Stories for December 2013


Tuesday, December 31

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Longhorn boys 0-5 at Bradshaw Mountain Tourney

Payson’s boys basketball team went up against the big boys in the Alvarez Tire Holiday Hoops Classic Thursday-Saturday at Bradshaw Mountain.

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Still no board member for GCC

College can’t find candidates to fill crucial empty slot

Six months after Tom Loeffler resigned from his post, the Gila Community College board still lacks a full slate of board members.

Redoubles in the dark

So why did Judge Peter Cahill give Michael Basner a minimum sentence? And why do we keep putting these painful, complicated, confusing cases on the front page?

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Pitkin serving aboard USS T. Roosevelt

Lt. Commander Blaine Pitkin, the son of Paul Pitkin of Payson, is serving aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt CUN-71 Norfolk, Va.

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Payson FFA competes at state midwinter competition

Payson FFA students made a good showing at the Dec. 6 Midwinter Competition at the Arizona State University campus.

Vital position goes begging

Seems like no one wants to serve on the Gila Community College board. That’s amazing, considering it’s one of the most important governing board jobs open at the moment.

Learn how to preserve family treasures at genealogy library

The library of the Northern Gila County Genealogy Society will help people figure out how to sort, organize and preserve family treasures like a box of documents, photos and memorabilia so they’ll last for generations.

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Jobless rate drops

Gila County falls to 8.4%; mirrors state

The year ended on a strong note with a sharp drop in unemployment in Gila County.

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Payson girls run hot and cold in holiday event

Team loses lead late in all 3 losses to bigger schools

Payson’s girls basketball team was 2-3 in the 10-team Payson Holiday Hoops Tournament it hosted Friday-Saturday.

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No one injured in accident at Hwy. 188 junction

A Mesa couple is lucky to have walked away unscathed after they ran the stop sign at the intersection of Highways 87 and 188 Christmas Day and were struck by a vehicle, says the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Soroptimist appreciate support for candy sales

Soroptimist thanks all of our customers in the Rim Country for supporting our See’s Candy fund-raiser.

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Four months in prison

Girlfriend pleads for shorter sentence

A Payson man who led police on a high-speed drunken chase to Round Valley in September 2012 will spend four months in jail and three years on probation.

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Lights out for Knotty Pine Cafe

If you are hungry for a slice of homemade pie from the Knotty Pine Cafe, you are out of luck.

Sheriff's office looking for 30 that fled from police

The Gila County Sheriff’s Office says it's looking for 30 people who ran into the forest south of town this afternoon.

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PRMC names top employees

Payson Regional Medical Center recently recognized its Employee of the Year, Clinical Director and Non-Clinical Director of the Year.

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Officers receive new public safety award

Thirty-nine search warrants, 103 arrests, 47 seized firearms, 200 marijuana plants and nearly 40 grams of heroin.

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Quad crash injures man in Star Valley

A medical helicopter rushed a 32-year-old man to a Valley hospital after he lost control of his quad on Christmas Day near Star Valley.

Family left homeless by Christmas Day fire

A Christmas Day house fire has left a Young family homeless.

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Stanton joins Roundup

Rim Country Regional Cham­ber of Commerce Manager John Stanton has resigned after eight years on the job to join the advertising staff at the Payson Roundup.

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Celebrate the holiday in Rim Country

Celebrate New Year’s in Rim Country at one of the following businesses.

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Community Almanac, Dec. 31

There will be a special program on preserving photos, documents and memorabilia by Christine Solymossy, archivist for the Payson Public Library.

Movie nothing but depravity

I made the mistake of going to see “The Wolf of Wall Street” recently. Unless you enjoy sitting through three hours of very graphic depravity, which includes repeated sex orgies (with nothing left to the imagination), pill-popping, snorting and continuous vulgarity, use your money and your time more wisely.

Is co2 really that bad?

The European Union Parliament just approved a bill that limits the use of bio fuels for use in cars, trucks and other vehicles. Such fuels will be limited to 6 percent for all vehicles.

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Bus bullies beware

Cameras installed on Payson school buses

It’s almost a rite of passage to have a childhood story of harassment on the school bus — but not anymore in Payson.

Roundabouts vs. traffic signals

In a recent letter in the Roundup, the letter writer was fretting about more roundabouts being proposed in Payson. I travel through the present Highway 87 roundabouts at Airport and Tyler Parkway frequently and have come to appreciate them as huge time savers.

We don’t need any more traffic circles

Traffic circles are only as dangerous as the drivers that use them. Payson residents will eventually adapt to using the circles we do have and for them, the circles won’t represent too great of a challenge.

Friday, December 27

PEC accepts tax credit too

Please remember Payson Education Center when contributing to Tax Credit for Kids.

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Trees around community brighten season

The Village

Tonto Village has just a bit of snow still on the ground from our last storm, so it won’t be a white Christmas, but there are plenty of homes that are all dressed up for this holiday season.

Proposed traffic circles

Recently I read in Payson Roundup, the Town of Payson road improvements may possibly include four more traffic circles.

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Residents want carbon monoxide detectors

Payson Fire Department still offering dozens of the free, life-saving devices

After a carbon monoxide alarm installed by the Payson Fire Department recently saved a family, residents have inundated the department seeking a free, installed detector.

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Tonto Natural Bridge State Park offers guided hike

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park will join parks throughout Arizona in offering a guided “First Day Hike” on New Year’s Day at 10:00 a.m. and 1 p.m. Arizona State Parks will charge day-use entrance fees only for the First Day Hikes at 13 different parks on January 1, 2014.

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28 apply for fire chief

It’s been roughly six months since the Payson Fire Department’s chief retired and the town council axed the fire marshal position.

Forest official responds to letter from Senator McCain

Dear Senator McCain: Thank you for your letter of November 8, 2013, expressing concern about a press release regarding abandoned trailers on the Coconino, Kaibab and Prescott national forests in northern Arizona.

