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Michele Nelson

Stories by Michele

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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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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.

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Storm delivers rare dose of ‘thundersnow’

Ever heard of thundersnow?

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My go to sleep aid – chamomile

The Healthy Foodie

So, I told my editor that I wouldn’t have made it into work if I didn’t have my chamomile tea to help me sleep. I’ve used the herb for years to get me back to sleep when insomnia hits.

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Hell of a hard hike to get to paradise

Fossil Creek Trail lures the ill prepared for a chance to splash in travertine pools

Each year, in that glorious time between the brisk cold of winter and the searing heat of summer, my children and I embark on an expedition down the Fossil Creek Trail to the spring source. One of our favorite trips of the year, we look forward to playing in those magical pools, but also prepare for the trek with plenty of water, hats, lots of snacks and time. Unfortunately, many of the people badly underestimate the rigors of the eight-mile round trip complete with 3,000 feet of elevation lost and then painfully regained. Every weekend, search and rescue teams haul the unlucky or ill prepared up the long, steep trail. This summer could set rescue records, especially if the current closure of Fossil Creek Road prompts even more flip-flop-wearing, beer-cooler toting flatlanders to go slopping down the trail.

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Special ed’s alarming gap

Alarmed by the wide and persistent gap between special education students and the general student population, the Arizona Department of Education’s Exceptional Student (Special Education) Office has directed districts to close the gap.

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New storm coming

The National Weather Service has warned of a fast-moving winter storm charging through Arizona from Sunday to Monday.The National Weather Service has warned of a fast-moving winter storm charging through Arizona from Sunday to Monday.

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Campy parody a comic delight

In homage to Shakespeare, the Payson High School Theatre Troupe performed “Commedia Delight,” a play of mistaken identity and redemption with an Italian lilt instead of the thees and thous of Shakespeare.

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Brand new buildings, cheerful children

Roundup reporter tours American Leadership Academy’s brand new school in Queen Creek

Amidst fields of cotton and sorghum interspersed with a smattering of housing developments, the American Leadership Academy Ironwood sprouts from empty farmland.

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Students struggle with excess stress

Lots of students say they can have sleep, friends or good grades — but not all three.

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Charter schools: Boon or Bane?

Charter School Report: Tough Choice

With just months to go before the American Leadership Academy charter school opens its doors in Payson, the stage is set for competition in education in Rim Country.

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Happily, healthily fermenting

The Healthy Foodie

I’ve known my friend Stacey for about 10 years now. She’s vivacious, bubbly, driven and just a tiny bit possessed with pure, healthy foods, raised in the garden and eaten at home.

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Geologist turns tour guide, turns painter – with a flare for color

Jeffrey D. Wiles identifies himself first as a geologist, then as an educational travel guide/geology and natural history instructor and somewhere around the time he pulls out his Merchant Marine captain status, he will mention he’s an artist.

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Memory, fear and polishing the rusty edges

A skier rediscovers her skis and her joy atop the fresh snow

I unearthed my old blue Dynastar skies out from the corner of the garage where I had stored them when I moved to Payson five years ago.

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Pine schools reopen mercury-tainted gym

The Pine-Strawberry School Board at its meeting on Jan. 11 voted to re-open the gym it had closed last year.

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This girl’s book report delivers a Martian

Famous author delights audience of eager students

A book report, a local connection and the desire for extra credit brought Andy Weir, author of “The Martian,” to Rim Country Middle School on Wednesday, Jan. 13.

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Celebrating the best of kids

RCMS teachers host banquet for students often overlooked

Teachers say some kids that touch their hearts never get recognized because they don’t shine in athletics, the arts or academics.

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Wyman fields charter questions

The imminent opening of the American Leadership Academy in Payson has everyone scrambling to understand what it all means.

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Stopping the violence

True tale of terror and redemption

Roscoe Dabney, a crack shot from his days as a Marine in Vietnam, remembers when he pointed his gun at his girlfriend and pulled the trigger.

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Victory lap for Payson’s Fiesta float

Despite the chill in the air, Rim Country residents came out to view the massive 2016 Payson Fiesta Bowl Parade float at the Payson High School football parking lot on Monday, Jan. 11.

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‘No bad days’

Family recalls Greg Day’s laughter and courage

So many loved Greg Day that the family will hold a celebration of his life at the Payson High School Auditorium on Jan. 16 at 10 a.m.

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Estrogen, estrogen everywhere!

The Healthy Foodie

So I’ve been thinking a lot about hormones lately.

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Community college enrollment declining

The gavel for the presidency of the Gila Community College board has passed from Sam Moorhead to Jay Spehar of Globe just in time to grapple with declining enrollment.

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Payson’s 2016 Fiesta Bowl Float on display today at 4:00 p.m.

It's the largest float ever built by the town

Come out and view the 2016 award-winning float for Payson at the Payson High School Football Field Parking lot off of Longhorn Road from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. Monday, Jan. 11.

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Understanding those burn piles in the forest

Lawrence Misch worries about the burn piles on the trails near his home created by the Forest Service as they work to clear out choked underbrush and dense thickets of trees.