Around Rim Country

Payson Jazz Trio performs Sunday



The Rim Valley Church of God, 208 S. McLane Road, will host a free concert by Larry Ahlborn at 6 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 18. Ahlborn is a vocalist and pianist. He has a mellow, tenor voice with a down-home style that will relax, bring back and create happy memories. For more information, call (928) 474-5449. The church is located on the west side of the high school.

Payson Community Presbyterian Church has just acquired a Baldwin baby grand piano, and it will have its first public performance at 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 11 when Bob Smolenski leads the Payson Jazz Trio, with guest guitarist John Darst. It is a magnificent sounding black beauty; so don’t miss this special performance. 

In addition to Smolenski, the Payson Jazz Trio includes Mike Buskirk on bass and Gerry Reynolds on drums.

Smolenski, a resident of Geronimo Estates, returned to his keyboard after retiring from a busy insurance practice. As a piano student of Valley professional Beth Lederman, Smolenski has become a very accomplished jazz piano player, and he leads the Payson Jazz Trio.

Many know that the Payson Unified School District has an outstanding music program.

Buskirk, the PJT bass player, is a PUSD music teacher and a mainstay in the program. A multi-talented musician, Mike plays an array of instruments, from hand bells to bass trombone, as well as string bass in the trio.

Reynolds is the coordinator of the monthly jazz performances. He co-founded the PJT with Bob and Mike, a group that is currently playing at the Strawberry Lodge on Saturday evenings. He has also played in the Valley for eight years in the Pita Jungle Restaurant jazz trio, where he performs with other professional vocalists and instrumentalists who sit in to jam with the band.

Guest artist John Darst is a gifted guitarist. Employed by Northland Pioneer College in Show Low, Darst finds time to exercise his passion for jazz guitar by playing regularly in coffee houses and at private parties in that area, as well as coming to sit in and jam in Payson.

To help the community, it is requested those coming to Sunday’s jazz performance please bring a bag of canned goods with you and place them in the shopping cart in the church lobby.

Each event is supported solely by the donations received. Therefore, it is requested that a donation of $5 or more be made at the door.

Refreshments will be served.

Contact Reynolds at gerryr@ for more information and to let us know that you are coming.

Community Presbyterian Church is located at 800 W. Main St.

London tour openings

Shannon Howard of Gila Community College is organizing a trip to London. Howard has about 10 slots still available for the May 16-23 trip. She needs registration and a $250 deposit by Jan. 12.

For further details, including prices, contact Howard at (928) 951-1434 or e-mail her at

January sale

The American Legion Thrift Store is having a super sale throughout January. All shoes, sweaters and sweats are only 50 cents each, or buy three for $1. The thrift store is downstairs at the Legion Hall, 709 E. Highway 260.

January blood drives

Community Blood Drives are planned at several locations on a number of different days during January:

• Jan. 12: Shepherd of the Pines Church, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

• Jan. 18: Mazatzal Casino Bingo Room, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Donors at the Mazatzal Casino will get a coupon for a pint of ice cream from Scoops Ice Cream in Payson.

• Jan. 20: First Baptist Church in Pine, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

All donors in January will get a voucher for the FBR Open in Scottsdale.

Potential donors must be in good health, weigh at least 110 pounds and be at least 16 years old.  Additional height/weight restrictions apply for donors ages 16 to 22.  For donor eligibility questions, call 480-675-5497. Call 1-877-448-GIVE (4483) or visit www.UnitedBloodServices today to make your appointment to donate blood.

Fudge, salsa on sale

Fudge and salsa are back at a huge reduction in price as an apology for the cancellation of the December visit due to weather. A large selection of the Salsa King’s award-winning salsa and some of America’s best fudge will be available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 14 at the Payson Regional Medical Center lobby.

Fudge flavors include chocolate, walnut bark, cinnamon nuts, sweet roasted nuts and lots more. Salsa flavors include garlic passion, just peachy pineapple and chipotle black bean and corn — to name a few.

Proceeds will benefit the many programs and scholarships available through the Mogollon Health Alliance. For more information, call (928) 472-2588.

Payson Packers hikes

The Payson Packers have planned the following hikes for the remainder of January: Jan. 13, MP 247; Jan. 20, Sheep Springs Trail, TR 244; and Jan. 27, Jug-A-Lug.

The hikes begin at 9 a.m., participants gather at 8:45 a.m. at the Rim Country Mall parking lot south of Sears.

For more information, call Dave at (928) 474-3040, or Jim at (928) 468-1244.

Payson schools on half-day schedule Jan. 14

Payson Unified School District #10 will observe a half-day in-service day Wednesday, Jan. 14.

Julia Randall, Payson and Frontier Elementary Schools dismiss at 11:45 a.m. Lunch will be served to students before they depart. Rim Country Middle School dismisses at 12:30 p.m. after serving lunch, followed by a brief, optional club period. The RCMS/PHS buses depart from the schools at 12:35 p.m.

Payson Center for Success High School does not observe the half-day in-services and will operate on its regular schedule.

Church plans concert

The Rim Valley Church of God, 208 S. McLane Road, will host a free concert by Larry Ahlborn at 6 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 18. Ahlborn is a vocalist and pianist. He has a mellow, tenor voice with a down-home style that will relax, bring back and create happy memories. For more information, call (928) 474-5449. The church is located on the west side of the high school.

4-H registration set

Rim Country young people, ages 9 to 19, who want to raise a 4-H market animal need to register their project by 5 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 20. Market animals include swine, steers, goats and lambs.

Enrollment forms can be found online at or at area University of Arizona Cooperative Extension offices. The Extension office in Payson is at 107 W. Frontier St., Suite B (in the county courthouse complex). The office in Globe is at 5515 S. Apache Ave., Suite 600 in Central Heights.

For additional details, contact Lani Hall, 4-H Youth Development Agent, at (928) 595-0655 or e-mail her at Information is also available at

GED testing

Dr. Linda O’Dell, Gila County Superintendent of Schools, announces the following GED testing dates in Payson: Jan. 24, Feb. 21, March 21, April 18, May 16. Seating is limited. The cost for the complete test is $65; retakes are $10 per test. Those taking the test must be pre-registered at the County School Superintendent’s Office, 719 S. Beeline Highway in Payson. Office hours are 8 a.m. until noon, Monday through Thursday, other times by appointment. For more information, call (928) 472-5373.

Free CPR class set

The Mogollon Health Alliance, in conjunction with the Payson Fire Department, will have a free “Family & Friends” CPR class Thursday, Jan. 29. Please call the Mogollon Health Alliance at (928) 472-2588 for more information and to register.

The MHA pays for the class through its fund-raising, its gift shop and through its Almost New Thrift Shop, 304 E. Aero Drive.


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