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Roofers, sewers, physicists — kids need them all

If doing community service or volunteering falls anywhere on your New Year’s resolution list, head on over to Payson High School (PHS).

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A look back at 2013 music highlights

DJ's Music Trivia

The old saying really is true. “Life is like a roll of toilet paper — the closer one’s life is to being over, the faster it unrolls.” And, boy, 2013 seemed to just fly by for me!

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At 21 even the greatest among us may not be done growing up – Part 3

Your Turn

In 1895, arriving from New York City, Winston Churchill landed on the sweltering island of Cuba where a revolution had dragged on for more than 30 years. Churchill’s goal in going to Cuba was twofold: He was a soldier and wanted to see what war looked like, but a second problem nagged at him.

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Come on: Hit us with your best shot

Our New Year’s resolution includes running more beautiful photos from our readers ...

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Community Almanac, Dec. 27

Scouting adventures await boys ages 7 to 18 with Pack 7354.

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ATV accident ruins holiday for family

If Rim Country drivers ever break down anywhere near Sunflower on Highway 87, the Ranft family and their business, the Sunflower Towing Company, have been there to help.

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She puts the ‘special’ in special care

Laura Gabaldon has not only served in several roles in the Payson health care community, she performs in local plays, is a professional clown, an active fund-raiser, artist and volunteer.

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CPS scandal festers

Ignored child abuse cases included in reports to governor, Legislature

Gov. Jan Brewer has declined calls for a special session of the Legislature to deal with the crisis triggered by the revelation that Child Protective Services classified as “not investigated” more than 6,400 re­ports of child abuse and neglect.

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Million-dollar winner

Payson man leaves winning lottery ticket with brother

A Payson resident has reportedly won a million-dollar lottery prize.

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Superintendent search launched

Payson School Board wants to interview candidates in January

For the past few months, each time the Payson Unified School District board has faced a decision that involves spending money, it has balked — except when it came to searching for an interim superintendent.

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Haphazard crime spree ends with a shrug

18-year sentence follows life of robberies, thefts, struggles

The long, sad criminal career of a Payson man ended Monday not with a bang, but a shrug.

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The bear facts on the history of Christopher Creek

Another Week in the Creek

Rod Britain, writer of the “Another Week in the Creek” column, is off this week. In his absence, See Canyon resident and Arizona’s official state historian, Marshall Trimble, agreed to share a little story with some relevance to Christopher Creek. So, consider this column as a Christmas present to Rim Country from Marshall and Rod.

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Payson girls tourney tips off today

Two-day event features some big schools

With a week remaining before they tip off the Division III Section IV schedule, Payson’s girls basketball team will get plenty of opportunities to work on weaknesses in the Payson Holiday Hoops Tournament today and Saturday.

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Library gives away candy, gets books

Rattlin' the Rim

It seems apropos that Phil Paine was the lucky winner of the Isabelle Memorial Memorial Library benefit raffle that had as a prize a gift basket overflowing with almost $200 worth of scrumptious See’s Candy.

Who put the tutus on the monkeys?

This sounds like one of those tricky logic questions on some Common Core curriculum standardized test.

Systematic neglect

State officials from the governor on down professed themselves shocked several months ago when several Child Protective Services officials called attention to the 6,500 cases of reported abuse and neglect classified as simply “not investigated” in the past few years.

Reward offered

My name is Dell Owens and I hunt and fish with a bow only.

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‘Scientific misconduct’ claimed in eagle dispute

A federal court judge has once again extended the legal battle over whether to restore endangered species protection to Arizona bald eagles.

School board giving away our money

The school board recently voted to pay the superintendent $58,000 to basically go fishing, an amount equal to the starting pay of two teachers.

Police need to deal with heroin problem

“While speeding complaints have remained consistent, data does not show an increase in traffic accidents since Dyer left.”

Tuesday, December 24

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Dead Shots hit target at state archery tourney

Five win titles

Bull’s-eye. The Rim Country Dead Shots hit the center of the target over and over again in the state 4-H shoot on Dec. 15 in Tucson.

Santa can surprise anyone

There is a Santa Claus in Payson. Standing in the checkout line in Walgreens, Carol was having difficulty with the register. A young man standing behind me had one item and I turned to apologize for the delay.

Honesty or dishonesty in our government

It has been about a year since the people chose dishonesty in our government when they re-elected Obama back for a second term.

Stop kudos for corporations

After reading a recent letter in the Dec. 13 Payson Roundup, I didn’t know whether to laugh or throw up. That an average American could be so ignorant of this country’s history is astounding. Most of his letter contains so many ludicrous statements that I wonder why it was printed.

Use $63 billion for America

On Dec. 12, 2013 President Obama’s Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testifying before the Financial Services Committee let it be known that the Obama administration was requesting $63 billion of our (American taxpayers’) money to send to the International Monetary fund ...

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19-year sentence for fraud upheld

Woman forged checks to pay $5,000 fine from previous fraud conviction

The Arizona Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction and 19-year prison sentence of a Payson woman on multiple counts of fraud after she argued the court erred in letting a probation officer testify against her.

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Ode to Joy

High school choir, band offer a holiday feast for the ears

Music director Sergio Beraun rang all the Christmas bells perfectly for the first concert of his Payson High School (PHS) career. The lush music from the band and the precise tones of the choral groups offered a feast for the ears.

Give our servicemen and veterans a break

This thing about cutting funds for our servicemen and retired veterans is insane when these cuts could have been made in many other areas like the subsidies to millionaire ranchers and farmers, however, there are some who need this.

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Scrooge can’t stop Angel’s toy drive

Almost 300 disadvantaged kids will open a present this Christmas thanks to Angel and the people of Rim Country, despite a Scrooge stealing presents during the drive.

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If only he could be home for Christmas

Christmas has always been a special time for me.

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Community Almanac, Dec. 24

During the month of December, Preferred Women’s Care will be collecting all sizes of diapers and pull-ups for families in need.

