Stories for December 2011

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Friday, December 30

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Fantasy of lights

A million Christmas lights have joined the rugged red rocks in Sedona to keep people in the holiday spirit for one more week. For the 21st year, people from around Arizona have created holiday light displays to benefit charities, and light up the Red Rock sky. But hurry, the show ends New Year’s Eve. This year’s Red Rock Fantasy light display features a million lights twinkling on 28 displays at Los Abrigados Resort. Visitors to the event can cast a vote for their favorite display. Last year’s winner is also on display, but eligible for the grand prize this year.

Final redistricting maps upend Rim Country vote

Northern Gila County will have new state, fed representatives with new district boundaries

Final redistricting maps will put northern Gila County in a federal congressional district dominated by cities along the Colorado River and in a state legislative district dominated by Flagstaff and Fountain Hills. Both maps proposed by the Independent Redistricting Commission would divide Gila County, separating the mostly white, Republican north from the heavily Native American and Hispanic, Democratic south. However, although both congressional and legislative maps divide Gila County, neither map breaks up Rim Country towns. In both districts, Payson would end up in safe Republican seats that include many towns with small minority populations and similar demographics and politics.

Crews start clearing Tonto Creek, again

Prison crews are back in Tonto Creek clearing dead and down vegetation that clogs the creek and diverts floodwater toward residential areas. Work started Tuesday morning and should last at least several weeks, according to Michael O’Driscoll, Gila County Health and Emergency Services director. Cleanup crews will not work on the dikes or remove sediment in the creek; work the county had done earlier this year. Creek work halted when the mating season of several endangered species that call the area home began. With that passed, the county has the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s blessing to begin vegetation removal work — as long as it does not disturb critical species habitat. Crews will now remove dead undergrowth around the base of trees that diverts the flow away from the center.

New tax law affects second homes

Most second homeowners in the Rim Country will pay an average of nearly $200 more in property taxes next year. But a lot of primary residents could also pay these taxes if they don’t watch their mailboxes. A recently mailed notice from the Gila County Assessor’s Office, explains that the Arizona Legislature has eliminated the Less State Aid to Education (LSAE) rebate for most second homeowners. “We sent out about 1,600 notices in November,” said Larry Huffer, Gila County Assessor. The deadline for replying to the first notice has passed, but Huffer said a final notice would be sent in early January. If that notice is not sent back to the assessor, the county will reclassify the property based on the information it has on the property. The Legislature changed the property tax law this year. Owners of second homes, not occupied by a relative may no longer receive the LSAE rebate.

Undercover officers raid Payson home

Search warrant leads to arrest of three men

A group of undercover officers raided an east Payson home Saturday evening, arresting several on drug related charges and one man for assault after he allegedly kicked an officer in the groin. The 4 p.m. raid surprised neighbors who said they heard several loud noises and when they looked outside, saw people in civilian clothing pointing guns at the home. One neighbor said he thought they were playing paintball since one of the men had camouflage on, but quickly realized the guns were real.

Community Almanac

Contributions to Payson Schools’ 2011 Credit for Kids campaign, the dollar-for-dollar state tax credit for extracurricular activities, must be postmarked or in the APS drop boxes by midnight Saturday, Dec. 31. Give yourself and Payson Schools a Happy New Year with a contribution to your choice of activities, sports, programs and/or schools. Any amount is welcome up to $200 for single taxpayers and $400 for married taxpayers.

Forest Service is best manager of forest land

Senator Sylvia Allen and some of her followers are calling for the state to take control of the forests in Arizona.

Good points made during supervisors meeting

If you’re paper is going to report on a public hearing, it would be good to get information properly attributed.

Democratic Party has taken a hard left turn

Recently a septuagenarian friend of mine (a Democrat) said to me that he didn’t think the Democratic Party was the same party that it used to be.

Death of a tyrant is welcome news

The recent death of the brutal North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il is welcome news. Kim was a murderer and cruel oppressor who inhabited a bizarre alternate universe — sipping on expensive cognac, taking in deleted scenes from Caddyshack while simultaneously banning even the simplest of pleasures for his own people, imposing unimaginable misery upon them. Because of his grip on power, Kim’s death does not herald an end to the decades of misery that has been continually inflicted upon the long-suffering North Korean people. Nor will it diminish the continued nuclear threat that the regime poses to the United States and our allies in the region. This is because, before his death, Kim began the process of imposing his successor on the country.

When the going gets tough…

Whew. What a year. Thank goodness it’s over and thank the people who got us through it. Certainly, 2011 proved hard on the nerves. The economy sputtered and groaned. The signs of distress mounted on every side: The jobless rate remained stuck at 10 percent, the poverty rate among Payson school children soared, the pleas for help from the food banks piled up, the politicians dithered and bickered, the class sizes rose inexorably, the empty storefronts multiplied. In short, pessimists had a field day all year long. Still.

How I discovered a surprising truth about myself

How well do you know yourself? “Really well,” you say? Are you sure? I thought the same thing for a long time — for more than 40 years, in fact. And then, one day about 30 years ago I was reading a book and suddenly, right out of the blue, I learned something about myself I had never suspected. It came as quite a shock. So much of a shock that I can remember that moment about as well as I remember anything in my life. I’ll tell you about it. I’m a reader. Been a reader all my life. Caught the reading bug back when I was just 7 or 8 years old. One day Miss Banke, a teacher in Public School 16 on Staten Island, told us we were going on a field trip. You should have heard the cheer. The classroom sounded like the Victory Theater on Saturday afternoon when the cartoons came on. “Yay-y-y-y!”

Suns’ opener gives 30-plus year flashback

Watching the Phoenix Suns’ season opening one-point loss to New Orleans jolted a flashback to 30-plus years ago. The memory is of the 1978 NBA season. In those years, I was a huge Suns fan, having worked for the team as a stat keeper during a rookie camp and also during a few games just after the pro team arrived in Phoenix in 1968. In the mid-1970s I’d moved to Show Low. Although I was miles away from Phoenix, my fervor for the Suns hadn’t diminished. During my first few weeks in Show Low, I met a fellow coach and teacher, also a Suns fan, who at first I didn’t particularly care for. Pat Derksen was younger than me, a better three-on-three pick up basketball player, a heartthrob and more than a bit arrogant. But he would become my very best friend, and more than 30 years later be at my side during my battle against colon cancer.

Garvin’s runs through town volleyball tournament undefeated

The town-sponsored 2011 Coed Volleyball Tournament is in the record books as an overwhelming success. More than a week of action in the postseason fray wrapped up Dec. 14 in Rim Country Middle School gymnasium with No. 1 seeded Garvin’s Towing accomplishing what everyone anticipated — walking away with the gold medal and a perfect tournament record. In winning top honors, Garvin’s edged Dig It in the finale. Dig It entered the tournament as a No. 3 seed, but lost to No. 2 Paradise Nails in a tournament opener on Dec. 7. Also on the first day of the tournament, Paradise Nails advanced with a win over No. 4 Payson Regional Medical Center. PRMC had earlier eliminated Off the Wall. On Dec. 12, Garvin’s whipped Paradise Nails to send the team into the losers’ bracket and Dig It eliminated PRMC dealing the MASH crew their second loss. Just two days later, Dig It, captained by Bill Holly, eliminated Paradise Nails leaving just the two finalists to meet in the gold medal game.

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Tontozona’s fate remains unsettled

Arizona State University officials are denying persistent rumors that newly appointed Sun Devil football coach Todd Graham might resume preseason training at Camp Tontozona. “At this point there are no plans for this,” said ASU Associate Athletic Director Mark Brand. “Coach (Graham) is still trying to hire his staff and finish recruiting off until signing day in February. “That is what he is consumed with right now.” The rumors circulating that ASU might return to Tontozona include innuendos that former Sun Devil offensive lineman Scott Peters, who played seven seasons in the NFL, is lobbying ASU President Michael M. Crow to have the Devils resume training at the camp located east of Payson near Kohl’s Ranch. Peters could not be reached for comment.

Ways to help beat the holiday blues

Holiday blues — in fact, any blues — can have their root in any number of life-changing experiences such as the death of a spouse or loved one, a divorce, the loss of a job or reduced economic circumstances, a move to a new community, an illness or some other family issue. Terry Stevens, director of Cenpatico of Arizona, which oversees Southwest Behavioral Health, offered some helpful advice on how to cope with the difficulties some people may face during the holiday season. “Adults might give some thought of talking with others who might be experiencing what they are going through, or who have experienced it in the past,” Stevens said.

Creating winter habitats for winged visitors

The bird populations present in your area this winter could use your assistance. Attract and welcome these feathered friends to your backyard with a bird-friendly habitat. Birds enjoy finding new supplies of food and eat constantly in the winter to retain their body heat and energy. In fact, birds may come to rely on feeders, especially in severe weather, because feeders offer an easy-access meal close to their home. Remember to continually refill feeders to encourage return visitors and always keep bird feeders clean to prevent diseases.

2011 a successful year at HSCAZ

As 2011 comes to an end, I believe my premonition about how this year would be came true. 2011 was a successful year for the Humane Society of Central Arizona. This year we welcomed Kat Knauff as our new Animal Services Manager. Kat has proven to be a huge asset to HSCAZ. This year she helped place 175 animals into rescue; versus last year’s number of 40. Kat also helped set up and successfully complete the first mobile Spay and Neuter Clinic to take place in the last 2-1/2 years. I think it’s safe to say we are glad to welcome Kat aboard.

Denny’s new manager upping service

The Denny’s restaurant in Payson has a new attitude. Last summer, the restaurant hired Sue Jordan as the new manager. Jordan has worked for Denny’s restaurants since 1978. Her career started with waitressing at Denny’s in Hemet, Calif. Since then, she has worked her way up the ladder, working formerly as the general manager of Denny’s corporate in Phoenix. But, Jordan said she always dreamed of living in Payson.

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Casinos muscle in on traditional ‘Five C’s’ behind Arizona economy

The “Five C’s” that traditionally made up the bulk of Arizona’s economy — copper, climate, cattle, cotton, citrus — may need to make room for a sixth: casinos. Revenue from Arizona’s 22 casinos far surpassed cattle, cotton and citrus in the most recent figures available for each. Casinos took in nearly $1.7 billion during fiscal 2011, which ended June 30, according to the Arizona Department of Gaming’s annual report. By comparison, cattle industry receipts totaled $637 million in 2010 and another $650 million from dairy products. Casinos are the largest part of an Arizona gaming industry that exceeded $2 billion when Arizona Lottery games — including Powerball and scratch-off tickets — were included. The lotteries grossed $584 million in fiscal 2011.

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2011 was another dynamic year for the American music industry

Poof! Just like that, 2011 has come and gone. It seems like just yesterday that I was trying to remember to write 2011 on my checks instead of 2010, and now I have to again go through the whole brain reprogramming thing to make sure I’m now inking 2012 in the date box. Reflecting back it was another dynamic year in the American music industry. New singers emerged and some of our favorite old artists left us for the that special rock and roll malt shop in the sky. Far and away the newcomer singer of 2011 was English born alternative singer-songwriter Adele. Her smash hit “Rolling In The Deep” topped Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for seven weeks in the spring and earned her the company’s Song of the Year award. Her follow-up hit, “Someone Like You,” also peaked at number one in October.

Holidays are a great time to spend with friends and family

I hope you all had a nice holiday and got to spend some time with family and friends. We had lots of beautiful snow up here in Christopher Creek. The New Year is only a few days away and I would like to wish you all an early happy new year. The New Year is always a chance to be a better person, start losing weight, take another look at those dreams, put some goals down on paper, or try to make the next year better than the last.

Christmas time was a tearful reunion with family

My hubby Bill and I took a nostalgic ride through the past when we first came to Yuma back in 1967. At that time, there was no interstate from Phoenix, and Highway 85 was a dangerous highway with two-way traffic. The road continued to Highway 80 which was filled with agriculture and citrus orchards by the mile. Since that first trip was in the latter part of June, it was extremely hot by 10 a.m. I remember stopping along huge salt cedar trees with the family to take a break from the scorching sun. We marveled at the lemons on the trees and we took a needed break from the sun. So on our way to Yuma for Christmas, we decided to take that same route again to see if there was any difference. Well, the trees were still there, some of the groves were there, and the McElhaney stock yards were still there, so not too many changes had taken place in 44 years. The worker buses were still being decorated for the holidays and lettuce is now the king crop in the Yuma area.

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Photographs are a treasure of holiday memories

Did you take any snap shots this year to record the happy occasion? Maybe a cute photo of your dog opening up a Christmas present? Let’s get real! We have three dogs and, like toddlers, they always want what the other one has — even if it’s the same thing that they have. While my husband Richard, daughter Krisy, and son Mike restrained the dogs and confiscated their toys, I grabbed the camera to record this memorable holiday moment. The next magical moment came when I reached for something in the amply-stocked refrigerator and sent a loosely-sealed package of blueberries soaring through the air. Did you know that blueberries bounce? “Bring the camera! We have memories to record!”

Thursday, December 29

Family vacations

Sometimes the prospect of travel with the kids is a concern. So why not consider locations that both the adults and young ones can enjoy equally? Many hotels and resorts are positioned with the entire family in mind. Take for instance, the Beverly Garland Hotel located in Universal City, Calif. It is managed by Holiday Inn and they offer families standard rooms for the adults along with Kids Suites. These rooms offer a living area with a king size bed and a separate area with bunk beds, a flat-screen TV and a small desk for children. Parents will enjoy the extra privacy that these rooms offer, as well as the extra space. The rooms also have a balcony, so that parents can have even more privacy.

Car care tips for your winter trips

Before you hit the road this winter, make sure your car and car insurance are ready for the journey. Planning ahead can help avoid mishaps that could ruin your vacation.

Smart snacking tips

If you want to lose weight or maintain weight loss this winter, choose smart snacks that will satisfy your taste buds without sabotaging your goals. Low-fat dairy is one great option recommended by the USDA. It’s a good source of protein that can help keep you fuller longer while providing calcium and important nutrients.

Make and keep financial New Year’s resolutions

New Year’s resolutions are usually well-intentioned, especially those that focus on your financial fitness. If your resolutions this year address money matters like savings, spending and credit use, you can improve your chances of success by making “SMART” promises to yourself. In self-improvement circles, “SMART” is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Keeping those qualities in mind when setting a goal — or making a resolution — can help you accomplish what you set out to do.

The big snow of 1967

“White Yule Dream Nightmare” was one of the headlines that the Dec. 19, 1967 Arizona Republic carried. The state had been hit by multiple winter storms at that point, starting with one on Dec. 13. By Dec. 19 isolated areas were really struggling. The Arizona Republic had this to say about the Payson area that day. “PAYSON: Gila County sheriff’s officers fear for residents in resort area 20 miles north. May take weeks to open back roads where many elderly retirees are stranded. Groceries are being hauled into isolated sections. The area is low on butane fuel, but electricity, out in spots for up to three days, restored. Two of Payson’s three fire engines are pinned under a collapsed fire station roof and officials are concerned over the new high school gymnasium, where the ceiling has cracked under 3 feet of snow.”

Love in Action

Expedition Church congregation ‘adopts’ a village in Rwanda

Payson’s Expedition Church members strive to love people — and act on that love. Locally that love in action can be found through its contributions to Time Out, Inc., the area food banks and more. That action went global about three years ago when the congregation agreed to adopt the village of Rwimbogo, Rwanda.

Get-a-Away Around Rim Country

Meet at the top of Houston Mesa Road, about two miles east of Beeline Highway. Participants will then hike about five minutes to an overlook of the Rim Country where there will be a prayer service for the community and the nation.

Good 2 Go

Start the year off on the right foot — take a First Day Hike at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. On New Year’s Day, Tonto Natural Bridge State Park’s First Day Hike will offer Rim residents and visitors an opportunity to explore its unique natural and cultural treasures. Observe javelina, listen to birds, discover wildlife tracks and breathe in the fresh air. The quiet beauty of nature will surround visitors in winter, experience spectacular views and vistas and benefit from the company of Tonto Natural Bridge’s knowledgeable state park guide, Morgan Wilkes. Wilkes started out as a volunteer a few years ago at Tonto Natural Bridge, and then became a Park Ranger. He says he enjoys being there and likes to help visitors enjoy the experience. He will describe the hikes to hikers who may then select the hike that is suitable for them.

Check out holiday lights before they dim

More than two dozen Rim Country homes were part of the 2011 Holiday House Lighting Contest. There are sure to be many more homes in our neighborhoods that didn’t participate in the contest, but still have wonderful displays to enjoy during an evening drive. Don’t delay; most displays will come down after Jan. 1.

Tuesday, December 27

Campus plans make big strides forward

ASU, Alliance put finishing touches on final IGA agreement

Plans for a university in Payson have made big strides in the past week, according to Payson Mayor Kenny Evans. Last week, backers finished drawing up the final “terms and conditions” for the key intergovernmental agreement with Arizona State University to build a 6,000-student campus here. “We’re basically down to a single issue and I think we have a solution,” said Evans of the end game on the three-year effort to strike a deal with ASU. “We’ve made great progress with the Forest Service, with the county, with ASU.” Hailing his “best week in 18 months” Evans said he’s still hoping to have the campus open by the fall of 2013. “It’s like putting a bullet train on the Durango to Silverton railroad line, but I think we can get it done,” said Evans. Last week the Educational Alliance and the U.S. Forest Service settled on a timeline for the direct purchase of a 260-acre parcel south of Highway 260 near the location of the Payson Ranger Station.

