by Myndi Brogdon
The people of Pine and Strawberry are lucky to have a community center in Pine for events, activities and organizations.
When the modern Pine-Strawberry Elementary School was built more than 10 years ago, the old elementary school was transformed into the Pine Community Center.
CERCA, the Community Educational Recreational Cultural Association, a volunteer organization, was formed to lease the facility for the benefit of Pine and Strawberry.
The community center's various buildings house a number of organizations, including: the Senior Thrift Shop and dining room, the Arts & Crafts Guild, the Historical Museum, the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Kiwanis Club and the Pine-Strawberry Food Bank.
Any of these groups can use the community center's cultural hall and ramada, and any member of the community can rent them for such events as the Northern Gila County Fair, Arts and Crafts Festival, dances, Christmas events and Pioneer Day celebrations.
Heart of the community
These buildings, which play a key role in our community, once played an important part in the development of the Pine-Strawberry area.
The museum building, built in 1916-1917, was Pine's first Mormon church. The building that is now the cultural hall was built sometime around 1927. Its builders designed it to be the nicest gym in Northern Arizona, as well as a place where the community could enjoy plays, concerts, dances and community gatherings.
Local resident Lufkin Hunt remembers the big Christmas celebrations that were held there, and the Christmas treat bags that contained hardtack, two chocolates and an orange for each of the children in the community.
The gym was the meeting place for the community and the best basketball gym around.
A kitchen and bathrooms were added on later.
The community center is the place where we now gather to debate important issues, learn about history and watch our children perform. We gather for dances, fiddle music and barbecues. Within its walls, we have donated gallons of blood to help others. The cultural hall has been the setting for weddings and memorials, and it has played a key role in binding the residents of Pine and Strawberry together as a close-knit community.
Raising the roof
But the years have taken their toll on these buildings. The cultural hall and the Kiwanis building are now in desperate need of new roofs and CERCA needs your help to pay for the replacements.
Although CERCA's budget can keep up with the everyday maintenance and upkeep, it isn't big enough to cover major repairs. So the organization is asking the community to help in any way it can.
Anyone who would like to make a tax-deductible donation to help CERCA pay for the new roofs can send a donation to: CERCA, P.O. Box 163, Pine, AZ 85544. For more information, call Art or Joy Knapheide at 476-3042.
Thrift Shop volunteers are asking for furniture donations. Got household furniture you don't want? Know of a friend moving in or out of the Pine-Strawberry area who might have extra furniture? Call the Thrift Shop at 476-4633 and its happy crew will beat a path to your door to pick it up.
As with any free offer, there are some exceptions -- no mattresses, refrigerators or kitchen stoves.
"We recently donated almost all that we had to a family that lost everything, and our sheds are bare," said Marie Crews, president of the SCAF Board, which oversees the Thrift Shop. Contact them today.
Old school in session
Mark your calendars. The Strawberry Schoolhouse is opening for the season from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 20 and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Anyone and everyone can visit the Oldest Standing Schoolhouse in Arizona.
To celebrate the opening from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 20, Smokey Bear and U.S. Forest Service rangers from the Tonto National Forest and the Coconino National Forest will be on hand to answer questions, hand out comic books and pose for pictures.
Siren sounding again
Just a friendly reminder that those noisy sirens will be sounding again this Saturday. The Pine-Strawberry Community Alert System is frazzling your nerves and mine every Saturday for a good reason. The P-S Fire Department and the P-S Emergency Task Force have been testing the sirens each week to be sure that if a fire emergency happens this fire season, the system will work properly. The Coon Creek Fire is near enough to remind us all how dangerous wildland fires can be.
In New Mexico, folks in Las Cruces have been evacuated from their homes due to a wildfire. Our sirens would help make a quick evacuation possible, but only if they are working properly. Tests are at 11:55 a.m. every Saturday until further notice. Any time you hear a siren, you should tune your radio to 1420 KMOG for news and instructions.