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Valley offers wealth of winter activities

There are times when we get itchy feet and want to do something. We often drive down to the Valley for some event or other pursuit. And we have family living in Scottsdale and visit with them including two grandchildren, ages 11 and 13.

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Christmas with a twist...

Jennifer Baltz (left) and Annie James, who comprise the duo Cinnamon Twist, perform at Dimi Espresso in the Swiss Village.

Sluggish state recovery drags on

Experts predict slow growth will continue for 2-3 more years

Despite tantalizing signs of recovery, slow growth will continue to dog Arizona’s economy for another two or three years, according to experts at the 50th annual Economic Forecast Luncheon co-sponsored by Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business and JPMorgan Chase.

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Students collect food for food banks

There should be a few fewer hungry people in Rim Country this holiday season thanks to several local elementary schools that held collection drives.

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Jackknife, rollover at Corvair Curve

Officers investigated two accidents at Corvair Curve Friday, one that likely resulted from the rain and the other from speeding.

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Longhorns selling Diamondbacks tickets

Agreement sends PHS back to Salt River Fields

Playing at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick was one of the highlights of a memorable baseball season for Payson’s varsity baseball team last spring.

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The sole of compassion

Lots of people generously share their good fortune with others during the holiday season. Not so many keep the spirit of Christmas giving throughout the year. One of those who has is Brooklyn Klein.

Merry Christmas, dear readers

Tomorrow, we celebrate a radical notion.

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Campus bomb buzz a bust

Extra cops were posted at Payson High School all last week after rumors of a bomb threat circulated among students.

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The gift of a day, a father and a Lazuli Bunting

My father and I stood clutching binoculars beneath the winter-naked trees at the edge of our lives at the edge of a habitat, blood strangers groping for a connection. The wind rustled through the spiny oak leaves of Madera Canyon as we read the sign explaining that life is most diverse at the edge between two habitats — oak and grass, wood and meadow, scrub and grassland.

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You better be good, I’m telling you why...

There’s a new traffic cop in town.

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Homeless kids get help they need

Donations, volunteers help 140 children and 44 families

Pat yourself on the back Rim Country; Payson Assisting Dis­placed Students (PADS) would like to thank you.

Women’s volleyball league

Adult Women’s Volleyball League registration is open until January 6.

Third-fourth grade hoops

This is your opportunity to meet new friends, gain experience, learn new skills and play in an organized basketball league. Don’t be left on the sidelines wishing you would have played, sign up today.

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Canyon Creek gravel project a breakthrough for wild brown trout

A breakthrough gravel enhancement project at Canyon Creek, the prized wild trout fishery located on the Mogollon Rim near Heber, has led to about 30 wild brown trout spawning sites in the newly added gravel, 50 percent of the highest number ever counted over a 2.5-mile section from the reservation boundary to the O.W. Bridge.

Friday, December 20

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Mattress Experts expands to include furniture

Mattress Experts recently expanded to include more than bedroom furniture in its inventory.

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The more you cut – the more pine trees grow

Research shows forest thinning boosts growth of remaining trees

Here’s a puzzle: Cut down half the ponderosa pines on an acre of land and you end up with just as much wood as when you started — eventually.

Clubs and Organizations, Dec. 20

On Saturday, Dec. 21, Ric Alling, former Arizona Archaeological Society Rim Country Chapter board member, will be giving a presentation on Applied Archaeo-Astronomy — A Southwestern Experience.

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Be careful around road work in The Village

The Village

Tonto Village is finally getting its bypass completed! The crews are working right at the junction of the Control Road and Johnson Boulevard.

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School food drive overwhelming success

Rattlin' the Rim

Aided by local firefighters Willard Cotter and Ryan MacNeal, Pine Strawberry School students delivered a truckload of much needed provisions to the Pine Strawberry Food Bank Monday morning.

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Troubled dog and patient man become a family

In June of this year, Humane Society Executive Director Sarah Hock and I went out to a failed rescue that needed to place dogs in alternate facilities.

JRE’s Christmas concert exclusions disappointing

Well here it is, the Christmas season again and the time for all schools to celebrate with Christmas programs. When saying this you would think that this would include all children going to school at Julia Randall Elementary, well it did not.

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Boys cruise past Mogollon

Young contributes 23 points

Payson had struggled to find its shot in back-to-back home court boys basketball losses to Cottonwood Mingus and Fountain Hills.

DV victims slapped in face by judicial system

I am sickened by the slap on the wrist that Zachary and Jerry Smith received, as well as by the slap in the face that all victims of domestic violence got from our judicial system last week.

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At 21 even the greatest among us may not be done growing up – Part 2

Your Turn

Last week we left 21-year-old Winston Churchill gazing landward as his ship approached New York City, where he was about to learn that there was more to life than the stodgy attitudes he had absorbed during his then short and aristocratically sequestered life.

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Injured goose dies after being shot with arrow

Roundup columnist DJ Craig gave the following account after submitting this photo:

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Start the New Year with First Day Hikes at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park on January 1

Plus info on hikes at other State Parks

Each year America's State Parks announces a national collaboration of all 50 State Park systems across America to sponsor guided "First Day Hikes" on New Year's Day. Arizona State Parks will charge day-use entrance fees only for the First Day Hikes at 13 different parks on January 1, 2014.

CPS crisis can lead us to a stronger, safer Arizona

When children are at risk, we all have two basic responsibilities. We’ve got to strengthen families, so we can prevent abuse or neglect whenever possible.

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Brief storm

A low-pressure system has brought breezy conditions and cooler temperatures to Payson.

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Girls rebound to beat Mogollon

Arissa Paulson powers Horns

Sophomore Arissa Paulson scored 18 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, blocked four shots and had seven steals to power Payson to a 52-23 girls basketball win at Mogollon on Monday.

