Stories for February 2012


Wednesday, February 29

Local Events

Get those little anglers ready — the annual Kids Fishing Festival at Green Valley Park is planned from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, March 31. This is a free fishing day sponsored by the Urban Fishing Program of the Arizona Game and Fish Department in conjunction with the Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department.

Get-a-Away Around Rim Country

The Payson Public Library will once again participate in the Reading Across America program with a family adventure for Dr. Seuss’ birthday, Friday, March 2. The program is from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and will feature refreshments available for $1, prizes, face painting, crafts and stories. The stories will start at 6:30 p.m. The Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library in Pine will also celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday Friday, March 2. Its program will be from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. with activities, refreshments and a chance for a photo with the Cat in the Hat.

Good 2 Go

Jazz vocalist Nicole Pasternak will perform from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, March 11 at the Community Presbyterian Church, 800 W. Main St., Payson. Pasternak has developed an enthusiastic audience in the northeast U.S. with her honest, straight-ahead style, and equal energy for swing songs, bebop, ballads and Latin jazz. “People tell me my attitude on stage is energetic and contagious to them. They say that they feel good watching me engaged in the music; it engages them too,” says Nicole.

‘Minor’ heart attacks can still be deadly

My husband, 46, died suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack. An autopsy showed that he died from what the doctor said was a minor heart attack. How does a minor heart attack kill?

Archaeology comes alive on the Kaibab forest

March is Archaeology & Heritage Awareness Month in Arizona, and the Kaibab National Forest is celebrating by providing free programs to the public every Thursday evening and Saturday afternoon throughout the month. Scheduled events include a Thursday evening lecture series and Saturday afternoon hikes. Each of the lectures in the Thursday evening series is free to the public and will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Williams Ranger District office, 742 S. Clover Rd., Williams. Due to limited seating, please call ahead for reservations at (928) 635-5600.

Historic Rim names not commonly remembered

I was going through some old Payson Roundups out of the 1960s recently when I came across the mention of a few locals in a biographical encyclopedia that came out in 1967. It’s an interesting mix of people, some of whom are so comparatively modern that they got forgotten about. Let’s take a look and learn a little bit more.

Let's Hit the Road

Some of us might be experiencing spring fever right about now, so why not hit the road for some relief? Take a day trip or perhaps make it a multi-day getaway. Recently Norma and I, along with another couple, got in the car for a trip to Cottonwood and more. It’s a scenic ride through the beautiful pines north through Pine, Strawberry and down to Camp Verde. This takes about an hour, then another half hour or so to Cottonwood. This town has some very interesting antique stores as well as tasty restaurants. We first passed through Cottonwood only to return later in our journey.

Taste, Sip and Benefit

Annual Taste of Rim Country

This is your chance to sample the wares of some of the Rim Country’s best food professionals, and those aspiring to a career in the culinary arts. And while you enjoy yourself, you can also benefit the Payson Public Library. At the annual Taste of Rim Country, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, March 3, the Payson Public Library becomes sample central with food from 12 providers and the Payson High School culinary arts program. Plus there will be a selection of wines to try.

A savory springtime brunch

Warm breezes, blooming flowers, pretty pastels — spring has not arrived quite yet (the first official day of spring is March 20), but it has been unusually nice for this time of year, so bring family and friends together for a welcoming brunch to celebrate. When planning your menu, be sure to have plenty of savory dishes on hand to satisfy your guests. And rest easy — you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen to prepare your feast. Using ingredients already full of flavor, such as Johnsonville Breakfast Sausage, lets you create memorable brunch dishes without a lot of work.

Tuesday, February 28

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A tribute to a fine artist: Gerri Levine

This week we reflect on the passing of a blossoming artist in our well-knit community of Payson. Gerri Levine was respected as an outstanding photographer, community contributor and officer of the Artist of the Rim Gallery. Gerri was an Arizona resident who migrated from Phoenix to Payson to pursue her many endeavors, and to get a little closer to the nature and Native American culture that she loved. After graduating from college in Boston, Gerri moved to California where she worked as a research biologist at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory for 35 years. She was a published academic while at LBL.

Students have right to carry guns

I wonder why Brenda Mooney (“Guns in classroom not in the best interest of students,” Feb. 21) believes a gun carried by her into a classroom, and presumably kept on her person or secured in a locked desk, is somehow a danger to her students?

P-S water district has new master plan

A long-awaited and much anticipated master plan for the Pine-Strawberry water district was endorsed at the group’s recent board meeting. Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District (PSWID) Treasurer Mike Greer enthusiastically endorsed the 2012-13 proposed budget and master plan at a Feb. 23 board meeting. Greer’s budget includes $100,000 to hire an engineering firm to study the current water system and develop an infrastructure plan for the district’s future.

Benefit is a way to carry on caring tradition

The Lorraine Cline Memorial Fund Poker Ride and Raffle is one of the fastest growing and most popular benefits in the Rim Country. It’s only been in existence for four years, but already it’s attracting droves of followers from the Rim Country, southern Gila County and the Valley. While the ride is a celebratory and festive outing designed to tickle the fancy of most all ATV owners, its real purpose is to benefit the fight against cancer. Laci Sopeland, the granddaughter of Lorraine Cline who died four years ago of lung caner, organized the benefit rides in 2008 to earn money, which is donated to help pay expenses to local people waging war against the dreaded disease. Sopeland says a portion of the money will ultimately help fund a type of free wellness clinic where Gila County residents can receive health care and checkups.

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Two Payson destinations make AAA’s Best of Arizona list

To commemorate Arizona’s 100-year birthday, AAA asked Arizonans to share their favorite things to see and do in the Grand Canyon State. Answering the call, desert dwellers helped build the club’s top 100 list. On Friday, AAA revealed that list in a four-part series in Highroads, AAA Arizona’s member magazine.

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Rotary Student of the Month

The Rim Country Rotary-Payson honored the February Student of the Month, Joseph Oldeschulte, with a ceremony at the club’s Feb. 23 meeting with a Certificate of Merit and a check for $50.

Mogollon Health Alliance finds new CEO after search

After a five-month search, the Mogollon Health Alliance has found a new chief executive officer in house. Sanja S. Long was promoted from administrative assistant to CEO recently. “Sanja has shown initiative and resourcefulness throughout the past few years as she assumed a leadership role in this dynamic organization,” said Gary Cordell, MHA board vice president. Long has been with the MHA for three years. The MHA board interviewed several candidates for the position after Judy Baker stepped down after nearly 20 years with the non-profit group.

Clubs and Organizations

Elks members and guests are welcome to enjoy lunch at the Lodge from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday; Friday dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday dinner from noon to 5 p.m. Basic refreshments are offered for sale at the Karaoke Night from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every Wednesday in February. Every Sunday there is Bingo at 1 p.m. and a Pool Tournament at 4 p.m., with Happy Hour from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Elks members and guests are welcome at these events.

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Payson High School culinary student selected top 10 in state

It took 10 days of anxious waiting for the e-mail to come through, but it finally did on Valentine’s Day. The news was good. The Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) competition selected Payson High School (PHS) junior Autumn Parrish one of the top 10 juniors in the state. Parrish will move on to the final senior competition in March where she will prepare lunch for the event with the other top Arizona juniors. Professional chefs will assess her performance to determine what awards will be given. Traditionally, five summer culinary camp scholarships have been awarded, one as far away as New York’s Culinary Institute of America.

PHS student selected as national youth delegate for university conference

Marily Ridings, a student at Payson High School, has been selected to represent Arizona as a national youth delegate at the 2012 Washington Youth Summit on the Environment at George Mason University.

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Lady Horns open season

Armed with a bevy of returning letter winners expected to lift the Lady Longhorn softball team to new heights this season, Payson High departs Thursday, March 1, to Buckeye for the Hawk Invitational. From last year’s team, Taylor Petersen, Kaitlyn Wessel, Natalie Black, Devann Runzo, Megan Wessel and Karessa Armstrong return to provide leadership, defense and hopefully a red-hot offensive attack. Petersen, a catcher, set the school’s home run record as a freshman and hones her skills in the off-season playing club ball in the Valley. Kaitlyn Wessel and her sister, Megan, are two of the finest all-around athletes at the school and their talents play a major part in buoying the softball cause. Kaitlyn plays first baseball and Meagan can hold down spots in either the outfield or infield.

New Fossil Creek closure deals blow to Rim economy

Tourism officials protest abrupt, year-long closure of road access to stream

Delivering a fresh blow to Rim Country’s struggling tourist economy, the U.S. Forest Service this week shut down Fossil Creek Road for at least another year. The soaring popularity of the pristine, restored travertine-rich stream has drawn a flood of weekend visitors to Payson, but also resulted in piles of litter, illegal campfires and fears of stream pollution. The Forest Service is working on a plan to control access, perhaps through the use of shuttle buses, but in the meantime a closure order issued last week will shut off access by road from Pine and Strawberry.

Prescription drug discount program arriving soon in SV

Some Star Valley residents could soon be saving an average of 20 percent off costly prescription medications after the town signed up for the program last week. The town is working with the National League of Cities to offer free discount prescription drug cards to any area resident. The cards are designed to give residents without health insurance a pharmacy benefit plan or have prescriptions not covered by insurance at a savings. Anyone is eligible for a card since the program has no age, income or existing health coverage or ailments restrictions. The card is accepted at all major pharmacies, including those in Payson.

Be wary of comparing the Rim Country real estate market today with 2008

One of the topics recently discussed in the Coldwell Banker Bishop Realty offices was the pace of change in the world. As time passes, it seems, our short memories are quick to forget how things were. For example, comparing the Payson and Star Valley real estate markets from September of 2008 with today it might appear the Rim Country market is poised for a climb back to some level of normalcy. In September of 2008, there were 549 homes for sale in Payson and Star Valley. And back then we had a two-year supply of homes on the market. As of today, there are 241 homes on the market, which equates to a little less than a seven-month inventory. (Many consider a six-month inventory balanced).

Unopposed elections may provoke problems

Question: What’s worse than spending $35,000 on an election without any contested seats? Answer: Doing it twice. That’s the fear behind Payson Town Clerk Silvia Smith’s appeal to voters to fill out and return their ballots for the town council elections — even though no one filed to run against the incumbents in Payson. The same concerns hold true in Star Valley, where no one filed to oppose Mayor Bill Rappaport or council members George Binney, Gary Coon or Paty Henderson. The ballots went out this week for the vote-by-mail town election, with Payson Mayor Kenny Evans, Councilor Michael Hughes, Councilor Richard Croy and Councilor John Wilson all up for re-election. Sounds simple enough: No opponent, slam dunk.

Read Across America events celebrate Dr. Seuss on March 2

Rim Country libraries will be celebrating Dr. Seuss this week with Read Across America events Friday, March 2. At the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Public Library is Pine; the festivities are from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Participants will enjoy crafts; a drawing for Seuss books (winners must be present); contests and refreshments; plus a chance to have a photo with the Cat in the Hat.

State senate race offers contrasts

New district lines ensure Payson voters will face lively and competitive races

Redistricting has shifted northern Gila County into what’s shaping up to become one of the most hotly contested state senate races in the state. The race in the redrawn legislative District 6 will likely pit Republican Senate President Pro Tem Sylia Allen against incumbent House Democrat Tom Chabin. The lines drawn by the Independent Redistricting Commission split Gila County in two and added the north half of the county to a district dominated by Flagstaff, Chabin’s hometown. The new district lines must pass review by the U.S. Justice Department and perhaps survive a contemplated legal challenge by the Legislature. However, candidates are facing May deadlines to make a decision on whether to run in the August primary.

Churches plan Lenten services

Several area churches have announced special Lenten services for Rim Country residents. All of the churches invite members of the community to join their congregations for these services to prepare for Easter.

Pine Strawberry water district turmoil continues

A pair of water users unleashed verbal attacks on a longtime Pine Strawberry Improvement Water District (PSWID) critic during a Feb. 23 regular board meeting. The meeting erupted into a barrage of personal attacks and name calling when Cindy Mack and Jane Wilcox assailed board critic Sam Schwalm, saying his criticisms were unfounded. In the accusations, which seemed to catch the audience off guard, Mack and Wilcox scolded Schwalm — spokesman for the community activist group Water for Pine Strawberry. Schwalm, who was sitting near the front, did not respond. The two women’s attacks came on the heels of a volatile Jan. 19 board meeting during which board member Ron Calderon threatened Schwalm, saying, “I’m going to put my foot in your mouth.” Calderon also said he was disturbed by the sight of Schwalm at meetings with his “big head and big fat smile on his face.”

Students job shadow a reporter

From time to time, the Roundup sponsors students who wish to job shadow a reporter to satisfy the requirements for the Rim Country Middle School career class. All seventh grade students participate in the career class, which prepares them for life after school — from a pretend marriage to creating a household budget and managing a job. The students get a flavor of what adults grapple with day to day. The job shadow allows students to explore an on-the-job experience.

Pine-Strawberry board: Should we laugh or cry?

Shakespeare would have loved the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District. Lately, the water district board seems bent on offering itself up as an illustration of the “tragic flaw” — with certain elements of low comedy. And it’s all such a waste — although fascinating to watch. Consider the heroic accomplishments of the board in the past two years. A decade of haphazard and irresponsible management by Brooke Utilities had blighted the whole community. Brooke’s refusal to make any investment in increasing water supplies in return for its monopoly resulted in a perpetual building moratorium. After years of argument and division, the water district bought out Brooke and set about to secure the community’s future.

Longhorns run, slug way to FH tourney title

The Longhorn baseball team overcame a lack of practice time and preseason doldrums to finish 4-0 and win the championship of the inaugural Fountain Hills Invitational tournament this weekend. During the course of the tournament’s four days, the Horns opened with a 2-0 win over Northwest Christian and followed it up with a 7-6 triumph vs. Bourgade. After a day’s rest, the team returned to Fountain Hills to thump Winslow 12-3 and in the championship finale ran rampant over Camp Verde 18-1. “We struggled a little bit against Northwest and Bourgade due to so few practices,” coach Scott Novack said. “The opportunity to go home (after the win over Bourgade), go to class and have batting practice I think helped us tremendously. “We had the perfect schedule.”

Thanks to those who helped with Lip Sync contest

We, meaning the Rim Country Optimist Club, always look forward to the Lip Sync Contest for high school students, which is a concert for the audience.

Community Almanac

Celebrate Leap Day by taking a few moments to hit the students’ multi-cultural buffet. Foods from Italy, Mexico, Thailand, and America’s South (soul food) will be featured. If you haven’t had a chance to try authentic Thai food, the students received personal training from Mac and Nan of Payson’s Ayothaya Thai Café — they have been huge supporters of this year’s chef event. Plus, there will be loads of delicious desserts to choose from.

Let’s hope governor vetoes guns on campus bill

The letters about campuses allowing students to carry weapons are pretty interesting.

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Payson High senior wins top golf prize

Tyler Apps pulled off one of the most amazing accomplishments in local golf lore winning the Arizona Short Course Classic Nike golf tournament as a high school senior. Prior to the tournament, he had the option of playing in the 15-18 years age division, but chose to play in the more competitive men’s group. In the tournament played Feb. 23 to Feb. 25 at the par 61 Augusta Ranch Golf Club in Mesa, Apps finished at four over par 126, which was two strokes better than runner-up Kevin Walters.

Thanks to community support food drive was a success

The Payson region continues to be severely impacted by the loss of jobs and lower family incomes.

Gila college board focuses on finances

Working to clear up its murky finances, the Gila Community College (GCC) Board voted not to impose course fees but did agree to assign an existing employee to serve as finance director. The board voted not to impose the course fees partly to balance student costs between the Globe and Payson campuses. Moreover, an audit by the state suggested the lack of a financial director exposed GCC to gross accounting deficiencies. In the fall, Senior Dean Stephen Cullen had requested the board vote in a fee of $50 for any class that required additional supplies such as ceramics or jewelry. Cullen reported that according to his research, each campus paid thousands of dollars in additional costs to cover art supplies.

Two charged with attempted murder await setting of trial

A bloody confrontation over an allegedly stolen cell phone has led police through a twisted tale of a night gone terribly wrong. William ‘Billy’ Sweatt was stabbed at least three times at his home in October, leading to the arrest of two Payson residents. A jury indicted Brook Lynn Johnson, 19, and Andrew James Hargis, 32, in November on multiple charges, including conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, burglary and endangerment. Hargis and Johnson allegedly tried to kill Sweatt, Johnson reportedly stabbing him several times at a home on West Elm Street where a child was also present. Sweatt survived the altercation. Hargis is currently being held on a $10,000 bond in Payson’s jail while Johnson has been released. Trial dates for Johnson and Hargis have not been set.

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JRE fourth-graders learn about ranching

Justin Keegan pulled the pile of leather out of the bucket. “I thought it was a saddle!” said the Julia Randall Elementary student of the pair of chaps. Justin is from Julie Eckhardt’s fourth grade classroom. Meanwhile, Margaret Armstrong discovered cats catch gophers and snakes on a ranch. “I learned what cats are for,” she said, “I never knew what they were for.” When rancher Lori Brown hears things like this, she knows her efforts are paying off. Every year she comes to Gila County elementary schools to talk about ranching and the agricultural business.

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Coyote smuggling 15 illegals also here illegally

A 27-year-old man arrested Wednesday for allegedly smuggling 15 illegal immigrants through Payson was released to custom officials. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials picked up Raul Lopez-Gomez Monday. Gomez was the only person booked on charges after a routine traffic stop near the Chase Bank Wednesday led to the discovery of a vanload of illegal immigrants.

Cattle ranchers are too smart to over graze

Ref. Payson Roundup of Feb. 14, (Judge blocks grazing above Fossil Creek). The article does not say, but one must assume it is the 9th U.S. Circuit Court in San Francisco.

Friday, February 24

ASU plans free football camp for 500 youths

Each year parents of high school athletes dole out hundreds of dollars to send their sons to football camps around the country hoping they’ll pick up the skills and moxie to excel in the sport. There is however, a free camp being offered that requires only a one-day trip to the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe. Newly appointed ASU head coach Todd Graham is hosting the Sun Devil Experience clinic at 11:30 a.m., Saturday, March 31 inside Sun Devil Stadium. The clinic is open to both boys and girls ages 8 to 13 who are not enrolled in ninth grade or above.

Community Almanac

This coming weekend, the Regional Payson Area Project… for a Fire Wise Rim Country (RPAP) will be staffing free brush drop-off points at the following locations, weather permitting: Saturday, Feb. 25 the Blattner Pit will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Blattner Pit is located at Milepost 259.7 on Highway 260, east of Payson. Sunday, Feb. 26 the Pine Pit will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Pine Pit is located .7 of a mile east of Highway 87 on Control Road, south of Pine.

Another intrusion by Obama on our liberties

The breaking news this past week was President Obama’s decision to force the religious community, primarily the Catholic Church, to provide mandated coverage for contraception and other “preventative” birth control measures (i.e. abortion) in their employee health insurance policies.

