“I’m shaking all over,” said a girl with jet-black hair and striking blue eyes, on the morning of a day she’s anticipated all her life. Oddly enough, she looks just like Payson High School senior Natalie Black. Well, actually: that’s not odd at all. She’s Natalie’s sister. But the two have never met — until today. And now after years of questions and quests, two families have arranged for these long-separated sisters to meet as a gift for Natalie’s graduation from high school.
Hellsgate nabs $607,000 federal grant to save firefighters’ jobs, adds battalion chief
Four Hellsgate firefighters will keep their jobs after the fire department received word on Friday that it is one of a handful of districts nationwide to receive a federal grant. Fire Chief Gary Hatch earlier this month sent termination letters to four engineers, more than half the department’s paid staff, to help close a projected budget deficit of $176,000. The department has already done without a battalion chief since May 2010 to help curb costs. Now the just-received federal $607,000 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant will not only save the jobs of all four engineers who drive the trucks, but allow the department to hire a new battalion chief.
Hello again fellow Creekers. Memorial Day is almost here and there are a few celebrations going on this weekend in Christopher Creek. Community barbecue The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Christopher Creek is holding a Memorial Day community barbecue and potluck. All are welcome to attend at 5 p.m., Saturday, May 26. The event will take place outside at the church. Hamburgers and hotdogs will be provided. Please bring a side dish or dessert to share. If you have any questions please contact Susan Palmer at the church, (928) 478-4882.
For many, Memorial Day is a day off from work or a time to gather with friends and family for the first cookout of the summer season. For those living in the Valley, it may be a time to escape the summer heat and descend upon the cooler towns in the Rim Country. Of course, the real meaning of Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is to remember those men and women who have died while serving our country.
We left off last week at the point where a flat-bottomed rowboat, its outboard engine racing, was fighting a current of water dragging it toward a raging, quarter mile wide whirlpool in the middle of what was supposed to be an 11-foot deep lake. If anyone on the shore of the mile wide lake saw what was happening to the tiny flat-bottomed boat at that moment, it is not recorded. There was far too much going on for anyone except the two men in the boat to take much notice of their troubles. A $5 million drilling rig had just turned turtle and disappeared into the same whirlpool that was dragging the boat toward it. And...
Made in the U.S.A. Levi jeans, the American Flag, NBA and NFL jerseys - these items once prided themselves in being American-made. I am a passionate supporter of Made in America products, and that is what you will find this weekend at the Pine Strawberry Arts and Crafts Guild 32nd Annual Memorial Day Arts & Crafts Festival in Pine. “Made in America” items have been outsourced to other countries, but one thing you can count on is the American artist and crafter. In towns across America and here in Strawberry, Pine and the Rim Country, artists and crafters take pride in hand made craftsmanship with quality and unique items made right here in the good old U.S.A.
Members will have a private showing of Men In Black at the Sawmill Theater Saturday, May 26. Meet inside by the snack bar at 9:30 a.m. The $6 ticket includes popcorn and a soda. The Tuesday Morning Breakfast Bunch meets at Tiny’s Restaurant every week at 9 a.m. to visit and plan future activities. Monday morning bowling takes place at Rim Country Lanes at 10 a.m. the first and third Mondays of the month and there is a discount coupon available for those who participate. A trip to a Diamondbacks game is planned for Wednesday, June 20. Contact Fred at (928) 474-3413 for more information. A Singles Pot Luck
Andrew Rivas celebrates Memorial Day in a special way. He remembers his brother, Raymond, with a long-distance memorial ride. His brother died in 2009 from a wound he suffered while serving with the U.S. Army in the Middle East. Rivas is retired from the military and now makes his home in Flagstaff. This is the third memorial ride he has made for his brother and this year the route will bring him to Payson around 4 p.m., Saturday, May 26. He plans to reach the Payson Airport, where he has been given permission to camp for the night, at about 4 p.m.
Youth T-ball and Coach Pitch
This weekend, May 25-28 is the last opportunity to register your child online (paysonrimcountry.com) for Youth T-ball and Coach Pitch. Payson Parks is offering T-ball for boys and girls ages 4 and 5 and Coach Pitch for boys and girls ages 6 and 7. Registration is based on the age of your child as of May 1. Games will be played Monday-Thursday June 11 through July 16. Cost is $25 per child and includes their team shirt. Volunteer coaches are always needed.
