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Michele Nelson

Stories by Michele

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Payson district approves online classes

The Payson Unified School District board voted to add Mesa Distance Learning to the mix of options available to students at PUSD.

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Rolling along

Mountain bikers, mayor hope trails will create biker heaven

Within hours of contacting Mayor Kenny Evans, Michael Bonnette, president of the Rim Country Mountain Biking Association and Mick Wolf, treasurer, met to start turning Payson into a world-class destination for mountain bikers.

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Musical triumph

Students’ staging of ‘Meet me in St. Louis’ earns ovations

Lavish costumes, sets and even workable trolleys that wandered up and down the aisles filled with the huge cast of 40 marked the Payson High School musical, “Meet Me In St. Louis.”

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Celebrating a century

By 11 a.m. on Saturday, the Jakes Corner Bar didn’t have a bar stool available and the tables inside had just about filled up.

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The piquant piñon nut

The Healthy Foodie

I made a discovery in New Mexico when I visited — piñon coffee.

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Who knew fertilizer could be so interesting?

With a bouncy personality and passion for the subject, Kylee Egbert and her partner Rylie Chapman stood at the head of the classroom in the Agricultural Building on the Payson High School Campus to talk about fertilizers.

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Lorraine Cline Poker Run gearing up to do good

Tradition, family and caring for the community lie at the heart of the Lorraine Cline Memorial Poker Run.

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Tea Party pitched

Prop. 123 ‘safe’ way to help schools

Laddie Shane from the Yes on Prop. 123 campaign made a special trip to Payson to speak to the Payson Tea Party at its meeting on April 12 — he also answered a lot of questions.

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Musical’s a blast from the past

This year, the Payson High School Theatre decided to dip into the past for its musical by presenting Meet Me In St. Louis.

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Eating the right foods in order to give blood

The Healthy Foodie

So, did you know that eating certain foods helps you to give blood?

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Gail Gorry runs for superintendent

Longtime educator wants to head county schools

Gail Gorry has spent her life in education — starting in the fifth grade — always striving to have an impact on more and more students.

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Bikers envision a bright future

Wishful thinking has abounded for years to turn Rim Country into a mountain biking mecca.

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Weekend rain storms into the forecast

After 60 days of dry, a dose of spring rain finally on the way

After 60 days with nothing but a smattering of moisture (not even enough to tamp down the dust) the National Weather Service predicts a set of storms will besiege Rim Country, bringing much-needed rain and postponing the start of the fire season.

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Gov. Ducey plugs proposition in Payson

On Monday, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey held an education summit in Payson to push Proposition 123, before heading over to speak at the Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Luncheon.

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Peeling the layers to find out onion secrets

The Healthy Foodie

Every time I chop an onion, I cry.

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First Payson High band musician makes All-State Band

For the first time in Payson High School history, senior band member Sabrina Bonn will play in the All-State Concert Band.

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School board questions AG’s report

The Payson Unified School District board wished it could ask the Auditor General’s office why it fails to do a direct apples-to-apples comparison when analyzing how district schools spend money.

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So pleasant a place for such a terrible tale

Pleasant Valley Days this weekend in Young

The sign read, Young 8 miles.

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Schools rated

Auditor General looks at costs, scores

Compared to similar districts statewide, Payson spends more on teachers and gets better test results — despite having larger class sizes, according to this year’s Arizona Auditor General’s report.

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Payson borrows another $11 million for pipeline

The Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona announced in a press release that it has closed its fourth loan with the Town of Payson for $11 million to help complete the C.C. Cragin pipeline project.

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Gosar lobbies to restore school funding

Rim Country Congressman Paul Gosar has submitted a request to restore the Secure Rural Schools funding to the House Appropriations Committee.

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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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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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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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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.