GCC hopes to warm up relations with education alliance

Hoping to thaw chilly relations between the Rim Country Education Alliance (SLE) and Gila Community College (GCC), the GCC board voted to launch a curriculum committee at its meeting Feb. 16. GCC board member Tom Loeffler will head up the committee to create programs that would integrate GCC students into a four-year institution’s degree tracks. “It would be of benefit to us to see what type of program is out there and then sit down with ASU (Arizona State University) or other institutions and see what kind of project we work out with them,” said Loeffler.

Feds approve county redistricting maps

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has approved Gila County redistricting maps. T. Christian Herren, the chief of the voting section of the civil rights division at DOJ has informed Gila County Elections Director Linda Eastlick, the new redistricting maps did not violate the majority-minority voting percentages mandated by the Civil Rights Act or the population requirements of the Constitution. “It was a huge process and we’re glad it’s over,” said Eastlick.

Low-cost spay, neuter clinic coming

The Humane Society strives to bring fresh, animal-related topics to the Payson community, but we sure do have a passion for good old spay and neuter initiatives. Adopting or fostering an animal is no doubt a life-altering experience, but spaying and neutering is the solution to the pet overpopulation issue drowning our nation’s shelters.

Senate candidate: ‘We need outsiders’

Mesa businessman Wil Cardon brings campaign to Payson

U.S. Senate candidate Wil Cardon has deep family ties to Rim Country and hopes he can transform his lack of political experience into an advantage that will bring him the Republican nomination to replace retiring Senator Jon Kyl. “Look how far experienced politicians have gotten us: $16 trillion in debt. You can’t be a successful member of a failed organization,” said the Mesa businessman. “Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity is to do the same thing over again and expect a different result. We need outsiders, not insiders.”

Community clubs plea for cut in school charges

The Payson school board absorbed a plea from at least one club for kids staggered by a dramatic increase in the fee the district charges for using school facilities. The district recently imposed a 250-percent increase in the charge for using lighted practice fields in its ongoing effort to cope with its dwindling budget. “It’s not reasonable and it’s not in line with what other districts are doing,” said Trevor Creighton of the $125-per-practice charge Club Payson must pay.

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Race vet

Yukon dog race captured one man’s heart

It’s daybreak and before anyone else is stirring, Star Valley veterinarian Alan Hallman sneaks away from the pack. His heavy, knee-high boots crunching over the tundra break the frozen silence. When he reaches the Yukon River, Hallman sits down in the snow and looks back — marveling at the vast, undisturbed wilderness of Alaska and how he managed to make it back another year to one of the world’s greatest races. Hours later, the small village Hallman and his veterinarian team are shacked up in is shaken awake by dozens of barking mutts.

First robin of spring has been spotted

I spotted the first robin of the season this past week feeding with the other birds in our back yard. I guess that means that spring is not too far away. Even my rose bushes are sprouting new growth and so is the parsley and sage. The garlic I planted a few years ago has already come up and an odd thing — I have a whole garlic sitting on my window sill and I noticed that the whole clove has sprouted! Now what? Do I just leave it be and cut off the green shoots, or do I get a pot of soil and plant them? Any advice out there?

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Suspected illegals detained after Payson traffic stop

A routine traffic stop in Payson led to the detention of 15 people deputies suspected were illegal immigrants. Gila County Deputy Leonard Kerszykowski made a traffic stop in Payson at about 4:40 p.m. on Wednesday, according to police reports. The deputy noted about 15 people in the vehicle and asked for identification. Several people in the vehicle admitted that they didn’t have any documents, said Lt. Tim Scott. Kerszykowski then called for backup and the arriving officers took the suspected undocumented people to the Payson substation.

Woodhill burglaries continue

Police charge two men with Pioneer Village break-ins

While police cracked the case for one break-in this weekend, several new residential burglaries were discovered. It appears just as soon as officers arrested two men allegedly responsible for a break-in at Pioneer Village, they were back at work investigating three new burglaries in or near the Woodhill neighborhood. The neighborhood has been hit hard in recent months with thieves preying on second homeowners. The three break-ins discovered last weekend are the latest in a string of at least seven since January. Police are encouraging part-time homeowners to take extra caution by installing motion detectors, putting lights on timers and starting a neighborhood watch program.

No guns on campus says GCC board

In a unanimous vote, the Gila Community College (GCC) board agreed to oppose allowing guns on campus. “There’s been a lot of controversy over this bill,” said Larry Stephenson, president of the GCC board. The board’s Feb. 16 vote was spurred after the Arizona Senate hopped on the guns on campus bandwagon with Senate Bill 1474. The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 6 and now awaits a hearing in the Senate Rules Committee. Following in the GCC board’s footsteps, the Arizona Board of Regents passed a resolution opposing the bill to allow firearms on campus on Feb. 21. “If you asked me how many guns I own, I would say ‘not enough,’” said Regent Ernest Calderon in a press release, “Responsible gun ownership is part of my family tradition. However, I don’t understand the need to allow or to justify handguns on campus. Allowing handguns on campus creates nothing more than unnecessary liability.” GCC board members’ comments agreed with the Regents.

Gym will get million-dollar roof, paid for by the state

The Payson School Board Thursday awarded a $969,000 contract to Amon Builders to replace the sagging roof on the old high school gym. The contract will complete a $1.3 million series of projects to replace the flat, 43-year-old roof with a peaked, shingled roof that will match the rest of the campus architecture. The appearance of cracks in the ceiling of the gym used for many sports events and physical education classes last year prompted the district to call in structural engineers, who concluded the original, Valley-based designers had blundered by not taking into account the sometimes considerable weight of snow. The engineers warned the district to evacuate the building anytime it snowed more than an inch.

School board names screening committee

Two dozen administrators, teachers and community members to rate candidates for superintendent’s job

School employees make up about half of the 24 people who have agreed to screen candidates for superintendent of the Payson Unified School District. The school board named 24 people to a screening committee that will review applications from school superintendent candidates and assign a numerical score to each application. The five school board members will consider those scores in selecting two to four finalists by the end of next month, said board president Barbara Underwood. The screening committee members will then presumably attend a luncheon with the finalists and attend open community forums featuring those finalists, said Underwood, who assembled the committee from names submitted by board members.

Vote for candidates who advocate our best interests

One of our major concerns is the fiscal irresponsibility of our United States government.

Chamber News Briefs

The Chamber will raffle a copy of the 23” tall statue of “The Bronco Buster” by Frederick Remington on March 24 at the Business Showcase. This bronze statue is a replica of the one at Main Street and McLane in Payson, and the original resides in the White House. The purpose of the raffle is to assist the Chamber in the renovation of the Visitor Center. Tickets are $10 each, and only 200 will be sold. Tickets are available at the Chamber, with a great view of this beautiful bronze statue.

Gila County schools receive over $1.5 million in federal funds

Last year of four-year installment authorization

Gila County supervisors distributed more than $1.5 million dollars of Federal Secure Rural Schools and Communities (SRSC — forest fees) funds to schools and roads, but this could be the last year the county sees these funds. “This is the last of our four-year authorization for funds,” said County School Superintendent Linda O’Dell, “and the funding for rural schools has decreased by 7.7 percent at the same time.”

TCCA presents ‘American Spirit’

The Tonto Community Concert Association, in conjunction with Live On Stage, presents the musical “American Spirit,” as the 2011-2012 concert season continues. “American Spirit” will be performed at the Payson High School Auditorium at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 28.


Dear Chamber Member or Prospective Chamber Member, As this is the start of a new year, I want to thank you for your support of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce. This is your Chamber, and we want to provide you with the best range of tools we can to assist your business in 2012. It does not take a genius to know that we are involved in a trying time on a massive economic scale. It is the goal of the Chamber to provide you with as much information, networking opportunities, advertising availabilities and technical data as we can to assist you in the successful continuation of your business.

Science teachers given appreciation night

For its inaugural teacher appreciation event, a local education support group sent a pair of teachers to the stars. Payson’s Parent Teacher Student Organization (PTSO) paid for Payson High School teachers Andrew Fiala and Michael Ellis and their spouses to visit the Arizona Science Center Jan. 28 for the Science Teacher Night. Each teacher was given $80, enough to cover gas and dinner, and free tickets to the science center.

Prescribed burns on 6,300 acres planned near Young

Pleasant Valley Ranger District fire specialists will be conducting a series of prescribed fire operations on approximately 6,300 acres in the Cherry and Chamberlain analysis area through April on the Tonto National Forest. As weather conditions permit, a black line will be put around several burn blocks, treating up to several hundred acres daily, dependent on air quality conditions.  The Cherry prescribed fire will be along both sides of State Highway 288 and are composed of three planning units (or blocks): 

Gila County maps offer model for redistricting

Gila County’s model redistricting plan gained prompt approval from the U.S. Department of Justice. So it seems only right to compliment the Gila County Board of Supervisors and its redistricting process on a job well done — and to wish the state’s process had gone half so smoothly. Mind you, we had our qualms at the start of Gila County’s politically charged process of drawing new district lines for both the board of supervisor districts and the community college seats.

Ever wonder why we remember unimportant things so well? Part II

Last week I wondered why we remember some unimportant things so well. I swear! I remember some things that any sane person would forget. But I forgot to mention something: There are other things I remember that seem equally unimportant, but I know why I remember them. They only seem unimportant. They really aren’t. I thought it might help if I mentioned a couple of them to you and let you sort things out. I’ve given up trying.

2012 Business Showcase — ‘Rim Country Business, Past, Present & Future’

The 20th Annual Business Showcase, presented by the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce and Payson Regional Medical Center, has filled the original spaces in the Mazatzal Exhibition Hall. The Showcase will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 24. Admission is $1 per day for adults over 12 years of age. All proceeds will be used to repaint and restore the Visitor’s Center. All booths will have raffle prizes and will be eligible for the “Best of Show” Award, the “Best Theme” award, and the “People’s Choice” award. Don’t forget to fill out and deposit your ballot for your favorite booth.

For Devils to return, ASU coach wants numerous upgrades at Camp Tontozona

It appears Camp Tontozona must undergo major upgrades before first-year Arizona State University football coach Todd Graham will resume preseason training at the scenic mountain retreat. Acquisition of state-of-the-art technology services would be among the improvements needed mostly because cell phones and other communication devices cannot receive signals there due to the camp’s remote location.

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History, background of Heber Overgaard provided

On Saturday, Feb. 18 the Heber Overgaard Chamber of Commerce sponsored an event at the visitor’s center that featured Lewis Tenney giving a talk to a large crowd about the history and background of Heber Overgaard dating back to 1963 with pictures and history that dated back to the 1940s. Almost 50 years ago, Lewis Tenney moved to Heber Overgaard with his wife, Mary, to be close to Mary’s family.

Longhorns in running for All-Section honors

Payson High boys basketball coach Joe Sanchez believes his team has players who are strong candidates to make the prestigious All-Section III team even though results of coaches’ balloting has not yet been announced. “I’m hoping we get at least two, maybe more,” Sanchez said. “My voting is in and I’m trying to find out when the team will be announced, but I haven’t been able to.” Tanner Hintze and Cole Belcher are probably Payson’s two strongest candidates to make the all-section team, but Josh Oakley, Guillermo Lopez and others could possibly receive recognition.

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New animal shelter nears completion

Humane Society honors volunteers who played a key role in building the $1 million, 7,000-square-foot facility

Heaving a sigh of relief at the wagging tail end of a mild winter, the Humane Society of Central Arizona has nearly finished its new, 7,000-square-foot animal shelter on South McLane Road. Animal lovers fretted about a final winter for aging, open-air kennels bulging with abandoned dogs, but the lack of winter storms that frustrated water managers delighted the Humane Society. So now the group has turned to putting the final touches on an enclosed, temperature controlled shelter with separate kennels and treatment options for sick animals, hoping to move about 50 dogs into the new digs in March or April.

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Christopher-Kohl’s Fire Department working project grant

Hello again, fellow Creekers. The Christopher-Kohl’s Fire Department is currently working a large project grant that treats five major properties within our fire district. There will be a meeting held at Creekside at 9 a.m. on Feb. 24 where the parameters of the grant will be discussed with the participants. The Christopher-Kohl’s Fire Department is also putting together another large project grant that has to be submitted by March 8. The properties must be together, and total 15 or more acres. This can be separate properties that adjoin each other and border the USFS properties. It is a 90/10 percent grant; the state pays 90 percent and the property owners pay 10 percent. This is a good deal for those who wish to participate.

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Youth express appreciation to senior citizens

Want to live in a great community? You already do! It is the thoughtful, caring actions of residents in a community, passed down from generation to generation, that truly enriches us and makes a community great. Here in Strawberry and Pine, acts of kindness are habitual. This was demonstrated on Valentine’s Day, when youth from the Pine-Strawberry School Builder’s Club (a junior Kiwanis group) paid a visit to the Senior Dining Room to reach out in friendship and appreciation to senior citizens who were gathered there for lunch. The young people presented each senior with a gift; a flower and a poem of gratitude. The poem entitled “Friends” expressed the beauty, wisdom and spirit of friendship.

Another music icon dies prematurely

As of this writing, I don’t believe that the official cause of singer-actress Whitney Houston’s death has been determined. But that really doesn’t matter. What really matters is that another human being, and in this case, another extremely talented music icon has tragically died well before her time. Her death has left many of us shaking our heads and wondering why. Just why do we so prematurely have to say goodbye to so many artists that we have grown to appreciate and love?

AIA hints at power points fix

An alleged error in the way the Arizona Interscholastic Association calculates power point rankings is causing a stir around the state. Gilbert resident and former Intel engineer John Carrieres, who seems to have a running battle with the AIA claiming two association officials “have stonewalled this issue,” brought the error in the ranking system to the public’s attention three weeks ago. But indications are the AIA will work to correct its power point formula this spring.

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Lady Horns’ arsenal armed and loaded

When the AIA realigned high schools from the former region-conference format to one of divisions and sections, the switch rendered winning a state title much more difficult because the seven former conferences shrunk to four divisions and the number of teams in each section became much larger that what existed in the former regions. Also, smaller schools, like Payson, are now often pitted against schools with much larger student body counts. In other words, the competition was ratcheted up several notches.

Clubs and Organizations

The Payson Flycasters Club will meet Saturday, Feb. 25 at Tiny’s Restaurant, 600 E. Highway 260. Breakfast is at 8 a.m., with the meeting starting at 9 a.m. The speaker will be Cindra Howard from the Orvis shop in Scottsdale. She will be discussing the insects and bugs that are prevalent in our area, when they hatch and how they are used in fishing. Her program will be enhanced with a slide show on the subject.

Obama’s budget pushes us closer to Greek-style catastrophe

On Feb. 13, President Obama unveiled his annual budget, which The Wall Street Journal called “a brilliant bit of misdirection.” Rather than cut the deficit in half by 2012, as the president promised, it instead hikes spending and gives us yet another deficit in excess of $1 trillion — all while adding trillions more to our already unsustainable national debt over the next decade.

Wednesday, February 22

Good 2 Go

Jake’s Bar & Grill is located on Hwy. 188, approximately two miles south of the intersection of Hwys. 87 and 188. The western town front features a bar, dining room, stage, and a great patio with horseshoe pits. Bring your business cards to be used to choose partners for the Jake’s Corner/Chamber horseshoe competition and trophy. Admission is by donation: $3 for members and $5 for community guests.

‘American Spirit’ soars

Concert association celebrates patriotism and history with next performance

The Tonto Community Concert Association, in conjunction with Live On Stage, Inc., presents the musical “American Spirit,” as the 2011-2012 concert season continues. Award-winning show producer Matt Davenport Productions will present its newest touring show, “American Spirit” at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 28 at the Payson High School Auditorium. The production will feature a soloist from Payson High School and members of the Payson Choral Society. Concertgoers are encouraged to show their own American spirit by wearing red, white and blue attire to this unique event.

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 13: The Self-Inflicted Killing of aTrapper

Wayside graves are always intriguing. When we stumble across them they raise so many questions. One can discover just such an interesting monument while driving slowly and watchfully along the Forest Road 300 on the Mogollon Rim. This famous scenic drive along the edge of the Rim follows somewhat faithfully the trail blazed by General George Crook in the early 1870s. His purpose was to connect Forts Verde and Apache and enable troop movement that could cut off the northern escape of renegade Indians. Driving from west to east, as one approaches a sign noting “Leonard Canyon” a gravesite can be seen on the right, just off the road. This spot also happens to be the place where, in the late summer of 1872, General Crook’s two crews met, blazing the trail from both ends. In those days it was called “Deadshot Canyon” after a renegade Apache with that name who had been apprehended here.

Blood Pressure: Both numbers are important

What happened to DMSO? It used to be available, but it has disappeared. Why?

Budget-friendly family fun

These days, enjoying one another’s company on a budget is even more important for families. So take a break from the ordinary and settle into the comforts of the best playground around — the home. Remember that family time should be silly, lighthearted, and above all, about creating special bonding moments. Here are a few entertaining at-home activities the entire family can enjoy without dipping into savings.

Voyages to Remember

Vacations are meant for making memories and sometimes there are those that we start with no idea how they will make their mark in our memories. I can recall a few such experiences, as you probably can as well. Today, I will outline a few travels that could become especially memorable. Only a few months ago it was my pleasure to enjoy a month in the Mediterranean area. This year, Holland America Lines is offering a 22-day voyage departing Sept. 23, 2012 from Barcelona, Spain. After flying to Spain, you proceed to the dock area and board the Ryndam. In fact, I would get to Barcelona a couple days before the ship sails in order to do some sightseeing in and around this most interesting city. It’s clean, safe and visually interesting and beautiful.

Get-a-Away Around Rim Country

The Payson Area Habitat for Humanity ReStore has made some exciting changes and the public is invited to come and celebrate them on Wednesday, Feb. 29 — Leap Day! There will be barbecued pulled pork sliders and coleslaw, compliments of the ReStore (while it lasts). Payson Area Habitat for Humanity is looking for new volunteers to help in the office, organize the store floor, repair electronics and work behind the front counter.

Offerings from the Parks and Recreation Department

This camp offers young wrestlers, in the third through eighth grades, the opportunity to learn skills from the Payson High School coaches and players. The cost is $25 per child. The camp is from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Feb. 28, Feb. 29, March 1, March 6, March 7 and March 8 and meets at the Wilson Dome wrestling room.

Tuesday, February 21

Controversial sheriff calls on Gila County for investigation

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu Tuesday asked Gila County authorities to investigate him and his office for alleged wrongdoings.

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New state law bans bath salts

A bill signed Friday by Gov. Jan Brewer makes it illegal to sell or use a synthetic drug known as bath salts. While the use of bath salts has been a growing issue in many communities, in Payson, they were not readily available, unlike potpourri, which is sold at several convenience stores. Potpourri is also a synthetic drug, but made with different chemicals. Several of those chemicals used to make potpourri or spice were added to the state’s list of dangerous drugs last year. Drug manufacturers, however, went around the law by slightly changing the products’ chemical makeup. “This is the difficulty with the law keeping up with the science of these substances,” said Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores. The bill signed Friday outlaws seven chemicals used to make bath salts.

