Stories for January 2012

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Tuesday, January 31

Mortgage rates remain low, for now

Home mortgages are continuing their trend of unbelievably low rates. The question is, how long will they continue? Mortgage rates continue to hover around 4 percent for a 30-year fixed rate. However, if you plan on being in a home less than 10 years or expect to pay it off in 10 years or less, rates are averaging 3.5 percent for a 10/1 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM). A 10/1 means the rate is fixed for 10 years after which time it adjusts and the loan is amortized over 30 years. Even more amazing, rates on a 7/1 ARM are below 3 percent. Rates vary depending on credit score and credit history.

Treat women as responsible human beings

Since recent outspoken messages from Michele Bachmann relative to abortion, I decided that I have had the unfortunate experiences to speak to the issue.

Cottonwood gets tough on designer drugs

What is designer cocaine? Simply put, they are drugs that manufacturers design around laws created to stop their use. A designer drug that simulates cocaine is marketed as “Glass Cleaner” and also as “Bath Salts.” Glass Cleaner, specifically, has rendered all but useless an emergency federal ban enacted in October 2011, to stem the sale and use of the potentially lethal Bath Salts. The chemically tweaked designer Glass Cleaners hit the shelves as soon as the federal ban took effect. The ban targets three synthetic stimulants the federal Drug Enforcement Administration will study for a year and determine whether to permanently put them in the same category as heroin, meth and cocaine.

New GCC leadership offers fresh hope

The Gila Community College board has a new president. Hopefully, that will usher in new opportunities. Outgoing president Bob Ashford last week surprised everyone, including Larry Stephenson, when he nominated Stephenson as the new board president. Ashford did not explain why he gave up the president’s gavel, which he has wielded with fierce energy for six years. Reportedly, he has faced some health concerns that may have made it difficult to continue putting in long hours serving the college. Now, we have in this space expressed our frustrations with Ashford’s sometimes heavy-handed style as board president. He seemed far too willing to dictate the board’s agenda and far too reluctant to question the terms of GCC’s contract with Eastern Arizona College. But that does not diminish our respect for his long, unpaid, dedicated service to GCC and its students.

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The diabetes epidemic – making a change

The Payson Care Center recently sponsored a diabetes lecture presented by its onsite physician Dr. Terry Rousseau. More than 70 people showed up to learn how to manage or reverse diabetes. But that’s not all, even more people called to attend. Because of the overwhelming response a second lecture has been scheduled for 10 a.m., Monday, March 5 at Payson Care Center. Please Christy VanderMolen at (928) 951-2305 for reservations. Diabetes is a debilitating illness that affects more than 23 million people in the United States — especially older adults. But why are we experiencing this epidemic? It really boils down to the eating habits that our nation has adopted. The days of farming and growing our own fresh vegetables and fruits are gone, and the fast foods, boxed and prepared meals have become the norm for many. But are they really a convenience when they lead to diabetes, kidney failure, blindness, heart disease and amputations?

Companies’ partnership rolls out the red carpet for Payson area seniors

The Caring Presence and Good Samaritan Society —Majestic Rim are stepping up to give even more value to living an independent lifestyle for seniors who are downsizing. A monthly educational series will begin in February 2012 to help seniors and their families navigate through all the resources available to them to make informed decisions about transitional phases in their lives. The manager at Majestic Rim, Cathe Davis and her staff will provide the venue and refreshments at no cost to attendees. Majestic Rim is located at 310 E. Tyler Parkway in Payson.

Turkey Trot participants walked 1,101 miles in first-ever event

The results are in and the verdict is clear — we have some mighty fit “turkeys” in this town. Julia Randall Elementary School (JRE) students that participated in the inaugural Turkey Trot Nov. 23 walked on average two miles each and 1,101 miles total, according to students at Payson Center for Success (PCS). At Monday’s school board meeting, nine PCS students delivered results from the event. High school students tracked third- through fifth-graders’ laps during the daylong trot, where students ran in 45-minute time blocks. More than 500 elementary students participated, running or walking around Green Valley Park’s upper loop in feathered paper caps. Fifth-graders covered the most miles for the day, making up 35 percent of all miles walked.

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Students learn how businesses work

Joe Parone casually perches at the edge of a table set up for interviews in the Distributive Education Club of America (DECA) classroom on the campus at Payson High School (PHS). Before him sit a dozen students in the beginning business education class. Later in the day, students will role-play with Parone to create a marketing plan for an expo featuring baby products. The elective offers students real-world opportunities to learn skills and an understanding of the theory behind business. “How does business contribute to society?” he asks the mostly sophomore-level students. “Creates jobs,” said Justice Owens. “Yes. The people I employ spend their money, which helps the town. What else?” asks Parone. The next student mentions taxes. Parone launches into an explanation on how taxes fund schools, roads, and town services. “Are you starting to see the role business plays in society?” he asks. The students nod and murmur in understanding.

Prescribed fire planned for Houston Mesa area this week

Payson Ranger District fire specialists plan to conduct a 300-acre broadcast fire treatment east of the Houston Mesa Horse Trail extending to the Mesa del Caballo area Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 1-2. Residents and visitors to the area can expect to see and smell moderate amounts of smoke each day of the prescribed fire operation. Mesa del Caballo will be impacted by smoke during the day. Diurnal air flow in the evening will move residual smoke into the East Tyler Parkway area, Chaparral Pines, The Rim Club and the Payson area. To mitigate the impact of smoke, ignitions will end each day by 3:30 p.m. Smoke may linger in these areas through Friday. During fire operations, signs will be posted along roads that are likely to be affected by smoke. Motorists are urged to use caution while driving through these areas and to slow down for the safety of firefighters and the public.

Community Almanac

February is Classic Romance month and the schedule is as follows: Feb. 3 “From Here to Eternity,” Feb. 10 “It Happened One Night,” Feb. 17 “An Affair to Remember,” Feb. 24 “Love Me or Leave Me.”

Whispering Hope Ranch receives $350,000 grant

A Payson-area horse camp that helps children and adults with special needs has received a $350,000 grant for facility improvements and a scholarship fund. The Agnes Varis Charitable Trust awarded the Whispering Hope Ranch with the funds earlier this month based on the work the center does with children and adults facing life-altering or limiting illnesses, physical, emotional or developmental challenges and sudden loss. The grant will establish the Agnes Varis Center for Interaction, Hope & Healing at the retreat facility east of Payson. The healing center will consist of three new amenities, providing greater service and access for camp attendees. Additions include a Center for Human-Animal Interaction, the Jazz-n-Jets Splash Zone and the Hope and Healing Scholarship Fund, all named to honor the memory of Dr. Agnes Varis.

Ranger seeks direct sale of land for college

The Payson Ranger District hopes to get approval to sell some 260 acres of land directly to Payson without putting the land on the market, said Head Ranger Angie Elam. She said such a “direct” land sale remains unusual, but she hopes the regional and national offices of the Forest Service will approve her request for a sale based on an independent appraisal without putting on the market the land the Rim Country Educational Alliance wants to use to build the later phases of a 6,000-student university. The Payson Ranger District has also signed a “cost recovery” agreement with the Alliance, which will move the sale to the head of a long line of Forest Service projects based on the Alliance’s promise to cover the agency’s costs. Among other things, the Payson Ranger District is working on a plan to restrict cross country vehicle travel, monitor the Blue Ridge pipeline, overhaul the overall forest plan and approve massive timber sales as part of the 4-Forests Restoration Initiative. “We don’t yet have the authority to do a direct sale,” said Elam. “Such sales are uncommon. It’s much more common to do a land exchange,” she said.

New, quarterly financial report shows Payson not ‘thriving’ but still ‘strivin

Building permits show sharp rise

Could have been worse. Might even get better. That’s the gist of the Payson Town Council’s first-ever quarterly financial report, offered by finance director Hope Cribb at a recent regular meeting. “We’re not thriving,” said Payson Mayor Kenny Evans after hearing the report, “but we’re striving to get to the next step.” The most hopeful tidbit in the report lay in the big jump in building permits issued by the community development department, after three years without a single significant new housing development. Building permits for the first half of the fiscal year totaled $95,000, a 35 percent jump from the year previous. That’s still far below the boom times in 2008 and 2007, when the building department approved permits for an average of more than 250 new homes annually.

Coach hopes home crowd fills gym for game

A deafening standing-room-only hometown crowd has often spelled the difference between winning and losing for high school sports teams, especially in basketball where fans are crammed into a single gym or field house. The advantages home teams have is one of the reasons PHS coach Joe Sanchez is hoping for a huge Payson turnout for tonight’s crucial showdown vs. Fountain Hills. Tip off is 7 p.m. in Wilson Dome. Great crowd support tonight could be just the benefit the underdog Horns need to pull off the upset. The advantages of the home crowd have been debated, but I met one coach years ago who argued a home crowd was as good as having an extra player on the team.

Lady Horns need big ‘W’

A formidable foe, the homestanding Fountain Hills Falcons await the Lady Longhorns this evening, Jan. 31, with an upset win being the catalyst Payson needs to gain one spot in the power point rankings and earn a berth into the Division III, Section III tournament when it is played Feb. 7 to Feb. 11 in Surprise. To qualify for the post-season tournament, the Lady Horns must be ranked eighth or higher in the power point standings. Currently Payson (8-8) is sitting ninth, but only about .4 of a power point behind eighth-ranked Sedona Red Rock (9-7). A win over Fountain Hills could catapult Payson past Sedona, but a loss would drop the Lady Horns even further behind in the chase for post-season honors. With only one game remaining, Feb. 3 at Show Low, after tonight, the clash vs. the Falcons is most likely for all the marbles. In games last week, the Lady Horns turned in a break-even record, losing 50-37 to St. Johns on Jan. 26, but winning a day later, 42-6, over Miami.

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Horns face crucial showdown tonight

Payson High School first-year basketball coach Joe Sanchez, also a former Longhorn player, loves home cookin’. And he’s hoping for a healthy plate of it this evening, Jan. 31, in Wilson Dome where his Horn hardwooders play host to Fountain Hills in what could be both teams’ most crucial game of the season. The home cookin’ Sanchez is hoping will be dished up is an overflowing crowd of PHS fans to show up and cheer the team’s every move, providing the support all teenage athletes thrive on. The game is particularly significant in Division III hoops, Sanchez said, “Because they are ranked in the top five in power points and we continue to move up. We lost to them (on Dec. 20) by two points at their place.” A key to a Payson victory this evening could be slowing the Falcons’ 6-foot, 3-inch junior swingman Matt Fisher, who turned in what has been his finest performance of the season in the first meeting of the two teams — scoring 25 points. If the Payson defense can stop Fisher from going off like that again and also limit their own turnovers, the Horns could be enjoying an upset and a big boost in power points.

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Surprise vote gives GCC a new president

Payson board member’s unanimous election changes dynamics on an often-feuding board

A thunderstruck Larry Stephenson found himself unanimously elected president of the Gila Community College board on Friday, signaling a potentially dramatic shift in the politics of that contentious board. Outgoing President Bob Ashford took Stephenson completely by surprise when he suggested the Payson board member take the gavel at the beginning of the long-delayed January meeting. Northern Gila County board members Stephenson and Tom Loeffler both said they expected Ashford’s election to a sixth term with the predictable support of the two other members with districts dominated by voters from southern Gila County. Ashford offered no explanation for his decision to support Stephenson, although he has reportedly struggled with serious health problems in recent months. “I was thrown for a loop,” confessed Stephenson, who has clashed often, but politely, with Ashford in the past two years. Stephenson and Loeffler have both persistently criticized GCC’s contract with Eastern Arizona College, which provides academic credentials for the provisional community college district and imposes a 25 percent surcharge on everything GCC spends. Flummoxed, Stephenson objected saying the board should go through a formal nominating process before voting on new officers. Ashford agreed.

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Club Rim adds Jacket, Lobo players to roster

There’s a grand sports experiment going on in Payson and as unique as it is, success appears imminent. The experiment involves the Club Rim volleyball team and the out-of-town players currently on the roster. Since the club was founded six years ago, only Payson High School players have been members of the team. But this year, the Club Rim 18-years-and-under team has attracted three out-of-town athletes and, believe it or not, the trio are from two of the Payson High’s most fierce rivals — Blue Ridge and Snowflake. Jessica Johnson and her younger sister Jenifer Johnson joined Club Rim from Blue Ridge, and Snowflake’s Tandi Yellowhair is also on the roster. During the past high school volleyball season, Jessica Johnson, a senior setter for the Yellow Jackets, was named Division III’s Player of the Year, an AIA and Arizona Republic first team honoree and on Jan. 21 in Mesa was named a high school All-American. She was also chosen to the 3A all-region and all-state teams in 2009 and 2010.

Still time to fill the food bank boxes

As the food drive ends Super Bowl Sunday, organizers are pushing for one last round of donations, hoping to wrap up the drive with enough food to carry local food banks through at least part of the year. So far, donations have been steady since the drive kicked off Thanksgiving weekend. A $30,000 goal was met several weeks ago after a $3,400 donation from a pilots’ group rounded out the total to $31,798. Food contributions have also been strong with donations nearly meeting the 55,000-pound goal last month. Organizers decided things were going so well they bumped the food goal up 10,000 pounds. On Monday, the Payson Area Food Drive was 4,830 pounds short of hitting that goal. Residents have until Feb. 4 to donate. Drop food contributions off at any PAFD marked box located at businesses and government agencies around town. Checks can be sent to PAFD, P.O. Box 703, Payson, AZ 85547.

Historic thinning plan could save Rim Country

Projects included in first phase of ambitious plan to revive timber industry and protect the forest

At least 2,000 acres in Rim Country will be included in the first, historic 10-year contract with a new generation of loggers to protect forested communities through massive thinning projects, a Forest Service team told top elected officials in Payson last week. Loggers will thin two huge tracts of overgrown forest along the Control Road between Tonto Village and Whispering Pines as part of the 4-Forests Restoration Initiative (4-FRI), which ultimately hopes to thin 2.5 million acres in four national forests. “This is the largest environmental impact statement ever done and the largest statewide contract in history,” said Dick Fleishman, assistant team leader in the sweeping attempt to restore the world’s largest ponderosa pine forest. The Forest Service team made the presentation at the Payson Town Hall last Thursday before Gila County Supervisor Tommie Martin, Payson Mayor Kenny Evans and other Rim Country leaders.

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Teen dies after gas pedal sticks

A teen that friends say always had a smile on her face was honored Monday night for her life and her final actions that likely saved others. Besides avoiding traffic as her vehicle careened out of control when her accelerator stuck Friday, several of the teen’s organs were donated after her death Saturday afternoon. Saige Bloom had just purchased a used white Ford Escape in the Valley and was driving home to Payson when the SUV’s accelerator reportedly stuck, according to authorities. Police say Bloom’s driving saved the lives of others on the Beeline Highway Friday. At the Walmart intersection, Bloom swerved to miss a vehicle holding a large family. Her SUV clipped the family’s vehicle, flipping her vehicle several times, but leaving the family uninjured. On Monday night, hundreds of people gathered at the hillside near the intersection where the wreck occurred, paying homage to a teen most said was an amazing friend.

Clubs and Organizations

Melinda Elmore, published author of four novels, is starting a creative writing class to be held at the Activities Center by the Mogollon Health Alliance Almost New Thrift Store, 304 E. Aero Drive. The first meeting will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 31. No matter what genre you write, come by. The name of the new writers group is Rim Country Creative Writers. For more information, please call (928) 812-3163 or email  melinda. elmore.writer@gmail.com.

Man burglarized, then assaulted by man who stops to help

It was a bad day for one camper near Tonto Basin Jan. 20. First, the man’s campsite was burglarized and then he got in a fight with one motorist who stopped to help, according to authorities. Shane Wagstaff was camping in the Tonto Basin area and had gone for a hike. When he returned, he found his cell phone and other items were missing from camp, said Lt. Tim Scott with the Gila County Sheriff’s Office.

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Work of new artists up at gift shop

After being open less than three months, the artisan shop Crafters Cubbies has added the work of four more local artists. The shop, at 626 N. Beeline Highway, now has the work of 32 Rim Country artists and crafters for sale. Each artist’s work covers a different area, from knitters, jewelers, scrapbookers to now a scrimshaw, pencil artist and photographer. Owner Rebecca Acord said her goal for the shop is to offer a place for local artists to sell their wares and give residents a place to pick up a one-of-a-kind gift or collectible. The shop will soon be expanding, adding more room for new mediums. The response from residents has been great, she said. “People are excited to see something fresh and this is a way to support local talent.” The shop’s new artists include pencil drawer Laura Gabaldon, photographer and embroiderer Alice Wrobley, scrimshaw artist Homer Neuen and custom pet magnet creator Shari Cody.

Government trying to oppress free speech

The Secret Service has set the mainstream media all a-twitter over Peoria Police Sergeant Pat Shearer posting an image of armed teenagers holding a bullet-ridden T-shirt with President Obama’s picture on it.

Wrestlers brace for sectional showdown

Although the Longhorn wrestling team does not have a stable full of wrestling thoroughbreds to enter in the Division III, Section I tournament, the team has some strong finishers who could make a name for themselves in prep grappling circles. The tournament will be contested Saturday, Feb. 4 at Winslow High School. Among Payson’s top contenders for section honors are Jacob Spear (138), Dallin Macnab (112), and Anselmo Vasquez (195). Zac Wilson (120), Conner Anderson (152), William McCrary, (128), Cody Shepard (106), Trevor Anderson (132), Brett Royer (182), Denny Clinton (170) and Kyle Brown (145) could also make some noise now that they have a full season of wrestling moxie to buoy them. Spear is a strong candidate to win a medal, possibly a gold, because he has been rock solid all season long, finishing 7-0 in the Tucson Catalina Invitational, 2-0 in the Show Low Duals and 5-0 at the Payson Invitational tournament. Also in the PI, coaches voted Spear the Outstanding Wrestler among the lighter weights and he was a weight class champion.

Blasting on SR 260 east of Payson will continue through February

The Arizona Department of Transportation will continue blasting operations on a two-mile segment of State Route 260, approximately 20 miles east of Payson, through the end of February.

Prescribed fire operations planned for Houston Mesa area this week

Payson Ranger District fire specialists plan to conduct a 300 acre burn east of the Houston Mesa Horse Trail extending to the Mesa del Caballo area Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 1-2.

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Hundreds gather to honor PHS student

A teen that friends say always had a smile on her face was honored Monday night for her life and her final actions that likely saved many.

Monday, January 30

Surprise move gives GCC a new president

A stunned Gila Community College board member found himself unanimously elected president of the college board Friday, signaling a potentially dramatic shift in the politics of that contentious board.

Vigil in memory of PHS teen to be held Jan. 30

A vigil in memory of Payson High School junior Saige Bloom will be held 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 30 on “Walmart Hill” located just north of the store and on the west side of SR 87.

Friday, January 27

Out of control vehicle rolls on Highway 87 near Walmart entrance

A teen driving north into Payson on Highway 87 Friday reportedly lost control of her vehicle after the accelerator got stuck, sending her flying through afternoon traffic, according to police. The 17-year-old was unable to slow down or stop and police did what they could to clear a path for her as she struggled to regain control.

