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Pete Aleshire

Stories by Pete

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Gov. Ducey stresses education

Also vows to avoid tax hikes

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey made increased education funding his top priority in his recent state of the state speech. Easier said than done.

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Wolves killed and fostered

Foster parent’s success adds a rare bright spot

The controversial, long-suffering attempt to return the Mexican Grey Wolf to the wild continues to rack up victories — and setbacks.

Health care battle intense

As Republicans in Congress gear up for a quick repeal of the Affordable Care Act, a chorus of local activists have ramped up their objections.

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Fossil Creek conundrum

Payson residents showed up this week at a hearing to urge the U.S. Forest Service to protect Fossil Creek — while still making it easier to get to the stream from Rim Country.

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Forest health and fire, a dangerous balance

Studies show fire managers caught between too much and too little

The task of saving the forest — and places like Payson — keeps getting more complicated.

Experts criticize Arizona elections

State ranks worst in nation for elections

Bad news, brothers and sisters: Arizona ranks dead last when it comes to perceptions of fair and open elections.

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Sideways semi blocks Beeline Highway

A jackknifed semi backed up traffic on the Beeline Highway Sunday, according to the Department of Public Safety.

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Winter storms continue

The National Weather Service expects the New Year’s storm to sprinkle another 1-4 inches of snow above 6,000 feet and perhaps 4-8 inches of snow above 8,000 feet — but bring only rain to lower elevation areas like Payson.

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Obamacare: Repeal could create economic, budget crisis

Health coverage for 600,000 residents at stake

If President-elect Donald Trump follows through on a vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it could strip away insurance for 600,000 Arizonans, take $3 billion out of the state’s economy and blow a $600 million hole in the state budget, according to studies and statements released by health care advocacy groups.

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Storms deliver a wet blessing

Thirsty West enjoys nearly normal weather

A series of big winter storms has finally boosted the snowpack in California and the Rocky Mountains to near normal — for the first time in years.

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Gosar cheers Trump’s interior secretary pick

Rep. Paul Gosar, who represents Rim Country in Congress, applauded President-elect Donald Trump selection of Ryan Zinke, a one-term Montana congressman and former Navy SEAL, as his nominee for secretary of the interior, with charge over millions of acres of federal land.

Economists issue strong forecast

But trade war or health cuts could threaten state growth

Arizona should accelerate its growth in the next year — unless the Trump administration manages to get into a trade war with Mexico, according to an analysis by economists from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

School crisis

Reports tackle rescue of poorly funded system

Finding more money for perhaps the worst-funded school system in the country could move to the top of the political agenda in 2017 — although any significant change faces huge challenges.

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Rub a dub dub - is it still a chub?

What’s a chub, anyway? Specifically, should the federal government try to protect two different species of interbreeding native, trout-like fish — or give up trying to tell them apart.

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Fossil Creek plan would improve access from Strawberry

The latest plan to manage Fossil Creek would allow a limited number of off-road vehicles no wider than a Jeep to use the road down from Strawberry, re-route the Fossil Springs Trail and ban swimming at the waterfall.

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West faces water shortage, but places like Payson may enjoy a vital advantage

Payson got its water just in time. That’s one selfish conclusion Payson boosters could draw from a series of dismaying studies on the water supply in the Colorado River, which provides water for roughly 50 million people and 4 million acres of farmland.

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Managed fires, new building codes save lives, water – & forest

Let it burn, baby, burn. That might make a great new Forest Service motto, according to the latest research on managing wildfires.

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Poverty drops, still high in Gila County

The percentage of people living in poverty and the share of the population without medical insurance continues to fall — although it remains far above the national average in Gila County.

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Marine Corps Birthday

Heroes dwell amongst us still

John Naughton was a gung-ho young Marine Corps sergeant running an artillery unit when the North Vietnamese shells began to rain down on the encircled defenders of Khe Sanh.

Grateful beyond measure

I rise early on deadline day, shower hastily, scrape the ice from the windshield and rush down the hill on Airport Road, having forgotten to write anything for the editorial page last night before dashing off to teach my writing class.

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2016: Sets records as hottest year ever recorded

Average global temperatures are poised to set another record in 2016, including Arizona temperatures 3-4 degrees (F) above the long-term average.

Judges deal blow to firefighter, police pension reform

Efforts to make public safety workers’ pensions solvent without bankrupting cities and counties took a body blow last week

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Legislature: Nothing changes – except everything

Don’t expect many changes this year when it comes to state policy —but do expect a big difference in relationship with the federal government.

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What you owe the supermoon

I sat and watched the moonrise my father may have seen, out the window of his B-17. The supermoon rose lurid behind the trees.

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Tigers thrive in Rim Country

Tiger trout, Rim Country’s latest fishing sensation, are thriving in Woods Canyon Lake.

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Fire managers hobbled by homes

Controlled burns poser trade-offs

Land managers need to burn soon — and often — if they’re going to save the forest and the communities they surround.

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Tonto Bridge State Park to serve as refuge for monarchs

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park will soon have a refuge stopover and breeding ground for migrating Monarch butterflies, thanks to a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) awarded the Southwest Monarch Study based in Chandler.

