Mary Hunt was recently awarded the Al Merito Award by the Arizona Historical Society for her dedication and devotion to the Pine-Strawberry Archeological and Historical Society.
Hunt was one of the original organizers of the historical society, and back in 1978, she penned her name on the incorporation papers. She has been on the board of directors ever since.
"I just really enjoy the old schoolhouse," Hunt said. "Seeing all the people from all over the world coming into that little schoolhouse."
Of the thousands of people Hunt has welcomed into the schoolhouse, just a few stand out.
"A young woman from Japan who came in really impressed me," Hunt said. "(She) could juggle beanbags so neat."
In the schoolhouse, beanbags similar to those used as toys in the late 1800s are sold as a novelty. This young woman told Mary that they are still a popular pastime in her country.
There is a schoolteacher in Flagstaff who brings her students to the schoolhouse each year and has for the past 20 years.
Hunt, a former school teacher, has strong family ties to the schoolhouse, as well. Inside the shoolhouse, the Oldest Standing Schoolhouse in Arizona, hangs a picture of Hunt's mother-in-law, who attended school there. Her father-in-law later saved the one-room schoolhouse from certain destruction in the 1960s.
If Hunt catches you peeping in the windows as she drives past the schoolhouse, she will pull in and open it up, always happy to share her love for the place with others.
"I know of no one in this area that has a deeper love or concern for the preservation of the history of Pine and Strawberry and the State of Arizona than Mary L. Hunt," said Melvin VanVorst, president of the historical society, in his letter of nomination.
Firefighters on the job
The Pine-Strawberry Fire Station No. 42 on Fossil Creek Road in Strawberry was put back into full-time operation April 24. That means a medic and an engineer are stationed there 24-hours a day, seven days a week to deliver the same services that Fire Station 41 on Hardscrabble Road offers in Pine.
In the past, a medic has been stationed there each night to aid in ambulance calls. Response times in Strawberry should be reduced, on average, by three to four minutes, Pine-Strawberry Fire Chief Paul Coe said. Station 42 was set to open July 1, according to the plans, but some penny pinching and extra earnings allowed the department to open shop a couple of months early.
"We had planned for this in our five-year-plan," Coe said. "But we saved money on some budget items and earned some money by going to wildland fires."
The department also brought three reserves to full-time status to cover the extra shifts. The crews are now working at cleaning up the 18-year-old station that has been primarily a storage area for extra vehicles.
"They are working on crew quarters, a lot of clean up and getting things ready so that they can conduct business," Coe said.
The Pine-Strawberry Clinic welcomed Dr. Jerry Marshall on board last week.
Marshall comes to the community-owned clinic on Hardscrabble Road from the much larger world of HMOs, big business and medicine. He sees this small-town practice as an opportunity to reconnect with his original drive to work with people. Marshall became a board certified pathologist in 1963.
"That's one of the doctors you never see, never talk to until a big bill shows up on your doorstep," Marshall joked.
Since 1970, Marshall said, he has been heavily involved in managed care. Taking up roots in Pine two years ago, Marshall is looking at the Pine-Strawberry Clinic as his chance to give back to society.
"To me, it is like opening up a new horizon," he said. "I have never really been able to take care of people on a one-on-one basis.
"I've come back to what my roots were, and why I went into medicine in the first place. This is something that I can contribute, I have training, and I can give back to the community instead of taking.
"Our interests as far as patients are concerned is that they get the best possible care that they can, and I will do my best to pick up where (physician's assistant Gail Phylow, who died last month) left off. Their health is our main concern."
Bobby Phylow will continue as office manager.
Stop by the clinic and welcome Dr. Marshall, and let him know just how much small-town charm we have here.
Relay for Life
Folks are getting ready for the Third Annual Relay For Life fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society, which will be held June 1 and 2 at Rumsey Park softball field No. 1 this year. Last year's efforts produced three teams from our area, so we're looking for recruits this year.
Team members walk, one at a time, around the track for half-hour periods from 6 p.m. Friday, June 1 until 7 a.m. Saturday, June 2 and collect donations for the American Cancer Society prior to the relay.
One way to raise money is through the sale of luminaries to honor a survivor or victim of cancer. The luminaries are all lit and the names read during a ceremony Friday, June 1 after dark. We're also looking for cancer survivors to walk the first lap of the Relay on Friday evening. If you'd like to join the Survivors Walk or be on a team, or just order luminaries, call 476-4298. It's a Rim country community event, so you're welcome to come join us for food and fun.