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SV: Money still in the bank

$2.6 million in reserve, workers get bonus

Conservative money management has Star Valley sitting pretty as 2013 closes. The council directed staff to maintain a $2.6 million reserve by the end of the 2013-2014 budget year. Halfway through, the town has a reserve of $3 million.

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Break on bleacher bill

Price to replace rickety stands slashed in half

Clutching a daunting $119,000 bid to repair and replace condemned bleachers, the Payson Unified School District (PUSD) board on Dec. 16 took a breath and a sharp pencil and whittled the price down to $51,811.

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PHS stays strong on Red Mtn. mats

Post 5 of 6 wins vs. large schools

Payson was one of the smallest schools entered the Mesa Red Mountain Nate Johnson Memorial.

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Pine retreat granted special zoning

County supervisors award new conditional use permit to Breath of Life Retreat

Since 2006, Candy and Jim Bridges have operated the Breath of Life Retreat in Pine under the terms of a Gila County special use permit which allows them to operate a business in a residential zone.

Youth basketball leagues

he third-fourth grade basketball leagues are your opportunity to meet new friends, gain experience, learn new skills and play in an organized basketball league. Don’t be left on the sidelines wishing you would have played, sign up today.

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Moro leaving Blue Ridge for Poston Butte

More Than a Game

Legendary Lakeside Blue Ridge football coach Paul Moro is stepping down after 30 years as the Yellow Jackets’ head coach to assume the same position at Division II San Tan Valley Poston Butte in the Florence School District.

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Food drive booms

Surge in donations matches need

Thanks to several matching grants, the Payson Area Food Drive has raised its goal despite a late start this year.

And angels sing

The onslaught of school Christmas concerts has left us feeling half drunk on joy over their angelic voices — but also sobered by the responsibility for their uncertain futures.

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Lutheran Church takes a leap of faith

Mount Cross Lutheran Church has taken a leap of faith and broken ground on a new sanctuary, although it needs about $500,000 to finish the project.

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Luminarias a tradition at Phoenix Botanical Garden

There are still a few days left to catch Las Noches de Las Luminarias at the Phoenix Botanical Garden.

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From state Senate to State Department: Jackson is new liaison to tribes

Former Arizona state Sen. Jack Jackson Jr. knew his job with the State Department would be a balancing act between representing the federal government and serving tribal communities.

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Rim Country lands key 4FRI project

1,000 acres close to Christopher Creek in first phase of landmark restoration

Good Earth Power has started a nearly 1,000-acre thinning project in Rim Country, one of the first projects in the eagerly awaited Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI).

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year

DJ's Music Trivia

With parties for hosting, marshmallows for roasting and caroling out in the snow; with scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago, Christmas for many is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

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Community Almanac, Dec. 20

Reason for the Season — Celebrate the season at one of these special church services.

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Hellsgate getting new fire station

Something good is coming from wildfires.

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PES Christmas Concert brims with joy

“The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these ...”

As each class took the stage for the Payson Elementary School (PES) Christmas Concert, students squinted to see past the bright stage lights into the audience.

Women’s volleyball

Adult Women’s Volleyball League registration is open until Jan. 6.

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Great light displays in the Creek

Another Week in the Creek

The Christmas light displays at Christopher Creek Lodge and the Grey Hackle Lodge were the crown jewels in the Lights on the Loop and made for a dazzling backdrop for this year’s Christmas Carts and Quads Electric Light Parade. The Gift Shoppe at Creekside is decked out as well.

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Holiday Lighting Contest Map

2013 Holiday Lighting Contest sponsored by the Rim County Regional Chamber of Commerce, prize monies sponsored by Rim Country guns, and Home Depot sponsored the judging.

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New signs for Payson Community Blood Drive

Thanks to a concerned volunteer and the help of the local community, the Payson Community Blood Drive has several new signs.

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Forest Service clarifies trailer towing policy

New statement revokes threat to tow away hunter’s trailers left in the forest

The Coconino National Forest has apparently backed away from a threat to ticket and tow hunters’ trailers left in the forest for more than 72 hours.

Tuesday, December 17

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Giggles & crescendos

RCMS fall music concert delights: high school, PES shows this week

With laughs and giggles, grins and winks, crescendos and choruses, the Rim Country Middle School band and choir members entertained family and friends at their fall concert.

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Teachers rally behind all-day kindergarten

School board again delays decision

As five of the seven kindergarten teachers from Payson Unified School District (PUSD) faced the school board, member Jim Quinlan quipped, “Are you going to lead us in a song?”

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New trial set

Prosecutors get another chance in alleged assault on police officers

A judge set a new trial date Monday in a case against a man accused of assaulting officers during an arrest in October of 2011. The man’s convictions were recently thrown out due to mistakes and omissions by police and prosecutors.

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Driver’s fatal mistake

Highway deaths prompt DPS crackdown on seat belt law

A 26-year-old Gisela man died this weekend when he lost control of his vehicle and it rolled off Highway 87, ejecting him.

CPS disaster has been decades in the making

A crisis of epic scale has unfolded among the governor and state legislators who are scrambling to find scapegoats to blame for the problem that they themselves created.

No jail for assault

I am so compelled to write a letter to the editor that I’ve written three versions and have sent just this one. All three letters reference the article of Dec. 13, 2013, “No jail for assault.”

Payson Area Food Drive continues

Thank you Rim Country — the Payson Area Food Drive has a goal of raising $40,000 cash and 25,000 pounds of food to feed people in need over the coming year.

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Community Almanac, Dec. 17

The Payson United Methodist Church will hold a special service, “Blue Christmas,” at 6 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 19. The service will recognize the sadness and loss that many people may acutely feel this time of the year. 

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Coconino pins first loss on Longhorn grapplers

Confusion leads to Macnab’s first loss

After starting the season 7-0, Payson’s wrestling team went up against a strong Flagstaff Coconino team in a quadrangular match at Page on Wednesday.

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Obamacare good for some, troubling for others

The Greasy Pole

Had one of those days when the news actually mattered.

