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Alexis Bechman

Stories by Alexis

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Highway patrol targets distracted drivers

It only took Department of Public Safety officer Ben Kjellstrom a few minutes to spot a violation amidst a sea of traffic and whip his unmarked patrol car around, sloshing this reporter across the plastic backseats.

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Hellsgate chief leaving

Grant loss sparks budget firestorm

The Hellsgate Fire Department topped a bad month with news that it didn’t get a crucial federal grant and will lose its chief.

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Plea deal rejected

Judge balks at minimum term

A Superior Court judge Monday rejected a plea deal offering the shortest possible prison sentence to a man who allegedly damaged dozens of local businesses and shoplifted repeated times.

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Fire danger rises

Starting today, campers will only be allowed to roast marshmallows over a campfire if they are staying in a developed campground in the Coconino, Kaibab, Prescott and Tonto National Forests.

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Griffin’s Propane expands to Payson

Gas company breaks ground for new facility near airport

Griffin’s Propane broke ground on a new Payson site last week near the airport that should be open by the fall.

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Officer hurt

DPS cop, wife in stable condition after motorcycle crash in Payson

Department of Public Safety Det. Terry Phillips and his wife are recovering after a motorcycle accident this weekend that nearly claimed their lives.

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Woman’s bungled crime spree nets six years in prison

Young woman’s drug addiction spurred string of thefts, robbery

A 22-year-old Payson woman responsible for a host of crimes including driving the getaway car after her boyfriend held up a woman at an ATM was sentenced Monday to six years in prison.

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Bar dismisses judge’s complaint about prosecutor

Testimony lays bare conflicts, fears that made a judge retire

A state disciplinary panel Wednesday quickly exonerated Gila County’s chief deputy attorney of charges without even asking him to mount a defense to claims that he acted unprofessionally when he stormed out of a courtroom last year.

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Guardian angels help out Payson Community Kids

Children run up and down a wide, bright hallway, clamoring for their macaroni and cheese dinner. Others paint paper kites in a craft room while some work on homework in the quiet room. In the lounge, teens rest coolly in beanbags and outside youngsters sprint across artificial turf to a playground, yelling merrily.

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Be your own guinea pig to test your gluten tolerance

With more and more people being diagnosed with celiac or gluten intolerance, it was one of the hot topics at this year’s Women’s Wellness Forum at Payson High School March 29.

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Gush of good news

Payson may end water restrictions

With the Colorado River drying up thanks to 14 years of unrelenting drought, major cities that rely on the Central Arizona Project, including Phoenix, are bracing for water shortages.

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Major drug busts

On the heels of a major drug arrest last week, the Gila County Drug, Gang and Violent Crimes Task Force and its K-9 Roman were busy again on another bust Friday.

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Bust nets nearly $1M in drugs

Officers uncovered nearly a million dollars worth of illegal drugs in a vehicle on April Fools' Day, but it was no joke.

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Fire chief finalists down to five, including two locals

Last interviews to be conducted April 11

Payson has winnowed the applications for the fire chief job from 33 down to five, including two area fire chiefs.

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Thrift shop gets high-flying donation

St. Vincent de Paul’s thrift shop recently received its biggest donation ever from an anonymous donor, intended to help the largest food bank in Rim Country.

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Victim pleads for abuser

Wrenching case illustrates cycle of abuse

A victim of domestic violence wept, begged and pleaded on behalf of her abuser, who after a furious argument chased her and bumped her car as she fled down the Beeline Highway with her children.

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Argument ends with car chase

A local barber could spend up to 7.5 years in prison after in a fit of anger he rammed his girlfriend’s car, which held two of his children.

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Women turn hobbies into sweet success

If you have ever baked a cake from scratch, you know there are a thousand ways to mess it up. For a tasty cake you need to measure precisely, mix gingerly, bake just so and cool before frosting.

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Detention officer arrested for sneaking MP3 player into county jail

She worked for six weeks as an officer in the Gila County jail, but her career appears short lived. On Wednesday, Gila County announced it had arrested one of its own. Detention officer Brittany Gonzalez, 28, was reportedly smuggling contraband into the Globe jail with the help of an inmate’s sister, Monique Hernandez, 30, who also faces contraband charges.

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Geocaching: The addictive lure of a treasure hunt

It seems I just cannot get enough screen time. I am glued to my computer eight-plus hours a day and when I get home, I watch Netflix and then play games on my smart phone before turning in. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I use Pinterest to lull me back to sleep with visions of baking double stuffed caramel brownies and constructing a table out of pallets.

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Police bollix up band of burglars

Police say they have nabbed the group responsible for at least a dozen burglaries near Woodhill over the past month.

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Last alarm for one of our own

Rest in peace, Lt. Mollere

The tone out crackled across the Payson 911 scanners at 11 a.m. Saturday and the recording later echoed through a stately Phoenix church, past panes of stained glass and pews full of firefighters from around the state dressed in their best.

