Stories for March 2012

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Friday, March 30

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Hundreds of Harleys descend on Payson for annual fund-raiser

On Wednesday, March 28, the sounds of motorcycles reverberated throughout Payson. Hundreds of riders came up from Phoenix by way of Camp Verde on motorcycles that ranged from basic to extravagant.

Final 5

Community invited Friday to hear superintendent of schools candidates

Payson Unified School District (PUSD) has five finalists in its search for a replacement for retiring superintendent Casey O’Brien. The five finalists have all held jobs as superintendents. The field includes only one candidate from Arizona, Beaver Creek superintendent Karin Ward, who lives in the Verde Valley. Out-of-state candidates include South Dakota State University adjunct professor Tim Creal; former Pike County superintendent Paul Roads from Indiana, East Washington School Corporation superintendent Cathy Egolf from Indiana and Multnomah Education Service District superintendent Ron Hitchcock from Oregon, who also served on the Mapleton city council.

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Flood of woe

Star Valley backs away from clearing creek

One homeowner’s threat has prompted Star Valley to drop plans to clear debris from a creek to prevent floods from damaging homes. Homeowner Dan Bowman inadvertently killed the flood relief plan when he told town officials he would sue if the project made flooding worse. He was one of a handful of Starlight Drive homeowners that originally demanded the town do something after a January 2010 storm nearly washed away several homes and porches.

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Ball Juggler

baseman must simultaneously avoid a sliding base runner and juggle a teammate’s errant throw.

Del Taco robbed over the weekend

They didn’t come for Del Taco’s secret sauce, but made off with a stash of cash.

Illegal immigrants stopped Thursday

A dozen suspected illegal immigrants were turned over to federal immigration agents Thursday after a routine traffic stop just south of town.

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Afghan invasion next week at GCC

The afghans are occupying Gila Community College next week with big plans to bomb the garden. But don’t worry, these afghans are unarmed. Inspired by a national craze known as yarn bombing, grandma graffiti and guerrilla knitting, GCC folk art students on Monday will cover nearly everything in a center court garden with colorful yarn starting at 1 p.m.

Reserve a plot in inaugural community garden

Organizers of Payson’s first community garden are starting to see the first blooms of progress after several months of fevered planning and plotting. Thanks to a recent donation from the Gila County Board of Supervisors, a fence for the garden is going up Friday and organizers hope someone will donate pipes so they can run water lines to 100 individual plots. Roger Kreimeyer, who is spearheading the project, said construction work could wrap up by April 12, with planting soon after.

Community Almanac

The deadline to register for the Wilderness and Remote First Aid course by the parks department is Friday, March 30 (there will be no exceptions). The course will be presented from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15 and participants must attend both days for certification.

Claims about Democrats outrageous

Some pretty wild remarks were printed in a letter in Friday’s Roundup titled, “What Democrats say they believe.” These outrageous claims deserve a few lines in return please.

Better late than never

At the Veterans Day program held at the Payson High School Auditorium on Nov. 11, 2011, my husband, William Deerfield, was presented with a Purple Heart that was issued to him for injuries he received for the battle of Okinawa in World War II.

Independent takes issue

My response to Mr. Castleman’s letter re: What he says Democrats say they believe ... ”Hawgwarsh!!”

What Republicans say they believe

Do you know what the Republican Party believes?

A misled Republican

During the last election the local Democratic Club developed a list of concerns and issues.

Emergency and medical personnel treated us like family

On Monday, March 26, my husband had an emergency medical situation that required immediate attention.

More foolish cuts for education?

Whittle Whittle. Hack. Chop. Whittle. Whittle Alas: That’s the sound of what passes for leadership on education down at the Arizona Legislature — with a little help from Gov. Jan Brewer. Once more, teachers and students at the Payson Unified School District must brace for big cuts as the Legislature and the governor continue to wrangle about the choice between bad and worse. Last year, the Legislature cut about $450 million from K-12 schools and nearly $200 million from the universities.

Debunking Dr. Gosar’s snake oil remedies

Normally I avoid prolonged exposure to rightwing talking points lest they addle my brain, as has happened to so many over the years. But in the case of Rep. Paul Gosar’s guest column in the Payson Roundup I gave it a shot. After making my way all the way through, I had to admit it: this kind of writing is exactly why guys like Gosar, State Senator Ron Gould, and all their ilk must be defeated: even the Grandest of Canyons can only hold so much BS.

Engineer rebuts criticism of Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District

In the March 20 Roundup Sam Schwalm listed four points as evidence the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District (PSWID) is not operating in the best interests of their customers. Most of the evidence Mr. Schwalm used was incorrect or misleading. As district engineer for the PSWID, I feel compelled to respond to Mr. Schwalm’s letter. This letter responds to Mr. Schwalm’s first two points.

As fire danger rises, camp safety crucial

As warm, dry conditions return to northern Arizona, forest visitors are urged to remember campfire safety, even though fire danger in the Coconino and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests is currently low.

SV voters re-elect all incumbents

Star Valley voters approved home rule by a wide margin, averting the threat of drastic cuts in the town’s budget.

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Navy recognizes captain’s contributions to medicine

The son of a longtime Payson couple has won a Meritorious Service Medal from the Secretary of Defense for his contributions to the treatment of combat injuries. Navy Captain David R. Street, Jr.’s award recognized his “exceptionally meritorious service.” Captain Street’s active duty naval service spans nearly 22 years as a licensed psychologist and designated naval medical flight officer. His recently decorated service was as program director for medical preparedness for the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2009-2011.

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Governor vetoes State Parks bill

Gov. Jan Brewer this week vetoed a bill that would protect Arizona State Parks from legislative sweeps of its gate and concession revenue. In her veto message, the governor concluded the language of the bill was too broad and promised to work with the bill’s sponsors to draft an alternative. The legislature approved the measure in part to satisfy objections raised by the federal Bureau of Land Management, which leases land to the state for several of the 28 parks in the system.

Easter Services

There will be a special worship service at the traditional Maundy Thursday, April 5, observance. Maundy Thursday is the day when Christ introduced the Sacrament of Holy Communion to the Disciples. The service to be used originates from the Church of Scotland (ancestral home for Presbyterians) and consists mainly of readings from Holy Scripture.

Clubs and Organizations

The Payson Fly Casters Club will meet Saturday, March 31 at Tiny’s Restaurant, 600 E. Highway 260. Breakfast is at 8 a.m. and the meeting starts at 9 a.m. The speaker will be Ed Lawrence from Bozeman, Mont. He will present a slide show and give a talk on fishing several of the wonderful rivers in Montana including the Madison and the Yellowstone. All interested fishermen and women are invited to attend.

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Economics set limit on tree-thinning plan

Salvaging millions of fire-killed trees will likely overwhelm limited capacity of mills and power plants

The debate about salvaging millions of board feet of lumber left behind by the state’s largest wildfire has illuminated the challenging economics of the plan to use a revived timber industry to protect Rim Country from catastrophic wildfires. “We’ve flooded the market already,” said Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests timber manager Ray Rugg of the demand for wood from burned trees cut down along nearly 200 miles of roads in the area burned by the Wallow Fire last summer.

Democratic Senate candidate drops out

Move makes high-stakes matchup likely between former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona and Rep. Jeff Flake

Former Arizona Democratic Party Chair Don Bivens dropped his U.S. Senate bid this week and urged voters to unite behind the campaign of former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, a Tucson surgeon. The move means Carmona has a lock on the Democratic nomination for what should turn out to be one of the nation’s most hotly contested Senate seats, with control of the U.S. Senate potentially hanging in the balance.

Maxed out on your IRA and 401(k)? Two possible next steps to take

If you are contributing the maximum amount to your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan each year, that’s good. And if you’re also maxing out on your Individual Retirement Account (IRA) annually, that’s even better. But what then? If you’re already fully funding your 401(k) and IRA, can you put away even more for retirement? Should you? The answer to this last question is almost certainly “yes” — because you could spend a long time in retirement.

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Collaboration is key to small business success

When Kimber Lanning started her small art gallery in central Phoenix in the late 1990s, the only neighbors she had were homeless and the only visitors, unwanted drug addicts. Everyone called her crazy for even moving into the area. Things were so bad in the neighborhood she could not get pizza delivered. Surrounding buildings were abandoned and boarded up, bullet holes sprayed across the front of each. A dozen years later, the block is no longer a blight in the community. It is known as an arts district that hosts one of the largest arts walks in the country on the first Friday of the month.

School bracing for a significant budget gap

Outgoing superintendent Casey O’Brien will update the school board at its April 9 meeting on proposed budget gaps. The district will probably suffer further cuts in the next budget year due to the loss of 60 students and proposed state legislative cuts, said O’Brien. “In a time of austerity, everybody is concerned,” said O’Brien in an interview. O’Brien said he will not have specific budget shortfall numbers to report until all unknown variables, such as changes in employee health care benefit costs, have been determined.

Exciting and fun adoption events coming up

So far, HSCAZ had adopted an average of one animal per day since the first of the year. That’s pretty good, considering we’re a smaller shelter in a smaller area of Arizona. Since it’s March and we’re feeling lucky, we’re hoping to increase those adoption numbers even more with a few upcoming mobile adoption events. The first event taking place is Saturday, March 31 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Yavapai Broadcasting is rolling out its 10th annual Petapalooza and it’s all new! The Town of Camp Verde will host this year’s event and there will be plenty to see.

Beautiful spring surrounds us

Clear skies and warm springtime conditions have enveloped Heber Overgaard this last week. Highs in the low-70s have dominated our days, with lows dipping between the low-30s to the low-40s. The outlook for the end of the weekend shows slightly lower temps on Sunday, with highs in the mid-60s and lows down to the lower-20s Sunday night.

Economy is showing some positive signs

Hello again, fellow Creekers. It seems more often we hear and focus on the negative things than positive, so I thought this week it would be nice to remind ourselves to try and look at the positive and focus on that. I had the pleasure of speaking with Susan Keown at ERA Young Realty and Investment this week.

Firefighter training days planned

Last Saturday, my neighbor and I attended the 14th annual Women’s Wellness Forum sponsored by the Mogollon Health Alliance. The keynote speaker this year was Jason Schechterle. What a fantastic speaker! He is truly a man who was handed a lemon, and he made lemonade. He was inspiring. The breakout sessions were exceptional with information on women’s wellness. The day was definitely one of the best Wellness Forums that I have participated in; and out of the 14 held, I have probably been to at least 12.

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Spring is time to enjoy great outdoors

The welcome was not so warm, but spring is finally here! The flowers are blooming with vibrant colors and people are out in their gardens enjoying the great weather, sunshine and clean, mountain air. I hear the call of the streams, lakes, forests and mountains. It’s time to enjoy the great outdoors and celebrate a new season here in Pine and Strawberry — where there’s always something happening.

Hardt Carnival arrives in Payson

Coach for whom event’s named will be starter for many of the multiple contests

Chuck Hardt was more than a bit taken aback last spring when a young track and field athlete asked him if he was going to be the starter at the Chuck Hardt Memorial. “I had to think twice how to answer that,” Hardt said. Actually Hardt — a retired track and field, cross-country, basketball and football PHS coach — is alive and doing quite well as a part-time high school basketball referee. And the track and field meet the teenager was inquiring about is actually named the Chuck Hardt Coed Relay Carnival.

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Time for fishing fun at Green Valley Park

This Saturday, from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., we’re in for a real treat — the Rim Country Optimist Club will be hosting its annual Kids Fishing Festival at Payson’s Green Valley Park’s three lakes. Optimist Club member Joan Young told me, “The festival is open to kids of all ages, from 2 to 102. There will be prizes for the largest fish caught, a 40-item silent auction, cakewalk, balloon sculpturing, raffle prizes (to include boys’ bikes), face painting, music and food. We usually have between 300 and 500 participants and are hoping for more this year. And we’ll be giving away ball caps to the first 300 kids who register on Saturday.”

All work and no play makes jack

Back when I was a preteen, I met a kid named Jerry Davis, who soon became one of the best friends I ever had. Jerry and his family moved next door while I was in the eighth-grade and we did a lot of crazy things together over the next few years. I’ve never mentioned Jerry to you before because what happened to him is not something I like to think about.  But today, out of love for an old friend who got less out of life than he deserved, and out of a sense of duty that impels me to tell you a story I believe everyone needs to hear, I’m going to tell you about something that should never have happened.

Have some fun with April Fools’ Day this year

With April Fools Day approaching, we can all look back at some of the pranks where we’ve been on the receiving end and those we’ve committed. One I never considered funny occurred decades ago when I was a college student. My roommate knew I had a big exam at 7:40 a.m. the following April 1 morning. To prepare, I set my alarm clock and went to bed early. Much to my chagrin, he decided to prank me by turning off the electricity to our apartment for an hour.

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Hiking the Barnhardt Trail — you can never see everything it offers

Stepping out of my Jeep, at the parking area at the beginning of the Barnhardt trailhead, I shield my eyes from the bright morning sunlight five miles up a rutted dirt road, leading up from Highway 87. Cactus and stands of juniper crowd together on the mesa, jockeying for space in the rocky soil beneath a hazy, blue sky. My companions, all members of the Payson Packers, have been here before, but we keep coming back because we know this four-mile trail never disappoints.

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Off the porch – Longhorns run with the ‘big dogs’

The 72nd Annual Chandler Invitational gave Payson High track and field athletes the opportunity to compete against some of the finest prep athletes from a five-state area. Some of the so-called “Big Dogs” entered were clutching lucrative college scholarship offers, had posted some of the best marks in the nation this season and were oozing with the potential to eventually shine as Olympic medalists.

Wednesday, March 28

Getaway Around Rim Country

The Mogollon Health Alliance will be having an arts and crafts sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday, March 29 and Friday, March 30 at the Mogollon Health Alliance Activity Center (next to the Almost New Thrift Shop). There will be hand-crafted items for Easter and Mother’s Day, plus bird feeders, afghans and baby blankets, baby bibs, Levi purses, tissue box covers, aprons, jewelry, dog blankets and catnip toys, scarves, pillows, hats, dish cloths and pot holders, tote bags, pajamas, cloth books and more.

Fishing and camping vacations

Now that spring has arrived, with winter behind us, we begin to think of escapes to the mountains and valleys for old-fashioned fishing and camping. Pack the tent in the trailer or truck and gather our fishing gear with all the equipment we think we will require and head out of town. I think almost every serious camper and fisherman has their favorite places they select from. Many folks in Arizona choose a location within the state. Arizona does have a rather large set of choices. What kind of fish are you going after? Perhaps rainbow, brook or brown trout.

Upcoming studio tour will feature more than 20 artists

The 2012 Payson Art League ’Neath the Rim Open Studio Tour will give participants a look into the heart of art in the Rim Country. More than 20 artists will be sharing their space and work on the tour, which will be May 4, 5 and 6. This week we are profiling April Bower, Evelyn Christian, George Lewis, Jan Ransom and Pat Sessions.

The growth of Payson

From a population of approximately 125 when Arizona became a state in 1912, to over 16,000 today, Payson has grown a lot over the past 100 years. Particularly is the growth in the past 50 years when Payson went from a population of less than a 1,000 to what it is today. Let’s take a look at how we got here.

Understanding breast calcifications

The receptionist at my doctor’s office called to give me the report on a mammogram I had taken. She said that it showed calcifications and that the doctor wanted it repeated in six months. Why?

Top chops for the grill

When looking for inspiration on the grill, nothing beats the tender, juicy pork chop. This hearty protein is a versatile canvas for a wide range of mouthwatering rubs, glazes and marinades that will ignite taste buds with bold new flavors. Pork chops were on sale last week, so if you picked up a package or two and are ready to get grilling this spring, here are some tips to try. To fire up your grill creativity, look to simple, fuss-free recipes that pack big flavor. Take your pork chops on a jaunt through the Mediterranean with a savory Basil-Garlic Rub. Or, spice up the chop with a Fire-Lovers Rub, featuring a robust blend of Southwestern-inspired spices. No matter what tastes you crave, the pork chop is your perfect partner on the grill all year long.

Celebrating Easter

Congregation shares cross collection

The Christian Holy Week is marked by both solemn and joyous celebrations. The congregation of the Payson Community Presbyterian Church invites local residents and visitors to come view a wide variety of Christian crosses on display in the narthex and sanctuary during part of Holy Week. Church members, acting as docents, will encourage visitors to walk through and look over their favorite crosses and learn why — or how — each cross came to be special to the contributor.

‘New Orleans music’ featured at April 1 performance

Enjoy festive “New Orleans music” by Dr Jass & the Heartbeats at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 1 at Community Presbyterian Church, 800 W. Main St. “Dr Jass” brings a wide variety of musical influences into its basic groove of funky, contemporary New Orleans street music, including rhythm and blues, swing and dixie. Besides the 6-piece instrumentation, four members sing as well.

Good 2 Go

Give your knees a break this season and learn about Square Foot and raised bed gardening from Glen McCombs at Plant Fair. McCombs, a Arizona Certified Nurseryman, will present a program covering both topics at 2:30 p.m., Saturday, March 31 at Plant Fair Nursery, 3497 E. Hwy. 260, Star Valley.

