Picking Up After 875 Children



If you've ever had teenagers, you know how hard you have to work to pick up after them.

Pity poor Scott Reger, head maintenance person at Payson High School. He has to pick up after 875 teens.


Scott Reger

"It's impossible to keep up when school is in session," Reger said. "But I'll say this: it's never boring."

Actually, Reger loves his job, which he's been doing for nine years.

"I'm a jack-of-all-trades, master of none," he said. "I do groundskeeping, heating, cooling. There's so much variety on the job. Every day is different. There's so many tasks to do, so it's not redundant."

That's not to say keeping with 875 teenagers isn't frustrating at times.

"The biggest problem is trash -- just general trash," he said. "There's just 10 percent of the kids that just throw their trash."

Reger also is a member of Tonto Rim Search and Rescue.

"I've been doing it for four years, and I really enjoy it," Reger said.

So far, 2003 has been an unusually busy year.

"We've had like 23 rescues," he said.

One of the most difficult was the lady who was struck by a rock thrown by a boy at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. It took Reger back to his own childhood.

"We used to do that, too," he said with a grimace. "I remember at Blue Ridge, we couldn't see over the edge. We'd just throw rocks down there and sometimes people would scream at us to stop."

Although 2003 has been busy, the fact that many people now carry cell phones when they're in the forest has led to a general decline in the number of rescue missions.

"We had one three months ago at the Houston Mesa Trailhead, "Reger said. "These people were lost and all they had was water and a cell phone. They called and we gave them coordinates and showed them how to get out."

Besides a cell phone, Reger offers this advice to hikers, hunters and campers:

"Use your head. Look at the terrain. Carry lots of water, a thermal blanket, flashlight, matches, a mirror and a whistle.

"If you get lost, stay put. If you have a vehicle, stay with it. Try to get your bearings and admit to yourself you're lost.

"Build a fire or make a sign of some kind with whatever is available. It can be as simple as a big "X" made out of branches and brush. Sooner or later someone is going to find you."

While some search and rescue units in northern Arizona have mounted teams, Tonto Rim currently does not. That's a disappointment to Reger, who has always been a horse person.

"My horse, Sly, is 19 now, and I've had him since he was 8," Reger said. "We had two horses, but I traded one in for a quad. There needs to be at least two of us on horseback according to protocol. I use my quad a lot, but there are big advantages to horses over quads. Horses can just pick their way over the roughest terrain, and they're quieter so you can hear somebody yelling out. You also have a better vantage point from the top of a saddle."

But even leaving Sly at home, Reger gets a lot of satisfaction out of his involvement with search and rescue.

"I really enjoy it," he said. "It's something I can give back to the community, and it's really a fun thing."

Previously a regional manager for Southwest Aerospace, Reger and his wife, Randi, moved to the Rim country 10 years ago.

"I'm a native of Glendale," he said. "My parents built a cabin up here in 1972, back when Easy Street was just a dirt road.

"One summer, we were returning from a fishing trip in Colorado and we stopped here overnight. I said, ‘I don't want to go back to the Valley. I can't do it.' I told my wife I'd pick up aluminum cans by the side of the road if that's what it took. We quit our jobs and lived in the cabin at first. Now we have a place in Diamond Point. My wife is a receptionist at Payson Pet Care."

Picking up after PHS students makes his statement about aluminum cans almost prophetic. But the citizen school beautification committees that are forming at PHS and other district schools are a welcome development.

"We just don't have the personnel, and the budget is tight," he said. "But a lot's getting done with the help of volunteers and the vocational ed students. When everybody is involved, it's a real team effort. Otherwise, you can't keep up and you just get discouraged."

After a tough day at PHS or a difficult rescue mission, Reger has an unusual way of relaxing. He plays jazz on his saxophone.

"I just do it by myself," he said. "I'm not real good in front of people."


Name: Scott Reger

Occupation: Payson High School maintenance

Employer: Payson Unified School District

Age: 42

Birthplace: Glendale, Ariz.

Family: Wife Randi, three dogs (Gracey, Panda and Stella), and horse (Sly).

Personal motto: Make the best of every day and have fun.

Inspiration: My folks, Bernie and Ann, and my wife, Randi.

Greatest feat: Being an active volunteer with Tonto Rim Search and Rescue.

Favorite hobby or leisure activity: Fishing, hunting, riding ATVs and horses.

Three words that describe me best: Fun, friendly, helpful.

I don't want to brag, but... I rarely get skunked when I go fishing.

Person in history I'd most like to meet: Howard Hughes. I'd like to pick his brain a bit.

Luxury defined: Camping in a motor home vs. a tent or the ground.

Dream vacation spot: Fiji

Why Payson? Perfect climate. Not too hot, not too cold. Just right for all my interests and activities.

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