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Pete Aleshire

Stories by Pete

Shameful inaction

We wait. We watch the skies. We dread what awaits.

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Sale signed

Evans: Construction of university will start in fall

The Rim Country Educational Alliance Board this week signed the long-awaited purchase agreement for 253 acres of Forest Service land on which it will build a four-year university in Payson.

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Payson’s economy, sales still outperforming state

Area’s 8 percent rise double the state’s

Payson’s economy continued to outpace the state, but still slowed somewhat in April from the strong showing in March, according to Payson’s monthly sales and budget tracking report.

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Prank call spurred juvenile court reform

Gila County judge unearths, sets right, historic wrong

Mrs. Cook picked up the phone, with no sense of impending history.

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University land sale approved

Forest Service approves purchase agreement for 253-acre site

The US Forest Service has finally approved the long-awaited purchase agreement to sell a 253-acre parcel of land for a four-year university in Payson. Payson Mayor Kenny Evans announced the receipt of the purchase agreement at a crowded luncheon meeting of the Rim Country Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

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‘Historic’ day for restoration

Forest thinning plan regains crucial support

The Forest Service’s plan to use a revived timber industry to restore hundreds of thousands of acres of unhealthy forest and protect forested communities from wildfire has drawn broad support from environmentalists, foresters, researchers, local officials and industry.

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Payson sales up 13 percent as economy outstrips state

Payson’s economy boomed in March, with a cumulative 13 percent rise in sales tax collections since the start of the fiscal year last July.

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Rezone for college

Payson presses Forest Service for land sale

Payson has launched the rezoning of a 253-acre Forest Service parcel on which it plans to build a 6,000-student university. The rezoning would limit use of the land to educational purposes, which would include spin-off facilities crucial to the financing of the campus.

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Governor vetoes Rim lawmakers’ federal takeover bills

Different governor. Same result.

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Tragedy’s root

Drugs, alcohol spawn misery and death – especially for kids

In his 26 years as a cop, Joe Leduc has seen it all.

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The last run

A tale of age, ego and acceptance

“Maybe we ought to head down,” she said on the final day of my season of redemption.

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New charges urged for future rooftop solar power

Arizona Public Service wants to charge people who install new rooftop solar arrays an extra $21 a month to make sure they pay their “fair share” of the cost of the grid of power poles and transmission lines.

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Secretary of State hits ballot bundling

But Michele Reagan sees no hope of regulating dark money

Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan brought to Rim Country her crusade to crack down on people who bundle up and turn in other people’s mail-in ballots, with an appearance before the Payson Tea Party — which continues to demonstrate its knack for getting statewide officials to show up in Payson.

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Common Core survives in Arizona

State will overhaul, but retain, national academic standards

The Senate deadlocked on a proposal to pull Arizona out of the national academic standards, with Rim Country’s representative Sen. Sylvia Allen (R-Snowflake) voting to drop implementation of the set of tests and standards generally referred to as Common Core.

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Court rules only charter cities can control own elections

Payson will not regain control of its own elections, despite a recent Arizona Supreme Court Ruling limiting the Legislature’s control over charter cities.

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Barton animal cruelty bill rebuffed

Governor objects to animal cruelty double standard

Gov. Doug Ducey this week vetoed Rep. Brenda Barton’s (R-Payson) bill setting different standards of animal cruelty for pets and farm animals.

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Senate kills gun bill

House had already passed law allowing guns in public buildings

Rep. Brenda Barton’s (R-Pay­son) bill allowing people with conceal weapons permits to bring their guns into most public buildings died on a 15-16 vote on the floor of the state Senate this week.

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Payson obtains $34 million for pipeline

Finally. Payson’s ready to build the pipeline from the C.C. Cragin Reservoir (formerly Blue Ridge).

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Wildfire reforms make it into budget

The just-adopted Senate Budget Resolution includes far-reaching reforms in how the federal government allocates money to fight wildfires.

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Forest restoration contractor struggling

Startup woes persist for largest thinning project in U.S. history

The company charged with the largest forest restoration project in history has encountered fresh difficulties, including a slow start in undertaking its vast thinning project and difficulties getting even its first, small-scale mill up and running.

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Congressman seeks to pull funding from Common Core

Federal proposals would eliminate grants to develop national academic standards

Rep. Paul Gosar, who represents Rim Country, last week joined with 33 other congressmen seeking the elimination of federal funding for national academic standards and testing, commonly referred to as “Common Core.”

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Gun battles

Lawmakers want to end many firearm restrictions

Rim Country’s representatives in the Legislature continue to take the lead in ensuring Arizona has among the most gun-friendly laws in the nation.

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Hospitals, doctors fear a budget disaster scenario

Arizona hospitals and doctors face a potential disaster scenario this year, with lawsuits and state proposals pending that could hit them hard on the bottom line.

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Gila trout finally coming home

Biologists plan to rid a three-mile stretch of Haigler Creek of non-native fish

The once-endangered, still-threatened Gila trout may soon return to Rim Country.

