Sleepy little communities that are bustling with business


Driving into Pine or Strawberry is much like stepping back in time a twist of old and new mixed together. The two towns work hard at retaining the best parts of the past while progressing toward the future.

The quaint mountain village streets are lined with historic buildings that house people, restaurants and antique shops. Look closely and you will find an even wider range of businesses serving the needs of locals and tourists alike.

Back in the 1800s, folks came in search of a place to call their own, a place where they would not be hassled, a place to ply their trade and turn a cabin into a home. Today's pioneers are stout of character as they leave the big city and suburbia in search of those same ideals.

The character and spirit of the early settlers is as alive today as it was in the late 1800s, when Pine and Strawberry were first settled.

Unique to P-S is its fascinating blend of entrepreneurs. A blacksmith shop, a pottery house, an ice cream parlor and a computer sales shop are located in some of the oldest buildings.

Wander about and you will find a used bookstore, art galleries, and custom furniture.

A community center resides in a set of buildings that served as the public school for more than 40 years and is still the hub of activity for the community.

Today, the old cafeteria serves as the senior citizens' dining hall, a community-generated idea that provides a hot lunch and social time for the senior residents.

The Rim Country Kiwanis club occupies another building. This very active volunteer group keeps a weekly bingo game going and supports school children by donating dollars and time.

The cultural hall is the main spot for community events from dances and plays to craft shows and more. The most recent addition to the lineup is an antique show, featuring on-the-spot appraisals and sales.

The Pine Museum and chamber of commerce share space in the original Mormon church at the community center.

The Oldest Standing Schoolhouse in Arizona still stands on Fossil Creek Road in Strawberry. This little, log schoolhouse was the inspiration and cover for a book all about one-room schoolhouses that still exist in the Untied States.

Technological advances have allowed more folks to break the ties of corporate structure and stake a claim in rural settings.

A key component to this type of move is the ability to phone home. Wireless communication in Pine and Strawberry has been enhanced by the erection of a cell-phone tower on the property of the elementary school.

The benefits to P-S residents are two-fold. The telecommuting generation can reach this little dot on the map, and the P-S campus is one step closer to realizing a dream.

The dream a project to bring a lighted, regulation ballfield to the Pine-Strawberry community.

With $90,000 from a five-year easement agreement with the cell-tower company and tax-credit donations, the school is more than halfway toward the first step, said Kathe Ketchem, school administrator.

The goal is $450,000 and the coffers currently hold $165,000, she said. In order to apply for a matching Heritage grant, the school will need to raise a minimum of $225,000.

A new ballfield would serve more than 230 students. A lighted field also will allow for P-S residents to more fully participate in the Town of Payson recreational leagues.

In the past it was necessary to travel out of town for medical services. Most of the basic services are available within the town limits.

Local residents Robert Cuthbertson, M.D. and Donald Smith, D.D.S. are sharing space in the newest medical center on the south end of Pine.

Couple these talented gents and their caring office staff with our community-owned Pine-Strawberry Medical Center, staffed by Jerry Marshall, M.D. and Vivian Seville, a licensed massage therapist, and we just about have all the bases covered.

In the event of an emergency, the Pine-Strawberry Fire Department has always been on the ready to respond to community needs. The P-S crew and fire board took a step forward this past year by opening the Strawberry Fire Station at Fossil Creek full-time. More firefighters on duty and more equipment available can only add to the safety of our residents.

The P-S Fire Department has also instituted an emergency siren system. Five community sirens, two in Strawberry and three in Pine, will be sounded in the event of a community disaster, such as a wildfire or a snow emergency. The sirens can be sounded individually or in groups. If the sirens are sounded, everyone within hearing range should tune into the local radio station for further information.

Pine and Strawberry are tiny, mountain communities whose goal it is to retain the small town charm that has almost disappeared in our modern culture's quest for progress. A great place to raise a family, run a small business or retire the forest towns accentuate their unique history while striving to bring modern-day conveniences to their residents.

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