Quilt Auction, Shop Hop This Weekend

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Dennis Fendler/Roundup

Kim Blankenship (left) of Jade Spirit Community Acupuncture demonstrated the ancient Chinese practice at the Awakening Earth Expo last weekend in Pine.

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Dennis Fendler/Roundup

Patricia Melchi represented the Earth Odyssey Eco newspaper at the expo.

There was a definite air of anticipation as more than 100 residents from Pine and Strawberry gathered at the Cultural Hall Thursday for a special meeting of the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District board. Turns out the board got a very welcome offer from Brooke Utilities and their parent company Jay Co just two days earlier to finalize the purchase of the water company to the community. As Chairman Haney emphasized, the agreement is not in writing yet, but the good news is that the details have all been hashed out and agreed upon by both parties.

In addition, the stipulations required by Compass Bank to finance the deal were met as well.

As if that were not reason enough to cheer, the two sides have agreed to end all the various legal challenges and suits that have arisen over the past few months.

The spontaneous cheers, applause and beaming faces were an indication of the joy and relief that most everyone in the room felt knowing that our communities are moving into a position of being able to take steps to relieve our never-ending water issues.

While everyone realizes the transition is bound to be fraught with bumps and challenges (after all the deal is expected to be completed by Sept. 22), the board has proven that they are willing and able to reach for the stars and most importantly, make things happen.

So folks, here we are on the verge of a new beginning, a chance to take control of our destiny as a community, move ahead, and take on the challenges that face us. This is a time to come together, to resolve to look forward, and to stand behind the folks who have worked so hard to make this happen. I would like to say thank you to the PSWID board members for the dedication and time you have sacrificed in order to benefit all the members of our communities.

Quilt auction

This Saturday, Aug. 8, the Strawberry Patchers and Pine-Strawberry Archaeological and Historical Society team up to host a “Beautiful Quilt Auction” at the Cultural Hall in Pine. The doors open at 10 a.m. giving you a chance to pre-register for the auction, plus purchase quilts for sale, peruse many vendors selling various wares, and a chance to buy the winning ticket for this year’s Opportunity Quilt.

The 2009 Opportunity Quilt is a beautiful three-sectioned masterpiece entitled “Arizona Mountain Home” featuring spring, summer, fall and winter scenes.

The quilt drawing takes place in December and all monies raised are used to benefit 10 local charities. The silent auction commences at 5:30 p.m. and proceeds from the auction will help the Pine- Strawberry Archaeological and Historical Society continue to fund our local museum.

There is no admission fee for the event and the sponsors welcome all to come participate.

More events

Also taking place this Saturday is the 2nd Saturday Shop Hop in Pine. Not only can you visit your favorite shops and galleries, but you’ll have an opportunity to meet many of the merchants, artists and craftsmen who make up our unique business community.

Individual shops roll out the welcome mat, offering refreshments and often, entertainment, making shopping a fun and memorable experience.

Don’t forget to bring your gently used book donations to the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library for the upcoming book sale over the Labor Day weekend. The book sale benefits many ongoing library programs.

Road work

Road work continues unabated just south of Pine, and short delays are now inevitable. Fortunately, the crews are amazingly efficient and they somehow manage to keep traffic moving pretty steadily in spite of the major work being done.

The other day I went to Payson for a quick shopping trip and by the time I came back they had not only installed a dump truck-sized culvert along the road, but they had even managed to pour the concrete around it!

The crews seem to be very mindful of stopping work during our busy weekends, making sure to keep both lanes open and flowing, so don’t worry if you are heading north for any of the events taking place, you won’t be inconvenienced at all.

Possible scam

I recently received a mailing from a company called the Property Tax Review Board and I suspect that many of you did as well. At first glance, the correspondence appears to be an official notice from the Gila County assessor stating that I am most likely overpaying my property taxes and am eligible for an assessment. Even the envelope states in bold letters PROPERTY TAX INFORMATION ENCLOSED. Included with the notice is a blue return envelope similar to the type distributed by the county for submitting your property tax remittance.

As I read the form I began to grow suspicious. The first warning signal was the $189 fee that was required to begin the review. While I suspect the government may be scrambling for money, I doubted that they would be offering assessments for $189 which promised to save me an estimated $1,100 in tax payments. That caused me to read the entire document more closely where I noticed several disclaimers intermingled in small letters here and there acknowledging that this is “Not a Government Agency.” Although a post office box and a phone number were listed, I didn’t see a Web site address available.

I checked with the Better Business Bureau but found no information on the company. I typed the initials PTRB (listed at the bottom of the letter) into the search engine and didn’t receive a single hit.

Next, I called the 800 number listed on the form. The young sounding female asked for my name and number. I bypassed her question and told her I had a few questions of my own. How long have they been in business? Five years. What is their Web site address? They don’t have a Web site. Where do you obtain your information from? General surveys. How do you determine the estimated savings (which were unrealistically high)? They’re based on savings we’ve obtained for others in your area. Where is your business physically located? (I asked this because the address on my form is a P.O. box in Phoenix.) Granada Hills, Calif. Where does your company do business? Arizona, Nevada and California.

Suspecting that this was indeed a scam, I decided to call the Gila County assessor’s office next. I spoke with Chief Deputy Assessor Hazel Dillon, who told me she first heard about the letters on Friday, July 31. A woman who had received a notice, agreed to fax a copy. Hazel had also called the number and asked the girl she spoke with to tell her more about the offer. After asking a few questions Hazel asked if there was a supervisor on site. The woman seemed a little surprised but eventually offered to let her speak with a man named Randy. Instead Hazel was put on hold for such a long period of time she eventually hung up.

Hazel stated that she has already forwarded a copy of the letter to the county attorney for review and that officials are very concerned that unsuspecting people hoping for reductions in their property taxes may fall victim to a likely scam. She also emphasized that the deadline to file a protest on your 2009 tax assessment has already passed. She confirmed that letters have been sent to folks in Pinal, Maricopa, Navajo and Gila counties, so it appears to be a statewide campaign.

So folks, please take note of the above and don’t fall for this very slick marketing technique. A closer review of the facts should convince you that the chances of this company actually saving you money are highly unlikely. Furthermore, if you actually read the fine print, the company really only offers to “thoroughly review your individual property value.” That is something we are all perfectly capable of doing ourselves — and the Gila County assessor’s office is more than willing to answer any questions that we have.

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