A trio of Payson High School’s most well-rounded seniors has reaped $4,000 in Mogollon Sporting Association scholarship money to be used next school year to help pay education expenses at three Arizona colleges. Sam Grassel, Natalie Black and Katelyn Curtis received the scholarships May 21 during an informal awards ceremony and barbecue cookout at Rumsey Park. Ted Pettet, the MSA member who the scholarships honor, was on hand to announce the recipients. Because Pettet was formerly a coach at Payson High and harbors a deep interest in sports, the scholarships annually honor graduating seniors who have excelled in athletics, extracurricular activities and academics.
Payson High School senior Jaymi Carlen ran, jumped and threw her way to a second place finish in the 37th Arizona State Decathlon Champions that drew some of the finest all-around track and field athletes from around the state. The prestigious showdown tipped off May 18 and wrapped up the following day at Queen Creek High School. Prior to entering the decathlon, Carlen’s first, coach Johnathan Ball predicted she had to ability to exceed 4,000 points. His prognostication was on target as she finished with 4,698 points and was second overall to Mesa Mountain View’s Kaija Bramwell who racked up 5,140 points.
This weekend is a big holiday for many of us. Do you know the significance of the Memorial Day holiday? It is not just about an extra day off from work, having a barbecue or camping out in the forest, etc. It is about honoring those men and women who sacrificed their lives in one of our many wars and they did it unselfishly to keep our nation free from hostile countries. It is about placing ‘Old Glory’ on a veteran’s grave or leaving a red poppy, which is a symbol of those who died.
My name is Tommie Cline Martin and I am a county supervisor for Gila County, Arizona, and a member of the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) Stakeholder Group. Perhaps as important in this conversation, however, is my personal and professional background. My great-grandparents came by wagon into what is now the Payson-Star Valley area in the late 1800s, and my family has lived here from then until now. When they arrived, they found a healthy, functioning, productive land and, as a family, we have watched it deteriorate and die under federal direction and management ever since.
The Grand Canyon Trust has been a longstanding and strong supporter of landscape-scale forest restoration within northern Arizona. We have also been a strong supporter and founding member of the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) — an effort that has unprecedented potential to address the environmental needs of northern Arizona’s forests in a socially responsible and economically viable fashion. We have long awaited the choice by the Forest Service of a preferred contractor for implementing the 4FRI’s first, 10-year contract. From the outset of the 4FRI process, we have supported the bidding process as an open and competitive one, recognizing the importance of finding the best contractor to meet 4FRI’s needs over the coming years.
Payson High School senior Tyler Apps capped his prep career in glowing fashion finishing as the boys gold medalist in the 2012 Thunderbird High School Senior Classic.
High School coaches have chosen Payson High senior Cale Novack and junior Chance Randall to the All-Division III, Section III baseball teams. Novack was named to the Section III first team as an outfielder. Randall, who played third base and catcher, was tapped to the Section III second team as a catcher. The honorees were chosen in online voting.
The 2012 Memorial Day services in Payson will revolve around the theme, “Welcome Home Veterans,” and feature four different programs and separate venues. Everyone in the Rim Country — residents and visitors alike — is invited to participate in any or all of the services. There are two services on Sunday, May 27 and two on Monday, May 28. The annual Pioneer Cemetery tribute begins with a flag-raising ceremony at 8:30 a.m., Sunday, May 27. Presented by the Payson Woman’s Club, which owns and operates the cemetery, the program will include music by Don Gibson and a speaker, according to Pat Cline, president of the Woman’s Club. “We’re having it at 8:30 in the morning instead of 9:30, so everyone can go to the ceremony at the other cemetery,” Cline said.
A Payson native who is the winner of the Silver Star was the honoree of the 2012 American Legion Riders Run for the Payson Supply Line. Matthew Binney, who was born in Payson and attended Payson High School, was honored at the ceremonies following the “Fun Run” which raised more than $10,000 for the Payson Supply Line. He is the son of George and Brenda Binney of Star Valley. The following tells the story of Binney’s heroic, award-winning actions and is from the Web site, militarytimes.com.