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Lawmakers Allen, Thorpe and Barton hang on

Former Jerome Mayor Nikki Bagley pulled ahead of incumbent Sen. Sylvia Allen in early, mail-in voting, but fell short by the time the county elections offices counted all the ballots on Wednesday.

The case of the perplexed professor

Well, here’s a strange little case. Northern Arizona University forestry professor Stephen Dewhurst sued the U.S. Forest Service for so thoroughly ignoring its own rules in awarding the contract for the Four Forest Restoration Initiative that he can’t possibly explain it to his students.

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Incumbents and longtime residents lead in school board races

Incumbents Barbara Underwood and Shirley Dye appeared to win re-election to the Payson School Board, with newcomer Shane Keith, a 2009 graduate of Payson High School, rounding out the top three finishers, with about two-thirds of the ballots counted.

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Democrats challenging Sen. Allen, Rep. Burton, Rep. Thorpe

Incumbents holding onto seats by razor thin margin

Mail in ballots on Tuesday seemed to give Former Jerome Mayor Nikki Bagley a stunning upset victory of incumbent Sen. Sylvia Allen, the president pro-tem of the Senate and a former Navajo County supervisor.

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Stunning upsets in Gila County supervisors race possible

Republicans make nearly clean sweep

Republicans appeared poised on Tuesday to effectively take over Gila County elective offices, with the apparent re-election of Sheriff Alan Shepherd and the surprising upset of two democratic incumbents on the board of supervisors.

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Voters support Pine Fire District

Measure to raise property taxes ahead by huge margin

Voters in Pine and Strawberry gave strong support for a property tax increase to prevent layoffs at the Pine-Strawberry Fire District.

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‘Kill them with positivity’

Payson lovers last week unleashed a campaign intended to jump-start Payson’s economic recovery with a jolt of positive energy.

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Controlled burn fires protect communities

The Forest Service will burn more than 3,000 acres this week in the Payson and Young ranger districts in an effort to thin dangerously overgrown forests.

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Override money goes to teachers

The Payson Unified School District has spent every penny of a voter-approved, $1.2 million budget override on teachers and classrooms, Finance Director Kathy Manning reported last week.

Mexican gray wolves willing to foster pups born to other wolves in captivity

Mexican gray wolves have proved willing to raise pups born to other parents in captivity and slipped into their dens.

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APS will spend $1 million to elect its own regulators

Dark money groups dominate

Arizona Public Service has announced it will spend $1 million to get three Republicans elected to the Arizona Corporation Commission — including Commissioner Bob Burns who has crusaded to force the company to reveal its spending two years ago to elect two of the incumbent commissioners.

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RCMS honors top scoring students

The Payson School Board celebrated the 63 “highly performing” Rim Country Middle School students, based on scores on the tough AzMERIT test.

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Senate candidates debate health care

Junk it. Fix it. That summarizes the difference between Senator John McCain and challenger Ann Kirkpatrick, in an expensive race that could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. The two candidates clashed sharply on health care reform, specifically the Affordable Care Act.

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Drip, drip, drip of repairs

Pine water cash flows in then out again

The cash flows in — and out again. The Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District pulls in about $2.6 million a month — but spends about $2.4 million, according to the September monthly financial report presented at this week’s board meeting.

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Green Valley Park eagles delight

The snow (headed) birds have definitely returned to the Green Valley lakes — wide-ranging, migratory bald eagles voting with their wings against a winter in Canada or Alaska.

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Burning the forest to save the forest

A 2.5-degree increase in average temperatures across North America has resulted in an increase in wildfires that consumed an estimated 16,000 square miles of forest, according to the latest effort to tease out the effects of climate change on wildfires.

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Senate race controversy

McCain, Kirkpatrick debate

Sen. John McCain’s defense during a debate with Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick of the Senate’s refusal to fill a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy has blown up into a national furor.

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AZ Senate debate turns on Trump

Sen. McCain defends delay in decision to reverse endorsement of Trump

Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick has done her best to lash Senator John McCain to Donald Trump’s floundering fortunes, without great success.

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Fall is like life, like love

I stood on a tapestry of maple leaves, saturated, chromatically content. I murmured a little prayer to chlorophyll, sunlight, supernovae and anthocyanin. I’d found my maple grove — and impressed my bride. I had feared I would not find this spot — but now heaved a sign of relief watching her shuffle through the red leaves.

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Students who aced AZMerit test

Payson Unified School District this week honored scores of high school students who aced the AZMerit test, the state’s new, rigorous standards test.

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Allen, Bagley vie for state Senate seat

A chaotic presidential race, a sprinkling of controversies and a strong challenger may this year test Senator Sylvia Allen’s grip on her District 6 seat, which runs from Flagstaff to the Arizona-New Mexico border.

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Forest Service will set thousands of acres on fire

Two new fires will generate smoke, but also forest benefits

Controlled burns from more than 3,000 acres of new fires will generate smoke throughout Rim Country throughout the week of Oct. 17-20, according to Tonto National Forest fire specialists.

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Legislative race centers on support for education

Incumbent Republican representatives Brenda Barton (R-Payson) and Bob Thorpe (R-Flagstaff) this year face a long-shot challenge from a single Democrat — former school superintendent and long-time naval reservist Alex Martinez.

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