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Surviving your worst nightmare

150-foot fall into canyon leads to months of surgeries, therapy

With his pelvis shattered, his body paralyzed, his pain nearly unbearable, Mike McEntire watched the helicopter make one final pass before flying off, leaving him alone in impending darkness. He knew somehow he must survive the night. But in his darkest hours, his fate rested on his will to live and the skill of rescuers, risking everything to reach him — for as he lay at the bottom of the canyon, he was not alone. Rescuers and friends would put their lives at risk, climbing down waterfalls, rappelling over shear cliffs and hiking through pitch darkness to reach him and offer some comfort until morning came. In the 18 hours McEntire waited for help, the comfort that someone was coming helped him hold on. While McEntire, a retired Payson dentist, never wanted to come so close to death for a little adventure, he still believes that a life lived to the fullest means risk, whatever the consequence.

So far it has been a dry winter in the Village

The month of January is just about gone. The prominent item on most people’s minds is getting ready to do taxes for April 15, or is it April 16 this year? There are about two-and-a-half months left to get all your paperwork in order. That seems like a long time, but how many of us procrastinate until the last possible day? I sure wish the system was an easy process to handle, the government has made the process so cumbersome that most people dread this time of year. My sympathies are with all of us as the time approaches to file our returns. Dry winter? The Village is quiet this time of year, most of the summer residents won’t show up until April or May. There are a number of part-timers who come to the Village to check on their places and stay to play in the snow. But this year, hardly any snow except the storm this past December that dumped at least a foot of the white stuff. Believe it or not, there is still some of it around, in the northern portions of the ground. The weather service has warned us that this could be a dry and cold winter. I hope that they are wrong.

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Big town event with small town flair

The Mogollon Health Alliance’s (MHA) Black and White Ball has enough class to hold its own in any city, but the small-town touches made it truly Payson. This year the event netted $45,000 to benefit the numerous charitable works the MHA does to promote rural health care. On Saturday, more than 100 people gathered in a transformed bingo room of the Mazatzal Casino. Decorations transported guests to the bygone elegant and romantic era of early century San Francisco. Stars interspersed with tiny lights hung from the ceiling to create a night sky. On the tables, larger than life martini glasses dripped dripped with pearls and long, white gloves. Pictures of 1906 San Francisco, flappers and Gibson girls hung on the walls. On the stage, the 20-piece Sonoran Swing big band played lively dance music.

Star Valley to keep business license fee

Star Valley decided to keep a $50 business license fee and also devise an economic development plan to kick-start local businesses at a meeting last week. Council members worried that eliminating the existing fee would make it easy for someone to set up shop, sell whatever they wanted and perhaps undercut established businesses. “I think what we are doing is opening the town up to become the largest park-and-swap in northern Arizona and I don’t want to be a part of that,” said Mayor Bill Rappaport. Councilor George Binney last month suggested the town do away with the fee. Conceding the fee is minimal, Binney, a small-business owner, said he was outraged by the idea of imposing that fee on the very businesses whose sales taxes support the town.

Trailer park residents face Forest Service closure

Some 167 second-home residents face loss of homes and predict big impact on Roosevelt Lake community

After a decade of threats, the Tonto National Forest is moving to shut down a 167-resident mobile home park overlooking Roosevelt Lake. The Forest Service has decided that the decades-long lease of the land for the park filled mostly with trailers owned by vacation homeowners violates its policy barring exclusive private use of public lands. However, the operators of the trailer park say the action will shut down the only sewage treatment operation in the area and could dry up business at the marina that represents one of the few economic enclaves on the southern shore of the lake. The people with mobile homes in the park have until January 2013 to move them, but many of the homes are so old they don’t meet modern standards necessary to relocate to another park, said David Buckmaster, the leaseholder. “It doesn’t surprise anybody. We started having people sign disclosure forms in 2000, but it’s going to have a huge economic impact on local businesses. They’re all scared to death.”

Off-road plan irks county

Galled by the a Forest Service plan to control cross-country travel, the Gila County supervisors want more time and input. In a letter to Tonto National Forest Supervisor Gene Blankenbaker, Supervisor Tommie Martin said the county needs more than 30 days to analyze thousands of pages of information released recently as part of the forest’s travel management plan. The plan would ban cross-country travel, but leave open 5,300 miles of existing dirt roads and trails. The plan would close some existing roads, but open other currently closed roads and trails — resulting in a net increase of perhaps 1,200 miles of approved roads. “Since the Tonto Forest has been working on this travel management plan since 2007, we believe that a 30-day response period is inadequate for this critical piece of this process,” wrote Martin.

Thieves targeting second homes

String of burglaries in west Payson neighborhood

In the past week, officers have discovered at least seven homes in a quiet west Payson neighborhood burglarized, all while no one was at home. The thieves are getting in through unlocked windows and doors, making detection difficult for police and worried neighbors. The majority of homes are either for sale or second homes — all without regular occupancy, said Payson Police Chief Don Engler. Thieves broke into two homes on Landmark Trail and attempted a break-in at a third home. That attempted break-in was discovered Sunday morning. Engler said after the initial reports, officers started looking around the neighborhood to see if other homes had been burglarized. Officers focused on the homes that were for sale or looked unlived in. They found another four homes burglarized.

Payson financial systems show ‘vast improvement’

Payson this year cleared its state-mandated annual audit with flying colors. “We didn’t find any significant issues at all this year,” said Dennis Osuch, with Larson Allen CPAs, Consultants and Advisors. The town’s financial accounting system has corrected the problems revealed two years ago when Town Manager Debra Galbraith discovered nearly $1 million stashed away in “restricted” accounts that weren’t really restricted. Moreover, the town staff has instituted monthly and quarterly reports to the town council that have eliminated the lack of oversight that four years ago prompted the councilors to approve budget changes that consumed the reserve fund before they even knew they’d done it.

Payson pays $137 per stray in animal shelter

Report sheds light on contract between town and Humane Society

Payson paid $137 for each dog and cat impounded by the Central Arizona Humane Society last year, Payson Police Chief Don Engler reported to the town council last week. The council approved Engler’s report without comment, although the town’s $7,400 monthly contract with the Humane Society has sometimes spurred controversy. Engler said that the Humane Society impounded in the town limits 170 dogs and 100 cats between July 1, 2011 and November 30, 2011. Out of those 270 animals, the town’s animal control officer accounted for 102 of the animals turned over to the animal shelter on Main Street. “Therefore,” concluded Engler’s memo, “one could surmise that out of the 270 total impoundments, 168 of those were provided by citizens of the community.” The $88,000 annual contract with the Humane Society has repeatedly spurred debate in the several years since Engler proposed slashing it by about two-thirds, on the grounds that the town should only be responsible for animals its own animal control officer captures and turns over to the shelter.

Thanks to all who helped Payson Elementary School students

Thank you to all those local organizations, agencies and individuals who adopted Payson Elementary School students this holiday season in order to provide them with gifts, food and holiday joy!

What’s really holding our kids back

About a year ago, a well-respected international organization released its comprehensive assessment of student achievement across 34 different countries. As you may remember, the results for the United States were abysmal, with, for instance, our students ranking only 25th in math. At the same time, students in China — likely the top competitors for the next generation of Americans in various fields — aced every single academic category. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called it “a massive wake-up call to the entire country.” The challenge we face — the “brutal fact” — as he put it, is that many countries “are far ahead of us and improving more rapidly than we are.” Well said. Indeed, the need for a collective mind shift on education has never been clearer — and it is something we owe to our children if they are to have a hope of competing in the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century. Encouragingly, there are anecdotal signs that the seeds of that shift are starting to take root; I recently read The Washington Post and was surprised to see this headline on the cover: “Telling kids they’re great isn’t so good, schools find.”

Forest Service goes all medieval on lease

So now the Forest Service is getting all biblical on the Lakeview Trailer Park, which has perched inconspicuously on a hill overlooking Roosevelt Lake for decades. Seems like the Tonto National Forest is intent on applying that verse from Matthew: “If thy hand offends thee, cut it off.” Now, one expects absolute devotion to commands carved into stone from preachers, but we’re not so sure it makes good public policy. Granted, the Forest Service has a point. No doubt, the folks leasing 21 acres of Forest Service land for a trailer park are turning a private profit from public land. No doubt, that violates the letter of the law as codified in the Tonto National Forest plan. But should the Forest Service hack off the hand that has offended it. What then, pray tell, will it do with the bloody stump? Those 21 acres of public land have for decades nurtured a small community occupied mostly by vacation homeowners. Currently, 167 people rent space in the park — including about 10 full-time residents who mostly work nearby.

The only word for some people is ‘different,’ Part II

Last week I mentioned how I was transferred to Sheppard AFB, Texas, as a drill instructor, where I met Chance Davis, a really great friend and one of the oddest ducks on the planet. To this day I cannot remember anything that Chance ever did that he did not do perfectly. He was the finest marksman I have ever known, had a command voice that sounded like the crack of a rifle, and never took on anything without doing it to perfection. I can even remember a time when he shook me up while I was I was drawing a plan for a new building in the squadron area. It wasn’t an official plan, just a rough plan showing what we wanted. I was erasing a stray pencil line and getting ready to turn it in when Chance’s favorite remark sounded over my shoulder. “Gar-r-r-r-ett!” He said that a lot, Johnny.

Fumble was gut-wrenching, but get over it

Arizona State University alumni, including myself, cherish the moments we cheer former Sun Devil sports stars as they go on to make a name for themselves in the professional ranks. Over the decades, ASU had produced some of sports finest including Danny White, Pat Tillman, Jumpin’ Joe Caldwell, Reggie Jackson, Curley Culp, Heather Farr, Phil Mickelson, Rick Monday and Sal Bando. But every once in a while, there is a hiccup among the former ASU players that makes us squirm in our recliners, throw up our hands and shout, “Oh No!” Such was the case in the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 overtime loss on Sunday to the Super Bowl-bound New York Giants. Kyle Williams, a second year pro out of ASU and a graduate of Scottsdale Chaparral High fumbled a punt in OT that set up Lawrence Tynes’ game-winning field goal. Watching Williams fumble was painful, distressing and gut-wrenching, especially for ASU faithful.

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Payson bass team finishes second

It took just one nice-sized bass to propel the Mesa team of Rich Kereny and Dean Kruezen to a first place finish at a Western Outdoor News (WON) Bass Arizona team tournament held Jan. 7 at Bartlett Lake. The largemouth tipped the scales at 2.53 pounds, which not only represented the heaviest catch of the tournament but was also the “Big Fish” winner. The Payson team of Keith Hunsinger and Bobby O’Donnell caught two fish, but they weighed in at just 1.59 pounds, which was good enough for second place. WON Arizona Teams Director Tracy Purtee said following the weigh-in that O’Donnell told him, “it was ugly out there,” to which Purtee responded, “I think a lot of the anglers would agree.” Ken Howden and Gary Understiller weighed in 1.45 pounds of fish to finish third.

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Lady Horns looking for strong finish

Lady Longhorn basketball players could be on the outside looking in when the Division III, Section III tournament kicks off Feb. 7 in Surprise. The plight exists because only the top eight teams in section power point rankings will be seeded into the tournament and Payson is currently sitting in 10th place. For the Lady Horns to earn a postseason berth, the team will need a boost in power points that could come with victories in the final four games of the regular season. Ninth-ranked Parker and eighth-rated Cortez are the two teams the Lady Horns must pass to advance to the postseason. Highballing past Parker is very attainable because only about a 1.4 difference in power points separates the two. But Cortez, a Glendale school, holds about a 3.1-point lead over the Lady Horns, which means catching the Colts will take a solid effort in which PHS wins out and Cortez struggles down the stretch. Rendering the Payson task of reaching the postseason doubly tough is the team is without the services of leading scorer Teanna Lopez who was injured two weeks ago and is not expected to return this season.

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Longhorn teams earn needed wins over Mogollon Mustangs

Both the Payson High School boys and girls basketball teams picked up much-needed power points with victories over the Mogollon Mustangs on Wednesday, Jan. 25 in Wilson Dome. The Lady Longhorns, who are trying to move up from 10th to at least eighth position in the standings in order to qualify for the Section III postseason tournament, corralled the Mustangs 49-20. The boys team, which will qualify for the sectional tournament barring a catastrophic late-season collapse, hog-tied the ’stangs 75-54 behind Cole Belcher’s game high 18 points. Senior point guard Guillermo Lopez contributed what might have been his best all-around floor game with 12 points that included 2-of-3 three-point shooting, four rebounds, two blocked shots, one assist and a steal. The outcome of the game was never in doubt as Payson jumped out to a 23-9 lead after the first eight minutes and expanded it to 41-16 at halftime. With the wins, the boys team improves to 14-8 and the girls are now 10-10. The girls return to the hardwood, today, Jan. 27, to host the Miami Vandals in Wilson Dome. The boys travel Jan. 31 to Fountain Hills. Both game times are 7 p.m.

Payson’s Masonic Lodge gets first ‘home-grown’ master

The Payson Masonic Lodge opened in 1973. The Town of Payson was incorporated that December, with Ted Pettet named as mayor of the interim council. That same year — May 31, if memory serves — this reporter graduated with about 45 or so other somewhat awkward 17- and 18-year-olds. One of them was Lon Thomas. This month Thomas was installed as the Master of the Payson Masonic Lodge. Pettet sponsored him into the organization about five years ago, and is his habit, had to say a few words (or more) about Thomas that evening and he then contacted the Roundup and told this reporter what he thought would be an interesting story. Since Pettet almost always has interesting stories (he has since he was this reporter’s business teacher in the dark ages at PHS), we agreed. Thomas said

Domestic violence shelter awarded grant to help minority victims

Last year, Payson’s Time Out, Inc. served 20 percent more women in its emergency shelter than in years past. With such a growing demand for services, the shelter has been in need of additional funding. Thankfully, the group has received two grants within recent months. In November, the shelter announced the Mary Kay Foundation had awarded it a $20,000 grant and this month, the Arizona Governor’s Office for Children, Youth and Families awarded Time Out, Inc. a federal Stop Violence Against Women grant. The local domestic violence shelter will use grant funds to expand victim services, focusing STOP grant funding on helping rural minority women including those with language barriers. “It is well known that victims in rural communities face unique challenges not often encountered in urban areas,” said Sue Yale, chair of Time Out, Inc. board. “The Governor’s STOP grant ensures that some of the most vulnerable victim populations in Gila County — minority women and those with language barriers — have access to timely, comprehensive support through Time Out programs.”

A Taste of Rim Country returns on March 3

The always popular Payson Public Library benefit, A Taste of Rim Country, is planned for 5 p.m., Saturday, March 3. Up to 12 stations arranged around the library in Rumsey Park will feature some of the area’s best chefs showing off great taste treats. Guests will also have an opportunity to enjoy wine or sparkling cider with the food samples.

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First baby of 2012

Ben and Falicia D’Addabbo, of Payson, are the parents of Connor D’Addabbo, who was born at 8 p.m., Monday, Jan. 2 at the Payson Regional Medical Center Family Birthing Center, making him the first baby born in Payson in 2012.

Kiwanis Awards

Bobby Davis, governor of Kiwanis International Southwest District, recently presented awards and pins to several members of the Kiwanis of Zane Grey Country for longtime service.

Adopt or rescue your next pet, don’t buy or breed

In last week’s article, I discussed the importance of spaying and neutering. We are all aware of the millions of animals euthanized each year due to pet overpopulation, and unfortunately there are not enough homes for the vast amount of animals in shelters across the country. So, I’ve found another way you can help reduce these euthanasia numbers…ADOPT OR RESCUE! Too many times I’ve heard people say they just want to breed their dog one time because “she’s just so cute,” or because “he’s the best dog I’ve ever had.” Though that may be the case, there are still millions of animals looking to find their forever home. You’d be surprised at the types of cats and dogs that make their way into shelters and rescues each year. So you want a purebred? Not a problem. There are purebreds that end up in shelters, including ours, as well as rescue groups who focus on primarily one breed.

Clubs and Organizations

The Payson Flycasters will meet Saturday, Jan. 28 at Tiny’s Restaurant on East Highway 260. Breakfast is at 8 a.m. with the meeting starting at 9 a.m. The speaker will be Mike Lopez from the Forest Service, who will discuss the aftermath of the Wallow Fire and its impact on fishing and wildlife in the area. Also giving a short address will be Scott Rogers from Arizona Game and Fish. He will give an update on the conditions of fishing at Lee’s Ferry. All interested fishermen and women are encouraged to attend this very important and informative meeting.

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Tonto Basin 4-H Club represents Gila County well

Members of the Tonto Basin 4-H High Flyin’ Hooves 4-H Club attended the National Livestock 4-H/FFA Horse Show held Jan. 7 at West World in Scottsdale. They represented Gila County quite well. With 17 participants in the showing events, we are very proud of their accomplishments, said a club spokesperson. The kids practice many hours in the heat of the summer to the winter cold. The girls showing were Autumn Cline, Kenslie Rose, Racheal Simmons, Makiah Taylor and Katlyn Wiltbanks, all of Tonto Basin.

Business Briefs

Suddenlink announced Jan. 18 that it is upgrading technology in Payson, Pine and Strawberry as part of a program that calls for approximately $10 million in capital improvements in Arizona and California communities in 2011 and 2012. As a part of the program, Suddenlink has already increased Internet speeds in the Payson area. The next phase of work will include a new, all-digital TV lineup. Digital TV features better picture and sound quality. The transition to the new lineup will finish Feb. 14. On or near completion, Suddenlink’s Advanced Digital TV lineup in Payson will feature more than 75 high-definition (HD) TV channels, more than 45 digital channels and five new basic channels. In Pine and Strawberry, the new lineup will include more than 90 HD channels, more than 135 digital channels and more than 15 basic channels.

Investors can learn from Super Bowl teams

It’s Super Bowl time again, and whether you’re a sports fan or not, you can probably learn something from the Super Bowl teams that you can apply to other endeavors — such as investing. What might these lessons be? Take a look: Pick players carefully. Super Bowl teams don’t get there out of luck; they’ve made it in part because they have carefully chosen players. And to potentially achieve success as an investor, you, too, need carefully chosen “players” — investments that are chosen for your individual situation. Choose a diversified mix of players. Not only do Super Bowl teams have good players, but they have good ones at different positions — and these players tend to play well together. As an investor, you should own a variety of investments with different capabilities — such as stocks for growth and bonds for income — and your various investments should complement, rather than duplicate, one another. Strive to build a diversified portfolio containing investments appropriate for your situation, such as stocks, bonds, government securities, certificates of deposit (CDs) and other vehicles.

Tips and tricks for raising a smart investor

The sooner the better: The saying applies to many facets of life, including educating children about money. By introducing sound financial habits early on, you’ll give your child a head start on becoming an informed investor. Here are some creative ideas, as well as book and Web site suggestions, for raising a financially savvy kid.

Community Almanac

Staff at the H-4 Ranch in Tonto Basin will teach participants how to hook up harnesses, fit collars, and use different hitches for draft horses for farming. The lesson takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 27 and Jan. 28 at the ranch, located off of Highway 188 at milepost 269. A barbecue lunch will be served for $8.

