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Michele Nelson

Stories by Michele

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RCMS students stage science fair with flair

Rim Country Middle School (RCMS) science teacher Carm Locke huddled at the far end of the gym, surrounded by more than 250 tri-fold presentations with science project results splashed across the white space.

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Water customers take a stand

Payson Water Company (PWC) customers should pat water watchdog Tom Bremer on the back.

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Mesa del Caballo customers challenge rate

A five-day hearing in front of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) resulted in a clarified water rate structure for Mesa del Caballo (MDC) and highlighted the difference between Phoenix and rural water fees.

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PHS Auditorium to get a facelift

Look for the Payson High School Auditorium to have a shiny new coat of paint before the start of next year, plus a plethora of other upgrades, thanks to Director of Facilities Todd Poer.

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School Board invocation evokes equivocation

During a routine vote to approve the template for the board agenda, Payson Unified School District (PUSD) board member Shirley Dye asked to add an invocation to the list of items.

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The two sides of the ‘fat’ story

The Healthy Foodie

Fats are bad!

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School programs threatened

Credit for Kids change could hurt bands, clubs

Credit for Kids, the 16-year-old tax credit that allows individuals to donate to schools and take $200 off of their tax bill, has fallen under scrutiny at the state level. The resulting legal opinions and policy changes have already affected many Payson students and vital extracurricular programs.

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Culinary students vie for careers and scholarships

Chef wants to give back and elevate taste

Three Payson students competed this weekend in hopes of adding to the total of $152,271 in scholarships Payson High School (PHS) Culinary Arts students have received since 2006 from the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (CCAP).

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Lifesaving shot

School board OKs plan to cope with deadly allergic reactions

Twenty-five percent of the population has an undiagnosed potentially life-threatening anaphylactic reaction to allergies such as bee stings, so the Arizona state Legislature voted to allow schools to stock EpiPens in case of emergency.

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Fake singing, real laughing

What makes the Payson Lip Sync Contest such an amusing, entertaining and lively event?

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JRE students ‘Fuel Up to Play 60’

Fifth-grader enters Dairy Council/NFL photo contest

Rebekah Rice and Donna Moore struggled to put on the heavy Payson Fire Department (PFD) gear, grunting and tugging in a good cause.

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Water rate hearing: More heat than light

Residents struggle to understand proposed doubling of water bills

Frustrated Rim Country residents trying to get answers to questions about a proposed doubling of their water rates spent this week’s Corporation Commission hearing mostly drilling dry wells.

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MHA Black and White ball brings in $45,000 for charities

Alliance adopts an ambitious 2014 agenda

At its major fund-raising event of the year — the Black and White Ball — the Mogollon Health Alliance (MHA) raised $45,000 to help its myriad of projects.

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Payson just a truckin’ on

Rim Country gets good grades from writers

A perfect storm put Payson on the map to draw national media attention by hosting the rollout of Chevrolet and GMC’s newest line of three quarter and one-ton pick-up trucks. The Rim Country’s terrain, weather, and location cinched the deal.

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Petroglyph HUNT

Ancient inhabitants leave their mark on chiseled stones

I gingerly stepped over a tiny cholla cactus only to land on scraggly cat claw hidden by the dried grass. The hooked thorns dug into the side of my foot, but I decided I could deal with it later — more important to keep up with the group.

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Champions of the mind: Payson heads for playoffs

Grueling competition with lots of community support

After a grueling weekend of exams, students from Payson High School’s Academic Deca­thlon team took second place in its region, guaranteeing them a spot in the state competition.

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Board member dies

Ashford passes away after long illness

Longtime Gila Com­munity College board member Bob Ashford died this week, after a long and tenacious fight with illness.

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Students revel in joy of learning

Wearing crazy hats and masks, trench coats and army gear, the Academic Decathlon kids will entertain onlookers while answering tough questions at their Super Quiz on Saturday, Feb. 1 at 1:45 p.m. in the Payson High School Auditorium.

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2nd grade shuffle

Board OKs fix for PES overcrowding

The Payson School Board on Jan. 27 agreed to temporarily relieve crowding by splitting second-grade classes between Payson Elementary School (PES) and Julia Randall Elementary School (JRE), settling a debate that has gone on for months.

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DECA already has a busy year

Italian foreign exchange student Francesco Calia said DECA forced him to expand his repertoire of English.

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Longhorn Troupe tackles Shakespeare

Young and old produced gales of laughter as they watched fairies work magic and lovers stammer in confusion as Shakespeare returned to the Payson stage after a long absence.

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RCMS hosts the FBI at its ‘Lunch with a Professional’ program

On Thursdays, Rim Country Middle School students get a peek into the world of adults and their work with the Lunch with a Professional program.

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Flip the flop: College eyes renewed increase in tuition

After lowering tuition less than a year ago, Gila Community College (GCC) will now consider raising it — except for seniors, who can still attend for free.

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Test scores: Still dazed & confused

Payson schools have now officially plunged into the world of new testing methods with the first round of assessment scores — with results officials say aren’t as bad as they look.

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Old Hollywood charm at the Black and White Ball

Sporting long gowns, elegant elbow-length gloves, sequins, dashing top hats and suave scarves, the attendees at the annual Black and White Ball oozed charm and grace as Rim Country residents channeled Old Hollywood to support the Mogollon Health Alliance (MHA).

Scholarship help for families

Interested in attending college? Not sure how to pay for it?

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Early election for Pine water

District will have elections in both May and November

“Sixteen years ago Ron Christensen said, “Until you start getting along, you’re not going to solve the problem,” said John Bittner, longtime resident of the Pine-Strawberry area.

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New search for GCC board member under way

Gila County Superintendent Linda O’Dell hopes to find a new Gila Community College (GCC) board member by Feb. 14.

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Pine Water election called for May

On a 2-1 vote Friday, Jan. 17, the Gila County Board of Supervisors called a May special election for the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District (PSWID).

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Case to retire, but continue with district as a contract employee

Brenda Case, district student achievement director, will retire this year.

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High school building trades students cement legacy

In the center of the Payson High School (PHS) campus sits a monument in cement to the students from the building trades class.

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PUSD searching for a superintendent – on the cheap

The Payson Unified School District voted unanimously this week to pay $3,000 to the Arizona School Board Association to find a permanent superintendent.

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Customers protest huge rate hikes

Over and over on Monday, the Rim Country residents Payson Water Company (PWC) serves demanded, “Show us the plan — or drop the rate hike.”

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Split vote

Board names John Ketchem superintendent

A divided Payson Unified School District (PUSD) board hired Johnny Ketchem as the interim superintendent on a 3-2 vote Friday.

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Water rate hike halted

Commission balks at 118 percent increase

Amidst a blizzard of figures and complaints, the Arizona Corporation Commis­sion staff has recommended cutting Payson Water Company’s proposed 118 percent rate increase to about 75 percent.

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Superintendent hopefuls

The Payson Unified School District (PUSD) board will interview former Tonto Basin Superintendent/Prin­cipal Johnny Ketchem and an outside candidate, Greg Wy­man, for the interim superintendent position.

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Controversy bubbles in Pine water district

Election date alternatives spur debate

Controversy has continued to simmer and build in the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District ever since the mass-resignation of five of the seven board members intended to dampen controversy.

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They call her Miss Shari

School bus driver honored for 15 years behind the wheel

Miss Shari has such pride in her big yellow school bus that she once polished it from “stem to stern.”

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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.

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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.

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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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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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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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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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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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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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.