Council opts out of employee discipline

No more politically charged, excruciatingly public firings and demotions. The Payson Town Council just took itself out of the loop. Still smarting from two painfully public employee appeals, the Payson Town Council last week decided to let fired and demoted employees appeal to professional personnel hearing officers in the future — instead of the town council. “This takes the council out of the disciplinary appeals process,” said Town Attorney Tim Wright. “It removes the potential for politics, which could create some real problems. Employees could be treated differently from someone who isn’t so popular” in the community.

Payson struggles for way to ban designer drug sale

Sale of synthetic marijuana to teens prompts town to consider law that would examine intent of the seller

The Payson Town Council on Thursday directed Police Chief Don Engler and Town Attorney Tim Wright to come up with an ordinance that will make it possible to ban the sale of synthetic marijuana and other designer drugs like spice. The council’s move comes in the wake of community protests in front of a handful of Rim Country stores selling spice, a legal mix of compounds including a synthetic version of the active ingredient in marijuana. Moreover, the state Legislature last week rushed through SB 2356 that would ban some versions of the drugs that have quickly gained wide popularity among teenagers in recent months. Most of the blends are labeled “not for human consumption,” since the health effects of eating or smoking the materials remain unknown and untested.

ASU deal now about the money

Alliance now scrambling for another tenant to close multi- million-dollar gap

In the end, it’s all about the money. Now that Arizona State University has offered its latest draft Intergovernmental Agree-ment (IGA) to build a four-year university in Payson, the Rim Country Educational Alliance has to find the additional money required to make the arrangement feasible. The IGA submitted by ASU would require the Alliance to not only provide free office and classroom space for the first, 1,000-student phase, but to subsidize the housing component of the university campus. ASU has agreed pay for all furniture and equipment, building operation and maintenance, planning and capital costs for all future educational program expansion for subsequent phases for the additional 5,000 students anticipated at build out. The bottom-line quest for millions in additional revenue has prompted the Alliance to seek another anchor tenant for a complex that has grown to some 400 acres.

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Lip Sync Contest becomes battle of love songs

The 2011 Rim Country Optimist, Kiwanis and Rotary clubs’ Lip Sync Contest could have been renamed, ‘The Battle of the Love Songs.” From traditional favorites such as Enrique Iglesias’ “Hero,” to alternative rock band Ludo’s “Love me Dead,” the students’ choice of songs might explain the polarity of the love lives of today’s teens — half romantic, half cynical. The two-hour blast of strange costumes, complex choreography and rollicking fun raised money for scholarships and delighted viewers, which half filled the high school auditorium and included tables in the lobby loaded with silent auction items to raise money for scholarships. Most of the songs testified to the contradictions of modern love songs. Brad Guton synced the love-tortured lyrics to “Love Me Dead”:

Community Almanac

The next Chamber Mixer is at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 22 at Jake’s Bar & Grill, located on Highway 188, approximately two miles south of the intersection of Highway 87 and 188. The western town front features a bar, dining room, stage and a great patio with horseshoe pits. Bring your business cards to be used to choose partners for the Jake’s Corner/Chamber horseshoe competition and trophy. Admission is by donation: $3 for members and $5 for community guests.

Return outfits stolen off ornamental geese

We would like to ask whoever it was that stole the Valentine’s outfits off of our concrete ornamental geese last night (Feb. 15) to please return them.

Thanks for the coverage

On behalf of the Northern Gila County Historical Society, Inc., we extend our sincere thanks for the great coverage and article in today’s Roundup featuring the grand opening of our Centennial Exhibit.

Zumbathon was a big success

On behalf of Rim Country Health, I would like to extend a huge thank you to our generous community for, once again, coming together for a worthy cause. On Feb. 11, we raised $5,638 for the Payson Christian Clinic at the Zumbathon, which was held at the Payson Senior Center.

Clinic thanks Zumbathon sponsors

On behalf of the staff and patients at the Payson Christian Clinic, I would like to thank Rim Country Health and Christy Walton for sponsoring the Zumbathon held on Feb. 11.

Hashknife Pony Express riders thanks supporters

The Hashknife Pony Express would like to thank all of the friends, advertisers and support organizations of the Rim Country for a successful and safe 54th annual ride.

911 — weapon on campus

As with most issues, emotional responses take over what should be a forward thinking and rational discussion as to the ramifications of allowing/encouraging students to bring handguns onto college campuses.

Guns in classroom not in the best interest of students

Recently, your newspaper printed a couple of letters in favor of guns on college campuses. I don’t know what the qualifications or experience the writers have, but I definitely disagree with their ideas.

Public lands, private fees says Tonto Forest officials

To quote the immortal Woody Guthrie: “This land is your land. This land is my land.” Right on, Woody — oh, yeah, and the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Last week, a three-judge panel ruled the U.S. Forest Service can’t charge fees for access to public lands. The ruling will hopefully stem the proliferation of fees slapped onto places like trailheads, trout streams and undeveloped campgrounds. (See the story on page 10A.)

Checking account for water company on SV agenda

Star Valley will take another step forward in the purchase of a local water company Tuesday when it is expected the council will vote to set up a checking account for the new department.

Churches outline Lenten services schedule

With the advent of Lent, Wednesday, Feb. 22 with Ash Wednesday, several area churches have announced special services for Rim Country residents. All of the churches invite members of the community to join their congregations for these services to prepare for Easter.

Roundup honors readers’ ‘Best of the Rim’ picks

It was a night of celebrating survivors. From those who made it through another year in the economic downturn. A man who fought cancer. And those who campaigned to keep one of the area’s natural beauties open. More than 300 business owners and supporters gathered Monday night at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino for the annual “Best of Rim Country” bash hosted by the Payson Roundup. Folks packed the casino’s large banquet hall, hoping to win the bragging rights that come with finishing first in a poll of Roundup readers asked to name their favorite things. Categories cover nearly everything — from best sandwich and doctor to best hike and fishing hole.

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JRE students awarded for posters

Arizona history has long been part of the curriculum for Rim Country fourth-grade students. However, this year it was especially exciting because Arizona was preparing to celebrate 100 years of statehood. Special events were featured throughout the state, with much publicity about the “copper chopper,” the pennies for the Capitol dome project, etc. Arizona’s Centennial provided a great opportunity for fourth-graders at Julia Randall Elementary to share what they are learning about their state as they participated in a Centennial Poster Contest held by the Rim Country Museum. The contest topic was “Celebrating Arizona.”

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Celebrating Arizona’s 100th birthday Tonto Basin school style

Tammy McLellan’s kindergarten class turned to listen to the fourth- and fifth-graders recite Marshall Trimble’s narrative describing the five C’s of Arizona’s history — copper, cotton, cattle, citrus and climate. “My class turned around when the fourth- and fifth-graders said the five C’s, they thought I made that up,” laughed McLellan. On the stormy morning of Feb. 14, Arizona’s 100th birthday, Tonto Basin school children and many of their parents gathered to celebrate the centennial together. A short 40 minutes away from Payson, the 80-student rural school of Tonto Basin is worlds away from the larger district. Because of the family atmosphere of the school, little touches, like cookies decorated with the star emblem of Arizona connect each student to the theme of the day.

Community garden idea takes root

The White House started one in the summer of 2009 and Payson will be reaping the benefits of its own this summer. After just a few weeks of planning, the groundwork for a community garden is well under way. Volunteers have plowed several acres east of the First Church of the Nazarene and will soon spread fertilizer and build a fence to enclose hundreds of individual plots. Organizers of Payson’s Community Garden say May 1 is the anticipated first day of planting, hopefully kicking off many years of gardening to come. Roger Kreimeyer, who is spearheading the garden, said he hopes residents will sign up to care for a plot, which is designed not only to let people grow their own food, but also help supplement the local food banks with fresh, organic produce. Community gardens are not a new idea — there are several in the Valley — but they have made a resurgence in recent years as more people look for a way to stretch their budgets.

Social Security and Medicare provide vital safety net for senior citizens

Having contributed to Social Security and Medicare for years while working, Arizona seniors depend on these programs to provide a foundation of income and health care in their retirement.  According the AARP’s Public Policy Institute (PPI), a majority of older adults in the state rely on Social Security and Medicare. In 2010, 85 percent of Arizona seniors received Social Security. The average annual benefit was $14,000. Without this income, PPI estimates that an additional 30.5 percent of older Arizonans would fall into poverty.

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Senior Center welcomes new activities coordinator

Communication — that’s what life is all about, isn’t it? I have a new telephone and am still learning how to use it. It is not one of the smart phones that do everything except tell you which direction the wind is blowing (and they probably can do that also), but it has more features than I’ll ever need. I remember back in the dark ages, when I was a child, and we had our first telephone installed. What a miracle it was to be able to talk to someone miles away! In those days there were party lines, which meant that nosey people on the same line could listen in on your conversations. You had a certain ring, which told you when a call was for you — I still remember that ours was two long, and one short ring. Recently we were at a family gathering where everyone was conversing, snacking and watching a football game. Of the three young people present, in addition to the above activities, one was text messaging, one was researching the history of television and one was taking pictures, all on instruments smaller than a remote control, which hold more technology than did the instruments used to send the first human into space. What a changing world we live in!

Federal court judges say fees not allowed for parking, hiking forests

Tonto Forest says ruling does not apply to private contractors

The Forest Service can’t impose fees on people who just want to park and enjoy the national forests, a federal appeals court ruled last week. But don’t get all excited: The ruling won’t do Rim Country residents much good. The federal judges overturned fees the Coronado National Forest has imposed on people who park at trailheads, holding that the federal agency can only charge fees that recover the cost of using specific facilities — not for access to the public forests. But the ruling probably won’t affect most fee-charging areas in the Payson Ranger District, since the Forest Service here relies on private contractors to administer most of the fee-charging areas.

State Farm, Big O Tire take gold in tournament

The Town of Payson-sponsored Women’s Adult Basketball League season has wrapped up with the crowning of champions in both recreation and competitive divisions. In the recreation division season-ending double elimination tournament, State Farm Insurance Ted Pettet Office defeated WWB for the title. In the competitive division, Big O Tire thumped Serves You Right in the gold medal finale. Barbara Underwood captained the Ted Pettet team that also included Anna Van Zile, Shawnee Bauer, Judy Perham, Sydney Wilbanks, Dawn Guerrero and Kayla Woolwine.

Longhorn duo earn spot in record book

Although the Longhorn boys basketball season screeched to a halt earlier than players, coaches and fans were hoping for, the campaign did produce some impressive individual performances. Tanner Hintze, Payson’s leading scorer and a 6-foot, 4-inch center/forward, etched his name into the Division III, Section III 2011-1012 record book, as did Cameron Romance. Hintze finished the regular season as third-ranked in number of free throws awarded and Romance is fourth-ranked in number of steals. Among coaches, Hintze’s free throw mark of 122 free throws is impressive because it means he was aggressive in taking the ball to the basket to draw fouls.

Wrestling benefit dinner is tonight at RCMS

Mark Fumusa has prepared his final Longhorn wrestling team spaghetti dinner and is turning over the reins of the highly popular benefit to Jacque Lee, Gerardo’s Firewood Cafe and a spirited band of volunteers who are members of the Payson Wrestling Booster Club. This year, the first without Fumusa at the helm, the always-popular dinner will be served 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. today, Tuesday, Feb. 21, in the Rim Country Middle School cafeteria. Tickets are $6 per individual or $20 for a family of four or more. Tickets can be purchased at the door or from any high school wrestler. Lee, Fumusa’s replacement, is no stranger to the benefit or to the wrestling program.

Strong foundation a must for program

Among the goals Casey Woodall identified when he took over as head Payson High School wrestling coach two years ago was rebuilding the program from the ground up. A man of his word, Woodall is rebuilding the program through ambitious off-season offerings that include sponsoring a USA Wrestling club team and hosting the Lil’ Longhorn Wrestling Camp for aspiring grapplers in third- to eighth-grades. The next edition of the camp will be held 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Feb. 28, 29, March 1, 6, 7 and 8 in the Wilson Dome wrestling room on the PHS campus. Registration is $25 per camper.

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Horn baseball opens

The Payson Longhorns baseball team debuted Feb. 17 on PHS diamond against a Winslow Bulldogs squad ranked seventh in Division III, but one that WHS coach Art Griffith describes as young and inexperienced, though enthusiastic. The season-opening scrimmage was originally scheduled to be played Feb. 14, but rescheduled due to a wet playing field. PHS coach Scott Novack, in his second year at the helm of the program, had five returning letter-winners to put into the lineup against Griffith’s Dogs. Those five are multitalented players expected to form the nucleus of the 2012 teams. Chance Randall started at third base vs. Winslow, but can also play catcher and outfielder. Miguel Mendoza can play second base, shortstop and also pitch. Nick McMullen is comfortable at first base, in the outfield and can pitch. Cale Novack, the coach’s son, is an outfielder, infielder and pitcher. While Dylan Richardson could be the Horns’ first-line pitcher, Will Dougherty got the starting nod vs. Winslow and hurled two innings before giving way to Cale Novack.

Suddenlink expands service throughout area

Introduces all-digital TV lineup, faster Internet speeds in Pine and Strawberry

Just months after taking over NPG Cable, Suddenlink announced Feb. 14 it has completed a major upgrade of services. The cable company says it has improved the picture and sound quality of digital television service in Payson and Pine-Strawberry, introduced more than 100 TV channels and faster Internet speeds in P-S. The upgrade is part of a $10 million capital improvements program in Arizona and California that began Jan. 18. In P-S, Suddenlink introduced two new high-speed Internet service options with download speeds of up 10 and 15 Megabits per second (Mbps). These services were introduced earlier in Payson.

Selling a home is like a horse race

I recently went to Turf Paradise in the Valley for a day at the horse races. The weather was beautiful, the track was fast, and, as usual, I was happy to break near even. As I watched the highly trained animals strut and run, I realized that a home is a lot like a horse race. Horse races have different “neighborhoods” of horses. By this I mean horses are entered into races depending on their ability and past performances. A faster, younger, sleek horse may run in a race that offers a higher purse (prize).

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Rim Country Health’s owner back in charge

Effective Friday, Harvey Pelovsky has assumed the day-to-day management role at Rim Country Health and Retirement Community (RCHRC) on West Longhorn. Pelvosky ran the facility until May 2010 when he handed over administrative duties to Russell Goddard. Pelvosky, who owns RCHRC with three other partners, took a backseat running the facility at that time, focusing more on consulting at the companies other facilities in Arizona and New Mexico.

Clubs and Organizations

Elks members and guests are welcome to enjoy lunch at the Lodge from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday; Friday dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday dinner from noon to 5 p.m. Basic refreshments are offered for sale at the Karaoke Night from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every Wednesday in February and during the Elks Jam Session, scheduled at 3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 25. Every Sunday there is Bingo at 1 p.m. and a Pool Tournament at 4 p.m., with Happy Hour from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Elks members and guests are welcome at these events.

Friday, February 17

Community Almanac

AARP volunteers in Payson will once again be preparing tax returns for low- to moderate-income taxpayers. The service will be available through Thursday, April 12 at: • Payson Elks Lodge, located at Airport Road and Highway 87, Payson: Mondays, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. • Gila Community College, Mud Springs Road, Payson: Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Feb. 23 and March 1, 8, 15, 29 and April 5, 12. The college will be closed March 22 due to Gila College spring break. No appointments will be taken. For more information, call Joan Stephens, AARP Tax Help coordinator, (928) 472-6229 (do not call the Elks or GCC).

Forest Service rules just a waste of wood

Now, we don’t mean to sound ungrateful. Lord knows, we don’t want to fall into the category of a fella whose wife buys him a nice new Jeep and then complains that it does not have leather seats. Still, as we paused this week to choke on the smoke from burning piles of debris off Houston Mesa Road, we couldn’t help but lament the waste of all that perfectly good firewood.

Celebrating the great state of Arizona

On Feb. 14, Arizonans commemorated an historic day — Arizona’s centennial anniversary. We may have been the last of the contiguous 48 states to join the Union, but we certainly were not the least of them. Now, it’s true, Arizona is not our nation’s largest or oldest state. It did not participate in the Revolutionary War. It does not border an ocean or one of the Great Lakes. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution do not bear a single Arizonan signature. And yet, there is something about Arizona that is great; something that truly sets the Grand Canyon State apart from the rest. There’s the Grand Canyon, for one, about which the famous American explorer John Wesley Powell once said: “[its wonders] cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself.”

District needs a better conservative in Washington

All Tea Party candidates have (in some form) pledged to reduce government spending, reduce the federal debt and stop government control of health care, and to protect our freedom and liberty.

Level the playing field for local business

The past week, I have seen many stories about bills being introduced in the Arizona Legislature.

Guns on campus a good idea

I disagree with the Roundup’s view regarding guns on campus.

Ever wonder why we remember unimportant things so well?

There isn’t the slightest doubt in my mind that if I could do the impossible — make a list of all the things I don’t remember — it would stretch from Pine to Payson. Or maybe even Pine to Tokyo. But there are some things, Johnny ... Even if I tried, I could not get rid of some of the things stuck in my head. And what gets me is the fact that most of them are totally unimportant. Why do most of the routine things that happen to us fade away, while others stick around forever? In case you think I have the answer, I don’t.

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Cleaning up the remnants from shooters

Empty shell casings, broken glass and clay pigeons trash forest

Along the paved road toward Doll Baby Ranch, the forest looks pristine — but just off the roadway the beauty disappears. The trash fouling the hillsides, swales and bushes includes empty shell casings, broken glass, shattered clay pigeons, shredded mattresses and pieces of circuit boards. On Saturday, Feb. 11, 20 volunteers joined with Forest Service personnel to clean up the mess left behind by shooters. “Law enforcement came to us and said that the shooting areas looked like a dump,” said Rachael Hohl, a ranger from the recreation department of the Payson Ranger Station.

Annual Lip Sync contest is charitable fun this Saturday

On Feb. 18, Rim Country students will perform at the fourth annual Lip Sync Contest. The doors of the Payson High School Auditorium will open at 5:30 p.m. and the show begins at 6:45 p.m. Tickets cost $12 for adults and $6 for students.

Volunteers get kudos for school district playground help

The Payson School Board on Monday recognized the efforts of volunteers who have kept the playgrounds of Frontier Elementary School open to the community. John Wakelin, Eileen Daniels and John Schreur unlock the gates of the closed elementary school every weekday from 3 to 7 p.m. and every weekend from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Lorraine Cline Memorial Fund deals poker, raffle ducats this April

With a healthy dose of luck and a $100 bill, it’s possible to own a 2012 Polaris Ranger 800 XP side-by-side valued at about $14,000. First, take the $100 and purchase a Lorraine Cline Memorial Fund raffle ticket that features the Ranger as a prize. Then await the results of the raffle drawing which will be held April 27 at the Butcher Hook in Tonto Basin. Only 200 raffle tickets will be sold. The following day, April 28, the lucky new owner of the OHV can enter the Fourth Annual Memorial Fund Poker Ride that begins at the O-Bar-C Ranch in Tonto Basin and continues along old Jeep and mining trails in some of the county’s most scenic high desert vistas.