AT&T activates broadband site at Christopher Creek

Hello again, fellow Creekers. We have numerous visitors in Christopher Creek each year that come to enjoy the biggest stand of ponderosa pine trees in the world, the Mogollon Rim, or some that stop by just to take a picture with the Mogollon Monster at the Christopher Creek Lodge. This unique wood carving stands 10 feet high and is one of only three in the state. Christopher Creek is a beautiful place to visit for all seasons and we welcome the many visitors we get each year. AT&T contacted the Christopher Creek Lodge yesterday to say they have activated a new mobile broadband cell site in Christopher Creek that will enhance coverage.

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Pine, Strawberry are the best kept secrets in Arizona

When you tell people you live in Pine, they inevitably say, “Where? Pinetop?” You say, “No. P-I-N-E period. By Strawberry. Payson.” Pine and Strawberry are the best kept secrets in Arizona. A place where people greet you by your first name. People are genuinely friendly and support the local school team, the Buffalos, with pride. One of the best country bakeries anywhere, the Pine Village Bakery, inside the local market, has the most delicious cheese danishes, bear claws, apple turnovers, cookies, pies and breads. The restaurants and antique shops have a step-back-in-time-to-another-era feeling. We have a country rocking saloon — Sidewinders — with the best blues and barbecued ribs around, and the Sportsman’s Chalet with a feel of being in the Swiss Alps. There is also the historic Strawberry Lodge and the Herb Stop, Pottery Studio, and goat and llama farm. Small town festivals, children’s activities and family events. Fishing, camping, hiking, mountain biking, 4-wheeling. Mountains. Forests. Creeks. Waterfalls.

Time Out Thrift to have 50 percent off sale on First Friday, Feb. 3

Take “time out to shop” on First Friday, Feb. 3 at the Time Out Thrift Shop, where everything in the shop and on the sidewalk will be at least 50 percent off. While you’re shopping and saving, be sure to get your tickets for the Sweetheart Raffle for a $25 gift certificate from the Time Out Thrift Shop. Tickets are five for $1 or 25 cents each. The shop is located at 500 S. Beeline Highway, across the street from Wendy’s. The hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Man wanted in Chandler dies in crash on Hwy. 260

Fair to partly cloudy skies continue for the Heber Overgaard area with lows dipping into the lower 20s and daytime highs reaching into the lower to mid 50s. The continued outlook shows no precipitation during the next few days. On Saturday, Jan. 21 Heber-Overgaard Fire Department and Forest Lakes Fire Department responded to an accident on Highway 260 at milepost 295 involving a Cadillac driven by Greg Bilton who was wanted for questioning about the death of his mother, 80, of Chandler.

Eight-year-old becomes youngest trivia winner

As I was cruising through the Bonanza Square parking lot this past week, I happened to notice that the long-standing “Cookie Cutters” salon sign had been replaced by a different shingle that read “Toes in the Sand.” The first thing that came into my mind was: Hey, that ‘s the name of a recent country hit! Of course, I just had to stop in and find out what this new sign was all about. When I walked in the door, to my surprise, just as before, I found I was walking right into a beauty salon. I quickly learned that eight months ago, former owner, “Cookie,” sold the business to new owner Jamie Schulte. Wanting a name for her shop that would reflect her desire to present her business as “a little retreat that offers a relaxed atmosphere” (the feeling that she gets when she puts her toes in the sand on the beach in San Diego), Jamie settled on “Toes in the Sand.”

Wednesday, January 25

Women’s Wellness Forum turns 14

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.” The forum will be from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, March 24 at Payson High School. Participants will attend three break-out sessions, choosing from the following topics: yoga, skin care, domestic violence, automotive maintenance, hormones, scrapbooking, making unusual vegetable dishes, living well with diabetes or pre-diabetes, living the green life, and accessorizing.

Alzheimer’s training

The Alzheimer’s Association Desert Southwest Chapter wants to provide free local training for Rim Country residents acting as caregivers to those with dementia or memory loss. If at least 10 people sign up for this free extended training opportunity it can be brought to Payson.

Anderson Dental Group welcomes Scott R. Price

Anderson Dental Group of Payson has been joined by Dr. Scott R. Price. Dr. Price graduated with a degree in psychology from the University of Utah. He went on to the University of Kentucky where he received his doctoral degree in dentistry. While at the University of Kentucky, he completed a three-year residency, earning a certificate in periodontology and a master’s of science degree.

Maintaining the spirit of commitment

This year, Payson Care Center is committed to a positive spirit and making a great, lasting impression on the people we serve. Celebrating our 26th year serving the community, we also celebrate the many employees who have worked at Payson Care Center for more than 15 of those years. People like Jeannie Cowan, who started working for our parent company, Life Care Centers of America, in 1992 and transferred to Payson Care Center in 1995. Jeannie works in restorative dining and loves working at Payson Care Center because of the camaraderie she maintains with fellow staff members and residents.

Seniors in Rim Country have lots of options

Whether it is a barbecue on the patio at the Senior Circle, at left, or a fund-raising breakfast at the Senior Center, above, the Rim Country’s older residents have lots of opportunities for fun at the organizations especially designed to serve their needs.

Coming soon from Caring Presence and Majestic Rim

The Caring Presence and Good Samaritan Society — Majestic Rim are stepping up to give even more value to living an independent lifestyle for seniors who are downsizing.

Home health care company one of tops in the country for 2011

KC’s Home Health Care has served Rim residents from Tonto Basin to Forest Lakes and Pine and Strawberry since 2009. Founded by physical therapist Kerry Halcomb in Phoenix a few years before coming to Payson, the office opened here to provide patients with a choice when it came to their home health care needs, said Colleen O’Connor, Payson branch director. “Kerry had looked at the area, visited facilities and doctors’ offices and when he saw Payson had only one home health agency at the time, he decided to give patients a choice,” O’Connor said. Since opening, KC’s has worked with about 800 patients throughout the Rim Country. “We’re really proud of all of our staff. They provide high quality care,” O’Connor said.

The sound of your world

Only you know how your world sounds. Ken Dahlberg, a highly decorated World War II triple ace pilot, 65 years ago set out to “Help every person suffering from man’s oldest incurable disease, that silent, painless destroyer of human communication ... deafness.”

Life insurance companies court seniors

With a growing population of American citizens over age 60, life insurance companies have created products to serve the financial needs of this important demographic. Sometimes these products make sense; however, some life insurance policies unfairly enrich the pockets of the company.

Rim Country Health gets high marks for care

Rim Country Health and Retirement Community is among an elite group of skilled nursing facilities in Arizona. For the second year in a row it has been given a 100 percent quality rating by the state of Arizona. The rating is the result of a very rigorous inspection, which investigates every aspect of nursing homes to determine the quality of the care provided, the environment, the food, the activities, the facility and more. Owner Harvey Pelovsky recently talked with the Roundup about the inspection and the rating. “Each facility in the state is inspected every 15 months. The state comes in with the objective to find problems and deficiencies,” he said. The facility’s personnel must then submit a plan of correction for any citations and make the required improvements within 30 days.

Consider these points when selecting in-home care

Finding the right provider of in-home care — whether short or long term — can make all the difference in the mental, emotional and physical health of the patient and their family. But there’s more to consider than just checking the certification of the providers. You have a right to expect certain standards of behavior from both the individual caregiver and the company for which the caregiver works. You also have certain responsibilities.

Senior Center provides plenty of fun events

Since its humble beginnings at Nan Pyle’s Girl Scout Camp in the 1970s, the Senior Center has been serving senior citizens in the Rim Country. Today, it has its own facility — which served the community in the past as a skating rink, a bowling alley and the post office. There is a large dining room, commercial kitchen, meeting room, a multi-purpose room upstairs and a thrift store.

Senior Circle — a place for fun and good health

A member of the Payson Regional Medical Center’s Senior Circle could fill Monday through Friday with its activities. But the Senior Circle is more than a center for fun, it is also a place to learn about getting and staying healthy and the health care resources that the community’s older residents have available. The Senior Circle is a national, nonprofit organization committed to enriching the lives of adults age 50 and over. The $15 annual membership offers a generous selection of valuable discounts, activities and events, exercise and wellness classes, a chapter newsletter and national publication subscription, in-hospital privileges, reciprocal privileges and much more.

Payson Regional Medical Center’s newly recruited doctors follow 100-year-old tradition

The doctors Payson Regional Medical Center brought to the community last year (and in previous years) are following a tradition that started 100 years ago. Payson’s first resident doctor, Christian Risser, hung out his shingle in 1912. He served the community and outlying areas until his death in 1933. One of his descendants, another Christian Risser, is still serving the Rim Country’s needs at the Risser-Thomas Eye Clinic. After the first Dr. Risser’s death in 1933, it was another 21 years before the wheels were put in motion to bring permanent medical care to the Rim Country. During the interim, residents had been served by itinerant physicians or those who only lived in the area for a short while.

Tuesday, January 24

Clubs and Organizations

The Forest Park Homeowners Association board of directors will meet at 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 203 N. Parkwood Lane, Payson. Any homeowner with concerns or questions is welcome to attend. The Annual Homeowners Association meeting is planned for Feb. 18; the time and location are to be determined.

Bank robbed, man flees on foot

A masked man walked into the Wells Fargo bank, 115 E. Highway 260, about 3:20 p.m. with a handgun and demanded cash, said Payson Police Chief Don Engler. Tellers gave the suspect an undisclosed amount of money and he fled the scene on foot, last seen running into a neighborhood on South Goodnow Road. One witness said the suspect pointed a gun at him and told him to get back into his vehicle as he entered the bank. The man said he called police when he got in his vehicle. In less than three minutes, officers had surrounded the bank, but the suspect was gone.

Supervisor Dawson to retire at term’s end

Gila County Supervisor Shirley Dawson will retire at the end of her term this year, opening the door for the possible election of a northern Gila County candidate to the board that controls an array of services. Dawson, a Democrat who lives in Globe, represents District 3, which includes Star Valley, the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation and parts of Globe. In a press release, Dawson said, “It has been great working for improvement in our county. I am proud of the works that have been accomplished and take pride that we, as a county, have thus far survived the worst economic crisis in our country’s history.” Gila County has relied on a multi-million-dollar reserve fund to weather three years of state cutbacks in funding for counties. The county has avoided major cuts in services, which include the sheriff’s department, flood control, planning for unincorporated areas and an array of social services.

PSWID’s board meeting heats up

At a stormy meeting Jan. 19, Pine and Strawberry Water Improvement District (PSWID) board members angrily denounced two members of the Water for Pine Strawberry group, a loose-knit organization critical of PSWID policies. The PSWID board also brushed aside public challenges and reinstated current board officers on a 4-2 vote. The clash between several board members and critics dominated the heated session. “I’m sick and tired of the criticism of your watchdog group,” said Gary Lovetro, PSWID board chairman, directing his comments to Water for Pine Strawberry members Sam Schwalm and Pam Mason. Lovetro said all board members had a high threshold for criticism, but Schwalm and Mason had crossed his threshold with their persistent questioning. “I’m fed up ... it’s going to cost you very much personally to defend your actions,” Lovetro told Schwalm and Mason.

Forest Service releases plan to limit cross country travel

A long-awaited Forest Service plan will limit cross-country vehicle travel on the 3-million-acre Tonto National Forest, but leave an expanded network of 5,300 miles of roads still open. More than two years behind schedule, the Tonto National Forest last week released its congressionally-ordered Travel Management Plan to contain the damage done to watersheds, streams, archaeological sites and wildlife by an explosion of ATV off-road vehicle use. The draft released after years of study adds 1,200 miles of now closed roads and trails to the system in one of the nation’s most heavily used national forests. However, the plan will ban the free-wheeling cross country travel that has added hundreds of miles of informal roads and done damage to streams, wildlife and sensitive sites in recent years. The plan creates four off-road areas of 1,417 acres that would still allow cross country travel — including a large area between Payson and Phoenix. In addition, the plan still allows hunters to go off-road to retrieve animals they’ve killed within 200 yards of an open road.

County sets Presidential Preference Election for Feb. 28

The Rim Country Republicans and Greens straw poll will occur Feb. 28. Gila County Supervisors accepted the governor’s proclamation to hold the Presidential Preference Election at a recent county meeting. Presidential elections determine which candidate their state’s delegates support at the Republican and Green conventions. “The public believes this is a primary,” said Linda Eastlick, county director of elections. “The primary isn’t until August.” Eastlick said this is a closed election where only registered voters of the running parties can participate. Since there are fewer people eligible to vote in an election this specialized, fewer precincts will be open. Due to the number of registered voters in Gila County, the county will have one polling place open for every 2,000 registered voters. The county plans to consolidate some precincts into one polling location.

School board discusses superintendent hiring

The Payson Unified District School Board decided Saturday to set up a screening committee to help sort through applications to replace retiring superintendent Casey O’Brien. The board spent nearly three hours talking about the nationwide search with Karen Beckvar, director of leadership for the Arizona School Boards Association, conducting the search. The board settled on a timetable that will close applications on March 12 and screen the applicants by March 20. Board members and people serving on the five-person screening committee will then rank the applications. The board will consider those rankings in winnowing the field down to a group of probably two to five finalists. Those finalists will appear at an open community forum on March 30, followed by interviews with the board on March 31. After a sometimes-stormy tenure dominated by budget woes, O’Brien recently notified the board he’ll retire in June and probably move to southern Arizona to live on pensions from the state and the Navy, where he served as a fighter pilot.

Community Almanac

The Pine/Strawberry Thrift Store at 3916 N. Highway 87 in downtown Pine (at the community center) is having sales Jan. 25 to Jan. 28 on ladies’ and men’s blazers, suits and jackets at 50 percent off the marked prices. Adult shoes will be 50 cents a pair. From Feb. 1 to Feb. 4, Valentine’s and home décor will be featured and there will be a bag sale of clothing for $2 a bag. The store

Happy birthday, Woody Guthrie

Legendary American folk singer Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday will be celebrated this year.

Thanks to Payson PAYS

My name is Felicity Andren. I am a single mother of two small children and a full-time college student due to graduate this May.

Thanks for helping Kaitie’s Closet

Although a bit late, we at Kaitie’s Closet would like to thank the surrounding communities and the Town of Payson for their generous giving, not only at Christmas, but throughout the year to those in need.

Boy Scout thanks excavating company for donation

I would like to give a huge thank you to Roy Haught Excavating, Star Valley Granite and Materials.

Town thanked for supporting human rights

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize winning grassroots human rights organization working to protect basic human rights for all people, everywhere in the world.

Thank you to Rim Country Health and doctors

My family and I would like to thank Rim Country Health, also Hospice of Payson, for kindness and help for our loved ones during our need.

Forest Service confronts another no-win choice

Someone needs to resurrect King Solomon and get him to run the U.S. Forest Service. Hard to figure that anyone else can resolve the agonizing choices facing the folks managing 193 million acres of your land — including 3 million acres in the Tonto National Forest. Hopefully, you recall the story of the wise King Solomon. He is confronted with the claims of two women to a single baby. Unable to discern the real mother, Solomon decreed the baby should be cut in half so each woman would have a share. One woman agreed, the other woman recoiled — and renounced her claim. So Solomon gave the second woman the baby, knowing a real mother would sacrifice her claim to save the child.

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Lighting up their brains

Science class helps gifted JRE students devise experiments, prepare for science fair

Frank, a chubby, black hamster, scurries through the maze as owner Ellie Hubbard, a fourth-grader at Julia Randall Elementary (JRE), times his dash through the tunnels made of clear plastic cups linked together with Scotch tape. “He did that in 10.7 seconds,” she says. Then Ellie tears apart the maze of tubes to reconfigure them. She has Frank do it all over again. This time, it takes him 26.1 seconds. She writes the results in a notebook. “I’m trying to learn about learning patterns,” she said. Ellie will present the results of her observations at the JRE school-wide science fair on Feb. 9 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the gym. In this weekly program, she and 22 other students spend an hour with Carme Locke, a former Payson teacher who came out of retirement to administer the pullout science program. The particular science class is aimed at children identified with special needs in the gifted and talented education program (GATE).

Rim Country 4-H clubs to hold open house on Monday

Learn about 4-H opportunities at an open house from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday, Jan. 30 at the Payson Public Library. The 4-H program offers a wide variety of projects in which young people can participate, including 4-H Camp. According to Lani Hall, 4-H youth development agent with the University of Arizona Gila County Cooperative Extension Service, if enough young people are interested in a project, every effort will be made to make it available to them. The projects cover everything from aerospace to wildlife skull activity and yeast breads.

Payson ‘takes the fright out’ of Star Valley’s water deal

In the event of an emergency, Payson has agreed to provide backup water and help to Star Valley. The Star Valley Town Council lauded the agreement Tuesday night, Jan. 17, as the next step in the town’s development and working relationship with Payson. The town plans on May 1 to take over the Payson Water Company in Star Valley from Brooke Utilities. The town will run the 360-hookup system and is in the process of establishing water ordinances and rates. One of the requirements is having water available in an emergency and an operator on duty around the clock. Star Valley does not have the work force or resources, but Payson has agreed to supply both when needed. Earlier this month, the Payson council approved an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) where Payson would pump water to Star Valley and respond to after-hours calls when Star Valley’s water operator is unavailable. Behind the scenes, Payson’s staff has also helped Star Valley work through the technicalities of establishing a water department.

Coach says tourney one of the finest in Arizona

Those who took in the Payson Invitational wrestling tournament on Jan. 20 and 21 in Wilson Dome undoubtedly left impressed with the fine performances of the wrestlers, the overall organization of the tournament and the hospitality shown by the town and school. But that’s nothing new — tournament director Don Heizer has been hosting those types of quality tournaments since his arrival in Payson in the mid 1990s. Before that, he was putting on the same quality high school events in Colorado. Heizer is modest and always quick to deflect any credit he receives to his host of dedicated volunteers who serve as the backbone of the Payson Invitational.

Salt River Eagles rise up vs. Payson to slow blowout

Someone forgot to tell Salt River Eagles players they were no match for the Payson Longhorn hardwood stalwarts having been waylaid 69-27 by PHS earlier this season. In the second meeting of the two teams, Jan. 20 near Scottsdale, the game was played to expectations as the Eagles struggled in the first three quarters trailing 52-32 with eight minutes remaining. But in the final stanza, the Eagles rose up from their own ashes much like the mythical Phoenix bird to outscore Payson 27-18 and pull the final score to a respectable 70-59. With Payson’s win, its second consecutive, the team improved to 13-8 overall and 4-3 in Section III. In power point standings, which do not include tournament games, the Horns are 8-4 and ranked fourth in Division III, Section III. Their power point total of 53.769 is about two points better than fifth place Camp Verde and about one less than third place Valley Christian.