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Christopher Creek snags $200,000 fire grant

Fire department will thin forest to protect residents

For the third year in a row, the Christopher-Kohl’s Fire Depart­ment has received a federal grant to clear brush to protect homes from the threat of wildfires.

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Judge Duber philosophical about election challenge

Payson town attorney Tim Wright seeks to unseat longtime judge

After 28 years on the bench, Gila County Superior Court Judge Robert Duber II has seen it all. From attorneys impeaching witnesses on the stand, to deadbeat parents, child molesters and sometimes even, the grandchildren of people he once prosecuted.

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Payson’s superfund site finally cleaned up

After years of work, officials say they have removed toxic dry cleaning chemicals that contaminated the groundwater at Cherry and Tonto well sites.

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Town departments submit wish lists for upcoming budget year

It’s not Christmas time, but Town of Payson department heads have been making their capital spending lists — and checking them twice.

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Payson council balks at Firewise codes

The proposed adoption of a fire building code for new home construction set off a firestorm of opinions at a Payson Town Council study session Tuesday, with most councilors adamantly against the idea.

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Sexting gets attorney in trouble

Public defender loses court contract because of messages

After reportedly carrying on a sexting relationship with a client, defense attorney Robert Standage lost his contract with Gila County Superior Court.

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Plea deal dispute persists

Prosecutors, judge can’t agree on plea

A Gila County judge is standing behind his decision to reject a restrictive plea deal negotiated by the Gila County Attorney’s Office.

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Town threat?

Man allegedly threatened council, staff bought guns

A man who allegedly asked police about security at town council meetings after threatening council members was arrested recently after he lied about his address to buy several guns.

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Payson may scrap some impact fees

State rules could force town to drop fees used for parks, Blue Ridge pipeline

Payson in April will seek public input on impact fees charged to builders to pay for water, parks, fire, police and streets.

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‘Horrific’ crash closes Hwy. 87

Another smashup at deadly ‘Corvair Curve’

A “horrific” motorcycle wreck at Corvair Curve Sunday afternoon closed southbound Highway 87 for several hours and landed a man in the hospital in serious condition.

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Fancy Finds a mix of new and old

Home’s feeling of happiness keeps customers coming back

Tucked among Pine’s antique shops is something new.

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Fire departments face crisis, ponder agreement

Agreement could save $500,000

Rural fire departments must cut costs and cooperate to maintain existing services, Hellsgate Fire Battalion Chief Dave Bathke told his board members on Wednesday.

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Man missing south of Young

Searchers in helicopters, on quads and on horseback are searching for a man missing south of Young.

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Crime wave

Officers juggle slew of cases

A busy, violent weekend and a flurry of court activity produced a mini-crime wave in Rim Country.

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Great corn chip caper in Pine

The Gila County Sheriff’s Office says someone mailed crushed corn chips to the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District, but they aren’t sure why.

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TRSAR members honored with service pins

For working countless rescue missions free every year, Gila County Sheriff Adam Shepherd recognized members of Tonto Rim Search and Rescue Feb. 13 at the Payson Public Library, which was aglow in neon orange rescue shirts.

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Fire merger possible if boards approve

Chiefs: Agreement will improve both budgets and service

A joint powers agreement could cut fire department costs and improve service, fire chiefs from four Rim Country departments have concluded.

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Main Street building will get face lift

Something new with an old twist is coming to Main Street.

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Celebration draws a crowd

Throng of Rim Country’s best turn out for awards

Waves of laughter and smiles flooded the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino banquet room Monday night setting the already sparkly room aglow as the winners of the Best of Rim Country were announced.

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Pine-Strawberry to resume brush work

Communities rally on brink of frightening fire season

Despite the loss of grant money, Pine-Strawberry will still hold brush pick-ups this year after a community group, residents and the fire department rallied to save the program.

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Man found dead beneath all-terrain vehicle

A man was found dead under his ATV Thursday morning near Geronimo Estates.

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Drill for disaster

Firefighters brave the smoky darkness

Smoke filled the old home quickly, pouring out from cracked window seals, rusty air conditioner units and a hole in the roof where a downed tree lay.

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Pinon: New cafe with historic roots

There is now a place to eat a Mogollon Monster, the Elvis and a Croque Madame.

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Voden’s release conditions not loosened

A judge has denied Mike Voden’s request to loosen his release conditions and let him go shopping three hours a week.

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Doggone dog catcher’s gone

Payson without animal control since August

Payson hasn’t had an animal control officer on duty since August, unleashing complaints about barking and loose dogs all around town.

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Readers playing favorites

Who will be chosen Best of Rim Country?

Who serves up Rim Country’s best Mexican food? Steak? Fish fry?

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Couple, four dogs escape house fire uninjured

A couple and their four dogs escaped uninjured from a Sunday morning house fire.

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Time Out names new executive director

Welsheimer draws from her own experience in an abusive relationship

She was only home late three minutes from work when she found her boyfriend had become an enraged, green-eyed beast she had never known.