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Re-united front

Alliance favors joint land purchase for university site

The Rim Country Educational Alliance Thursday agreed to essentially share title to a 253-acre parcel on which it wants to build a 6,000-student university and spin-off facilities.

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Rim Country sales, tourism, construction surge

Real estate, leasing sector improving

Rim Country’s economy showed renewed signs of life in February, according to the latest Payson budget tracking report.

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C.C. Cragin refills quickly even in dry winter

Despite drought 100-foot-deep lake now filled

The C.C. Cragin Reservoir (formerly Blue Ridge) has reached 90 percent of its capacity, a measure of the reliability of the reservoir on which Rim Country’s economic future largely depends.

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Hospital merger

Banner pledges $25 million upgrade

The Mogollon Health Alliance, owner of Payson Regional Medical Center, has signed a letter of intent with Banner Health, which operates a national chain of hospitals and clinics.

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Alliance shakeup

Changes could clear way for purchase

The Payson Town Council on Thursday will likely replace Rim Country Educational Alliance Chairman Mary Kastner whose term is expiring with Payson Town Councilor Su Connell.

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Help for the best and brightest

Payson schools struggle to provide advanced classes

Payson schools were already struggling to provide advanced courses for its hardest working students when the budget blows and teacher shortages hit.

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An Exultation of Egrets

Grief and joy mingle in the shallows of Green Valley Lake

The egret stands motionless among the reeds in Green Valley Lake, waiting with infinite patience for a reckless trout to swim within range of its dagger beak.

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School districts grapple with auditor report

Payson spent $7,571 per student in 2014 — down slightly from the previous year and a full 41 percent below the national average.

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State budget will have deep impact on Rim Country schools

Superintendent briefs Payson board on losses, gains

Schools avoided big cuts in the just-adopted state budget, but the devil’s in the details and the fine print of the budget provisions, Payson Unified School District Superintendent Greg Wyman told the school board on Monday.

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Payson schools ponder impact of ‘classroom’ dollar decline

Payson fared well when student AIMS test scores and overall spending trends were compared to either the state average or comparable small districts with high poverty rates in the student population.

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Schools confront declining classroom budget trend

The tiny Pine-Strawberry school district earned an A rating in the auditor general’s report — validating research showing that small schools often provide the best education, but at a sometimes steep price.

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State budget cuts spending on universities, poor

After an all-night session, the Arizona Legislature adopted an austere budget that cuts corporate taxes and eliminates a projected deficit by slashing spending for higher education and the poor.

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Bill to allow guns in public buildings advances

Rep. Brenda Barton (R-Payson) has once again pushed through the House a bill that would force cities and counties to allow people with concealed carry permits to bring guns into most public buildings.

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Budget deal rips universities

Plan cuts taxes, eliminates deficit

Higher education gets torched and K-12 schools will barely hold their own, but Arizona will continue to cut taxes under the budget compromise agreed to by Gov. Doug Ducey and legislative leaders this week.

Please, please, I’m begging you

I figured I’d better put my byline on this one.

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Senators again seek wildfire funding reforms

Bill would boost wildfire budget by 50 percent, require major thinning

Arizona’s two U.S. Senators have once again teamed up to introduce a bill to increase wildfire fighting funds along with money for forest restoration projects needed to prevent community-consuming megafires.

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Payson schools excel in report

District costs low, but students do well on AIMS

Payson schools have seen better student achievement with fewer dollars than comparable school districts, according to the annual report card of Arizona’s school districts released last week by the Auditor General’s Office.

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Winter storm due

The winter storms that have battered the East and the South will reach the Southwest this weekend and on into next week.

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Open meeting bill dies in committee

A bill critics said would “gut” the state’s open meeting law has died quietly in committee.

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Pledges revive university land purchase plan

Foundation, Alliance will cooperate to buy 253-acre parcel by July

As backers work to heal recent rifts, the way has opened once again to buy a 253-acre Forest Service parcel for a 6,000-student university in Payson.

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Chaos engulfs testing requirements for local schools

Schools plow ahead despite confusion

Payson Schools continue to doggedly overhaul testing for this year and next despite the chaos that has engulfed state education policy.

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An ancient partnership on the edge of the world

A wolfish dog with a miraculous nose keeps a pensive duffer company

I brought my snowshoes — and my big old dog, wolfishly eager for adventure. Lobo loves the snow. He gets in touch with his roots: running with the pack while the elk flounder through the drifts. Or maybe he just likes plunging his head into the snowdrift, to get his nose closer to the world hidden beneath the insulating layer of snow.

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Mexican gray wolf population jumps to 109

Numbers rise 31 percent in a year

The number of endangered Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest has grown by nearly a third in the past year.

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Dead wolf identified

The controversial effort to return the wolf to the wild took another twist this week with confirmation that someone shot a northern gray wolf that wandered along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

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Drought nightmare forecast

Forget the university. If the computer climate models are correct, Rim Country’s economic future rests mostly on the C.C. Cragin pipeline, which will make Payson one of the few cities in Arizona with enough water to get through the mega-droughts that await.