Lady Horns out to end hardwood skid

After this week, only four games remain for girls to corral enough points for advantageous seed in playoff competition

A Lady Longhorn goal tomorrow, Jan. 25, will be to put an end to a three-game losing streak against a visiting Mogollon Lady Mustang team that PHS ran roughshod over, 55-18, earlier this season. Payson’s three-game slide includes losses to Blue Ridge, 58-54, on Jan. 17, and to Snowflake, 70-56, a day later in a rescheduled game that had been postponed on Dec. 13. The streak reached three on Jan. 20 near Scottsdale where Salt River overwhelmed the PHS girls 68-35. SR’s win over Payson High was their second this season. On Jan. 11 in Wilson Dome, Salt River prevailed 49-36. The loss to Snowflake was a bit tough to absorb because the Lady Horns had upset the homestanding Lobos 52-50 on Jan. 5.

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Spear wins gold at 2012 Payson Invitational

Payson High School senior Jacob Spear wrestled his way to a gold medal and a prestigious outstanding wrestler award while battling some of Arizona’s finest grapplers entered in the Payson Invitational. In the 22-team fray, which was held Jan. 20 and 21 in Wilson Dome, Spear (138 lbs.) compiled an unbeaten record that included a decision over Camp Verde’s Derrick Brown in the hotly contested championship round. Brown entered the tournament highly regarded with a 39-6 record and a weight class championship with a 6-0 mark earlier this month at the Joseph City Invitational. At the Blackford ASU Invitational while competing against some of the state’s finest “big school” wrestlers, Brown was 5-1 with three pins.

Chili’s hosting event to support Payson Area Food Drive Wednesday

Chili’s Grill & Bar in Payson wants to show off recent renovations, all while donating to a worthy cause. Guests are encouraged to stop by Wednesday, Jan. 25, as the restaurant supports the Payson Area Food Drive (PAFD), whose goal is to see that there are no hungry families in the Payson Area.

Monday, January 23

County supervisor announces she will not run again

Gila County Supervisor Shirley Dawson announced Monday she would not run for re-election in November. Dawson has represented district 3 for two terms.

Wells Fargo robbed Saturday

A man robbed the Wells Fargo bank in Payson Saturday making off with an undisclosed amount of money.

Friday, January 20

Three juveniles, 11 to 13 years old, arrested for marijuana at RCMS

While synthetic marijuana or spice is a growing problem in schools, officials are still seeing students with the original green, leafy substance. Several months ago, officers arrested three middle school students for possession of the drug and paraphernalia after one reportedly traded a small baggy of marijuana for a baseball cap. The boys ranged in age from 11 to 13 years old. According to a report by Payson Police Officer Michael Hansen, Rim Country Middle School officials learned one of the boys had a bag of marijuana after another student reported the teen had showed it off in class.

PSWID purchase of generators raises some concerns

The Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District’s decision to award contracts for $80,000 in work without competitive bidding has raised questions from some customers. The district bid contracts to install 13 generators separately, all of which went to Hat Creek Electric. State law would have required competitive bidding had the district lumped the contracts together. State law requires competitive, sealed bids and a public vote of the board on contracts worth more than $25,000. Critics say the arrangement evaded state and district rules, which benefitted a company once owned by a board member. “The district did not follow purchasing rules in the regulations document,” claims Water for Pine Strawberry spokesman Sam Schwalm. PSWID board member Don Smith said the board should have approved the purchase and installation of the backup generators.

Consultants hired to help with superintendent search

Moving quickly in the search for a new superintendent, the Payson Unified School District board hired a consulting firm at a special meeting Tuesday. The Arizona School Board Association (ASBA) will run the replacement search after Superintendent Casey O’Brien announced last week he would retire in June. Karen Beckdar, with the ASBA, will spearhead the search. The school board hopes to have candidates identified by April 15 and one hired soon after. “The ASBA offers a whole package for a price of $4,500,” said Barbara Underwood, school board chair. Not every board member approved the decision, however, board member Kim Pound voted against the ASBA.

Alliance OKs land buy for ASU campus

Plans for university advance amid questions about open meeting law procedures

The Rim Country Educational Alliance Thursday approved the $650,000 purchase of some 22 acres from Payson and Gila County to build the first phase of a university campus in Payson. In addition, the Alliance board approved an agreement with the Forest Service to take over road ownership and control trespassing on 230 acres of additional land the Alliance is buying south of Highway 260. Moreover, the board adopted a nearly $1 million budget for 2012, listing its income as a “loan,” without specifying the source. The meeting in a Payson Police Department conference room proceeded smoothly and with little discussion, except for a flurry of questions about whether the board, set up to build a campus and related businesses, will post agendas of future meetings. The only people in the audience, John Wakelin and Tom Loeffler, raised questions about whether the board appointed by the Payson and Star Valley councils had followed the state’s open meeting law.

Police searching for man who rushed girl, then fled scene

Police searched west Payson Monday afternoon after an 8-year-old girl reported a man ran at her with a leash. The girl was reportedly playing outside a friend’s house on West Frontier Street when a man, dressed in all black, ran toward her, said Payson Police Chief Don Engler. The girl told police she screamed and the man told her to shut up. Just then, the girl’s friends came around a corner of the home and the man fled up a nearby driveway. The girl said the man was carrying a rope or leash over his shoulder and she thought he was going to abduct her.

New ACC complaints filed in Mesa del Caballo water dispute

Three Mesa del Caballo water users have filed a formal complaint with the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) alleging Brooke Utilities defrauded homeowners this summer in the way it imposed water hauling charges. Corporation Commission staff cleared the company of wrong-doing in reviewing essentially the same charges made several months ago in an informal complaint, but advised the homeowners they were free to file a formal complaint anyway, said Rebecca Wilder, a spokesperson for the ACC. Stephen Gehring, on the other hand, said the commission staff had upheld the informal complaint, which was why he and Bobby and Lois Jones filed a 14-page formal complaint, backed by about 50 pages of exhibits.

Julia Randall evacuated after bomb

For the second time in less than a month, the Payson Police Department has received e-mails threatening to blow up the PPD building. On Thursday, the threats included Julia Randall Elementary School as well, causing police to evacuate the school. There were few people in the school at the time, and officers found no bomb in either location. Payson Police Chief Don Engler said they have located who they believe is sending the threatening e-mails in Texas. The department is working with Texas authorities to have the man arrested. Until then, they are not releasing his name, Engler said.

Community Almanac

To raise money to purchase library materials, the Pine Library has started a See’s Candy Sale and will be raffling a Valentine’s gift basket. The candy sales — cash and carry — started Wednesday, Jan. 18 and there is limited availability. Tickets for the gift baskets are $1 for one, six for $5 and 15 for $10. The drawing will be at 1 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 14.

Offering my one cents worth

Could not agree more with the letters of Ted Paulk (Dec. 30) and Dale Oestmann (Jan. 6). Let me add my 2 cents worth, well, nowadays, 1 cents worth.

Support of GCC, publishing of ‘Mogollon Muse’ is appreciated

Thank you very much for supporting the Payson campus of Gila Community College through your underwriting and publishing of the recent “Mogollon Muse” insert of the Payson Roundup.

County legal notices should be in the Roundup

I presume the Payson Roundup is not on the approved newspaper list to print “advertise call for bids” for Gila County.

Wyden-Ryan plan a bipartisan solution for Medicare

recently to see two politicians from very different political perspectives —Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and Republican Congressman Paul Ryan — come together and propose bold ideas for how to solve one of our nation’s most intractable challenges: the preservation and protection of Medicare. Their plan would introduce some much-needed competition into the Medicare program, which would drive costs down while also ensuring seniors continued access to the Medicare program they know and like. The Wyden-Ryan plan is not perfect — I, for one, have some concerns — but at least it is a sober step in the right direction and a genuine attempt to spark serious cross-party conversation on the topic.

Open meeting law applies to board

The Rim Country Educational Alliance SLE board has taken up its crucial task with energy and enthusiasm. The board members face a daunting task in overseeing a complex, $400 million project, on which so much of Rim Country’s economic recovery relies. So it seems reasonable to cut them some slack, despite some of the early, organizational growing pains. That would include this week’s questions about the board’s adherence to the state’s open meeting law, designed to ensure the public’s business gets conducted in public. The six public-spirited board members have started regular monthly meetings, but are still working to master the rules that govern such public bodies. The board already suffered the disquieting resignation of one member as a result of what seemed like poor communications.

The only word for some people is ‘different’

I had been transferred to Sheppard AFB down in Texas to work in what the Air Force called Phase Two Basic Training, but so far all the barracks in my new squadron were sitting empty, waiting for men from Phase One. I was moving my desk across my office when I heard a voice behind me with a distinct Texas twang. “Airman Garrett?” I said yes and heard a loud, “Airman Davis reporting, sir!” Figuring my first basic trainee had arrived, I turned around, but the two stripes on the sleeve on the smiling man’s facing me told me he wasn’t a basic. “Did I getcha?” he asked. I think I said, “Huh?” “Always wanted to try that out on another DI,” he said.

Rec program has something for everyone

PATS Hike — American Gulch Trail, meet at 9 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 21 at the American Gulch South Trailhead, 2.6 miles west of Highway 87 on Main Street (Doll Baby Ranch Road). This route includes majestic views off high points in the Rim Country toward Fossil Creek, along with mountain meadows with wildflowers. It is 3 miles in length and moderate in difficulty. Watchable Wildlife — Increase the chances of having a positive wildlife viewing experience. Learn the five steps to successful wildlife viewing. Register between Jan. 20 and March 16. The class will be from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, March 24 at the Parks and Recreation office building in Green Valley Park. All ages welcome; $5 registration fee.

Senior matman set for run at gold in Payson Invite

Jacob Spear, a hard-nosed senior ranked fifth in the state in the 138-pound weight class, leads the Longhorn charge into the Payson Invitational against some of the finest wrestlers and teams in Arizona. The tournament begins at 10 a.m. today, Jan. 20 in Wilson Dome and continues tomorrow also in the dome. Spear will be out to improve on his third place invitational finish last season and add to his impressive 2011-2012 credentials that includes a 2-0 record at the Show Low Duals and a gold medal effort at the Tucson Catalina Invitational where he was a dominating 7-0 on five pins and two technical falls. In the invitational none of the Division III individual wrestlers ranked ahead of him are entered. However, he might meet up with a hard-charging tough guy in Chandler’s Dalton Mora who is ranked No. 3 in Division I.

Payson octogenarian runs to Rock ’n’ Roll gold medal finish

Tom Cooka, an 81-year-old Payson retiree who remembers as a small boy rounding up horses on foot at his family’s ranch on the Hopi reservation north of Winslow, ran his way to a first place age group finish at the P.F. Chang’s Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon. The race drew more than 25,000 runners and was held Jan. 15 on streets in Tempe, Phoenix and Scottsdale. Although he was a first-place finisher, Cooka expressed his dissatisfaction with his time of 2:18.09. “I started out a little too fast and it threw me off,” he said. “I was hoping for a better time.” Last year, Cooka was also a first-place finisher, but in a time of 2:13.11. In 2008, Cooka entered the Rock ’n’ Roll full marathon of 26.2 miles and was third in the 75-79 years age division in 5:56.49.

Lady Horns split versus Mingus and Blue Ridge

Lady Longhorn basketball coach Jennifer White might be sprouting a few gray hairs after watching her team battle through two squeakers — edging Mingus 49-46 on Jan. 13, but three days later dropping a 58-54 gut-wrencher to Blue Ridge. With the split, the team stands 9-8 overall and 0-1 in Section III play. In the win over Mingus, a fourth quarter rally in which the Lady Horns outscored the Marauders 17-13 sealed the win.

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Winning out is Horns quest

With the 2012 season winding down, Longhorn basketball players and coach Joe Sanchez are battling for victories in hopes of adding power points, which will improve chances for an advantageous seed into the Division III, Section III tournament. Just as all Horn faithful had hoped, the team added a victory to its resume on Jan. 17 in Wilson Dome where PHS outscored Blue Ridge 46-33. The victory improved the team’s record to 12-8 overall and 4-3 in the section. While almost nothing is certain in high school sports, it’s almost a given the Horns will add another “W” to their record when the team travels today to near Scottsdale to take on the Salt River Eagles.

SV council considers SLE member

If the separate legal entity formed to bring and build a four-year university campus in Payson were a town, Mike Vogel would surely be its mayor. Vogel serves as the Rim Country Educational Alliance SLE board chair and in a “town” that does not yet have any residents, he is one of the only contact points for “town” updates. And right now, the town is working to buy land, work through a mountain of legal paperwork and start designs on a state-of-the-art campus that could one day have more than 6,000 in-town students and another 60,000 online. Vogel explained at Tuesday’s Star Valley council meeting that the SLE is just like any other public entity in Arizona and must file a budget, post notice of its board meetings, buy insurance and once the campus is built, hire everything from police protection to trash service. “We have to set up an identical government to what you have,” he said, referring to Star Valley’s incorporation in 2005.

News Briefs

The new year brings with it opportunities to help non-profit groups, including Payson’s domestic violence shelter, Time Out, Inc. Time Out is working with Chili’s restaurant, 900 S. Beeline Highway, to raise funds the third Tuesday of every month through the year. Chili’s will donate 10 percent of sales to Time Out for customers who present a “Time Out Tuesdays” certificate. “We are so grateful to Chili’s and restaurant customers who began their support with Time Out Tuesdays last year,” said Linda Timmer, Time Out’s acting executive director. “Research shows that individuals living in rural communities are at greater risk for family violence and much-needed resources are very limited. Local business partners, like Chili’s, are to be commended for their dedication to family and community safety.” Time Out uses funds for outreach and domestic violence programs. Time Out, voted Best Non-Profit in Rim Country in 2011, runs a number of programs — from providing safe shelter and transitional housing for women and children to programs for victims outside the shelter.

Clubs and Organizations

The Rim Country Chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society invites all who are interested in Arizona pre-history to attend monthly presentations by knowledgeable and interesting guest speakers. The chapter meets the third Saturday of each month. This month only, it meets at the Senior Center, 514 W. Main St., Payson; the program begins at 10 a.m.   On Saturday, Jan. 21 the group hosts Ellen Brennan, cultural resource program manager at Grand Canyon National Park, who will give the program, “Grand Canyon Archaeology: Excavations along the Colorado River” and focuses on the findings of an excavation project that took place along the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park between 2006 and 2009. Please take this opportunity to learn more about Arizona’s preeminent treasure, the Grand Canyon, and about the activities the Rim Country Chapter of Arizona Archaeological Society.

Remembering a beloved supporter

On Dec. 15, 2011 the Humane Society of Central Arizona lost a beloved friend and supporter — Mr. Thomas Tainsh. Tom served on the Payson Humane Society Board of Directors for many years as president and vice president. He and his wife, Velma, spearheaded the Spay and Neuter program and also the Save Our Shelter plan by calling for matching funds. The people of Payson responded generously and saved the shelter. The amount of love and support Tom had for the humane society and its lost, abandoned and unwanted pets is remarkable. We have been truly blessed to have such a strong, dedicated man and of course his wife, Velma, be a huge part of something we all believe in. He will be missed, but never forgotten. So here’s to you, Mr. and Mrs. Tainsh; thank you, from the bottom of our hearts for everything.

Local resident breathes new life into historic Oxbow Saloon

When I cruised into town nine years ago in my “flashy” U-Haul one-way truck rental (Jeep Cherokee in tow), I had no job, no place to stay and didn’t know a soul in town. Needless to say, it was quite an adventure and I was a man alone. After three nights in the 5-star Budget Inn on the Beeline Highway, I moved into what was then Frontier Apartments, were I would spend the next two years of my life. During my first few days and weeks in Payson, I spent part of my time looking for a bit of social life. Since I enjoyed dancing, I was hoping to find somewhere to go that I might be able to strut my two-stepping prowess around a dance floor. Several people that I met suggested that I mosey on down to the Oxbow Saloon on Main Street. So I did.

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Pioneer spirit lives on, making ours a great community

In the late 1800s, wagon roads were forged by the military through the thick forested, mountainous terrain, penetrating the land of the Tonto Apache. Adventure seekers and Mormon homesteaders were first to journey into the vast, unexplored territory now attainable by horse, sled and wagon, and discover its magnificence and challenges. With faith, courage and determination, an oasis called Pine Creek and Strawberry Valley sprang up in the Arizona wilderness. In 1884, the first Pine post office was established in the home of Mary D. Fuller, and mounted mail carriers followed a trail forged by General Crook from Camp Verde to Pine, Payson and Globe. Word spread that Pine was “one of the prettiest villages in the Southwest.”

New bulletin boards available at post office

The warming days we experienced this week will develop into showers possibly Saturday into Sunday with a possibility of snow on Monday and Tuesday. A steady drop in temperatures each day will occur with the highs of Friday in the low 50s to upper 30s on Tuesday. The lows will start in the low 30s and plummet to the low 20s in the beginning of the week. Qualifying tax exemption or reduction application is due by the Navajo County assessor’s office on Feb. 29. Those who may qualify include widows, widowers and disabled persons or non-profit organizations if they meet certain criteria. “An owner signing up for the first time must appear in person to sign all the appropriate documents in front of an assessor’s office staff member,” said Navajo County Assessor Cammy Darris.

Hashknife Pony Express rides again

Hello again, fellow Creekers. The Hashknife Pony Express will be back again this year in Christopher Creek on Feb. 8. They will arrive at Creekside Restaurant between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Creekside Restaurant will have posters and mailers for sale. The posters are $10 and mailers are $1. Envelopes may also be purchased at the Holbrook, Overgaard, Pine, Heber, Payson, Fountain Hills and Scottsdale post offices.

Food drive continues through January

Tonto Village turned white this past weekend with a smattering of snow mixed with rain and sleet. The temperature stayed in the 30s, so most of the snow melted and turned the ground into mud! What a mess. The forest needs the moisture, so I won’t complain too loud.

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Fun: Gettin’ lost searching for the Dutchman

Driving the Apache Trail and hiking Lost Dutchman State Park

The car sat empty in the parking lot of the Lost Dutchman State Park in the famed Superstitions. “Where are they?” I asked my daughter Brooke, with a twinge of panic at the thought of my parents wandering bewildered among the volcanic spires and violent legends of the Superstitions. “Maybe they got lost,” she shrugged. I sighed. Served us right, this played into the whole day’s theme. My parents, daughters and I had heard of the legend of the Lost Dutchman and his gold mine. We decided to go on a day trip from Payson down the Apache Trail, through Tortilla Flats, to end the day with a hike through the jagged, saguaro-dominated landscape. We wanted to learn about the Lost Dutchman since he is an Arizona legend. The area we traveled covered the old stomping grounds of Jacob Waltz, a German adventurer who sparked a century-long search for gold in the Superstitions.

Thursday, January 19

Search for new PUSD superintendent begins

Moving quickly on the search for a new superintendent, the Payson Unified School Board hired a consulting firm at a special meeting Tuesday. Karen Beckdar, of the Arizona School Boards Association, will help the board define what it and the community wants to see in a new superintendent then advertise for the position and present candidates for consideration. The school board hopes to have results for candidates before the end of the school year.

Wednesday, January 18

Wide variety of winter programs offered

No need to let the winter doldrums set in. The Town of Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department is offering a wide variety of activities to keep you busy. To register or for more information, visit the town’s Web site at www.payson rimcountry.com and click on the Parks & Rec tab, or call (928) 474-5242, ext. 7.