Students’ demonstrations emphasize the role of science in everyday life
Payson High School chemistry students on May 12 hosted a “Chemistry Is Fun” exhibit at the Payson Public Library. Advanced Placement chemistry teacher Meena Rustagi and 35 students demonstrated entertaining science experiments to the delight of an audience ranging in age from 6 to 60.
Trying to make sense of what is occurring in Payson High School athletic offices and what will unfold for next school year’s sports teams and coaches is as baffling as Bigfoot, Stone Hinge or the existence of alternative universes. First off, two head coaches — Byron Quinlan in football and baseball’s Scott Novack — have resigned and must be replaced. Then there is the matter of the athletic director. Gary Fishel is the current AD, but there are indications he might be on his way out to become a full-time head teacher at Payson Center for Success. Then there’s the issue of what the AD position will actually be next year.
Feeling discouraged? Fearful? Anxious? Wondering how we’ll cope with the world’s onslaught of problems and its dizzying pace of change? We have a cure — which you probably don’t need if you were lucky enough to attend the graduation ceremonies staged this week in schools all around Rim Country. But if you missed those ceremonies, with the bright kids, proud parents, long-suffering siblings, earnest speakers and great glitter of hope — just take a minute to page through the gradation tab you’ll find in today’s issue. Read about the extraordinary achievements of these students — our best and brightest hope. Then flip through the pages of pictures. What a great bunch.
Doyle Coffey wasn’t a Rim Country pioneer — he didn’t come to town until 1982. But Doyle Coffey was a pioneer of another sort; he pioneered higher education in Rim Country. Coffey died May 18 and will be honored at services at 11 a.m., Saturday, May 26 at Messinger Payson Funeral Home, 901 S. Westerly. For 30 years he worked tirelessly through his retirement on behalf of the community he called the “most beautiful place on earth.”
Speed cameras still yield $900,000 in revenue despite decline in tickets
Star Valley’s four budgetary workhorses need a feed bag of speeding tourists, with the town projecting another drop in photo enforcement revenue in next year’s fiscal budget. Fortunately for the town’s bottom line, Star Valley still expects to bank nearly $900,000 from the four cameras fixed at opposite ends of town. However, ticket revenue has dropped by 23 percent since Star Valley installed the cameras in 2008. Ticket revenue is not the only thing decreasing. City sales tax is also expected to continue its downward spiral. Although neighboring Payson this year saw a heartening rise in sales tax revenue, the numbers show that Star Valley’s businesses continue to struggle.
Thousands of trout stocked into local waters
The Arizona Game and Fish Department has been busily stocking Rim Country streams and lakes in preparation for this weekend’s traditional kickoff to the summer travel season. The Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery stocked half a dozen streams flowing off the Mogollon Rim, including Tonto Creek, the East Verde River, Christopher Creek and Haigler Creek. The lakes atop the Rim also received a bumper crop of stocked trout, especially Willow Springs, Bear Canyon and Woods Canyon lakes. The following summary of Rim Country fishing conditions comes from the fishing report compiled by Rory Aikens with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. For more details and maps of stocking locations, go to the Game and Fish Web site and click on the fishing report.
I think it’s safe to say that kitten season is officially here. Not only are kittens super adorable and cuddly, they are also very entertaining and fun. They are at the perfect age to integrate into your family if you have other pets and/or children. Currently we only have two kittens available for adoption, but that number is sure to increase within the next few weeks. The great thing about adopting a kitten, rather than getting one for free, is that your adopted kitten will be spayed/neutered, current on its shots, is FELV/FIV negative and micro-chipped. The thought of getting a free kitten can be alluring, but you won’t be able to get your free kitten fixed, chipped, wormed and vaccinated for under $200. Our adoption fee for kittens is $100 — now that’s a smokin’ deal. We hope that when you decide it’s time to add a furry little bundle of joy to your household, you’ll think adoption first.
Two Payson High School students earned the first- and second-highest scores on their Career and Technical Education (CTE) state assessments, given to all students in the 47 vocational programs statewide. Payson High School senior Megan Ploughe was among three students who scored 95 out of 100 points on the Culinary Arts assessment, the highest in the state. Ploughe cooked every day in teacher Devon Wells’ Culinary Arts program for all four years of high school.