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Christmas lights dazzle

When my editor asked me to take pictures of some of the area homes with the best holiday lights, it sounded like a lot of shivering and driving around in the dark. Turns out, it offered an opportunity to marvel at the effort some residents put into decorating their houses and yards.

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Longhorn boys drop two straight

Fall to Mingus, Fountain Hills

Austin Young remained in the Payson High dressing room talking to his coaches long after Friday’s game with Fountain Hills had ended.

Poor shooting, turnovers cost girls twice

Longhorns fall to Mingus, Fountain Hills

The Longhorns could have used a break.

Should have read the bill

Maybe Nancy Pelosi had something there. When she made her infamous remark “one must vote for Obamacare so you can see what’s in it.”

Children need public’s help

More Than a Game

If you’re one of the many people who make Christmas gift lists and cross off the names when you’ve purchased or made a present for that person, here’s a question.

Gifts to area charities serving ‘working poor’ reduce tax bills

Taxpayers can get a direct tax credit by donating to several area charities certified by the state as benefiting the working poor.

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Middle Schools: A failed experiment?

The Payson Unified School District faces wrenching changes — and deep questions about how to accommodate both state and federal mandates.

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Tis the season for our pets too

Beautiful lights and decorations are up now and you can hear some of your favorite carols on the radio. It’s getting colder in Payson, and Christmas is just around the corner.

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Local art and crafts available in one place

I started my Christmas shopping trip with a warm pumpkin chai latte at Dimi Espresso Café, a pad of paper and a pencil ... because I need all the help I can get — shopping is not my favorite activity.

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Mazatzal Hotel & Casino and Tonto Apache Police Department Benefit Kids at Holiday Party

Tonto Apache Police Department partnered with Mazatzal Hotel & Casino for an Employee Kids Holiday Party. Four bicycles were presented by Community Policing, an effort of the Tonto Apache Police Department to stay in touch with casino employees and tribal residents.

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They’re just crazy for cookies

The ladies of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Payson are crazy about cookies. Or at least that is what it looked like at their Carol’s Cookie Sale Saturday, Dec. 7.

School board takes a breath

That’s it: Everyone take a breath. Good. Good. Hold it. Take another. OK. Everybody calm? Let’s think this through.

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Christmas bikes

Gila County has hit the 10-year mark for its refurbished Christmas bike giveaway.

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FFA students win at mid winter competition

The new agriculture instructor at Payson High School, David Rutherford, has something to crow about — his students.

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Clubs and Organizations, Dec. 17

The winners of the 2013 Mogollon Health Alliance iButterfly Quilt were Damienne and Karl Glasscock of Payson.

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Community college can’t get no respect

GCC misses out on money due to status

Once again, Gila Community College (GCC) attended an Arizona Association of District Governing Boards annual meeting, only to discover that as a provisional district it still can’t get no respect.

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Payson Medical Center helps navigate Health Insurance Marketplace

Most people have heard the confusion surrounding the Web site for the Health Insurance Marketplace, the government’s new platform for offering affordable health insurance. Payson Regional Medical Center’s application counselors can help make things more clear and assist with the sign-up process.

Friday, December 13

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Food bank gets boost from ChariTree drive

The ChariTree drive to gather food for local Rim Country food banks has netted more than 1,300 non-perishable food items as of Dec. 12.

Community Almanac, Dec. 13

Sawmill Theatres, 201 W. Main St., Payson, is presenting a 10:30 a.m. showing of “Frozen” Saturday, Dec. 14.

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Capturing the Christmas spirit

For the annual “Spirit of Christmas,” the churches gave to us — 12 shepherds flocking ...

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Arizona fined for Yarnell deaths

The 19 firefighters who died in the Yarnell Hill Fire this summer were “unnecessarily and unreasonably exposed to the deadly hazards of wildland firefighting” due to poor communications and the lack of an effective strategy the Arizona Division of Occupa­tional Safety and Health has concluded after a comprehensive investigation.

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Soph’s double-double powers Longhorns

Arissa Paulson scores 26 and grabs 18 boards

Camp Verde coach Mark Showers was frustrated. “She’s the best player on the floor,” he barked at one of his players. “Why aren’t you guarding her?”

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England explodes for 27 points in win over Cowboys

Birthday boy leads Horns to 64-28 rout of Camp Verde

Kain England got just about all he could want on his 18th birthday.

Minimum wage crisis

Americans do not want to work for the minimum wage. Who does? Recent demonstrations at McDonald’s restaurants demanding $15 an hour wages are understandable. American people need more money to exist.

Local 4-H club qualifies 16 archers for state

It hasn’t taken long for the Rim Country Deadshots to establish themselves as a formidable group.

Elite anglers to speak Saturday

Saturday will be a great opportunity for anglers of all ages and skill levels. Two Bassmaster Elite Series anglers will be presenting talks on fishing techniques and equipment.

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A soldier’s surprise

Mom returns from war in Afghanistan to her daughters’ delight

Not a dry eye remained in the Payson High School foyer as friends and family gathered around the Christmas tree to watch Josie and Olivia Long reunite with their mom, Laura Doughty.

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Voden bail cut

Judge allows home arrest as history of threats emerges

A judge Thursday lowered the bond on Mike Voden, 71, accused of murdering his neighbor last month after the man’s dog entered Voden’s yard and would not leave.

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No jail for assault

But judge ‘irritated’ by letters in ‘tag team’ attack blaming victim

A Payson father and son have both received probation after beating a woman up in what the victim described as a tag-team assault last December.

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Santa and his sleigh in Christopher Creek Saturday

Another Week in the Creek

Christopher Creek is a stop on Santa’s itinerary tomorrow. Boys and girls will gather at the firehouse at 2 p.m. to decorate food boxes and eat cookies.

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No doubt about it – baby, it’s cold outside!