Star Valley council justifies possible new, higher water rates

As Star Valley’s staff rushes to finish taking over the local water company early next year, the council is busy deciding on a rate structure. The town plans to boost water rates roughly 20 percent. It has been 10 years since some 360 water customers have seen a rate increase under Brooke Utilities, but the private water company also hasn’t maintained and upgraded the system in that time, town officials say. At a recent town meeting, the council stood behind plans to raise rates, claiming the town would offer better customer service and infrastructure. “No one wants to see water rates go up,” said Tim Grier, town manager and attorney. “However, there must be a careful look at rates to determine if existing rates will support the investment that is critical to improve the reliability of the water system.” While the current water system is in good shape and the town has received few customer complaints, the aging system still needs an upgrade, Grier said.

Police chief looking at way Lowe evidence was handled

The Payson Police Depart-ment has launched an internal investigation of how evidence was handled both before and during the Dr. Michael Lowe trial. Before the trial started in November, a mysterious black file folder never logged by investigating officers was found on a detective’s desk. The file contained a version of a will and trust central to the case, in which Lowe was charged with theft. While the validity of the documents is not in question, the police chief is looking at where the file came from and how it was overlooked for so long. So far, Chief Don Engler does not expect to file any criminal charges of wrongdoing. However, he is looking at anyone who had access to the evidence to determine if there was a clerical error or something more. The documents under consideration relate to Lowe’s patient Alicia Christopherson, who died in 2004, leaving everything in her estate to the doctor.

Community Almanac

Start the New Year right with a New Year’s Sunrise Prayer Serive at 7 a.m., Sunday, Jan. 1. Meet at the top of Houston Mesa Road, about two miles east of Beeline Highway. Participants will then hike about five minutes to an overlook of the Rim Country where there will be a prayer service for the community and the nation. In case of rain or snow, the service will be at the Wolf’s Den, 612 N. Beeline Highway, Payson (the coffee shop north of the Swiss Village Circle K). For details, call (928) 472-8178.

Do not return redistricting back to the Legislature

Voters established the independent commission in 2001 to draw new legislative district lines after the 2010 Census. Sen. Allen said the task of drawing the district lines should be returned to the lawmakers.

Payson Helping Payson asking for tax credit donations

The volunteers at Payson Helping Payson (PHP) would like to remind the members of our community that donations made before the end of the year, of $200 per individual and $400 for a couple, will once again qualify for a 100 percent tax credit against your state income taxes.

A great God bless you from the Pine Strawberry Food Bank volunteers

The volunteers of the Pine Strawberry Food Bank, with hearts overflowing in thankfulness, give thanks to every person, group, organization and corporation who has helped us throughout this year, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Revolutions need to establish agreed upon principles

On my first morning home from a wonderful relaxing cruise on the Pacific Princess to the Middle East including Israel, Greece, Croatia, Turkey, Italy and Egypt. I had mixed emotions as I pondered the complicated Israel-Palestinian governance, land and recognition of Israel as a state. I was amazed at the 2400 years old marble structures built and destroyed and now in the process of excavation especially in Israel, Ephesus, Egypt and Greece. I marveled at the war memorial in Croatia and the ongoing struggle for freedom in Egypt. My guide in Israel recounted the 1948, 1967 and 1983 struggles plus the ongoing assault on the democracy trying to survive the problems involving its neighbors including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran. My guide in Egypt described her feelings about being able to vote this 11/21/11 for the first time in over 30 years. In my discussion with her she was outraged about the oppression of women, the schools, the garbage pick up and the extreme difference between the rich and the poor!

The worst of times, the best of times

Well, we survived 2011 — by most measures the worst of times, to quote Charles Dickens. But we’ve got a buoyant feeling that 2012 will not only be a better year — it’ll set records. Mostly, that’s because the tireless advocates for this community have made such heartening progress on two projects essential to our future: The Blue Ridge pipeline and an Arizona State University campus. Construction on the $30 million pipeline should begin in a few months, now that the appeals period on the environmental assessment has passed uneventfully. A nearly year-long delay in approving that draft environmental assessment caused a lot of heartburn — but everything ended happily. So Rim Country has secured enough water to provide for all its planned future growth — including the transformative construction of a 6,000-student university.

Start the New Year with a hike at Tonto Natural Bridge

Start the year off on the right foot — take a First Day Hike at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. On New Year’s Day, Tonto Natural Bridge State Park’s First Day Hike will offer Rim residents and visitors an opportunity to explore its natural and cultural treasures. Observe javelina, listen to birds, discover wildlife tracks, and breathe in the fresh air. The quiet beauty of nature will surround visitors in winter, experience spectacular views and vistas and benefit from the company of Tonto Natural Bridge’s knowledgeable state park guide, Morgan Wilkes. Wilkes started out as a volunteer a few years ago at Tonto Natural Bridge, and then became a park ranger. He is usually found down under the bridge where he monitors the activities of visitors and provides information and assistance when needed. He says he enjoys being there and likes to help visitors enjoy the experience. He will describe the hikes to hikers who may then select the hike that is suitable for them. Complimentary hot chocolate and coffee will be available to hikers who will also receive $1 off admission, which is regularly $5 for adults. The event starts at 11 a.m. Participants should meet at the bridge parking area. Children must be at least 7 to participate and no pets are allowed. The hike is moderate in difficulty and six-tenths of a mile in length. Bring water and winter gear. The hike will be on Gowan Trail to the observation deck and will continue for those who want to go through the bridge and return via Anna Mae Trail. Weather conditions in January may be extreme; hike may be canceled due to snow, ice, high creek flow, etc. Check the park Web site for current information.

Nominations sought for outstanding volunteers

Nominations are being sought by the Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards to promote an ethic of service and volunteerism and to recognize volunteer efforts that strengthen communities and improve quality of life for Arizonans. The theme is Give Today, Touch Tomorrow. A panel of judges from across the state will select the award recipients. Nominations will be accepted through Jan. 25, 2012 and the winners may be announced as early as March The Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism will host a reception to honor the 11th annual award recipients in the spring of 2012. Nominations are being accepted in the following categories: Lifetime Achievement: Individuals who exemplify the ideals of service for the past 25 years or more.

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Excited elves reveal a Christmas mystery

Ever wondered why people put up Christmas lights? Well, just check with the elves that live at Payson Elementary School: They can tell you all about it. The riot of six- and seven-year-olds last week staged a time-honored tradition for elementary students and their families: the holiday play. And for the first time ever, they revealed the secret of Christmas lights as imagined by a teacher turned playwright. Marti Shipley, one of the nine PES first-grade teachers, wrote the play entitled “The Gleamers.” The size of the three classes participating inspired Shipley to write the play. “I was looking for a Christmas play that would be easy enough for our students to do and also include a large number of students. I had no success finding one I liked,” she said. So she wrote her own.

End-of-year tax planning: How to maximize tax credits now

The end of the year is fast approaching, but there is still time to do year-end tax planning to reduce an individual tax liability for 2011. Arizona offers several tax credits that redirect money to local, charitable organizations, reducing the amount of taxes paid in April. The maximum amount a person filing single, married filing separately or head of household can put toward the Working Poor Credit is $200, with married filing jointly, $400. Taxpayers need to itemize deductions on their Arizona income tax return, but not on their federal return. It’s always a good idea to calculate medical expenses, medical insurance premiums (including Medicare premiums), state income taxes withheld, property taxes paid, mortgage interest and miscellaneous deductions for Arizona income tax purposes because itemized deductions are not subject to the same limits as the federal income tax return.

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Area hotels given clean bill of health

Ever wonder when the last time the sheets were changed or if anyone has ever vacuumed under the bed? Luckily, area guests can relax. County health records give Rim Country hotels a clean bill of health for well, staying clean. The Roundup requested inspection records dating back several years for 21 area hotels/motels from the Gila County Health Department. Records reveal nearly no establishment had recent violations and the few that did were minor, ranging from dirty baseboards to adding new caulking around tubs and screening windows. Shane Stuler, Gila County Division of Health and Emergency Services environmental health manager, said it is rare to see anything beyond minor fixes and that most hotels do a good job cleaning and sanitizing rooms. Gila County inspectors check hotels once a year, looking for 31 things like clean bedding, hot and cold water in the bathrooms and rooms free of vermin. Insects are always high on Stuler’s list when he looks through rooms. He says he checks the corners for spiders and cockroaches and looks under the mattress for bed bugs. There has never been any evidence of bed bugs in the Rim Country, he said.

Diamondback shortstop and pro angler to speak at ‘Shoot for the Heart’

Don’t forget to mark 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 4 on your calendar as the time and day you’ll want to be at Mountain Bible Church for what promises to be a rewarding and informative Shoot for the Heart seminar. Set to guest speak at the seminar are Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Stephen Drew and professional bass tournament fisherman Glenn Chappelear. Since Shoot for the Heart has a goal of helping families who love the outdoors build relationships with others who share the same interests, both Drew and Chappelear are ideal guests. Drew, the younger brother of Boston Red Sox outfield J.D. Drew and former major leaguer Tim Drew, starred in baseball at Florida State University before signing a professional contract. After starting out in Class A ball in 2006 with the Lancaster JetHawks, Drew advanced to Double-A and Triple-A leagues. He made his major league debut for the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 15, 2006, replacing Craig Counsel, who injured his ribs. Drew, who has movie-star good looks and a down-home personality, eventually became the Diamondbacks’ starting shortstop and appeared to be on his way to stardom before fracturing his ankle while sliding into home plate on July 20, 2011. He finished the season with a .252 batting average, five home runs and 45 RBIs, but is expected to return next season to his form of old.

Youths prep for future in town hoops leagues

Some of Payson High’s finest basketball players, athletes that earned all-region and all-state accolades, fine tuned their skills in the Town of Payson elementary school hoop leagues. That makes the leagues a proving ground for fledgling players and an ideal place for players to prepare for the future. Hunter Walden, Hunter Hardt, Niki Hale, Byron Quinlan, Miles Huff, Amy Wilcox and Colleen Hale are some of those who prepped in town leagues before going on to play in the Rim Country Middle School at PHS programs. Currently, the town’s fifth and sixth grade boys and girls basketball leagues are under way, but players are enjoying a holiday respite until action resumes Jan. 7. In the league, two games were played in December giving coaches and the young athletes an up close glimpse of their competition. Once play begins again, games will be played each Saturday until Jan. 28.

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San Tan makes Holiday Hoops debut

The Lady Longhorns tip off Holiday Hoops tournament tomorrow, Dec. 28, against a San Tan Foothills team that appears to be struggling and is making its first-ever appearance in the holiday invitational. The game begins at 10 a.m. and will mark the onset of a two-day tournament in which 30-plus games will be played. Because San Tan is a relatively new school in Queen Creek, the Sabercats are somewhat of an unknown in prep basketball circles. The team sports a 4-11 record and opened with a trio of losses before rebounding on Dec. 1 to whip Hayden, 24-20. San Tan has taken its lumps in a handful of games losing 42-12 to Sandra Day O’Connor, 69-43 to Coolidge and 59-20 to Apache Junction. For Payson to win and advance to the second round of Holiday Hoops, the defense must contain a pair of the Sabercats’ finest players — 5-foot-4-inch point guard Rubelle Garay and Jackie Barlow, a 5-foot-4-inch guard and team captain. Barlow averages 14.4 points per game and Garay scores at an 11.3 ppg clip. Scouting reports indicate both are threats from beyond the three-point line. Combined, they have put up an amazing 138 three-pointers and made good on 44 of the attempts. The pair are also the team’s two leading ball handlers and are obviously adept at drawing fouls. Garay is 36 of 52 from the line and Barlow has been at the charity stripe 79 times making 46. While the team also sports a 6-foot center in Mackenzie Nims, she’s not much of a scoring threat having shot only seven times in 15 games.

WON fishing resumes Jan. 7 at Bartlett Lake

Western Outdoor News (WON) Arizona circuit bass fishing returns Jan. 7 with an angling shoot-out a Bartlett Lake. The first two tournaments of the seven to be contested this season are now in the record books having been held Oct. 22 and Dec. 3 at Roosevelt Lake. Following the Jan. 7 fray, the fourth in the series will play out Feb. 25 at Roosevelt Lake launching from Cholla Bay. Other upcoming state tournaments are scheduled for March 17 at Bartlett, April 14 at Lake Pleasant and May 19 at Apache Lake. At the conclusion of the season, Arizona’s top finishers will compete in the WON Bass team championships. In those and the other tournaments on the state circuit, anglers compete for cash and prizes.

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Turnovers slow Longhorn hoop express

Ending careless play and erasing away excessive turnovers will undoubtedly be a Longhorn boys basketball team goal when it travels today, Dec. 27, to Bradshaw Mountain High School to compete in the 18-team Alvarez Tire Holiday Hoops Classic. The concern over miscues is because they have handcuffed the Horns (6-3) in all three of their losses this season. Coach Joe Sanchez, his players and fans know if those mistakes are cleaned up, Payson could be in line for postseason honors. Proof of possible improvement exists in team stats, which reveal when the Horns take care of the ball and manage to get off a shot on most every possession, as they did in an 88-56 win over Mingus, they are tough to stop. Against Mingus, the Horns committed just 12 turnovers — one of the lowest marks of the campaign. But when the Horns get rattled, as they did in a 64-56 loss to Snowflake and a 65-63 defeat at Fountain Hills, the team struggles. Against Snowflake, the Horns committed 28 turnovers, which was then a team high. But just five days later in the loss to Fountain Hills, the Horns surpassed that mark with 31 miscues.

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Expedition Church’s mission in Rwanda is love in action

Payson’s Expedition Church members strive to love people — and act on that love. Locally that love in action can be found through its contributions to Time Out, Inc., the area food banks and more. That action went global about three years ago when the congregation agreed to adopt the village of Rwimbogo, Rwanda. The church’s minister, Donovan Christian, explained the “adoption” was made through the Food for the Hungry (FH) organization. Food for the Hungry was founded in 1971 in California and is now headquartered in Arizona. It is at work in more than 26 countries worldwide. Initially the primary focus of the organization was on responses to disasters and emergencies, providing immediate and practical relief help such as food, water, clothing, medical care and temporary shelter. That early work evolved into long-term development work: helping poor communities improve their way of living through sustainable programs in areas such as education, agriculture, health, water, and leadership training. Christian said the organization’s “holistic” approach is one of the reasons it was selected by the congregation for support. “It was a good fit for us,” he said. The members of Expedition Church have made a 12-year commitment to Rwimbogo, he said. By the end of that time, it is expected the community and its residents will be self-sustaining.

SV rejects Alliance replacement nomination

Just as quick as one Rim Country Educational Alliance SLE board member resigned last week, the Star Valley Town Council put the kibosh on replacing her with a new member. At Star Valley’s Tuesday meeting, the council was expected to approve James Scott Scheidt as Suzanne Cummins’ replacement on the five-member board working to bring a four-year university to Payson. Cummins resigned from her post Dec. 15 after board chair Mike Vogel asked her to step down. Cummins said she felt uneasy serving on a board where she was kept in the dark on negotiations with Arizona State University and the identity of donors pledging millions to the project.

Friday, December 23

State senator calls for fight against feds

State Sen. Sylvia Allen called for a state struggle against federal authority in a wide-ranging appearance last week before about 50 members of the Payson Tea Party gathered at Tiny’s Restaurant. She said the state should lay the groundwork for taking over much of the Forest Service land in the state and form an armed state guard to police the border with Mexico. The Snowflake Republican represents all of Rim Country and said if Arizona doesn’t act “we’re going to become part of Mexico.” She also insisted the state should push to turn most federal programs into no-strings-attached block grants — or reject them altogether. As an example, she decried the mostly federally funded Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System as “socialized medicine.” AHCCCS provides coverage for about 30 percent of the residents of Gila County. “We need to get totally off the federal dependence and turn it into a block grant,” she told a supportive crowd.

Ex dry cleaner employee washes up, lands in jail

A disgruntled former employee of a local dry cleaner was arrested Tuesday after allegedly breaking into the business and cleaning it of valuables. Eric Wennerlund, 21, reportedly made off with the business owner’s computer and handgun and tried to take the contents of the store’s cash register as well, but could not gain access, even after firing a shot at the drawer, according to police.

St. Nick pays early visit to town

Anonymous donor pays off Walmart layaway accounts

This week an anonymous benefactor wrote a check for $4,800 to pay off the Christmas layaway accounts for the whole store. Which means 6-year-old Donovan Christianson will get a new bike to replace the one stolen out of his yard after all. His dad owed $150 on the layaway account, but feared he couldn’t finish the payments after his older son got injured in a car accident. “That bike really will be from Santa Claus this year,” said Christianson of the gift he says changed everything for the family this year. “It just made a huge difference,” said Christianson, who has been making frequent trips to the Valley to root for his older son, recovering from the accident.

