Columnist Shares News From Heber Overgaard

Damage from fallen trees, along with the snow, has hampered cleanup in the Heber Overgaard area.

Damage from fallen trees, along with the snow, has hampered cleanup in the Heber Overgaard area.

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Photo by Zane Watts

Robert “Bob” Rice offered a tour of the Heber Overgaard Fire Station, including the eComm room.

With the snow receding more every day, people are tackling the job of removing trees and branches from their yards. “I enjoy going out and cutting up these limbs and trees,” said Dave Cook, who is the vice president of the Chamber of Commerce.

Still, many homes and properties have damage and are in need of outside maintenance. Many have tasked themselves to helping neighbors and others who may be physically unable with this as well. The main problem is getting to those areas on the property during the warm part of the day as the ground is soft and slippery in places. Some are waiting for the ground to clear and dry before working in their yards.

Senior Center computer lab

The Rim Country Senior Center is working on a new dedicated computer lab for the center. This removes the computers from a more common use area to a more secluded area where there would be less interruption.

The plans are to have it working in place by Feb. 18 or 19. Office Manager Bonnie Schwarck says the center is not just for the seniors, but for all, and prefers to call it a community center.

“People of any age are welcome here to our lunches,” said Bonnie. “Mama Santini cooks for us here and it is very good!” She went on to say, “We do work with the shut-ins and try to get them out for Senior Center lunch, social gathering, doctor or even take them grocery shopping.”

There are many activities we have here for people, too. There are sign-up sheets in the common area for these events. For more information, please contact the Rim Country Senior Center at (928) 535-5525.

MHS multi-purpose building completed

Mogollon High School has a new multi-purpose building that has just been completed. MHS also has been given a “facelift” to the exterior of the buildings with the addition of new stucco, with HVAC units to soon be added to the gym.

Mountain Meadows Primary School will be having additional rest rooms built, as well as two additional classrooms and HVAC to the upstairs portion of the large dome, along with work to help reduce the noise level in both the large and small dome.

Capps Elementary will have a new addition — the old part of Capps will be demolished upon completion of six new classrooms, new office space for the school and the district, and a new Performing Arts Center (which will serve as the cafeteria during the day). The winter weather and storms have caused a delay in this construction, however, the concrete for the floor of the classroom section was poured before the snow came! As the weather warms up, we hope to see the building going up quickly.

The Rim Community Library has a Book and Video Blowout Sale. It is happening now until Feb. 28. Please call (928) 535-5749 for more information.

eComm radio facility tour

Robert “Bob” Rice of the Rim Country Amateur Radio Club gave a tour of the eComm radio facility which is in the fire station, as well as a tour of the Heber/Overgaard Fire Station. The first area he showed was a kitchen area in the fire station recently used by some snow evacuees.

“They rescued a few people who were stranded in the last of the three storms, and they stayed here. They had use of this kitchen as well as cots to sleep on until they could gain access back into their homes,” Bob said.

We went on to the large, main conference room where there were tables and chairs set up in a classroom manner. On opposing walls, are two projection screens hung for purposes of having two separate events or meetings happening at once.

“They plan on putting in a divider to split the room into two separate private meeting areas,” he said.

From there, we went on to where the fire trucks are kept. Bob explained the many trucks in the very large vehicle bay were all four-wheel drive with one exception.

There is one Forest Lakes truck there that was traded with Heber/Overgaard since Forest Lakes did not have a four-wheel drive unit and had access problems due to the depth of snow there.

“When the snow subsides, the trucks will be traded back again,” Bob said. The Forest Service also keeps a smaller fire truck there during inclement weather to be at the ready anytime that it is required, since they do not have a facility to keep it in the condition this facility provides.

Upstairs where the eComm room is, you can see the many ham and other radios lined up against the back wall for each of the four stations it requires to man with a large flat screen display mounted half-way up the wall above the bench on one of the stations.

The computer feeding the large flat screen shows the current location of the “Space Shuttle” in relation to Overgaard, since they have ham radios onboard the shuttle. Bob explained, “We can connect with them using the ham if by no other means works.” He went on to say, “We have communication connections with just about every state and federal agency it requires to relay emergency information should the phone lines or standard communications be lost.”

On the walls are many maps of the local area, including Forest Service maps with fire tower locations in the event they receive communications from those towers and they have to pinpoint a fire location for an emergency dispatch. On the back wall, there is a picture of a unit they have in Snowflake/Taylor that was purchased by the Department of Homeland Security called the “TOAD4.” It is a vehicle resembling a large ambulance with many antennas and a satellite dish.

“We have ham and other radios in the front half and a small conference area in the back,” Bob said. “The small conference area is for different agencies to be able to sit and discuss emergency strategies for handling the given situation.

“The satellite dish is for two-way internet connection, as well as a satellite phone connection. The radios, as well, provide local and national coverage of communication. This unit can be anywhere in the U.S. and still provide communication of many different types,” Bob said. So when it comes to being cut off from the outside world, we can be very comfortable in knowing during a emergency or communication outage our community is well prepared.

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