Dynamic dinner duo: smart and simple

After a long day, preparing a healthy and delicious meal doesn’t always come naturally. Busy schedules and unlimited recipe options can make cooking nutritious “from scratch” meals seem like a daunting task. Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN, author of “Read It Before You Eat It,” director and owner of BTD Nutrition Consultants and former spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, believes that cooking with simple and quality ingredients is critical to keeping your health in check. “Learning to prepare a few quick and healthy meals will help you eat better and motivate you to continue to stay on track,” says Taub-Dix. To help you prepare smart, quick and simple meals your family will enjoy, Taub-Dix offers these tips: • Use what you like — pick a few meals that you enjoy eating out and learn to make them at home using fresh vegetables, lean meats and reasonable portions.

Make 2012 the Year You Do It Yourself

When it comes to home repairs and maintenance, you don’t always need to hire others. Make this the year you do it yourself — and save money. Here are some projects you can do yourself if you take it one step at a time:

Choices for blocked leg artery

I am a 74-year-old male and have been diagnosed with peripheral artery disease, PAD. I have a complete occlusion of the main artery just above the knee. What, in your opinion, are the chances of getting through the blockage with angioplasty?

New ships offer great cruises and tours

Although we are still in a recession with rather high unemployment, the cruise and tour industry has been able to survive with discounted cruises and hotels and other gimmicks. The bottom line for the companies is less profit and rather full ships and tours. A third of cruise line profits come from onboard ship purchases for extras such as shopping, shore tours, liquor, gambling and extra priced dining opportunities. The ships have pretty much remained quite full during this period and a few cruise lines have decided to build new vessels. First, let’s talk about two paddle wheel riverboats coming on line which will cruise the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers later this year. American Cruise Lines will begin river cruises in the brand new Queen of the Mississippi Aug. 11. Another totally rebuilt vessel begins in April, operated by the Great American Steamboat Company. It will carry more than 400 passengers and is named the Great American Queen. River cruising is one of the most pleasant forms of vacation. Riverboats on the Mississippi have been missing for several years. This year will be a new beginning.

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 11: The Murder of Gila County’s First Sheriff

In 1885, ranchers in Texas were going broke because the bottom dropped out of the market for sheep, wool and cattle. Among those selling out was cattleman Jesse Ellison. He brought his remaining herd to Arizona in hopes of starting over, and with him was fellow rancher Glenn Reynolds, who had thrown his small herd of cattle in with the Ellisons’. Reynolds returned to Texas the next year for a second herd on behalf of his brothers. Upon reaching Holbrook, he was joined by his wife of 10 years, “Gustie,” and their four children, two sons and two daughters. The Ellison and Reynolds families established their ranching claims in the Rim Country. Just as the Reynolds family was settling down, the Pleasant Valley War broke out, and no one felt safe as sheep and cattle ranchers ambushed one another.

Gala for a good cause - Black & White Ball is Jan. 21

It’s all black and white, fabulous and fun

Love the costumes on Masterpiece’s “Downton Abbey?” Have a zoot suit or flapper dress in your dream wardrobe that you are just dying to wear? Need to pull out that fabulous formal wear for some air? Or do you still have some styling garb from the height of the counter culture era of Haight-Ashbury. If it’s black and white, then you have the perfect place to wear it for a night on the town — the Annual Black & White Ball sponsored by the Mogollon Health Alliance (MHA). The theme this year is San Francisco 1906 to 2012. Get ready to step out and step lively Saturday, Jan. 21 at the event center of the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino. The MHA Black & White Ball gets under way at 5 p.m. when the doors open. Dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m. and features a choice of prime rib and Princess chicken (made with a mushroom and wine sauce) or upon request, a vegetarian entree. There will be delicious side dishes and a scrumptious dessert — a tuxedo cake, one of the specialties of the casino’s restaurant staff, plus a no-host bar and dinner music as well.

Get-a-Away Around Rim Country

The Payson Art League is now organizing its annual ’Neath the Rim Open Studio Tour, which will be held May 4, 5 and 6. PAL welcomes new artists to participate, showcasing your work at your own studio or by joining another artist at their site. For applications and information, please contact tour director Jan Ransom at (928) 468-8593.

Good 2 Go

The January Chamber Mixer will be held at the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, 100 W. Main St., Payson at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 18. Mixer guests will be treated to western-style snacks, beginning with Ruth Klaver’s pulled pork. This will be followed up by her delicious side dishes. The chamber offices will be open, so members can see the newly renovated Visitor Center lobby, displaying the brochures and cards of members as well as the visitor information from throughout Arizona.

Business Showcase booths

Rim Country Business: Past, Present & Future — the 20th Annual Business Showcase, celebrating both Arizona’s 100th Anniversary of Statehood, and also the 130th Birthday of Payson, will be held on March 23-24 at the Mazatzal Casino Exhibition Hall. Set up takes place March 23 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. followed by a Chamber Mixer at 5:30 p.m. The showcase is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 24.

Tuesday, January 17

Free training on child nutrition

The Arizona’s Children Association is offering a free training program, worth three credit hours, on child nutrition from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Jan. 21 at the Community Presbyterian Church, 800 W. Main St., Payson.

Thanks for supporting homeless program

The Community Presbyterian Child Learning Center’s pre-kindergarten class would like to thank everyone who helped make their community service project of sponsoring the homeless students of Payson a huge success.

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Renewing vows at the Tonto Bridge

In an intimate and personal ceremony, the Harrisons renewed their marriage vows during the New Year’s Day hike at Tonto Natural Bridge. “We didn’t want to be ostentatious. We just wanted a quiet moment to remember powerful memories and renew our commitment,” said Christine Harrison. Just as the private and timeless relationship between water and stone created the cavernous bridge, the Harrisons’ marriage has grown deeper as time passed. And as the bridge took years to develop, so did their relationship. They met through the Weyerhaeuser paper company. She has a Ph.D. in organization structural development, while he built and managed factories.

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Chimney sweeper keeping homes safe

No one wants an unplanned visit from the fire department. Sandy and Doug Hamilton, owners of Rim Country Chimney Sweep, say cleaning a chimney annually is one way to keep firefighters away. The Hamiltons started Rim Country Chimney Sweep last year after moving to the area from Mesa. They say many homes have a dangerous buildup of creosote in their chimney. Creosote is a natural byproduct of burning wood. It can take on many appearances from soot and ash, to sticky, tacky and a runny tar glaze to dry honeycombs and curly flakes. All pose a fire hazard, say the Hamiltons.

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Sign up for a booth at upcoming business showcase

The 20th Annual Business Showcase, celebrating both Arizona’s Centennial and Payson’s 130th birthday, will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 23 and 24 at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino exhibition hall. Organizers are urging businesses to sign up for a booth at the showcase, being called Rim Country Business — Past, Present & Future. Similar to last year, exhibitors can share a booth with one other business. Exhibitors can also sell goods at their booth, said John Stanton, Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce manager.

We need the baby boomers to boom again

The government as put a lot of emphasis on the first-time homebuyer in an attempt to stimulate the housing market. First-timers were given tax credits to boost sales to some success. But I wonder when the 79 million baby boomers will boom again. For Gen X-ers and beyond, baby boomers are those born from 1946 to 1964. Young boomers are 48 to 56 years old while older boomers are 57 to 65 years old. Coldwell Banker recently surveyed 1,300 of its agents to get insight into this complex and often powerful generation. Here are highlights from that survey.

Clubs and Organizations

The Payson Art League begins its 36th year with a presentation by last year’s president, Sue Jones, who has spent many years painting and teaching porcelain art. Join the PAL at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 17 at Rim Country Health & Retirement Community, 807 W. Longhorn Road, Payson. The public is invited. Members present a Show and Share program from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., along with a reception with light refreshments. The program is at 6:30 p.m., following a short business meeting.

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Longhorns topple Salt River, lose a tough one to Mingus

In the course of three days, the Longhorn basketball players relished the thrill of victory with a 69-27 win over Salt River, but later suffered the agony of defeat falling 74-71 to Mingus. The loss to the Marauders, on Jan. 13 in Mingus, was particularly tough to deal with because the Horns had overwhelmed the Cottonwood-area high school 88-56 on Dec. 6. While the first go-around against the Marauders was a breeze, the second turned into a nip-and-tuck barnburner in which Payson took an early 21-12 lead only to see Mingus battle back to trail just 41-38 at halftime. Early in the fourth quarter, Payson continued to cling to its narrow three-point lead, 57-54, but the Marauders went on a 20-14 run to nail down the hard-fought victory.

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Lady Horns rebound with win after loss to Salt River

It’s no secret in high school coaching circles that reservation-area schools play a break-neck, fast-paced style of basketball that can be difficult for opponents to adjust to. That’s been a fact of prep hardwood life since the 1960s when the now-closed Phoenix Indian High School teams, led by Arizona Sports Hall of Fame coach Joe Famulatte, ran and gunned their way up and down the court usually averaging 90-plus points per game. The Lady Longhorns learned just how frustrating that style of play could be on Jan. 11 in Wilson Dome where the team dropped a 49-36 decision to the Salt River Eagles of Scottsdale.

PHS wrestlers beat the Cougars, drop a close one to the Elks

The rapidly improving Payson High School wrestling team tuned up for the Payson Invitational with dual matches against former 3A East Region rivals Show Low and Round Valley. In Show Low on Jan. 11, the Horns overwhelmed the Cougars 48-27, but dropped a 33-32 squeaker to the Elks. With the Show Low Duals now in the rearview mirror, the Longhorns are steering toward the upcoming invitational which PHS Casey Woodall predicts, “Is really shaping up to be a good tournament — should be a lot of good wrestling.”

Water, SLE, business licenses pack agenda of SV council meeting

In its first meeting of the new year, Star Valley has a packed agenda Tuesday. The council will discuss an agreement for a backup water supply with Payson, take a first look at a water ordinance establishing Star Valley’s water company and likely approve a measure that has Payson respond to after-hour water calls. Also on the agenda, the council could appoint a new member to the board tasked with bringing a four-year university to Payson. The 6:30 p.m. meeting is held at the Star Valley Town Hall on East Highway 260. “It is going to be a busy meeting,” said Town Manager and Attorney Tim Grier.

School board to discuss superintendent’s replacement

On the heels of the announcement Thursday that Payson Unified School District’s superintendent will retire at the end of the school year, the board has called a special meeting Tuesday. The school board will discuss how it plans to search for a replacement. From a statewide call for applications to a national posting, there are several options available.

PHS Drama offers one-act plays

Longhorn Theatre’s annual senior-directed plays hit center stage this week Jan. 19-21. The plays spotlight the directing and tech talents of fourth-year drama students. Each of the three one-act plays tells a short story through the artistic vision of experienced drama students. “Murder at the Ballet,” a 1940s spoof murder mystery was written by Jeffrey Goffin. Josh Leonard will direct. “Fear,” a psychological thriller was written by Vern Harden, and will be directed by Reno Goodwin.

Free disaster training starts Saturday

Most of us would not know how to react in a disaster or terrorist attack. We rely on the knowledge of emergency personnel and officials. But when a fire or flood hits, professional responders are not always immediately available to help — that is where community members step in. Members of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) are some of the first responders when disasters occur. From helping during the Wallow Fire near Whispering Pines to filling sandbags when Tonto Creek, near Punkin Center, flooded homes and stranded residents.

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It is all about reading

Title I reading program improves students’ progress

“All rightee, sir, what story are you doing?” asks Roxanne Savage the Title I and Response to Intervention (RTI) teacher at Julia Randall Elementary (JRE) as she sits down next to Juancarlos Amaya. Their interaction represents a crucial link in a chain that will ultimately determine the success of the whole school. “Siberian Tiger,” he says. “OK. Let’s see what’s going on,” says the teacher charged with making sure children don’t fall through the jagged crack of failing to master reading in the early grades. Savage looks at Juancarlos’ answers to questions that test his ability to comprehend the story he just read. She stops as she goes through the answers. She’s found an error. “Do you know what lunge is?” Savage asks. Juancarlos looks confused.

Happenings at the Senior Center

Since our humble beginnings at Nan Pyle’s Girl Scout Camp in the ’70s, our organization has been serving seniors in the Rim Country area. Today, we have our own facility that was formerly a skating rink, a bowling alley and the Post Office. We have a large dining room, commercial kitchen, meeting room, a multipurpose room upstairs and a Thrift Store. What do we do? We are here to help seniors of the Rim Country live a more active, healthy life with a variety of programs to meet their needs. Our three primary programs are the Meals On Wheels program, the Dial-A-Ride program and lunch at the Center. Our volunteers and employees do so much more than the task at hand. They genuinely care for our seniors. They become their friends, they visit in the hospital, assist people in a variety of ways outside work, make special gifts for our clients, and give comfort for those who need it.

New Year off to a bumpy start

Have you ever celebrated New Year’s Eve in a hospital emergency room? I have. Let me tell you, it is a lot more fun singing “Auld Lang Syne” in your own living room, with a few good friends, over a bottle of champagne. However, given the way I was feeling, I was glad to be where I was. It began the Thursday before New Year’s with a mild discomfort in my right side, front and back, which over the next couple days became more  painful. By Saturday morning I could hardly get out of bed. Len took me to the ER where they did numerous tests, including a CT scan, and put me on pain medication. By noon, no cause was diagnosed and the pain subsided, so I was sent home. No sooner did I get there than the pain reoccurred, worse than any I have ever had.

Everything hinges on this one reform

Frightening. Inspiring. Vital. All those words apply to the story you’ll find in today’s edition on the Class Acts page. At first glance, it looks like a warm-hearted feature story about an expert, caring teacher in the Payson Unified School district. But it really holds the key to everything — from saving public schools to adapting to the 21st century. Every day, Roxanne Savage sits down with about 70 struggling elementary students to help them solve the mysterious riddle of the written word.

Distractions while driving — better to be safe than sorry

It has been proven by researchers that any kind of distraction while driving, walking or biking poses a major safety issue on our roadways. The nature and intensity of distractions vary from situation to situation. Driver distractions come in many forms, such as texting, using cell phones, children in the vehicle, passionate conversations with other passengers, and eating or drinking while driving. Some people have also been guilty of putting on makeup or doing other “interesting” tasks when they should be concentrating on the road in front of them. Driving is the only task one should be doing when behind the wheel.

Community Almanac

The 4th Annual Lip Sync contest will be Feb. 18. All students from area high schools, both private and public, along with home-schooled students are invited to compete. There will be $1,100 given in prizes. Choice of music and preparation needs to be completed by Jan. 18 when tryouts will take place.

Prescribed fire in Christopher Creek area wraps up soon

Payson Ranger District fire specialists plan to conduct prescribed burns on approximately 50 acres of remaining vegetative debris piles in the Christopher Creek area Wednesday and Thursday this week. To mitigate the impact of smoke, ignitions will end each day by 2 p.m. Smoke may linger in these areas through Sunday, due to cold, inert winter air.    

Property values drop by 11 percent

Gila County property values have dropped 11 percent in the past year according to the assessor’s office. Unfortunately for shell-shocked property owners, this won’t affect property taxes until 2012. The figure represents a countywide average, so it doesn’t apply to individual houses. On the other hand, the value of the mines operating in southern Gila County increased by a whopping 61 percent. As a result, despite the sharp drop in home values the overall value of the county’s property tax base dropped by just 5 percent, said Larry Huffer, chief appraiser for the Gila County Assessor’s Office. But even that more modest decrease represents a $1 million hit to the county’s bottom line, unless the board of supervisors again votes to boost the tax rate.

Weather records evaporate

Record cold and heat mark a year of extremes for Arizona

Last year was a year of weather extremes in Arizona — but also a welcome respite from drought with near normal monsoonal rainfall totals. The Payson area set several records, ranging from a New Year’s cold front to an August heat wave, according to the National Weather Service in Flagstaff. Here is a run down of some of the year’s weather highlights for the Rim Country. Early in the year, an Arctic air mass moved into northern Arizona, dropping snow and temperatures from the Grand Canyon to the Rim Country. The low on New Year’s Eve 2011 in Payson was 1 degree, a new record, according to the Weather Service. Other areas with record lows included a minus 28 degrees in Fort Valley near Flagstaff, minus 25 in Springerville and minus 3 in Cottonwood.

Payson economy holding its own

Despite three years of turmoil and trauma, Payson’s economy this year has held its own, according to a year-end financial summary released this week. The summary shows town revenues have held surprisingly steady for the past three years, which is fortunate since the town has absorbed significant cuts in state-shared revenues from income taxes and gasoline taxes. Moreover, the town has given up on a federal grant for police officers and firefighters, leaving both departments staffed at well below levels envisioned when the council adopted its budget back in June. Fortunately, spending in most departments remains below projections — cushioning the decline in state-shared revenue.

Save time and money on a four-year degree — but start early and check on transferring credits

For Stephanie Landers, a Gila Community College student, the road toward a degree in film and journalism has hit a bump. After taking classes at an out-of-state community college, many of her credits did not count when she moved to Arizona and applied at in-state universities. Many community college students face the same obstacle — taking undergraduate classes that do not transfer to a four-year school. New programs through the state’s three universities are working to end this problem.

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Rim Country birders take part in annual Christmas Bird Count

The count is in — the Payson Christmas Bird Count, that is. Since 1900 the National Audubon Society has conducted bird counts throughout North America. Local birding enthusiasts conducted their eighth annual count on Dec. 30. There was beautiful, calm weather when the 17 participants headed out to spend the day identifying and counting all the birds they saw or heard in and around Payson. The good weather contributed to a record 99 species being observed as well as a record 4,376 birds. The count is a census of the birds found during a 24-hour period in a designated circle 15 miles in diameter. The Payson count circle is centered a little northwest of town.

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Senate candidate lauds pipeline, college projects

Don Bivens brings fledgling campaign for Democratic nomination to Rim Country

One of the contenders to fill U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl’s seat brought his campaign to Rim Country last week, with strong support for the Blue Ridge pipeline, the sale of federal land for an ASU campus and large scale forest thinning. Attorney and former state Democratic Party Chair Don Bivens said such projects provide a perfect example of what the federal government should do on a large scale to stimulate job growth as long as unemployment remains above 6 percent. “We have all kinds of infrastructure needs across the board — parks, railroads, courthouses, libraries,” said Bivens, 59, after meeting privately with backers and then addressing the Democratic Woman’s Club of Northern Gila County.

Coaches now raise money for own salaries

Payson High School head coaches exited a meeting with administrators held just days before Christmas break confused with what was being asked of their fund-raising efforts. Some of the coaches admitted they were upset they had been asked to raise, for the first time, all the money needed for coaching salaries. “They basically threw us a huge curveball and expected us to hit it out of the park,” said one coach. Another said he left the meeting believing administrators really don’t understand the major impact sports and athletics have on students, hence telling them if you want to coach, earn the money for your paycheck. Yet another argued that making coaches fund raise for their salaries is a slap in the face, saying they are really not important in the grand scheme of things.