Tuesday, March 27

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College negotiations reach critical stage

Alliance negotiates for IMG Sports Academy; considers other universities as ‘backup plan’ if ASU talks stall

The long, strange, cliffhanger of an effort to turn Payson into a college town has entered a decisive end-game stage, with backers negotiating with a multi-billion-dollar sports corporation to build a student sports academy at the same time they’re drawing up backup plans to seek alternatives to Arizona State University to build an additional, 6,000-student campus, Payson Mayor Kenny Evans told a group of community leaders gathered at The Rim Club on Saturday.

Man who scammed vet shelter arrested

She may not hold a badge, but one woman proved with persistence and a little luck, even a citizen can crack a cold case. Andrea Russo said she couldn’t sit back and wait when local authorities told her they would track down a man who allegedly stole thousands from Veterans Helping Veterans. So she called the media, reported her story and helped nab the thief herself. On Thursday, deputies with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in Florida followed her directions right to the doorstep of James Reardon, 42, and arrested him on warrants of grand theft auto and larceny out of Gila County.

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Women share sorrow, inspiration and tips for a healthy lifestyle

She knows now it sounds crazy, but Susie Wicks-Cooley is quite clear on why she stayed so long with the man who frequently beat and abused her. “I always figured he would not kill me — because he enjoyed it too much. But I figured if I left him, the next one surely would kill me,” she told a group of women who each seemed to have their own story to tell at one of the breakout sessions of the Women’s Wellness Forum, which drew 240 women to Payson High School on Saturday.

Firing blanks

Sen. Gould blames redistricting for death of guns-on-campus bill

The controversial “guns on campus” bill has died quietly for lack of support in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the bill’s sponsor has confirmed. The bill (SB 1474) spurred a vehement public outcry, but its death got little attention. “The bill ceased to move forward about three weeks ago,” said Senator Ron Gould, the sponsor of the bill and a candidate for the redrawn District 4 congressional seat that now includes Rim Country.

Flu season starts late, spreads fast

Health department urges vulnerable residents to get vaccinated

The flu season has finally kicked into gear, says the Gila County Health Department. The county reported one new confirmed case last week and a total of three laboratory confirmed cases this season. The onset of the flu is generally sudden and severe. You are feeling OK and a few hours later you suddenly have fever, chills, muscle aches and a headache followed by sore throat, congestion, cough and tiredness. A cold has a more gradual progression of symptoms with scratchy throat, watery eyes, runny nose, congestion and cough.

A case of simple varmint hunting gone terribly wrong ...

A young man who went varmint hunting Saturday ended up both predator and prey when he shot himself. Shane Robinson, 23, and a friend drove to Gisela Saturday morning to hunt “varmint,” but ended up in the hospital when Robinson put a bullet through his leg, according to the Gila County Sheriff’s Office. Robinson, along with his friend Syles Reidhead, had reportedly driven down the road to Gisela a short distance when they stopped, said Lt. Tim Scott with the sheriff’s office.

Community Almanac

The Rim Country Foreign Policy Forum will have its next meeting at noon, Wednesday, March 28 in the Payson Library community room.  The guest speaker will be John Wakelin who will discuss Korean political history.   Wakelin is a graduate of California State University Northridge (CSUN) with a degree in political science. While attending CSUN, he was named to the RAND Student Working Group for International Security and Foreign Policy.

Cancer society not all about ‘life’

In the interests of transparency and honesty please note that the upcoming Rim Relay for Life (Payson Roundup March 20, p. 3B) is actually a fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society.

Look for politics’ part in gas prices

It is quite popular in some groups these days to protest against big government and government interference in private business.

Be pro-active in keeping forests clean

Congratulations to the fine people who have taken the time to help clean up our forests.

My Democratic Party believes this

Don Castleman (Friday’s Mail Call) doesn’t have to be afraid anymore.

Loss of P.A.C. not progress

Its a sad state of affairs when a big box (in this case Big Lots) store can come into town, flash some money around and push a local business out of their building and livelihood.

Let’s change college plan

“The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer.” U.S. Army Corps of Engineers motto Hanging by your thumbs can certainly affect your perspective on the passage of time. So the twists, turns and delays in the visionary effort to build a university in Payson does feel like a particularly refined form of torture. Lots of folks have given up: They’re thinking they’d rather just chew their thumbs off than hang here another minute longer. Understandable.

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Jeff Flake brings Senate bid to Rim Country

Payson leaders turn out at mayor’s reception for front runner in bid to fill seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Flake brought his already year-old campaign to Payson Saturday to take advantage of a warm endorsement from Payson Mayor Kenny Evans in front of a Rim Club meeting room full of Rim Country leaders. The libertarian-leaning congressman with deep Arizona roots and a pioneer Mormon heritage hopes to parlay his ultra-conservative political ratings and his long fight against congressional earmarks into a chance to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Jon Kyl. He faces opposition in the primary and a likely general election challenge by former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona.

Clubs and Organizations

Do you have a loved one or friend with a drinking problem? Do you feel as if you need some support living with the alcoholic in your life? Then please join us for an Alanon meeting. There is help. We meet at 10:30 a.m. every Wednesday in Star Valley. Call Patty at (602) 505-4584 for details. There is also a meeting every Monday at 6 p.m. in the St. Philip’s Church Parish Hall.

Highlights of the 20th Annual Business Showcase

The event featured 50 businesses and organizations.

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Students make a splash at Business Showcase

Some 700 people give local businesses a chance to brag

The annual Rim Country Business Showcase has always offered a way for local shop owners to set up a booth and sell their products and services to the masses for one day. This year’s event, held Saturday at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino, had all the makings of a traditional showcase: balloons, floor-length displays, handouts and free pens, but it also had something new.

How to get a home loan

A myth that has circulated in recent times is that it is difficult to get a home mortgage. This is just not true, however, today to get a mortgage you have to have more than a Social Security number and be a living, breathing human. You must have a good credit history and a balanced financial position. Another myth is that you need 20 percent for a down payment. Again, not true. You may obtain an FHA loan with as little as a 3.5 percent down payment or even 0 percent down if you qualify for veterans benefits.

Fishing Festival time at lakes at Green Valley

It’s time for Rim Country anglers to gear up for the Sixth Optimist Kids Fishing Festival to be held 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 31 at Green Valley Park. For those who register, no fishing license is required. The festival has for the past few years marked the onset of the spring season in the Rim Country. It’s also drawn hundreds of aspiring anglers of all ages — even last year when rain, snow, wind and cold weather greeted the townspeople who braved the elements to fish.

State could be in Lady Horns’ future

Lady Longhorn players are basking in the rarefied air of being among the top teams in the AIA power point rankings. Of the 52 teams competing in Division III, Payson is ranked eighth with its 6-0 non-tournament record. Tournament wins and losses, in which PHS is 8-3, are not calculated in power points. In the 16-team Section III of Division III, Payson is ranked fourth. With such lofty credentials, the Lady Longhorns are well on their way to advancing to the post-season Promised Land.

Longhorns aim for winning ways

Longhorn baseball players, fresh off two losses to Fountain Hills, could be bolstered by a new resolve and more determination when they return to the diamond March 29 to host the Page Sand Devils. The team’s rekindled will seemed to surface March 24 when all but one player showed up for a voluntary Saturday morning practice. “They worked hard together and hopefully had some fun,” coach Scott Novack said. “The guys could be learning something.”

Horns punch state ducat

An obviously very talented Payson Longhorn golf team has qualified for the sport’s version of the “Big Dance” when it tees off at the end of the regular season in May. Just one month into the campaign, the team nailed down the Division III state invitation by carding its fifth qualifying score in a nine-hole, five-team match on March 22 at Snowflake Golf Course.

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Monsoon preps to blow away foes

The strange sight of a Payson team decked out in green uniforms rather that the traditional purple and gold caught some boosters by surprise March 25 at Rumsey Park where the Monsoon 14-years-and under fast pitch softball team played host to the Camp Verde Juggernauts. Players from Winslow, Lakeside, Holbrook and Payson make up the Monsoon traveling team that was opening the season in an exhibition clash against visiting CV.

Monday, March 26

Prescribed fire operations planned for Houston Mesa area this week

180 acres slated for treatment Tuesday through Thursday

Payson Ranger District fire specialists plan to conduct an 180-acre fire treatment in the Houston Mesa area Tuesday through Thursday, March 27-29.

Friday, March 23

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Payson crime rate drops

Major crimes drop 2 percent as Payson struggles to fill five vacant slots for patrol officers

Major crimes in Payson dropped along with the number of officers on the beat in 2011. The per-capita major crimes index reported to the FBI dropped 2 percent and calls to dispatchers plunged nearly 30 percent in 2011, according to a report released March 16. “We returned to the trend of declining crime after a spike last year (2010),” said Payson Police Chief Don Engler.

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Gym dumped for Big Lots

1,000-member Payson Athletic Club booted for new tenant as clients press for refunds

Another Rim Country business is closing its doors, but this time its for lack of a lease, not for lack of customers. At the end of March, Payson Athletic Club will close up shop forcing its 1,000 members to look elsewhere for a place to work out, its owners announced earlier this week. Gym owner Gina Vaughan said the athletic club is being forced out to make room for a 30,000-square-foot Big Lots in the Rim Country Mall Shopping Center. Big Lots will take over the former Sears store and the space leased by the gym to operate one of the largest retailers in Payson, which remains heavily dependent on sales tax to provide most town services.

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Domestic violence jumps

Battered women’s shelter full in the face of rising number of women seeking safety

Payson police responded to at least one domestic violence call a day in 2010, according to year-end statistics the department released last week. A growing concern for officers, domestic violence reports and arrests in Payson rose 20 percent last year — the third year of increases as other crimes have fallen. While some blame the economy for the increase in violence, others point to a weak response by the courts or a rise in drug and alcohol abuse.

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Star Valley’s water rates to rise 40 percent

Council decides $9 monthly average increase necessary to upgrade infrastructure

For the 360 water customers in Star Valley, the rate hike holiday is over. Water rates will jump 40 percent after the town takes over the water company May 1 from Brooke Utilities, the first time in 12 years. The council on Tuesday approved the sharp increase from about an average of about $24 a month to roughly $33 a month to cover the cost of capital improvements. The council agreed the current rates provided enough money to run the system, but not enough to replace aging meters, make emergency repairs or expand the system in the future. “The policy decision is whether you want to acquire debt when something breaks or if you want to put into place rates that will build a fund for when something breaks,” said Town Manager and Attorney Tim Grier.

Community Almanac

The Gila County Master Gardeners are hosting a Spring Gardening Workshop from 8:45 a.m. to noon, Saturday, March 24 at the Payson Masonic Lodge, 200 E. Rancho Road.

What Democrats say they believe

Do you know what the Democratic Party believes?

Where is the men’s reproductive health bill?

A bill requiring women to discuss their reproductive health care with employers before they can receive insurance benefits to cover birth control has passed the Arizona House and is now ready for consideration by the Senate.

Tourism vs. recycling

My husband and I drove down to Globe last Saturday for their historic home tour.

Obama administration’s war on Arizona jobs

Recently the Obama administration celebrated the fact that the national unemployment rate remains at 8.3 percent. Arizona’s unemployment rate remains above the national average at 8.7 percent. Many of our rural counties suffer from unemployment rates that exceed 10 percent. The status quo is not praise worthy. We can do better. Arizona has strong and innovative leaders. Working together, we have found a number of solutions that will put Arizonans back to work. Arizona can be a national model for economic recovery driven by sustainable resource development. That is, when bureaucrats are not killing our job-creating solutions with unnecessary regulations.

Domestic violence a deadly threat

Payson’s heartening drop in major crimes in 2011 is shadowed by an alarming rise in arrests for domestic violence — up by 20 percent, according to the police department’s latest annual report. The overall drop in major crime comes in spite of a host of vacant positions in the police department. It’s tempting to note that the lack of officers on patrol hasn’t resulted in an increase in crime. In fact, the shortage of officers probably accounts for much of the 30 percent reduction in calls to dispatch — since patrolling officers account for many of those calls. However, we suspect residents continue to report most burglaries, rapes, assaults, auto thefts and other such crimes — which suggests the drop in reported crimes reflects a real change on the street.

Neuropathy and numb feet are program topic

There will be a program on foot numbness and painful, burning feet at the Senior Center at 11 a.m., Monday, March 26 presented by Mike Crossman, Payson Care Center physical therapist. Crossman will demonstrate on how to do self-assessments to check for the severity of foot numbness. To attend the lecture, please call (928) 951-2305.

Native American Recipes

Saute onions and peppers in oil, medium heat for 4 minutes. Add beans, corn and water. Simmer until hot and tender, 15 minutes. If too watery, pour off excess. Season with butter and salt. Serve warm.

An ancient feast for modern folk

Celebrating Archaeology and Heritage Month

The smell of sage permeated the lecture hall as the Native American dishes simmered in crockpots. For the past four years, the members of the Rim Country Chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society (RCCAAS) have prepared a native foods potluck to celebrate Arizona’s Archaeology and Heritage month — March. More than two-dozen people cooked up corn, beans and squash, the foods Southwest Native Americans cultivated and survived on for centuries. Corn represented the backbone of Native American culinary dishes, as did the selections foods at the potluck, including corn beer.

Business Showcase Saturday at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino

This Saturday’s 20th Annual Business Showcase will also celebrate 100 years of statehood — and the 130th birthday of Payson. Themed “Past, Present and Future,” the showcase will open its doors at 9 a.m. at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino.

Are you prepared for long-term care costs

Like everyone else, you hope to remain physically and financially independent your entire life. And you may well achieve this goal. Nonetheless, the future is not ours to see, so you’ll want to prepare yourself for as many contingencies as possible — one of which is the high cost of long-term care. As you may know, long-term care primarily refers to nursing home expenses, but it also includes services provided in your own home. In either case, it could be expensive. The national average rate for a private room in a nursing home was more than $87,000 per year in 2011, according to the 2011 MetLife Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs.

Verizon wireless store under new ownership

A national retailer last month bought out one of Payson’s locally owned and operated cell phone shops. MyBullFrog.com, an Idaho-based company with 84 retail locations across the country, including 20 in Arizona, now owns the Get Wireless Verizon retailer in the Ponderosa Village Center. Along with the Payson location, MyBullFrog.com bought out the LaBonte family’s other Verizon stores, including those locations in Fountain Hills, Four Peaks and Winslow.

Master Gardeners lead spring gardening workshops

Gardening is tricky business in the Rim Country — with our hills and little valleys you almost always are working in your own private microclimate. Consequently, the broad-stroke guidance found in magazines and books has to be tweaked a little here and there to meet your particular needs. Enter the Gila County Master Gardeners. Aspiring horticulturists or veterans wanting to up their game in the garden wars have the opportunity to learn from these certified specialists next weekend — and it’s free.

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New GCC president paying a debt to higher education

Larry Stephenson hopes he can help community college board gain control of finances and move toward independence

Larry Stephenson, the new board president of Gila Community College (GCC) hopes he brings accountability and transparency to the once conflict-ridden board during his tenure. “My term only lasts one year,” he said, “I have to be realistic about what I can do.” By state statute, GCC must elect new officers every year. Stephenson says he’s not sure he will get re-elected, so he’s shooting for “realistic goals.” Stephenson got involved with the community college in part to repay the debt he had to a community college that gave him a second chance, that ultimately led to earning an advanced degree in geology.

Thanks offered for help with softball event

Payson High School softball assistant coach Kadi Tenney would like to thank all those who volunteered to help host the recent Gracie Haught Classic softball tournament. She writes, “The Gracie Haught Classic high school softball tournament was a huge success thanks to the amazing volunteer efforts and/or financial contributions of the following people: Charlene Hunt, Dean and Judy Baker, Patty & Chloe Beeler, Molly Hunt, LeeAnne Owens, Ann Real, Toby Waugh, Trae Dunman, Chrissy Heron, Brandi Fain, Janice Short, Cherry Nottingham, Sandee Koon, Melody Deaton, Bobette Sylvester, Tiffany Klemstine, Tiffany Taylor, Debby Taylor, Bill and Teri Broce, Lisa Dunman, Tom & Sue Loomis, Vicki Dietz, Bob King, ABLE Steel, Kim Timmins, Payson Parks & Recreation, Sparkletts Water (Kari Waters), Safeway, Reed Hunt, Tom Brown, APS, Tom Belcher, Ryan Schneider, Cole Herrera, Brandon Echols, Mogollon Sporting Association, Chuck and Robbin Clark, King’s Diesel Diagnostics, Joe Bates, and Pizza Factory.”