Numbers reflect 12 percent jump in local sales tax revenues
Sales in Payson so far this year have risen a heartening 12 percent, according to the town’s financial tracking report for April. Moreover, the value of building permits issued rose a whopping 31 percent to $128,000, according to the report. The report showed signs of life in the local economy heading into the vital summer months, when tourism lifts economic activity — although local officials are already fretting about the economic impact of a possible forest closure due to extreme fire danger. The rise in local sales tax, vehicle license taxes, building permits, planning fees and other purely local sources of revenue would make town budget planners downright cheerful were it not for the deep cuts in most sources of revenue from the state.
The Mogollon Sporting Association (MSA) would like to thank all of the many sponsors who generously donated prizes for the 20th annual MSA banquet held May 5 at the Mazatzal Casino.
Hey, what’s with all the doom and gloom in the recent article entitled “County in poor health” where it says Gila County is ranked as the unhealthiest in the state. Really?
Monday afternoon, May 7, my wife Mary and I, along with our two mules, Pearle and Pauline, two horses, Dan and Dusty, and our two dogs, Pete and Jr., rolled into Payson in our covered wagon just to check our mail and find a place to rest for the night. That was the plan.
Opening day of the fourth season of the Payson Farmers Market is Saturday, May 26. Vendors expected to participate on opening day include Schneph Farms, which is bringing fresh-picked, juicy peaches this week. There will be pony rides for the kids too. The Payson Farmers Market is open from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday at 816 S. Beeline Highway (Sawmill Crossing), behind Chili’s. For more information, go online to paysonfarmersmarket.info.
Town officials cancel layoffs as estimates of revenue rise by $600,000
Payson officials ransacked their budget projections for spare change and windfalls and came up with an estimated $600,000 in added revenue — enough to avert threatened layoffs and probably even restore full funding to the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce. A rise in projected state revenue sharing, a projected increase in taxes on utilities and other sources of money prompted the Payson Town Council to cancel a meeting last week it had called to set the layoff process in motion. “We went line by line by line by line,” said Payson Mayor Kenny Evans. “There’s not a rock left we haven’t turned over four times.”
Payson is experiencing local outbreaks of influenza causing more people to seek care or call in ill to work and school. Several of the cases in Payson have been laboratory confirmed and are strains that were covered in this year’s seasonal flu vaccine.
The two wildfires burning closest to Payson have behaved themselves this week, despite continued “red flag” conditions. The Sunflower Fire remains at about 16,000 acres, but is now 43 percent contained. Only 84 firefighters continue to monitor the borders of the fire, located about 21 miles south of Payson. Although smoke from the fire remained ominous from Payson to Sunflower, the fire remained trapped between two previous burns. The flames continue to consume pockets of thick brush and chaparral in the Mazatzal Wilderness, but firefighters don’t think it can escape its confinement.
School board skeptical about new position
In her first meeting with the Payson School Board, soon-to-be Payson High School (PHS) Principal Anna Van Zile on Monday faced a board skeptical of her proposal to shuffle duties to create a new position to showcase the importance of an athletic director. Van Zile suggested the board not fill her vacated post as vice principal for a year. Instead, she wants to shift duties to hire a full-time athletic director who would share a portion of her workload. Van Zile said she could for one year take on the lion’s share of the principal and vice principal duties if the proposed athletic director could handle some discipline and attendance responsibilities, even if lacking the administrative credential required of a vice principal.
When I think about Memorial Day in our community, I remember my childhood days seeing active and former military personnel salute the flag at the resounding, opening chords of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Even as a little kid, that moment made me stand tall and proud. Not much has changed since then. If military veterans were present, they stood at salute. Those who weren’t veterans placed their right hand over their heart, their gesture of thanks as a member of a grateful nation to those who did serve — an act of reverence for hard won freedoms dating back to the Revolutionary War. This nation has a long legacy of patriotism and we display it with pride. Not much has changed since then.
On Mother’s Day I read two articles that, as a high school teacher, I found significantly interconnected.