Payson officer terminated last week for unknown reasons

A Payson police officer was fired last week for unknown reasons. The town of Payson will not release the investigative report or termination letter regarding officer Mark Hillegas’ Dec. 15 firing until an appeal period ends. Hillegas has until later this month to file an appeal with the town. As of press time, Hillegas had not appealed the firing, said Police Chief Don Engler. Payson Mayor Kenny Evans said he could not disclose what Hillegas had done, but “as mayor, I understand that the termination was not for any on-the-job conduct or misconduct.”

County agrees to sell land for ASU campus

Gila County supervisors approved the key first step in the sale of 21 acres to the Rim Country Education Alliance for a four-year university, despite objections by several community college board members. “I didn’t want the supervisors leaving thinking the sale is done,” said County Manager Don McDaniel. “This is not in their (Alliance) ownership after today. It may take weeks or months to complete.” Although some details remain, the agreement does not include the reduced acreage and restrictions on use of the land proposed by the Gila Community College board. This disappointed GCC board members Tom Loeffler and Larry Stephenson and their supporters. “What we want is that this land will be used for educational purposes. We are concerned about outside commercial uses. We ask for a deed restriction,” said Stephenson. From the beginning of the negotiations for the sale of the remaining 20.863 acres of land east of the Gila Community College, the two board members raised concerns that have caused delays.

Shot fired in SV brawl, 5 arrested

After a fight in a Star Valley gravel yard, officers arrested four men at gunpoint Wednesday afternoon and booked another after a three-hour search. The men and a female teen had reportedly met up at the D.D. Haught gravel pit in Star Valley when a fight broke out just after 3 p.m. After a scuffle, Richard Dabney, 21, of Payson, reportedly fired a shotgun, the shell striking the ground. Two men working in the area later told police they hadn’t noticed anything was going on until they heard the shot. When they looked over, they saw a fight in progress, said Gila County Sheriff’s Det. George Ratliff. Dabney, along with Raheem Royal, 19, Cody Harris, 18, and a 17-year-old female, all of Payson, jumped into 18-year-old Clayton Duhammell’s pickup and the group fled the scene, Ratliff said. The Gila County Sheriff’s Office got calls of shots fired in the area and officers from Payson, the Forest Service and the sheriff’s office began looking for Duhammell’s pickup.

Rim Country slips back into drought

Cooling temperatures in the Pacific likely to cut regions rainfall in half this winter

The Rim Country is in for a warm, dry winter, according to the latest three-month forecast from the National Weather Service. Not to mention a weird century — with more floods, droughts, freak storms and extreme weather, according to several recent studies. Gila County remains in moderate to severe drought with roughly half the normal rainfall, with a repeat of last year’s heavy snowfall up on the Rim looking increasingly unlikely. The region has gotten a few modest storms in the past two weeks. This week, Heber has 17 inches of snow on the ground at 7,640 feet and Happy Jack at 7,630 feet had 14 inches, according to the weather service. Despite the recent storms, Payson has so far this year received just more than 17 inches of rain, about 23 percent below the 30-year average.

Community Almanac

The Regional Payson Area Project... for a Fire Wise Rim Country (RPAP) free brush drop-off points at Blattner and Pine Pits will be closed for the next two weekends so staff can have the Christmas and New Year’s holidays off. The brush pits will reopen Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 7 and 8, weather permitting.

Remember what Christmas is all about

Christmas is the festival commemorating the birth of Christ, not Santa Claus day. A Nativity scene is the representation of the birth of Christ, yet our major department store did not have them available throughout the Christmas season.

Thanks to those who helped with Christmas party

Greater Payson Moose Lodge and Women of the Moose would like to thank the following merchants and organizations for their donations to our annual Children’s Christmas Party. ABATE, Walgreens, Walmart, Safeway, Gracie Lee Haught Foundation, The Door Stop, Payson Pro Rodeo Committee and all of our devoted members.

The Night Before Christmas

chipmunk who lived in the attic for about seven years now.

Soroptimist Club thanks those who took part in Radiothon

The local Soroptimist club held its eighth annual “Up, Up and Away with Domestic Violence” Radiothon at Chapman Motors, with the help of KMOG and KRIM. With the money raised, the Soroptimist club was able to provide $2,300 to each of the following local charities: Payson Community Kids, Time Out, Inc., Arizonans for Children and Woman’s Opportunity Award.

Thanks to Girls on the Run coaches and participants

I would like to thank all the wonderful coaches and great girls that were in the Girls on the Run program in Payson this year.

Republicans have a balanced plan for a balanced budget

Washington has a spending problem. A big one. Indeed, the federal government now borrows more than 40 cents of every dollar it spends, and our $15 trillion debt — now larger than our entire economy — only continues to grow. Our fiscal position is clearly unsustainable; unless we do something about it, the rising tide of debt will overwhelm our economy, destroy jobs, and ruin the American dream for future generations. Yet, even with the clear need for action, Congress has proven historically unreliable when it comes to making the tough choices necessary to control spending and balance the budget. Here’s a little history: When the Senate passed a balanced budget amendment (BBA) in 1982, the national debt was $1.1 trillion. In 1986, when the Senate failed by one vote to pass a BBA, the national debt topped $2.1 trillion dollars. By 1997, when the Senate again failed by one vote to pass a balanced budget amendment, the national debt was more than $5 trillion. And, as we now know, today’s debt has galloped past the $15 trillion mark! So, there’s no evidence that Congress has been willing or able to reduce the debt without constitutional restraints.

‘Merry Christmas. Pay it forward,’ the lunch bill said

Every year I rack my brains to figure out a memorable birthday for my girls. These days as a single mom, the task comes with a special twist of empty-checking-account anxiety. I want them to have everything — but I can afford hardly anything. This year, for my youngest daughter’s 12th birthday, I cooked up the idea of taking her and a couple of her friends to Jerome, giving them some pocket money and treating them to lunch. I hoped for fun day and a few gifts. Crystal and I had discovered Jerome on a trip with my parents. We loved it so much we could not wait to get back. Her birthday offered the perfect excuse.

Some Christmases are impossible to forget

I’m sitting here remembering some of the many Christmases I have seen in my 79 years, and I don’t mind telling you it’s a worthwhile thing to do. Is there any holiday to match Christmas? I think not. As troubled as this nation is at times, we always find renewed hope in a holiday filled with good will and love, with giving and receiving, with the coming together of families, with the coming together of America as a single people in a nation founded on the belief that we are all free to practice our beliefs openly, honestly, and with reverence for the beliefs of others. I pray it will always be that way. I can’t say with any certainty why some Christmases past stand out so strongly, or why it is that I could think all day and night and not remember a thing about so many others. But for one Christmas I know the answer. And it’s an important answer, not just for me, but for you, because it stands for all that is right about our nation, our people, and our cherished beliefs.

Alzheimer’s Association support group begins bi-monthly meetings

Family members and caregivers of victims of Alzheimer’s disease are invited to attend the new Alzheimer’s Association Support Group. It meets from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. the first and third Wednesday of the month at the Payson Senior Center, 514 W. Main St., Payson. Anyone interested in learning more about the disease is also welcome to attend. The group’s first meeting was Wednesday, Dec. 7 and 13 people attended. They received helpful information on the 10 signs of Alzheimer’s for identifying the difference between normal aging and Alzheimer’s disease from a presentation by Cindy Vargo, regional director of the Desert Southwest Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

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Teaching the lesson of giving back

The idea started with a dream. Roni Schutz, director of Morgan’s Creek Montessori School, dreamed of taking scraps of fabric and sewing them into scarves for needy children in Payson. “I tried to ignore it, because I knew it would be a lot of work, but it kept nagging at me,” said Schutz. In October, she started the process of collecting some shirts, pajamas and scraps of fabric from her pre-schoolers. Each child had a bag of fabric ready to use. “I had a pile of jeans you wouldn’t believe,” said Schutz.

From coach’s corny joke collection

Having been a classroom teacher for 37 years, a coach, Scoutmaster, father of four and grandfather to seven, I’ve heard my share of Christmas jokes from the younger set. Some were corny, some funny and others downright dreadful. But, Christmas is just two days away and this might be a golden opportunity to share my recollections with readers.

Falcons soar in twin bill vs. Longhorns

Both Payson High School basketball teams dropped crucial decisions to Division III, Section III rival Fountain Hills in the final games before schools go into holiday recess. In Wilson Dome on Dec. 20, the homestanding Lady Horns were clipped 57-44 by a very good Falcons team, which is expected to contend for postseason honors. At Fountain Hills, coach Joe Sanchez’s Longhorn boys took an early lead over FH, but came up short, 65-63, on the final scoreboard. Prior to the game, the Horns wanted to control the Falcons leading scorer, Jeffrey Bonner, and they did just that — holding him to 16 points, about nine below his average.

PHS set for holiday hoops fare

The Payson High School basketball teams will wrap up 2011 play in two prestigious holiday vacation tournaments. The boys team, coached by Joe Sanchez, travels Dec. 27 to 29 to Bradshaw Mountain High School to compete in the 18-team Alvarez Tire Classic. The girls spring into action the following day, Dec. 28, at the Payson Holiday Hoops Tournament to be held in Wilson Dome and Julia Randall Elementary School gym.

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Horns find tough sledding at McClintock tournament

If an author was to pen a narrative covering the Longhorn wrestling team’s 2011-12 season, it might be best titled “Just keep plugging along.” That’s what the team’s mostly young and untested matmen do as they battle each foe with a spirited determination despite having to forfeit four weight classes and 24 points before action begins. The lack of a full lineup card is tough on a coach, but that has not deterred Casey Woodall’s enthusiasm for his athletes, “The boys are working hard and I definitely feel like we are making progress. “We are just really inexperienced and in a tournament like McClintock, that get’s exposed early.” The tournament the coach is referring to is the McClintock Charger Invitational contested Dec. 16 and 17 in Tempe.

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Exclusive Harvard Club hosts Rim veterinarian

Rim Country veterinarian Alan Hallman leaves little doubt a guest speaking appearance at the prestigious and exclusive Harvard Travellers Club was both humbling and awe-inspiring. “To be there, at a podium, speaking under a picture of John F. Kennedy and knowing so many great men, like Theodore Roosevelt and most of the world’s most famous explorers had spoken (there), was unbelievable,” he said. “It was amazing, something you never forget.” Hallman made his presentation, entitled “The Yukon Quest,” to about 200 members of the 104-year-old club Dec. 13 in the Massachusetts Room of the Harvard Club located in historic downtown Boston. “I spoke on long distance dog racing, focusing on the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, which I have been a part of since 1994,” said Hallman. “The presentation focused on the historic route the race follows, the special love that exists between the mushers and their dogs and the tremendous terrain and weather conditions that they face on the trail.”

Dividend reinvestment can help make steady progress in long-term goals

When you invest in stocks, you want their price to go up. But of course, you can’t control the rise and fall of stock prices. However, there is a key element of investing that you can control — the number of shares you own. And in the long run, share ownership may be more important than rising stock prices in determining your long-term investment success. Of course, you might think that the advice of “buy more shares” is easier said than done. After all, not everyone can easily find a lot of extra money to invest. But you don’t need access to vast wealth to increase your share ownership — you just need to consistently reinvest your stock dividends. Just how important are reinvested dividends to wealth accumulation, as compared to capital gains (the increase in stock prices)? Over the 135-year period from 1871 through 2003, owning stocks and reinvesting the dividends produced 97 percent of all stock market returns, with only 3 percent coming from capital gains, according to a major study done by Dr. Jeremy Siegel, one of the world’s leading researchers on stock market performance.

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Payson Physical Therapy adds new therapist

A new physical therapist has joined the rehabilitation team at Payson Physical Therapy. Stacey Foote may be new to the office, but she isn’t new to the Rim Country. Foote has been practicing in Payson for six years, most recently at Payson Regional Medical Center. “She has earned a reputation in the Rim Country as a knowledgeable and extremely caring health care professional,” said Scott Nossek, owner of Payson Physical Therapy.

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Tonto Basin woman honored as Rancher of the Year for Ag program

The Globe Miami Regional Chamber of Commerce has named a Tonto Basin woman Rancher of the Year. Lori Brown received the award Dec. 3 at a Salute to Ranchers dinner in Globe. Brown was honored for her work running an agricultural education program at her Tonto Basin ranch. This year, 800 schoolchildren throughout Gila County participated in the Agriculture Awareness Program at the H-4 Ranch. The program is part of the educational goals of the Tonto Natural Resource Conservation District in conjunction with the University of Arizona 4-H Youth Development program.

Schools’ budget outlook brightens

Year-end figures balance as enrollment and finances stabilize

The Payson Unified School District ended up with $200,000 more “spending authority” last year than it originally projected, the school board learned on Monday. But don’t get all excited. Note the phrase “spending authority.” This means the district spent less than it projected — not that it’s got an extra $200,000 in the bank. On the other hand, the district’s budget experts have been reading the legislative tea leaves and say they hope this year to avoid the big deficits that forced layoffs and school closures in the past two years. Welcome to the bizarre world of school finance — where even if you guess which fiscal shell the pea hides under, the Legislature will change the formula.

Grand Canyon National Park to have sobriety checks within park

Sobriety safety checkpoints will be set up within Grand Canyon National Park this holiday season in an effort to assure the safety of park visitors and residents.

Search of Payson, Globe jails finds no drugs or contraband

Recent searches of both the Payson and Globe jails found no drugs or contraband in either, reports the Gila County Sheriff’s Office. On Dec. 7, two sheriff’s deputies and one K-9 searched the Payson jail and found no smuggled goods, said Gila County Sheriff John Armer.

Pet owners should be mindful of holiday hazards

Beautiful lights and decorations are up now and you can hear some of your favorite carols on the radio. It’s getting colder in Payson, and Christmas is just around the corner. This is personally my favorite time of year. It’s time to bake cookies and wrap gifts and spend time with the family. The season can be a little hectic at times, but the warm feeling in your heart and the wonderful memories you create sure pays off. As Kat said in last week’s article, having a companion sure does make life more enjoyable. For those of you who do own pets or are planning on adopting this year, there are some holiday hazards we want you to be aware of. Treats, decorations and the weather can be harmful to your pets, so here are a few things to watch out for this time of year: Chocolate, especially dark and other human food is bad for your pet. If they get into these things, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea or even more severe problems.

‘Little House on the Prairie’ is good TV

What do country singer Alan Jackson’s song “Livin’ On Love,” pumpkin pie and the television series “Little House on the Prairie” have in common? Well, these are three things that my wife Ann didn’t know existed before she came to America 18 months ago — but has since discovered and fallen in love with. I would be toast if at some point during every gig, I didn’t somehow work Jackson’s 1994 hit into the playlist, Ann can’t seem to get enough pumpkin pie and we now spend at least four evenings a week (after watching Dr. Phil, of course), viewing a new episode of “Little House on the Prairie.”

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Annual Golf Cart and ATV Light Parade was great success

This year’s Christopher Creek Annual Golf Cart and ATV Light Parade was another great time. Thanks to all the folks who participated in the event and congratulations to all the winners. Pam and Mel Milhoun won the first place prize for best decorated home. Second place went to Bob Lusson and third place to Scotty and Electra. The first place winner for the best decorated golf cart or ATV went to Mike Jelinek, second place to Gary and Cindi Werlinger, third place to John Buckholtz, fourth place to Debbie Dawson and fifth place went to Dean and Jenny. Our thanks for the many prizes that were donated by Christopher Creek businesses.

Christmas shopping countdown is nearly finished

Countdown is on for Christmas shopping for that special someone or for your family. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and all shopping, wrapping and dinner preparations should be completed for you to relax and enjoy your family and friends on this holy of holies Christmas season. It is a time for renewal of faith and counting your blessings that have come your way this past year. I have not forgotten our Jewish friends. Hanukkah began at sundown on Tuesday. Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights. A little light can go a long way toward making the world a brighter place. To my Hanukkah friends, Happy Hanukkah!

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Student hopes to use pragmatic art to transform a community

First she got her face on a billboard, now Jessalyn Carpino hopes to create a park that’s a work of art

Imagine the back lot of a town; derelict, full of weeds; scruffy ... its very existence attracts ruffians, drug dealers and crime. Most folks avoid going anywhere near the place. Then one day, someone with a vision steps in and transforms that wasted piece of land into a paradise with pieces of art, tree bowers with benches tucked away offering a moment of peace, broad expanses of grass, and paths meandering through gardens awash with the color of flowers. In essence, they create an outdoor museum. The transformation not only beautifies the space, it adds value to the community.

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Christmas program a big deal in Strawberry and Pine

Next to baking, my favorite part of the holidays is the wonderful Christmas programs and music performed in various schools and churches. In my opinion, there is no better entertainment than the choral and instrumental music and dramatic presentations from our children. The kids show such enthusiasm, love of music and talent. In Strawberry and Pine the school Christmas program is a big deal. I commend the Pine-Strawberry School and all the parents for their amazing and talented kids who put on a lively and memorable Christmas program on Wednesday, Dec. 14. The program had to be rescheduled from Tuesday due to snow, but it did not impact the turnout as the bleachers in the gym were packed.

Thursday, December 22

Five arrested after Star Valley fight

After a fight in a Star Valley gravel yard, officers arrested four men at gunpoint Wednesday afternoon and booked another two after a three-hour search.