Power points could give PHS teams postseason chance

Gaining power points for advantageous berths into the Section III tournament just might be the tickets the two Payson High School basketball teams must be clutching to reach the postseason. In boys power point standings compiled by the Arizona Interscholastic Association, the Longhorns are ranked 22nd among 56 Division III schools. In Section III, of which the Horns are a member, PHS is fifth with a 6-4 non-tournament record. The Lady Longhorns, also 6-4, are rated 24th in Division III, which has 57 teams. In Section III, Payson is rated eighth. Because neither team is among the leaders in either the division or sectional standings, the best way to earn a ducat to the D-III or state tournament when it begins Feb. 14 might be a top-three finish in the S-III tournament to play out Feb. 7 to 11 in Surprise.

Friday, January 13

Sweep of charter school money scrapped

When the Arizona Department of Education unexpectedly cut funding for the already hard-pressed Payson Unified School District by $95,000, with no warning and in the middle of the year, school officials were outraged. PUSD Superintendent Casey O’Brien visited the state Capitol several times to meet with other districts facing cuts and appeal for a reprieve. The work has paid off. The state’s plan to take away $1,600 per student enrolled in public school charter schools has been scrapped.

More PHS students suspended for spice

In the last two months, five students have been suspended from Payson High School for possession of a legal form of synthetic marijuana. Known as “spice” or “potpourri,” the imitation cannabinoid is increasingly showing up as students look for a new way to get high. And it isn’t just teenagers using it, there have been a number of recent overnight break-ins at local convenience stores where the only thing taken was potpourri, according to police.

Work on Tonto Creek continues

Work continues on Tonto Creek near Punkin Center as prison crews remove some of the vegetation clogging the creek. Removal of “dead and down” brush started Dec. 27 with roughly two dozen workers from area prisons clearing out the creek and burning most of the waste on site. Currently, crews are out between the Bar X and A Cross Crossings on the west side of the creek. Workers will turn around when they reach where the lake used to sit and make their way back up the east side, said Gila County Supervisor Mike Pastor at a community meeting in Tonto Basin’s school Tuesday night.

Cancer claims the lives of two loving fathers

Cancer has claimed the lives of two loving fathers who obviously relied upon a commitment and passion to athletics to steer their children successfully through the pitfalls of life. Steven Gunzel died at age 60 on Jan. 2 at his home in Sierra Vista. Buck Buckner died at the age of 72 on Jan. 7 in Payson. I had the good fortune to know both fine men through their children.

Community Almanac

Businesses, clubs and organizations sponsoring or interested in sponsoring a Relay for Life team are invited to a mixer to learn more about the event from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 13 at the community room of Messinger Payson Funeral Home.

Factcheck is hardly unbiased

Chuck Burns “Web sites available to fact check claims of politicians” offers a great idea for checking the claims of politicians, but www.factcheck.org is hardly an unbiased example.

Couple will never forget Payson

As we drove, we looked at the wonderful and inspiring Tonto Forest and beautiful snow-covered Mogollon Rim we left behind, it was painful.

Gifts for seniors help many people, thank you

Thank you to all our Rim Country Classic Auto Club members for all their donations and cash.

Please return Nativity scene donkey

At Christmas we had a Nativity display in our yard that my husband and I made; the figures (Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, and four animals) were cut out of plywood that we then painted.

County employees go above and beyond to help find ring

I would like to bring to your attention recent efforts made by Gila County public works employees on my behalf.

Decisions made in Rome and Brussels can affect us

On Dec. 8, leaders of 27 European Union countries gathered in Brussels in an attempt to find a way out of the mess in which Europe now finds itself. With waves of debt engulfing Greece, Portugal, Ireland — and perhaps even Italy, the world’s eighth largest economy — the continent has never faced a greater post-war crisis. Even the Pope recently invoked divine support for Europe and Italy.

Superintendent surprises board; is retiring soon

Well, we can’t say we didn’t see it coming. Payson Unified School District Superintendent Casey O’Brien has applied for jobs elsewhere before. Still, the news of O’Brien’s retirement Thursday took us all aback. We were most surprised to learn he isn’t leaving us for a bigger and better district, but for the hills of Spain. Or so he dreams.

Being a foreigner comes easy, but so does not being one, Part II

Last week we talked about some things that made it easy to get along in a foreign country. What it boiled down to for most of the people I knew was just being yourself — just being an American. Unlike people from some countries, we don’t have lords and ladies, fussy rules of behavior, or the confusing customs I’ve run into. So it’s easy to just be yourself. We may be a little rough around the edges at times, but we’re honest about it, and we’re satisfied to be what we are. Which by and large helps people overseas not only to accept us, but to like us.

Quick start lifts Lady Longhorns over Cougars

A break-neck jump-start in which the Lady Longhorns outscored Show Low 14-2 in the opening eight minutes lifted PHS to a relatively easy 44-31 D-III, S-III win over the Lady Cougars. On Jan. 10 in SLHS gymnasium, Payson never trailed in the contest, building leads of 22-10 at halftime and 35-17 early in the fourth quarter, allowing first-year coach Jen White to empty her bench.

State’s best lock horns in Payson Invitational

Although the Payson Invitational is the only tournament on the wrestling team’s home schedule, it’s a premier event that has attracted some of the top wrestlers from around Arizona. Some of them will be taking their wrestling skills next year to the collegiate level, possibly for former Longhorn star R.C. LaHaye, now the head wrestling coach at Grand Canyon University. Among the stars set to compete at the PI from Division IV schools are Michael Casillas (103), Isaiah McReynolds (112) and Heath Carroll (130) of Camp Verde, Round Valley’s Brandon Nichol (130) and Jacob Goodsell (189), and Michael Echevarria (215) of Globe.

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Horns hammer Cougars, 70-39

Longhorn first-year basketball coach Joe Sanchez’s wish for his team to turn in a complete, all-around performance similar to some efforts seen earlier in the season was realized Tuesday evening, Jan. 10, in a 70-39 hammering of the Show Low Cougars. In Wilson Dome, Payson players were relentless in the opening stanza, outscoring the befuddled Cougars 21-12. In the later going, the situation didn’t improve much for the hapless Cats as Payson continued to pour it on, building a 43-21 halftime cushion.

Recreation Roundup

American Gulch Trail — meet at 9 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 21 at the American Gulch South Trailhead, 2.6 miles west of Hwy. 87 on Main Street (Doll Baby Ranch Road). This three-mile route includes majestic views off high points in the Rim Country toward Fossil Creek along with mountain meadows. The trail is of moderate difficulty. Wear appropriate clothing for changeable winter weather as well as hiking boots and bring water.

Football coaches association stiffens rules

As mundane as “film exchange” sounds to most of the public, it is the lifeblood of high school football coaching. Each weekend during the season, coaches depend on exchanging films of past games, usually three, with the coach of their next opponent to compile game plans and strategies for the upcoming contest. Many games have been won — and others lost — on information gained from film exchanges. Around the country, game tapes are the rage because, as coaches say, “The big eye in the sky don’t lie.” Shooting high school football games was a novelty 30 years ago, when only a handful of flush high schools had the money with which to film.

Payson Police Department receives $7,000 grant

The Payson Police Department announced Wednesday that the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety has awarded a $7,000 grant to enhance DUI enforcement in Payson. The department will use the money to target aggressive and impaired drivers, speeding and enforce other highway safety laws with the goal of reducing injuries and fatalities, said Police Chief Don Engler.

County not yet safe from state cash grabs

County officials and state legislators agree transferring hundreds of state prisoners to county jails will not solve the state’s budgetary woes. What once was touted as a plan to save the state is no longer a viable option because of the extra burden it would put on cash-strapped counties. In a meeting at the state Capitol Jan. 5, county supervisors, state senators and officials discussed the budget. Gila County Supervisors Tommie Martin, Michael Pastor and Shirley Dawson met with Senators Sylvia Allen and Don Shooter, who is chair of the senate appropriations committee. All agreed a transfer of state prisoners to county jails would create more problems than it clears up.

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Gala for a good cause - Black & White Ball is Jan. 21

It’s all black and white, fabulous and fun

Love the costumes on Masterpiece’s Downton Abbey? Have a zoot suit or flapper dress in your dream wardrobe that you are just dying to wear? Need to pull out that fabulous formal wear for some air? Or do you still have some styling garb from the height of the counter culture era of Haight-Ashbury. If it’s black and white, then you have the perfect place to wear it for a night on the town — the Annual Black & White Ball sponsored by the Mogollon Health Alliance (MHA). The theme this year is “San Francisco 1906 to 2012.”

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Thawing out

Continued daytime thawing of snow makes for sometimes treacherous roads for those Heber Overgaard residents who reside on roads that are not paved. Our daytime highs will continue in the mid- to upper-40s which will continue this thawing until such moisture encroachment on those unpaved roads subside. Night-time temperatures will vary from the mid-teens to around 20 degrees.

Getting organized is a daunting chore

January is now well under way, and magazines are filled with getting healthy with exercise and how to organize your space. Like everyone, I need both. The only exercise that I am accomplishing is walking with my pug/beagle mix doggie every day and as far as organizing my space, I think I need help!!!!! There is now minimal walking room in my office and pantry area. The problem is that I have every-day things plus decorations, gifts, books, etc. all together.

Farewell to good neighbors who are ‘movin’ on’

I’m dedicating this week’s music trivia column to my next door neighbor, Laura, and her family, who are packing up their bags and moving on down to the Valley. Laura and her kids (and grandchildren and great-grandchildren) have lived in their overlooking-the-lake bungalow for the past 25 years, long before I became their neighbor in 2004. They’ve been really good neighbors, and if it wasn’t for Laura’s grandson’s big black and purple pickup truck rumbling out of their driveway and thundering by our house, I wouldn’t even know anyone lived next door. I wish them all the best.

Meet the Lewis family

It is time for another installment of my “Better know your neighbor” series and this time it’s personal. The Christopher Creek Lodge has hired a new property manager, Brendon Lewis. Brendon moved to Christopher Creek from Ava, Mo., about 45 minutes from Branson, where he was working on his father’s cattle ranch and attended Drury University. Brendon was born in Winslow, Ariz. and lived in Pinetop from first grade through high school where he met and later married his wife, Angela.

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Pine and Strawberry are a treasure trove of history

If you travel up Highway 87 to Pine and Strawberry, you’ll discover a treasure trove of history hidden in the Arizona mountains. You may have to pinch yourself to make sure you’re still in the 20th century. In the August 1981 Arizona Highways magazine, Bill Ahrendt wrote of Pine,“No great swaths of neon and noise, no denuded ruin of once virgin forest, no great holes or marred landscape interrupt the sublime timeless feeling of this place. It is an ageless portrait of village life, forever lost to most of America.”

Don’t play politics with your investment decisions

from the candidates. As a citizen, you may or may not enjoy this “political theater,” but as an investor, you might be concerned over all the talk about taxes, Social Security, Medicare and other financial topics. Will you need to adjust your savings and investment strategies? If so, how? Before you think about adjusting your investments in anticipation of any actions coming from Washington, keep a couple of facts in mind.

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Investment firm recruits local advisor to Payson branch

Wells Fargo Advisors and financial advisor Scott Flake recently announced that they have teamed up to offer investment services to Payson residents. By providing access to other financial professionals within banking, investment management and trust services, the clients will enjoy full financial services all under one roof.

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Two apartment complexes get new manager

Dawn VanBuskirk announced she has been promoted to the manager of Green Valley Apartments and Canal Senior Apartments. Both properties are located near Payson’s center — Green Valley Apartments at 905 S. McLane Road and Canal Senior Apartments, 807 S. Westerly Road.

Shelter has many pets in need of homes

There are dozens of wonderful dogs and cats in need of homes at the Humane Society of Central Arizona animal shelter, located at 812 S. McLane Road, just south of Main Street. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — 7 days a week. For more information, call (928) 474-5590 or visit www.humanesocietycentralaz.org.

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 during Elks Jam Sessions, scheduled at 3 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 14 and 28 and at the Karaoke Night from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 18 and 25. Elks members and guests are also welcome at these events.

Superintendent to retire at end of school year

After five years with the Payson Unified School District, Superintendent Casey O’Brien announced Thursday he would retire at the end of the school year. O’Brien, 56, said he plans to travel more with his wife Priscilla and spend time with their parents in southern Arizona, where he has a home. O’Brien has served with the district through one of the worst budgetary periods for school districts in years. While finances have languished, O’Brien helped launch new programs, build and upgrade facilities and keep the district largely a float. But decisions weren’t always easy, he admits. The district has gone through two years of substantial cutbacks. The district closed Frontier Elementary School, increased class sizes and reduced the number of teachers and staff members to save money.

Wednesday, January 11

Good 2 Go

The Payson Area Trails System program has free, guided hikes planned once a month, now through May. On the agenda are American Gulch South Saturday, Jan. 21; Monument Peak Loop Trail, Saturday, Feb. 18; Cypress Trail and Boulders Loop Trail, Saturday, March 17; Peach Loop Trail, Saturday, April 14; and Boulders Loop Trail, Saturday, May 19.

Rim Country Celts Ceilidh and Burns tribute

The Rim Country Celts’ second Ceilidh is Saturday, Jan. 28 at the Payson Senior Center, 514 W. Main St. The Senior Center chef will prepare stews, bread and scones that will be available for donations. Dinner, with Celtic and Gaelic music is at 5 p.m., followed at 6 p.m. by a performance by The Maschino School of Highland Dance with Klaire Rouse, Kiana Campbell, Kelly Lahera, Jessica Maschino, accompanied by piper Andrew Lahera.

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Woe and beauty on an ancient edge

Grand Canyon’s geology offers solace and an education in time

I took a step — a long step — a million years step. Then I stopped, turned and faced north. Perched on the jagged edge of my life, I looked down deep into the shadowed layers of lost worlds — terrible deaths, fractured continents, vanished seas, mass extinctions. Taking a breath, I took another step — a long step — another million years. Curiously, I felt better — my troubles for the moment shrunk to no more than a ledge of Tapeats Sandstone in the wall of the Grand Canyon opposite. A layer of fossilized beach sand laid down 570 million years ago, the Tapeats Sandstone lies atop a mystery of missing stone — dubbed the “Great Unconformity.”

Healthy Weight Week

Healthy Weight Week is Jan. 15 through Jan. 21. Do you know what your healthy weight is? For years our doctors and an occasional magazine article, based on data provided by the insurance industry, doled out that particular piece of information. With today’s boom in the health and diet business, you can get the information in a blink of an eye from the Internet, out of hundreds of books on the market, from gyms and weight loss programs.

Cruising the Great Rivers

River cruising has grown more than 200 percent in the last 10 years. Each year more and more riverboats are added to the cruise lines inventories. Today we will discuss where you can go and the companies to contact for more information. Let’s start with the Mississippi River. In 2008 and 2009 the major riverboat companies closed their doors due to the down economy. This year two companies will begin cruising America’s largest river with two exciting boats, one new and one completely refurbished.

Inner Ear Often Cause of Dizziness

During the day everything is fine, but when I lie down to go to sleep, the room starts to spin. It lasts about 10 seconds. Then if I turn my head to look at the clock, the dizziness returns. In the morning when I wake and turn my head again, the room spins. Do I have an inner-ear infection? How can this problem be fixed?

Get-a-Away Around Rim Country

Billy Dean, Nashville singer and songwriter and No. 1 smash recording artist will appear in a unique and intimate performance at 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 12 at the Payson High School Auditorium. Dean has recorded 12 albums and has had 11 top 10 hits. Among the awards bestowed on Dean are The Academy of Country Music’s “New Male Vocalist” and “Song of the Year,” a Grammy award and the BMI “Million Air Plays Award.”

Early Hunter Creek history

Near Christopher Creek sits the Hunter Creek Ranch subdivision. This gated community has its own water and sewer system, and a certified 100-year water supply. But how did it get its name? Here’s a look at it, including a look at one of the forgotten early settlers of this region. A survey was done in 1905 of some of the Christopher Creek area. Isadore Christopher can be found where the heart of the Christopher Creek area is today, but when looking at where Hunter Creek Ranch is located one finds the Williamson name.

Tuesday, January 10

Entertainment unlimited

Entertainment unlimited is being featured at the Pine/Strawberry Thrift Store, 3916 N. Hwy. 87 in downtown Pine, Jan. 11 through Jan. 14 — DVDs, videos, CDs, cassettes, 8-tracks, albums, books and more are 50 percent off the usual prices. Stock up for those winter evenings still to come.

Learn about C.O.P.D.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease — C.O.P.D. is an umbrella term used to describe chronic lung diseases that limit your airflow. Kim Sleeper, respiratory therapist, will help improve breathing, stay active and improve your life at the Senior Circle lunch and learn at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 11.

Minor earthquake strikes north of Payson Sunday

Well, it wasn’t big enough to break the Richter scale or even the bathroom scale, but a 3.1 magnitude earthquake caught the attention of some local earthquake enthusiasts. “I have a hobby of daily tracking southwest and west coast earthquakes. Are you aware that yesterday, 43 miles NNE of Payson, there was a 3.1 quake?” wrote one Payson resident, who asked to remain anonymous. There was even a YouTube video posted shortly after the Sunday tremor detailing where it happened in northern Arizona in between two volcanoes.

Agreement provides SV with backup water supply

The Payson Town Council last week agreed unanimously to provide water services in an emergency for neighboring Star Valley. The agreement would provide Star Valley backup should a well break down or a water pipe burst, now that Star Valley has entered into the water business by buying out Brooke Utilities. “I don’t think that Star Valley will ever necessarily use it — but they can call Payson as a last resort to provide backup services if they have a break in a water main or a well out of service. It’s like ‘hey, give us a call, we’ll help out,’” said Buzz Walker, Payson’s water director.

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Payson residents rally to clean up forest area

Unlike the previous forest cleanup days that fizzled due to poor weather, Saturday’s cleanup off Houston Mesa Road drew 32 sunny volunteers. Members of Payson Packers, Payson Area Single Track Association and Payson Area Trails System pitched in along with concerned citizens to clean up along popular hiking and ATV areas. “We’re so excited at the turnout,” said Rachael Hohl and Chelsea Muise, rangers from the Payson Forest Service office, who organized the event. The rangers handed out gloves, water bottles and trash pickers before splitting the volunteers into two groups. One headed to the intersection of Houston Mesa Road and Highway 87, the other drove to the Shoofly Ruins trailhead. Barbara Clark and Lori Horn headed for the 87/Houston Mesa intersection.

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Payson man finds elderly Alzheimer’s patient

Search called off for Mesa man after local landscaper finds him unscathed

Storm clouds have been hovering over John Pauley’s life for some time. With his wife having undergone multiple surgeries and possibly facing open-heart surgery, Pauley said things were not looking so great Saturday when he went to work. But something remarkable happened that showed him good things still occur. Pauley helped a missing 71-year-old Alzheimer’s patient be reunited with his family in the Valley. On Saturday morning, Wendell Workman went missing from a home near Eighth Avenue and Country Club Drive in Phoenix. Workman’s family contacted police and put a missing person alert out for his whereabouts, but there were few clues to go on.

Missing Valley woman could be in the Rim Country

Family and friends of a Valley woman are asking for help in locating the 25-year-old after she bought a gun and left in her vehicle last week. Holly Marie Bruce was last heard from on Wednesday when she told family she was leaving town. She has not been heard from or answered her cell phone since. Those close to her believe Bruce may have come to the Rim Country, specifically the Fossil Creek area, where she liked to hike.