Plebes get to shine

The Payson Freshman-Sophomore Invitational track and field meet gave younger, fledgling athletes the opportunity to compete without having to go toe-to-toe against older, veteran juniors and seniors. In the meet format, freshmen competed against fellow freshmen and sophomores were pitted against other sophomores. A field of eight Division III schools and two from Division II competed in the shoot-out held March 10 on Longhorn track. Among the PHS freshmen who competed, Erin Huffman was a long distance workhorse taking second in the 3200, third in the 1600 and fourth in the 800 meters. Sprinter Trevor Clawson was fifth in the 100 meters and first in the 200.

State golf berth is in reach

It appeared earning a ducat to prep golf’s version of the Big Dance turned much tougher two years ago when the requirement to earning a state berth changed from a top-four region finish to carding five qualifying scores. But lo and behold, the Longhorns have defied that logic by already posting four qualifying tallies, which has them well on their way to filling out a Division III dance card. The fourth qualifying score was the 325 the Horns turned in while finishing second March 17 at the Thatcher Invitational played over 18 holes on the Par 72 Mt. Graham Golf Course near Safford.

MSA funds Rim sports and conservation

The growth of the Mogollon Sporting Association from its small group of dedicated founders to one of the most successful philanthropic volunteer organizations in the state is a feel-good story that warms the heart. In MSA’s 20 years of existence, the group has donated more than $2 million to a myriad of worthwhile causes around the Rim Country. Most of the money MSA has doled out has been raised at its annual banquets which have morphed into much-anticipated highlights of the spring social and sports season. Each May, hundreds of MSA supporters enthusiastically flock to the banquet, which includes a copious dinner, a silent auction, a live auction, raffles, early bird drawings and plenty of the small-town camaraderie for which Payson is renowned.

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Longhorn soccer foursome reap state laurels

The Arizona Interscholastic Association, in a voting of the state’s prep soccer coaches, has honored a foursome of Longhorn standouts from the 2011 season. Noe Vega, Keith Williams, Guillermo Lopez and Logan Morris were named last week to post-season all-section and all-division teams. Both Vega and Williams were chosen to the All Division IV first team and to the All-Section III first team. For PHS, Vega played midfielder and Williams was a defender. Lopez was chosen to the All-Section III second team, as was Morris. Lopez played midfielder and Morris was a defender.

Compassion without constraints

One steamy afternoon a dog was observed in a yard with no trace of hydration, food or toys in sight. This canine wasn’t lounging by his owner’s side either. This malnourished canine was tightly chained around a tree with zero mental stimulation in his presence. His family didn’t simply tie him up for a split second while doing yard work either. This neglected soul lived his entire life on a heavy truck chain. He ran endless circles around the tree he was connected to until the earth below him was practically pounded down to cement. This dog was obviously viewed as “worthless” in someone’s eyes, but he deserved a better life.

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Snow Daze

Last snow of winter offers brothers a chance to work on their cross-country ski skills — and their issues

I kick at my borrowed cross-country ski with my spiffy borrowed cross-country ski boot, seeking the confirmation of the click. The ski slides forward, I wobble one-legged, like a square dancer on a slip and slide. My big brother — the source of the skis and boots and the plan for the day — puts his foot down deftly on my escaping ski. “Just click it in,” he says. I hop, step and click. “Good,” he says. I nod confidently.

Time to sign up for summer arts and crafts festivals in Pine

The Pine-Strawberry Arts & Crafts Guild is issuing a call for artists and crafters interested in participating in the three large summer arts and crafts festivals held at the Pine Strawberry Community Center. The Pine-Strawberry Arts & Crafts Guild started 32 years ago to promote an appreciation of handmade arts and crafts and provide a venue for Arizona artists and crafters to display and sell their work.

Clubs and Organizations

Rev. Lori Fleming will lead the 10 a.m. service of Unity of Payson Sunday, March 25. She is an ordained Unity minister who has served at several Unity churches. Fleming was awarded the Distinguished Youth Services Award from the Association of Unity Churches for her work with young people. Her greatest passion is living and teaching Unity principles and watching people transform as they learn to use them in their lives.  “Who Are You?” is the theme of her talk.

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Last blast of winter memorable

With the freezing days we have had earlier this week — with lows dipping to almost single digits — the warming trend that is with us will continue through this weekend with highs in the mid- to upper-60s and lows just above freezing to the upper-30s.

Storm blew visitors in

Hello again fellow Creekers. It’s a winter wonderland again in Christopher Creek. We’ve received quite a bit of snow from this last storm, which was a much-needed boom for business. The Christopher Creek Lodge has been busier in the last few weeks and we’ve had many visitors from the Valley that are enjoying playing in some snow during their spring break.

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Business Showcase promises to be great fun for everyone

This Saturday, March 24, from 9 to 5 (reminds me of a Dolly Parton movie and song) at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino the Rim Country Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its annual Business Showcase. This year’s extravaganza will feature 48 area businesses and organizations, which will provide visitors with information, great deals and the opportunity to win business products or services through free raffle drawings. In addition to the 48 “adult” businesses that will be on hand, there will also be a number of high school organizations participating this year — each with a booth, providing information about their group’s business and leadership activities.

Snow a welcome sight for Tonto Village

This past Tuesday was the first day of spring, believe it or not. Tonto Village, along with the surrounding communities, Bear Flat and Mead Ranch, all were dumped on with about 15 inches of snow. So far, the amount of precipitation amounts to 1.5 inches, but there is still a deficit of about 6 inches according to a Bear Flat resident, who has kept records for many years on rainfall and snow accumulation. When I was a kid living in upstate New York, I can remember looking out the window on the first day of spring and seeing just about as much snow when I expected to see spring flowers. What a disappointment that was.

When it comes to money, a lot depends on your point of view

Last week I mentioned a day in 1966 when my brother Frank phoned me on Okinawa and asked me to “pick up a little something” for him. But when I realized the “little something” cost more than $2,000 I told Frank it was too steep for me.  “Huh,” he said. “Doesn’t seem like much. How are you doing?”  I always chuckle when I tell somebody what Frank said when I told him I was barely making $5,000.  “Well, that’s not bad. That’s about what I make.” Trouble is, I was talking about $5,000 a year and he was talking about $5,000 a week. Needless to say, after we got done laughing, he no longer expected me to saunter out and slap down $2,000 on the things he needed.

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Quilt Angel Quilt-a-Thon benefits Food Bank

From March 14 to 16, angels gathered at the First Baptist Church in Pine — more specifically the Quilt Angels quilting group, for the annual Quilt-A-Thon to make charity quilts for those who will need a little extra comfort and warmth next winter. There were 12 Quilt Angel members, along with 16 volunteers who lent their hearts, time and talents to the three-day event. They made 213 quilts and 100 Christmas stockings. The Angels are housewives, retirees, mothers, grandmothers, teachers, nurses, office workers, artists and others from all walks of life, all united in a mission to help others. The beautiful and colorful material that was used for the project was donated to the group by someone known only as the Fabric Angel, with the stipulation that the creations would not be sold but given to the less-fortunate.

Wednesday, March 21

Women’s Wellness

Keynote address opened to public

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 Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 15: Sheep Camp Murders

The prolonged range war between sheep ranchers and cattle or goat ranchers raged in the Rim Country until after the turn of the 19th century. As many as 400,000 sheep were driven over the Heber-Reno sheep driveway twice a year. This was a traditional route that had been followed for decades. However, there were no boundaries marking the limits where the sheep were to be kept and flocks often strayed onto rangeland claimed by cattle ranchers. The sheep moved very slowly and consumed much valuable grass when they moved south in the fall and north in the spring.

Upcoming studio tour will feature more than 20 artists

Don Harmon was born in Newton, Iowa. He was a member of a very creative family, served in the U.S. Navy throughout the Pacific, schooled in California and entered aerospace engineering on the West Coast. He and his wife traveled the back roads of the United States, Canada and Italy. Being exposed to so many fascinating environments — landscapes, seascapes and wildlife — processes and ideas of family, friends, associates and educators have culminated in an unbelievable education and wealth of experience.

America’s favorite vacation spots

Americans have various tastes when it comes to vacations. Some like camping; others prefer casino action in places like Las Vegas; while some would rather go to an interesting city and explore what it has to offer — and let’s not forget foreign travel and cruises. Let’s begin with those that like cities. San Francisco has the reputation as one of the world’s most bohemian capitals. Many consider it to be the most East Coast-like city in the West. It is both laid back and cosmopolitan and offers many interesting sights and destinations. It is known for its hills, row houses, cable cars, water front, and fine dining including seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf, shopping at the Ferry Building and interesting destinations near San Francisco.

Get-a-Away Around Rim Country

The March Business Buzz, Marketing on a Shoestring, featuring Kimber Lanning, founder and executive director of “Local First, Arizona,” will be held at the Payson Elks Lodge beginning at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, March 21. Lanning will discuss the free tools and resources that small-business owners can use to reach new customers and to keep existing ones. She will discuss how to effectively use the Internet and social media to enhance business.

Dead Horse Ranch State Park offers mountain bike clinics

Park rangers at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood will offer mountain bike rides and clinics on Saturdays and guided ranger-led hikes on Sundays. The fee for the hikes are part of the $7 park car entrance fee, however, the mountain bike clinic and rides require an additional program fee of $5 per person. Nature Walks will start at 9 a.m. every Sunday morning from March 24 through May 5 and last for one to two hours. The guided hikes will meander along riparian areas or stroll through the high desert trails within the park. Hikers need to bring plenty of water, sunscreen and wear appropriate clothing; sturdy shoes, and a hat.

Good 2 Go

Gardening is tricky business in the Rim Country — with our hills and little valleys you almost always are working in your own private microclimate. Consequently, the broad-stroke guidance found in magazines and books has to be tweaked a little here and there to meet your particular needs. Enter the Gila County Master Gardeners. Aspiring horticulturists or veterans wanting to up their game in the garden wars have the opportunity to learn from these certified specialists next weekend — and it’s free.

Tuesday, March 20

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Winter storm dumps snow on Rim Country

Winter’s last gasp dumped a foot of snow on Payson Sunday, producing the best excuse all year to sleep in, start a fire and do, well, absolutely nothing. “Heaven is a pot-bellied stove and not a thing to do but watch the flakes fall,” said one resident. The storm gave Payson a whole different feel for spring break, with the schools out of session there was no need for a snow day. But don’t put away the suntan oil just yet — the National Weather Service insists it’ll be 70 degrees by Thursday, with a beautiful weekend for basking on the banks of the East Verde on tap. The Sunday storm rumbled in late and lingered through Monday, leaving the Snowbowl ski resort above Flagstaff the gift of 53 inches, according to the Weather Service.

Two Republicans challenge Gosar to represent Rim Country

Rim Country this year finds itself in a completely new congressional district — but incumbent Rep. Paul Gosar hopes we’ll end up with the same congressman — which would be him. However, first he’ll have to get through an already wild Republican primary slated for Aug. 28. Gosar faces Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, whose campaign has gotten tangled in allegations he threatened to force the deportation of his gay Mexican lover unless his partner promised to keep their year-long relationship a secret. Babeu has admitted that he’s gay, but denied the allegations.

Robbery thwarted by police

Robert Higginbotham, owner of Payson Jewelers, had just sat down with his family to enjoy a Valentine’s Day dinner when he got the call on his cell phone. “We have reason to believe you will be held up by gunpoint at your store at 9:30 in the morning,” said Detective Michael McAnerny of the Payson Police Department. McAnerny had begun investigating the case and discovered the plot to hold up the jewelry store involved one main suspect, said a press release from Payson PD.

Three rescues — all at once

Three separate pleas for help sent search and rescue teams scrambling late Friday afternoon. All three rescues ended successfully, but the flurry taxed the combined resources of the the Gila County Sheriff’s Office, Tonto Rim Search and Rescue (TRSAR) and the Mounted Posse, which sent teams to Christopher Creek, the Mazatzal Wilderness and Fossil Creek. TRSAR Commander Bill Pitterle reported that all three rescues ended successfully. Sergeant Terry Hudgens from the county sheriff’s department headed up the search for a hiker who went off trail in the Mazatzal Wilderness and feared for his health.

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Softball tournament hits a home run

300 players and 1,000 spectators give local economy a big boost

The struggling Payson economy received a welcome boost and more than 300 teenage girls enjoyed the thrill of a lifetime and perhaps 1,000 spectators sampled the charms of Payson at the hugely successful 8th Annual Gracie Haught Classic softball tournament played March 16 and 17 at Rumsey Park and Payson High School. “It was much more than sports,” said tournament director and co-founder Charlene Brown. “It was a chance to show off our town, celebrate a little girl’s life and enjoy two full days of fun and camaraderie.”

Community Almanac

Payson Education Center would like to invite the Payson community to attend its Parent Resource Night from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 20.  The topic for this hour-long presentation is The Dangers of Drugs. Members of Gila County Meth Coalition will give the presentation.

Leaders need to get us affordable gas

It seems silly to continue to get frustrated by rising fuel costs, and yet, every time I drive by a gas station and see it around $4 dollars, I want to scream.

Notice of PHS PTSO efforts appreciated

Thank you for your article and supportive editorial on our high school Parent Teacher Student Organization.

Babeu wrong for Congress

Sheriff Paul Babeu is running for Congress to replace the sitting Republican Paul Gosar and from where I sit, Babeu is the wrong man to send to Washington.

Jake’s Corner Store, Inc. unhappy with negative publicity

As the new owners of Jake’s Corner Store we are extremely unhappy with the negative publicity shed on our little mom and pop stand via the March 9 edition of the Roundup.

PSWID efforts far from praise-worthy

In a recent Roundup editorial, the claim was made that: “The [PSWID] board succeeded brilliantly, doubling the community’s water supply with the purchase of a series of existing wells. Marvelous. Farsighted. Heroic.”

Tournament offers model

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, the saying goes. But sometimes, it seems that the town has embraced a university here as its only savior. But what if Payson has other possibilities? Take the Gracie Lee Haught Classic softball tournament, which this weekend drew 300 participants and perhaps 1,000 spectators to the Rim Country to enjoy a weekend tournament attendees hailed for its unique atmosphere. So many came to visit, the hotels filled up. Yep. Every hotel room was filled and organizers had to scramble to find homes to rent for the overflow. Let’s see, hotel tax, nights out at restaurants, visits to local vendors for supplies, maybe even a movie or two — sounds like a prosperous weekend.

Feature Teacher

I loved being a nurse and taking care of people. I especially love being able to teach others how to take care of patients and residents. I tell my students that when they are done with this course they are ready to take care of me or my family — and some have!

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Students prepare for careers in nursing

Scurrying through the hallways of the Gracie Lee Haught Education Center, dark blue smock clad students from Debbie Eldredge’s Gila Community College (GCC) nursing assistant class prepare for their weekly clinical training. “This room is completely set up for test tubes,” says one student. A group sits in a corner analyzing their notes and preparing for their hands-on clinical class, part of one of GCC’s most important, best attended vocational programs. Two girls rush out of the supply room carrying linens, bowls and dishes. “This room will be for peri-care, this for feeding, and this for bed baths and conditioning,” said Eldredge focusing the energy of her students.

How the Affordable Care Act makes Medicare improvements

We hear a lot of back and forth these days about the Affordable Care Act — aka the federal health reform law — but not much about how it affects people with Medicare. When you sort through all the rhetoric, one thing is clear: the 2-year-old reform law contains some real benefits for those who get their coverage through Medicare. Take the so-called “donut hole” in the Medicare prescription drug program, Part D. The donut hole is a gap where you don’t have coverage even though you’re still paying premiums. After you’ve paid a certain amount out of pocket, your coverage resumes. Congress intended the hole to hold down costs in the drug program, the biggest expansion of Medicare benefits in many years. 

Senior Thrift Store gets new operations manager

Today is the first day of spring, when day and night are of almost equal length.  The vernal equinox has been observed as a holiday in many cultures. In Japan it is a national holiday, a time for families to visit graves of loved ones and to hold family gatherings. Egypt has celebrated the vernal equinox since as far back as 2700 B.C. In some Middle Eastern countries it marks the beginning of a two-week festival. In Payson, we may take note of the occasion by cleaning up after our weekend snowstorm!

Women’s forum to focus on celebrating ‘inner goddess’

Schechterle’s keynote address open to public

The 14th Annual Women’s Wellness Forum on March 24 will feature keynote speaker Jason Schechterle, 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. A motivational speaker since his retirement in 2006, Schechterle will talk on “Making Coffee.” His keynote address is open to both men and women for a $10 admission charge. Schechterle will speak from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the auditorium at Payson High School. The women’s forum will run from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday on the Payson High School Campus. The $15 admission fee includes the keynote address and three break-out sessions of your choice 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.

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Decorated pots hold clues to vital mystery

Archaeologists delight Payson audience with visually enchanting clues to the rise and fall of civilizations

A world of triumph, tragedy and surprising complexity can be assembled from the puzzle of shattered pots bearing images of lighting bolts, demons, dancers and mysterious symbols, Allen Dart told the rapt members of the Rim Country Archaeology Society on Saturday. He offered a glimpse of 2,000 years of innovation, economic evolution, invasion, religious turmoil, triumph and disaster through the brilliantly crafted, creatively unique pottery styles developed by the Hohokam civilization. The Hohokam built a complex network of cities along hundreds of miles of irrigation canals in the Valley and built some of the most densely populated cities in North America before their collapse and abandonment in the mid-1450s, just ahead of the arrival of the Spanish in the Southwest.