Tuesday, December 20

Blue Ridge pipeline clears final deadline

No one contests plan, construction on $34 million project will start in the spring

Bring on the bulldozers — the Blue Ridge pipeline is ready to go. On Monday, the last day for disputing a positive environmental assessment of the $34 million pipeline passed peacefully, said Payson Mayor Kenny Evans. That removes the last major bureaucratic hurdle blocking a project that will more than double Payson’s long-term water supply. The expiration of the protest period also cleared the decks for the Forest Service to move another step closer to selling the Rim Country Educational Alliance SLE about 260 acres for a university campus here. Forest Service officials had said they couldn’t take the next step forward in selling the Alliance the land until the end of the protest period on the pipeline.

Sen. Allen waging war on redistricting plan

Republican lawmaker says commission ‘arrogantly’ seeks to ‘redesign’ the state

State Sen. Sylvia Allen, who represents all of Rim Country, last week called upon the Payson Tea Party to help prevent the Independent Redistricting Committee from “turning us into a Blue State.” Senate President Pro Tem Allen (R-Snowflake) decried the work of the commission, saying “this is the tool that the progressives who don’t like our country are using to change our country. Gila County needs to intervene to file a brief to block these maps so it’s not just the Republican Party. They’ve redesigned our state arrogantly. It doesn’t make sense unless you’re out to isolate the voters so that their vote doesn’t matter. We have to fight to keep from letting our state go down the drain.”

Bridge over Tonto Creek ‘closer than it has ever been’

With plans nearing completion, a bridge over Tonto Creek could finally happen. Residents and officials have been talking about a bridge since the 1970s and the project has been in development for 18 years. “We are pretty excited about it, it is closer than it has ever been,” said Steve Stratton, director of Gila County’s Public Works Division. The county is waiting to hear if it will get the needed $20 million for the project from the federal government. The county has put in applications for funding through the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) discretionary grant and Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the third round of TIGER funding and the Tonto Creek project was not chosen.

Water rates, business fees on SV council agenda

From waiving business license fees to enacting new water rates, the Star Valley Town Council will discuss a range of issues at a Tuesday meeting. Councilor George Binney has requested the town do away with a $50 business license fee. The fee brings in on average $5,400 a year for the town.

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Refurbished bikes go to children for Christmas

For the eighth year in a row, the Gila County Recycling and Landfill department has spearheaded a program to refurbish bikes for underprivileged children. Every year, bikes collected from the landfill, or donated by the public and Payson Police Department, find a new lease on life through the refurbishing program. Inmates from the Department of Correction (DOC) offer their talents to rebuild and redecorate the bikes for distribution through DES, Public Safety Departments, American Legion, and local fire departments.

Community Almanac

Select from hundreds of books and gifts at the Mogollon Health Alliance “Books Are Fun” Fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 20 and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 21 in the Payson Regional Medical Center West Lobby (Labor & Delivery entrance).

Make the U.S. Postal Service a ‘right-to-work’ company with pay and job security based on merit

Rep. Paul Gosar’s article “Defending real reform in the U.S. Postal Service” reminded me of a friend of ours who, though he was running his own successful business, had always wanted to be a postman.

Light the Rim contest is a great show

I want to thank all those holiday enthusiasts who drug out the lights, sawed the figures, blew up the Santas, penguins, reindeer, etc., and braved electrocution for the Seventh Annual Rim Country Chamber “Light the Rim” House Lighting Contest.

Aviation is a key part of our economic recovery

America takes pride in the fact that it is a mobile society. Americans can travel from place to place relatively cheaply and easily in a way that previous generations could never have dreamed and in ways people in other countries can only envy. In modern times, one of our most important forms of transportation is our aviation system. No other form of transportation can transport people as quickly and inexpensively as our aviation system. Arizonans benefit culturally and socially from this mobility. However, perhaps most importantly in difficult times like this, aviation is absolutely critical for business, the economy, and job creation. Arizona’s economy as a whole is greatly enhanced by aviation, and this fact is especially true of Arizona’s First Congressional District.

Bike giveaway program completes successful 8th year

It is Christmas time, and for many children that means unwrapping a new bicycle on Sunday. For most of us, learning to ride our first bike is one of the more memorable times of childhood. After mastering a bike with training wheels, there comes the day when our parents gently urge us to ride on our own two wheels — a scary proposition for any 5-year-old.

As state nears centennial — statistics show 800 citizens can claim they have ‘Been there; done that’

There was no way Will Miles Clark was going to let his family stop him from driving over the new Hoover Dam Bypass last year, but he did make one concession. The 106-year-old Oro Valley resident agreed to let his son ride shotgun. Clark, who turns 107 on Aug. 17, said it wasn’t long before other motorists started “going bonkers” at the sight of a centenarian behind the wheel. Maybe they should get used to it: Clark represents a growing wave of Arizona residents over age 100, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. It said there were 832 centenarians in the state in 2010, a 27 percent increase from 2000. Gerontologists offer different explanations for the increase in Arizona’s oldest of the old.

Parties planned for Christmas, New Year’s

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year …” so the song goes and indeed it is a special time for most of us, but for some it is a very difficult time. If you are reading this in the comfort of a warm room and have food in the refrigerator, count your blessings. There are many around the country and right here in Payson who, because of economic conditions, loss of jobs or illness, are facing a bleak holiday. Few of us can afford to give thousands of dollars, but if you can spare a dollar or two to drop in the Salvation Army kettle, send a small check to Payson Community Kids (P.O. Box 1856), Payson Area Food Drive (P.O. Box 307) or any other of the many organizations in Rim Country helping the less fortunate, please do so.

Information sought on nearby bull elk poaching cases

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is seeking the public’s assistance in finding the individual or individuals responsible for illegally killing bull elk in two unrelated poaching incidents in northern Arizona.

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Feature Teacher

Making an impact

Personal motto/words of wisdom? If you think you can or if you think you can’t — you’re right.

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The making of a Rim Country Middle School concert

Organized chaos descends: Uniform fitting, lighting, microphones, marching to the correct spot on stage, music memorization, equipment moved and set up, printing programs and certificates printed and folded. All represent activities necessary for a Rim Country Middle School concert to fly — but there’s more. Memory loss, dropped music, malfunctioning music stands, boredom, tears, stuck valves, bad rhythm and prayers also enliven the preparations. Mike Buskirk, music director for RCMS takes on all of these preparations into account with aplomb. After teaching music for 27 years, he’s learned to trust that when the curtain goes up and the house is full, the students will rise to the occasion to put on a great show.

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A small piece of Normandy Beach brought back for WW II veteran

When Bobby Davis visited Normandy Beach in July, he collected a vile of sand, never dreaming the significance it would have for one World War II veteran. It was nearly 70 years ago when Floyd Landers, a member of Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army, landed on Normandy Beach and nearly lost his life. Under heavy fire, Landers laid down near a dead soldier and tried to pass as shot. “They were under tremendous machine gun fire as well as many hand grenades,” said Landers’ daughter, Lisa Boyle. “There were hundreds of dead or wounded soldiers laying all over the beach in and out of the water.”

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Payson Marching Band performs at Pearl Harbor anniversary

“We welcome the Payson Longhorn Marching Band, led by Daria Mason from Payson, Arizona!” boomed the announcer standing in the warm sunlight sparkling off the waters of Pearl Harbor as he ushered 650 musicians onto the dock in front of the battleship Missouri. This introduction to the 70th Anniversary Mass Band ceremony climaxed a year of effort for the Payson band. They had come to the attention of Entertainment Marketing International (EMI), the organization that orchestrated the 70th Anniversary ceremony, by winning their first “superior” award in competition at the Agua Fria invitational in 2010.

Gift basket company helping mental health patients learn job skills

Holding a job is one of the best ways to regain independence. Under a new program, Southwest Behavioral Health of Payson clients are learning just that and creating beautiful gift baskets. Last year, Delicious Arizona was formed as a way to provide job training for SBH clients. The company makes high-end gift baskets for hotels, restaurants, casinos and local professionals. “Providing training and support to people who want to take care of themselves is very rewarding, because they learn to be a responsible employee, hold down a job, and learn to enjoy a life of independence,” said Nanci Stone, vice president of SBH.

Former Payson parks employee keeps in touch with friends in community

Former Town of Payson Recreation Coordinator Joseph Harris e-mails every week or so seeking Rim Country updates. He also writes about what is occurring in his new hometown of Los Alamos, N.M. where he moved to June 10, 2010 after leaving Payson. Harris has received a job promotion there and is now the county aquatics program director. He began as a recreation coordinator for sports and special events.

Falcons will test Lady Horn mettle

Lady Longhorn basketball players could be facing a juggernaut when they host the Fountain Hills Falcons this evening, Dec. 20, in Wilson Dome. Although the season is just underway and a true gauge of the state’s teams cannot be made accurately, FH is rolling along with a 9-1 record and could be one of the squads to battle for Division III, Section III honors. The Falcons’ only loss this season was inflicted on Nov. 29 by Estrella Foothills, 51-46. Other than that defeat, the Falcons have been almost unstoppable, rolling up lopsided victories over Thunderbird Academy, 100-17; Coronado, 51-18; and Valley Lutheran, 43-7.

Payson hosts pro infielder, professional angler

An upcoming visit by two well-known professional athletes promises to be a rewarding and informative treasure of an evening that Rim Country sportsmen won’t soon forget. It all begins at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 4 at Mountain Bible Church where Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Stephen Drew and professional bass tournament fisherman Glenn Chappelear will make guest appearances. The event is part of the Shoot for the Heart series that for the past two years has hosted seminars designed around “outdoor recreation time with an emphasis on hunting and fishing in God’s creation,” says event founder Dennis Pirch, also a former Payson Roundup outdoor columnist.

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Links duo wins PMGA’s first state title

Terry Lindsey and Richard Harding have etched their names into the record books by becoming the first Payson Men’s Golf Association team to win an Arizona Golf Association Club state championship. The pair accomplished the rare feat Dec. 12 in the 14th annual state finals played in cold, blustery conditions at Encanterra Golf Course near Queen Creek.

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Miscues result in demise of Horns vs. Snowflake

Scanning the stats of the Longhorns’ 64-56 loss to the Snowflake Lobos on Dec. 15, first-year PHS boys basketball coach Joe Sanchez bemoaned his team’s whopping 28 turnovers saying, “I wish (the stats) weren’t (accurate), but we played fast and our guys fell apart with the pressure.” He summed up the loss, calling it “very frustrating.” The defeat dropped the Horns’ record to 6-2 with both losses to Snowflake.

Churches offer variety of Christmas services

The First Baptist Church in Pine will hold two Christmas Eve Services: one is from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and the second is from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Christmas Eve, Saturday, Dec. 24 at the church at 4039 N. Highway 87 in Pine. The Christmas Day service is at 10:30 a.m., Sunday, Dec. 25. There will be a worship service only, no Bible study or evening services.

Keeping pets safe during holidays

As the pages of the calendar flip and we move closer to the holiday season, pet owners should be aware of common, but hidden, dangers to their pets as we transform our homes for the celebrations to come. “The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy for our families, but in preparing for the season, many pet owners run the risk of exposing their pets to household dangers that could present potential life-threatening hazards to their pets,” said veterinarian Lori Pasternak, of Helping Hands Affordable Veterinary Surgery and Dental Care (www.helpinghandsvetva.com). “These latent hazards could derail a family’s holiday season if their pets become ill as a result of these hidden perils.”

Friday, December 16

Alliance board member asked to resign post

Law professor quits SLE board and complains of ‘opaque’ plans and financing

Rim Country Educational Alliance SLE board member Suzanne Cummins resigned Thursday in a dispute with board chairman Mike Vogel. Alliance chairman Vogel asked Cummins to resign and she complied, submitting a letter of resignation that cited concerns about the Alliance’s negotiations with Arizona State University on building a university in Payson. Cummins said Vogel approached her asserting he had heard from numerous sources that she did not believe in the project or trust Mayor Kenny Evans and Vogel. “I don’t believe it’s imminent. Every time I ask about when this project will be on the Board of Regents’ agenda, I hear it’s another two months out,” said Cummins.

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Two-story Bonita Creek home burns

A homeowner escaped with his life but little else Wednesday night when a fire destroyed a Bonita Creek log home. Flames as high as 70 feet were seen shooting from the two-story home nestled in the forest northeast of Payson. It was about 11:30 p.m. when authorities believe a fire in the home’s fireplace spread into the living room, quickly catching a nearby Christmas tree on fire.

Payson appoints new airport commission

Council agrees to take back airport, hire coordinator, revoke lease with independent group

The Payson Town Council Tuesday voted unanimously to revoke its lease with the Payson Regional Airport Authority (PRAA), appoint a new airport commission and hire a new airport coordinator. The special meeting set in motion the town’s resumption of control over the airport, after a roughly five-year experiment in relying on airport users to operate the facility. Several airport users made a last-ditch appeal to convince the town to make one more effort to iron out the financial problems that have beset the relationship with the PRAA. Jim Garner said the takeover will most certainly cost the town money. “I ask you to go back to the PRAA with a list of things to change and not cost the town money it can’t afford.”

Man flees after allegedly taking truck, money from Veterans Helping Veterans

Payson police are searching for a man who allegedly fled the area in a Veterans Helping Veterans truck with $14,000 he took from a veteran. Jim Reardon reportedly gained the trust of everyone at Ponderosa Manor Veterans Helping Veterans, a transitional housing facility for veterans and the homeless, on West Wade Lane, before taking off Friday. Nearly five months ago, Reardon showed up on Ponderosa Manor’s doorstep unannounced. Not a strange sight, given the facility takes in anyone who needs a place to sleep and a meal, said Andrea Russo, the facility’s assistant director. Over time, Reardon began helping out, fixing things up and helping veterans, she said.

Payson Community Kids party is Sunday, volunteers needed

Rim Country residents in need of a lift into holiday spirits can get it at the Payson Community Kids Christmas party starting at 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 18 at the Payson United Methodist Church, 414 N. Easy St.

Thieves make off with pot-like substance in smash and grabs

For the second time since October, thieves have broken into a convenience store and made off with a synthetic version of marijuana, police say.

Schools keep support for homeless students alive

The Payson Unified School District has cobbled together enough money to keep its support program for homeless students operating through the end of the school year. “Having someone there for these students connects them to the support they need,” said Superintendent Casey O’Brien, who reported the extension of the program to the board on Monday.

Community Almanac

The Payson chapter of the Salvation Army is in desperate need of volunteer Holiday Bell Ringers for the entire week before Christmas, Monday, Dec. 19 through Friday, Dec. 23.

Support for Dr. Lowe continues

I am so happy to see the outpour of support and love for Dr. Lowe who was obviously the target of some sick, personal vendetta.

Thanks for coat drive donations

We would like to thank the generous contributors to our coat drive for Payson Community Kids.

Organization helped in time of need

My husband recently had a heart attack. Thanks to several organizations and many individuals, he is recovering nicely.

Keep your tax dollars in Payson

Every year at this time many people pause to determine how to best contribute to local charities, and decide which ones they should consider.

Maggie earned her Iron Lady title through strength

You may have heard that Meryl Streep is set to play Margaret Thatcher in a film due out later this month. Whether the movie will depict Maggie fairly, I cannot say. What I do know is that the Iron Lady earned her title through an unmatched record of determination and uncommon strength, and I think now — more than ever — our country can find inspiration in what she did. In the 1970s, Britain was a country in decline. Its influence abroad was waning, its problems at home were mounting. Successive Conservative and Labour Party administrations had all but given up on returning the U.K. to its previous grandeur, and instead sought simply to lead the country gracefully toward a less-prosperous future. The head of the civil service termed it “the orderly management of decline.”

A rough landing, but a good start

Half the time it looked like an instrument landing in the fog, but when it comes to the town’s resumption of control over the Payson Airport — we’ll go for that famous pilot’s adage: Any landing you can walk away from is a good one. The Payson Town Council this week moved decisively to take back the management of the airport it so eagerly gave up in 2007. The move spurred the opposition of some people who recalled the bad old days — when the town treated the airport like a three-legged dog with fleas.

Could this be best kept secret of the Revolutionary War?

American history books are filled with incidents which led up to the American Revolution. Who hasn’t heard of the Boston Tea Party? Who doesn’t know of the infamous Stamp Act? Who hasn’t felt outrage over the story of unarmed American civilians gunned down by British regulars in the Boston Massacre? Those tales are a part of the fabric of this nation, taught everywhere. And yet, there is an event which was far better known at the time than any of the three I just mentioned. It was an actual act of war against England, one which caused great unrest among the colonies. In fact, its influence on the colonial legislatures led to steps that ended in the Declaration of Independence. How can that be? How can an event of such great importance have somehow managed to end up on the pressroom floor instead on the pages of history?

News Briefs

Jaden Rosser was recently promoted to director of nursing at Payson Care Center. Rosser moved to Payson in 2006 to begin his career in health care. After attending Gila Community College, he received his bachelor’s degree in nursing from Northern Arizona University.