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Lady Longhorns come up short

All season long the Lady Longhorns basketball team (13-13) teetered on the brink of qualifying for the Division III state tournament by finishing among the top 24 teams in the power point rankings. But when the campaign finally wrapped up on Feb. 3 with a 49-33 win over Show Low, Lady Horn players found themselves on the outside of postseason play looking in. The 30th-place finish among the 57 D-III teams came up short of earning the girls a ducat to high school’s version of the Big Dance. The Lady Horns finished with about 67.3258 power points and needed just over 69 to squeeze into 24th place — the final qualifying spot. If there are two losses to pinpoint as damaging blows to Lady Horn hopes of reaching the postseason, they are both to lowly Blue Ridge, a team that finished 30th in the power point ranks.

Payson constable elected secretary of state association

The Arizona Constables Association elected new board members at its semi-annual training conference on Jan. 24. Board members elected Payson’s Constable Colt White as secretary, taking Jean Bishop’s position, who was elected treasurer.

State’s birthday bash, Valentine’s Day celebrated

The big parties are over for now, Arizona has had a wonderful 100th birthday bash all over the state, and most of the celebrations were free, which is a good thing since the economy is in such bad shape. Valentine’s Day has come and gone with an abundance of all kinds of flowers, (mostly roses), candy, balloons and teddy bears. I hope that your Valentine’s Day was a good one. My hubby, always the romantic, was very original this year. He presented me with a 20 gauge shotgun, double barreled, and made in Brazil.

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Hashknife Pony Express visits Heber Overgaard on the way to Scottsdale

The Hashknife Pony Express, which made its way through Heber Overgaard recently, has been re-created every year for 54 years running. Each of the 26 riders who carry mail on the Hashknife Pony Express takes the official Postman’s Oath carrying U.S. mail. Thirty to 35 horses made the mail ride on Feb. 8 starting in Holbrook and ending in Scottsdale. The route carries them with stops at the Overgaard post office and Heber post office as well others along the route. The Hashknife Pony Express gets their name from the hashknife brand that was originally owned by the Aztec Cattle Company and later transferred to the Babbitt Brothers.

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Rim Country Museum opens Arizona Centennial exhibit

As part of the state’s celebration of its centennial birthday on Feb. 14, Payson’s Rim Country Museum opened its special Centennial exhibit, Arizona’s Story — A Rim Country View. A special opening ceremony took place at 1 p.m., Tuesday, with a flag-raising ceremony, remarks by museum officials and Mayor Kenny Evans. Guests were also given a preview of the exhibit, which took a year to create and opened to the public Wednesday, Feb. 15.

Council approves recycling contract

Rim Country residents will finally have a place to recycle plastic, metal and glass under the terms of an intensely debated contract adopted by the Payson Town Council on Thursday. The council approved a $24,000, 36-month contract with Waste Matters to operate recycling drop-off centers in Green Valley Park and the Sawmill Crossing Shopping Center as well as provide waste disposal at all town offices and special events. The contract provoked a long discussion and a split vote, with Councilors Ed Blair and Su Connell pushing to reopen the bidding on the contract. Waste Matter’s $23,000 bid came in far below the $32,000 bid of Waste Management and the $47,000 bid of Roadrunner. Blair said the numbers in the contending bids didn’t add up, so he wanted the town staff to provide a clear explanation of the differences.

Board focuses on K-5 grades

Alarmed by state budget debate, superintendent predicts a rough budget year

Faced with hard choices, the Payson school board wants to focus on the early elementary school years and core academic courses. That represents a sharp shift from last year, when the board’s budget cuts forced an increase in average class sizes in grades K-5 and the closure of the district’s top-performing elementary school. However, it does reflect the impact of new state-mandated report cards that will place heavy emphasis on whether the district can ensure that all its third-graders can read fluently. Outgoing Superintendent Casey O’Brien provoked the discussion of priorities during Monday’s board meeting by asking for guidance in preparing what looks like another tight budget, full of no-win choices.

SV returns well to Benjamin

With the pending purchase of a 360-hookup water system, Star Valley no longer needs to collect wells to defend its water supply or fight fires. On the heels of the water company transfer, the council Feb. 7 agreed to give back a 200-foot well. The Chris Benjamin family originally gave the town the well in 2007 to help provide fire protection. Since the town did not have the area’s water rights at the time, it could not distribute the water for drinking, but it could have pumped it to fight fires.

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Hashknife Pony Express brings town together

The turnout was greater than expected as residents assembled at the post office on Feb. 8 to see the legendary Pony Express ride out of the pages of history and into present-day Pine in a re-enactment that brought the Old West to life. Townsfolk gathered to celebrate our Western heritage and our state’s centennial and salute the riders as they galloped into town in the 54th re-enactment of the Hashknife Pony Express. Curious onlookers filled the parking lot, stood on the sidewalk or sat on the bed of pickup trucks and greeted neighbors while enjoying the social atmosphere of the occasion.

County planning commission comes to aid of trailer park

Hearing designed to help Roosevelt Lake vacation home park win Forest Service lease renewal

The Gila County Planning Commission Wednesday rallied to support a Roosevelt Lake mobile home park about to lose its long-term lease from the Tonto National Forest. Chairman Don Ascoli said the county should invoke an agreement with the Forest Service requiring the federal agency to confer with the county before making any land use decisions. “Before they just go making decisions, we ensure the county has a place at the table,” said Ascoli during the hearing. “This is not a conflict or a confrontation, but an opportunity to work with the Forest Service.” He said the planning commission spent 18 months working out the procedures for consultations with the Forest Service the county adopted in 2008, but the Forest Service has mostly ignored both the county ordinance and the consultation requirements in federal law.

Sheriff candidate outlines position at meeting of Dems

A Republican candidate for Gila County sheriff got a head start on the campaign trail Wednesday, venturing into potentially unfriendly waters at a Democratic meeting. This is the second time Darrell Stubbs has run for sheriff. Four years ago he actually ran as a Democrat. But Stubbs is now running as a Republican, a move he said came after losing the last election. Stubbs said his disappointment with the President Barack Obama’s administration and issues he had with another democratic group spurred his move to the red side.

Register for Little League this Saturday

The final day to sign up to participate in the 2012 Payson Little League season is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 18 in the Rim Country Middle School gymnasium. Little League is open to both boys and girls ages 5 to 15. To register, players must have their birth certificate. Parents must also sign a medical release form and a parent code of conduct. The fee for major and minor league play is $75 per child. If a second child in the family is playing, the fee is $70. There is no fee for a third child. This season, League officials have a goal of fielding the first-ever girls softball “coach pitch” league for 6- to 8-year-old players. In the past, such a league has existed in baseball but not softball.

Bridges at Bonita and Perley creeks now open

Tonto National Forest officials say the bridge crossings at Bonita and Perley creeks are open to public traffic. The bridges on Forest Road 64/Forest Highway 51 (also referred to as Control Road) are near the intersection of Forest Road 431 and the Control Road. These are the first two of seven new bridges to be opened to traffic. The remaining five bridges will be opening between now and mid-March as they are completed.

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Explaining the ancient dead to the living

Archaeologist Scott Wood wins award after 35 years spent protecting Rim Country ruins

Scott Wood has spent the last 35 years trying to explain the long dead to the still living — and in the process shedding light on one of history’s great missing persons cases. Now, the Tonto National Forest archaeologist’s long quest to protect and understand a complex, mysteriously vanished ancient civilization has earned him the Arizona Archaeological Society’s “Professional Archaeologist of the Year” award. But the laconic, bearded archaeologist in his trademark Indiana Jones hat said that in his job he’s “mostly putting out fires,” trying to save sites endangered by mines, off-road vehicles, highways and other development.

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History buff seeks help restoring neglected grave of a pioneer

A dramatic discovery. A mysterious death. An endangered history. The neglected, overgrown grave of David Gowan in a tangled thicket along Deer Creek has it all. And now it also has a would-be protector: Bill Gibson and whatever volunteers he can enlist in an effort to save a precious bit of Rim Country history — by restoring the grave of one of the region’s most remarkable pioneers. Gibson plans a March 10 project with as many volunteers as he can muster, after having labored for eight months to win permission from the U.S. Forest Service to restore the abandoned gravesite.

Wet fields force postponement of scrimmages

Season opening baseball and softball scrimmages against the Winslow Bulldogs on Feb. 15 were postponed due to wet Payson High fields, drenched by the rain that fell the previous day. “There are some dangerously wet areas on both fields, so we’re siding with caution,” said Payson High School athletic director Gary Fishel.  The baseball scrimmage is rescheduled for 3:30 p.m. today, Friday, Feb. 17 and the softball skirmish will be played 3:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 23. Both make up games are on PHS fields. Following today’s make-up scrimmage, the baseball team begins preparations for an appearance Wednesday, Feb. 22 to Saturday, Feb. 25 in the eight-team Fountain Hills Invitational.

News from Rim Country Friends of Ferals

The mission of Rim Country Friends of Ferals is to humanely control the area’s population of feral cats through the Trap, Neuter, Return program. The group of volunteers also strives to find loving, forever homes for healthy rescue cats like these. Bandit is about 12 weeks old, he is neutered and has had all his shots. He’s greyish white with a grey mask, and he’s very cute. He needs a forever home.

Tonto concert group presents ‘American Spirit’

The Tonto Community Concert Association, in conjunction with Live On Stage, Inc. presents the musical “American Spirit,” as the 2011-2012 concert season continues. Award-winning show producer Matt Davenport Productions will present its newest touring show, “American Spirit” at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 28 at the Payson High School Auditorium. The production will feature a soloist from Payson High School and members of the Payson Choral Society.

Explore the world of international investments

You’re probably accustomed to measuring the progress of your investments, and the overall condition of the investment world, by checking on indexes such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500. And since these types of benchmarks focus on American companies, you might get the idea that the best investments are located in the United States. But that impression would be false because there are, literally, a world of investment opportunities beyond the U.S. borders. In fact, as of the end of 2010, U.S. stock markets constituted less than a third of the total global stock market value, according to the World Bank.

Annual Lip Sync contest takes place this Saturday

This Saturday night in the Payson High School Auditorium, the Rim Country Optimist Club will host its fourth annual Lip Sync Contest. Starting at 6:45 p.m., 11 high school acts, made up of either solo performers or groups, will be competing for a whopping $1,000 in cash prizes. There will also be a silent auction in the lobby. The proceeds from this fun event will be awarded as scholarships to many young people in the Rim Country area. To begin the evening’s show, the Junior Thespians from Rim Country Middle School will present their lip sync version of “We Go Together,” a classic hit from the movie “Grease.” Following the high school lip sync-ers, a special guest group of Alchesay High School students and staff will end the evening with their lip-smacking rendition of the 2011 Glee Cast medley “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Clubs and Organizations

Elks members and guests are welcome to enjoy lunch at the Lodge from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday; Friday dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday dinner from noon to 5 p.m. Basic refreshments are offered for sale at the Karaoke Night from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every Wednesday in February and during the Elks Jam Sessions, scheduled at 3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 18 and 25. Every Sunday there is Bingo at 1 p.m. and a Pool Tournament at 4 p.m., with Happy Hour from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Elks members and guests are welcome at these events.

Horn hoop season screeches to a halt

For the second consecutive postseason tournament, it’s “one and done” for the Payson Longhorns basketball team. The most recent exit occurred Feb. 14 in Safford where the homestanding Bulldogs eliminated the Horns from the Division III state tournament with a 69-60 come-from-behind win. The first exit to shackle Horn hopes unfolded Feb. 8 in Surprise with a 75-60 Section III tournament first-round loss to eventual champion Valley Christian. With the two-game losing streak ending the season, the Horns finish with a respectable 16-13 record under first-year coach Joe Sanchez, himself a former Payson High basketball player.

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Relaxation is the theme at Strawberry motel, gift shop

Tucked in the center of Strawberry, the Windmill Corner Inn has welcomed guests for years. The charm of the two-story motel has been getting a little extra love in recent months with new owners. Doug McLean bought the inn from longtime owner Cheryl Holland in May. McLean, along with sister Debbie Weber and cousin Merlina Stevens, have been sprucing up the motel, revamping rooms, adding a gift shop and in April, a bar.

Sledding and tubing available on the Rim Country lakes

Hello again, fellow Creekers. Tuesday, Feb. 14 was not only Valentine’s Day, but it was also the 100th anniversary for the state of Arizona. So let’s celebrate the state’s birthday and visit some local attractions. We have had a beautiful winter. There is still some snow for sledding and tubing nearby Woods Canyon Lake and we have had many visitors from the Valley this winter that have come out to enjoy the snow. The Rim Country lakes are a popular attraction all year long and offer sledding in the winter and fishing in the summer. Aside, from the Rim Country lakes there are many other local attractions in the Christopher Creek area. The Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery produces and stocks around 400,000 brook and cutthroat trout, 165,000 rainbow trout, and 150,000 of Apache trout which is Arizona’s state fish.

Wednesday, February 15

Harnessing horse power

Tonto Basin ranch owners share love of draft horses

If the land under the care of Bill and Lori Brown loses fertility, everything on their ranch in Tonto Basin suffers. So their draft horse clinic aims to resurrect the art of farming with horses, a sustainable method of farming. The Browns have a history of environmentalism. They were honored in 2008 by the Society for Range Management as a result of their work in redeveloping springs and maintaining 15,000 acres of land. The couple has worked on their family’s H-4 Ranch since the 1960s.

Authors share desire to help others

“new” residents to the Rim Country. One is making a return from a sojourn in Dixie; the other’s husband’s job transfer brought her here. But they share one very important trait – a deep desire to help people. Melinda Elmore is the author of four mystery novels with a strong Native American influence. She said she has been told they remind readers of the popular works of the late Tony Hillerman.

Hearty, healthy comfort food

During the short days and cold nights of winter, many of us crave comfort foods. Unfortunately, the rich dishes we usually think of tend to be low in nutrition and packed with fat and calories. Well, take heart. It’s possible to enjoy satisfying dishes that are tasty, hearty and nutritious.

Great Backyard Bird Count

Warmer temperatures and lack of snow in parts of North America are setting the stage for what could be a most intriguing 15th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, coming up Feb. 17-20, 2012. Bird watchers across the U.S. and Canada are getting ready to tally millions of birds in the annual count coordinated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada.

Making sense of Arizona’s Centennial

Arizona is now 100 years old, having celebrated its centennial of becoming a state on Feb. 14, 2012. I’ve been asking myself: What does it all really mean? Is this just a historian’s Hallmark moment? Perhaps a way for those of us who care about history to get noticed a little bit more by the general public? Let’s take another look at Arizona’s history. Arizona was established as a territory on Feb. 24, 1863. It became a state on Feb. 14, 1912, a little over a month after New Mexico became a state. We were the 48th state admitted to the union – just Alaska and Hawaii are younger.

Unique vacations

Every now and then I come across vacations that are truly unique. They are simply not the standard offerings from tour and cruise lines. I’ll give you the names of the tour operators and cruise lines in this article. Uncommon Journeys has put together an interesting itinerary which it calls “North by Northwest”. The vacation involves free train travel from any California point to Los Angeles where you begin your trip with lunch on board the famous Queen Mary docked in Long Beach Harbor. Then, board NCL’s Norwegian Pearl and head north out to sea.

PAL hosts Melanie Capps on February 21

Payson Art League’s February meeting guest speaker is jewelry artist Melanie Capps. Capps recently moved to the Payson area from northern Idaho to escape the severe winters. Growing up in a career military family, Capps moved and traveled a lot. To occupy her time, she did arts and crafts. She tried knitting, crocheting, needle point, and more, but grew bored with much of the routine and felt she could not create pieces of which she was proud.

Good 2 Go

The 14th Annual Women’s Wellness Forum is March 24 and features Jason Schechterle as the keynote speaker. Schechterle is the Phoenix police officer who suffered fourth degree burns to his face, neck and hands when his patrol car went up in flames after being rear-ended in 2001. He became a motivational speaker after retiring from the Phoenix Police Department in 2006. His topic at the forum will be “Making Coffee”.

Get-a-Away Around Rim Country

In recognition of Arizona’s Centennial Celebration the Library Friends of Payson Bookstore and Internet Sales team are offering a selection of specially priced, collectibles highlighting Arizona and Arizona history. These items will range in price from $1 to $20 and will only be available during February.

Tuesday, February 14

Brainy Payson students set records in competition

Academic Decathlon Team named ‘Rookies of the Year’

For the first time in Payson High School (PHS) history, students set records in a completely academic competition. In its rookie year of competition, the (PHS) Academic Decathlon (AcaDec) Team scored higher than four other first-time teams in regional competition. Sixteen out of 21 regional teams competed at St. Johns High School. On Saturday, Feb. 4, the AcaDec Team returned home from the 28th annual Region 1 Academic Decathlon with five medals, a fourth-place tie in the Superquiz Relay, and the distinction of being named Rookie Team of the Year.

Recreation Roundup

This camp offers young wrestlers the opportunity to learn skills from the Payson High School coaches and players. The camp is for third- to eighth-graders and the cost is $25 per child. Registration closes Feb. 21, the camp is from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 21 to March 1 in the wrestling room at Wilson Dome on the PHS campus.

County attorney’s case load decreased by 12.5 percent

Besides the continued success of the county’s child support enforcement division, a number of stats illustrate the state of the county last year.

Wilderness and remote first aid class offered

The Payson parks department is offering an opportunity for residents to learn to stay safe while out in the Rim Country. A Wilderness and Remote First Aid class will be presented from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, April 12 and Sunday, April 15 at the parks and recreation conference room at Green Valley Park.

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Thrift shop benefiting veterans shelter opens off the Beeline

Twenty years ago, retired colonel Misti Isley DeCaire dreamed of opening a shelter for veterans and anyone else that needed a warm meal and place to rest. With Veterans Helping Veterans Ponderosa Manor, at 212 W. Wade Lane, she accomplished that goal, helping more than 6,000 veterans. Without any federal funding, DeCaire has relied strictly on donations to keep the shelter open. Many of those donations come in the form of goods; so many, that the once nursing home is swamped with furniture and households products. Two months ago, DeCaire opened Misti’s Solutions, a thrift store just off the Beeline Highway, south of Vita Mart, to sell some of those goods. Any profit is put back into Ponderosa Manor and helping veterans.

Billion dollar mortgage settlement could mean relief for some homeowners

Recently, five banks that service nearly 60 percent of the mortgages in the United States have reached a $25 billion settlement with the federal government regarding their involvement in foreclosure abuses and mortgage fraud. If you have a loan through Bank of America Corporation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Company, Citigroup, Inc., and Ally Financial, Inc. (formerly GMAC) you may be eligible to have your loan modified either through an interest rate or principal reduction. The settlement does not take away your individual rights to pursue your own course of legal action against these banks. If your loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and serviced through one of the above banks, this settlement does not apply to your mortgage and will be addressed through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP2), which I discussed in a previous article. The reality is it is an election year so we are already seeing a number of politicians posturing and taking credit for this action. Don’t get too excited thinking your check is already in the mail.

