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Michele Nelson

Stories by Michele

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College courses for high school students covered

Ever wanted your high school student to take a community college course, but couldn’t afford the tuition?

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Sandoval seeks job as county schools superintendent

Roy Sandoval has entered the race to replace retiring Gila County Superintendent of Schools Linda O’Dell.

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Does food have anything to do with menopause?

The Healthy Foodie

Warning — this column is for women only.

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Protecting special kids in a disaster

Ray Morris thinks about some interesting stuff, such as, what would he do with his severely mentally disabled son or physically disabled father if there were a major disaster or emergency?

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ALA School confirms delay

In a letter to prospective parents, the American Leadership Academy administration said it has delayed building a campus in Payson for at least a year due to low enrollment and lack of a lease for land on which to build a campus.

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Duty, Honor, Country: Saluting Service

Eleven veterans who served in wars from World War II to the Iraq War gathered at the Powell Place on a warm day to receive recognition for their service.

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Middle school musicians tear it up

A light show, solos, bells, award-winning choirs, guitars, and the debut of the new middle school jazz band — all just part of the Rim Country Middle School Spring Concert.

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Empowering parents to be teachers

Talking to toddlers said key to success

The 3-year-old and his mother move down the aisle in Walmart in a staccato rattled of imperatives. “Get down!” she snapped. Then, “Shut up! Stop that!” The burst of commands have little effect. The boy pulls items from the shelf, tugs on the feet of his infant sibling, “Quit it!” she orders.

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Smoldering ashes nearly destroy home

Ashes cleaned up by renters caused a fire at a Christopher Creek unit on Saturday, March 12.

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Sodium overload is an unhealthy relationship

The Healthy Foodie

So I’m nibbling pizza.

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Longhorn concert band makes state finals

Musicians qualify for second time in school history

For the first time since 2013, the Payson High School band will perform at the Arizona state competition and the audience at the spring concert got to hear why.

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Community Garden classes start up

This season, the Payson Community Garden will only have eight classes running weekly from March 12 until May 7 — just in time to get the garden prepared for planting summer crops around June 1.

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School Ag program selling compost

Come on out to collect compost for your garden and help the Payson FFA chapter at the same time, March 28 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. and April 2 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Spring sprang too soon

Frost may chill early bloomers

California has been hammered by winter storms that dumped upward of a foot of snow in the Sierra Nevadas and coastal mountains.

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Parents plead for charter school alternative

Crystal Whitlock decided to support American Leadership Academy coming to Payson because her elementary-aged children, who accelerate at learning, were frustrated and started losing interest in going to school when they were placed in Payson Elementary School classes with slower learners.

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Charter balks

Parents told school will delay or cancel Payson plan

The American Leadership Academy (ALA) has reportedly postponed or canceled plans to build an 800-student, K-8 charter school in Payson.

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What’s up with this alkaline diet fad?

The Healthy Foodie

Google stalks me.

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Charter school differences

State rules make budgets, spending hard to compare

Despite murky reporting requirements and bewildering budget formats, several studies suggest charter schools spend twice as much on administration as district public schools.

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Pleasant Valley War

Tiny town home to fierce family feud

Pat Murdock shook his head in surprise.

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Schools need critical thinking about critical rankings

Here’s a critical thinking skills test:

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School makes tech torch handover

After 17 years with Payson Unified School District, Director of Technology Joni deSzendeffy has retired and passed the reins to Vicky Andrews, a highly qualified education techie herself.

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A fortunate ‘mistake’ — Champagne

The Healthy Foodie

“Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles) ... in the wine (in the wine) ...”

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Business classes pay off for students

Parents hail state’s recent reversal of vocational cuts

Kayla Percell can’t say enough about the training she received at Payson High School’s DECA (formerly Distributive Education Clubs of America).

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Author’s tale of struggles and triumph inspires students

Reading hater to author: Ben Mikaelsen

Ben Mikaelsen didn’t have it easy in school — especially with reading. However, key people led him to a life of writing and adventure.

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College board tinkering with tuition

After a long discussion at its annual retreat, the Gila Community College board voted to re-adjust the tuition schedule.

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Community Garden opens

Plots available as thoughts turn to spring

Have nothing planned for Saturday?