Churches offer variety of Christmas services

Those who wish to welcome the newborn baby Jesus in a rich, historical and traditional way, the congregation of the Church of the Holy Nativity is issuing an invitation for neighbors and visitors to join it for its traditional Christmas Eve Solemn High Mass at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 24. The invitation is extended for it Christmas Day High Mass at 10 a.m., Sunday, Dec. 25. The church is located at 1414 N. Easy Street (at the corner of Easy Street and Bradley Drive). Guests are also encouraged to help with the church’s food drive for Rim Country food banks by bringing cans or package goods to the masses.

Truck pulled out of flooded Tonto Creek

A pickup truck had to be towed out of Tonto Creek Wednesday after being inadvertently driven into a hole, flooding the cab with water — and it all happened in the fire chief’s rearview mirror.

Clubs and Organizations

The members of the Rim Country Chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society invite all who are interested in Arizona “prehistory” to attend monthly presentations by renowned quest speakers. The chapter meets at 10 a.m., the third Saturday of each month at the Church of the Holy Nativity at the corner of Bradley Drive and Easy Street.

Let us spice up your life with a pet

The holidays are filled with excitement. The weather is crisp, and holiday music is in full swing. With so much to be thankful for this time of year, people can ironically be a little stressed during the holidays. Whether it be the pressure of entertaining, finding the perfect holiday gifts, or cooking for a full house, tension can occur this time of year. HSCAZ has the answer to your “holiday pains,” though. Simply sit down and enjoy the company of a furry friend. Animals can offer an enormous amount of joy to your life. The sheer fact that companion animal’s guardians have lower blood pressure is astonishing, putting them at a reduced risk of heart disease. Animals are not only beautiful and entertaining to be around, but they know when you’re upset or in a time of need. I can’t count how many times my dogs have been the “first responders” when I’m upset or simply in a gloomy mood.

Upcoming tournaments are showcases

The Payson High School girls basketball and the wrestling teams are readying themselves to host two upcoming tournaments that will showcase our town by attracting throngs of athletes, their parents and fans. They are just the type of events that town leaders argue will help fuel the local economy by attracting visitors who will frequent local restaurants, motels, gas stations and retail shops. The first attraction is the Holiday Hoops girls basketball tournament on Dec. 28 and 29. The second is the Payson Invitational Wrestling Tournament set for Jan. 20 and 21.

Coaches’ All-Division team is third and final

The third and final of the All-Division IV football selections are finally in and the choices are quite unique. What’s unusual about the team choices is that about 30 selections were made for both the first and second teams. On most postseason teams, only 11 defensive and 11 offensive players are chosen. Also, some players were selected to the teams more than once, which is a break from tradition when an athlete could be chosen only once. For example in the most recent voting, Blue Ridge’s Danny Groebner was chosen to either the first or second All-Division IV teams a whopping five times. He was named as a first team running back and punt returner and on the second team as a defensive back, kick returner and placekicker.

Longhorns are among leaders in D-III, S-III

With a 6-1 Division III mark, 1-0 in Section III play, the Longhorns are battling unbeaten Fountain Hills (5-0, 1-0) and several other schools for the top spots in league standings. Glendale Cortez is showing some spunk with a 3-0 section record, but is just 4-2 overall. North Pointe Prep is also unbeaten in section play at 2-0, but is 2-2 overall. Buckeye (5-3, 1-0) and Parker (5-4, 1-0) are among those who could be contending for the S-III honors before the season wraps up. Although Estrella Foothills is 1-1 in the section and 3-4 in D-III, the Wolves shouldn’t be counted out due to their rich basketball history that includes three state championships under coach Ty Amundsen.

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Horn matmen look to improve

“We are hustling and battling, but I was a little disappointed in some of the mistakes we made,” he said following the team’s return from the Dec. 10 match. “We were sloppy in our technique and still making some rookie mistakes I thought we had corrected.” Among the miscues the coach was lamenting were his wrestlers getting caught in headlocks and committing the cardinal sin of the sport — wrestling with backs on the mat.

Children and Christmas are a perfect match

Children and Christmas just seem to go hand in hand, don’t they? What could possibly be more delightful to see than the unbridled elation of a young man as he snuggles into Santa’s lap or a young lady’s wide-eyed gasp as she unwraps her long-prayed-for doll on Christmas morning? And what child doesn’t grin from ear to ear as he’s singing along with the Christmas standards that were written just for him — “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snowman” and “Jungle Bells”? The song “Frosty the Snowman” (originally titled “Frosty the Snow Man”) was written by Walter Rollins and Steve Nelson and first recorded by Gene Autry and the Cass County Boys in 1950. It was written after the blockbuster success of Autry’s recording of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” the previous year.

Many Rim Country residents need help this holiday season

I am wishing each and everyone of you a very blessed and Merry Christmas. Let’s not forget the true meaning of the holiday season. In a time where the economy seems to be improving, but is still not back to where it could be. Where people are still dealing with the loss of maybe their jobs, or their homes brought on by the recession.

Dry winter predictions are not coming true

Wasn’t there a person or persons who predicted that this winter would be a dry winter? Well, Mother Nature is outdoing herself in the precipitation area. This is no complaint, on my part. The weather in the Rim Country played a major part in our decision to make this area our permanent home. Can anyone blame us after spending 35 years in Yuma, one of the driest places in the U.S.

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Snow continues off and on in the Heber Overgaard area

Off and on snowing continues for the Heber Overgaard and surrounding areas. The snow received this week has made for inclement driving conditions on state routes as well as treacherous for those who live in more remote areas. State and local road snowplows are out in force maintaining a low buildup of snow.

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Take time to smell the Christmas trees

On Dec. 2, the Pine-Strawberry School had its Christmas tree auction with trees decorated by each class. The decorating themes chosen by the students ranged from supporting the troops to breast cancer, recycling and “The Nutcracker.” Auctioneer, Dean Peterson, did a fantastic job for the third year, and was assisted by student council members. The Christmas trees as well as cards and ornaments created by students brought in $2,360 to help students with classroom supplies and field trips. The school is grateful to the community for supporting the auction for the past 10 years.

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Celebrate the advent of three decades of beautiful music

The Rim Country’s most beautiful voices are celebrating the advent of their third decade of bringing great music to their friends and neighbors. The Payson Choral Society Christmas started with a retired concert pianist wanting to create a forum to perform for an audience. Pianist Robert Pompeo is credited with forming the Payson Choral Society in 1990. He was the group’s first director and the society’s president was Bob Muggli. According to the stories passed down over the years, Pompeo wanted to do just one concert for Easter 1990. But the singers — who were mostly members of church choirs in the area — implored him to do one for Christmas 1990 as well. Another spring concert followed in 1991 and a program was presented for Christmas as well. By then Pompeo’s health was failing, but he had such passion for the music and the work of the choral society, he directed the 1991 Christmas concert while connected to an IV, which he had placed in his hand so the audience couldn’t see it.

Information needed on bull elk poaching cases in northern Arizona

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is seeking the public’s help in finding who is responsible for illegally killing bull elk in two unrelated poaching incidents in northern Arizona. 
 


Wednesday, December 14

Keep your pets safe too

Veterinarian reveals hidden holiday dangers to avoid to prevent potentially disastrous pet problems

As the pages of the calendar flip and we move closer to the holiday season, pet owners should be aware of common – but hidden – dangers to their pets as we transform our homes for the celebrations to come.?? “The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy for our families, but in preparing for the season, many pet owners run the risk of exposing their pets to household dangers that could present potential life-threatening hazards to their pets,” said veterinarian Lori Pasternak, of Helping Hands Affordable Veterinary Surgery and Dental Care (www.helpinghandsvetva.com).

Staying safe during the holidays

The winter holidays are traditionally a time of celebration and merriment, but they can also be a time of stress and errors in judgment that can land people in the emergency department. Emergency nurses see the results of careless actions every day, and this year the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) is offering safety tips to ensure that you and your loved ones have a happy and healthy holiday season. “This can be a hectic time of year, and it’s not uncommon for people to let their guard down or overlook basic health and safety measures as they travel, entertain and celebrate,” says ENA President AnnMarie Papa. “We want you to spend the holidays with family and friends, not in the emergency department with us.”

A beautiful brunch for the holiday

Since Christmas is on Sunday this year, that means most likely there will be company on Saturday and possibly Monday, when many of us get our “holiday” and that means there will probably be an opportunity to serve a special brunch. “There’s something revitalizing about friends and family coming together in the late morning, enjoying great food, coffee and conversation. Brunches are good for the soul,” said chef and Hollywood caterer Paul McCullough. It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to host a fabulous brunch gathering. To get you started, McCullough shares some hosting tips, menu ideas and delicious recipes that will help you make your brunch memorable. Hosting tips and menu ideas

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 9: Murder near Woods Canyon - the Al Fulton Story

It happened during the second year of what many call The Pleasant Valley War. A young sheepherder in his early twenties, named Al Fulton, was murdered near the place now called Al Fulton Point. It was September 1888. About 10 years earlier Al’s older brother Harry Fulton had come to Arizona to pursue the sheep business, and he ran sheep near the San Francisco Peaks of Flagstaff. In 1886 he helped to found the Arizona Wool Growers Association and was elected its first president.

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Payson Choral Society

Three decades of beautiful music

The Rim Country’s most beautiful voices are celebrating their third decade bringing great music to their friends and neighbors. The Payson Choral Society Christmas started with a retired concert pianist wanting to create a forum to perform for an audience.

Good 2 Go

The Payson chapter of the Salvation Army still needs Bell Ringers to work through Christmas Eve. Bell Ringers need to be able to commit to two-hour shifts, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Ringers will be working at Walmart, Walgreens, Bashas’ and Safeway.

Give the gift of reading

You can give a gift to the whole Pine-Strawberry community in 2012 by purchasing a book for the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Public Library “Tree of Giving” fund-raiser.  The library’s Christmas tree is up and ready for residents and visitors to select the book (located on ornament). The library staff wants to buy new titles for children such as Carl Hiaasen’s “Chomp” and new titles for adults such as “Phantom” by Ted Bell and “Dorchester Terrace” by Anne Perry.

Getaway around Rim Country

Lunch and Learn, 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 14 representatives from Messinger Funeral Home will discuss Contingency Day Planning for Senior Circle members.   Planning end of life arrangements ahead of time can be the most thoughtful thing one can do for loved ones left behind. Advent and holiday services The congregation of Mount Cross Lutheran Church invites members of the community to join in its Advent services at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 14.

A Weekend in Tucson

Actually, I recommend two usable days in Tucson because it offers much to see and do. Tucson is surrounded by mountains with an altitude of 2,400 feet and is 100 miles south of Phoenix and so, about a three-hour drive from Payson. The Mexican influence can be seen and felt all over the city. You see adobe and wrought iron in many buildings and homes and it has an entirely different feeling than Phoenix. When you arrive stop by the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau at 120 West Broadway where there will be a selection of brochures pointing the way to many sights around the city.

The Japanese love Junction 87

Junction 87 is one of the Rim Country’s most popular bands. But its local audiences are a drop in the bucket compared to the draw the trio has in Japan. The group recently returned from a performance at Country Gold, one of the Japan’s biggest country and western concerts – something on the scale of Arizona’s Country Thunder – and one that has been presented for 23 years now. In the past the headliners have been Charlie Daniels and Brad Paisley. Between 15,000 and 20,000 people attended the event, which featured only seven bands in 50-minute sets. There were two country bands from Japan and one “homegrown” bluegrass band; two from Nashville; and one from Arizona – Junction 87 with Billy Ichida, Jim Norman and Bob Lewis.

Tuesday, December 13

Storm tests Rim travelers

Snow will snarl roads through Wednesday

For those lulled into believing a La Niña winter means no storms, Monday morning proved that assumption wrong. By 10 a.m., the skies opened up and the snow started falling. The storm quickly caused a number of slide-offs around the Rim Country, including several near Pine-Strawberry, said P-S Fire Chief David Staub. Luckily, since then, there have been no wrecks in the area, he said. The same held true in Star Valley, where Fire Chief Gary Hatch said they have been surprised by the lack of accidents.

Snow betrays burglar

Snowy tracks led police to an alleged thief’s cozy hiding place, landing him in a not-so-cozy jail cell. On Dec. 3, a Payson Police officer got a call of a burglary in the area of West Johnson Drive. The homeowner said several items of value were missing.

SV will tap ‘rainy day’ fund

SV agrees to pay for part of water system with reserve funds

After building up the town’s rainy day fund for years, the Star Valley Town Council agreed to dip into the $1.2 million pool to help finance buying the area’s water company. Most of the council on Tuesday, Dec. 6 agreed to take $600,000 from the reserve fund. The town had considered a loan to fund the $850,000 purchase of Brooke Utilities in Star Valley, but decided against it because it could add as much as $600,000 to the cost. The town plans to combine money from the general and rainy day funds to buy the 350- hook-up water system in January if a judge approves the deal.

More people lose health insurance

After state cuts, 18% uninsured, 30% on AHCCCS

The number of people without medical insurance continues its inexorable rise as cuts in the state’s medical program for the poor take effect. Some 30 percent of the people who live in Gila County get their medical coverage through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, including many childless adults and children affected by cuts approved by the Legislature this summer that went into effect last month.

Airport takeover advances

Payson council now poised to appoint airport commission

The Payson Council tonight will appoint a brand new Airport Commission as it moves to resume management of the Payson Regional Airport. Last week, the council took the first step in the sometimes-controversial effort to ease the airport’s financial problems and lay the groundwork for its expansion by agreeing to take over operations, despite the objections of some pilots and other airport users. At a special meeting tonight at 5:30, the council is scheduled approve contracts and ordinances to set the takeover in motion, hoping to finish the transition by February.

Payson council debates speeding up site plans

Even a minor loosening of restrictions on plat maps spurs council disagreement

Let’s move it along. At least when it comes to approving site plans for new development. That’s the gist of the Payson Town Council’s first move toward adopting changes that will streamline approval of preliminary plat maps — in the event that anyone ever starts actually building stuff in Payson again. The council would retain the job of approving final plat maps.

Community Almanac

The congregation of Crossroads Foursquare Church, 114 E. Cedar Lane, invites everyone to the 6th Annual Gingerbread House Decoration Party at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 13. Bring family and friends and decorate a large gingerbread house with all kinds of creative ingredients. The fee is $10 per house.

Free Thanksgiving meal was a huge success

The Payson First Assembly of God church would like to thank all the volunteers and businesses who donated time, money and food items to make the free Thanksgiving meal a huge success!

Thanks for support

The Tonto Basin High Flyin’ Hooves 4-H Club would like to thank the community for all their support.

There is a price to pay for spending money we don’t have

An expert economist said recently that a loaf of bread is going to cost $100.

Defending real reform in the U.S. Postal Service

The United States Postal Services is in serious trouble. Currently, Congress is debating how to fix the problem. Particularly during times of fiscal crisis, it is inevitable that there will be sharp disagreements on public policy, I expect it. However, there has been a great deal of misinformation coming from some interested parties that is blatantly untrue, pure demagoguery, or both. I want to set the record straight.

Keeping the arts in school helps critical thinking

It’s a lot easier to train someone to pound nails than it is to teach them to design the building. Yet, because of the new global economy, America’s future depends on creating as many architects as carpenters. When asked what skills students will need to compete in the 21st century economy, employers responded that critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, and creativity/innovation will be more important than the need for basic knowledge.

Making healthy changes to feel better

As 2011 closes, we might be reviewing the past 12 months and the changes we’d like to make in the months ahead. It takes time and effort to create changes that will improve our circumstances and make us feel better about our life and ourselves. What better time to start those changes than at the onset of the new year? To help explore the possibilities and paths to those changes, Rim Country Health is presenting a program from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 15. This free class is designed to assist in identifying “emotional gaps” and implementing solutions to promote overall well-being. 

How pricing can ruin a real estate deal and leave a home on the market?

One of the main functions of a real estate agent is to properly price a home for a client when they decide to sell. One of the challenges real estate agents face is that some home sellers have unrealistic expectations as to what their home is worth. Buyers are astute to today’s pricing and it is the job of a real estate agent to give buyer’s comparables or “comps” — prices of homes that have sold in the area. This helps a buyer determine a realistic purchase price.

Gila County’s unemployment rate rises as state’s drops

Local rate edges up to 10.1 percent, but crucial tourism sector shows gains

Gila County’s unemployment rate rose in October, fresh evidence rural Arizona’s recovery continues to lag behind the big urban centers. The county’s rate rose from 9.8 percent in September to 10.1 percent in October. By contrast, the state’s unemployment rate fell — from 9.1 percent to 9 percent. That’s down from about 9.7 percent a year ago. Nationally, the unemployment rate held steady at 9.1 percent, marking the first time in months Arizona’s rate has dipped below the national trend. Arizona added 15,500 non-farm jobs in October, a half a percent greater gain for the month than the 10-year average. The private sector accounted for 12,700 of the new jobs statewide, a growth rate well above the 10-year average.

SV incumbents running unopposed

Everyone must be content with the job Payson and Star Valley Town Councils are doing because no one is running against the incumbents in next year’s election. In Star Valley, current Councilors George Binney, Barbara Hartwell and Gary Coon are the only ones to file paperwork to run in the March primary. In Payson, Councilors John Wilson, Rick Croy and Michael Hughes are running unopposed along with Mayor Kenny Evans. The news stunned Binney and Hartwell who said they had heard several people were interested in running.