DJ's Music Trivia

As I’m writing this week’s article, I can’t help but look up and notice how empty our beautiful Green Valley Park is today.

When is it all right to beat a woman?

So when is OK to beat someone? Let’s say you’re a man and a woman’s making you miserable. Could you maybe break her nose if she sprays you with a water bottle?

Donations stolen

My name is Leticia Alatriz and I am writing to you about the Angel project toy drive. The main reason I have contacted you is to let you know that some of the drop-off boxes were hit this past weekend and all of the toys that were collected by my son for foster children and kids who, without his help, would have nothing for Christmas (were stolen).

Generosity overwhelming

As we come to the close of another year, we feel the need, as well as an obligation, to thank the people of our town and the Rim Country as a whole for their contributions of clothing, shoes, socks and undergarments both new and used to assist those in need.

Help with exchange students’ parade entry appreciated

We wish to thank the many people who assisted the exchange students with their entry in the Electric Light Parade.

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Bill for bad bleachers: $126,000

School board agonizes about neglected projects

Pressured for time, the Payson Unified School District (PUSD) board begrudgingly voted four to one to pay $126,000 to replace the condemned bleachers at the high school in time for commencement.

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No doubt about it: That’s one heck of a cabbage

Girl gets $1,000 scholarship for humongous plant

“When I heard I had won, I was like, ‘WAAAA! I must call Mr. Reed,” said Marissa Ormand, winner of Bonnie Plants’ 3rd Grade Cabbage Program.

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GCC students display their artwork

Folk outsider art among the highlights

Art comes in lots of forms. For proof, consider the wonderful variety of art on display during the Payson Campus of Gila Community College Seventh Annual Student Art Show and Sale on Dec. 6.

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Concert a gift to community

They love music and make it beautifully.

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Rim roads closed

Snowy weather has arrived in the Rim Country leaving many forest roads impassable and prompting a temporary winter closure of the Rim Lakes Recreation Area including vehicle access to Woods Canyon and Bear Canyon Lakes.

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Mesa psychiatrist expands practice

A new psychiatrist is expanding his practice into Payson.

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Even the greatest among us may not be done growing up at age 21

Your Turn

I mean no irreverence to Winston Churchill in writing this. I use him as an example because it seems so impossible that he, of all people, could have said some of the things he said when he was young.

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Town attorney exploring run for superior court judge seat

Payson Town Attorney Tim Wright this week said he may run for Gila County superior court judge in 2014, a seat currently held by Judge Robert Duber.

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Frigid weather bursting water pipes

The Village

Tonto Village has received about three to four inches of snow this past week and it is sticking around awhile because the temperatures have been very low — 30s in the daytime and the teens at night.

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First snowmen of season arrive

Rattlin' the Rim

The winter’s first storm dropped about two inches of snow on Pine and Strawberry Saturday night thrilling those who marvel at Mother Nature’s showy spectacles.

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Scrooge strikes Angel

Stolen toys bring tears to volunteers

Leticia Alatriz felt her heart break when she told her son, Angel, that someone had stolen the toys from a donation box they had set up at the Sawmill Theatres.

The Kingdom of Heaven

Angel Alatriz doesn’t have much. Well, actually — he’s got a loving family and a huge heart — so he’s got everything important. But he doesn’t have much stuff. So you’d think that he’d be looking forward to Christmas — finally gonna get some stuff.

Tuesday, December 10

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Longhorn wrestlers open season 2-0

Pin Winslow, Show Low at home

Payson opened the wrestling season by beating both Winslow and Show Low at Wilson Dome on Wednesday.

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Near tragedy

CO detector saves family of three

This story could have had a very different ending — a tragic ending.

Northern Arizona forests welcome hunters

We are concerned that hunters may have recently been given the impression that they are at risk of having their trailers or other vehicles towed while visiting the Kaibab and Coconino National Forests in northern Arizona. This is simply not true, and we want to set the record straight in the hopes of reducing any residual anxieties that our forest visitors might have.

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Fragile bones can lead to death

The fragile bones resulting from osteoporosis can lead to death — not from the broken bone, but from complications that arise when an elderly person is confined to a wheelchair or has limited mobility.

Prescribed fire

The Forest Service will undertake a 100-acre prescribed burn this week in the Verde Glen area to eliminate slash piles from a previous thinning project.

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Tears, memories flood Celebration of Life

Tears washed over the 2013 Celebration of Life hosted Dec. 4 by Hospice Compassus and Messinger Payson Funeral Home at Mountain Bible Church.

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Supervisors plan January meeting on Pine water issues

Residents who sought to recall the majority of the Pine Straw­berry Water Improvement Dis­trict board are still pushing for an election sooner rather than later.

The evidence piles up

The evidence continues to pile up — just like the tree thickets and dead wood in the forest.

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Much to celebrate this month

Wow! How did it ever get to be December so soon?

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Older drivers ask: When’s it time to stop?

Older Americans report that one of the hardest things to do is to stop driving. In less than a decade, one out of four drivers will be age 65 or older.

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Train display signals Christmas is coming

Local enthusiasts set up annual exhibit to help stock food banks

Christmas and miniature trains just go together.

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Christmas now going to the dogs

Every December many parents take their children to see Santa Claus.

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GCSO makes child molestation arrest

The Gila County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Round Valley man Wednesday on child molestation charges after he reportedly abused two young girls.

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Longhorns go 5-0 on Camp Verde mats

Dallin Macnab, Chase Elmer claim championships

CAMP VERDE – Payson continued its strong start to the wrestling season by going 5-0 at the Camp Verde Duals on Friday and Saturday. The Longhorns improved to 7-0 on the young season.

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Payson boys open strong at Sedona tourney

It’s a big week for Payson’s boys basketball team.

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Forest restoration yields huge savings

The value of thinning forests adds up to as much as $5,000 per acre if you take into account the benefits of preventing devastating wildfires, reducing carbon emissions that spur global warming and other non-market values, concluded a team of Northern Arizona University researchers.

