The historic ramada that stood for more than two decades at old Pine Strawberry Elementary School came down last week to make room for a new, state-of-the-art structure.
There is some disagreement on how long the old ramada had been in use.
Margaret Parker says her father, Lufkin Hunt, helped build the ramada in 1964. But Elaine Drorbaugh, who was fair co-chairman during those years, told Walt Smith that Hunt helped build it — along with other fair board members — in 1960-61.
A historical fact that all the pioneers do agree upon is that the ramada was originally built to provide shade for farm animals during the annual Northern Gila County Fair.
In the mid-1980s, a barn on Old County Road started to replace the ramada as a place to house the animals during the fair.
Smith and his wife, Willene, became active in fair activities in 1989, and both recall that after the barn was finished, the ramada served other purposes.
“We used it for providing a place for folks to sit, eat, relax and listen to the music,” Smith said. “During the fair, we also used it as a staging area for the participants to pick up the ribbons and checks they had won.”
Smith also remembers over the years the facility hosting a variety of high country get-togethers including picnics and a spot for politicians to gather while stumping for votes.
Although most longtime Pine-Strawberry residents were a bit teary-eyed watching the ramada be dismantled, Smith believes its time was up.
“I guess it’s a good thing this piece of history was taken down as all four corner posts were rotted away at ground level and the other posts were rotted in the core for a length of about two feet,” he said. “I guess it was too stubborn to blow down.”
The building of the new ramada is scheduled to take place Oct. 14-18. After it is erected, plans are to hold a christening party reminiscent of an old-fashioned barn raising.
The new ramada will be built of round wood, the first structure of its type in Gila County, and will showcase what can be done with smaller logs taken from surrounding forests. All the logs will be pressure treated to last at least 45 years.
Northern Arizona Wood Products is producing the round-wood logs for the facility with matching funds from Gila County. Also contributing to the efforts are the Pine Strawberry Fuel Reduction Committee, the Community Educational Recreational and Civic Association (CERCA), and it was Department of Correction workers who helped take down the old ramada.
Payson Concrete has donated the footings for the new facility.
Gila County District 1 Supervisor Tommie Martin played a huge role in acquiring the new ramada and was present at the dismantling of the old structure.
On Oct. 17 and 18 a seminar will be held at the site to demonstrate to building contractors the advantages of using round wood.
Did you know?
The Pine Strawberry Fuel Reduction Committee has incorporated as Pine Strawberry Fuel Reduction, Inc. (PSFR), a nonprofit group formed for the purpose of protecting the two towns and its homes by increasing awareness of the importance of reducing fuels in the surrounding areas. PSFR is partnering with the U.S. Forest Service to seed the fuel break with native forbs and grasses necessary for wildlife grazing, continued maintenance and for effective control burn capability.
If you would like to help PSFR continue its important mission, consider making a financial donation. Send them to PSFR Inc., P.O. Box 961, Pine, AZ 85544. Checks should be made out to: PSFR.
Date change for fall festival
Pine Strawberry math teacher Scott Jacobson wants residents to know that the date of the fall festival has been changed from Oct. 31 to Oct. 30.
The times remain the same, 5 to 8 p.m. at the school.
Computer lab opens
The Isabelle Hunt Memorial Public Library will host a new computer lab open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday, Oct.10. The event will be be held in the library activity room and refreshments will be served.
Also, registration for Sessions On-Line Opportunity (SOLO) computer classes begins Oct. 10. The computer classes are open to Pine and Strawberry residents 55 years of age and older. Class size is limited to 20 students.
The first classes, “Getting to Know Your Computer” will be from 10 a.m. to noon, Nov. 4, 7, 11 and 14.
The second classes, “Internet Workshop,” will be from 10 a.m. to noon, Dec. 2, 5, 9 and 12.
Librarian Beck Waer says, “Come join us.”
Call (928) 476-3678 for more information.
The Pine library is holding a See’s candy holiday fund-raiser to earn money to purchase additional library material.
Order forms are available at the library.
Prepaid orders will be accepted until Oct. 15 for delivery by Nov. 15. There will also be some candy items available for cash-and-carry purchases after Nov. 15.
The next Pine Strawberry Blood Drive will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Oct. 7 at the Pine First Baptist Church on Highway 87.
All donors will be entered into a raffle for a quilt from The Quilt Shop in Pine.
For more information, call Sheri Earp at (928) 476-3655.