Organization forms to help victims of PTSD

A newly formed national organization wants to aid Rim Country military, fire and police veterans in getting the help they need, mostly by helping them connect to existing medical and social service providers. From recent Afghanistan combat veterans who need counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to World War II vets facing the loss of their home, Operation American Patriot (OAP) has the resources to help. Jerry Innacci, former Homeland Security special adviser and CEO of the newly formed OAP organization, decided to launch in Arizona because of the number of retired veterans in the state. He recently visited Payson to enlist volunteers to bring the group’s services to Rim Country. Innacci’s career includes stints in law enforcement and the military. He has connections from Washington, D.C. to the West Coast. With these assets, he has set an ambitious goal: help veterans — in particular those suffering from PTSD — assimilate into life. Recognizing help needs to happen one person at a time, Innacci said, “This has to happen on a local level.”

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Getting Medicare-covered health services at home

Medicare covers a variety of health care services that can be provided in the comfort and privacy of the individual’s home. These include intermittent skilled nursing care, physical therapy, speech-language pathology services, and occupational therapy. Such services used to be available only at a hospital or doctor’s office. But they’re just as effective, more convenient, and usually less expensive when you get them in the home. Those who get Medicare benefits through a Medicare Advantage health plan (instead of Original Medicare) should check with the plan for details about how it provides Medicare-covered home health benefits.  

Senior Circle events

The Payson Regional Medical Center Senior Circle has scheduled the following events:

Authors share desire to help others

They are both authors — but work in very diverse genres. They are both relatively new residents to the Rim Country. One is making a return from a sojourn in Dixie; the other’s husband’s job transfer brought her here. But they share one very important trait — a deep desire to help people. Melinda Elmore is the author of four mystery novels with a strong Native American influence. She said she has been told they remind readers of the popular works of the late Tony Hillerman. Buffy Trimbach McCrary’s book, “Why Did She Have to Die?” tells of her near-death experience and how she and her family dealt (and continue to deal) with the tragic, accidental death of her nearly 18-month-old daughter. Elmore wants to help aspiring authors by sharing her experiences as a self-taught writer. She just started a weekly writing workshop, which takes place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesdays at the crafts building at the Mogollon Health Alliance complex at 308 E. Aero Drive, Payson. McCrary wants to help by giving others hope — especially those who have had a tragedy in their life similar to that she and her family experienced.

Students have right to bear arms

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” I guess simple declarative sentences are beyond the grasp of journalism school graduates.

County tough on child support deadbeats

Gila County continues to lead the nation in child support collection and enforcement. During the last fiscal year, the county attorney’s Child Support Division collected $5.3 million in child support — a small decrease from the $5.5 million collected a year earlier. This is the second time in recent years that the county’s Child Support Division has ranked No. 1 in the nation based on five federal standards. It is also the third time in a row that the division has received a perfect score on an internal assessment audit. Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores attributed the success of the program to staff — including caseworkers, judges and officers. She said they all work together to make sure deadbeats pay. Only four counties in Arizona manage their own child support enforcement programs — Gila, Navajo, Pinal and La Paz counties. Other counties leave child support collection to the state attorney general’s office.

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Pine student places second at countywide spelling bee

For the first time in years, a northern Gila County student placed in the top three at the county spelling bee. Taylor Marshall, an eighth-grade student at the Pine-Strawberry School placed second at the spelling bee held in Globe on Friday, Feb. 3. “I’m proud we have a winner from northern Gila County,” said Linda O’Dell, superintendent for Gila County schools. “I can’t remember when we last had a winner from the north.”

High school exchange coordinator seeking host family applications

Open your heart and home to an exchange student and make a dream come true. Edie Miller, international exchange coordinator for nonprofit EF Foundation for Foreign Study, is currently accepting applications for host families for 2012/13 school year. Host families open their homes to a 15- to 18-year-old from one of 25 countries around the world. Students come for one or two semesters, and attend a local high school. Through the exchange experience, both student and family get the chance to learn about a new culture and promote global understanding, right here in our community.

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Life skills, job skills

Rim Country Literacy works to help job seekers master crucial skills

Desperately seeking work in a stalled economy with chronically high jobless rates, some Gila County job seekers find they lack crucial basic skills. Fortunately, the people who operate the Rim Country Literacy Program (RCLP) stand ready to help. It’s a big job in a county where the unemployment rate remains 1 to 2 percent above the state and national averages. Some 16 percent of Gila County residents lack a high school diploma and 12 percent have trouble with basic literacy skills, according to Census Bureau and National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) figures. Two percent of adults live in households that do not speak English at all, according to adult education county statistics. What does that mean to Gila County? Employability.

Judge blocks grazing above Fossil Creek

A federal judge has at least temporarily blocked a Forest Service plan to allow renewed cattle grazing on 42,000 acres in the watershed of Fossil Creek. U.S. Circuit Judge A. Wallace Tashimi concluded the Forest Service had ignored its own rules in allowing renewed grazing above one of the state’s few stretches of “wild and scenic” river and a bastion for many endangered species. The judge said the Forest Service acted in an “arbitrary” manner in allowing grazing even though studies showed that 96 percent of range had soil conditions that were unsatisfactory, impaired or unstable. Moreover, 60 to 87 percent of the range is continuing to deteriorate even without grazing. In addition, the judge concluded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to adequately consider how renewed grazing will affect the endangered Chiricahua Leopard Frog.

Protestors prove we have power

Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all — the apathy of human beings. — Helen Keller It’s easy enough these days to feel helpless — and answer the onslaught of public woes with a shrug. The world’s a mess. What can we do? Well, fortunately, we live in a town where people don’t shrug: They get involved. Consider the string of protests mounted by ordinary citizens when they discovered that a perfectly legal but potentially dangerous form of synthetic marijuana has caught on among our children. The peddlers have created this designer drug from legal ingredients and convinced a handful of Rim Country stores to offer it for sale. Spice, also known as K2, contains synthetic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. But the mix contains a volatile combination of other compounds. No one really knows what the drug can do, although doctors report a rising number of medical problems ranging from stomach pains to seizures. Clearly, the makers of spice and other synthetic drugs don’t mind turning our kids into their guinea pigs for a profit. Fortunately, people who care have gotten involved. They’ve lodged complaints with the outlets stocking the drugs — and even marched out front with picket signs.

Prison escapee pleads guilty to murder of Oklahoma couple

One of the men that fled a northern Arizona prison last year has pleaded guilty to charges relating to the slaying of an Oklahoma couple while on the run, while another escapee is facing trial for the murders and will face the death penalty if convicted. Tracy Province, 44, could have faced the death penalty in the 2010 carjacking and slayings of Gary and Linda Haas, but under the terms of his plea agreement, will serve five consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. Casslyn Welch, 45, a Jakes Corner resident who admits she helped Province and two other fugitives escape July 30, 2010, pleaded guilty to the some of the same charges as Province, which include carjacking resulting in death, conspiracy, the use of a firearm during a violent crime and five other charges.

Voting yes for Home Rule is imperative for Star Valley

My fellow Star Valley residents, We have a very important issue to address with the upcoming election. The extension of the alternative expenditure limitation for the Town of Star Valley (Home Rule).

Ways to reduce the price of gas

There are hundreds of millions of stop signs in the U.S., just change them to yield, it will save billions of barrels of oil. Less oil required and better gas mileage.

Enter your phone number into the do not call list

Are you aware that telemarketers are required by law to register with the Federal Trade Commission?

Vote for a sheriff who follows the Constitution

Did you know that our county sheriff can fight back the feds — just as Sheriff Joe Arpaio is doing in Maricopa County?

Guns should be allowed on campus

You don’t mince words when you, in your humble opinion, attack the intelligence of a lawmaker who decides that eligible students and educators should be allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus.

Community Almanac

The Payson Senior Center Thrift Store is selling jewelry for just $1 — the sale pieces are marked with a pink dot. There are also watches with new batteries available for $2 each. Each Tuesday the Thrift Store offers a 10 percent discount on all non-sale items. Proceeds benefit the Senior Center’s Meals on Wheels and Dial-A-Ride programs.

Sales tax flat, jobless rate rises

Building increase hints at recovery, despite still-high unemployment

Payson’s revenue from building permits has rebounded from historic lows this year, stoking hopes of a revival of the region’s once-crucial building sector. Unfortunately, sales tax revenues remain flat and state-shared revenue for gas taxes and income taxes remains depressed — pushing the long-hoped-for recovery off for at least one more month. The region’s unemployment rate also remains stubbornly high, rising from 9.6 percent to 10 percent in December — the most recent month for which county rates are available. That contrasts to a marked improvement in the unemployment rate statewide in December, with the rate dropping from 8.7 percent in November to 8.5 percent in December.

Payson council could repeal water ordinance

Stand back: Time for making history in reverse. The Payson Town Council Thursday will consider repeal of the water ordinance that provoked the incorporation of Star Valley and put the town in the forefront of the water conservation movement. Blame the approval of the Blue Ridge pipeline, which forever transformed the water politics of Rim Country. Town Ordinance 820 was enacted in 2006 as Payson’s water table dropped inexorably to make sure that developers provided new water supplies before collecting their building permits. Developers could either pay a $7,500 water impact fee for each unit or provide water from outside the town. That ordinance prompted one developer to acquire the Tower Well in Star Valley and swap it to Payson in return for the right to develop hundreds of housing units. Payson’s approval of that deal outraged many people living in the unincorporated community of Star Valley right next door, fearful that their neighbor would pump so much groundwater from the Tower Well it would drain the underground water table.

After outcry, Pine gas station stops selling spice

A Pine service station is the first to pull a synthetic marijuana product from its shelves voluntarily. Taylor’s Gas & Auto Repair, 3597 N. Highway 87, removed the popular products a month ago after several locals protested its sale. Fossil Creek Creamery owner John Bittner and Realtor Wilma Young were two of the people who told the service station if they continued to sell the products, commonly known as potpourri and spice, that they would take their business elsewhere. Don Taylor, the service station’s owner, said selling the products was not worth it if it upset the community and could potentially injure someone. “It is not worth it if someone could get hurt,” he said Monday from the small gas station. Taylor said potpourri was the shop’s top seller in the months he had it available.

Astronomy talk and star party at Tonto National Monument

For as long as humans have been here in this corner of Arizona, looking to the heavens above must have been a fascination. Today this fascination continues because the Rim Country’s night sky is uniquely suited to stargazing. On Saturday, March 10, Tonto National Monument along with the Tonto Basin Ranger District will host an afternoon of solar and planet viewing and in the evening an astronomy talk and star party at the Windy Hill Amphitheater at Roosevelt Lake. This interpretive event is presented by the Astronomers of Verde Valley. Special activities include solar viewing, Jupiter and Venus viewing and a Night Sky Network Information tent from noon to 4 p.m.

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Longhorn matman pins state gold

Winning a state high school wrestling championship is a much sought after goal that eludes a huge majority of Arizona’s finest grapplers. But that’s not the scenario for Payson High’s Jacob Spear who was celebrating on Feb. 10 at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley. There, the PHS senior wrestled his way to the 138-pound Division III state championship by posting a 4-0 tournament record. Most impressive about Spear’s win is that it was accomplished while entered in a highly competitive weight division that housed some of the state’s finest teenage athletes. In the tournament finale, Spear won a decision over Mohave’s Andrez Perez by a 4-1 count. Just one round earlier, Perez had defeated No. 1 ranked Chris Mata of Youngker 6-5. Mata entered the postseason 51-2 and was a huge favorite to win the weight division championship.

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Shoot for the Heart host Rim Country veterinarian

It’s not often Rim Country residents have a golden opportunity on their home turf of hearing a presentation that just two months ago was given to members of the exclusive Harvard Travellers Club. But at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16 at Mountain Bible Church, locals will have the chance to hear Rim Country veterinarian Alan Hallman repeat “The Yukon Quest” presentation he gave on Dec. 13 in the Massachusetts Room of the Harvard Club located in historic downtown Boston. Hallman’s appearance in Payson is part of the highly popular Shoot for the Heart series that the church has hosted for the past two years. Hallman will speak on long-distance dog racing, focusing on the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, which he has been a part of since 1994.

No Valentines for Dogs and Longhorns

When the Payson Longhorns and Safford Bulldogs boys basketball teams square off today, Tuesday, Feb. 14, in a Division III state first-round playoff game, the two won’t be exchanging valentines or celebrating Arizona’s 100th birthday. Rather, they will be battling much like junk yard dogs for the right to remain alive in the state tournament and advance to a second-round game Feb. 17 on the campus of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Today’s Dogs vs. Horns skirmish is one of eight D-III first-round playoff games occurring at the home site of the highest seeded team. Highest seeds were determined by year-end power point rankings. The Horns (16-12) enter the tournament as the No. 17 seed and must travel to Safford (13-12) because the Dogs are seeded one notch higher at No. 16 There are those around the state questioning how a team such as Safford, whose record is only one game over .500, could receive a higher seed than a Payson team that has a .750 winning percentage. Good luck trying to answer that.

Sedona marathon leaves Rim runners breathless

A pair of husband and wife running duos put their athletic prowess to the test in the 7th Annual Sedona Marathon running events, which drew more than 2,000 runners to the scenic Coconino National Forest, known for its red rock formations and challenging running paths and trails. Just outside the confines of Sedona, which “Good Morning America” has called one of the top-10 most beautiful cities in the United States, Chris and Dawn Schur competed in the event’s 10K run, as did former Payson High vice principal and town vice mayor Tim Fruth. Fruth’s wife, Carolyn, entered the half marathon. Tim Fruth finished the race awed by the beauty of the countryside, but sorely tested by the 28-degree temperatures at race start and the rugged knolls and inclines that can leave the best of competitors gasping for air.

Sportsmanship must extend beyond court

That dust-up that occurred Jan. 31 in Wilson Dome just seconds after a boys basketball game between Payson and Fountain Hills wrapped now seems mild in comparison to a scrap that occurred last week at Fort Thomas in a boys basketball game between the Pima Roughriders and Fort Thomas Apaches. According to reports from the game, officials forced more than 300 fans and spectators to leave the gym just before halftime due to an unruly crowd, a disorderly Apache player who had been assessed two technical fouls for arguing a call with an official and a third player who received another technical and was tossed from the game. Sources indicate that at that point, officials indicated they wished to end the game as a forfeit. Of course, that sent the hometown fans into a frenzy. A least two school officials, the principal and athletic director, addressed the crowd to try and defuse the situation, that reportedly included yelling obscenities and throwing objects onto the floor. When the two school officials’ pleas did little good to quiet the home crowd, the referees apparently decided the only way to continue the game was to clear the gym of all fans.

Friday, February 10

Roosevelt Lakeview Park community needs to be preserved

The Jan. 27 front page article written about the upcoming closure of the Roosevelt Lakeview Park is very disturbing. I appreciate Pete Aleshire’s in depth summary of what is going on with the U.S. Forest Service and Roosevelt Lakeview Park, but I have to tell you, it made me upset with the way the Forest Service is planning to treat these residents on Tonto National Forest land. This little community of 167 mobile homes in Roosevelt has been at this location for almost 40 years. Yes, while there are some permanent residents, it is also the summer vacation home for many from throughout Arizona. These owners come from all over the state of Arizona to spend their time and money in Gila County. Yet, the Forest Service wants to remove them as this use does not fit with their plans for the Tonto National Forest.

Community Almanac

It’s time to gear up for another ZUMBATHON. Get out those red workout clothes and spread the Valentine’s Day love for your neighbors Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Payson Senior Center, 514 W. Main St.

GCC students could soon be packing guns

Legislation to allow guns on campus passes AZ Senate committee

A bill that would allow guns on state university and community college campuses has passed the state Senate Judiciary Committee, initiating a bitter philosophical shoot-out. Senate Bill 1474, sponsored by Sen. Ron Gould (R-Lake Havasu City) would allow faculty and students over 21 years of age to carry concealed weapons onto campuses if they have a permit. However, school officials may continue to ban guns from buildings and stadiums by posting signs and providing gun lockers — a potentially expensive provision. Critics have decried the measure. “I’m absolutely opposed to allowing students to carry guns on campus,” said Tom Loeffler, a board member for Gila Community College. He said allowing guns on campus would hinder the free expression of ideas.

Food drive ends with 68,200 pounds of food, nearly $35,000 in cash

Thanks to a last-minute push on Super Bowl or “Souper Bowl” Sunday, for the third year, the Payson Area Food Drive has met its donation goal. This year, 68,200 pounds of food was collected, the weight equivalent of three school buses. That is enough food to fill 1,364, 50-pound food boxes, the average amount given to families at the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank. Donations are up 15,000 pounds from last year, and several thousand pounds above this year’s final goal of 65,000 pounds. In cash, the drive collected nearly $35,000 — $10,000 more than last year’s drive. Food drive organizers said this year’s totals beat all expectations. “I would like to tell everyone in Payson thank you, thank you, thank you,” said Michael Haynes, St. Vincent’s food bank manager. PAFD chair Roger Kreimeyer said he does not have the words to say how thankful he is to the community, who not only beat the drive’s initial 55,000-pound goal in November, but also set a new collection record.

Changes to fund coaching salaries go against the grain for some

In the days after former Payson High School football coach Jim Beall resigned in 2001 to coach at Higley High, there were those who approached him expressing disappointment with his leaving, saying he was an excellent teacher and coach and would be sorely missed. Results from his tenure seem to prove he was extraordinary. Beall guided the Longhorns to the state semifinals in 1997, the state title in 1998, and a first-round state berth in 1999. In 1998, he was named the state’s Coach of the Year. Beall’s reply to those who expressed their concerns was that he was never really looking to leave Payson, but had grown frustrated with some of the coaching demands, which came without administration acknowledgement or understanding of the sacrifices he and all coaches must make outside the classroom.

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SV revenues down, budget still on track

Halfway through the fiscal year, Star Valley’s budget remains largely on target despite an economy that has sunk most other town budgets. Star Valley, on the other hand, is charging ahead with a nearly million-dollar purchase of a water company in three months. With a little more than $3 million in the bank, the town has enough to buy the water company outright. But not everything is rosy. Town sales tax collections have fallen for the past five years along with photo enforcement fines, according to a year-end financial summary released Tuesday. Photo enforcement, however, is still expected to bring in nearly a million dollars this year. The financial summary shows town revenues have largely held steady for the past few years despite significant cuts in state-shared and sales tax revenues. Town staff said a combination of wise spending and saving has kept the town in the black. Chancy Nutt, town finance administrator, said staff successfully predicted a decrease in state-shared revenue, photo enforcement and city sales tax two years ago. The town adjusted its spending and has since retained a positive cash flow. Nutt cautioned that revenues should continue decreasing due to the lagging economy.

