Blog Posts Tagged ‘flagstaff’

Mike Stress

Streets Supervisor
City of Flagstaff Public Works


When you think about some of the toughest jobs in Arizona’s cities and towns, snow plow driver probably isn’t the first image conjured up within the sunny state. But for Mike Stress and other members of the Flagstaff streets team, they understand that snow has a real presence in our state and it’s up to them to keep the streets free and clear so that residents can get home safely.

A hometown boy, Mike was born and raised in Flagstaff and attended Coconino High School where he showed his strengths on the ball field. Right out of high school, he had the opportunity to try out with the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team.

He started with the City of Flagstaff in 1990 as a temporary employee in the parks department where he cleaned sidewalks at night and worked on the softball fields during the day. As he worked his way through the city, Mike has spent time in several departments, including a year in the city cemetery.

Once he transferred into the street operations as a heavy equipment operator, Mike found where he belonged. He worked his way through the ranks before being promoted to a supervisor in 2008.

Mike is responsible for scheduling the work of the Flagstaff streets crew on a daily basis. He also trains employees on various pieces of equipment and is involved with the fleet shop, communicating with mechanics to ensure equipment is ready and working properly when needed.


When Mike’s job really gets interesting is when the snow falls. A typical snow day for the Flagstaff streets crew includes the deployment of 32 pieces of equipment on a big storm. During an event, the crews communicate between two shifts to ensure that all main and critical routes are being attended to, as well as managing all citizen complaints and any issues that may pop up.

Mike recalls a particular incident in 2010 when Flagstaff received five feet of snow in a 48-hour period.

“The snow was so heavy that the streets crew could not keep up with the snow fall amounts,” he says.

Mike was tasked with looking for outside help from private contractors to help plow the routes so the public could get out. They had to help haul off the snow from the downtown as well as all the cul-de-sacs around the Flagstaff area.

In his 25 years with the City of Flagstaff, Mike has shown his capabilities as a streets supervisor. In 2012, he was selected to be a member of the Arizona state incident management team as equipment inspector.

In rain, sleet, snow, hail or sunshine, Mike and the Flagstaff streets team are working to ensure the roadways are safe for travelers.

While Mike enjoys the ability to start a project and oversee it to the end, he truly loves his job because of his capability to contribute to his hometown community of Flagstaff.

Downtown Flagstaff Centerpieces Geography, History and Culture

Shops along Flagstaff's Aspen Avenue.  Photo from City of Flagstaff

Shops along Flagstaff’s Aspen Avenue. Photo from City of Flagstaff <./em>

Downtown – the geographical, cultural and historic centerpiece of Flagstaff. Along historic 1890s streets, buildings and hotels, you will find numerous clothing boutiques, outdoor outfitters, art galleries, and retailers selling authentic Native American arts and jewelry.

A crowd gathers in Flagstaff downtown for the Downtown Art Walk event.  Photo from the City of Flagstaff

A crowd gathers in Flagstaff downtown for the Downtown Art Walk event. Photo from the City of Flagstaff

Live entertainment can be found almost every evening at Heritage Square or within the great restaurants and nightlife venues. The downtown district is one of the most walkable downtowns in Arizona featuring regular events like the Firt Friday Art Walk or the Flagstaff/Grand Canyon Ale Trail to enjoy many of the unique local breweries.

Downtown Flagstaff boasts historic 1890s streets, buildings and a hotel.  Photo from the City of Flagstaff

Downtown Flagstaff boasts historic 1890s streets, buildings and a hotel. Photo from the City of Flagstaff

Venture south of the railroad tracks to the evolving Southside District with amazing dining and cafes lining the streets.


New Year – Get Outside

New Year’s Resolution – Get Outside!
This is the time of year that we relish after those long, hot, tortuous days of summer. Why not make a New Year’s resolution to get outdoors and enjoy your city or town?

resizedImg_Marana Mountains

If you’ve got sunshine in southern Arizona, a hike up a mountain trail is the perfect way to spend your winter afternoon. The Town of Marana has numerous outdoor recreation opportunities, including more than 30 miles of trails in the Tortolia Mountains. The Town offers free Saturday morning guided hikes for individuals to get exercise, have fun and meet fellow hikers. Put it on your list to breathe in the fresh air and join them for one of these events!

City of Mesa has a way to get outdoors and support a great cause! Their sixth annual Run, Walk & Roll 5K/10K is being held on Saturday, Jan. 10 at Mesa Riverview Park. Participants of all ages and ability levels are encouraged to sign up. The race will bring together the entire community to support sports and recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities. For more info or to register, visit Be sure to check our Mesa Parks & Recreation for even more outdoor opportunities to start 2015 off right!

resizedImg_Blog Mesa RWR

If a relaxing afternoon in the park is more your speed, look no further than the City of Surprise’s 2nd Sunday in the Park. Enjoy an afternoon at the park with live musical entertainment on the second Sunday of each month. The free family event is fun for all ages. Upcoming shows will be held on Januray 11, February 8 and March 8. Click here to find events happening in Surprise all year long!


And don’t forget about SNOW! Northern Arizona and the White Mountains have plenty of opportunities to ski, snowboard and build snowmen. Check out the Great Arizona Road Trip for more ideas for cold weather adventures and year-round activities!


Lowell Observatory

Courtesy Photo Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce

Courtesy Photo Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce

Flagstaff calls itself home to many things: Arizona Snow Bowl, Northern Arizona University, and until recently, home to the discovery of the ninth planet.

That’s right, the world’ most popular dwarf planet was seen from the very telescope that sits atop a mountain right in Flagstaff. The Lowell Observatory was started in 1894 by Percival Lowell, an American businessman, mathematician and astronomer. His creation of the observatory was brought upon by the purpose of studying the solar system and conducting astronomical research in an effort of public education.

Astronomers have conducted research that is essential to the current basic knowledge of astronomy today. The discovery of Pluto was made in 1930 and at the time, was considered the universe’s ninth planet. While the planet has since been demoted to “dwarf planet” status, the observatory remains the birthplace of the important discovery. The name Pluto is believed to have been given in part because of its shared initials with observatory originator Percival Lowell.

The Observatory opened a visitor center in 1994, on the centennial of its inception. They have received more than a million visitors; nearly 80,000 visit annually. In 2012, the observatory completed a 4.3- meter Discovery Channel Telescope, which brings satellite images to people across the globe.

Lowell Observatory is open daily throughout the summer months and visitors can come to tour the facility, participate in a solar viewing, enjoy the telescopes, stargaze and learn about the history of Lowell’s discoveries

White House Ruins Trail – Canyon de Chelly

Courtesy Photo from Flickr

Courtesy Photo from Flickr

The White House Ruins Trail leads to The Canyon de Chelly. The Canyon de Chelly contains over 2500 archeological sites ranging from 1500 B.C. to 1350 A.D. Among these sites are several hundred Anasazi Indian villages built between 350 and 1300 A.D. Today, Canyon de Chelly sits in the middle of the Navajo Indian Reservation and is home to many Navajo who live in and utilize the canyon’s resources.

There’s only one Canyon de Chelly hike that the general public can take without a Navajo guide and that’s the 2.5-mile trail to White House Ruins.

Those who do take on the challenge of the hike will find that it’s worth it. Once the hiker’s trail hits the bottom, there is a foot bridge available to cross the creek that is often dry. Hikers will be surrounded by Navajo merchants who are selling their jewelry and other ware. When hikers pass the merchants, they’ll finally get to the ruins where they’ll get to bask in the history of the Anasazi who once occupied the area and of the Navajo who still occupy it today.