First winery in Gila County holds open house

The Pleasant Valley Winery, Gila County’s first, will hold an open house Saturday, April 7 to kick off their business. Although the winery only received its license a year ago, its already winning awards. Jim Petroff learned the secrets of making wine from his Hungarian Gypsy uncle, who always had a 50-gallon barrel in his cellar. At all family gatherings, the men would sneak down to sample the wine. During the summer when Petroff was 15, his uncle taught him how to make wine. In 1978 Petroff and his wife Marie brewed their first batch of wine. “We lived in northern California and had a bumper crop of blackberries,” said Marie.

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Angels really fly when it comes to quilts

There are some angels up north of Payson who can really fly when it comes to making quilts. Last week in the first three hours of a three-day quilt-a-thon, the Quilt Angels put together 40 quilts for the Pine Strawberry Food Bank to distribute this coming Christmas — or whenever there is a need. The Quilt Angels has about 14 members, some seasonal, but 23 quilters volunteered their time the first day of the quilt-a-thon. That was a good thing; the group planned on making about 150 quilts and around 105 massive Christmas stockings too.

Final tally shows Romney winner in Gila County

Republican presidential primary front runner Mitt Romney’s having trouble closing the deal nationally — but they love him in northern Gila County. Romney won 40 percent of the Republican vote on Feb. 28 in Gila County Supervisorial District 1, which includes most of northern Gila County. Former Sen. Rick Santorum garnered 31 percent of the vote, the week before registering narrow victories in two southern primaries where Christian evangelical voters represented a big chunk of the Republican primary ballots. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich gleaned just 18 percent of the vote and Congressman Ron Paul drew just 9 percent.

Students to participate in Business Showcase

This weekend’s 20th Annual Business Showcase will also celebrate 100 years of statehood — and the 130th birthday of the cowtown that evolved into Payson. Themed “Past, Present and Future,” the showcase will open its doors at 9 a.m. at Mazatzal Hotel & Casino. The event attracts a wide variety of businesses that embrace the opportunity to promote their expertise, answer questions, generate new customer relationships, and network with fellow business owners. Leading sponsors include Payson Regional Medical Center, Lowery’s Window & Door and the Payson Roundup. Contributing sponsors also include PostNet and Signature Door & Window.

County evaluates efficiency of departments

Analysis will determine if number of employees economical

Borrowing evaluation techniques from private industry, Gila County hopes to streamline and cut costs — even it that includes reducing staffing levels. Gila County Manager Don McDaniel presented his plan to evaluate county departments and revise the employee handbook to supervisors at a work session the last week of February. An analysis on the handbook has not been done for 10 years and departmental analysis has never been done. “We’re looking to see if operations run more effectively and efficiently with fewer people,” said McDaniel in the meeting, “If we save money on personnel we could use the excess for salaries.” In an interview outside the meeting, McDaniel indicated the county has no plans at present to downsize, but he wants to prepare as budgets get tighter and tighter.

Rim stars shine in history of Chandler invite

The Payson High School track team’s upcoming appearance in the historic Chandler Rotary Invitational is a reminder that there have been PHS sports stars who have enjoyed their finest hours in the prestigious meet. Among the biggest thrills for PHS sports fans occurred in 2002 when Lady Horn Whitney Hardt upset then 5A cross-country champ Sally Myerhoff in the 1600- and 3200-meter runs. The tongues of track buffs from around the state continue to wag about the day a diminutive unknown from small-town Arizona dazzled the Duke University-bound Myerhoff who at the time attended Tempe Mountain Pointe High School. Sadly, Myerhoff went on to collegiate and professional stardom before being killed in the spring of 2011 in a car-bicycle accident in Maricopa.

Golfers prepare for a new season at PGC

The Payson Men’s Golf Association 2012 season teed off March 14 at Payson Golf Course with members locking horns in a four-man scramble that was preceded by a sit-down breakfast prepared by retired Payson High culinary arts teacher Teri McKee. “It (the breakfast) was excellent,” said PMGA member Herb Sherman. Playing on a full stomach apparently didn’t hinder the performance of the winning foursome of Jesse Smith, Don Shepard, Mike Eilenfeldt and Keith Talley. The team finished at 56 to edge the runner-up squad of Tim Ernst, Popeye Clay, Bill Shedd and Randy Wood who posted a 57. Among the silver medalists, Tim Ernst, last season’s closest to the pin champion, scored his first win of the year swatting to within 7 feet, 1/2 inch on No. 8.

Longhorns stumble, fumble; coach fumes

To declare Payson High School second-year baseball coach Scott Novack upset is an understatement. “I’m a little ticked at the lack of discipline on my team,” The coach said following an 8-6 loss on March 15 to the homestanding Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets. Continuing to fume, Novack sorted through the maladies that plagued the Longhorn effort, “Lack of execution and screwing up signs cost us in a close game again. “As for plate discipline, we struck out a season-high eight times, blew two great opportunities to bunt runs in when we weren’t hitting the ball, had at least two major base running errors and generally had poor at bats until late in the game.” As gut-wrenching as the performance was, the coach did find some solace in the efforts of first baseman-outfielder Nick McMullen, saying, “He did have great at bats all night.”

RV invitational a blast from the past

Fans attending the Round Valley Invitational track and field shoot-out held March 16 in Eagar might have mistakenly believed they were watching a rerun of a past Class 3A East Region championship meet. Regions and conferences have been done away with and replaced with divisions and sections, but the RV Invitational had a distinct retro feel because a pair of longtime rivals from past seasons battled for both the boys and girls titles. Among the girls, the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets scored 104 points to edge perennial foe Snowflake for the crown. The Lobos finished with 101 points.

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Lady Horns finish 4-1 in 2012 Gracie Haught Classic

After opening the Gracie Haught Classic softball tournament 4-0, fatigue spelled the demise of the Lady Longhorn softball players as they dropped back-to-back nail-biters to fall out of contention for the invitational crown. “We were tired — fatigue got the best of us,” said PHS assistant coach Kadie Tenney. The Classic, which drew 20 teams to Payson, was played March 16 and 17 on five fields at Rumsey Park and on Lady Longhorn diamond. Probably the most gut-wrenching of the two PHS defeats was a 1-0 loss to eventual tournament champion Estrella Foothills in the Lady Horns’ final game of the Classic. After the two teams battled tooth and nail to a scoreless deadlock, Estrella scored the winning run in the bottom of the fifth and final inning.

Rec Roundup

Call (928) 474-5242, ext. 7 or visit paysonrimcountry.com

Participants should have basic first aid training and/or certification. Whether you’re a scout, an outdoor enthusiast or you work in a remote environment, the Wilderness and Remote First Aid course will provide the skills needed to respond to an emergency when help may be delayed. Registration is open now. Class size is limited. This class will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, April 14 and 15 (participants must attend both days). Meet at the Parks and Rec conference room at Green Valley Lake.

Clubs and Organizations

March Payson Art League monthly presentation will be by Threadplayers’ Nancy Ballard, president and Georgia Thorne, programs. Threadplayers began with a moment of pure vision of using fabric as a canvas. A few artisans were committed to venture onto a path of artistic exploration and the group was formed in 2002. Each month they explore different techniques such as painting, dying, fusing, beading, photo-to-fabric, printing and more. Come find out about this dynamic group of fiber artists and their upcoming show at the Payson Art League meeting Tuesday, March 20 at Rim Country Health & Retirement Community, 807 W. Longhorn in Payson. A social hour starts at 6 p.m. and presentation follows a short business meeting at 6:30 p.m. The public is invited.

Firewall against raging firestorm

Race to improve fire buffer zones around Rim communities ahead of potentially deadly fire season

After a decade of strenuous effort, the Payson Ranger District has nearly completed a thinned buffer zone to reduce the threat of a devastating crown fire that could consume most major Rim Country communities. The Tonto National Forest since 2000 has spent $13 million to hand thin 30,000 acres and set controlled burns covering 53,000 acres to create buffer zones on the outskirts of Payson, Pine, Strawberry, Star Valley, Whispering Pines, East Verde Park and other communities. Fire districts and private donors have provided an extra $721,000, including $200,000 from Gila County, $50,000 from Payson and $18,000 from the Tonto Apache Tribe, $40,000 from The Rim Club and $100,000 from the East Verde Park Homeowners Association and fire district and $88,000 from the communities of Christopher Creek and Hunter Creek.

Friday, March 16

Weekend starts with three rescues in the wilderness

County officials late Friday afternoon had three rescues underway from the Mazatzal wilderness to the wilds under the Mogollon Rim. Lt. Tim Scott of the Gila County Sheriff’s office reported three rescues underway Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. The first is located north of the Barnhardt trail on the east side of the mountains. A hiker set off his emergency locator beacon, which turned off as soon as officials received the signal.

County Road Crews Prepared for Strong Weekend Snow Storm

Coconino County Public Works crews are preparing for a strong storm that’s expected to hit northern Arizona with up to 55 mph winds, rain and between 12 to 24 inches of snow over the weekend. The National Weather Service on Friday issued a Winter Storm Watch for northern Arizona. The watch is in preparation for a strong low-pressure system that is expected to bring strong winds and rain to the Flagstaff region Saturday, which will turn to snow around midnight.

Kiss Me! Even if I'm not Irish!

Don’t miss the LUCKY PAWS ADOPTION SPECIAL during the month of March at the Humane Society of Central Arizona.

PWGA 2012 kick-off breakfast March 26

Spring is in the air, and so are golf balls. The 2012 season for the Payson Women’s Golf Association begins Tuesday, March 27 with the annual Kick-off Breakfast at the Mazatzal Casino at 9 a.m. All Rim Country women are invited to bring their clubs for a just-for-fun round of golf afterward.

Bomb threats bolster court security concerns

This year Gila County switchboard operator Bethel Bennett has already fielded two bomb threat calls. “Usually they just call the switchboard, tell us there is a bomb in the building and hang up,” she said. The bomb sniffing dogs didn’t discover an explosive this time, but county officials fear the lack of adequate security in both the Payson and Globe courthouses makes tragedy all too plausible.

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Council bans designer drugs

Police posed to quickly enforce ‘emergency’ ordinance adopted by Payson council

The Payson Police Department will move immediately to block the sale of “spice” and other synthetic drugs in accordance with an emergency ordinance adopted Thursday night by the town council, said Police Chief Don Engler. Engler asked the town council to include an emergency clause in the adoption of an ordinance banning the sale of “intentionally misused” products, so he would not have to wait the normal 30 days before moving to enforce the new law.

Dumpster dump plot thickens

Witness reports repeated discards of confidential documents as county investigation continues

Lynda Perkins, the coupon searcher who found sensitive personal documents in a county recycling bin would like to know, “What happened to the documents that had been in the bin that was emptied?” Perkins had originally discovered documents from the federal WIC (Women, Infant and Children) program in the county recycling bin on Sunday, Feb. 26. By Wednesday, Feb. 29, she discovered the bin had been emptied — but found fresh bundles of confidential documents with the personal identifying information of people who applied for county programs in the same recycling bin.

Prominent Payson attorney suspended

Disciplinary panel suspends Harlan Green for six months

Allegations prominent Payson attorney Harlan Green took financial advantage of a mentally disabled woman, mishandled a trust account and neglected his duties prompted the Arizona Supreme Court to suspend his practice of law for six months. The court also ordered the former Payson town attorney and leading Rim Country criminal lawyer to pay the $4,532 cost of the investigation and go into arbitration to settle fee disputes with three previous clients. After six months, Green can seek a reinstatement of his right to practice law according to the ruling of the three-member panel led by the Acting Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Arizona Supreme Court.

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Payson third-grade students reading well

Only 3 percent would be held back under new legislation

Payson third-graders fared much better than anticipated on reading tests that will soon determine whether students move on to the next grade. However, the Pine and Tonto Basin districts could face problems when state reforms take effect in 2013. If the new standards were in effect right now, 3 percent of Payson third-graders, 10 percent of Pine third-graders and 13 percent of Tonto Basin third-graders would get held back, according to a recent state report.

Voters return mayor and three incumbent town councilors

Payson Mayor Kenny Evans this week received a fresh, virtually unanimous mandate from voters as work on several major initiatives reaches a critical stage. Evans received 2,835 votes as he ran unopposed for a third, two-year term and the town dealing with the frustrating negotiations with Arizona State University moving to a critical phase, construction set to start on the Blue Ridge pipeline in June and a $25 million telemedicine grant education in the final cut for federal funding.

Community Almanac

A St. Patrick’s Day Celebration will be held at 10:30 a.m., Friday, March 16. All lasses and lads are welcomed. There will be traditional Irish folk music with Cinnamon Twist. Entertainment is free and open to all area seniors. Following the entertainment, stay for another St. Patty’s Day tradition, a corned beef and cabbage dinner with all the trimmings. The cost is $4 per person and reservations are required. Call (928) 474-4676 for reservations.

Unite against Forest Service Travel Management Plan

on an issue. I am passionate about my faith, my family and my country; however, as one of my cowboy friends says, “this is likely to plow up a snake.”

Payson Elementary’s Spring Scholastic Book Fair was a success

We greatly surpassed our goal of getting over 200 books into our students’ hands, hearts and minds.

Protesting the Tonto Forest Travel Management Plan

We picked up a package of the Tonto Forest Travel Management Plan paperwork and maps. Several of us tried to determine from the maps which roads would be reopened that had been closed, and which roads currently open would be closed.

Unopposed invasion by elk

This will attempt to illuminate the acceleration of our elk invasion. I and my neighbors live in the southeast portion of Payson along Mud Springs Road.

Payson bans designer drugs

We applaud the Payson Town Council’s prompt and creative response to the threat to our kids posed by the sale of designer drugs in stores in Rim Country. The town faced a challenging legal problem: How can we outlaw the sale of untested, potentially dangerous packets of synthetic drugs flying under the radar screen of the nation’s current drug laws.

Payson Rimstones Rock Club offers college scholarships

The Payson Rimstones Rock Club provides $3,000, college scholarships annually to students from northern Gila County for high school and college students who are majoring in physical and earth sciences, engineering, biological sciences, forestry and physical geography. Students can re-apply yearly if they maintain a B average.

A man shaped by Gila County

Ronnie McDaniel running for supervisor after a career that mirrors the diverse history of the county

With a family and personal history that makes him a seeming metaphor for Gila County, former tribal judge and pioneer offspring Ronnie McDaniel is running now for an open seat on the Gila County Board of Supervisors. A longtime friend and ally of retiring Supervisor Shirley Dawson, McDaniel is so far unopposed for the District 3 seat voters will decide on in November.

Mayors stress job creation, partnership with state

Payson Mayor Kenny Evans joined mayors from around Arizona last week at the state Capitol to urge the Legislature to let cities and towns lead the way on job creation and not to preempt those efforts with legislation that erodes local control. Evans said the Legislature has made strides to create jobs, but then hurts local efforts with excessive micromanaging of cities.

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Book signing tomorrow for anthology chronicling 28 Arizona women

Three Rim Country authors Barbara Lacey, Carol La Valley and Carol Osman Brown are among those featured in a new anthology, “Skirting Traditions — Arizona Women Writers and Journalists, 1912-2012.”

Blood donors can win Diamondbacks tickets

Participate in the March Rim Country area blood drive and be entered to win Diamondbacks Party Suite tickets.

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Rim Country gears up for St. Patrick’s Day

Varied events at Elks Lodge and Senior Center celebrate the Irish in us all

With my last name, plus the fact that my mother’s maiden name is Odell (no apostrophe) and my grandmother was a Malone before she became a McQuerrey, chances are I can find some roots deep in the Irish sod. So, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is something I do with delight every year (at least in my heart). Whether you can claim real Irish roots or not, you are invited to a big blowout for St. Patrick at the Payson Elks Lodge with a dinner and show Saturday, March 17.

Blair River to be honored by Univ. of Phoenix

The University of Phoenix is poised to honor one of Payson’s favorite sons. In ceremonies to begin at 2 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, March 17, on the school’s main campus in Phoenix, university officials will rename the Student Resource Center in honor of Blair River who was an employee and student at the school prior to his untimely death on Feb. 28, 2011 from flu complications. The renaming of the center and the accompanying celebration is occurring on what would have been the former Longhorn football and wrestling star’s 31st birthday.

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Ex-Horns coach GCU to national honors

Grand Canyon University wrestling coaches R.C. LaHaye and Larry Wilbanks have no doubts the athletic experiences they enjoyed at Payson High School greatly contributed to their current coaching success on the collegiate level. “We had some very solid and influential coaches growing up in Payson,” said LaHaye, the GCU head coach. “Coaches Dave Lamotte, Dennis Pirch, Doug Eckhardt, Don Heizer and so many more. “We cannot thank them enough for teaching us this sport as well as the values that go along with it.” The plaudits come on the heels of the former Horn matmen leading Grand Canyon University to its finest wrestling hour.