ASU offers deal, but Alliance still pondering

Financing details, private academy prevent plan from making it to Arizona Board of Regents this month

Arizona State University has submitted a proposed intergovernmental agreement (IGA) to build a campus in Payson, but the proposal will not make it onto the Arizona Board of Regents’ agenda in February, said Payson Mayor Kenny Evans. The Rim Country Educational Alliance (SLE) is still considering potential complications in both the financing and the impact of including a second, private, specialized academy, said Evans. Evans said the project could grow beyond the original plans, but won’t make the optimistic 2013 projections for opening phase one of the campus. Instead, the target has now reverted to the fall of 2014. Backers of the campus plan will meet this weekend with representatives of both ASU and the private academy to talk about how the two projects might dovetail. The academy might have as many as 1,200 students. ASU wants to build a 1,000-student first phase and then add facilities for another 5,000 students as enrollment grows.

Baseball coach issues player invitation

A lack of players for the junior varsity team has Payson High School baseball coach Scott Novack concerned. He knows the importance a jayvee team plays in grooming up and coming players for varsity action. But not enough of the younger athletes showed up for season opening practices when they began Feb. 6. If more do not turn out, PHS might not field a jayvee squad.

Thieves hitting vacation homes

Pine, Payson area homes hit hard by burglaries

Thieves have hit Payson and Pine vacation homes hard since the start of the new year. In a two-week period in January, the Gila County Sheriff’s Office received reports of seven burglaries in the Pine area. In Payson, officers are investigating seven homes burglarized in the Woodhill neighborhood. Police have made no arrests and say they have few leads. At a Woodhill homeowners meeting Jan. 31 at the Payson Public Library, 113 residents turned out to discuss recent events. Police Chief Don Engler said the meeting generated some tips and reminded homeowners, especially part-time residents, to lock their doors and windows before leaving. There have not been anymore reported burglaries in the Woodhill area since late January, Engler said. In Pine, Gila County sheriff’s detective Jaime Garrett said the last known burglary was Jan. 19, but it is unclear when that one occurred since the home has not been lived in for some time.

We need to choose policies that allow everyone to get ahead

A foreign government official was recently asked if he was worried that his economic policies might be creating a gap between the rich and poor. “In Cuba, they don’t have any income inequality,” he replied, “because they are all poor.” In his view, it should be the priority of government officials to provide a “high-wage economy,” and one “that [gives] the people the opportunity to advance.” He’s right. In fact, thanks to his government’s policies — the very policies that have supposedly left the poor behind — the number of low-earners has dropped over its term in power. Indeed, it’s only because a larger percentage of his constituents have risen from lower income brackets to become high-earners that his government has had to fend off that oft-repeated, but rarely explained, charge — that it is creating a “gap between the rich and the poor.” In other words, the government has done exactly what it was supposed to do. It made everyone better off; it helped hard workers move up the income scale, and it created the conditions for more low-income individuals to escape the clutches of poverty.

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New Little League president gears up for action

Newly elected Payson Little League President Keely Parker is expecting about 250 aspiring players to turn out this year for the spring and summer baseball and softball programs A turnout of those numbers would be one of the largest since 2009 when almost 300 players showed up at Rumsey Park for tryouts. First on the agenda for parents and young athletes is to sign up at one of three upcoming registration sessions. Parker emphasizes registering early is crucial so she and her staff of 10 other officers can begin preparations for the 2012 campaign. The first sign-up is to be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 15 and the second will be 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. the following day, Thursday, Feb. 16. The final sign-up is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 18. All three sessions will be held in the Rim Country Middle School gymnasium. Little League is open to both boys and girls from 5 to 15 years of age. In registering, players must bring along a birth certificate and parents must sign a medical release and a parents’ code of conduct.

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Teen anglers set for prep circuit

If camaraderie and teamwork are essential to success, a pair of Payson High School student-athletes should do well in their first attempt at competing on the prep bass fishing circuit. Layne Chitwood and Tanner Purtill are buoyed by the experience of competing alongside one another for years in both football and baseball and are also close friends. In their first attempt at high school competitive fishing, in a tournament held Sept. 25, 2011 at Roosevelt Lake, the two finished ninth. Next on the fishing agenda is the circuit’s second tournament to be held April 7 at Lake Pleasant. For Chitwood and Purtill to attain their goal of qualifying for next summer’s national finals, the granddaddy of high school fishing, they must finish first at one of the upcoming Arizona tournaments.

Crackpot gun scheme by addled lawmakers

Sometimes, it seems like half the Arizona lawmakers must be getting paid by the New Mexico tourism department to scare up headlines to keep people away from Arizona. Sen. Ron Gould’s (R-Lake Havasu City) bill to force universities to allow students and faculty to all carry hidden handguns seems a perfect case in point. We’d figure the Lake Havasu City heat had baked the poor boy’s brain, except the reckless notion passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and has apparently gained the support of Senate President Pro-Tem Sylvia Allen (R-Snowflake). The bill’s backers say that guns are not the problem — people are the problem. So if you want to keep bad people with guns from laying waste to the lecture hall, best thing to do is make sure all the good guys are packing. Just about everyone connected with the state’s universities and community colleges has come out against this strange notion — including all three university police chiefs and all three university presidents.

Make Valentine’s Day heart healthy with Zumbathon on Feb. 11

Rim Country Health is sponsoring a Zumbathon to benefit the Payson Christian Clinic from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Payson Senior Center, 514 W. Main St. The event will actually start with a mini Zumba lesson at 9:45 a.m., followed by two hours of heart-pumping Latin fitness fun. The first hour will be Zumba Gold, which is a little slower-paced; and the second hour will be regular Zumba where the movements are faster and bigger.

County will still foot bill for college, at least until July

The Gila Board of Supervisors voted Feb. 7 to continue paying to maintain the Gila Community College buildings and surrounding property through the end of this fiscal year. At the start of this fiscal year last July, the county had set aside $300,000 to pay for utilities and maintenance costs on the buildings that sit on the GCC property formerly owned by the county. After the county deeded over 30 acres to GCC in November, the question emerged: Would supervisors continue to pay for upkeep of the buildings now owned by GCC?

Home rule option on Star Valley’s March ballot

The Star Valley Town Council says it’s up to voters to keep spending decisions local and out of the hands of the state in the upcoming election. Star Valley is holding a primary election March 13, with ballots arriving in mailboxes soon. On the ballot are three councilors up for re-election and the Alternative Expenditure Limitation or “home rule” option. Under home rule, the town sets its spending limit, rather than the state for the next four years. Star Valley voters approved home rule in 2008. If home rule passes, Star Valley plans to spend $3.2 million next year. If it fails, the state-imposed limitation would cap spending at $2.6 million, $600,000 under what councilors say is needed to keep Star Valley running.

Big Brothers Big Sisters organization looking for bowling teams

Only 16 teams may compete at the Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl For Kids’ Sake annual fund-raiser March 3 at Payson Bowl. With 42 high school mentors making teams of five to six people, finding a space will be a challenge, but the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization knows the community will rise to the occasion. “People make it a party,” said Robert Henley, a member of the organization’s staff, “Some people dress in costumes.” The event runs from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. with each team playing two games. Every participant receives a T-shirt. Bowling shoes and ball are provided. “DJ Craig will be the emcee, master of ceremonies and play music,” said Henley. This year marks the 12th annual event. Usually the event has four sessions, but this time, there will only be one session — which limits the number of teams.

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VC boots Horns from Sectionals

It was one and done for the Payson Longhorn basketball team in the Division III, Section III postseason tournament. In a tournament first-round game Feb. 8 in Surprise against Valley Christian, the Horns got off to a turtle-like start, trailing 17-7 after the first eight minutes and 48-18 at halftime. Just when the game looked like the clash was going to be a complete blowout, the Horns roared back to outscore VC by 10 points in the third quarter and five in the fourth to push the final count to a much more respectable 75-60. Payson entered the game as a No. 4 seed and VC represented the fifth seed from the section. While the Horns came out on the losing end of the score, senior point guard Guillermo Lopez turned in what probably was the finest game of his varsity career, scoring a team-high 19 points that included making 2-of-6 three-pointers and a 7-for-8 effort from the line. Lopez also dished out two assists, had two steals and blocked a shot.

Peanut butter popsicle keeps dogs busy

Whether it is a chewed-up shoe or leg of an antique dresser, chewing and other types of destructive behavior can be quite aggravating. The good news is that destructive behavior can be modified with several different methods of training. Many people may think that lack of exercise is the sole reason for unwanted behavior when left alone, but sheer boredom may be the culprit for your canine’s destructive behavior. Fortunately there are many behavior modification techniques that can mediate the situation.

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Thirst for adventure drives Martin Szekeresh

Martin Szekeresh has a thirst for adventure. It is a condition that has plagued him for years and resulted in a treasure trove of memories and stories. He quenches that thirst with frequent visits to the Grand Canyon. In fact, he took a camping trip there the first week of January. Every year, he hikes it from rim to rim on his birthday. Szekeresh is 73. That thirst for adventure has been satiated over the years through events for ultra runners too — such as the Zane Grey 50-Mile Run, numerous 100-mile runs and multiple marathons. A number of years ago, Szekeresh and one of his brothers ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Szekeresh has developed a fondness for Spain and after reading James Michener’s “Iberia” was inspired to return for a different kind of adventure — following The Way (Camino) of St. James. The Way of St. James is a pilgrimage path from Saint Jean Pied de Port, France, to the Cathedral of St. James in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. It covers 503.93 miles across northern Spain.

No stress Valentine Day prom night being held in Tonto Village

Do you remember being stressed out by attending your high school prom? Do you remember being stressed out by not attending your prom? Well, now you can put that stress behind you — and enjoy the prom as it was meant to be. This Saturday night from 7 to 11 p.m., the Double D Bar, Store & Cafe in Tonto Village, as part of its Valentine’s Day celebration, will be hosting a fun-filled, no stress “Prom Night.” Owners Dave and Ethel Cain and their daughter, Tammy, are encouraging adult singles and couples to dress in prom attire that was popular during their high school era and come out and visit their cozy little honky tonk.” “But don’t spend a lot of money getting dressed up,” says Tammy, “the thrift stores should be able to supply you with that perfect dress and coat. We just want everyone to have a nice time, join in the games we have planned, dance to the music they enjoy and help us elect the evening’s prom king and queen.”

Mild winter causing forest fire concerns

What a mild winter we are having! I am not complaining about the lack of snow, and my hubby surely isn’t either, he has to shovel that white stuff. The concern from the lack of snow ratchets up the chances for a very active forest fire season. Everyone will need to be extra aware of any sparks that would cause a forest fire. There are many households that use wood either in a fireplace or wood stove so having a spark screen on the top of your chimney is very important along with having your chimney cleaned out at least once a year. If you or any of your relatives like to ride their ATVs, please check to see if they have spark arrestors on the vehicles, the exhaust pipes can get very hot and can be a big problem if the exhaust is right next to dry pine needles.

Writer of Heber Overgaard book will do a signing Feb. 11

Bobbie Stephens Hunt, our local book writer with stories of the Heber Overgaard area will be doing a book signing and talk of days of yore from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Feb. 11 at the Heber Overgaard Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center.

Water well property subject of fire board meeting Feb. 13

Hello again, fellow Creekers. The Christopher-Kohl’s Fire Department board meeting will be held at the CKFD Station on Monday Feb. 13 at 5:30 p.m. The board will be discussing the status and conditions of the property on Columbine Road that is leased by the water company from the fire department. This well sometimes supplies more than 50 percent of the water used by the Christopher Creek community. The water company is strongly advising members of the community who rely on its water to attend this board meeting.

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Builders Club helps with annual food drive

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Happy Valentine’s Day and happy anniversary to all you romantics who were part of the 2.2 million each year who tie the knot on Feb. 14. A shout out to Celia and Julian Hernandez, of Tolleson, Ariz., who were married at the courthouse in Payson last Valentine’s Day. Many couples each year choose this scenic area for their wedding vows. David and Patricia Roddy came up from Glendale, Ariz., prior to moving here, to get married in the beautiful Strawberry Chapel In The Pines, and then a catered reception at the Mazatzal Casino. It’s surprising there are only 20 to 30 wedding receptions yearly at the Mazatzal, as the cost is so low. “It’s the best kept secret in Arizona,” said Sue Dolan, banquet coordinator. “There is no charge to use a banquet room and we help plan all aspects of the event free of charge. The food is freshly made and we have our own bakery.”

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Spray paint artist has an over-the-top creative energy

Backhoe operator turned artist explodes with color on any surface

Kratos, the popular video-game hero of “God of War,” and Kratos, the not-so-well-known Payson spray paint artist, share obvious similarities: bald heads, bearded chins, scars of battle, and colorful tattoos. Oh yeah — and a rollicking, over-the-top creative energy. A character in a game, however, cannot match Kratos Lira’s inner strength, a drive to create, and the skill to transform a bare surface into a spray-painted marvel of design. Kratos’ current project is helping bring life to a wall with a mural and a salute to the many generations of veterans. You can see it on Highway 87, going south just past the Twin Pines shopping area. Lira, a construction worker, worked a backhoe with precision and skill for 20 some odd years. Originally from San Diego, Lira and his family gravitated to Arizona so his daughter could attend the University of Arizona. Eventually, they found their way to Payson and have recently purchased a home.

North, south, east, or west, it’s all America

I often used to wonder why the Rim Country felt so familiar to me. Then I finally figured it out. It’s so simple that I wonder why it never occurred to me before: It’s because the Rim Country reminds me so much of the places where I grew up. All right, Johnny. I know what you’re thinking. “Huh? Here’s someone who grew up in New York City, and in a small Connecticut town back on the East Coast. And he says the Rim Country reminds him of those places? How can that be?” Easy. Kids don’t see places the same way adults do. I don’t know if they see the big picture and we miss it, or if it’s the other way around, but what we see and what the kids see are two very different things. What would you see if you went to Staten Island or New London? Buildings. Roads. Cars. Buses. People. Stores. Right? Sure you would. Kids would too. But ... There’s always a but, isn’t there, Johnny? But those things were no more my world when I was a kid than the Beeline Highway, Main Street, carloads of weekenders, and the shopping malls are Payson to the kids who live here.

Wednesday, February 8

Record crowds expected at two expos geared toward sportsmen

Outdoor enthusiasts from around the Rim Country, whether they are hunters, anglers, hikers, campers or mountain bikers, are gearing up for two upcoming expos designed to tickle the fancy of all who attend. The events include the International Sportsmen’s Expo to be held Feb. 23 to 26 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale and the Arizona Game and Fish Outdoor Expo set for March 31 and April 1 at the Ben Avery Shooting Range in Phoenix. Both offer an opportunity to experience first-hand the great Arizona outdoors. The International Sportsmen’s Expo has drawn fishing and hunting outfitters from around the state and will have on display the newest in fishing tackle and hunting gear, boats, motors, marine accessories, mountain home furnishings, ATVs, trucks, outdoor apparel and optics.

Good 2 Go

Award-winning photographer Tom Brossart will be conducting a series of three photo workshops this spring. Adventures in Photography will be hands-on workshops to help those in attendance understand their digital camera and its functions, which will lead to better photos. The first workshop will be in Sedona on Feb. 10 and will focus on landscape photo techniques. The second workshop will be in March and will concentrate on wildflower photographs (the date of this workshop will be determined when the wildflowers are blooming). The final workshop will be April 6.

Zumbathon benefits Payson Christian Clinic

It’s time to gear up for another Zumbathon. Get out those red workout clothes and spread the Valentine’s Day love for your neighbors Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Payson Senior Center, 514 W. Main St. Proceeds will benefit the Payson Christian Clinic, which serves area residents unable to afford care from other health care providers.

Get-a-Away Around Rim Country

There will be an informational meeting for people interested in being volunteer teachers in the Family Literacy Program with Rim Country Literacy. The meeting will be at 10 a.m., Friday, Feb. 10 at the Literacy Center, 1001 S. Beeline Highway, behind the Knotty Pine Café. It will last less than an hour. Come and find out how you can serve children in the Payson area through literacy. The program is still being organized and input is welcome. Training is provided to all volunteers.

Arizona Centennial exhibit at Rim Country Museum

Arizona will celebrate 100 years of statehood on Feb. 14, 2012. Activities are being held in numerous cities and towns throughout the year to honor this event. The Rim Country Museum here in Payson will feature a Centennial Exhibit titled: Arizona’s Story — A Rim Country View.

Sweet and savory Valentine bites

Whether you’re hosting a festive Valentine’s Day party, or entertaining just for two, these recipes give you some sweet and savory choices that will set the mood for romance. Scrumptious bites start with simple, flavorful ingredients — golden Calimyrna and dark purple Mission figs from California and Jarlsberg cheese. Sweet, mouthwatering figs are not only packed with great taste, they’re full of fiber and essential nutrients, making them as good for you as they are good to eat. The versatile taste and texture of Jarlsberg cheese is ideal for these appetizers. Jarlsberg’s mild, nutty-sweet flavor and buttery creaminess makes it a perfect partner to figs and, along with its excellent melting properties, adaptable to many sweet or savory dishes.

Louse Invasion Drives Mom Buggy

My 5-year-old kindergartner has head lice. I discovered them because he started scratching his head. It makes me sick to my stomach to think about this. I can’t imagine where he picked them up. Is the entire family destined to come down with them?

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 12: The Dark Side of Tonto Basin

The good times of rodeos, dances and neighborly visits were interrupted for the residents of Tonto Basin in the spring of 1892 when a young mother was murdered by her husband, and her baby son was left parentless. The story has often been told, but with so many versions one has to carefully sift them to discern how events really unfolded. It begins with two families who emigrated from Missouri to Arizona’s Tonto Basin in the late 1880s. It is not known if they had known each other before coming west, but their lives were destined to become intertwined. John and Adis Narron brought their family to stake a claim near Grapevine, close to the junction of Tonto Creek and the Salt River. Their four children registered in the Catalpa School, Alice, 17, Annie, 16, William, 10, and Lillian, 9.i

Join the Great Backyard Bird Count

Watch for Snowy Owls and early migrants on the move

Warmer temperatures and lack of snow in parts of North America are setting the stage for what could be a most intriguing 15th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, coming up Feb. 17-20, 2012. Bird watchers across the U.S. and Canada are getting ready to tally millions of birds in the annual count coordinated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada. In past counts, participants were most likely to report American Robins in areas without snow. Will more robins be seen farther north this year? Will some birds, such as Eastern Phoebes, begin their migrations earlier? And where will the “Harry Potter” owl turn up next? Snowy Owls have dazzled spectators as these Arctic birds have ventured south in unusual numbers this winter — an unpredictable occurrence that experts believe is related more to the availability of food than to weather.

Exciting American vacations

The United States is a large country that offers many opportunities for different vacations. You can examine American history in various locations, you can experience the great outdoors with camping, swimming, fishing and hiking, and there are plenty of upscale resorts and spas as well as two coasts to enjoy. You don’t ever have to leave our shores to find excitement and pleasure. In this Travel Talk we will offer suggestions to assist in selecting a vacation for which no passport or foreign language guide is needed. This spring there is the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby. You could plan to be in Lexington, Ky. from about May 2 to May 6 to take in all the southern style events taking place around the actual horse race.

