Rockin' On The Rim With The Rimstones Rock Club

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Members of this group don't have rocks in their heads, but they certainly have them on their minds more often than not. Visiting their homes, you will find many have them as part of their décor, both inside and out.

Some have such extensive collections of minerals, gems, fossils and other earthbound beauties, they have built separate rooms just to house them.

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Jerry Shilts, left, examines a gem as Lane and Nicole Shilts are wide-eyed and mouths agape at the treasured stone.

To see the beauty of the earth in your hand doesn't take any special skill -- just look at a gemstone or piece of metal jewelry. However, it does take a special skill to see that beauty in the rocks on the ground.

The Rim Country is blessed with more than 100 people with such a skill -- the members of the Payson Rimstones Rock Club.

"Payson Rimstones Rock Club is a group of people bound together by their love of rock collecting," said Jason Arant, vice president of the group in 2005. "If one walks along looking down, rocks can be found in abundance. Rock hounds ... look for ones that inspire us with their beauty and rarity."

For nearly 11 years, the club has been sharing its love of rocks at its annual Gem and Mineral Show each fall.

Coordinating the show this year are Russ and Jimi Stewart of Payson. The couple has been with the club for seven years, joining even before they became full-time residents of the community.

The Payson Rimstones Rock Club first organized in 1996 and held meetings at the Payson Womans Club on Main Street. When the new library opened, the group moved its gathering to the Rumsey Park facility. It meets in the library's community room at 3:30 p.m., the second Wednesday of every month, except June, when the members have a picnic.

A field trip is planned each month to surrounding areas where quartz crystals, petrified wood, agates, marble, onyx, fossils and the famous Payson geodes may be collected.

The club has presented science scholarships to Payson High School graduates. Members also work with youth groups to help them earn badges or similar credit for geology.

The club is a member of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Rocky Mountain Federation of Gem and Mineral Clubs, which includes groups from all over Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah and Nevada. This organization also sponsors rock-hunting field trips.

The Payson group has donated a number of books on geology and rock collecting to the Payson Public Library and gives $100 to the Payson Elks for the annual Kids' Christmas Shopping Spree.

Payson Rimstones Rock Club

Meetings: Payson Rimstones Rock Club meetings are held at 3:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of every month at Payson Public Library. Families and visitors are always welcome.
Contact: For more information, call Bob Norman at (928) 474-8777.
Projects: The Rimstones host an annual Gem and Mineral Show every fall. Members do wire wrapping and lapidary work, and are available to speak to schools and clubs about rock collecting.

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