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Lobos suffer twin killing

It’s not often that an Arizona smalltown high school can claim sweeping the traditionally powerful Snowflake Lobos in two sports. But that’s exactly what unfolded March 13 on the Payson High campus where the Horn baseball team run-ruled the Lobos 15-5 and the Lady Longhorns corralled and hog-tied Snowflake 14-2. Those two wins probably had PHS alumni, who have long suffered at the paws of the Lobos, “partying like it was 1999,” to borrow a line from Prince.

Hoops trio earn honorable mention

A trio of Payson High School’s finest basketball players this past season has reaped Division III all-state honors. Tanner Hintze, Cole Belcher and Teanna Lopez received honorable mention accolades when the selections were announced March 11 by The Arizona Republic.

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Lady Horns battle for Gracie Lee gold

The seventh annual Gracie Lee Haught Classic fast pitch softball tournament tips off today, Friday, March 16, with the Lady Longhorns fielding a surprisingly strong team that could contend for the title. The optimism in the Payson camp is due partly to the second-place finish the Lady Horns turned in during the season-opening, 12-team Buckeye Invitational tournament. There, PHS whipped several Division II “big school” teams, proving they could play on even terms with the best of opponents.

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Ghosts in the Canyon

Archaeologists reveal research that uncovers clues to fate of vanished civilizations in the Grand Canyon

Archaeologists Ellen Brennen crouched in the relentless sun, meticulously uncovering the curious, two-chambered hearth in the floor of a sunken, circular room built 1,000 years ago in the mysterious depths of the Grand Canyon. She worked with exquisite care, filling bags with dirt from the hearth. Each bag held tiny traces of pollen, plant remains and animal bones that offered clues to how ancient people made their living on the flood-prone shores of the Colorado River and perhaps why they fled this gash in the earth in the 1300s.

Clubs and Organizations

The Rim Country Chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society meets at 10 a.m. the third Saturday of each month at the Church of the Holy Nativity at the corner of Bradley Dr. and Easy St.

Make plans to attend the 2012 Resurrection Celebration

Make plans to attend the 2012 Resurrection Celebration from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturday, April 7 at Rumsey Park.

We may see some winter weather this weekend

Fair weather is forecasted for today, Friday, March 16, with highs in the low to mid-60s. But it will turn mostly overcast on Saturday with cooler temperatures. Sunday will progress with an oncoming front that will include a 30-percent chance of rain turning to snow. The precipitation will show an increase in coverage in the mid-afternoon as it rises to a 40-percent chance of snow.

Meet Steve Sundra

Hello again, fellow Creekers. It’s time for another installment of “better know your neighbor.” This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Steve Sundra. He has lived in Ponderosa Springs for 18 years and is currently retired but still fills in tending bar part-time at Creekside Restaurant and is the president of the Ponderosa Springs Home Owners Association. Steve is currently one of the few full-time residents in Ponderosa Springs.

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Rim Country spring is coming on fast

It must be getting close to spring again here in the Rim Country. The willow trees in Green Valley Park are just starting to sprout their new leaves, the Canada geese have left for their summer homes and the wind is whipping just like it does come every March. But one thing that hasn’t changed quite yet at our park is the presence of our seasonal visitor — the American Bald Eagle. He (or she) is still nesting behind the condominiums on the south side of the lake, fishing three to four times a day for trout in the lakes and putting on a magnificent aerial display for the many patrons of the park.

Celebrate St. Patrick’s at the Double D

Does anyone know where San Tan Valley is? I found out this past weekend when I was invited to my future granddaughter-in-law’s bridal shower. I could not tell if I was in Apache Junction, Florence or where. I drove down on Saturday, and took the easiest route to get there, Route 87 to U.S. 60 and then to the bride’s mother’s house. The trip took me two-and-a-half hours. It is out in the middle of nowhere with big, ranch-like homes with plenty of horses. The bridal shower was a huge success, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, meeting other family members and the wedding party. But when it came time for me to leave — early, because I wanted to beat the daylight coming back up the mountain — I made a wrong turn and got lost! Before I realized it, I was 20 miles out of my way. I finally stopped to ask directions to U.S. 60 and got back on track.

Sometimes it takes a youngster a long time to understand

Back in 1966 I got a phone call all the way from the States to Okinawa from Frank, my next-to-oldest brother. He needed some things made over there on the island where I was stationed, so he called me about it. It took only a few minutes to tell me what he wanted, and I knew exactly where to buy them — a set of end tables and a coffee table made there on Okinawa, ones I had seen. Made of precious woods imported from the jungles of Southeast Asia, they were carved over an inch and a half deep and beautifully hand finished.  But there was a minor glitch.

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Festival fever on the rise in Pine Strawberry

The weather on the Rim has been beautiful with mild temperatures and lots of sunshine. Like many of you, I’m wondering what happened to winter and would love more snow or rain. However, the beautiful days feel like “festival weather” and I’m ready for the fun to get under way. Perhaps it is the time of year, the weather, the food, the people, but one thing I’ve noticed, at our festivals nearly everyone is smiling! It’s time to catch festival fever. There are numerous opportunities for a great time this year! St. Patrick’s Day events

Thursday, March 15

St. Patrick’s Events

Celebrating the Irish in us all

With my last name, plus the fact that my mother’s maiden name is Odell (no apostrophe) and my grandmother was a Malone before she became a McQuerrey, chances are I can find some roots deep in the Irish sod. So, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is something I do with delight every year (at least in my heart). Whether you can claim real Irish roots or not, you are invited to a big blowout for St. Patrick at the Payson Elks Lodge with a dinner and show Saturday, March 17. This is a benefit and is open to Elks members and their guests. The meal, a seated affair being planned for about 200, will feature corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots, plus sweet scones. Cocktails will be served at 5:30 p.m., with dinner at 6 p.m. and the show at 6:30 p.m.

Not all chest pain comes from the heart

I am a 38-year-old woman who has a very stressful job. It is also very well-paying, so I don’t want to give it up. I think it might be giving me chest pain. The pain comes and goes unpredictably. Sometimes I am just sitting at my desk, and I get a squeezing sensation in my chest. At other times, I had been hurrying around. I have had several EKGs, been examined by three doctors, had a stress test and a radioactive stress test. The doctors say my heart is healthy, and the chest pain could come from stress. In speaking with people I trust, I have been told to have a heart catheterization. What do you think?

Key figures of early Payson

Folks like to talk about our country’s Founding Fathers from time to time, yet I rarely hear it discussed on a local level. Here’s my take on Payson’s “founding fathers.”

Rim Country a magnet for artists

The Rim Country is a magnet for many, all with a vast array of reasons for wanting to make this place their home. So, it is no surprise it has drawn an untold number of artists into its embrace of scrub oak, ponderosa pines, free flowing creeks, deep mysterious canyons and seemingly unending vistas. More than 20 of those artists, members of the Payson Art League, will invite residents and visitors into their studios during the annual ’Neath the Rim Open Studio Tour May 4, 5 and 6.

Rim Country a magnet for artists

The Rim Country is a magnet for many, all with a vast array of reasons for wanting to make this place their home. So, it is no surprise it has drawn an untold number of artists into its embrace of scrub oak, ponderosa pines, free flowing creeks, deep mysterious canyons and seemingly unending vistas. More than 20 of those artists, members of the Payson Art League, will invite residents and visitors into their studios during the annual ’Neath the Rim Open Studio Tour May 4, 5 and 6.

Homemade baking mix recipes

We have all heard the warnings about salt and preservatives in the packaged foods we use. So, why not make our own version of one multi-tasking packaged food — the baking mix. The following recipes were provided to The Rim Review from Tawra Kellam, publisher and editor of Living On A Dime.com.

Caribbean Cruising

Last week I wrote about a two-week trip that included Florida and a one-week Caribbean cruise. In Florida we first visited Orlando and Disneyworld Park. We particularly enjoyed Epcot, which can be compared to a world’s fair. We spent a day there seeing most of the exhibits in the various pavilions and riding many of the conveyances available to view their interiors. Epcot is sprawled over some 300 acres at Disneyworld. From Orlando, we drove south to Ft. Lauderdale and visited, among other places, the Everglades Safari Park to ride one of the Air Boats through the swampy terrain.

Get-a-Away Around Rim Country

The Arizona Trail Association will host a public workshop from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 14 at the Payson Public Library. The Arizona Trail is a National Scenic Trail running from Arizona’s southern border to its northern border. Representatives from the Forest Service will explain the comprehensive management plan process, describe existing conditions of the trail, and ask the public to share ideas on how to improve the trail.

Good 2 Go

The Quilt Angels, formerly called DPS Quilt Angels, are known for providing quilts to DPS for victims of crime and families of fallen police officers, residents of nursing homes and for making quilts and Christmas stockings for children of local food bank families.

Wednesday, March 14

Forest Service seeks advice on managing Arizona Trail

The U.S. Forest Service on Wednesday evening will host a workshop at the Payson Public Library to get ideas from people about how to manage the stretch of the Arizona Trail that passes through Rim Country. The Arizona Trail stretches 817 miles from the Arizona-Mexico border to the Arizona-Utah border. Designated a National Scenic Trail in 2009, it took 25 years to complete.

Clubs and Organizations

Payson Rimstones Rock Club will meet at 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 14. It will be preceded at 2:30 p.m. by the board meeting. The meeting will be held at the Payson Library, 328 N. McLane Road. The guest speakers will be Lana Butterfield and Kim Merrill from the Meteor Crater. Members and guests may bring rocks to see if they are meteorites.

Court overturns embezzlement convictions of former Renzi associate

A federal appeals panel recently overturned the embezzlement convictions of an associate of former Rep. Rick Renzi, the Arizona congressman representing Rim Country who was indicted in 2008 on 48 counts of fraud, conspiracy and other charges. Dwayne Lequire was convicted in 2010 of conspiracy and eight counts of embezzlement after he took Patriot Insurance Agency funds and transferred “over $750,000 to Renzi” instead of sending them to Spirit Mountain Insurance Co. Renzi, in turn, “used those funds for personal expenditures,” according to court documents.

County puts liens on homes to get property taxes

Complicated process can eventually cost people their properties if they fail to pay taxes

Buyers can snap up homes in Gila County for pennies on the dollar if they do their homework. At anytime, a list of properties lost due to non-payment of property taxes sits in the office of the clerk of the board. Each year, landowners who fail to pay their property taxes face the threat of losing their property. But what does that mean? “When someone doesn’t pay for property taxes, the treasurer has an auction sale,” said Marian Sheppard, chief deputy clerk for Gila County.

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Volunteers restore pioneer’s gravesite

A dozen volunteers made record time in restoring the grave of a vivid Rim Country pioneer on Saturday — hauling fencing and wielding rakes and clippers to honor the man credited with discovering the Tonto Natural Bridge. “Sometimes in life you get down on people,” said Bill Gibson who spent months lining up permits and donations to restore the grave of David Gowan, a sailor, prospector, rancher, farmer and doughty survivor. “Then you run across a group of people like this and it kind of restores your faith in humanity. What a cool deal.”

Tuesday, March 13

College wrestles with cost to maintain land

GCC gains control of its land but at the cost of losing a longstanding $300,000 subsidy from Gila County

Newly responsible for the land and buildings the Gila Community College (GCC) sits on, the GCC staff and board members firmed up details on the deed, verified its insurance, and explored what to do with the money from the sale of land to the Rim Country Education Alliance (SLE) at a recent board meeting. “I feel this was a huge step for our district to chart our future,” said Stephen Cullen, senior dean for GCC. Yet the question still remains: how will GCC each year come up with the $300,000 needed to maintain its campus after the county stops footing the bill in June.

Optimists want kids to fish

We are calling all kids! The Rim Country Optimist Club is having its Sixth Annual Fishing Festival from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, March 31 at Green Valley Park.

Secretary of Defense pushes one world government

Don’t you think it’s time for Americans to give up their freedom?

Don’t remove eagles from endangered list

The article on March 9, 2012 about removing the eagles in this state has overlooked some issues.

Support of first regional Gila County Science and Engineering Fair appreciated

I am writing to express my gratitude and thanks for the broad-based support of teachers, parents, business and community members from around the county for the First Regional Gila County Science and Engineering Fair.

Payson seeking diverse economy

Payson got a welcome piece of good news this week, with word that the town helped High Precision Range (HPR) land a $300,000 grant from the Arizona Commerce Authority. The grant will give needed support to the small, bustling bullet manufacturer’s plan to double its output with a $4 million upgrade. Hopefully, that expansion will increase the number of jobs the bullet maker provides from the present 30 to 40 to a new total of 70 to 80, according to Payson’s Economic Development Director Mike Vogel. The town demonstrated its new, business-friendly approach two years ago when town officials helped HPR cut through red tape as quickly as possible to set up shop in an empty warehouse building by the airport.

Community Almanac

The Quilt Angels, formerly called DPS Quilt Angels, are known for providing quilts to DPS for victims of crime and families of fallen police officers, residents of nursing homes and for making quilts and Christmas stockings for children of local Food Bank families. Next week, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday, March 14, Thursday, March 15 and Friday, March 16 this small group of caring quilters are undertaking a gigantic project by hosting a Quilt-a-Thon at the First Baptist Church in Pine on Highway 87. They expect to complete 150 Comfort Quilts with the community’s help.

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Tragic death, deep grief, vital lessons

Students grieve and weep at high school assembly focusing on safe driving

It is a day organizers hope rattles students. From graphic crash videos, firsthand accounts of survival, hands-on demonstrations on the dangers of distracted driving and stern warnings from police officers — Project Ignition is an annual event at Payson High School designed to get student drivers thinking. But the day may have been too much for some students with the tragic death of a student less than two months ago still weighing heavily.

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Reintroduced condors set breeding record

Flock grows to 73 as two more wild-reared fledglings take to the air above the Grand Canyon

It’s been a good year for Arizona’s condors on the comeback trail. The 73 condors riding updrafts above the Grand Canyon and the Vermillion Cliffs produced three chicks this year — a record for the expensive and complex effort. Two of the chicks successfully fledged and have now joined the mostly captive-bred adults, the largest flying birds in the world nearly exterminated by eggshell-thinning pesticides and other problems. Unhappy biologists found the third condor fledgling dead with a broken wing at the base of his nest in a cave in the face of a cliff in the Grand Canyon. Biologists think the chick fell from its nest before it could fly.

Rumors bounce about on Pine Canyon Road project

A dangerous road, governmental red tape and a strict timeline started rumors that the crucial Pine Canyon road-widening project faced insurmountable obstacles. But county officials say they have everything under control in the effort to widen the most important road into one of the most fire-menaced communities in the country. The steep, narrow Pine Canyon Road will serve as an emergency exit for much of Pine in the event a fire sweeps down on the thickly forested community. The U.S. Forest Service has cleared a buffer zone at the end of the community, but most homes still sit nestled in a continuous carpet of trees on steep slopes.

Drought grips Rim Country

The drought has returned with a vengeance to Rim Country, draining reservoirs and raising fears of a fierce, early fire season. Blame La Niña — below-normal sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific that often produce dry winters in the Southwestern United States as a counterpoint to wetter than normal winters in the Pacific Northwest. Normally, the watershed of the Tonto National Forest gets about 4 inches of rain in January and February. This year, we’ve received well under one inch —and most of that fell in January. The figures look even worse for Payson so far this year. Normally, between January and the end of March Payson gets 6.28 inches. So far, we’ve had just .29 of an inch.

Payson youth can learn basketball from one of the best

Bill Farrell, one of the finest prep coaches in Arizona basketball history, has agreed to present a town-hosted Spring Break Basketball Camp March 19 through March 22 in Wilson Dome. Aspiring athletes in third- through eighth-grades are invited to attend the camp. The fee is $35 per camper and entrants receive a T-shirt if pre-registered and did not take part in the camp held last fall. At that camp, which was conducted very similar to the upcoming spring session, Farrell stressed the fundamentals of the sport using what he calls “traditional” approaches. Others might glowingly label his strategies “old school.”

Horns have break-even week on the diamond

After turning in a lackluster effort in a 10-0 loss to Bradshaw Mountain, the Longhorn baseball team rebounded a day later, March 8, to whip Miami 9-2. Playing on PHS diamond vs. the Vandals, the Horns rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the third inning scoring six runs. Gunner Goodman’s double, a triple off the bat of Cale Novack and singles by Chance Randall, Daily Carnes, Nick McMullen, Garret Geske and Will Dougherty fueled the rally. In the fifth, Miami loaded the bases on three consecutive singles and was on the verge of having the so-called “big inning.” But with one out, starting hurler Miguel Mendoza got a Miami batsman to hit into a Goodman, Carnes, McMullen double play to end the threat.