Tuesday, February 7

School board wants big search committee

Superintendent salary set at $90,000 to $110,000 as board seeks open process

The Payson Unified School District will likely invite as many as 25 school and community leaders to help the school board pick a new superintendent by reviewing and scoring the applications. The board also decided to advertise the job at a salary of $90,000 to $110,000. The consultant heading up the search seemed initially taken aback at the notion of such a large group reviewing and assigning a numerical score to the 10 to 40 applications she predicted the search for a new superintendent will draw. The board needs a new superintendent to replace Casey O’Brien, who recently announced he will retire in June and return to southeastern Arizona.

Sheriff Armer will not seek fourth term

Just as election campaigns are kicking off, Gila County’s three-term sheriff has announced he will not run again for office. John Armer told the Roundup Jan. 31 he planned to retire at the end of his term, ending a 12-year run as Gila County’s sheriff. A day earlier, former county deputy sheriff Darrell Stubbs announced he would run for county sheriff. Several other people are expected to run. Election packets are available now for candidates to register for the Aug. 28 primary. The general election is Nov. 6. Other offices up for election include a Gila County supervisor seat, county attorney, assessor, superintendent and a superior court judge. Armer said after 43 years in law enforcement, he is ready to retire and spend time with family.

Community college seeks partnership with university

Gila Community College needs to do a much better job of partnering with the Rim Country Educational Alliance, the board decided recently. Board member Tom Loeffler suggested the 3,400-student community college district set up a committee to work with the backers of a proposed university in Payson — presumably Arizona State University. “It might be better for us to be proactive and start work on different ideas of what we could do with them. I think that campus is going to happen and we need to get ready.” Board president Larry Stephenson suggested the GCC administrators start out by reporting on the range of existing partnerships between universities and community colleges — especially programs that allow students to get a degree more quickly at a lower cost by taking general education courses at the community college.

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Group protests store’s sale of synthetic drug

Spice, potpourri cause users to have hallucinations and even seizures

The hand-drawn posters all carried a similar message, “Stop One Stop Selling Spice” and get designer drugs out of the hands of Payson residents. A group of 15 gathered at the One Stop convenience store for several hours Saturday to protest what they say is a growing problem in the community — the sale and use of synthetic drugs such as spice, potpourri and bath salts. While legal to use and buy, the group said the substances can have unattended health consequences. Local authorities have already seen several users get sick off the synthetic drugs and one even suffered a seizure from possible use. Other reactions range from violent outburst to hallucinations.

Community Almanac

The Hashknife Pony Express arrives at the Payson Post Office at 4:45 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 8. Entertainment by DJ Craig starts at 4 p.m. On arrival, the riders will be available for a short time to sign autographs on posters and bandanas, as well as take pictures with those interested. Centennial souvenir bandanas will be given free to children 12 and under.

Stop the blame game and challenge all students

This letter is written in response to the Jan. 27 guest comment written by Senator Kyl.

Real Obama agenda revealed

All you Christians, especially Catholics, who voted for Obama.

The cost of high school athletic programs

Sustainability of the athletic program for Payson High School was the prime concern of the Payson School District Governing Board in the spring of 2010 when they reluctantly voted to implement sports fees and to use Credit For Kids to fund all athletic programs. The intent was certainly not to require coaches to raise funds to pay their own salaries. As a parent and as an administrator, I fully support all extracurricular and co-curricular programs, as I have experienced first hand the impact these programs have on student success. Athletics are the hook connecting many students to school in a positive passionate manner, as well as impacting the need for student academic achievement and positive behavior choices.

District needs an open superintendent search

The Payson Unified School District continues to grapple with the most important decision they are likely to make this year: Picking a new superintendent. We hope that they will make the process as open as possible — even if it gets a little unwieldy. At their last meeting, board members debated whether to set up a large screening committee to get input from as many as 27 community and educational leaders on the applicants. The board will consider the ratings of the applicants from each of the committee members in winnowing down the field to a few finalists.

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Students work on turning ideas into machines

“OK, Chocolate Man, let’s see what you’ve got,” says physics teacher Andrew Fiala. High school students in Fiala’s class eagerly crowd around Jonathan Wisner’s machine. They can see it has enough chocolate for everyone in the class. Wisner starts the chocolate distribution machine by dropping a weight attached to a string that twirls a peg attached to a bar. At the end of the bar, an extra-large nut bangs into the piece of chocolate, knocking it down a chute and into the waiting hand of a classmate. Cheers erupt and hands reach out to get their piece of chocolate. “Good job!” says Fiala, “Generally, we think of a fulcrum moving side to side, but this acts as a wheel. You have five machines present and five energy transfers. Cool. You got extra credit.”

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Senior Center needs some help

February, second month of the year, is like a small child going through the stage known as the terrible twos. February can be so winsome — it charms the birds into singing spring songs. Beware, though, when it throws a temper tantrum. February’s storms can be fierce. North America’s largest single storm snowfall of 189 inches occurred Feb. 19, 1959 at Mt. Shasta, Calif. Payson’s record snowfall of almost 50 inches occurred in the month of December many years ago — OK, any longtime Paysonites who remember the exact date, please e-mail it to me at So far this year we have a shortage of snowfall, but be careful what you wish for. There’s still time for a blizzard or two. Leap Year gives us an extra day this month and according to ancient custom that day may be used by “mayden lady to bespoke ye man she likes …”. Should he refuse her proposal, he was liable to a hefty fine, or, in some cases, to compensate the rejected “mayden” with a new dress of pure silk.

Marine Corps League

The 2012 elected and appointed officers of Payson’s Rim Country Detachment of the Marine Corps League were recently installed.

Sons of the American Revolution

The Rim Country Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution installed new officers for the year 2012 at its Jan. 21 meeting.

College board balks again at fee proposal

Debate centers on whether to impose class fees to cover cost of materials in certain classes

Gila Community College students may soon face an extra $10 fee for every class. Then again, maybe not. The GCC board grappled with the thorny issue once again, but flinched from a decision. The board last November had tentatively decided to impose the $10 fee on all classes to pay for extra materials needed for some classes, including art and nursing. However, the issue got lost in the confusion about meeting schedules, health problems for board members and missed meetings. But the issue bobbed back to the surface last week at the January board meeting, with mixed results. Board member Tom Loeffler said the college may have to impose some fees to cope with looming budget problems, but shouldn’t impose across-the-board fees. For instance, he said students in the nursing program that provides a financial pillar for the whole college already pay class fees as high as $150 to cover the cost of IVs bandages, dressings and other “consumables.”

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Iron cross erected to honor Payson character removed

Sid Gee and his hiker buddies knew him only as Paul Z, the amiable guardian of some of Payson’s most popular trails. “His last name was too complicated to say,” said Gee, somberly, in the shadow of tragedy. In actuality, Paul Z’s last name was Zelenski. Before his disturbing, lonely death and the heartbreaking vandalism that followed, he had children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. For two years, every time Gee hiked the trails at the end of Phoenix Street, he would stop to have a chat with the man who lived in a trailer near the trailhead. “A lot of people talked to Paul,” said Gee.

The ugly side of visitors to the woods: forest vandalism

Drive to the end of Granite Dells Road and graffiti smears the beauty of a huge bolder jutting into the road before the entrance of the trailheads. It is impossible to miss. Yet this graffiti is not the only vandalism. “Kids go down into the wash of the abandoned ranch, start bonfires and have parties,” said Chelsea Muise, recreation officer from the Payson Ranger District. Partiers leave beer bottles and trash. Vandals rip out trail markers and fences. Target shooters bombard signs with bullets and paint balls.

Mazatzal Casino player wins $1+ million on penny game

A player at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino won the first Gold Series top progressive of 2012 while playing on Friday, Jan. 27. The game paid the lucky gamer $1,033,554. They were playing Rocket’s Kingdom Cash® video game. Casino officials said the winner wished to remain anonymous. While, the winner wishes to remain anonymous, another casino guest shared the following. Susan Gonzalez of Payson wrote to the Roundup, “A couple hit a jackpot on a penny progressive slot machine at the casino. 

Update on Star Valley town finances on council agenda

pour at least another $75,000 into start-up costs. With such large expenses on the books, the Star Valley Town Council will get an update on where town finances are at a meeting Tuesday. The 6:30 p.m. meeting will also include discussion on the March 13 home rule election, a proposed water ordinance and ending a well agreement with a family. The town plans to take over the Payson Water Company in Star Valley from Brooke Utilities on May 1 after paying outright for the 360-hookup system.

Post game dust up under review

Payson High School Athletic Director Gary Fishel has issued a statement regarding the unfortunate scuffle that took place immediately after a PHS vs. Fountain Hills boys basketball game on Jan. 31 in Wilson Dome. He says: “There was a confrontation among spectators following the Payson – Fountain Hills boys varsity basketball game on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012, won by Fountain Hills 78-49. Words had been bantered back and forth by groups from both schools during the night’s game, and the situation escalated at the completion of the game when unidentified Payson spectators threw T-shirts at one of the Fountain Hills spectators (the shirts had been tossed into the crowd as complimentary gifts earlier in the game by the PHS Cheer Squad).

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It’s Longhorns vs. VC in sectional first round Feb. 8

The Payson High School boys basketball team begins pursuit of a Division III, Section III tournament championship tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 8, against Valley Christian at Valley Vista High School in Surprise. The Horns (16-11) advance to the postseason shoot-out as a No. 4 seed against fifth seeded VC, a private parochial school in Chandler. If the Horns whip VC, Payson would advance to a tournament semifinal game on Feb. 10 against the winner of an opening round clash pitting No. 1 Parker against No. 8 Northwest Christian. The winner of that game plays Feb. 11 for the sectional title. All games will be played at Valley Vista. The Division III state tournament tips off Tuesday, Feb. 14 at a site to be determined. The Horns enter the tournament having put an end to a three-game losing streak with a 52-46 triumph over Show Low in a season finale played Feb. 3 in Show Low.

Month-long fund-raiser starts Thursday at Denny’s

On Feb. 9, the Payson Denny’s, along with 74 other Denny’s throughout Arizona, will launch a month-long fund-raiser benefitting Ella’s Tea Party, a local organization committed to helping children who are battling pediatric cancer. The event will mark the beginning of a year-long campaign to raise more than $100,000 for three organizations working to find a cure for the childhood disease. Over the past two years, Arizona Denny’s have raised more than $46,000 for Ella’s Tea Party through in-store fund-raisers.

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Pirch fishes to second B.A.S.S. Southern Open

Payson professional angler Clifford Pirch has expanded his angling repertoire to include the B.A.S.S. professional circuit with big time success. Competing Jan. 19 to Jan. 21 in the Southern Open on the Harris Chain of lakes located near Orlando, Fla., Pirch finished second in the 187-angler field with a catch that tipped the scales at 58.1 pounds. Guntersville, Ala. angler Chris Lane was first with 72.11 pounds. The tournament was the kickoff event of the 2012 Bass Pro Shops Southern Open Series. Pirch calls competing on the Harris Chain a huge challenge because “it is a fickle place to fish” mostly because a slight two-degree change in weather temperatures can alter the behavior patterns of the bass.

Lady Horns shut out of S-III tournaments

A break-even 13-13 record and a regular season ending 49-33 win over Show Low wasn’t enough to earn the Lady Longhorn basketball team an invitation to the sectional tournament. To receive a ducat to the postseason fray, which begins today, Feb. 7 at Willow Canyon and Valley Vista High Schools in Surprise, PHS needed to finish in power points among the top eight S-III ranked teams. The Lady Horns just missed on an invite finishing 10th, less than two power points behind Sedona Red Rock, the eighth and final seed. There continues to be a remote chance the team could still earn a spot in the 24-team Division III state tournament when it begins Feb. 15 at a site to be determined.

Clubs and Organizations

Elks members and guests are welcome to enjoy lunch at the Lodge from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday; Friday dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday dinner from noon to 5 p.m. Basic refreshments are offered for sale at the Karaoke Night from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every Wednesday in February and during the Elks Jam Sessions, scheduled at 3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 18 and 25. Every Sunday there is Bingo at 1 p.m. and a Pool Tournament at 4:30 p.m., with Happy Hour from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Elks members and guests are welcome at these events.

Have we already seen the bottom of the real estate market?

Many of the recent reports on the state of the real estate market offer a quick and dirty analysis designed to fit into a 30-second television spot or a short news article. In addition, they tend to give a broad brush to the entire real estate market as opposed to the intricacies of a particular market. So what is the answer to the question: Did you miss the bottom of the real estate market? The answer — it depends. Information, statistics and historical data are more readily available on the Valley real estate market than the Rim Country. However, there is value in following the Valley real estate market because the Rim Country tends to follow their trending in regards to home sales.

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Horns flourish in lower weight divisions

If the Section III wrestling tournament had wrapped up after the first eight weight classes, Payson would have been in the running for a gold medal finish. The possibility would have existed because the Longhorns had five medalists in the 106- to 152-pound weight divisions. In the six weight divisions greater than 152, the Horns had just one medalist — 195-pound Anselmo Vasquez who was third. Jacob Spear, competing among the 138-pounders, turned in one of the Longhorns’ best finishes placing second to Taylor Martin of Flagstaff Coconino. For the year, Spear was 41-6. Conner Anderson also earned silver medal honors, finishing second to Snowflake’s Jacob Lucas. Anderson wrapped up the campaign with a commendable 30-14 record. Also in the Longhorn effort, a trio of wrestlers, Dallin Macnab, William McCrary and Zac Wilson managed fourth place showings.

Friday, February 3

Marooned Pine hiker rescued from cliff Sunday

Volunteer searchers rescued a 68-year-old hiker from Pine Sunday after he found himself marooned on a cliff, unable to climb up or down. Ground searchers and a helicopter crew worked together to locate the man and get him safely back to his vehicle. The man had set out at Geronimo Trail to do a loop hike that went up on the Mogollon Rim and back to the trailhead, said Bill Pitterle, commander with Tonto Rim Search and Rescue. Somehow, however, the man got disoriented on the return trail and was soon lost. The man continued hiking down until he came to a 25-foot cliff that he could not descend. He found he could not go back the way he had come and was “ledged out,” Pitterle said.

Heartfelt thanks to those who attended Celebration of Life gathering

The Kendall family would like to send a heartfelt thank you to everyone that attended the Celebration of Life gathering in memory of Karl (Booger) Kendall.

Lobbying contract spurs GCC board dispute

A lobbying firm’s contract renewal spurred a bitter exchange in an otherwise harmonious meeting of the Gila Community College board last week. Board member Tom Loeffler objected to a $36,000 annual contract for Triadvocates to lobby for the provisional community college district in the Legislature. Loeffler said the Phoenix-based firm has done a poor job in pushing for bills in the Legislature to ensure GCC gets the same treatment as the state’s other community college districts. Loeffler has in the past opposed the Triadvocates contract because the firm also represents Eastern Arizona College, with which GCC contracts for administrative and academic services. “Triadvocates actually worked against us and was aligned with other colleges for workforce development funding,” said Loeffler. “I don’t think they did the job we were paying them for.” However, board member Bob Ashford took vigorous exception to Loeffler’s statement.

Funding for schools better than last year

Projected state surplus may stave off cuts, but won’t restore losses says superintendent

The brightening state budget picture could this year give the Payson Unified School District a break from financial trauma, but probably won’t allow the district to regain lost ground, Superintendent Casey O’Brien told the school board this week. Gov. Jan Brewer’s proposed budget projects a $672 million surplus, in contrast to the multi-billion-dollar deficits of the past two years. “Arizona is certainly in a lot better position than a lot of states, but I do not think that we will be restored to the levels before the recession,” said O’Brien. The district has closed a school, increased class sizes, nearly stopped buying supplies and new textbooks, and laid off teachers and other staff in the past three years. “My job is to find solutions to get us through these very, very trying times,” said O’Brien, who recently announced he’ll retire at the end of this school year. “Fortunately, our community stepped up and passed an override, otherwise I have no idea where we’d be.”

County has record rate of foreclosures

Forced sales at 459 in 2010; forced sales in 2011 dropped to 395

Foreclosures in Gila County declined sharply this year, but still account for 27 percent of property sales. Forced sales peaked in 2010 at 459, then dropped to 395 out of 1,120 property sales in 2011. That’s encouraging, except the share of foreclosures pursued to the bitter end — a forced sale — has actually increased. In 2010, 64 percent of foreclosures filed ended in the forced sale of the property. In 2011, that percentage increased to 78 percent. That means a record number of Gila County homeowners have suffered foreclosure in the past two years. “Almost all people going through foreclosure have financial problems,” said Cliff Potts, a broker for Prudential Realty. Potts told the story of a family who lost their home because of job loss. The father worked in construction, but couldn’t find work in Payson after the housing market collapsed. Desperate for work, he found a job in Prescott.

Recreation Roundup

This camp offers young wrestlers, in the third- through eighth-grades, the opportunity to learn skills from the Payson High School coaches and players. Registration continues through Tuesday, Feb. 21, with the camp held from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from Feb. 21 through March 1. The cost is $25 per child. Youth Spring Socceer League Registration is now taking place for the Youth Spring Soccer League and will continue through March 13. Games could be played both weekdays and on Saturdays between March 27 and May 17. The league is open to children age 4 through high school seniors. Participants in the third-grade and up will be using full fields at Rumsey Park, while the younger players will use the smaller fields. Volunteer coaches are needed and if you coach your child’s team, the $30 participation fee is waived.

Record crowds expected at expos

Outdoor enthusiasts from around the Rim Country, whether they are hunters, anglers, hikers, campers or mountain bikers, are gearing up for two upcoming expos designed to tickle the fancy of all who attend. The events include the International Sportsmen’s Expo to be held Feb. 23 to 26 in University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale and the Arizona Game and Fish Outdoor Expo set for March 31 and April 1 at the Ben Avery Shooting Range in Phoenix. Both offer an opportunity to experience first-hand the great Arizona outdoors. The International Sportsmen’s Expo has drawn fishing and hunting outfitters from around the state and will have on display the newest in fishing tackle and hunting gear, boats, motors, marine accessories, mountain home furnishings, ATVs, trucks, outdoor apparel and optics. More than 300 companies are expected to exhibit. Also the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Arizona Deer Association, Eastmans’ Trophy Deer and Boy Scouts of America will have information booths and displays set up throughout the entire show.

Facts don’t support reasons for AIA changes

Let’s see — when the Arizona Interscholastic Association did away with the former conference/region configuration and replaced it with a division/section alignment a year ago, the reasons given were the new arrangement would save transportation money, cut down on travel time and limit student athletes’ time out of class. Sounds reasonable, but let’s check it out. For the upcoming Division III basketball tournaments that both Payson High teams could be competing in, first-round games are on Feb. 14 at “a site to be determined,” the AIA tournament bracket shows. So who knows where that will be? Possibly the home site of the highest seed which would mean half of the tournament’s 24 teams would not have to travel. But the other half might have to travel great distances and possibly incur expenses of an overnight stay. For example, what if Payson and Rio Rico were to meet in the first round and Rio Rico is the home team? That would mean Payson would have to make about a 500-mile round trip on a Tuesday, possibly missing a full day of school. If Payson would win, the team would travel the following Friday to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff for a second-round game.

