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Updated Feb 7, 2014 - 2:25 pm

Grand Canyon trails to benefit from endowment

Renovated Bright Angel Trailhead. (National Park Service Photo)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Arizona's largest public utility has created an endowment to benefit trails at the Grand Canyon.

Arizona Public Service Company has donated $1 million to partner with the National Park Service on the Grand Canyon Trails Forever Endowment.

Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga said the money will help reduce a backlog of trail maintenance that has topped $40 million.

The Grand Canyon has hundreds of miles of trails but some are more popular than others. Those include the Bright Angel, South and North Kaibab and River trails. Uberuaga said most trails get repaired on an emergency basis.

About $350,000 of the money has already been used to renovate the Bright Angel Trailhead. APS President Don Brandt said Bright Angel was an absolute mess.

"The Bright Angel Trailhead was porta-potties in a state of disrepair," he said.

Grand Canyon Association Director Susan Schroeder said that is all changed now.

"The porta-potties are gone," she said. "They do have wonderful, clean, flush toilets now at the top of Bright Angel Trailhead."

There have also been improvements to the parking lot and some structures have been built to provide shade.

Schroeder said that the endowment will help the canyon now and in the future.

"We will be able to spin off money consistently every year to the park," she said. "That is why we are going to be looking at adding (more money) to that endowment."

They hope to do that soliciting future donations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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