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Feature Teacher

Juli Davies Music Teacher Julia Randall Elementary

What family influences brought you to where you are? My parents encouraged my education and my musical training. My sister is a music teacher and professional musician in Missouri.

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Music for everyone!

JRE offers children chance to sing and play

The voices emerging from the Julia Randall Elementary (JRE) school library rise and fall with the sweetness of youth. “Come on give me more!” directs Juli Davies, JRE music teacher, hands waving with intensity. The children respond by belting out the “Jingle Bells” chorus with more volume and emotion. Twice a week Davies teaches singing to students at JRE. Because the district has clustered all third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students into one school, administrators support two days of music a week — and Davies is thrilled. “We have 50 children in chorus and 50 in band. We (the music teachers) came up with a plan to have students choose band, chorus or study hall. The teachers bought into it,” said Davies.

Clubs and Organizations

The congregation of Mount Cross Lutheran Church invites members of the community to join in its Advent service at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 14. There will be a soup supper at 5 p.m., with a small donation requested for the food, followed by the Advent service. The soup supper is in the log building, with the services taking place in the sanctuary. Mount Cross is at 600 E. Highway 260, just east of Safeway.

Questions still surround top football picks

Opinions are like rear ends (I must use that word, the editor won’t allow me to use another more descriptive noun), everyone has one. So, it is with those gridiron views and beliefs that make the recently completed naming of the All-Division football teams a much-debated controversy. Most everyone who follows high school sports is arguing and debating the merits of the players chosen for the postseason honors. The three All-Division teams named include one elected by high school head coaches, another chosen by The Arizona Republic sports staff and a third by “Coach P” at Arizona Sports Network.

Snowflake readies for Lady Longhorns

A Lady Longhorn win tonight, Dec. 13, in Snowflake could receive an unexpected boost from a lull the Lady Lobos might be suffering due to a highly emotional 59-58 double overtime win on Dec. 10 against archrival Round Valley. Sometimes prep teams fall into a type of funk after playing in such an emotionally draining showdown and that could be just what the doctor prescribed for the 3-1 Lady Longhorns. But, the Lady Horns can’t depend on a Lobo huff and must be prepared to contain Snowflake’s big two of Natalie Elkins and Lisha Titus. The two are double-digit scorers and are rapidly earning a reputation as being a pair of D-III, Section I’s finest players. Payson harbors upset hopes over the Lobos partly because the team is coming off an impressive 51-43 spanking of a very good Miami Vandal team that now stands 6-3 overall.

Horns seek revenge in Lobo land

The Longhorn boys basketball team (6-1) has an opportunity this evening, Dec. 13, in Snowflake to avenge its only loss of the season. On Dec. 2 during the Cake Chevrolet Shootout tournament in Winslow, the Horns dropped a hard-fought 75-60 decision to Snowflake, which continues to be the team’s only blemish. The Lobos won primarily via a fourth quarter surge in which they broke upon a tight game by outscoring the Horns 24-12. Following that loss, the gutsy Longhorns rebounded to whip host Winslow, 64-61, and finish third in the tournament.

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Creighton named to D-III second team

Lady Longhorn Rachel Creighton received only honorable mention honors when The Arizona Republic newspaper named its All-Division III volleyball team, but when the results of coaching voting for All-D-III honors were announced, Creighton was named to the prestigious second team. That announcement sent Lady Horn coach Arnold Stonebrink into a frenzy of handsprings admitting he was more than a bit disappointed when the newspaper didn’t select Creighton to a loftier status. “I wish she could have made at least second team (on The Arizona Republic selections),” Stonebrink said upon first learning of the honorees. “Not making state as a team probably hurt her in that regard.” The coach went on to praise Creighton saying the end of her senior season, “culminated the career of one of the best players I have had.”

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State champs dominate All-Division team

When New York Senator William Marcy declared, “to the victor belongs the spoils” he could have been referring to the selection of the 2011 All-Arizona Division IV football team rather than the victory of Jackson Democrats in the election of 1828. In choosing the All-Division team, The Arizona Republic sports staff focused on undefeated state champion Blue Ridge (14-0) naming eight players to either the first team offense or defense and one player to the second team offense. Which means of the 11 Yellow Jackets players on the field at one time, all but two received All-Division recognition. Some veteran coaches are saying that number is the greatest in recent memory. State runner-up Show Low (11-4) also fared well in the selection process having six players elected to either the first or second team offense or defense and two chosen second team offense.

Monday, December 12

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Winter Storm warning until Wednesday morning

For those lulled into believing a La Nina winter means no storms at all, Monday morning proved that assumption wrong. By 10 a.m., the skies opened up and the snow started dumping.

Friday, December 9

Coach awaits all-division football announcement

Payson High School football coach Byron Quinlan and his gridiron protégés are sitting on pins and needles wondering when the much-anticipated All-Division (all-state) team will be announced. “I keep looking myself,” he says. “The new system is keeping me guessing.” The new system he’s referring to is the Arizona Interscholastic Association mandated change from a conference-region configuration to divisions and sections. That change altered the way all-section and all-division players are now selected. The Section III honorees have been named, but no word is forthcoming on when the Division IV all-state football players will be named.

Collegiate basketball beckons former PHS coach

Former Payson High School basketball coach Jared Swanson has taken a gigantic leap toward his career goal of becoming a Division 1 head coach by finishing a graduate assistantship at Boise State University and nailing down a job as director of men’s basketball operations at North Dakota State University. “This position at NDSU is definitely another step forward in getting a college head coaching job,” said Swanson. “I am definitely enjoying gaining so much valuable experience from great college coaches that I have been associated with over the past couple of years.”

Payson struggles to help special needs students

District shifts many special education students into regular classes hoping to boost test scores

Payson schools are struggling to meet the needs of a growing number of special needs students despite a dwindling number of qualified teachers. Fortunately, the district has also had considerable success integrating students with physical, mental and emotional challenges into regular classrooms, said Director of Special Services Barbara Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald recently reported to the school board that the district has given up trying to find a certified special education teacher to fill one vacancy. Instead, the other special education teachers have agreed to give up preparation periods to provide enough coverage. The problem underscores a chronic shortage of special education teachers, especially in rural school districts like Payson. Meanwhile, the district continues to embrace a philosophy that includes students with disabilities in regular classrooms as much as possible, said Fitzgerald. About 40 percent of the district’s special education students spend most or all of their time in regular classrooms.

Payson sales still lag behind state in sales tax receipts

Payson had a disappointing November when it came to local sales tax receipts, lagging behind both last year’s tally and the statewide figures. Local sales tax receipts from June through November declined $5,400 from last year’s bleak performance — although that amounted to a virtual break-even performance. Local sales tax collections for the period totaled $2 million. By contrast, statewide sales tax totals rose by about 4 percent. The state collects a share of the sales tax statewide, then returns it to cities based on population. The figures provide fresh evidence that Maricopa County has recovered more quickly than rural areas of the state.

All town council incumbents, mayor seeking re-election

No one has yet filed to run against the four incumbent Payson council members seeking re-election as their terms expire. Incumbent Kenny Evans is so far the only person running for the two-year term as mayor. Meanwhile, only incumbents John Wilson, Rick Croy and Michael Hughes have taken out papers for the three open four-year council seats. Wednesday, Dec. 14 is the deadline for turning in the 199 signatures necessary to get on the ballot in the March primary. If no one else runs, the election will be decided in the primary. Otherwise, candidates who get more than 50 percent of the vote will win in the primary and others will face a runoff in the May general election. Town Clerk Silvia Smith said she couldn’t recall another election in which no one challenged the incumbents, who all ran for re-election.

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SV proposes new, higher water rates

It has been 10 years since Star Valley water customers have seen a rate increase under Brooke Utilities. But when the town takes over the system in January, customers could see their bills increase 20 percent or more and the local fire district could face new fees. That is because the town says it plans to upgrade and maintain the system, something it claims Brooke has not done in years. In addition, the town says new taxes are increasing water costs everywhere. The town has not set a final rate structure and the public still has time to comment at several upcoming public readings. The rates could go into effect as early as mid-January 2012 if the sale is finalized by that time.

Payson anglers aim for finals

With two Arizona region Western Outdoor News (WON) bass fishing tournaments in the record books, four Rim Country anglers remain in contention to advance to the bass team championships to be held in the spring at the conclusion of the inaugural seven-tournament season. Currently the Payson team of Keith Hunsinger and Robert O’Donnell are sitting third in the WON standings with 232 points, just four less than standing leaders Ken Howden and Gary Understiller.

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Grapplers wrestling big time at Grand Canyon

Because Payson High School wrestling coach Casey Woodall seizes every possible opportunity to enter his team into the most competitive high school dual meets and tournaments in the state, no one will ever accuse him of shying away from stiff competition. For instance, on Dec. 3 and 4 the Longhorns traveled to Grand Canyon University in Phoenix to compete in the prestigious Asics Southwest Showdown Duals that drew the best teams from a four-state area including ones representing schools with student bodies that number in the thousands.

Many ways to spread holiday cheer this year

Rim residents are invited to spread lots of holiday cheer this year. Adopt a child, a family or a senior for gift giving this season. Donate some time to ring bells for contributions to the area’s Salvation Army or make a holiday party extra special. Attend a Christmas program and contribute goods for the food bank or funds for scholarships. All of these opportunities still await as we get closer to Christmas, however, there are deadlines to return gifts for those you choose to adopt. To start with though, the Payson chapter of the Salvation Army still needs Bell Ringers to work through Christmas Eve.

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Holiday spirit is alive and well in Prescott

‘Everyone’s small town’ delivers Christmas memories

The warm, aromatic smell of gingerbread, crusty white sugar icing and syrupy gumdrops wafts through the air at the Prescott Resort “Christmas City” — billed as the World’s Largest Gingerbread Village. Dozens of tables are stacked with high-rise gingerbread houses seemingly reaching the ceiling. The length of the hallway, where more than 100 displays sit, thousands of candy pieces creates a bright, multicolored sight that elicits “oohs” and “aahs” from young and old. Peering into one yard, gingerbread folk toast marshmallows on pretzel sticks over a flame of candy corn. Coconut shavings cover the home’s path of hard peppermints and pretzel square windows.

Annual Golf Cart, ATC Light Parade is Saturday

The holidays are here and it’s time again for the Christopher Creek Annual Golf Cart and ATV Light Parade. The event will be held this Saturday, Dec. 10. The parade will start at the Tall Pines Market at 6:30 p.m. The parade will wind through neighborhoods and end back at the Christopher Creek Loop where there will be an after celebration at the Landmark at the Creek and Creekside Restaurant. Prizes will be handed out at Landmark at the Creek for the top 3 carts. There are many fun community events during the holidays.

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Storm brought a foot of snow, cold temperatures

The winter storm on Dec. 2 and 3 brought more than a foot of snow, and near freezing temperatures. Subsequent days brought slightly colder days and nights. Once the clouds moved on, very cold nights and days ensued with highs on this past Monday and Tuesday at around freezing with night-time temperatures dipping down to near zero degrees. As the week progressed, a gradual warm-up occurred. Saturday’s highs will be in the mid 40s with lows at around the low 20s.

Village is covered with 10 inches of snow

Did somebody leave the freezer door open? Tonto Village is covered in about 10 inches of snow and a lot of ice! The residents need to be extra careful since the ice is still hugging the roads, not only if you are driving, but especially if you are walking. A few years ago, my husband Bill was shoveling out the driveway and did not notice the black ice underneath the snow. He fell and hit his head pretty hard, so please be careful. The wood stoves are cranked up to full blast to keep warm, along with that ‘new’ invention called the ‘pellet stove’ going full bore just to keep the tootsies warm.

Softly falling snow was certainly pretty to watch

“Fall softly snow, Blanket everything with purest white. Fall softly snow, Everything is holy here tonight.” Gosh, doesn’t it seem like it’s awfully early in the season to be getting all this white, fluffy stuff on the ground? I know many of us moved to Arizona to get away from the slipping and sliding of the harsh winters back home, but then on the other hand, the softly falling snow we’ve had this past week certainly has been pretty to see. And one look at the white-capped Mazatzal peaks and snow-covered Rim can’t help but take your breath away.

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Small-town generosity is inspiring

This community never ceases to amaze me. To visitors, it is a place of beauty, outdoor recreation, friendly people, festivals and fun. To live here, is to be inspired. Community groups here share one mission: to genuinely help others. I’ve learned that people here don’t just wear one hat, or belong to one group, but to many. Some belong to the Senior Center Affairs Foundation, Pine-Strawberry Business Community, Library Friends and the Riff-Raff Club — or two or three other groups — all at the same time.

Business Briefs

The last chamber mixer of 2011 will be held Dec. 14 at the Good Samaritan Majestic Rim on Tyler Parkway. The event is hosted by the Good Samaritan Lutheran Society and the Caring Presence and will feature a wine tasting by the Beverage Place. Staff will give a tour of Majestic Rim at 5:30 p.m., with appetizers served afterward by in-house chef Steve. Appetizers will be paired with wines from the Beverage Place with Beverage Place staff teaching the art of wine tasting.

Studies, books suggest men and women invest differently

Several years ago, the book “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” was quite popular. As the title suggests, the book argues that men and women are vastly different from each other, particularly in their emotional needs and in the way they communicate. While not everyone agrees with the notion that men and women might as well be from different planets, most of us would concur that the two genders frequently behave differently — and this divergence in behavior may also show up in the way that we invest. In fact, various studies and anecdotal evidence suggests these differences in the way that men and women invest:

Clubs and Organizations

Making Life Better, a pain management support group, meets from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Monday, excluding holidays, at the lobby of the Grant Clinic, 903 E. Highway 260, Payson. All are welcome to attend the free program. Paulette Wright facilitates the group.

December most dangerous month of the year for house fires

The tree is up, the candles are lit, and the extension cords are plugged in. With all of the traditional touches comes the most dangerous month of the year. The items I list below are of special concern for us and your safety over the next few weeks and from all of us here at the department, we wish you all the best for the holiday season. Christmas trees: More than one-third (36 percent) of home Christmas tree structure fires were reported on the 10 days between Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) and the day after New Year’s Day (Jan. 2). The top day was Christmas with 6 percent of the fires.

Payson schools apply research on learning

Any good teacher knows: You’ve got to do your homework. Fortunately, the Payson Unified School District seems to have done its homework carefully when it comes to improving its program for students with special needs. The district has moved toward mainstreaming as many of its special education students as possible, reacting to studies showing many of those students do better when they’re not isolated from their peers. Some years ago, many districts shifted to putting most students with disabilities in separate classes. That made sense on the surface. A series of lawsuits had forced state and federal governments to begin providing the extra resources children with mental, emotional and learning disorders need to succeed. Schools increased the level of training required for special education teachers and took advantage of the extra funding to provide much smaller classes. Logical. Right? Give those kids extra help and a secure, supportive setting with specially trained teachers. They should thrive? Right? Well, not really.

Some things in life don’t quite work out as planned

I have an arrangement with life. Every once in a while I do a Three Stooges thing. I say, “OK! When I nod my head, hit it!” And life goes right ahead and does it. I’ve already told you about the time I bit down on a screw that had 110 volts on it. Best 4th of July fireworks ever! But I’ve managed to outdo that a few times. Like the time I T-boned a 1951 Chevy, and didn’t go back to the hospital after they released me even though my neck hurt like mad and my head felt it was going to fall off. Remember me telling you that? Yes? So do I, Johnny. My neck was broken. You would think that anyone who had earned a trick neck that way, one that had a nasty habit of getting stuck looking up or down would take good care of it. And I tried. I avoided looking up and to the right or down and to the left. It helped. Getting your head stuck looking up is very inconvenient, and spending a day or two contemplating your navel is boring.

Contributions to Senior Center now qualify for tax credits

The Payson Senior Center received an early Christmas gift from the Arizona Department of Revenue, and it is one that it can share with anyone wishing to make year-end donations. The center’s executive director, Joanne Conlin, said the Senior Center was just notified Dec. 6 that it now qualifies as a charity from which donors can obtain a Working Poor tax credit. “We’re very excited about it and are trying to spread the word,” Conlin said. Donations to the Center of up to $400 per couple or $200 for an individual will reduce the contributor’s Arizona income tax liability and get a federal tax deduction as well, Conlin explained. These year-end donations will go toward the Center’s Meals on Wheels program, the congregate meals program (the daily lunch served at the facility) and its transportation program.

Tax credit helps schools, and many local charities

The Christmas season can save the year for many retailers. But many charities and public schools can also make or break their year, based on the seasonal spirit of giving through the state’s $200 per person tax credit. The Payson Unified School District and an array of Rim County groups depend on the last-minute rush of donations through the state’s tax credit program, which allows people to donate money to local groups and take $200 per person or $400 for a couple right off their tax bill. The school district receives more than $100,000 in donations through Credit for Kids annually, which has allowed schools to maintain many after-school and specialized programs despite repeated, severe budget cuts.