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Searching for the Ancient Ones

44 miles of Jeep drivin’ and a Marine with a big laugh reveal secrets of the ancients

John Dryer’s voice fills any room he enters, backed by a personality bigger than an Arizona sky. He has lived in Tonto Basin for almost half a century, so when he promised to reveal an ancient mystery, I couldn’t resist.

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Belle of the ball

The MHA Foundation’s Black and White Ball still has its small-town charm, even though the charity has been transformed into a multi-million dollar organization.

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Turnover spurs charter debate

The eight-school American Leadership Academy district had a 44 percent teacher turnover rate during the 2014-2015 school year, more than double the rate at the Payson Unified School District, according to statistics provided by each district.

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Payson Fire Department partners with PHS to teach CPR

If you’re the Payson Fire Department and you have more than 50 CPR mannequins, a full body Automated External Defibrillator equipment, AED dummy and certified trainers what do you do?

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Soy said to be good, bad or even ugly

The Healthy Foodie

I confess — I tried the vegan route — once.

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ALA schools follow pattern

Fewer minorities, low-income families

A comparison of American Leadership Academy school enrollment to the enrollment of the surrounding districts found the same trends identified in a report by Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting.

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La Posada chef invokes spices to bewitch taste buds

Venison, quail, Hopi stews, savory elk create menu with a joyful sense of place

Little children make mud pie feasts creating magical memories for the imaginary guests of their imaginary castles.

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A super teacher

When Donna Moore’s physical education students heard they could help her win an all-expense paid trip to the 50th Super Bowl in San Francisco, they pulled out all the stops.

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Payson firefighters aid Maverik with gas spill

Drivers wondered why yellow police tape was draped across gas pumps at the Maverik gas station on Hwy. 87 Friday afternoon while Payson Fire Department personnel patiently scraped up kitty litter.

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Parents disagree about charter school

Teacher turnover rate spurs concerns

Every parent hopes for the best for their child, but what constitutes the best can be different sides of the same coin.

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Joys, challenges of Rim Country community schools

Rural schools savor connections, but sometimes must also struggle

One of the joys of a rural school district is the size — it’s also a frustration. In a small town like Payson, it’s not six degrees of separation, it’s two. This makes it much easier to meet and get to know the superintendent or a board member. At some point you’ll see them at the local Walmart where everyone shops at one time or another.

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Gila Community College serves community

The Rim Country has a gem in Gila Community College. Residents from high school students to senior citizens can take classes in subjects as diverse as art, math, nursing, fire science, yoga and writing.

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Angel Alatriz: He’s a Hero of Education

The Payson Unified School District school board recognized Angel Alatriz as a Hero of Education at its Feb. 8 meeting.

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Gerardo’s contributions lauded

Gerardo Moceri, longtime chef and owner of Gerardo’s Firewood Café, received the Hero of Education award at the Payson Unified School District meeting on Feb. 8.

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Police negotiators defuse domestic violence

Linda Walker barricaded herself in her Ox Bow Estates home in December, frightening her partner who feared for Walker’s safety.

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

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

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Report: Far more teachers needed

The Arizona Department of Education’s Educator Retention and Recruitment Task Force has come out with a second report highlighting the need to address the teacher shortage.

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County school superintendent retiring

Linda O’Dell, Gila County’s school superintendent for the last 12 years, will retire at the end of the year.

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Former teachers criticize charter school

School officials respond to charges and point to test scores, rapid growth

The proposed opening of an American Leadership Academy charter school in Payson has spurred a furious debate in the community.

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An explosion of oranges in the dead of winter

The Healthy Foodie

Sometimes when I pick up my bi-weekly co-op selection of fruits and veggies from the Bountiful Baskets, I turn into a competitor from the Food Network Show “Chopped.”

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Native Grill supports Ag program

On Wednesday, Feb. 3, the Payson FFA (formerly Future Farmers of America) officers celebrated at Native Grill for a couple of reasons.

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College ponders tuition boost

The Gila Community College board has a critical decision to make — whether to raise tuition.

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Seeking a rock – forging a tribe

Writer discovers it’s not the destination but the journey that counts

My mom hopped out of the Jeep.

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Schools face onslaught of new laws

Superintendent briefs board on status of bills

The Arizona Legislature is back in session — which means Payson Unified School District Superintendent Greg Wyman is gearing up for more onslaughts on district schools — if the bills he’s tracking make it through the committee process.