The Tonto National Forest Payson Ranger District is sponsoring a Volunteer Workday from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Jan. 7.
Jan. 6 deadline to register for coming Senior Circle events
The Payson Senior Circle has planned the following activities in the coming weeks:
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
Let the lying begin. We have almost a year to be slammed with every conceivable lie imaginable.
Mr. Pittman’s wish of “Voters turning Arizona blue,” is a little short on facts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.