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Rim public safety officers bring Christmas cheer to children in need

The smell of tamales hit as soon as the door to Gerardo’s Fireside Grill opened at the Tamales for Toys event Saturday, Dec. 3. Diners sat around the restaurant savoring the perfectly seasoned tamales and pinto beans. To support the cause, they could either donate a toy or pay cash. Friends greeted each other as new groups came in to sit and eat. A steady stream of people picked up bags of a dozen tamales to take home. The 2011 Tamales for Toys (soon to be renamed Public Safety Christmas for Kids event) brought the community out to support children who live on the edge. “There’s one family we want to help. Their mom died of cancer recently and Grandma is raising all four kids,” said Jason Hazelo, a Payson police officer who has chaired the event for the last three years.

Outdoorsman’s Yard Sale has bright future

There are those around the Rim Country, including former Payson Roundup outdoors columnist Dennis Pirch, who insist the inaugural Let’s Talk Fishin’ Outdoorsman’s Yard Sale to be held 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Senior Center on Main Street, will grow to become a huge attraction. Pirch knows well because as the former owner of The Tackle Box in Tonto Basin he founded highly successful outdoor expos that attracted anglers, hunters, campers, climbers and hikers from around Arizona, including overflow throngs from the Valley. By promoting the expos year-round and bringing in some of the state’s best outdoorsmen and women for seminars, the expos quickly became the rage of the outdoor set.

Thanks to those helped on Elks Veterans Night

I would like to extend a great big thank you to the following businesses for the donations and help in making the Veterans Night a big success:

A heartfelt thank you

The PHS peer counselors and the JRE fifth-graders would like to thank everyone who made CHAMPS camps at Camp Tontozona possible.

Grateful to Dr. Lowe

In reference to Dr. Lowe, I would appreciate telling you my experience with him.

Support for fall fashion show appreciated

The Rim Country Optimist Club and the Payson Senior Center wish to thank all of those who supported the Falling Leaves Fashioneesta Fashion Show.

Community Almanac

The Payson Amnesty International chapter will take part in the Amnesty International Global Write-A-Thon from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Rim Country Literacy Building, 1003 S. Beeline Highway (behind the Knotty Pine Café). The goal is to write 500 letters, with help from members of the congregations of the Church of the Nazarene, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Mount Cross Lutheran Church and Payson United Methodist Church.

Christmas wish: a loving home for all

Despite the recent winter storm, freezing temperatures and slick, icy sidewalks, things are going pretty well here at the Humane Society of Central Arizona. This past weekend, we participated in Petco’s “Think Adoption First” program and adopted out three of our adoptable dogs! Our new building is under way and every morning we hear them out there making progress. Today, I watched the guys putting in frames for the windows; it was pretty exciting. And even though we are still full, our numbers aren’t that bad. We are able to house all the dogs inside to keep them warm at night. This is a good thing, but finding each of them a forever home is even better.

Wednesday, December 7

Close to home — weekend in Phoenix

consider the greater Phoenix area? It’s the fifth largest city in the United States and this time of year usually provides temperatures in the middle 70s. I would suggest planning at least a three-day visit in order to really experience some of the many interesting places and events in the area. It’s really an easy city to get around in; all you need is a map or GPS system to ease your way.

Beauty of Batik

Marilyn Salomon takes art form to new levels

Marilyn Salomon’s face glows with joy. In her hands she holds an iron and a piece of newsprint paper, and beneath these two mundane objects lies the mystery of batik artwork, images created with wax and dyes on cloth. “This is one of the most exciting parts. You never know exactly what will come out. It’s an emotional high,” she said. Salomon has worked on this piece for the past couple of months. A black rim of fabric frames three panels, each showing a different Native American scene. She used at least 15 colors of dyes to capture the details of the figures depicted in her piece.

Advent — Hope in the Coming One

When writing his letter to the 12 tribes, Hebrew Christians, scattered all over, James, a servant of God gives hope to a people whose faith was being tested through various trials. James was concerned about them yielding to fleshly responses such as: impatience, bitterness, materialism, disunity, but most importantly spiritual apathy. Because James was a church leader, obviously he felt responsible to encourage them in their faith.

On my bookshelf

With Christmas coming, I thought it might be a nice time to go through some of the books that I keep readily at hand. Perhaps you have someone in the family who loves history and are looking for some ideas. Here’s a sampling of what’s on my shelf. The basic books There are some basic history books on this area that I think everyone should have on their shelf and that I certainly have on mine. They are: “Rim Country History,” published in 1984 by the Northern Gila County Historical Society — A great overview of the area with a lot of individual family histories. The committee of historians behind this book did a great job utilizing what they had and there is a lot of great information in here. A must-have if you love area history.

Gout vs. Pseudogout: What’s the difference?

I have faux gout. At least that’s what I’ve been told I have. It’s in my left foot. I understand it’s not caused by uric acid but by calcium. Can you tell me more about it and what can be done for it?

Host a holly, jolly party

If you’re in the mood to host a holiday party but think you don’t have the time — or the budget — think again. “You don’t need to spend a lot of money to throw a fabulous and memorable event. Keep it simple and special. You and your guests will enjoy it even more,” say Dawn Sandomeno and Elizabeth Mascali, founders of www.partybluprintsblog.com and authors of “Plan to Party” (Yorkshire Publishing 2010). Here are some tips that will help you throw a stylish, low-stress party that will make your guests merry without spending a bundle.

Getaway around Rim Country

The 7th annual Rim Country Chamber “Light the Rim” house lighting contest, co-sponsored by Chapman Auto Center and the Payson Roundup newspaper, is now accepting applications. The chamber, Chapman Auto Center or the Roundup must receive entries by noon, Friday, Dec. 9. The theme, “Light the Rim,” combines community spirit and individual creativity by Rim Country residents. There is no charge to enter the contest. The goal is to get as many homes lighted and entered to show off a brightly lighted Rim Country as possible. Judging will take place on the evenings of Tuesday, Dec. 13 and Wednesday, Dec. 14. The lights must be lit from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on those evenings.

Advent and holiday services announced

The congregation of Mount Cross Lutheran Church invites members of the community to join in its Advent services at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 7 and Dec. 14. There will be a soup supper at 5 p.m., with a small donation requested for the food, followed by the Advent service. The soup suppers are held in the log building, with the services taking place in the sanctuary.

Good 2 Go

Optimist, Rotary and Kiwanis club members, the director of the Payson Senior Center, school district personnel, other non-profit representatives and interested individuals are working on a community effort to provide Christmas gifts for the area’s displaced and disadvantaged youth.

Tuesday, December 6

Clubs and Organizations

The Zane Grey Kiwanis and its Young Professionals group invite anyone interested in learning more about the organizations, which are dedicated to helping Rim Country children, to attend one of the meetings. The Kiwanis meet from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. every Thursday at Tiny’s Family Restaurant, 600 E. Highway 260. The Young Professionals meet at 5:30 p.m. the first and third Wednesdays at Macky’s Restaurant.

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Passing motorists help free trapped driver

On Sunday, one motorist trapped in his vehicle was the benefactor of the quick thinking of passing motorists. Several men jumped into action when they saw a vehicle overturned in the snow and the driver trapped inside and hanging upside down just north of Payson on Highway 87. Using a shovel and their hands, the men pried open the passenger door so the man could climb out. Paramedics later took the driver to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries. Janice Pearson, who was heading northbound on 87, said she didn’t see the accident, but saw snow flying everywhere just after it occurred around 10 a.m. Pearson and another driver were the first to stop and Pearson immediately got on her cell phone to call for help.

GCC land sale qualms push ASU progress back 2 months

Arizona State University will not go to the Arizona Board of Regents for approval to build a new campus in Payson until February, the result of last-minute questions raised by the Gila Community College board. ASU had planned to seek approval from the Board of Regents at its quarterly meeting last week, but decided to wait until the Rim Country Educational Alliance actually obtains a 22-acre parcel on which it wants to build the first, 1,000-student phase of the campus. Gila County was poised to transfer the land to the Alliance several weeks ago, but held off after the GCC board asked the county to impose a series of conditions.

County drops theft case against doctor’s ex-wife

A judge has granted the Gila County attorney’s office request to dismiss the case against a woman accused of taking advantage of a hospice patient. On Dec. 5, Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill vacated all future hearings and dismissed the charges against Heather Driscoll.

Star Valley readies for water company purchase

On the heels of purchasing the Payson Water Company from Brooke Utilities, the Star Valley council will address how it will fund the $775,000 expenditure at a Tuesday council meeting. The deal is one of the most important purchases the town has made since incorporating in 2007. With the water company comes 360 local customers, but more importantly, water rights that let the town pursue a sustainable water source. The town is already considering acquiring a share of Blue Ridge water and hooking new wells into the system.

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Snow and cold the hot topic at Electric Light Parade

With the temperature at freezing and snow on the ground, nature offered the Payson Electric Light Parade a perfect stage for its performance. “It’s like 32 degrees here,” said a teenager into her cell phone to a friend. Next to her, fires raged safely in metal pits while her family shared cups of hot chocolate to stay warm. Cars lined Main Street along the length of the parade route. People turned the night into a party despite the cold and snow. Running down the street a little boy sang, “Jingle bell — jingle bell — jingle bell rock!” Some parade goers brought tall, silver propane heaters, chairs and tables. Others erected canopies with dining rooms ensconced inside. Pots of chili and mugs of apple cider steamed in people’s hands. Impromptu snowball fights broke out. “So anyway, how are you guys doing?” one resident called to a friend. “It’s a good turnout already,” another said to a neighbor.

Coconino County sheriff still trying to identify human remains

Coconino sheriff’s deputies and detectives are still attempting to identify human remains that were located on Nov. 27 off of Forest Service Road 142D by Clear Creek Canyon and Bear Canyon on Good Enough Ridge in the Blue Ridge area.

Watch Longhorn Band perform at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7

The Payson High School Longhorn Marching Band is in Hawaii to perform for the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Wednesday, Dec. 7.

Gila County redistricting: ‘It worked out real nice’

Head of the committee that redrew Gila County district lines contrasts local process with state carnage

What a ride. Very bumpy. But satisfying. That’s how the head of Gila County’s volunteer redistricting committee described the complicated, contentious and often confusing effort to redraw the district lines for the board of supervisors and the Gila Community College board. “It became a political thing,” said Bob Sanchez, head of the citizen’s group that spent months coming up with new boundaries for the three supervisor seats and the five community college board seats. Sanchez made his remarks at a recent meeting of the Northern Gila County Democratic Club.

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DECA students win western leadership honors

Eight Payson High School DECA students attended the 2011 Western Region Leadership Conference in San Diego, Calif. held Nov. 10-12 with four students winning awards. Hayli Egbert, Madison Flake, Jordyn Fruth, Amanda Hartnell, Kyle Marshall, Nick McMullen, Bethany Sprinkle and Eric Vohs were among the hundreds of students from 14 western states and territories who attended the Western Regional Conference which is designed to develop leadership skills in students who are pursuing careers in marketing and management.

Community Almanac

Creating Christmas ornaments makes holiday memories that will last forever. The Isabelle Hunt Memorial Public Library has planned another super fun activity for youngsters to teach them how to make their own holiday ornaments.

Comment not appropriate

Julia Randall School’s Principal Rob Varner’s remark to the school board that— “... the teachers have been busting their butts” — sends me a message I don’t like to hear and is unacceptable.

The ‘Occupy Movement’ — A contrast in political support

Two months ago, protesters began an “Occupy” movement in a number of cities across the country.

Energy independence roadblocks need to be removed

Thank you for publishing the article by Senator Jon Kyl regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline.

ASU grad loves sports column

Please double the salary of sportswriter Max Foster and purchase seats for him and his family for ASU’s next year’s season!

Real solutions needed to keep our country safe

I had to write today because I read the other day that thanks to the super committee’s failure to come to an agreement, the automatic cuts that will happen will cost Arizona 33,000 jobs just in defense department employment!

Thanks to all those who helped with Electric Light Parade

Last weekend was the Electric Light Parade. What a spectacular event it was.

Band will learn lessons of Pearl Harbor tragedy

What lessons will our children learn, playing their music where so many died so pointlessly? The Longhorn Band on Wednesday, Dec. 7, will play close by the sunken tomb of the USS Arizona, whose crew accounted for almost half of the 2,402 Americans who died in the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor 70 years ago.

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PHS’s Drama Department wins state award

Gold Honor Troupe for 15 years running

For 15 years in a row, the Payson High School Drama Department has won the Gold Honor Troupe plaque from the Arizona State Thespian Society (ASTS). “We’re judged on the quality of our work,” said Kathy Siler, director of the Drama Department. ASTS started in the mid-1970s to provide quality theatre and educational experiences through networking opportunities and workshops. The ASTS award recognizes the PHS Drama Department as one of the most active thespian troupes in the state. To qualify, the Drama Department submits a dossier on the previous year’s work, said Siler.

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Drama coach wants students to reach their potential

Why did you choose to teach in Payson? The most generous and friendly community I’ve experienced.

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Teaching drama: A lifetime of possibilities

The ceiling soars. Backdrop props that rise two-stories high tilt against a wall. A room the size of a school cafeteria has costumes jammed into every spare bit of space. A wall of shelves standing 10 feet high and 30 feet wide stacks shoes floor to ceiling. On stage, massive lights, pulleys, swaths of fabric and curtains stand at the ready. High above the seats of the auditorium, the booth suspends from the ceiling, housing spotlights, the light and soundboard used to showcase actors and scenes. These tools, rooms and spaces in the high school auditorium hold the keys to transporting the students of the Payson Drama Department and their audience to other times and places.

Rim Country recycling opportunities require research; most are for free

Those of you planning on a new computer for yourself or someone else this holiday season can recycle old computer equipment for free thanks to Gila County. The Buckhead Mesa Landfill will take your old computer, computer monitor, printer, copier and even old flat screen televisions and recycle them. And it won’t cost you anything. On occasion, the Gila County Solid Waste Department holds special recycling events, but does not have any planned until the weather warms, according to director Sharon Radanovich.

Payson Library offering free computer classes on various nights

The Payson Public Library is offering free computer classes covering a variety of topics through January. Courses range from learning the ins and outs of Facebook and Twitter, setting up a blog and using networking tools like LinkedIn. Each two-hour class, at 328 N. McLane Road, will focus on one topic. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, reference librarian Bessie Tucker will tackle Facebook, a popular tool with 800 million active users.

Payson council to vote on taking over the airport

The Payson Town Council on Thursday will consider a plan to resume running the Payson Regional Airport. The proposed agreement would return the airport to the town in February and require the council to set up an advisory airport commission and hire a new town employee to manage the airport. The move comes after the existing, volunteer Payson Regional Airport Authority board (PRAA) set aside the objections of many pilots and asked the town to step back in to run the airport. Town Attorney Tim Wright in a memo to the council said 2010 discussions about changes in the lease agreement led eventually to the PRAA’s request that the town take the airport back.

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Payson Care Center associates walk to end Alzheimer’s

Recently 18 associates from Payson Care Center in Payson, Ariz., participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Sedona, Ariz., sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association. The staff members walked for the cure in honor of the residents they serve. “The Sedona community was impressed with the large turnout from Payson and the unity we represented,” said Christy VanderMolen, marketing director for Payson Care Center.

Bundle up and get a look at the night sky

Oh, these dark mornings! I am normally an early riser and love the morning hours, but it is hard to get out of a warm bed when the house is chilly and dark. Remember, though, that in only 16 more days, it will be the Winter Solstice when the sun begins its slow journey to bring back long hours of daylight. Often in December the sun closes the day with a dramatic production, a blaze of color that etch the bare branches of trees against the semi-circle of sky and turn the pine needles so dark as to appear black shafted with gold from the last rays. Swiftly the blaze of color fades to be replaced by the first glistening stars. Silent Night! Holy Night!

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Lady Horn duo named all-state HMs

A pair of Lady Longhorn volleyball players are basking in the laurels of having received honorable mention honors to the prestigious Division III All-State team. Emme Ashby and Rachel Creighton were named to the team Dec. 4 by The Arizona Republic newspaper sports staff. Creighton, a senior and three-year letter winner, who played setter for the Lady Horns was the team’s quarterback the entire 2011 season setting up teammates for kills and returns.

Neighbor to north honors sports legend

Residents of Winslow will gather Saturday, Dec. 10, in the new Winslow High School gymnasium to celebrate legendary Bulldog football coach Emil Nasser’s 90th birthday. It will undoubtedly be a huge celebration because Nasser is one of the most revered men in the northern Arizona town having coached the Bulldogs from 1947 until his retirement at the end of the 1981 season.

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WON winners

The team of Chris Chlup and Greg Valenzuela fished their way to a first place finish in the Western Outdoor News (WON) Arizona region bass tournament held Dec. 3 at Windy Hill on Roosevelt Lake. The winning pair weighed in a five-fish limit of 11.88 pounds that included the tournament’s “Big Fish” winner — a 4.23-pound largemouth.

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Lady Horn tourney set

The Lady Longhorn effort in the 2011 Holiday Hoops tournament, set to be played Dec. 28 and 29 in Payson, will be buoyed by four veteran players who paced the PHS team in last year’s post Christmas basketball shoot-out. Teanna Lopez, Chioya Hill, Jamie Carlen and Molly Davis return from the 2010 team that experienced its ups and downs in the annual hardwood fray whipping Blue Ridge 52-36, but then getting steamrolled 61-19 by a very good Mesa Westwood team. The Lady Horns eventually finished 1-2 in the tournament, a mark they hope to improve upon this year. Lopez was at her best last year in the win over Blue Ridge scoring a game high 16 points.