Longhorn golfers start 2012 season on a roll

The Payson High golf team is rounding into a talent-laden group that could eventually be the school’s best links squad since the Billy Bob Hoyt-Brandan Kelley group that led the Longhorns to state and regional titles from 2001 to 2004. Proof of the team’s potential rests in a 3-0 season start and an outstanding effort on March 8 at Hidden Cove Golf Course in Holbrook. There, the Horns totally overwhelmed Holbrook, 154-206, despite the advantage the Roadrunners had of playing on their home course. On what coach Bret Morse is calling “a chilly, blustery day,” Jeff Kelley shrugged off the elements to lead the team with a one under par 35.

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Chilson runs to bronze

Speedster Morgan Chilson stamped herself one of Division III’s best sprinters when she ran to a 100-meters third-place finish at the prestigious Desert Classic Invitational. The invitational drew some of the state’s finest prep athletes to Queen Creek. A field of 40 sprinters entered the 100-meter dash, but only the quickest nine, including Chilson, made it to the spirited finals.

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An afternoon in the life of a sports writer

As a 7th-grader at Rim Country Middle School, part of the career exploration class curriculum is to do a job shadow in a field of work that interests me. I chose to job shadow Max Foster, as I enjoy both writing and sports. My job shadow was very interesting, as I was allowed to see all of the newspaper production tricks and help Foster with a newspaper article. Foster also had me interview Bo Althoff, the current PHS pole-vaulting coach. Roundup: How did you get interested in pole-vaulting?

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Bacon hooks lunker-sized trout

Donnie Bacon is a frequent visitor to the Green Valley Park lakes where he’s had luck landing some of the modest-sized trout stocked each month by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. But his catch on March 1 near the dock and boat ramp on the 10-acre main lake was a lunker-sized trout that would have gone down in the GVP record books had it been officially weighed. The fish — a trophy-sized catch in most any Arizona river or lake, let alone an urban park — tipped the scales unofficially at a robust 6 lbs., 8 oz.

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Heroic combat veterans face uphill challenge

Iraq War pair pedaling 4,000 miles to raise money for fellow soldiers seeking a way back

Jeremy Staat starred in football at Arizona State, played in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers and fought in Iraq as a U.S. Marine, but Saturday’s bike ride uphill from Tempe to Payson presented him with one of his biggest challenges. “Sorry I’m late, but there was a mountain in my way,” Staat told a group of supporters just after arriving March 10 at the Payson American Legion Post. Of course, he couldn’t complain too loudly — since his riding companion Wesley Barrientos used biceps to pedal after losing his legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Friday, March 9

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Monster Mob

Hundreds crowd into the Oxbow to hear 19 people recount sightings of the Mogollon Monster

Hundreds of people filled a haunted saloon to overflowing Thursday night to listen to a parade of Rim Country residents describe close encounters of the Bigfoot kind as the TV cameras rolled. Nineteen people recounted sightings of the Mogollon Monster, including one not far from The Home Depot in Payson. The Animal Planet show “Finding Bigfoot” organized the “town hall” in the historic Oxbow Saloon to record firsthand accounts of sightings of the 6- to 8-foot-tall, shaggy, upright-walking creature.

Convicted man faces more trials

The hapless crime spree of Carlos Dorame-Ruiz has apparently come to an ignoble end thanks to a duck-like running stride, a patch of ice and questionable driving skills showcased in several low-speed, sometimes off-road police chases. Last month, a jury deliberated for just an hour before finding Carlos Dorame-Ruiz, 22, guilty of trafficking stolen property and false reporting. Dorame-Ruiz, 22, faces sentencing on March 12 on that conviction.

County trashes confidential information

Violating privacy law, health department discards personal information of people applying for benefits in public trash bin

Gila County Health Department staff dumped confidential personal information that included copies of drivers’ licenses and birth certificates into a public recycling bin found by two Payson residents on Feb. 29. “The fact this is happening is inexcusable,” said Supervisor Tommie Martin. The health department reported in a press release this week that an employee threw two bankers-style boxes containing 12 files of internal documentation into a recycle container used by other businesses in Payson. The employee has been reprimanded and retrained, said county officials. County officials have not confirmed how many individual’s records were compromised, but the files reportedly included hundreds of pages.

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Rim gas stations cited

Consumers serve as eyes and ears for inspectors

With gas prices soaring, motorists want to get every drop for the dollar. So to help out, the Roundup asked for two years worth of state inspection records for filling stations in Payson to find out which miscalibrated pumps have ripped off customers. The results: pumps at four stations have given customers less than they bought — but then another five pumps gave customers more gas than they paid for. In addition, inspectors dinged most stations in town for maintenance issues. An official with the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures said station owners fix most issues soon after an inspection to avoid fines and possible shut down.

Volunteers will restore grave of brave pioneer

A hardy group of volunteers will assemble at the Deer Creek trailhead at 8 a.m., Saturday, March 10 to restore the neglected grave of a tough Rim Country pioneer. Bill Gibson has enlisted perhaps a dozen people willing to use supplies donated by Home Depot to restore the remote, overgrown grave of David Gowan, reportedly the first white man to discover of the Tonto Natural Bridge. The group will assemble at the Deer Creek trailhead, near the rest stop at the junction of the Beeline Highway and the road down to Roosevelt Lake.

Aleshire to head newspaper’s editorial department

Roundup publisher John Naughton this week named Peter Aleshire editor in chief of the award-winning newspaper, following the retirement of editor Tom Brossart. In each of Brossart’s four years as editor, the Arizona Newspaper Association recognized the Roundup as the best non-daily newspaper in the state. Aleshire moves into the position after almost five years as the paper’s news editor during which time the ANA recognized him as the top non-daily newspaper reporter in the state.

Community Almanac

The Payson Choral Society needs applications from all middle and high school students interested in auditioning for its scholarship awards by Friday, March 9. Applications postmarked after March 9 will not be accepted. Mail applications, along with a copy of the music to be used (in the correct key) to Payson Choral Society Scholarship Auditions, P.O. Box 2563, Payson, AZ 85547.

The great compassion in this community is astounding

I would like to, on behalf of the Wright and Shannon family, share with you the greatness of the Payson community. I would also like to give thanks and appreciation to its residents.

PSWID board members should behave appropriately

After the heated Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District (PSWID) meetings, it’s unfortunate that the focus has shifted away from the actions in question of the PSWID, toward the outrageous verbal attacks on Sam Schwalm. The truth about angry outbursts is that they provide a good smoke screen for unethical behavior. I hear from other Pine residents that belong to town-oriented groups that the tempers of Calderon and Lovetro (board members with uncontrolled outbursts) are not exclusive to only water meetings. The only moral thing to do is a public apology made directly to Sam Schwalm — not a generalized apology for an outburst! Public people with these types of anger issues should not be allowed to continue in any public forum.

A view from atop broad shoulders

Shadows. And shoulders. We stand always in shadows — but also atop shoulders. So suddenly I’m editor, coming out of Tom’s shadow — but standing also on his shoulders. What a marvelous, scary thing — to have responsibility now for the best non-daily newspaper in Arizona. Such potential to bless this great-hearted town and its quirky, bright, kind readers — and such a challenging time in the profession to which Tom — and I — have given our lives. I did not expect to find such treasures when I stumbled into Payson almost five years ago, a bit worse for wear. Tom took me in — offered me a new home.

Town assumes responsibility for Forest Service roads

The effort to build a four-year university in Payson remains enmeshed in end-game negotiations with Arizona State University, a private academy and several other contenders — but at least the Payson Town Council last week took a concrete step toward acquiring the land the winner in the negotiations will need to build a 6,000-student campus. The expansion of the project to include both a public university and a private, specialized academy has increased the amount of land the Rim Country Education Alliance SLE will need to accommodate the two campuses and the spin-off businesses, like a research park, conference hotel and incubation center.

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Council debates Green Valley gazebo for weddings and events

The Payson Town Council wants to investigate the possibility of building a gazebo for weddings and other special events in Green Valley Park — despite the misgivings of Payson Mayor Kenny Evans. Counselors Su Connell and Fred Carpenter supported the idea, in the hopes that an additional gazebo people could reserve would foster the use of the park for special events and ceremonies, which would boost the town’s struggling tourist economy.

Club affiliation not factored into volleyball team selection

It was almost inevitable when two club volleyball teams surfaced in Payson last year a rivalry would be created. That’s just the nature of competitive sports. But in the friendly rivalry that has risen between the two local volleyball teams — Club Rim and Club Payson — there is a rumor circulating that has no truth. In fact, the rumor is disrespectful to Lady Longhorns coach Arnold Stonebrink. The rumor is that if an athlete plays for Club Rim they shouldn’t try out for the PHS team, because they would be cut since Stonebrink is a Club Payson coach and allegedly wants school players on his off-season team.

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Pine-Strawberry student takes archery gold at NASP championships

Move over Robin Hood, an 11-year-old Pine-Strawberry School sixth-grader is poised to steal some of your archery thunder. She’s Skyler Cornelius, a fledgling competitor who finished first at the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP) Arizona State Championships held March 3 at Ben Avery Shooting Range near Phoenix. With the win, she qualifies for the upcoming national tournament to be held May 11-12 in Louisville, Ky. Cornelius says she’s unsure if she will be able to participate due to the traveling distance involved. In the state championship tournament, Cornelius was competing for the second successive year, having finished fourth at the 2011 finals.

Turkey calling at Shoot for the Heart

“Talking Turkey” will be tops on the agenda when the next of the wildly popular Shoot for the Heart outdoor seminars is held March 15 at Mountain Bible Church. However, the turkey they’ll be mulling will not be three strikes in bowling, a person considered undesirable or a country in southeast Europe. Rather the discussion will be about the wild fowl that by the early 1900s had been wiped out in North America, victims of habitat destruction and commercial harvest.

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Rim swimmers splash onto state competition scene

Although it would be a stretch to consider Payson an aquatics hot spot, the town is turning out several outstanding swimmers. They include Emily Giarrizzo, Catalina Coppelli, Garret Chance, Julie Gibson, Blain Chance, Caroline Morris, Caitlin Harold, Abby Ballam and Tianni Lawrence. All are members of the Scottsdale-based Swim Neptune, being coached locally by Cheryl Chance. For the aquatics season, Swim Neptune head coach Joe Zemaitis contracted with the Tonto Apache Tribe to have the Payson team members practice in their pool, which gives the local swimmers a year-round program and limits trips to the Valley for practices.

Netters reap rewards of prep efforts

The honors keep rolling in for former Lady Longhorns volleyball stars. Rachel Creighton, Payson High’s starting setter the past three seasons, has signed a letter of intent to play for Colorado Northwestern Community College. Former PHS standout Desi Burris is headed to Cumberland University in Tennessee and Jenna Robertson has wrapped up her career at Phoenix College and now stars for Trevecca University. In addition to Creighton agreeing to play for the Colorado college, she was recently named to both the All-Section III and All-Division III second team.

Secure document shredding will benefit the Senior Center

The next Payson Shred-A-Thon will be held Friday, April 13, from 10 a.m. to noon, or until the truck is full, whichever comes first.

Make yourself familiar with these five key investment areas

As an investor, what are your goals? You can probably think of quite a few — but over the course of your lifetime, your objectives typically will fall into five categories. And once you’re familiar with these areas, you can start thinking of what they’ll mean to you in terms of your financial and investment strategies. So, let’s take a look at each of these areas and see what they might entail for you. Preparing for retirement — With advances in health care and a greater awareness of healthy living practices, many of us can expect to live two or three decades in an active retirement. To pay for all those years, you’ll need to save and invest early and often.

Financial reports show Payson sales languishing

Seems like it’s never gonna end. That’s the impression left by the latest languishing sales figures in Payson’s monthly financial status report. That impression was buttressed when the federal government this month revised Arizona’s unemployment figures upward — subtracting an estimated 40,000 jobs. As a result, economists put the state’s January unemployment rate at 9.6 percent. Gila County’s unemployment rate generally runs about 1 percent higher than the state rate, although the report didn’t provide county-by-county breakdowns. The revision boosted the state’s rates from near 9 percent to more than 10 percent for recent months. That means that the state’s rate actually remained above 10 percent for the full year — a bit worse than the national average. Previous figures suggested Arizona’s rate had remained about half a percent below the national average for much of the year.

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Judge orders eagle study

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to take Arizona eagles off endangered species list gets overturned

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “abused its discretion” when it concluded desert bald eagles no longer need protection under the endangered species act, U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell has concluded. Therefore, the federal judge ordered the agency to undertake a new, 12-month study to determine whether the roughly 50 nesting pairs of bald eagles in Arizona need continued protection, even if bald eagles nationally have fully recovered. The decision represents yet another sharp rejection of the Fish and Wildlife’s procedures, in which officials in Washington, D.C. repeatedly overruled the recommendations of biologists on the scene. The judge concluded that the Fish and Wildlife Service’s action was not “founded on a rational connection between the facts found and the choices made.”

It’s amazing how little we know about some beautiful places

Before I moved over here from Texas in 1983, I had a chat with a friend about the spot where I am typing this column — the Rim Country. He knew we were moving to Arizona and I happened to mention that some day we planned to retire “in the Rim Country.” “Oh, you’re making a terrible mistake,” he told me. “You’ll get sick of it in a rush. No one can live in a place like that.” “No one can live in the Rim Country?”

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P-S students shine in recent competitions

On March 3, an incredible young lady, Skyler Cornelius, a 6th-grader at Pine Strawberry School, placed first among 300-plus competitors in the AZ State 2012 Archery Tournament at Ben Avery Range. Congratulations, Skyler, on your amazing achievement! Nine outstanding students from our school rocked the Gila County Science and Engineering Fair in Globe on March 1. Congratulations to Abby Greenleaf, 8th-grader and Jerusha Paine, 5th-grader, who received top honors. Abby was grand prize winner in the Middle School Division and Jerusha secured the grand prize in the Elementary Division.

Make a visit to Hellsgate Fire’s Web site

Did you know that the Hellsgate Fire Department has a Web site? There are budgets, board meeting minutes, brief biographies of board members and a history of the Star Valley Fire Department. There is a page for the auxiliary that is still in the making, and I will give a brief history of the Fireflies in Tonto Village.

Davy Jones’ passing brings back memories of The Monkees

I was sad to read last week that singer-actor-comedian Davy Jones had taken his “Last Train To Clarksville.” The lead vocalist of the sixties group, The Monkees, died from a heart attack. He will surely be missed by those of us who grew up purchasing The Monkees’ 45’s and watching their wild and crazy TV series. Trained as a racehorse jockey in his native England, Davy Jones turned to acting and then became a singer when he joined The Monkees in 1965. Known as “the cute one” of the group, he teamed with Micky Dolenz (the zany one), Peter Tork (the goofy one) and Mike Nesmith (the serious one).

Kudos to area restaurants

Hello again fellow Creekers. The Annual Taste of Rim Country Chef’s competition was held at the Payson Library on March 3. Many area chefs, caterers, and restaurants competed in this event including: Au Natural Cafe at Healthy Perspectives, Gerardo’s Firewood Café, Ayothaya Thai Cafe, Cedar Ridge Restaurant, Cardo’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant, Laura’s Small Café with Vita-Mart, Randall House, Rim Country Jams, Miss Fitz 260 Cafe, Creekside Restaurant, and Landmark at The Creek.

‘Wall to Wall’ ride in Heber

A cold front moved through earlier this week that brought temperatures down to the lower 40s and lows that dipped in the 20s. A warming trend is predicted for this weekend however, with highs reaching into the lower 60s and lows still dipping into the 20s.

Your lucky day has arrived

Good luck is hard to come by these days. The fluctuating economy has affected everyone in some way or another, and gas prices have hit an all-time high. The lottery is exciting to play, but it isn’t the most dependable income at times. You may be thinking “How can HSCAZ change my luck?” HSCAZ is here to inform you that your lucky day (or month) has finally arrived. The Humane Society of Central Arizona is having a month-long adoption special in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Our adoption special allows adopters to come in and choose their animal and then select a special reduced adoption fee out of our “pot of gold.”

Clubs and Organizations

The March meeting of the Daughters of the American Revolution will be at 1 p.m., Friday, March 9 at the Payson Public Library. The program will be by Sandy Carson, who will be speaking on “Women in Arizona History.”

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Ancient mysteries in modern light

Photographers savor a rare chance to explore Upper Ruins of Tonto National Monument — which will be open to the public March 17-18

Mystery. Light. History. Angles. Breathtaking views. All await discovery among the 700-year-old Upper Cliff Ruins of the Tonto National Monument. Normally, the national park requires reservations for tours up the rustic three-mile, round-trip trail — and that is only from November to April. Guests may take a guided tour, photo walk or full-moon hike to the top. However, on March 17 and 18 the park will allow rare, open access to the fortress-like multi-room ruins. At the height of its use, the ruins housed more than 100 people. Now, the view from the Upper Cliff Dwellings includes breathtaking views of Roosevelt Lake, which is not as visible from the Lower Cliff Dwellings. As aspiring photographers, my daughter and I jumped at the chance to take the photo tour. The photo walks are hosted bi-monthly by Peg and Rex Lavoie, retired professional photographers who volunteer at the national park.

