with the beavers except for a couple of individuals in the Sierra Vista region.
And and that was Mike Foster.
My first love was just hiking along the river and the beaver weren't even here.
They let them go in about 1999, 16 Beaver, I began seeing all kinds of evidence of beaver here, which was really cool.
So I was hired at the Sierra Vista Public Schools back in 1984, and I was the audio visual technician.
I loved photography, but then when we got video cameras, all of a sudden there was movement.
You could almost feel the breeze, you could almost smell the air.
So video is just so much more real to me.
I'm a dyslexic person, so visual things mean a whole lot to me.
It shouldn't be that hard to get video of beaver because they have dams and they live at the dams, but their habits are that they don't come out in the daylight, at least in this part of the country.
And so I would have to get there about dusk.
That's when they come out.
And I became friends of the biologist at the Bureau of Land Management.
I would tell her the kind of things that I had seen while I was out and then she would write them down.
And so that eventually evolved into a thing where I would tell her the dams and we would record them and then come up with an estimate on the number of beaver along the river.
And then the numbers started changing.
You'd see fewer dams.
I think the most likely thing is that mountain lion numbers increased, but it could also be humans hunting them.
Some humans just don't like beaver and they, you know, blame them for all kinds of things that go wrong.
Or there could be some disease we really don't know.
But one of the things I've been doing is running around the United States trying to find areas where they have beaver that they don't want.
Maybe we could go up and get some beaver and bring them back and release them here.
And that's a big involved process.
But, you know, hopefully we can do that.
It used to be just me and one guy out there doing the 45 miles of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area and then a watershed management group out of Tucson became aware of it and approached me and they said, Could we become involved?
And it was kind of like the army coming over the hill.
This whole interest in Beaver has really snowballed in the public.
Now there are books being written about it, and there are other beaver organizations around the country.
So, you know, beavers are the cool thing nowadays.
So we had an event here at the Living Lab, Beavers and Brews, Castoriando Con Chelas.
So it was a bilingual event and we had some of our Mexico partners come up.
We really wanted to get the word out about, okay, there are beavers.
We saw fresh evidence.
We counted them on either side of the border.
There's definitely a population there.
I would like to toast to bringing these beavers back to be keystone species again and the Santa Cruz and San Pedro watersheds to help us recharge our aquifer, restore wetlands, release the beavers.
So when we work with conservation, yes, its for nature is for the species that we work with like beavers but that brings so much well-being to society as well.
To have a river flowing the joy, that's also part of our work.
Because we need it.
We need nature.
We benefit so much when we have a healthy watershed.
Tom - The University of Arizona's College of Applied Science and Technology is the main department at the UA extension campus here in Sierra Vista.
It links the U of A with Fort Huachuca, and it promises a bright economic future for the growing military and civilian communities here.
(Gary) UA South from the 1990s when it was formed, was primarily an in-person adult learning transfer college.
In 2016, the University of Arizona started a cyber operations program, and so they created the College of Applied Science and Technology, which took over what used to be known as University Arizona South.
So this college is less than four years old.
Three students in its first cohort, once it was built.
Latest student headcount was over 2800 students as of spring of this year.
So it grew like crazy.
The first building that greets you when you get on campus is Groth Hall.
It was the original building built in 1993.
It's named after Randy Groth, our founding dean at the University of Arizona South, and it's our administration building.
Just past the extension office is Patterson Observatory.
Its a 21 inch telescope that's community run.
On the other side of our campus is our three other buildings.
We have a faculty office building.
Right next to it is a learning resource center, which is a multipurpose room with a play area for children because we have mostly adult learners in our college.
And then at the end of the building is our cyber operations building or our cyber building.
And that's the building where all of the magic happens with CyberApolis.
(Jason) So we created this entire cyber virtual learning environment.
We call it CyberApolis, and it's got a virtual world behind it.
We built our version of Twitter.
It's called Chirpy Hub, and our Facebook is Social Park and our LinkedIn is Career Hub, and we have a YouTube site and we've essentially created this live synthetic environment that's completely unstructured, but not on the open Internet, but it feels just like the open Internet.
(Gary) We owe a lot of thanks to why we even have a cyber program and how we got to where we are, to Jason and Linda Denno.
Linda took on the task of putting this together and Jason basically built the program.
(Jason) Yeah, 100%.
Get it done and in.
(Linda) I was interim dean at the time that we changed from UA South to the College of Applied Science and Technology and then when Gary Packard came, he graciously decided to keep me on as associate Dean.
We spent a lot of time at home talking about things and planning things and doing things.
(Jason) I think the university gets quite a bit of extra work out of us because of what happens at home too, so.
We were able to build a purpose built, the only purpose built, cyber intel and information operations training platform anywhere in the world, even the government systems right now that they've spent hundreds of millions of dollars on have not caught up to what the university has.
Essentially what you have here is the wireless security lab here for our IOT devices.
So all of the devices back here are commercial IOT devices that we've done security, vulnerability assessments on.
Every one of those toys up there are basically evil.
They bleed data.
And then here, this is a very sophisticated Bluetooth target set that feeds back in to our radios that we have here.
This is part of the laboratory that the students anywhere in the world, 24 seven 365, they can go from their browser right into this room.
