Pine and Strawberry residents experienced two exciting developments in 2006.
A cramped and inconvenient Ponderosa Market was slowly put to rest when a new and spacious market opened up in December, just north of the old one.
Owner Cindy Maack said that she realized that the community desperately needed a bigger store and set a goal in 2000 to upgrade the place.
The old market wasn't handicap-friendly and didn't even have sufficient space to push carts down the aisles, she said.
The new market features a bakery, coffee shop and butcher, as well as ample room on every aisle for shopping carts.
Maack said that most aspects of the market are completed, but that a few details such as hanging neon signs and setting up a coffee stand, still need to be worked on.
"It's been a work in progress for awhile," she said. "But it's almost done."
The store's official grand opening will most likely be in May and will feature a barbecue and festivities.
"I've gotten nothing but positive feedback," she said.
Maack said that the sales from the new store have increased dramatically from the old store's sales in 2006.
Residents no longer have to travel to Payson for their groceries, and Maack said that because of the larger store, vendors offer items at lower prices, resulting in lower prices for shoppers.
"Most of our prices are close to Wal-Mart's," she said.
The discovery of water in Pine in a field near the old Ponderosa Market is possibly the biggest development for Pine/Strawberry in 2006.
Ray Pugel and Robert Randall, owners of the land just south of the old market, financed the drilling expedition that led to the discovery of the substantial underground well in September.
Mike Ploughe, hydrologist for the town of Payson, was convinced that water would be deeper in the earth. He persuaded Pugel and Randall to drill deeper wells. He was right -- water was discovered at 615 feet below the surface.
Ploughe, who conducted many experiments on the well, said that it is a very capable well.
The discovery of the well could significantly change the longtime water problem in Pine/Strawberry.