Horns take bronze at Winslow shootout

A 64-61 win over the homestanding Winslow Bulldogs coupled with a 3-1 tournament record lifted the Longhorn boys basketball team to a third place finish in the Cake Chevrolet Shootout.

Business Briefs

Hoping to help those in need and add to the holiday season at the Swiss Village shops, the owner of Crafters Cubbies has opened a free Christmas tree village. Several businesses, organizations and families have decorated Christmas trees, at 616 N. Beeline Highway, in the hopes people will visit and place a new toy, pet food or nonperishable food item below a tree. Donations will benefit local families in need.

How to avoid real estate scams

A week ago, the Payson Roundup published an article on holiday scams of which we should be wary. Coincidentally, about the same time as the article appeared, one of Coldwell Banker’s clients dropped off a mailing from a company in Phoenix questioning the validity of the offer. The client had recently purchased a home in Payson and the mailing appeared to be an official document that offered a copy of the grant deed and property profile. The offer cost $87 if the client responded no later than December 9.

Monday, December 5

Southbound Highway 87 re-opened

Southbound State Route 87 is closed Monday morning about 20 miles south of Payson, the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Friday, December 2

Campus land sale faces another delay

ASU’s hoped-for Payson campus just hit another jarring bump on its long, potholed road. The Gila County Board of Supervisors has removed the land sale from its Dec. 6 agenda. “I will remove this item from the Board of Supervisors Agenda of Dec. 6 and place it on the next available agenda after the County and SLE have completed our discussions,” wrote Don McDaniel, county manager for Gila County in an e-mail to Mayor Kenny Evans. The county and the Rim Country Educational Alliance SLE had hoped to wrap up negotiations on the land sale by mid-December. With this recent move, all that has changed. Complications center on the Gila Community College board’s questions regarding the sale of land the county has been holding in trust for GCC.

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Firefighters save pet from flames

Firefighters saved a home from burning down Thursday afternoon and rescued the home’s only occupant. Lloyd, the family’s guinea pig, was resting in his cage inside the home in the 7400 block of West Toya Vista when a fire started in a rear bedroom.

Food drive collects 21,800 pounds in two weeks

With only 27 measly turkeys in the freezer at St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank a week before Thanksgiving, it looked like needy families would have to go without a feast this year. But the Payson Area Food Drive (PAFD) got a huge boost in donations just in time for the big day with Turkey Tuesday bringing in 380 turkeys — all donated by the local community. Added with other food donations and the PAFD collected more than 21,800 pounds in just the last two weeks. At a PAFD meeting Thursday morning, organizers sat astounded by the volume of donations given in such a short time and credited the community’s ever-growing giving spirit.

Some Mesa del Caballo water complaints still outstanding

The Arizona Corporation Commission continues to investigate five complaints against Brooke Utilities filed by residents of Mesa del Caballo, commission spokeswoman Rebecca Wilder said this week. However, the commission has settled the bulk of complaints against the private water company, which focused on whether the company had properly assessed a water hauling charge this summer.

Seven old bridges being replaced on Control Road

The Control Road, between Highway 87 and 260, will sport seven new bridges by the spring. “The new bridges will be wider and have a higher capacity,” said Joel Mona of the Federal Highway Administration, Central Federal Lands Highway Division (CFLHD). Construction started this past June and should end by March of 2012. Six of the seven bridges will be demolished and rebuilt. Only the Webber Creek Bridge will move to a new location upstream from the old bridge. Demolishing the bridges is more economical than retrofitting, said Mona.

Assessor’s questions in dispute

Today I received a letter from the office of Dale Hom assessor for Gila County. I am sure everyone will get one. I received two copies as I own two houses in Payson; below is the first paragraph.

Pine-Strawberry Thanksgiving dinner was big success

The second annual Pine-Strawberry Community Thanksgiving Dinner held on Thursday, Nov. 24 at the Pine-Strawberry Community dining room was an outstanding success.

Keystone XL pipeline — our missed opportunity

Earlier this year, President Obama delivered a speech at Georgetown University where he bemoaned our continued reliance on oil imported from the Middle East and unsavory regimes. “Politicians of every stripe have promised energy independence, but that promise has so far gone unmet,” he said. “That has to change.”

GCC qualms force yet another delay

The Gila Community College board’s objection to the quick sale of land it doesn’t own for a next-door university appears likely to inflict another needless setback on the project on which so much of the Rim Country’s economic future relies.

He who can turn to family in time of need is truly blessed

A few weeks back I mentioned that Mom and Mary Hein were best friends. Mary Hein lived just three houses up the street on Brook Street from us on Staten Island in New York City. And I swear that no two women on this planet have ever been closer than Mom and Mary Hein. They watched over each other and cared for each other like two loving sisters.

Statewide Craigslist advertising sweep starts 87 investigations

The Registrar of Contractors initiated 87 investigations into unlicensed contractor advertising on Craigslist. Advertising to perform services that require a contractor’s license is a Class 1 misdemeanor, said the registrar office in a press release. The Registrar of Contractors routinely investigates unlicensed contracting by checking newspapers, magazines, websites, and tradeshows.

Payson Amnesty group’s passion garners acclaim

The power of passion might explain why the very young Payson Amnesty International chapter is so highly regarded. Founded just 18 months ago and with only 12 active members on its rolls at present, the group has won regional and national honors. It was named the 2010 New Local Group of the Year in the Western Region; presented the 2011 Sister Laola Hirnaka Award in recognition of “inspiring commitment to the promotion of human rights in your community and the protection of individuals around the world.” The chapter’s organizer, Penny Navis-Schmidt, was just named Best Local Group Leader of 2011 in the Western Region.

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Japanese love Rim Country’s Junction 87

Junction 87 is one of the Rim Country’s most popular bands. But its local audiences are a drop in the bucket compared to the draw the trio has in Japan. The group recently returned from a performance at Country Gold, one of Japan’s biggest country and western concerts — something on the scale of Arizona’s Country Thunder — and one that has been presented for 23 years now.

Don’t let low interest rates sink your retirement expectations

Over the past few years, if you’ve taken out a mortgage or another consumer loan, you’ve probably welcomed the low interest rates you may have received. But as an investor, if you’ve kept any retirement savings in fixed-rate investment vehicles, you may have seen low rates in a less favorable light. And that’s why it may be time for you to take a closer look at your financial strategy for working toward the retirement lifestyle you’ve envisioned. Of course, you can always hope that interest rates will rise, and perhaps they will. As you may know, the Federal Reserve has kept interest rates at record lows in recent years to stimulate lending and thereby boost the economy. But rates can’t get much lower, and if inflation were to heat up, the Fed could reverse course by starting to raise rates.

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Buck Rogers retiring from Chapman Auto

GM hands over keys; looks forward to spending time with family

Like the 1970s TV character, Buck Rogers led others — maybe not through space exploration, but through the out of this world twists and turns of car salesmanship. Rogers, general manager and part owner of Payson’s Chapman Auto Center, is retiring at the end of this month, setting off to explore new areas of life away from the selling floor. “Buck has always been a steady leader, a reliable guide through the business’ good and bad times,” said Tom Whatley, Chapman’s sales manager.

Wreck on Doll Baby road injures two teens, both airlifted to medical center

Two local teens were seriously injured last week when their vehicle flipped on Doll Baby Ranch Road, ejecting one, authorities said. Just before 5 a.m. Nov. 24, the teens’ passenger vehicle went off the roadway and into the brush 100 feet, flipping at least once, said Fire Chief Marty deMasi.

Stomach flu spikes after Thanksgiving holiday

Stomach flu has hit Rim Country Middle School (RCMS) and Payson High School (PHS) hard since the Thanksgiving holiday. “We saw quite a few sick ones today,” said Yvette Harpe, vice principal at RCMS. RCMS school officials reported 33 students out because of the stomach flu. At the high school, 25 left for home on Thursday, versus 114 for the whole month of November. School policy dictates if a student has a fever of 100 degrees or is vomiting, someone from home must pick up the student for the day, said Dani Hatch, school nurse for PHS. “There have been more sick kids since the Thanksgiving holiday. Maybe they picked up something while on vacation,” said Hatch.

News Briefs

Shoppers can get a break on gift wrapping and help homeless pooches at the same time at the Humane Society of Central Arizona’s gift wrapping fund-raiser on Dec. 3 and Dec. 10 at the group’s thrift shop on Main Street. Humane Society volunteers will wrap packages for harried shoppers, in return for small donations. The offer applies to both gifts brought from home and things bought in the thrift store. The thrift shop offers a large selection of holiday décor and gently used merchandise and will also offer festive music plus cider and cookies.

Community Almanac

The 12th Annual Community Holiday Bazaar in Young will be held December 2, 3 and 4. The event is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m., Sunday. It takes place at the newly expanded Braswell’s Chuckwagon. The PTA discount card will not be accepted at the Holiday Bazaar. Proceeds go to the individuals making the craft or food items.

Many pets and people are united by fate

We at Humane Society of Central Arizona want to start our weekly article with a quote that we hear quite frequently. The fact that adopters know that an animal was brought into their lives for a reason is amazing. Animals bring unique experiences into our lives and they never cease to amaze us with their goofy antics and carefree attitudes. The mere fact that petting an animal can calm a human’s nerves is a phenomenal act. The simple fact is that animals improve life overall. I know that my dogs have changed my life in all the best ways and have brought me through turbulent times.

Fishing report

Rainbow trout stockings have started and will continue all winter at two-week intervals. Trout range in size from 11-12 inches in length. Fishing is good to excellent for anglers using scented dough baits (such as Power Bait), worms or cheese. Small spinners such as Roostertails and Panther Martins, or spoons such as Kastmasters and Super Dupers work well for trout. In addition to a good morning bite, some anglers have reported excellent fishing midday and late afternoon. Patience is the key, as the trout bite sporadically throughout the day. When the bite is on, anglers are catching limits in an hour. Action for catfish, bass and bluegill has slowed due to colder water.

Spring hunt results available

Get ready to put some spring into your step — the 2012 spring draw for turkey, javelina, buffalo and bear has been completed and results are now available by clicking on the link at www.azgfd .gov/draw. Draw results are also available by telephone by calling the main Game and Fish Department telephone number at (602) 942-3000 and selecting “option two.” There were more than 31,900 applicants for this year’s spring draw.

Conversation can reveal character better than Web essay

A spat involving how athletes should be chosen for postseason honors has pitted some members of the Arizona Football Coaches Association against the Arizona Interscholastic Association. The AIA apparently wants coaches to select all-division and all-section honorees in a new, online voting process, while some coaches around the state want to continue selecting players in informal meetings as they have done for decades.

Weekend hike is still a go for PATS fans

The threat of winter weather is no obstacle to the intrepid souls who trek around the Payson Area Trails System, so the planned hike of the Cypress and Boulder Loop Trail is still a go for Saturday, Dec. 3. Participants will meet at the Cypress Trail Access at the end of East Phoenix Street, Payson at 9 a.m. The hike is 2.2 miles and considered easy.

Special Olympics bound for Payson High School

Payson High Special Olympic students might soon have the opportunity to compete on the high school level in such sports as basketball, track and field, golf, cheerleading and flag football. The Unified Sports Program, which is the first such partnership in the country, has its roots in Valley area schools, but plans are in the works to expand it to Payson and around small-town Arizona. “I am traveling next week to visit (rural) schools and explain the program,” said Special Olympics Arizona representative Scott Brown.

Lady Horns stampede 48-14 over Mustangs

The Longhorn girls varsity basketball team (2-0) soundly beat the Mogollon-Heber team 48-14 on Tuesday night. “They’re playing really strong as a team,” said head coach Jen White. White praised senior Katelyn Curtis for getting her teammates to play together and work as a team. The team is still improving its read and react offensive strategy, but its defense was strong.

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Horns get second big win

The Longhorns had another strong basketball game Tuesday night, beating out Mogollon by 20 points. The final score was 83-63. The win is the second for the Longhorns this season, with Payson beating Globe two weeks ago, 68-41. On Tuesday, Payson led all four quarters against the Mustangs with several players scoring in the double digits. The first quarter ended with a tight 15-14 score; the second quarter Payson put a little more distance on the board with 23-17; in the third, the Horns scored another 23 points to Mogollon’s 15; and in the fourth quarter, Payson outscored Mogollon 22-17.

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Winding road brings minister to Mount Cross

Glenn, Joyce Zimbelman join Lutheran Church in the Rim Country

Payson has only two roads into town, but the routes its residents have taken to get here are as varied as each individual — regardless of how long the Rim Country has been their home. The path that brought the Rev. Glenn Zimbelman and his wife, Janice, to Mount Cross Lutheran Church started in the Milwaukee area 27 years ago and most recently passed through Ohio, west of Cleveland. The Zimbelmans were called to Ohio to “plant a church” — start a church from scratch. The services were held in a warehouse, informal and media driven.

Clubs and Organizations

Another fabulous “Breakfast for a Buck” will be served at Ponderosa Bible Church, 1800 N. Beeline Highway, at 8 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 3. Kevin Ritter and his team will prepare breakfast, while the featured speaker will be Ed Warwick.  He will share amazing and humorous stories about sharing Jesus with others.

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Friday show reveals treasure trove of Rim Country artists

Turns out, Rim Country could declare itself an artist colony. The proof will go on display for a fleeting two hours this evening at Gila Community College, with a show featuring hundreds of pieces in every conceivable medium produced by student artists and some of their teachers. “I keep wondering, where did these people come from?” said pottery teacher David Sanchez about the 30 students from his classes that will display pieces in GCC’s fourth annual student/faculty art show. “It’s shocking the talent that’s here.” Each of the teachers with students entering work in the show made similar comments about the blossoming of talent — sometimes from people who have never created art, sometimes from people creating in isolation for years.

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Clearing roads of snow is an expensive operation for ADOT

The fair days and cold nights are predicted to change to snow on Friday and Saturday this week for Heber Overgaard. The temperatures will reflect the storm with a dip into the lower teens at night and mid 30s during the day. Even colder temperatures will encompass our area as the storm has passed.

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Holiday spirit plentiful in Pine and Strawberry

Last Friday was what the retail market calls Black Friday. Christmas shopping that day has never appealed to me, as Black Friday conjures up something dark that doesn’t fit with the spirit of Christmas, which is bright, sparkling and joyful. This year, however, I ventured out to the Pine Mall (the Community Center Thrift Store) as my out-of-town guests wisely wanted to peruse local shops. Small-town businesses may have trouble competing on the busiest shopping day of the year, but the Pine thrift shop, known for great merchandise and bargains, saw a steady flow of customers throughout the day, including many locals who know the best bargains are right here.

Tonto National Monument Cliff Dwelling offers photo tours

An opportunity for photographers visiting Tonto National Monument is being provided by retired professional photographers Peg Lavoie, photographic craftsman, and Rex Lavoie, master of photography, master of electronic imaging, photographic craftsman. In cooperation with the interpretive staff of Tonto National Monument, volunteers Rex and Peg launched a visitor photo walk program at the park.

Early morning is a great time of day

For some folks, the best time of the day is early in the morning, when both the mind and body are fresh and the excitement of a new day lies ahead. For others, the majesty of a paint-splashed sunset, followed by the peace that nightfall brings is what brings them their most happiness. For me, very early morning is the time of day I love the most. After finishing one of my early morning jogs this week and on my cool-down walk home along the western edge of Green Valley Lake, I felt a real appreciation just to be alive. Dawn was just beginning to break in the eastern sky, as moonglow guided me to along toward my “stretching” bench, the plastic-coated metal settee that has been my after-workout buddy for the better part of the last decade.

Self-taught artist following her dream to paint

This is the story of an artist with a longtime dream come true. Terry Glad Flores has lived in Payson since 1992 and has a passion and amazing talent of painting. She is a self-taught artist that after many years of self-teaching was introduced to the world renowned artist, Robert Freeman. Terry attended a workshop at Robert Freeman’s studio and that is when her passion for painting grew even more. Terry has won awards along the way including Judge’s Choice and Best of Show honors in the Gila County Fair in 2000.

Bad use of quads dangerous for kids

This past Sunday afternoon, there were many kids driving up and down the “island” on a quad, raising a lot of noise and dust. But that was not the worst part of it. At one point, one of the neighbors saw six kids on one quad and another one hanging on the back riding a skateboard. This is so dangerous besides causing discomfort for the neighbors with the noise and the dust. These same kids were spotted on the water bladder that is situated in the island for emergencies. There are metal hoses attached to the bladder and a kid could really get hurt if they fell on those hoses. The bladder is not a play toy and should not be considered as one. Parents, please inform your children of the dangers of playing on the water bladder and of course, they need to be monitored when driving or riding on those quads. The Village does not need any unfortunate accidents that could have been avoided.

Thursday, December 1

DPS reminds drivers to prepare for snowing conditions tonight and into the weekend

Motorist should be aware of the driving conditions and plan accordingly

With northern Arizona expected to receive upwards of 10 inches of snow above 5,000 feet starting Thursday and through the weekend, the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) is asking motorists to slow down, drive cautiously and stay home if they can.