And that's what the students are using to do real world wireless analysis in the lab.
Intelligence community in general, right now, is just harvesting their workforce from the University of Arizona.
(John) Hey, sir, how are you?
It's great to see you again.
Thanks for making your way out here.
We work with the military on a regular basis, and especially with our partners over here at Fort Huachuca.
Fort Huachuca is home to the Army's intelligence school.
So all the Army intelligence officers and NCOs and young soldiers go through that program.
And since we have an intelligence and information operations program, it's a great synergy with us.
(Jaohn) Please have a seat.
The linkages to cyber and intelligence is important to the garrison, important to me as the garrison commander, because if it's the future of Fort Huachuca, which it is, then what we have to do is develop the range complex concept in order to support that.
And the University of Arizona has been key in helping us understand those linkages to the cyber realm, to the electromagnet spectrum pulse from a signals collection to signals manipulation and hacking to get in to what do what it is we need to do.
Sierra Vista was formed because Fort Huachuca arrived here and Fort Huachuca established first and then the town of Sierra Vista came many years later.
That commerce, that back and forth between our two entities has been crucial to both the success of Fort Huachuca and the success of the people of Sierra Vista.
And so it becomes a symbiotic community of we have a need, Sierra Vista has a need, and CAST is providing that future workforce.
[keyboard clicks] (Melany) The university has become more present in our community with the addition of the College of Applied Sciences and Technology.
We have worked with the City of Sierra Vista and their Industrial Development Authority and the University of Arizona to create a business incubator locally.
Our business incubator focuses on businesses that are cyber based or I.T.
based, which also supports the businesses.
It supports the jobs, it supports the Fort.
It helps us identify as a smart city.
UA CAST, has just created an avenue for our students, for our children to grow up here, stay here and live a great life.
(Gary) So the future of CAST is pretty exciting.
We are launching, we hope, this fall, a master's of science in cyber and information operations, and we will start a Ph.D. the year after.
I can't tell you how many people I work with who came to Fort Huachuca because that's usually what brings outsiders in to Sierra Vista who have stayed here and have never left because of the climate, because of the people, and because of the cost of living.
Quite frankly, it's a great place to live.
Fort Huachuca has brought soldiers and their families from all over the globe to Sierra Vista, resulting in a diverse culinary scene.
For a town of that size, however, many people are surprised to find out that Sierra Vista has not one, not two, but three German restaurants and the first of a three part series.
We introduce you to the people behind these unique eateries.
(Annette) I'm here since ‘90, coming through the military and raise my kids and have the opportunity after going back to school and earning a bachelor.
And I thought, I need an office job or something.
I had the opportunity to buy the restaurant from a couple from Berlin.
They wanted to retire and this is how it started and it took off.
That was in 2009, beginning 2009.
Since then I have it.
Then it went up and up and up.
I mean, we're very popular.
We cook everything from scratch, even our own pasta, the German Spaetzle.
It's been good.
I grew up in a bakery restaurant.
We had the bakery.
My grandfather sold a bunch of land that my father was able to build the bakery, and it was very small at first.
And so aunts, uncles, grandma, grandpa, my mother, us kids, we had this big dough mixer and this was all playpens and we had a couple of pillows and blankets and everybody was working around and cooking.
So we just grew up like that.
Hello, welcome to the German cafe.
I like to cook and I like to bake.
I just love to read recipes, not only German, we also have Hungarian food.
Sometimes we have Polish, Swedish.
When you cook and you like cooking, you can cook pretty much everything.
Thank you very much.
You know, Germany is cute and it's cool and you miss your family.
But Sierra Vista, I know people here since a long time.
I used to be, when my kids were small, a certified childcare provider.
And I know all people here, they've been, I've been watching their kids and so now of course, they're grown ups.
I have a lot of friends here, so I know them since years, they all used to be military in between they move, but they retired and they came back.
Of course, the younger generation, they need to go.
They have something else.
It's not enough work here, not enough, you know.
You can go through high school, but then you hit the next step.
And that's what my children all did.
Kids, I have five, four daughters and one son.
The four girls are in, three of them are up in the Phoenix area.
I have a son in Chicago.
Plus my second daughter, She's a U.S. Navy dentist and she's currently stationed in Sicily, Sigonella, Sicily.
Catania is where they live.
And every couple months she takes a trip to Germany and visits the cousins.
So this is really nice.
I'm glad she can do all this.
I get the pictures and of course online and everything, so it's nice.
I love it.
Any idea how much longer you'll be doing this?
No, I'm not planning on retiring.
I don't know.
I have good people right now.
I have a very good team.
A lot of high schoolers, college kids.
And they come, they work.
And it's not saying that they have the greatest work experience because they're young.
Some of them come from high school, but you can teach them fairly early and so they know.
And then when we cook something new, everybody gets to try, of course, and we go through the different steps.
And plus on top of that, they learn also to make things from scratch.
I love what I'm doing.
Tom - We promise to bring you profiles of Sierra Vista's two other German restaurants in upcoming shows.
And thank you for joining us here on Arizona Illustrated.
I'm Tom McNamara.
We'll see you next week with another all new program.