U.S. Rep. O’Halleran to meet locals at historic sites

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran, shown here in Pima earlier in the year, will meet with locals at historic sites in Graham and Greenlee counties Sunday, Oct. 21.

Meetings to include mine inspector candidate Pierce

By Walt Mares

A U.S. congressman who champions rural Arizona, and is something of an Arizona history buff, will be in Greenlee and Graham counties Sunday, Oct. 21.

U.S. Congressman Tom O’Halleran, who represents Arizona’s Congressional District 1 is coming to two historic sites, Chase Creek in Clifton in Greenlee County and Solomon in Graham County.

He will be joined by Bill Pierce, Democratic candidate for state mine inspector.

O’Halleran and Pierce will first be in Clifton, Greenlee County’s seat, for a 1 p.m. meet and greet at the Greenlee County Democratic headquarters on historic Chase Creek.

Clifton was founded in 1873 after rich copper deposits were found in the area. It quickly became an important contributor to Arizona copper mining and with neighboring Morenci continues to be so in the 21st Century. 

Henry Lesinski was the foremost businessman in early Clifton and played a critical role in the development of Clifton and its role in the mining industry..

At 3:30 p.m., O’Halleran and Pierce he will be at the La Paloma Restaurant in historic Solomon. The townsite was originally founded in 1873 by William Munson and was known as Munsonville. Isador Solomon purchased Munson’s buildings and land, and in 1876 the town became known as Solomonville. The name was subsequently shortened to Solomon. It was at one time the seat of Graham County.

Interestingly, Lesenski and Solomon were both of Jewish ancestry.

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran, left, is greeted by Safford Middle School Assistant Principal Travis Masten, center, and Pima Town Manager Sean Lewis, right, when he stopped by Pima for a visit in August.

Greenlee County Democratic Party Chairman Susan Breen said, “Of course Tom and Bill have strong interests in Arizona history, particularly rural Arizona, but each is focused on the here and now of rural Arizona.

Obviously to many in Congress, particularly to some of Arizona’s delegation, rural Arizona’s great contributions of the past and present don’t seem to mean much. Arizona would not be the great state it is today without what rural Arizona has given and continues to give to that greatness.”     

O’Halleran said the needs of the rural areas of the state are not being met by Congress. That includes infrastructure and economic development. He is critical of President Donald Trump’s $1.5 billion budget and is as, if not more, critical of the huge tax break given by Congress to the top 1 percent of America’s richest people. He cited “average Americans and businesses” as needing most attention and positive action by Congress “because rural Arizona just isn’t going to get done what we need to get done.”

 He added, “Rural Arizona needs to have a voice (in Congress) and we need to keep applying pressure.”   

Bill Pierce

Bill Pierce is certified in Mine Safety and Health Administration, Occupational Safety, Erosion Control and Ground Water protection. He is also certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and is a licensed Radiation Safety officer. 

Safety and preventing hazardous workplaces are areas of personal concern for Pierce, as he suffered a near-fatal fall in 1983 in an unsafe workplace. He has been inspired since then to make thorough inspections of mines and other potentially hazardous environments his life’s work. 

As does O’Halleran, Pierce maintains a strong interest in Arizona history, particularly that of rural Arizona and its people.