Thursday, March 8

Friend or foe

Look around the world today and you will see dissension, disagreements, disunity… there is discord all around! Don’t take my word for it; you can just look every day in the multiple myriads of media as a confirmation. The Internet alone, not to mention television and radio, informs the world at large that this is so.  The rumblings increase greatly, causing these disasters to increase. Because of this, human relationships are utterly diminished. Trust is no longer valid among people and suspicion is heightened. It has become a new way to assess those who previously were trusted.  A new reality is formed, creating a new attitude in daily living.  Those who were once beloved and treasured friends become foes and hated enemies. How do we stop this madness? I am glad you asked!

Get an early start on that spring fling

There is a wide array of activities throughout Arizona this weekend, so get an early start on that spring fling. Go to the opera, take in one of the best arts festivals in the country, tour the historic homes of the Globe area or tour an even more historic site at Wupatki National Monument or kick up your heels in Renaissance fashion at the annual Renaissance Fair in Apache Junction.

Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 14: The Murder of Clint Wingfield

They called him “Black Jack” Ketchum, but the gambling done by Thomas Edward Ketchum was in robbing banks, holding up trains, and leaving a trail of cold blooded murders across Texas, New Mexico and eastern Arizona. It was July 2, 1899, about 8 o’clock in the evening that Ketchum rode up to the old sutler’s store in Camp Verde, and within minutes had shot and killed the owners, “Mack” Rogers and Clint Wingfield.

Monday meal makeovers

Create lasting change, one week at a time

For some, Mondays may be the start of another week of the same old thing. But with a little help, Mondays can be the perfect time to make a difference in your routine. Celebrity fitness trainer and author Kathy Kaehler has teamed up with MorningStar Farms and the Meatless Monday campaign to encourage people to eat a healthier diet, one week at a time. “My approach to lasting change has always been to start with small steps,” said Kaehler. “I advise taking a weekly approach to help make diet and exercise changes manageable.”

Florida fun

Only a few days ago we returned from a two-week trip that included several days in Florida as well as a week’s cruise in the Caribbean. I’ll first describe the Florida portion of the vacation. We flew directly to Orlando, which, as you know, is the home for several Disney Theme Parks along with other attractions. Our first day was spent renting an automobile and getting somewhat acquainted with the rather large city that Orlando has become.

Get-a-Away Around Rim Country

The Arizona Farm Bureau and Young Farmers and Ranchers will present the Tonto Basin Farm Bureau Roping, The Cowboy Sprit Ropin’ Saturday, March 10 at the Brownsville Arena, with steers provided by Destry Haught. Registration is at 8 a.m., contests start at 9 a.m. The will be a $100 Incentive for new and existing Farm Bureau members and Yellowhair Buckles for Top Header and Top Healer. The concession stand is sponsored By High Flyin’ Hooves 4H Kids and Parents and will be selling both breakfast and lunch!!!

Good 2 Go

For as long as humans have been in this corner of Arizona, looking to the heavens above must have been a fascination. Today this fascination continues because the area’s night sky is uniquely suited to stargazing. On Saturday, March 10 Tonto National Monument along with the Tonto Basin Ranger District will host an afternoon of solar and planet viewing and in the evening an astronomy talk and star party at the Windy Hill Amphitheater at Roosevelt Lake. This interpretive event is presented by the Astronomers of Verde Valley.

Spray paint artist has over-the-top creative energy

Backhoe operator turned artist makes any surface explode with color

Kratos, the popular video-game hero of “God of War,” and Kratos, the not-so-well-known Payson spray paint artist, share obvious similarities: bald heads, bearded chins, scars of battle, and colorful tattoos. Oh yeah — and a rollicking, over-the-top creative energy. A character in a game, however, cannot match Kratos Lira’s inner strength, a drive to create, and the skill to transform a bare surface into a spray-painted marvel of design.

The Water Coolers perform in Payson

The Off-Broadway sensation, The Water Coolers will offer their hilarious look into the world of adulthood at the Payson High School Auditorium at 7 p.m., Friday, March 16. The Water Coolers debuted in New York in 2000 and opened Off-Broadway in the fall of 2002. Originally created as a comedy act for corporate meetings, the move to theatre was inevitable. The show takes a long laughing look at modern life, from technology (“Blackberry” sung to the tune of “Proud Mary”) and travel (“Flying in Economy”) to the daily grind (“And Hold Please”).

See award-winning ‘14 DAYS with Alzheimer’s’

The Payson Support Group for Alzheimer’s, in coordination with Payson Senior Center and Generations at Home Wellness Care, will host a screening of the award-winning film 14 DAYS with Alzheimer’s at the Payson Senior Center at 1:30 p.m., Monday, April 2.

Payson grapples with designer drug law

The Payson Town Council has taken the first step toward adopting a cutting edge law that attempts to bar the sale of designer drugs by focusing on whether the store selling those substances ought to know people will take them to get high. The new law represents an attempt to cope with mixes of compounds sold as “bath salts” or “potpourri” which include things like synthetic imitations of the active ingredient in marijuana that bundlers can readily change to evade bans based on their components.

Longhorns perfect in search of Number 6

A perfect 5-0 record is at stake today, March 6, when the Longhorns baseball team returns to action against a Salt River team that is relatively unknown on the state’s sports scene. SR, a small, Scottsdale-area school, competes in Division IV where it has forged out a 2-3 record beating St. Gregory College Prep 8-2 and Canyon State Academy, formerly Arizona Boys Ranch, 10-8. The Eagles have lost 15-6 and 11-5 to Phoenix Country and 7-6 to Veritas Prep.

Spring break programs still have openings

The Spring Break Sports Camp is designed for kids to have some supervised outside activities over the spring break. Camp meets from 8 a.m. to noon March 12-15 at Rumsey Park. The cost is $30 per child.

Reserve seats now for Business Buzz luncheon March 21 in Payson

March Business Buzz will cover marketing on a shoestring

The March Business Buzz will feature Kimber Lanning, founder and executive director of Local First Arizona. The luncheon will be held at the Payson Elks Lodge #2154 on Wednesday, March 21, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Lanning will discuss the free tools and resources that small business owners can use to reach new customers and keep existing ones. Lanning will also discuss how to effectively use the Internet and social media applications like Facebook and Twitter to enhance a business.

Clubs and Organizations

Elks members and guests are welcome to enjoy lunch at the Lodge from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday; Friday dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday dinner from noon to 5 p.m. Basic refreshments are offered for sale at the Karaoke Night from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every Wednesday in March and during the Elks Jam Sessions, scheduled at 3 p.m., every Saturday in March, except March 31.

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Relay draws local teams to tackle epic 200-mile course

Amity Justice says the Ragnar Relay overnight running race is the country’s premier weekend adventure. “The excitement, camaraderie and uniqueness make it special,” she said. “It’s hard to explain, but there’s nothing else like it.” Expedition and Mile High Running Club, a pair of Payson-area teams, were among the squads to participate in Arizona’s 2012 race, officially tagged “Ragnar Del Sol,” held Feb. 24-25. All proceeds from all Ragnar Relays benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which is the world’s largest voluntary agency dedicated to blood cancer. Justice was one of 12 members of the Mile High Running Club along with DPS officer Seth Meeske who was competing in his third relay.

Commend Kyl for alerting the public

I was surprised by Senator Jon Kyl’s article in the Payson Roundup on Feb. 24. It is the first time I have learned of a senator, representative, or even a president, articulate a “clear and present danger” to the potential collapse of our government.

Wednesday, March 7

PMGA tees off for 2012 season

Members of the Payson Men’s Golf Association are gearing up for another banner season highlighted by spirited competition, a healthy dose of camaraderie and hours of beneficial physical activity. It all begins at 7:30 a.m., Wednesday, March 14 at Payson Golf Course with the traditional club breakfast followed by a four-man scramble. Because the meal is being prepared by former Payson High School culinary arts teacher Teri McKee, longtime PMGA member Herb Sherman — a retired high school teacher and basketball coach from Scottsdale — is expecting a scrumptious breakfast. McKee’s husband, Mike, is a PMGA member.

Vote yes on Home Rule

We have a very important issue to address with the upcoming election.

A quiet month, except for Irish

March — It sounds like an order, doesn’t it? April, May and June are soft, gentle months and July sparkles, but March tolerates no foolishness. Either the day is so bright and crisp that it demands you Get Outside and Clean up the Yard or the weather is so nasty you don’t want to set foot out the door. March has no major holidays (unless you are Irish and observe St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th). March is the month most divorces occur. March 9 is Get Over It Day, March 11 is World Plumbing Day and the week of March 25 to March 31 is Root Canal Awareness Week — don’t they all sound like a lot of fun?

Cartels using kids in Texas to run drugs

In the past, the Meth Messenger has brought to light various issues surrounding the use of illegal substances. Some subjects have been sad, some disgusting, some kind of funny, yet frustrating; but this is just plain scary! Law enforcement officials in Texas towns adjacent to the Mexico border are finding a frightening trend. Drug cartels are recruiting Texas teenagers and pre-teens to transport drugs from point A to point B. Some of these kids are as young as 11 years old. One of the most alarming aspects of this discovery is that cartels consider the kids expendable as they smuggle drugs across the border. The attraction for the kids, of course, is the promise of easy money. They are being paid to move the drugs, often in stolen vehicles, all the while being monitored by authorities and/or the cartels.

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Lady Horns’ Buckeye silver showing highlighted by impressive play

The Lady Longhorns’ spirited, high-octane performance in the Buckeye High School Softball Invitational Tournament could be an indication of good things to come. At least that’s the opinion of veteran PHS softball coach Will Dunman who was lavish in his praise of the Lady Longhorn team that returned from the Valley clutching a second-place tournament trophy and a 5-1 record. “The girls did an amazing job and played some great softball,” he said. “We made key defensive plays and got hits when we needed them. “It was a fun tournament.”

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Bowlers come together to benefit kids

Dirty Hippies contend with Dragons to raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters

A bunch of dirty hippies took on Indians, dragons and even dentists in Payson Saturday — hoping to save the children. Not to mention topple as many pins as possible. By the time the Dragons yielded and the Dirty Hippies bathed, the 10 teams participating in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowling for Kids’ Sake had raised $3,100. The organization that matches children with student and adult mentors relies on such fund-raisers to provide the three part-time employees who make the matches between “Bigs” and “Littles.” Demand for matches has soared as the economy has soured, said Robert Henley. The Payson branch of the national organization has this year matched about 180 children with either a mentor from the high school or with willing adults.

Curves 14th annual food drive kicks off, runs through March

Event to benefit local food bank

Recognizing that the need for donations is greater than ever at local food banks across the nation, Curves International kicked off the 2012 Curves Food Drive March 1 with a challenge to all Curves clubs to meet or exceed last year’s donations. Each club, including Curves of Payson, is asking its members to donate bags of non-perishable food or cash throughout the month of March to support their local community food bank. In addition, Curves of Payson will waive the joining fee for new members who bring in a bag of non-perishable food or donate $30 to their local food bank from March 12-25.

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Chefs give Taste of Rim Country a healthy twist

For those who thought restaurants in the Rim Country only served meat and potatoes, the 2012 Taste of the Rim fund-raiser for the Payson Public Library offered pleasant surprises. “This year we have more chefs with more selections,” said Bessie Tucker, reference librarian and chair of the event. Feeding people these days is fraught with peril, with so many suffering from food allergies, intolerances, health issues or lifestyle choices. The 250 guests at the Taste of the Rim event learned that in Payson, restaurants offer several options to make the dining experience pleasurable — and possible. Going gluten free? It’s available.

Tuesday, March 6

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News flash: Lots to learn

Newspaper teaches math, science, social studies and art

Heads bent, scissors snapping, glue sticks dipping, and a song on their lips, the students in Kari McCleskey’s second and third grade combo classroom busily cut up the Payson Roundup newspaper. Shyly, Trevor Johns looks up and beckons. “Did you go to the awards banquet?” he asks the reporter. She kneels to be at his level and replies, “Yes, why?” Trevor drops his head so he can see to reach in his pocket. Carefully he pulls out a folded up paper he’s cut out from the Roundup. “My grandma won a first place,” he said as he pointed to a picture of Lisa Taylor who won a Best of Rim Country award for her work at Taylor Accounting. “Did you see her?” he asks. “Yes. I saw all the winners,” she replies.

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Telemedicine revolution needed in rural health care

MHA finalist for $25 million grant that could cut costs and improve care by linking local doctors to specialists in real time

Dr. Alan Michels can still vividly recall the heart attack patient he saved thanks to the clamor of angels on his shoulder. Well, not angels exactly — cardiology specialists, actually, who provided all the expert advice in real-time needed to save a patient who had essentially dropped dead. A former engineer and emergency room nurse, Dr. Michels was then just an intern — with the nerves, but not the knowledge needed to save the patient. Fortunately, the team of heart experts fed him a stream of urgent commands as they watched him work and assessed test results through a video and voice link. “I coded him with cardiologists over my shoulder. The patient had essentially dropped dead and the paramedics brought him in.”

Teen passes out after using ‘spice’

Just days after the Payson Town Council devised a law to ban the sale of synthetic drugs in town, a teen passed out in an automotive store Monday afternoon after smoking a marijuana-like drug. The 19-year-old told emergency officials he had smoked “spice” for two hours Monday and was walking down the Beeline Highway when he started to feel sick. The teen threw up outside O’Reilly Auto Parts and reportedly went inside to get water. As the teen walked through the store, he collapsed, one witness said. The witness said he asked the teen what was wrong and the teen replied it was that “One Stop (expletive).”

Mogollon Monster search will hit Payson Thursday

The search for the fabled shaggy, seven-foot-tall, yetish, yowling, howling, discombobulating Mogollon Monster will hit Payson on Thursday at a “town hall” hosted by the Animal Planet television network, seeking locals with a link to the legend. The show’s producers say they’ve already talked to 20 people who have had close encounters with Arizona’s version of the Abominable Snowman — and hope to collect more anecdotes at the 7 p.m. Thursday session in the Oxbow Saloon. Presumably, the proceedings will at least entertain the ghost of the long-dead madam said to haunt the dark corners of the Oxbow.

If you encounter a mountain lion:

• Do not approach the animal. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape. • Stay calm and speak loudly and firmly. • Do not run from a mountain lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion’s instinct to chase. • Stand and face the animal. • Make eye contact.

Mountain lions spotted in Pine neighborhood

Some Pine residents spent a jittery weekend worried about mountain lions. In one case, the alarm proved nothing more than a mountain lion cub up a tree. In a second case, volunteer trackers treed a grown lion, lost it, then spent a second futile day trying to regain the trail before concluding it had left town. The wildlife drama started Friday when a stray lion cub found itself up a tree, giving one homeowner quite a fright. The homeowner called the Arizona Game and Fish Department and sheriff’s deputies to cope with the roughly 6-month-old lion. The homeowner reported the young mountain lion just after 5 p.m. after she spotted it slinking across her yard in Pine. The homeowner said she saw an even bigger cat earlier in the day, said Tom Cadden, a spokesperson for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

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Forest cleanup day draws scores of eager volunteers

Two dozen cars lined the Jim Jones Shooting Range road and more than 30 people fanned out over the forest floor at the Forest Service cleanup day on March 3. In one area, it looked like a house had blown up. A couch, water heater, household trash and construction material lay strewn about next to the road.

Community Almanac

The Payson Elementary School will have its Luau Scholastic Book Fair Monday, March 5 through Friday, March 9 in the PES Library. The fair is open before school, from 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. and after school, 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and during recess (students only).

A monster of a tourist draw

Well the Mogollon Monster Is a real mean mother And he lives to be in the woods He lives off litter and old beer cans Dolan Ellis “Mogollon Monster” Oh my. They’re coming: The Monster Mob. This Thursday at 7 p.m., the Animal Planet will host a meeting at the reportedly haunted Oxbow Saloon to solicit stories about close encounters with our beloved Mogollon Monster — the scourge of litterbugs everywhere. Well — that’s according to Dolan Ellis, Arizona’s State Balladeer.

Getting to top play in golf is a horse of a different color

In most Payson High School sports and others around the state, most of the attention has been focused on the highly controversial power points system used to seed teams into the post-season playoffs. But in golf, the focus is not on points but rather “qualifying scores” that teams must earn during the regular season to advance to the state tournament. The roots in the new playoff selection system were seeded last season, when the Arizona Interscholastic Association-mandated realignment did away with the old region-conference format and replaced it with divisions and sections. Under the old format, teams had to finish among the top four in the region tournament to qualify for state. But in the new configuration, which is in its second year of existence, prep teams must hit qualifying scores in at least five matches to reach the division or state tournament.

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Frosh paces Horns to win over Gilbert Christian

Payson High School freshman golfer Dean Harpe made his varsity debut a smashing success by leading the Longhorns to a 153-183 win over Gilbert Christian. Playing March 1 on the front nine holes at Chaparral Pines, Harpe carded an even par 35 to finish first overall. Tyler Apps was second at 37 and Jeffrey Kelley took third with a 40. Anthony Smith posted a 41 and Kelsey Bossert turned in a 48. In the “play five, keep four” scores format, only the top four cards are counted in the team tally. Most importantly about the win is that it is one of the five qualifying scores high school teams must attain to earn a berth into the Division III state tournament.