P-S Fire Dept keeps state grant for brush removal

Residents of Pine and Strawberry can breathe a sigh of relief — the Pine Strawberry Fire Department (PSFD) has won renewal of a competitive grant from the state to resume private property brush removal. “The state used to fund 10 grants, now just five,” said PSFD Fire Chief Dave Staub. Focused on reducing property loss due to wildfires, the State Fire Assistance Program distributes grants to communities facing the highest risk of property damage. Firebreaks and brush removal are a critical piece in the struggle to save houses from wildfires.

Community Almanac

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease — C.O.P.D.  is an umbrella term used to describe chronic lung diseases that limit your airflow. Kim Sleeper, respiratory therapist, will help improve breathing, stay active and improve your life at the Senior Circle lunch and learn at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 11. The Senior Circle is planning a trip to Barleens Arizona Opry on Tuesday, March 13. Participants will enjoy music, and comedy and a chicken dinner lunch with all the fixings.

Pursuit of happiness

Many conservatives today seek direction from our Founding Fathers with great respect for the creators of the Constitution.

Ron Paul is best candidate

I was really impressed with Dale Oestmann’s letter “Claim that voters are turning Arizona blue, is a little short on facts” right up to the point where he said, “Any of the Republican candidates, with the possible exception of Ron Paul …” (would be better than Marxist Obama).

Pay close attention to who you vote for

Our very own RINO is at it again!

A year in review: An outsider goes to Congress

As the year 2011 comes to a close, I would like to reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly of my first year serving rural Arizona in Congress. Having been a dentist and small-business owner for over 25 years, I thought it was my business experience that would help me stand out in the crowd. In fact the skills of leadership, fiscal responsibility, understanding the realities of over regulation and the value of a hard day’s work have been extremely valuable. What I found was that the skills needed to be an effective member of Congress are much like those needed to be an effective parent or teacher. They include common sense, the ability to communicate well, the ability to take constructive criticism, and knowing when to compromise and when to fight.

Abdication of authority a bad move by town council

The Payson Town Council has abdicated some of its authority by giving town staff the authority to approve small subdivisions. Small or large, the approval of preliminary plat maps should be a function of the town council, not staff. We have the utmost respect for the town staff, they are hard working, they do their job effectively for the most part, but they are not elected to oversee the operations of the town — that is the job of the town council.

Billy Dean, Nashville recording artist in concert Jan.12

Billy Dean, Nashville singer and songwriter and number-one smash recording artist will appear in a unique and intimate performance at the Payson High School Auditorium at 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 12. Dean has recorded 12 albums and has had 11 Top 10 hits. Among the awards bestowed on Dean are the Academy of Country Music’s “New Male Vocalist” and “Song of the Year,” a Grammy award and the BMI “Million Air Plays Award.” Hit songs aside, Dean is noted for his dynamic musicianship and vocal styling, and warm, genuine presence on and off stage.

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Knights of Columbus donate to Special Olympics fund

Members of the Knights of Columbus — the charitable organization of Catholic men — raised more than $1,600 to honor and donate to the Payson/Gila County Special Olympics program. Longtime Knight Dave Engleman spoke at a recent breakfast meeting at which the funds were donated to Special Olympics.

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Area military invited to serve solemn duty

The Payson Military Honor Guard is asking members of the military in the Rim Country — active duty, reserves and retired — to volunteer for another solemn duty. The Honor Guard is in need of members. Most currently serving with the group, which was organized in 2006, are in their upper 70s, so there is a need for younger veterans and service members to learn the ropes in order to provide an important duty at the funerals of veterans.

Donations bolster school district programs

The Payson School Board Monday once again accepted an outpouring of support from the community, especially for homeless and displaced students. The board acknowledged the donation of some $7,000 in cash plus clothes, cell phones, gift cards and other items to help the roughly 400 district students that are homeless or living in unstable situations with friends and relatives. These donations are just crucial,” said Superintendent Casey O’Brien. “Literally every week people come with donations. It seems that the list is so impressive every month.” Many of the donations this week focused on the number of displaced students, which has risen dramatically in the past four years, along with the number of students whose families are poor enough to qualify for free and reduced lunches.

Payson streamlines small subdivision development

In a rare split vote, the Payson Town Council last week agreed to streamline the process of approving small subdivisions. The new rule will allow town staff to approve preliminary plat maps on subdivisions with less than 10 lots. The council will still approve the final map, but state law requires automatic approval so long as the final map is in “substantial compliance” with the preliminary map, according to Town Attorney Tim Wright. The new rules included other changes, but taking the council out of the process of approving the initial plan for the subdivision spurred the most debate.

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Exchange students share view of Rim Country

Not unlike most teenage girls, the three Payson High School students giggled as they sat around the table, lollipops in hand. But these girls weren’t talking about boys or music, they were dishing about the differences between the United States and their home countries. “I think I use a lot of sarcasm and they don’t get it sometimes,” said Mandy El Ebiari, a German foreign exchange student. “I’ll say something and they’ll look at me and say, ‘Um, OK.’ My sense of humor is different.” Urara Mikami, from Tokyo, and Hanna Sauer, from Germany, said they also have language troubles. “I can speak English well, but maybe like something joking I don’t understand. I nod my head and say, ‘uh huh,’” Mikami said.

Parks and Rec plans plenty of fun activities

Town of Payson, Parks, Recreation and Tourism athletic coordinator Mary Wolf has helped design a youth and adult spring program that features activities for all ages and abilities.

Wins over Snowflake Lobos a special triumph

Lady Horns pull off pulsating 52-50 win

Someone once said, “A win is a win, is a win.” Whoever uttered it, had never been a member of a Payson High team that defeated a squad from Snowflake. At PHS, beating Snowflake is more than a victory — it’s a cause for a wild and crazy celebration. The reasons for the heated rivalry vs. the Lobos have roots in the 1980s and 90s, when Snowflake was a juggernaut in almost every sport and Payson High usually found itself on the losing end of the score vs. the Lobos. An especially tough defeat to absorb was the 7-0 loss in the 1986 state championship football game. In fact, Payson didn’t whip the Lobos in football until 1999 when quarterback Kyle Conway hooked up with Dusty Brockett on a fourth-down desperation scoring strike, with 3.4 seconds remaining, to lift the Horns to a 26-23 victory.

Longhorn wrestlers making strides

Payson High School wrestling coach Casey Woodall is convinced his team’s standout showing in the Tucson Catalina Invitational was due to a strong holiday practice effort. “We put in a lot of work over the Christmas break and I feel it is paying off,” he said. The coach also modestly deflects the credit he’s receiving for the team’s showing in Tucson to assistant coaches including Zach Lee, Dave LaMotte, Rocky Berry and Doug Eckhardt. “I cannot give enough credit to them,” said Woodall. “They have put a lot of work in with the boys.” In the Tucson tournament, which drew several so called “big schools”, the Longhorns finished fifth in the field of 17 teams.

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Horns look to rebound against Cougars

With the Show Low Cougars waiting in the wings, the Longhorn boys’ basketball team practiced Saturday morning hoping the extra day of tuning up would cure the maladies the team suffered Jan. 5 in a 51-40 loss to the Snowflake Lobos. Among the woes coach Joe Sanchez hopes to correct was the poor shooting the team suffered from in the defeat in Lobo land. From 2-point territory, the Horns shot a woeful 38 percent, which was compounded by even worse accuracy, 14 percent, from beyond the 3-point line.

ASU hints at a return to Camp Tontozona

The Curse of Camp Tontozona might soon be exorcised from the Arizona State University football program. If will be lifted if ASU returns to Tontozona for pre-season football training as it did from 1960 to 2008. There are hints on the school campus in Tempe that new head coach Todd Graham will return the team this summer to Tontozona for three or four days of practice.

Fishing report for Jan. 9 through Jan. 15

Arizona Game and Fish’s Rory Aiken’s first tip of 2012 is to get a new annual fishing license, or a new combo license. Youth especially get a smoking deal — even those youngsters from out of state. The youth combo license is only $26.50 and includes trout fishing privileges for both resident and nonresident youth. There is also the family fishing license some of you folks might want to check out. A fishing license is your key to a lot of fun and adventure in the healthy outdoors for the family. Here’s some great fishing news — Salt River Project is taking water from Stewart Mountain Dam to keep the Bartlett Lake level up. This means a 10-mile, mid-winter trout fishing bonus for all of us. This coming week, Arizona Game and Fish will stock feisty winter rainbow trout at the Water Users area just below Stewart Mountain Dam and at the Blue Point Bridge along the Lower Salt River.

Baskets give introduction to town stores, services

Moving to a new town can be difficult. Knowing where the locals go to shop, eat and hang out can ease the transition. The Wagon Wheel Territory (WWT) hopes to make newcomers feel more at home with welcome baskets full of coupons, gifts and information from local businesses. “Sue Malinski was the inspiration for the Wagon Wheel group,” said Lita Nicholson, a partner in the welcome basket enterprise.

Rim Country real estate market ends year on an uptick

The Rim Country real estate market in 2011 gave realtors cause for optimism and concern. The number of homes sold increased, however, prices continued to drop from 2010 levels. The same pattern held true in the Phoenix metropolitan market, indicating some positive trends. The information that follows was derived from information reported to the Central Arizona Board of Realtors and does not include unreported or for sale by owner transactions.

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Counselors urge middle school students to fight harassment by reporting incidents

Hoping to reduce bullying on the middle school campus, administrators recently held a second assembly to promote respect for others. Students face daunting challenges in middle school, including changes in their bodies, a different schedule and new classmates — which helps make middle school ground zero when it comes to bullying. Ask an adult which stage of their schooling they would not wish to repeat and they unequivocally say “middle school!” said Rim Country Middle School guidance counselor Byron Quinlan.

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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 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 11, 18 and 25 and during Elks Jam Sessions, scheduled at 3 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 14 and 28. Elks members and guests are also welcome at these events.

Monday, January 9

Travel Management Plan public comment period begins

Tonto National Forest officials are seeking comments on the Travel Management Environmental Assessment (EA). The 30-day comment period begins Jan. 6.

Pile burning planned for Christopher Creek and Christopher Mountain areas

Payson Ranger District fire specialists will conduct prescribed fire treatments on debris piles on the west side of See Canyon Road (FR 284) northwest of Christopher Creek beginning Monday, Jan. 9.

Friday, January 6

Forest Volunteer Workday

The Tonto National Forest Payson Ranger District is sponsoring a Volunteer Workday from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Jan. 7.

Payson Senior Circle

Jan. 6 deadline to register for coming Senior Circle events

The Payson Senior Circle has planned the following activities in the coming weeks:

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Pine Strawberry Food Bank proud of town’s generosity

An overwhelming response from the community filled the Pine-Strawberry Food Bank donation bins this holiday season, with a surplus of food for several months to come. In recent months, the food bank was concerned as the bank account and supplies were “desperately low,” said Marti Heinert, but “thanks to the fantastic cash and food donations, we were able to feed 105 families at Thanksgiving and 96 families at Christmas, without having to buy much at all.” The first annual Turkey Drive was a huge success, bringing in sufficient turkeys for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Family hopes reward will solve arson fire

A year after fire, family still searches for answers

Nearly a year after a midnight fire destroyed their dream home in Bonita Creek, a family is still searching for answers. A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) who started the blaze at 405 Big Al’s Run on Feb. 24 of 2011. The intense fire ripped through the multi-million-dollar, two-story home destroying years of construction and a lifetime of memories. After a three-month investigation last year, officials determined the blaze was arson and likely started in the homeowners’ bedroom while they were away for the weekend. Who could have done this and why? These questions still haunt Gerald Graham, 73, who built the custom home and filled it with a million dollars worth of treasures he had collected from around the world, including rare art, musical instruments and big game trophies.

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Payson has high rate of car-bicycle accidents

Pedal carefully on your bicycle warns the Payson Police Department. Payson has nearly five times the rate of bicycle-motor vehicle crashes compared with Prescott, which is many times larger. There have been several minor bicycle versus motor vehicle accidents recently in the Payson area and dozens more close calls. While historical data suggests motorists are often at fault in these wrecks, officers are also seeing bicyclists failing to yield. Payson Police Chief Don Engler said he has received multiple calls from motorists who have narrowly missed bikers as they pulled out of a driveway or onto the highway.

Food bank drive collection slows down after holidays

With the holidays now past, donations to the Payson Area Food Drive have slowed down considerably. While the drive was doing so well a month ago that organizers decided to bump the 55,000-pound goal up 10,000 pounds, so far in January, donations have all but dried up. PAFD treasurer John Wilson said he has only received one $30 check since the start of the New Year. The food drive runs through Super Bowl Sunday — or Souper-Bowl — and the drive’s steering committee hopes to see an influx of donations in the next month to meet the ever-growing demand from local food banks. Payson’s St. Vincent de Paul did not receive a shipment of food from the Valley St. Vincent in December and food bank manager Michael Haynes does not know if he will get food from them in January.

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Work nearly done on Star Valley town hall

With just a few coats of deck lacquer and new landscaping lights left to install, the Star Valley town hall is nearly fully open for business again. In November, construction workers took over the space, ripping out walls and decking to install an office ell, expand a bathroom for handicap accessibility and add a wheelchair lift. The $112,000 project has run smoothly and finished on time, a welcome relief for town staff, who have had to work at plastic-wrapped desks and maneuver around workers streaming in and out, said Town Manager and Attorney Tim Grier.

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Woe and beauty on an ancient edge

I took a step — a long step — a million years step. Then I stopped, turned and faced north. Perched on the jagged edge of my life, I looked down deep into the shadowed layers of lost worlds — terrible deaths, fractured continents, vanished seas, mass extinctions. Taking a breath, I took another step — a long step — another million years. Curiously, I felt better — my troubles for the moment shrunk to no more than a ledge of Tapeats Sandstone in the wall of the Grand Canyon opposite. A layer of fossilized beach sand laid down 570 million years ago, the Tapeats Sandstone lies atop a mystery of missing stone — dubbed the “Great Unconformity.”

Community Almanac

The Payson Senior Circle has planned the following activities in the coming weeks: Jan. 17 — Members will take a trip to the Desert Botanical Gardens. The visit includes a privately guided tour of the garden’s main trail followed by lunch. Enjoy a special exhibition about design and sustainability. The luxury motor coach departs Payson at 9 a.m. Reservations required by Jan. 6.

Honolulu cemetery tops places to see

Like Roundup columnist Tom Garrett, I have stood at the foot of the grave of the beloved World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle, but I was not on a small island off the coast of Okinawa; rather I was at the national Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Honolulu.

Claim that voters are turning Arizona blue, is a little short on facts

Mr. Pittman’s wish of “Voters turning Arizona blue,” is a little short on facts.

Web sites available to fact check claims of politicians

Let the lying begin. We have almost a year to be slammed with every conceivable lie imaginable.

The Czech playwright on roller skates

In 1975, Czechoslovakia was a grim, gray place. Soviet tanks had crushed the Prague Spring just a few years earlier, extinguishing even that tiny, flickering flame of freedom for the Czechoslovak people. In the daily lives of millions, obedience became total, misery inevitable. One man, however, refused to accept communism’s triumphant command over the human spirit. That year, he penned an open letter to his country’s hard-line socialist leader: “Life may be subjected to a prolonged and thorough process of violation, enfeeblement and anesthesia. Yet, in the end, it cannot be permanently halted. Albeit quietly, covertly, and slowly, it nevertheless goes on. Though it be estranged from itself a thousand times, it always manages in some way to recuperate; however violently ravished, it always survives, in the end, the power which ravished it.”

Shocking statistics show need for bike safety plan

Here’s a shock: Payson has one of the highest bicycle accident rates in the state. The Arizona Department of Transportation statistics lead to two sobering conclusions. First, cyclists in this town need to get much smarter much faster, to avoiding becoming a statistic. Second, the town council must make the development of a comprehensive network of bike paths a top priority once growth resumes. The daunting statistics suggest that Payson’s rate of car-bike accidents remains a shocking five times higher than Prescott’s and well above most other communities in the state.

Being a foreigner comes easy, but so does not being one

I can honestly that one area where I have a lot of experience is being a foreigner. The Air Force arranged that by seeing to it that during my 21 years in uniform, I was overseas for all or part of 14 of them — almost two-thirds of the time. I served from 1952 to 1973, and the book “The Ugly American” came out in 1958, followed by the 1963 film of the same name. If you think about how much time I spent overseas, you can see why I was well aware of the possibility of falling into that category, something that didn’t appeal to me. Fortunately, it didn’t happen. Oh, I suppose I goofed a couple of times. Nobody’s perfect. But by and large I managed to avoid being cast as the poster boy for either the book or the film, and I thought you might find it interesting how I missed out on that honor.

Win over Badgers a morale booster

The Longhorn boys basketball team capped a three-day, five-game run through the Alvarez Tire Shoot Out Invitational by downing the Prescott Badgers 79-68. In the holiday tournament played Dec. 27 to 29 at Bradshaw Mountain High School, the Horns finished 2-3 overall, but the final day’s win over the Division II, Section II Badgers might signal good things to come. The optimism for future success is because the team appears to have found a scorer, Cole Belcher, to supplement the offensive contributions of Tanner Hintze. Also the Horns showed a newfound defensive toughness pilfering 11 steals and blocking two shots.

Town of Payson, school district should partner to up town tourney tallies

A trip last weekend to the VisitMesa.com Basketball Challenge was an eye-opening experience of what can be gained when a municipal government and school district work hand in hand. The Mesa tournament, held at Mountain View High School, was unique in that it was a five-day invitational that drew some of the best high school teams from around the country, including squads from Cerritos, Calif., Oakland, Calif., South Sioux City, Neb., American Fork, Utah and Anchorage, Alaska. Most of Arizona’s top teams also competed, including eventual tournament champion Tempe Corona del Sol, Mesa Mountain View, Phoenix Desert Vista and Mesa Dobson. In all, 16 teams participated.

Page High School Dust Devils’ glory is a thing of past

There were seasons when Page High School was the home of some of the finest basketball players and teams in Arizona. In 2002, Matt Haryasz averaged 25 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks during his senior season, leading the Dust Devils to a 29-2 record and the state championship. Three years later, All-America nominee James Anderson paced the Devils to a 25-4 record, the 4A Grand Canyon Region Champion. Also in 2004-2005, Page reeled off a 20-game winning streak. But those glory years are now only memories as the Devils (7-7) are struggling to regain some lost luster, which Page failed to do Jan. 3 in a 51-38 loss to the homestanding Payson Longhorns.

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AD lauds Lady Longhorns coach

Gary Fishel is relatively new in his job as a high school athletic director, but he understands the commitment and dedication it takes for a coach to successfully host a prep sports tournament. About Lady Longhorn coach Jen White, who this year hosted the Holiday Hoops invitational, Fishel said, “She really put her heart and effort into the tournament.” The fray, which was held Dec. 28 and 29 in Wilson Dome and Julia Randall Elementary School gymnasium, drew 16 teams representing schools of all size classifications. “They were outstanding teams and really good competition,” Fishel said. Xavier, an exclusive Jesuit college prep school in Phoenix, was the only team to finish undefeated going 4-0 and winning the Hoops championship title.

