In Three Days, 300 Quilts Were Completed

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Jodee Smith/Roundup

Willene Smith of the DPS Quilt Angels packs up the last of the 300 quilts completed during the annual quilt-a-thon last week.

The DPS Angels Quilt-A-Thon last week was a huge success.

In less than three days, 300 quilts were completed and will soon be on their way to the DPS headquarters for distribution. While the work was a bit tiring, the feeling of being part of such a worthwhile cause coupled with the close fellowship we experienced made every moment special.

The dedication of the many volunteers — quilters and non-quilters alike — was truly inspiring. One lady who also volunteered last year came up from Chandler — although it sounded as if her life was quite full, she didn’t want to miss out on being a part of such an important cause.

In addition to the 300 quilts that were finished, the DPS Quilt Angels donated an absolutely beautiful “Noah’s Ark” themed quilt to Pastor Mike and his wife to thank them for the use of the First Baptist Church.

The facility was a perfect gathering place and certainly benefited the group. In fact, each day some of the quilters’ husbands took advantage of the kitchen facilities to provide a delicious lunch. So a big thank-you to all of the individuals who worked hard to ensure that the DPS officers have the comfort quilts they need to distribute to trauma victims.

Eagle Scout project

On Saturday, March 7 I had the privilege to meet some young men from Boy Scout Troop 652 near Strawberry Hollow where they were preparing to seed a portion of their allotted 60-acre firebreak with native grasses.

The project was being led by Noel Struening who chose the seeding as his Eagle Scout project. While choosing an Eagle Scout project can often be a difficult task, Noel immediately realized that this project embodies the very essence of community service. In fact, the seeding will have a tremendous effect on our towns for years, if not decades to come.

The project is the culmination of an earlier project that began over three years ago when the Forest Service submitted a long-term proposal to try to return the forests to a healthy ecosystem that had long been neglected.

Unfortunately, the study almost slipped into oblivion through lack of funding. That’s when community members of Pine and Strawberry decided that the issue was just too important to table.

They submitted their own proposal to the Forest Service, basically requesting that the community be able to implement the recommendations themselves if they could raise the funds locally. The Forest Service agreed and various community members got to work with the fund-raising.

The success of the fund-raising surprised both county and state officials and prompted grants and other funds to become available as well. The first step to returning the forest to a healthy state began with manually clearing the scrub brush, and numerous sucker trees that had taken over and choked out much of the original vegetation — like the native grasses and flowers.

According to Mike Brandt, fire captain and fuels management officer, it cost $75,000 to clear the firebreak, while the subsequent burning to maintain the area will cost a fraction of that amount. So not only does replacing the overgrown brush with native plants provide for safer communities, protect the condition of the forest, and look nicer, ultimately it will help save money as well.

In addition to Noel’s Eagle Scout project, the Pine Strawberry Fuel Reduction (PSFR) Committee is organizing community seeding projects throughout the entire month of March. If you would like to volunteer to scatter the wild grass seed, contact Katie Calderon, secretary of the PSFR program, to find out locations of the upcoming efforts.

Since each group has been allotted a 60-acre parcel, they welcome all the help they can get. Even fairly young kids can help with the seeding, so this is a great family project. Katie can be reached at 476-4380 or e-mail her at katieca@qwest.net.

Restaurant Family Night

Last week I shared information about the Restaurant Family Night benefiting students of Pine Strawberry Elementary School.

In addition to the specials offered at Nifty 50’s, Uncle Tom’s, The Strawberry Lodge and Pine Deli, the Randall House will donate $1 for every burger sold on Saturdays to the fund. The Randall House is open for lunch and dinner on Saturday, so you can order a delicious burger and benefit the kids at the same time.

Several talented home-schooled art students, many from Pine and Strawberry, recently participated in an art exhibition at Fireside Espresso in Payson. The event was very well attended, but in case you missed it, the art will be on display for the entire month of March, so be sure to stop in and see the work of the talented young members of our community.

Although I was unable to attend the meeting last week relating to the Tonto Natural Bridge closure, according to Mike Blaes, the best thing our community can do at this stage is continue to make our voices heard.

Although the representatives promised to put pressure on the parks board, it will be largely through pressure from the community that the issue remains front and center. Take a moment this week to contact the Arizona State Parks Board members at 1300 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85007, or call them at (602) 542-4174.

You might also want to write or contact Gov. Jan Brewer, Sen. Sylvia Allen, and/or Representatives Jack Brown and Bill Konopnicki.

Movie Madness

The Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library will be offering a second week of “Movie Madness” to coincide with the elementary school’s spring break. On Thursday, March 18, they’ll be showing PG-rated “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” and on Friday, March 19, the feature will be “High School Musical 3” which is rated G. Both features begin at 11 a.m.

The Fiddlers Jam takes place at 1 p.m., Wednesday, March 18 in the Pine Cultural Center. As always, this lively event is free, so be sure to head up to Pine and enjoy the variety of talented musicians who will be performing.

The PSWID will host its March board meeting at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 19. The meeting takes place at the Pine Cultural Center and is open to anyone who wishes to attend and hear about the latest developments involving Brooke Utilities, and the recent ACC meeting.

That, my friends, wraps up a busy week in Pine and Strawberry. May God bless you and your family this week.

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