Lady Horns push Falcons to the edge

Lady Longhorn first-year basketball coach Jennifer White is calling it “our best game of the year,” even though her team dropped a 51-46 thriller to highly regarded Fountain Hills. The Falcons entered the game, played Jan. 31 in Fountain Hills, with a 17-3 record, on a four-game winning streak and as huge favorites to stampede the Lady Horns into oblivion. Few gave Payson a chance to win, but the gutsy and gritty Lady Horns surprised soothsayers by playing on even terms with Fountain Hills most of the game. Possibly part of the Lady Horns’ urgency in the Section III clash can be attributed to the fact White and her players realized they needed a crucial win over FH to stay in the chase for a sectional tournament berth. While PHS didn’t get the much-needed “W”, the team continues to hold out hope that a victory tonight, Feb. 3 over Show Low, would provide the power points the team needs to advance to the S-III tournament and possibly earn a berth in the division tournament.

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Fountain Hills dashes upset aspirations

A well-oiled Fountain Hills boys basketball team, ranked among the best in Division III, squashed Payson’s hopes of pulling off the upset of the season, whipping the Horns 78-49 on Jan. 31 in Wilson Dome. The visiting Falcons jumped out to a 22-9 lead in the first eight minutes; expanded it to 45-26 at halftime; and coasted to the win. In the loss, the Longhorns turned in one of their worst shooting nights of the season, hitting just 21 of their 61 attempts (34 percent). Cole Belcher was about the only Horn player to muster much offense, finishing with 13 points. Tanner Hintze, the team’s lead scorer, was held to nine points. Josh Oakley contributed six and Richard Neilson had five. Sometimes prep teams can make up for shooting woes by cashing in at the free throw line. But Payson drew just 10 fouls and hit five of the attempts, so the charity stripe was not much help. Some of the Horns’ setbacks can be attributed to a lack of offensive rebounding, which meant there weren’t many “put back” points. Not a single Payson player corralled more than one offensive rebound and, as a team, the Horns had just six.

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Section I finals a junk yard dogfight

The Division III, Section I wrestling championships, to be held today, Friday, Feb. 3, and tomorrow in Winslow, will probably be the most competitive of the three section tournaments because state top-10 ranked teams Blue Ridge, Coconino, Mingus and Chino Valley are members. The Section II championships are under way at Tucson Sabino and Section III is occurring at Greenway High, Phoenix. Section I is the smallest of the three with 13 member schools while Section II and III encompass 17 schools each. Along with the Section I tournament drawing some of the finest teams in the state, it will feature some of the most accomplished individuals, with 35-plus top-eight ranked wrestlers competing over the course of the two days. Which means Payson wrestlers will face plenty of mat challenges as they battle for individual honors and team points. The 138-pound division is possibly the most stacked weight class in the sectionals and is the one in which Payson’s best wrestler, Jake Spear, competes.

FaceBook pictures posts – are your kids safe?

GPS systems, especially those included on our smart phones, have made life much more convenient. Finding restaurants, mapping vacation routes, and even getting out of the woods alive are some of the benefits. But this new technology also makes it easier for criminals to track us down and cause harm. A recent report by an NBC news affiliate in Kansas City showed just how easy it is for predators to find children based on photos taken of them with smart phones. Here’s how it happens: Someone innocently snaps a photo of their child, a friend, or of themselves to post on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. The GPS on the phone applies a Geotag to the photo that contains the exact longitude/ latitude where it was taken. Once this photo is shared publicly, the geolocation tags are also shared publicly. Bad guys can use simple software to extract the location where the photo was taken. The scariest part of this whole process is that it happens within minutes.

Green Valley Park given the clean-cut look by city workers

If in the past couple of weeks you’ve walked around the lake at Green Valley Park, you’ve probably noticed that the west bank of the lake has taken on a distinctive “clean-cut” look. A couple of weeks ago, a half-dozen or so town workers (Parks & Rec and Water Department employees, working side by side), whacked down the cattails that had stretched the entire length of the western shore. People who walk the sidewalk at the park could once again see the lake on the west side. The town workers who worked so hard to weed-whack down and rake out the overgrown reeds really did a nice job of leaving the shore with a nicely trimmed, manicured look. On my own walk on by, as I gazed out at the remaining cattail stumps, the reeds strangely flashed me back to when I was nine years old, looking into the mirror at the bristles on my head standing straight up after my father’s home clippers left me with yet another save-25-cents-by-not-going-to-the-barber-shop, chopped off, uniform length “crew-cut.”

Hashknife part of upcoming centennial celebrations

Can you believe it? January is gone and February is here. February is a very important month for many reasons, but most important is that it is Arizona’s birthday on Feb. 14, in becoming 100 years young! There are many celebrations going on in the state of various kinds. Just check out the newspaper for a list of activities from around the state. One event that is close to home is the Hashknife riders. They will be making stops in Christopher Creek and Payson to pick up the mail and carry the mail to Scottsdale. Again, check the newspaper for the exact dates and times they will be passing through. February is also National Heart Month, so check with your physician to see if you need a checkup.

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Survey crews working east of Overgaard to map out highway expansion

A cooling trend is under way from the lower 50s we experienced this week to the lower 40s for the daytime high this weekend. Night-time temperatures are expected to remain the same, with lows ranging from the upper teens to the lower 20s. No precipitation is expected in the near term. Survey crews continue work east of Overgaard this week for ongoing highway expansion.

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Back to the Future...

Tonto Basin ranch owners demonstrate that draft horses and traditional methods of farming can restore the environment

If the land under the care of Bill and Lori Brown loses fertility, everything on their ranch in Tonto Basin suffers. So their draft horse clinic aims to resurrect the art of farming with horses, a sustainable method of farming. The Browns have a history of environmentalism. They were honored in 2008 by the Society for Range Management as a result of their work in redeveloping springs and maintaining 15,000 acres of land. The couple has worked on their family’s H-4 Ranch since the 1960s. Despite the many years of use, the ranch radiates vitality. Animals have a healthy coat and the land grows lush alfalfa for the stock. In 2006, they decided to purchase draft horses as a hobby, but now recognize how horses link to sustainable farming. “Connecting with the land is critical,” said Lori.

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Community Almanac

John Carpino and the Hot Cappuccinos will be providing live music for the benefit and fund-raising event for Payson cancer patient Jaci Hill, Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Buffalo Bar and Grill in Payson. The event starts at 7 p.m.

Five good reasons to create a comprehensive investment strategy

Some people buy investments here and there, now and then. Others open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), put some money in it, and then forget about it. But this type of haphazard investment behavior can lead to haphazard results. On the other hand, you’ve got five good reasons for creating and following a comprehensive, long-term investment strategy. Reason No. 1: You want to enjoy a comfortable retirement lifestyle. For most people, building resources for retirement is the most powerful reason to invest. As a key part of your investment strategy, you’ll want to consider investments that have growth potential. The proportion of your portfolio devoted to these growth investments should be based on your individual risk tolerance and time horizon.

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Thai Café celebrates first year

To celebrate a successful first year of business, owners of Payson’s only Thai restaurant laid out a feast Tuesday for community members who helped make the family’s dream a reality. Mam and Mac Katepratoom had imagined opening their own restaurant for years, but never dreamed Ayothaya Thai Café, 404 E. Highway 260, would be such a success when they opened last year. That success is due both to the quality of and authenticity of dishes, diners said Tuesday. Gary Richardson, district sales manager with Sysco, said he has visited many restaurants in his career, and Mam and Mac are some of the easiest customers to work with and put out a great product.

Clubs and Organizations

The Payson Area Computer Association will meet at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 3 in the meeting room of the Payson Public Library.  Guests are always welcome. The first meeting is always free. Membership is only $10 per year, per family.

February adoption special — all pets just $25

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and love is in the air. There are many kinds of love, but the greatest of all is unconditional — the type of love many say can only be experienced by owning a cat or dog. As a mother, I feel it’s also something you experience with your children. For many pet owners, their dog or cat is their child, so I think pet owners and parents can relate. In honor of Valentine’s Day, the Humane Society of Central Arizona is running an adoption special. For the month of February, all adoptions are just $25. This includes cats, kittens, puppies and dogs. We have an unconditional love for the animals in our care and would like for them to find their loving, forever homes so that you can experience unconditional love too. Stop by the shelter at 812 S. McLane Road, open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Arizona Centennial exhibit will be unveiled at Rim Country Museum

Arizona will celebrate 100 years of statehood on Feb. 14. The Rim Country Museum will feature a Centennial Exhibit titled: Arizona’s Story — A Rim Country View. The exhibit features a section about Arizona’s Territorial Years from 1863 to early 1912 and will feature Rim Country personalities who contributed to Arizona’s growth toward statehood.

Hire an old, new superintendent

When opportunity knocks, don’t complain about the noise and instead seize the potential possibility! Since the current superintendent of Payson Unified School District (PUSD) has announced his intent to retire rather than seek yet another position in the Valley, the PUSD governing board should look at his resignation as a golden opportunity to bring in new, old leadership to steer the district in a positive direction.

New regulations will hinder America’s farm families

“Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens,” Thomas Jefferson once said. “They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands.” Indeed, to Jefferson and many of our founders, America’s small farms embodied some of the most important values upon which the country was founded — including hard work, self-reliance, and family. That’s why it’s so disappointing to see new rules coming from the Obama administration that threaten the very agricultural way of life that our founders deemed so important. Last September, the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed new regulations that would ban anyone under the age of 16 from performing the most common of tasks — such as cleaning out stalls with a wheelbarrow and shovel, rounding up cattle on horseback, or operating a tractor — on a farm. As my colleague Senator Jerry Moran put it: “To most young people growing up on [a] family farm, those jobs are routine. It’s a part of their lives. And these Department of Labor regulations are going to intrude significantly in that ability.”

Time to break up with EAC lobbyist

He promises the world. He inflates your hopes. Then sneaks out with your pretty sister. Time to break up? Most likely. So we suspect that the Gila Community College board made a mistake last week when it renewed Triadvocate’s $36,000 annual lobbying contract. The Phoenix-based Triadvocates represents several community college districts in the Legislature, including Eastern Arizona College — with which GCC contracts for its credential. Board member Tom Loeffler has in the past suggested that represents a conflict of interest, since GCC’s interests as a provisional community college may conflict with the plans of regular community colleges — who get far more state support. Not to worry, insisted Triadvocates: We can represent GCC’s interests too. So last year, Triadvocates set to work to help state Sen. Sylvia Allen pass two bills crucial to the future of GCC. One bill opens the door to independence. The second bill sought to ensure GCC gets its fair share of workforce development money all other districts already get to develop vocational programs.

Some people are just not cut out to do some jobs

As much as I hate to say it, there are people in this world who would be a lot better off in almost any job except the one they have. I’ve run into a few of those in my time, and something tells me I’m not the only one. I’ve often wondered about that, haven’t you? Just about everybody is good at something, so why do some people stay in a job that is so-o-o-o wrong for them? Why not go do something you’re good at? Could it be that some people don’t know how bad they are at what they’re doing? Is that possible? Even when it’s as obvious as a dead rat floating in the gravy boat? I mean, if you’re a brain surgeon, your hand shakes, you cut your own finger during your junior high frog dissection, and you tend to forget what it was you started out to do, I would think that sooner or later you’d realize you picked the wrong career. But not some folks I guess. Not one I knew anyway.

GCC board member ‘flying blind’ on budget details

Everyone on the Gila Community College board seems to agree they don’t have enough information on their own budget to make crucial decisions. But they mostly disagree on what they should do about that. Board member Tom Loeffler triggered an inconclusive discussion of the issue at the board meeting last week when he suggested the board hire its own full- or part-time finance director. “The state audit showed we are less than stellar in our financial report,” he said of a recent review of the board’s financial control systems. “I believe every one of us has experienced some problem in understanding the monthly reports” provided by Eastern Arizona College.

Hashknife riders coming to Rim Country

Neither rain nor sleet nor dark of night (nor traffic, highway construction or weekenders) shall stay these riders, and their mounts, from their appointed rounds. This year however, is a very special year for this ride. The Hashknife Pony Express ride has been chosen by the State of Arizona as one of the official events to celebrate Arizona’s centennial. The first leg of the 200-mile trip over the Mogollon Rim will start at the Holbrook post office. Each year the Hashknife Pony Express riders receive the oath of office from the Holbrook postmaster authorizing them to carry the U.S. mail by Pony Express. The familiar cry of “Hashknife!” will be heard in the chilled morning of Wednesday, Feb. 8. Members of the Hashknife Pony Express will then mount up for the 54th annual ride of the Hashknife Pony Express. Not all riders will start from Holbrook.

90-year sentence in child porn case may be reduced

A 74-year-old man who received a 90-year sentence for possessing child pornography may be out in as little as five years if the governor approves a sentence reduction. A jury in August convicted Robert Thomas Flibotte on 10 counts of dangerous acts against children after prosecutors presented dozens of pornographic images and videos of underage children engaged in sexual acts, some as young as 3. The images were found on both Flibotte’s home and work computers and several other media devices. Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill sentenced Flibotte to nine, 10-year sentences served consecutively, the minimum under state law. While Cahill said that Flibotte’s consecutive sentences totaling 90 years was “clearly excessive” Cahill found that Flibotte’s 10-year sentence on each count was not.  

Community takes its name from French settler and explorer

Hello again, fellow Creekers. Feb. 14 marks 100 years of statehood for Arizona. This makes me think about our history right here in Christopher Creek. The quiet and friendly community of Christopher Creek is named after the French settler, explorer and cartographer, Isadore Christopher, who lived here in the 1880s with his mail-order bride, Mary Hope. Christopher was the original homesteader of the 160-acre CI Ranch, which has developed into the community of Christopher Creek. In 1903, when Isadore Christopher, after the death of his wife, decided to move away from the ranch, he sold it to John Bowman. In 1938, the ranch was sold by the Bowmans to Paul Revere and Polly Rodema Mendenhall Ashby, the parents of Glenn Ashby.

Tease photo

Two Pine-Strawberry School staff members retiring

Staff and students at Pine-Strawberry School are losing two of their staff members who are retiring from the district at the end of this school year. Combined, Doris Randall and Jan Clark have given 62 years to education, with a combined total of 42 years at Pine-Strawberry School. What an amazing track record they should both be proud of! For 35 years, Doris’ friendly smile has greeted students, staff and families at Pine-Strawberry School. She began as a teacher’s aide when the school was in the thrift store building and remembers making copies on a mimeograph machine and using the now obsolete typewriter. She worked in almost all areas of school till being assigned the important role of school secretary, governing board secretary and executive secretary to the superintendent.

Gila County sheriff planning to retire

Just as election campaigns are kicking off, Gila County’s three-term sheriff has announced he will not run again for office.

Wednesday, February 1

around AZ

Inspired by the vibrant culture of its native Colombia, this vivacious young dance company has won widespread praise around the world – including at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing – for its fiery, virtuoso performances of traditional Colombian folk music and dance. Presented with support from National Endowment for the Arts and Western States Arts Federation.

Get-a-Away Around Rim Country

Local favorites John Carpino and the Hot Cappuccinos will be providing live music for the benefit and fund-raising event for Payson cancer patient Jaci Hill, Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Buffalo Bar and Grill in Payson. There will be door prizes, raffles, silent auction items, dancing and more. The event starts at 7 p.m. Details pertaining to this event and more can be found at


The riders are coming! The riders are coming!

Neither rain nor sleet nor dark of night (nor traffic, highway construction or weekenders) shall stay these riders, and their mounts, from their appointed rounds. This year however, is a very special year for this ride. The Hashknife Pony Express ride has been chosen by the State of Arizona as one of the official events to celebrate Arizona’s centennial. The first leg of the 200-mile trip over the Mogollon Rim will start at the Holbrook post office. Each year the Hashknife Pony Express riders receive the oath of office from the Holbrook postmaster authorizing them to carry the U.S. mail by Pony Express.

Humorous answers for the guilt-plagued

Northeast Arizona author and speaker Jo Russell answers the question, “How Can I Put the Guilt Gene In Its Place?” in a short, humorous talk at 11 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 4, at Oasis Christian Books and Gifts, 512 S. Beeline Highway, Payson. Russell will be signing “Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women” from 10 a.m. to noon, also at Oasis. “As a longtime Christian author and teacher, I read several thousand devotionals a year. By adding laughter and a light touch, I made these fun,” Russell said.

Good 2 Go

Lovers of antiques, art, fun and much more are invited to First Friday at Bootleg Alley Antiques & Art. Lovers of music will enjoy a free concert by Payson’s own John Carpino while sitting by the fire pit. Lovers of animals can visit the Humane Society table to purchase raffle tickets and/or make a donation. If you love Historic Main Street, bring a date, a friend, or just treat yourself and head to 520 W. Main St. The theme is “Date Night” for First Friday, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Feb. 3 and everyone is invited.

Tours for 2012

Several tour operators have prepared wonderful itineraries for travel to North America as well as Europe for this spring, summer and fall. We’ll discuss a few here. Tauck Tours is one of the most respected operators in the U.S. and they have put together some highlights of various areas of the U.S. and Canada that I will mention.

Ten occurrences that had an impact

With the Arizona Centennial less than a month away, there seem to be a lot of lists out there, some of which are extremely interesting. So, I thought I’d give it a shot, with 10 occurrences in the past 100 years that have had a major impact of this area.

Sciatica: Big nerve can be big problem

I am a 78-year-old woman, and five months ago I came down with sciatica in my left leg underneath the buttock. It’s very painful. I’d like to know if there is something that can be done.

A game plan for your game-day bash

Not everyone can score tickets to the big game, but anyone can throw a big game bash to watch it with friends and family. To help you avoid making rookie party planning mistakes, Kellogg has partnered with pro running back LaDainian Tomlinson of the New York Jets to help you score points at your big game bash. “I know how tough it can be to please everybody, both on the field and off,” said Tomlinson. “But with some good strategy, you can plan a great party that puts a smile on everybody’s face.”

Beating heart

What determines and verifies that a person is alive? The heart. The most important organ in our body! This hardworking organ works 24 hours, 7 days a week till the day we die. The human heart beats and pumps blood throughout the entire body as well as delivering oxygen to the brain and all the other organs in our bodies. How thankful we are that it never takes a vacation! If the heart does have problems, diseases, poison, etc., one might consider getting a heart transplant. A heart transplant consists of removing the heart from a suitable deceased donor and giving this “new” heart to a recipient in desperate need. The recipient must undergo all kinds of tests and evaluations to make sure they are mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and physically able to make good use of a new heart. The purpose of the rigid testing is to ensure that the new heart is the perfect match and the transplant a success.