Two rangers hope to improve safety and care of the forest

Volunteers needed to help clean up forest

Chelsea Muise and Rachael Hohl are two Payson forest rangers with big dreams for the woods in their care. “Our goal is to get a volunteer organization going,” said Hohl. The two rangers have scheduled volunteer workdays the first weekend of every month. They next workday scheduled will be this Saturday, Jan. 7 starting at 9 a.m. in the Houston-Mesa campground. Both Hohl and Muise work under the recreation department of the Tonto National Forest. With their ideas, they hope to enhance the recreational experience. “The Tonto is one of the largest and busiest forests in the nation. There are only three of us to educate and get the correct word out,” said Muise.

Clubs and Organizations

The Payson Elks meet at 7 p.m., the first and third Thursday of each month at the Lodge, 1206 N. Beeline Highway. 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.

Fix a pot of soup, hit the books, pick a project

Happy New Year! It’s time to settle in after the flurry of holiday activities, pause for dreaming daydreams, relive old memories and think new thoughts. Now we can catch up on those projects set aside for winter’s indoor hours, curl up with one of the books we have stacked up, or try a new recipe. January is National Soup Month and what could be better than a bowl of hot soup on a chilly evening? What is your favorite kind of soup? Cream of mushroom is preferred by folks in Grand Forks, N.D.; Portland, Ore. people favor bean with bacon; and chicken noodle is the choice of diners in St. Louis. In New Orleans, gumbo is a perennial best seller.

Cat fanciers have plenty of adoption options at HSCAZ

Many people have a household full of furry friends. Whether it is a group of canine companions or an entourage of feline friends, animals are known to make a household more entertaining. Some people are “dog people” while others are “cat fanciers,” but our society does have a population that enjoys the companionship of both.

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Warm temperature making mud holes out of some roads

Recent warming of both nighttime and, more importantly, daytime temperatures has thawed much of our snow. The forecast for Friday is projected to peak at around 58 degrees with a low around 20 degrees. Saturday the temperatures are forecasted to return to more seasonal temperatures with our daytime highs only reaching into the upper 40s and nighttime lows dipping to the upper teens. As well, sunny skies continue to dominate with no precipitation in our forecast.

Intentions are good, but no New Year’s resolution

Six days gone already in the New Year! I have now been writing this column for 11 years! The time has flown by but I have enjoyed every word that I have written. I hope that you as my readers feel that way too. Have you thought about new resolutions yet? I have not, because I never keep them. My intentions are good, but my will is weak. The one thing that I will try very hard at is to eat more natural foods and to stay away from processed foods and to stay away from take-out.

What happened to the three little fishes?

“Down in the meadow in a little bitty pool, Swam three little fishies and a mama fishie too. ‘Swim,’ said the mama fishie, ‘Swim if you can.’ And they swam and they swam all over the dam.” Three Little Fishies (Itty Bitty Pool) This past week, as I was trudging through my morning workout at Green Valley Park (and at the same time enjoying our spectacular Rim Country winter weather), I witnessed two really nice size trout, well over a foot in length (and that ain’t no fish tale) being reeled into the nets of two extremely ecstatic on-shore anglers.

Control burns by Forest Service will be in Christopher Creek area soon

I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year and I would like to take a moment to thank those who serve our community to keep us safe. The Gila County Sheriff’s Office services all of Gila County, which was established in 1881. There are around 160 people who work for the Sheriff’s office. Sheriff John R. Armer, a Gila County native, has been servicing in law enforcement since 1968 and was elected as sheriff in 2000.

Blasting on Highway 260 east of Payson resumes Jan. 12

The Arizona Department of Transportation will close a two-mile segment of State Route 260 twenty miles east of Payson at 2 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 12) through Thursday (Jan. 26). The roadway will be closed for up to 45 minutes each day as blasting operations resume to widen the highway west of the Christopher Creek campground.

Wednesday, January 4

Stroke: Quick Action Saves Brain Cells

I don’t want to miss a stroke if she has one. How do you recognize one, and what should be done right away in an emergency?

Travel for seniors

Travel appeals to everyone, usually. However, our age often depends on how and where we travel. The younger set usually head for the beaches or mountains. Middle agers can choose anything from a quiet country setting to a large, bustling city filled with action. The senior set often goes for the cruises and tours or taking the RV out for a spin of several weeks’ duration. Today, we will address the senior market. Cruises and tours are often the choice because the cruise line and tour company can arrange all the details including the air portion, saving travelers all the headaches of the many factors involved in a vacation. If you choose a travel agent they will do all the work for you saving hours of detail and frustration.

Get-a-Away Around Rim Country

Celebrate the New Year with a trip to Bootleg Alley Antiques & Art on First Friday, Jan. 6. John Carpino will be playing from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. by the fire pit and inside the store. The Humane Society of Central Arizona will be selling raffle tickets and accepting donations. Refreshments and ambiance will be served. Add attending First Friday to your New Year's resolutions. It's a resolution that's fun to do and easy to keep. Bootleg Alley Antiques & Art is located at 520 W. Historic Main St.

Good 2 Go

Guided general tours of the main trail start from the visitor center at 11 a.m. and are offered daily continuing through April 30. They’re included with daily admission of $9 for adults or $4.50 for ages 5-12. Bring your dog, pets are welcome at the Arboretum, provided they are well-behaved and leashed at all times. Trails are Wheelchair Accessible. Picnic tables and charcoal grills are available for visitors to use; propane and charcoal are allowed, wood fires are not.

Nashville recording artist in concert

Billy Dean, Nashville singer and songwriter and number-one smash recording artist will appear in a unique and intimate performance at the Payson High School Auditorium at 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 12. Dean has recorded 12 albums and has had 11 top ten hits. Among the awards bestowed on Dean are The Academy of Country Music’s “New Male Vocalist” and “Song of the Year,” a Grammy award and the BMI “Million Air Plays Award.” Hit songs aside, Dean is most noted for his dynamic musicianship and vocal styling, and warm, genuine presence on and off stage.

A Thirst for Adventure

Martin Szekeresh has a thirst for adventure. It is a condition that has plagued him for many years and resulted in a treasure trove of memories and great stories. He quenches that thirst with frequent visits to the Grand Canyon. In fact, he is planning a camping trip there next week – yes, next week, 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 also ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 10: Lynching in Gentry Canyon (Scott, Stott, and Wilson)

“A wave of lawlessness,” is how historian Joseph Fish portrayed life in the Rim Country during the 1880s and 1890s. “A wave of lawlessness marked the collision of livestock, railroad, and mining interests on that remote frontier. This wave took the forms of land-jumping, robberies, beatings, and murder.” [1] Three men were lynched on an August day in 1888 and their murder has become the stuff of legend.

Liven up game day festivities

As the 2011-2012 college and professional football seasons come to a close and you want to show off that new, big screen TV Santa left under the tree, it’s time to have a game day get together. When it comes to game time, what’s on the menu can be as important as who is on the field. Delight your fellow fans with a game time menu that’s sure to please everyone. Here’s a list of items to consider when preparing for your party: • 1-Step Buffalo Hummus - Simply combine a tub of classic hummus with one and a half tablespoons of Tabasco Buffalo Style Hot Sauce and serve with fresh veggies, crackers or pita bread.

Resolution in weakness

So what are your goals for 2012? Exercise, eat right, and love your loved ones more?  Or maybe love your enemies more? All of the above for me, and then some… One of my annual traditions in December is to evaluate the year, analyzing my former goals and commitments, then work my way through a long list of questions including: • Are there items I need to roll over to the New Year? • Are there forgivenesses I need to clear with others? • Are there situations and circumstances I need to fade from? • Have I kept my focus on the main things here on planet earth? • Did I meet my goals or excel in them?

Tuesday, January 3

Jim Zornes is acting forest supervisor of Apache-Sitgreaves

Jim Zornes has been named as acting forest supervisor of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. He has been working on the forests since May 2010 as the deputy forest supervisor, which provides for a seamless transition. “I am happy to serve at the helm of the Forests, and committed to all of the important work we do, including our focus on Wallow Fire recovery and restoration,” stated Zornes.

Outdoors folks keep quiet on the good stuff

While penning articles about the upcoming Shoot for the Heart seminar and the wild game chili Bob DePugh and Rob Myers are going to prepare, I wanted to ask the pair about their methods, techniques and recipes for making deer and elk meat downright delicious. But I didn’t. Experience has taught me that campfire cooks are a lot like fishermen, hunters and, for that matter, woodcutters. All have their own secrets that they wish to keep to themselves. Ever come across a fisherman that was willing to tell you where his favorite honey hole could be found? Bet not.

Wrestlers primed for Mogollon; 2012

Payson High School wrestlers will tip off the 2012 season Jan. 4 at the Mogollon High School Multiple Meet buoyed by the experience and moxie of having competed in some of the state’s toughest matches. The only kink in future plans is the Longhorns will probably be forced to forfeit four weight classes, and 24 team points during each match. Currently, the team does not have wrestlers to fill the 170, 182, 220 and heavyweight classes.

Road through Bradshaw a challenge for Longhorns

Bronc and bull riders often endure wild and hair-raising rides as they travel the country competing on the pro rodeo circuit. But even those challenges might not be as mentally and physically testing as the ride the Longhorn boys basketball team took Dec. 27 to 29 in the Alvarez Tire Classic held at Bradshaw Mountain High School near Prescott. In the course of three days, the Horns took on an Alaska high school team, host Bradshaw Mountain, Tucson Pueblo and a Division I “big school” buoyed by a 6-foot-10-inch center and a hot shooting guard that was a scoring threat from any spot on the court.

Is Drew ready for return to Diamondbacks?

If there is a question and answer period at the Shoot for the Heart seminar on Jan. 4, one of the queries that might be directed at Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew is, “Will you be ready on opening day?” An answer from Drew would mark a prestigious moment in Shoot for the Heart history because fans, boosters, sports journalists, and even Diamondback big wigs, are wondering if Drew has sufficiently recovered from a broken ankle to return to the Arizona lineup when the 2012 season kicks off April 6 vs. San Francisco.

Pro angler’s Payson visit just one stop on busy schedule

Professional bass fisherman Glenn Chappelear’s guest appearance on Jan. 4 at the Shoot for the Heart outdoor seminar in Payson will be the first of many stops on his hectic 2012 schedule. After leaving the Rim Country he’s slated to visit a Monster Truck Jam Jan. 14 in Atlanta, Ga.; the Birmingham Boat Show Jan. 20-21; a Men’s New Life Bible conference on Jan. 27-29 in Man O War Cay, Abaco, Bahamas; a Wild Game Banquet in Villa Rica, Ga. on Feb. 16; and on Feb. 18 to 25 participate in a mission trip to Las Planes, Mexico.

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Lady Horns finish fourth in Holiday Hoops tournament

Emmee Ashby’s monster game — highlighted by 17 points, nine rebounds and four steals — got the Lady Longhorns off and running in the Holiday Hoops with a tournament opening 59-32 victory over San Tan Foothills. Following the win, the Lady Horns went on to whip Queen Creek, 37-34, but dropped a quarterfinal clash, 48-28, to Mesa Westwood. In the battle for third place the evening of Thursday, Dec. 29 in Wilson Dome, Payson dropped a hard fought 44-38 decision to Marana to finish 2-2 and fourth in the tournament.

Gila County’s unemployment rate drops to 9.6 percent

Average still above state numbers, but down from last January’s 11.6 rate

Gila County’s unemployment rate dropped a full half a percent to 9.6 in November, besting the state and national decline, but still well above the state average. The county’s unemployment rate has dropped from a debilitating 11.6 percent since January of last year. Nationally, the November unemployment rate dropped from 9.0 percent in October to 8.7 percent in November — a little better than the statewide decline a little worse than Gila County’s improvement. Unfortunately, a substantial share of the decline both nationally and locally came from people who stopped looking for work in a downturn that has seen record numbers of the long-term unemployed.

Senior Angel Tree program a success

Thank you to all those in the community who gave generously to our Senior Angel Tree program.

Caveat Emptor: Let the buyer beware

We hear of scams on the unsuspecting public on a daily basis, and we try to be careful so as not to be taken.

Voters turning Arizona into a blue state

So state Senator Allen is afraid that the Independent Redistricting Commission is trying to turn Arizona into a blue state. Well Sen. Allen, the voters are already doing that by themselves, thank you very much, and they’re not just limited to Arizona.

Dr. Ivey outlines needed principles

I want to express my sincerest appreciation for Dr. Mark Ivey, Jr.’s article “Revolutions need to establish agreed upon principles.”

Latin was not an instrument of control

As a faithful, and I might add, knowledgeable Catholic, I was deeply offended by the editor’s ridiculous comparison in Our View Dec. 27 between a medieval church that used Latin in liturgies and a confusing and indifferent school district’s policies toward finances.

PRMC experience was great

On Wednesday Dec. 21, I had shoulder surgery at Payson Regional Medical Center.

Reformers go home: Let teachers teach

So let’s say your moon rockets keep blowing up on the launch pad. What would you do? Would you carefully test each component and refine the design? Or would you ask a politician what to do — and then hastily implement changes when he checks with his political consultant and says “we need more yellow flames.” Letting the politicians dictate the redesign probably would not get you to the moon — and it is not going to fix our educational system either.

Community Alamanac

The Town of Payson is accepting live Christmas trees for recycling at the Payson Event Center parking area, 1400 S. Beeline Highway (across from the Mazatzal Casino). Christmas trees will be accepted, free of charge, until Jan. 29, 2012. Barricades and cones are set up on the north side of the P.E.C. parking lot to designate the drop-off location. No yard waste, tree trimmings or other household debris can be accepted. This service is provided to help the community responsibly dispose of and recycle their cut Christmas trees.

Ed reforms draw support, skepticism

Payson superintendent fears ‘we’re moving in the wrong direction’

Highly touted state education reforms have useful elements, but are mostly “moving in the wrong direction,” said Payson Unified School District Superintendent Casey O’Brien. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer recently appointed a 17-member group to the Arizona Ready Education Council. The group will monitor implementation of reforms that will grade every school based on student test scores, link teacher evaluations to test scores and boost the share of third-graders performing at grade level from 73 percent now to 94 percent. The reforms also aim to increase the high school graduation rate from 75 percent to 93 percent.

SV may do away with business fee

Every municipality collects taxes, but at least one Star Valley councilor believes the town should do away with a $50 “extortion” levy. Councilor George Binney proposed eliminating the cost to obtain a business license at a recent council meeting. This he said would send the message that Star Valley is a business-friendly town and may in turn attract a few more businesses in what is now a stale economy. But not every councilor was on board for the change. Some felt eliminating the fee may encourage businesses not to register their business with the town and may even attract unwanted enterprises.

Food drive goal bumped up by 10,000 pounds to meet need

With more than a month left in the Payson Area Food Drive, local donations have been so good in 2011, the 55,000-pound goal was nearly met last week. Organizers have decided to up the goal 10,000 pounds hoping to raise enough food by Super Bowl Sunday to support two area food banks well into the new year. PAFD chair Roger Kreimeyer said it is crucial to collect as much food as possible since Payson’s largest food bank, St. Vincent de Paul, has not received a shipment of food from the Valley in well over a month.

Officer fired for falsifying documents

A falsified abandoned vehicle report led to the termination of a Payson police officer in December of 2011, the Payson Roundup has learned. Mark Hillegas lost his post after he reportedly transported a motorcycle from the Valley and claimed it had been deserted on his property, according to town records. Police Chief Don Engler wrote in Hillegas’ termination letter that Hillegas repeatedly lied on the Motor Vehicle Division abandoned vehicle report and furthermore, failed to realize the error of his ways even after the investigation was complete. Hillegas had 10 days to appeal the Dec. 15 firing, but did not. Hillegas could face a misdemeanor charge of false swearing.

Fourth Lip Sync contest will take place Feb. 18

The fourth annual Lip Sync contest will be held on Feb. 18. All students from the high schools, both private and public, in Payson and surrounding area communities, along with home-schooled students are invited to compete. There will be $1,100 given in prizes. Choice of music and preparation needs to be completed by Jan. 18. when tryouts will take place.

Freshman wins state FFA public speaking competition

Continuing a two-year winning streak for the agricultural sciences department, Heather Parks placed first in the FFA Organization’s State Creed Speaking competition in early December in Phoenix. She will now travel to Indianapolis, Ind. in October 2012 to compete on the national level. “This is kind of a special contest,” said Jadee Rohner, agricultural sciences teacher. FFA (formerly Future Farmers of America) holds a public speaking contest every year for students in the seventh through ninth grades.

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Aussie rescued in time for holidays

Beyond a bone, a ball or a tug toy, for Brook, a 1-year-old Australian shepherd, receiving a new home was the best Christmas present of all. Brook was rescued off the streets of Show Low and almost put down due to overcrowding in a shelter. Luckily, Payson’s Aussie and Friends Rescue scooped Brook up before it was too late and found her a new, loving home. Simone Loetscher never dreamed she would find her ideal dog when she visited the annual Alpine Village Christmas lighting event in early December. On a whim, she decided to look through the Christmas Tree Forest sponsored by Rebecca Acord, owner of Crafters Cubbies.

When investing, "face to face" beats fingers on a keyboard

These days, you can purchase just about anything you want on the Internet. However, you can still benefit from a human, face-to-face experience for some purchases such as your investments. Unlike a computer interface, a financial professional takes the time to understand your situation today — and then help you make adjustments tomorrow. Let’s first look at two areas a financial professional will consider: Your risk tolerance — By asking the right questions, a financial professional can help determine if you’re a moderate, conservative or aggressive investor and then recommend investments suitable for that risk tolerance.

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Payson’s new juice bar healthy, fresh and organic

For nearly two decades, the family owned and run Back to Basics health food store has been Payson’s healthy alternative to the big box grocery stores. Now Michael Cole, the founder’s grandson, has added a new service. “When I first started working here I listened to customer’s stories. Most were about health so I asked myself, ‘Why don’t I open something to help?’” he said. A juice bar was Cole’s answer.

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Payson High School students, teachers contribute to food drive efforts

Payson High School students and faculty joined together to raise food and money for the Payson Area Food Drive. Sponsored by the Payson High School DECA and FBLA chapters, the food drive at the high school accumulated over 750 pounds of non-perishable food stuffs and $700 to be donated to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank. The food and money was collected during the week of Dec. 5.

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Tale of wounded soldier mesmerizes PEC students

One-on-one teaching experience helps expand students’ minds

On a recent winter day, the students from Payson Education Center (PEC) listened intently to Mary Tallouzi as she recounted the heartbreaking tale of her son. “I received a call from the defense department on Sept. 25, 2006 that changed my life,” she said. “They said, “Your son has been wounded in Iraq. You and your family are on standby.” Tallouzi’s son, Sgt. Daniel Tallouzi, had brain damage after a mortar attack in Iraq left a piece of shrapnel the size of a quarter in the center of his brain. For two years, Tallouzi sat at her son’s side, providing constant care. He eventually passed away in 2009, two years after the attack.