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Payson, Strawberry-Pine get faster Internet

Latest service enhancements in investment program

Suddenlink announced March 1 it has launched its new High Speed Internet 20.0 service, Video on Demand (VOD) and TV Caller ID in Payson, Pine and Strawberry. The new high speed Internet features a download speed up to 20 megabits per second (Mbps), believed to be the fastest residential Internet service in the area. With the introduction of the service in Payson, Pine and Strawberry, Suddenlink has completed the launch of 20 Mbps service in all of the Arizona properties it acquired from NPG Cable in April 2011.

Friday, March 2

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Rim streams critical for tiny endangered native fish

Decade of dispute prompts protection of 710 miles of streams for loach minnow, spikedace

After a flood of legal challenges, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declared two, tiny native fish endangered and listed some 710 miles of stream as critical habitat — including 84 miles Rim Country. The critical habitat designation means federal agencies will have to consider whether their actions or approvals might harm the tiny spikedace or loach minnow in Tonto Creek, Fossil Creek, Rye Creek, Spring Creek, Rock Creek, Greenback Creek and the Verde River. Drought, water diversions, cattle grazing, non-native predatory fish and gradual climate change have nearly wiped out the once widespread, three-inch-long fishes, which live in small, shallow, swift-running streams that have stretches of clear gravel in which they can lay their eggs. The fish have vanished from 90 percent of their range in Arizona and New Mexico. “Federal recognition of the precarious status of these two fish species should raise a general alarm — we need to take emergency action to protect Southwest rivers and streams,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These two fishes aren’t an isolated example; there’s an extinction crisis across the board in southwestern rivers. Habitat destruction and invasive species are putting nearly all the native fish, frog and other aquatic species at risk.”

Forest cleanup slated for Saturday

Come help clean up the forest located around the Jim Jones Shooting Range area on Saturday, March 3 from 9 a.m. to noon. The Jim Jones Shooting Range road is located .5 miles south of the Round Valley turnoff on the left side of Highway 87. Look for the turn lane sign that says, “Jim Jones Shooting Range.” Once you make the turn, continue down the road until you see the green Forest Service vehicles.

Knife-throwing cook arrested

A cook got a little extra spicy Monday night when he started throwing knives in a Pine restaurant. Hector Felix, 41, reportedly returned to HB’s Place in Pine around 6:30 p.m., where he worked as a cook. It is unclear what spurred the confrontation, but Felix was allegedly upset with another cook at the restaurant and at some point started throwing knives.

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Jail project now a building ‘nightmare’

Construction snafus plague vital women’s jail in Globe

A new jail construction project has turned into a house of horrors for the county. A 40-bed women’s jail in Globe was supposed to take nine months to construct, but work has dragged on for more than two years and additional repair work will likely consume another two months. County officials say a slew of problems have cost the county an additional $44,000 — pushing the project’s cost up to $850,000 and rising. Jail officials have had to get crafty with sleeping arrangements, housing as many as three-dozen females in a facility designed to house 18. The situation is a “nightmare,” said Gila County Sheriff’s Office Major James Eskew, who oversees the health and welfare of county inmates.

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Getting the knack of disasters

Volunteers with the Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) have recently participated in a series of drills to make them better prepared to serve their neighbors.

Endangered fish and threatened economy

The convoluted effort to protect two, tiny dying fish has entered a new phase with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s decision to list the spikedace and the loach minnow as endangered. The USFWS also designated 710 miles of stream front in Arizona and New Mexico as critical habitat for the three-inch-long relative of the carp — including 84 miles in Rim Country. The designation includes the bulk of Fossil Creek, Tonto Creek and its tributaries and the Verde River and its tributaries as critical habitat. That means federal agencies must now consider the potential impact on the recovery of the three-inch-long fish anytime they take an action — like building a bridge, granting a grazing lease, logging a stand of trees or approving a pipeline.

Who writes all those company ‘change’ questionnaires anyway?

I just got another one of those “Serving You In Every Way” letters from a company I do business with. You know the letters I mean? The ones that check to see if you’ve changed anything so they can charge you more? It makes the fourth one so far this year, and its only February. I suppose there will be more of them. This one came from a company I have been doing business with since 1998. Now I know that’s only 14 years, but I’d like to think that by now they know me well enough to guess that at my age I am unlikely to change a whole lot.

Payson residents can get discounts on prescriptions

Discount card offers average savings to residents of 23%

Payson today launched a program to help provide residents with some relief from the high cost of prescription medications. Through the program — sponsored by the National League of Cities (NLC) — the town is making free prescription discount cards available to city residents. The discount cards offer town residents an average of 23 percent savings off the retail price of prescription medications. The NLC Prescription Discount Card can be used by all residents of the town of Payson and has no restrictions based on a resident’s age, income level, or existing health coverage. The card can be used at various participating pharmacies around the town, as well as at more than 60,000 participating retail pharmacies across the country.

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Rep. Gosar’s call to arms

‘Polarization is going to cost us this country,’ says Congressman

In a call to action last week, Congressman Paul Gosar (R-Flagstaff) exhorted an overflow Payson Tea Party crowd to save American liberties by crusading against President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies. “He wants to pick a fight,” said Gosar of the president, “he wants to shut down the government. This gentleman wants to divide.” The audience matched his passionate call to arms. One questioner asked if Gosar realized that the agenda of the president and congressional Democrats amounted to “a Marxist insurgency.”

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Officer delivers uplifting tale of courage and perseverance

Students hear man’s tale of survival beyond the flames

Payson High School students got a lesson in attitude. Not the kind they give their parents when asked to clean their room, but having the right one when faced with life’s greatest challenges. Jason Schechterle has faced quite a few adversities since he was nearly killed in a fiery wreck in Phoenix 10 years ago. But he survived and has even thrived despite the odds. Standing at a podium in the PHS auditorium, missing an ear, a few fingers and any resemblance of a “normal” face, Schechterle said it would be easy to say he is a victim, a guy with bad luck who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But instead, he says he is pretty lucky, with a few key things stacked in his favor that night a taxi, carrying a man just released from jail, crashed into him.

Water Coolers in Payson

The Off-Broadway sensation, The Water Coolers, will offer their humorous look into the world of adulthood at 7 p.m., Friday, March 16 at the Payson High School Auditorium.

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Undersheriff now running for Gila County sheriff

Another candidate has joined the race for Gila County sheriff. Undersheriff Adam Shepherd announced Thursday he has retired from the sheriff’s office to seek the Republican nomination. Shepherd made the decision to run following the retirement announcement earlier this month by three-term sheriff, John Armer.

Highway 87 work began March 1 near Sunflower

Work to repair slopes and improve drainage along a four-mile segment of State Route 87 began March 1, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. The project area extends through Slate Creek from six miles north of Sunflower to eight miles south of State Route 188 (mileposts 224-228). One northbound lane will be closed from March 1 through the end of May. 

ADOT seeks federal grants to finish 260 widening

Construction between Payson, Mogollon Rim ongoing since 2000

A decade-long project to widen State Route 260 between Payson and the Mogollon Rim is one section short of completion. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) recently applied for $36 million in federal grants to fund widening Lion Springs, the last section just northeast of Star Valley. Crews are currently in the midst of widening three miles of Doubtful Canyon, just west of the Christopher Creek Campground, from two lanes to a four-lane divided highway. Construction is expected to wrap up this fall.

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Rim resident shares state’s 100th birthday

Arizona is sharing its Centennial with a Payson resident — Janina Malicki. Janina, who now resides at Payson Care Center, but until recently was cared for by her daughter Mary Ann O’Rourke, was born March 3, 1912 in Warsaw, Poland. She was the youngest of her parents’ 17 children. They were farmers, but she hated rural life, so she went to live with a sister in the city. She loved to sing and in time became a soprano with the Polish opera. Her husband, William B. Malicki, was born June 22, 1915 in Detroit, Mich. to immigrant parents. At the age of 15, his parents sent William back to Poland where the family owned many properties. He continued his education there and learned about the family’s businesses.

More break-ins hit Pine

Two most recent burglaries bring latest tally to nine

After a month-long lull, residents reported two new burglaries in the Pine area this week. On Wednesday afternoon, security officials reported two break-ins in the Portals III area of Pine to the Gila County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office is already investigating seven burglaries discovered in Pine in January and police are looking into roughly the same number in Payson. GCSO Det. Jamie Garrett said it is unclear when the most recent burglaries occurred and they could have happened some time ago.

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Cost is no excuse to not dump trash at landfill

Get rid of over 200 pounds of rubbish for just $5? Yep. That’s the minimum charge to dump trash at the Buckhead Mesa Landfill, which sits on 51 acres of land across from the Tonto Natural Bridge. Close to town and cheap, how does it get any better? “I’ve seen some families bring in their household trash once per month and pay just $5 to remove everything,” said Bill Williams, manager of operations at the landfill. Except some folks seem to prefer dumping in the forest. Payson Ranger Rachel Hohl said every community in the area has forest areas full of mattresses, appliances, construction trash, tires and brush.

Summer golf tourney benefits Clothe-a-Child

Ask any classroom teacher or school nurse who has referred a needy student to the Arizona Elks Association-hosted “Clothe-a-Child” program and they’ll tell you the real winners in the association’s annual benefit golf tournaments are children. That’s because all the proceeds from the series of tournaments around the state, including the one held each summer at Payson Golf Course, are used to purchase much-needed clothing for disadvantaged school children. “This is a statewide program, some of our clubs do it (donate clothes) at Christmas and some before the first day of school,” said tournament chairman Becky Waer. “We do it through the schools, so it is kind of a confidential thing.” Each year, the Elks’ Clothe-a-Child program purchases $100,000-plus worth of new clothing that is doled out to more than 1,000 Arizona children in need.

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Hard work is key for Special Olympics athletes

There is no secret to the decades long success of Payson Special Olympics athletes. They simply outwork most of their competitors, practicing long and hard for SO events, whether it be a local competition or on a national stage. Among those who put in the most hours are figure skaters Chrissy Wiley and Jacquelyn Karrys, who practice year-round in preparation for the SO state winter games.

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High hopes for Horn cindermen

Expectations are high among boys track team members and their coaches, even though the roster number of 26 athletes is not great. “We have a lot of punch in a few boys this year,” said coach Jonathan Ball. “It can be a very exciting year.” In the contingent that turned out, Keith Williams is being tabbed the athlete with the most potential to make noise in the season-ending Division III state tournament. “He put in a spectacular offseason going to several pole vault camps, including the most prestigious one in the nation,” said Ball. “Based on what he has done at camps and a few offseason meets, it looks like Keith will not only contend for a state title, but be one of the best vaulters in the state, regardless of (school) classification.”

WON hosts Roosevelt bass fray

Ken Howden and Gary Understiller continue to cling to first place in the Western Outdoor News (WON) Arizona Circuit bass tournament standings even though they had to settle for a fourth-place finish in a Feb. 25 fray at Roosevelt Lake. The pair has fished all five of WON’s state tournaments this season weighing in 15 fish that tip the scales at 30.87 pounds. Their big bass weighed 6.72 pounds. The second-place team, Keith Hunsinger and Robert O’Donnell of Payson, have caught 16 fish totaling 24.54 pounds. The difference between first and second place is each pair’s “big fish” — the largest bass the Rim anglers have caught — is 2.03 pounds, about four pounds less than Howden and Understiller’s lunker.

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Taste Temptations

Taste, sip and help the library

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

Ten more days of bachelor status while ‘she’s gone, gone, gone’

As of this Friday, I’m right smack dab in the middle of 21 days of being a “bachelor” again. You see, my wife, Ann, is currently on a three-week vacation to the Philippines —her first visit back to see her family since she came to America almost two years ago. I know Ann is really excited to be back in her homeland again — but, dang, I’m really getting skinny! So, if you happen to have an extra steak (medium rare) coming off of the grill or an extra apple pie (hot out of the oven) that’s just going to go to waste — my tabletop is starkly bare and begging to see some home cooking on it again. As for my pathetic, desperate situation with Ann being in the Philippines and me being home alone for another 10 days, all I can think about is “She’s Gone, Gone, Gone.”

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Pine-Strawberry is perfect weekend getaway

With money tight these days, many people feel it’s too costly to take a vacation, yet would love to get out of town for the weekend. Strawberry and Pine are the perfect weekend getaway. You’ll be surprised to find very moderately priced cabins, motels, and bed and breakfasts here in the spectacular Mogollon Rim area. Go fishing, play in the creek, and enjoy being away from home for a few days. Get a cabin on Pine Creek and walk to town sites enjoying nature, wildlife and clean, mountain air. Eat in quaint family-owned restaurants housed in historic structures, and browse antique shops with memorabilia of the past. Our treasure chest of shops includes: Auntie Gail’s Collectables, the Gingerbread House, Grampa’s Shed, Moose Mountain, Pine Country, Pine Station, and Tymeless Antiques.

Neighbor says there’s no place she’d rather live than in CC

Hello again, fellow Creekers. It’s time for another installment of “better know your neighbor.” This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Patty Scheierman. Patty currently works part-time at the Christopher Creek Lodge and also does massage therapy. I first met Patty about a year ago, and she is always friendly and helpful and has a great appreciation for the outdoors. Patty is originally from Missouri, but lived in Scottsdale for 25 years before moving to Christopher Creek where she has now lived for the last year.

Have your blood pressure checked Saturday

Tonto Village, Bear Flat and Christopher Creek were blessed with some rain and snow on Monday and early Tuesday. It didn’t amount to a whole lot, maybe about a quarter of an inch or a bit more. But at this point we will take what we can get, since we need the moisture so badly. The wind was a bit much, blowing about 30 mph, but that blew the clouds to the Rim. I have not heard how much snow the Rim got.

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Black Mesa Ranger District rep answers questions

The forecasted dip in temperatures Friday where the daytime high is only expected to reach the upper 30s and the nighttime lows will dip into the upper teens, will have a transition over the weekend and end up on Sunday where the daytime highs will reach into the upper 50s and the nighttime lows will be in the mid 30s.

Sell investments for the right reasons and avoid costly mistakes

It’s important to understand which investments to own, and when to buy them. But you should also know when it’s time to sell an investment and why. Unfortunately, many people sell investments for the wrong reasons. Some people want the money to purchase so-called “hot” investments, even if these new investments aren’t appropriate for their needs. Others own investments that have lost value, and fearing further losses, they decide to sell, thereby violating the oldest rule of investing — “Buy low and sell high.” These types of behaviors can lead to at least two major problems.

News from Rim Country Friends of Ferals

The mission of Rim Country Friends of Ferals is to humanely control the area’s population of feral cats through the Trap, Neuter, Return program. The group of volunteers also strives to find loving, forever homes for healthy rescue cats like these. Chelsea is a spayed female about 12 weeks old. She is a little scared, so will need some patience. But she is very cute and wants to love you.

Help make a difference in an animal’s life

“It’s a great day to be alive; I know the sun’s still shining when I close my eyes. There’s some hard times in the neighborhood, but why can’t every day be just this good?” Travis Tritt was spot on when he wrote this song. It’s one of my favorite country songs, and also a song that applies to life at the Humane Society of Central Arizona.

Clubs and Organizations

Elks members and guests are welcome to enjoy lunch at the Lodge from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday; Friday dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday dinner from noon to 5 p.m. Basic refreshments are offered for sale at the Karaoke Night from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every Wednesday in March and during the Elks Jam Sessions, scheduled at 3 p.m., every Saturday in March, except March 31. Every Friday the Elks also have Karaoke from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Every Sunday there is Bingo at 1 p.m. and a pool tournament at 4:30 p.m. with Happy Hour from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Elks members and guests are welcome at all these events.

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Upcoming Business Showcase fills up

The 20th Annual Business Showcase, presented by the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce and Payson Regional Medical Center, is no longer taking applications for booths. All spaces have been filled, the chamber announced last week. The showcase is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, March 23 and Saturday, March 24. Admission is $1 for those over 12 years of age.

Women are discriminated against

Can you imagine if abortion and obtaining birth control is hindered, or for that matter, goes away?

Solutions to our country’s problems

War is hell and it is expensive.

Time to put the SGR to rest — for good

It’s no secret that Medicare faces serious challenges. One of the most significant problems we must address is how to reconcile a rising number of beneficiaries with a shrinking number of doctors to treat them. The numbers are concerning: while the United States will have a projected shortage of up to 160,000 physicians by 2025, Medicare faces a huge enrollment increase, growing from 48 million beneficiaries today to nearly 80 million by 2030. It is an astounding expansion that will lead to greatly increased costs for patients, doctors, and taxpayers alike.

Thursday, March 1

Slope repair on HIghway 87 north of Sunflower begins March 1

Drivers should expect minimal delays

Work to repair slopes and improve drainage along a four-mile segment of State Route 87 will begin Thursday (March 1), according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.