Thanks Elks

Hats off for a great job!

Coal dirty and deadly

The coal mining industry in Arizona employs 425 people at Peabody Energy’s Kayenta site in the Black Mesa Coal Field.

Kids need help

The dedicated coaches and advisors who sustain the extracurricular programs on which our schools depend have issued an urgent appeal for help.

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Clubs and Organizations, Dec. 10

The Loyal Order of the Moose meetings are at 6 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of each month.

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Community Almanac, Dec. 10

Visit the ChariTree display at Steve Coury Ford in Star Valley.

Kudos to Cahill

Re: Convictions overturned — Lawyers did not turn over key evidence in trial about struggle with Payson police

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Red Cross shelters residents after fire

A kitchen fire in a two-story home Saturday night has displaced three people.

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Death of the ‘lovely one’

Balas sentenced after wrenching testimony of the grandmother

In a crowded Payson courtroom Monday as guards with machine guns hovered over a downcast defendant, a tearful grandmother painted the picture of a joyful, beautiful girl who once loved SpongeBob SquarePants, chocolate milk and bubble baths.

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School cutbacks

PHS extracurricular programs must be self-sufficient in the fall

After years of scrambling to raise money to support extracurricular programs, the struggle will likely get worse next year.

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The weather outside is frightful, but this town is just delightful

About 1,500 people attend Electric Light Parade

For some reason, the night of Payson’s annual Electric Light Parade seems the coldest of the year — and this Saturday, Dec. 7 did not disappoint.

Working together for all

There are some common sentiments we hear around Rim Country:

Friday, December 6

EPA’s war on coal could destroy Arizona’s energy future

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced alarming new plans to set carbon standards for existing power plants as the agency simultaneously pursues a reckless agenda of taking reliable, affordable power offline in Arizona and across the country.

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Student of the Month

The Rim Country Rotary-Payson honored the November Student of the Month Jennifer Labadie-Bailey at the club’s Nov. 21 meeting with a Certificate of Merit and a check for $50.

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County gives away bikes and safety helmets

For the 10th year running, Santa’s Gila County helpers have been busy refurbishing bikes all year to distribute to less fortunate children at Christmas. So far the county has collected 140 rebuilt bikes for various organizations to give to children throughout Gila County.

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Giant water rate increase looms for small communities

118% boost won’t upgrade system, increase supply

Payson Water Company’s customers may soon be paying twice as much for water — but they’ll still likely face the frustrations of water rationing and a ramshackle system.

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Abandoned animals need second chance

As the weather turns cold and the sky turns gray, nothing warms the heart and lifts the spirit like the unconditional love offered by a companion animal.

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Time is flying toward year’s end

DJ's Music Trivia

It seems like just yesterday that we were sitting outside listening to the bands play at the summer concerts in the park and watching the annual fireworks display over the lake at Green Valley Park.

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Favorite Rim Country Christmas shopping spots

This small, but colorful art gallery and gift shop opened earlier this year in the Swiss Village Shops next to the then-Payson Florist, 802 N. Beeline Highway.

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Programs give respite from holiday bustle

Payson library offers classes, movies and more to enrich patrons’ lives

The rush of the holidays can get so overwhelming we start to sympathize with ol’ Ebenezer and find ourselves secretly saying, “Bah humbug” rather than “Happy holidays.”

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Principals tackle school crowding

Principals Rob Varner, Will Dunman and Asa Hall met with many parents in the past month to hammer out ways to relieve overcrowding at Payson Elementary School.

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Some parents have the knack of raising children with a light hand

Your Turn

I was writing about Mom last week when something intriguing popped into my head. We were talking about the questions I asked Mom. I could only remember a couple of important ones; probably because I’ve forgotten the simple ones all kids ask when they’re young.

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Holiday happenings and more in the Village

The Village

Can you believe it? We are already into the first week of December! I haven’t done any Christmas shopping. I did not join the crowds of shoppers who went out to the stores on Thanksgiving or even on Black Friday, I stayed home.

Outdoorsman’s Yard Sale

The third annual “Let’s Talk Fishin’” Outdoorsman’s Yard Sale is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 14 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Payson Senior Center, located at 514. W. Main St.

Bass tournament Saturday at Roosevelt Lake

A WON BASS Arizona tournament is set for Saturday at Roosevelt Lake.

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RCMS boasts strong volleyball squads

The Rim Country Middle School volleyball teams enjoyed strong seasons this year. The seventh-graders went 8-2.

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Grim end to tragic tale

Father gets 20 years in death of daughter after years of missed chances

Gasoa Balas will likely spend the next 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to second degree murder, aggravated assault and driving under the influence Tuesday.

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Convictions overturned, prosecutors rebuked

Lawyers did not turn over key evidence in trial about struggle with Payson police

Citing prosecutor and police misconduct, Gila County Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill on Tuesday threw out multiple felony convictions arising from Payson resident Brandon Lee Lewis’ October 2011 confrontation with three officers.

Fumbling reforms

The Payson school board capped a chaotic and discouraging series of events this week by offering outgoing Superintendent Ron Hitchcock $58,000 to quit coming to work. The board will now look for an interim superintendent to finish out the school year.

Haunting questions

Gasoa Balas took a plea. So now we know where he’ll spend the next 32 years: He’ll do 20 years for the reckless flight from police that cost his daughter her life. And he’ll then do 12 more for the terrible night he held down his girlfriend, cut her flesh and her hair with scissors and stuffed her hair into her mouth as his traumatized daughter watched.

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Board pays off superintendent

School district buys out $58,000 contract; seeking interim chief starting Jan. 1st

Payson Unified School District (PUSD) will spend $58,000 to buy out Super­intendent Ron Hitchcock’s contract and seek an interim superintendent to take over by Jan. 1.

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PHS: Few finish university

Report: Just 15 percent of Payson High graduates finish at a university in six years

Only 15 percent of Payson High School graduates earn a college degree within six years compared to 18.6 percent of students statewide.

Arizona, Republicans low in all rankings

It’s fun to read the football rankings each week. Here’s another one to consider: Neither the Republicans or Arizona made the top 10 in national scholastic performance.

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Ashby, Creighton 2nd team all-section in volleyball

Longhorn seniors also recognized in Arizona Republic

Emmee Ashby and Mckenzie Creighton were keys to Payson’s strong volleyball season. And the seniors have been recognized for their contributions to the Longhorns’ 26-14-6 campaign.

Clubs and Organizations, Dec. 6

Dr. Lynnette Brouwer will lead the Unity of Payson 10 a.m. service Sunday, Dec. 8 with her talk “Be Not Afraid.”

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Community Almanac, Dec. 6

The 8th Annual Spirit of Christmas is Sunday, Dec. 8 at the Payson High School Auditorium.

Turkey Tuesday a triumph

Thanks to the Rim Country residents, local businesses, Bashas’, the Payson Roundup, KMOG Radio, the Rotary Club, Payson Concrete, Central Arizona Board of Realtors, Steve Coury Ford, Payson Unified School District and Channel 12, St. Vincent de Paul’s “Turkey Tuesday” was another triumph.

Thanks to veterans

(These letters to veterans were produced by the second grade class of Dorothy de Masi at Payson Elementary School for Veterans Day, but we saved them to acknowledge Pearl Harbor Day.)

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Five Payson friends pass grueling Ironman test

Shared endurance training strengthens longtime friendships

Todd Poer woke up at 3 a.m. and drove from his home in Payson to Willow Springs Lake.

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Big weekend behind us, more to come

Another Week in the Creek

Christopher Creek had a lot of activity over last weekend.

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Award-winning display ready to visit

Rattlin' the Rim

Think about it — snowmen huddled around a roaring campfire — wouldn’t they melt?

Tuesday, December 3

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Hearing slated on wolf recovery area

As controversy builds, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold a hearing on changing the rules for the reintroduction of Mexican gray wolves at a hearing at the Hon-Dah Conference Center in Pinetop this afternoon and evening.

Shorthanded girls squad starts 1-3

Coach says tourney performance better than record indicates

A 1-3 record certainly isn’t anything to brag about. But when all three losses come against bigger schools and the roster is down to eight players, including two junior varsity girls brought along for depth, it’s not so bad.

Merchant Marine veterans issue invitation

Now that Veterans Day is behind us, it is time to recognize the Merchant Seamen who brought men and supplies to all the theaters of war.

Thanks for story about shopping

Thank you for including the Rim Country Museum Gift Shop in the Friday, Nov. 29 issue story about shopping local.

Story about Payson Womans Club appreciated

Thank you so much for printing Teresa McQuerrey’s write up about the Womans Club. We club members thank her very much. She did her usual good job as she always does.

Little time left to review, compare Medicare coverage

AARP is reminding and encouraging people on Medicare to consider their options and choose the coverage that best fits their needs during Medicare Open Enrollment which runs through Dec. 7, 2013.

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Rim Country braces for snowstorm

Wednesday storm should bring rain, snow, frigid temperatures

After a beautiful Thanksgiving weekend, Rim Country needs to brace for wet, cold, winter weather.

Lock ’em up?

Regarding the case of the father who abandoned his 2-year-old son on Houston Mesa Road — I want to thank you for your editorial questioning the logic of sentencing this man to prison for 3.5 years for his mistake.

Shocking failure to protect children

Arizona’s shocking failure to even investigate reports of child abuse — much less actually protect children — has finally spurred a political crisis.

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Volunteers building vital trails

The breathtaking beauty of Rim Country goes on for miles ... too bad it lacks easy access.

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Got to admit ... it’s getting better

Payson’s sales tax revenues on the rise, but construction continues to struggle

Hopeful numbers keep trickling in, as Rim Country struggles to regain the economic ground it lost in the real estate crash of 2007 and 2008.

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Abuse neglected

State task force to review 6,100 cases not investigated by Child Protective Services

Gov. Jan Brewer on Monday announced plans to create a team to oversee investigation of some 6,100 reports of child abuse or neglect that Child Protective Services set aside without investigating.

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Defense key for Payson boys hoops team

Longhorns opening Thursday with lots of new players

With just one starter back from last year’s 10-17 team, this year’s Payson High varsity basketball team is inexperienced.

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Community Almanac, Dec. 3

The 9th Annual “Light the Rim” House Lighting Contest will award a total of $500 in prize money to winners this year.

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An extra serving of compassion

Elks Lodge supper a blessing for hundreds

While many Americans were enjoying Thanks­giving dinner at home with their families, others either didn’t have family or a home.

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Innermost secrets of the universe revealed

Glow-in-the-dark rocks, disappearing photons, lurking activators, stealthy scorpions, all at the rock show

Way, way, way in the back of the Payson Rimstones Rock Club’s Gem and Mineral Show in a side room in a black box with a weird light waited The Secret of the Universe.

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Candle lighting ceremony in memory of children

A Payson group that strives to help families cope with the loss of a child will join in a worldwide memorial for children who have died on Dec. 8.

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Sports editor goes on a guy’s shopping trip

I’ve now lived in Star Valley for two and a half months. So, I’ve had little time to figure out where to shop.

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Music, crafts and special events kick off busy month

The hustle and bustle of the season adds a celebratory flavor to the holidays. That hustle and bustle explodes this week with a long list of craft fairs and one of the community’s most popular music programs.

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Hospice staff extends reach

Hospice Compassus provides an opportunity each holiday season to remember lost loved ones through its Celebration of Life, this year at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 4 at Mountain Bible Church, 302 E. Rancho Road, Payson.

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Clubs and Organizations, Dec. 3

Payson Area Computer Association members and guests are invited to the next general meeting at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6 in the community room of the Payson Public Library, 328 N. McLane Road.