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Pete Aleshire

Stories by Pete

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Towns plead for money Legislature filched

Barton pushing gas tax bill

Several state lawmakers hope to restore road-building money to counties and towns this year by forcing the state to pay for the highway patrol and other state expenses out of general fund money instead of gas taxes.

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Gosar’s wildfire bill signed into law

A new law will loosen environmental review conditions on thinning bark-beetle infested forests and make it easier for states to thin unhealthy forests and restore damaged watersheds.

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Where the world began...

Montezuma’s Well nurtures a miraculous ecosystem of leeches and flukes and shrimp and myth

I stand happily on the edge of the world’s beginning — pondering how wonderfully it’s all going after such a mysterious start.

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Lawmakers press forest thinning bill

The state will put up $25 million to help counties and towns thin fire-prone forests on state lands, according to a bill sponsored by the Rim Country’s state legislative delegation.

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Chub comes home

After a long and nearly fatal absence, humpback chub have returned to the waters of Havasu Creek, deep in the Grand Canyon.

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Drought back with a vengeance

Normally wet months bring barely any rain

Rim Country’s scary-dry winter continues this week — with no end in sight.

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Rim Country lawmakers pushing gun rights law

Rim Country’s legislative delegation teamed up to introduce a bill that would protect the right of anyone with a concealed weapons permit to take a gun into public events and buildings.

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Election reform brouhaha

Lawmakers repeal law to thwart initiative

What a mess.

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Animal cruelty furor

Barton’s bill would exempt farms, ranchers from from existing rules

Animal rights groups took aim this week at a bill sponsored by Rep. Brenda Barton (R-Payson) that exempts ranchers and livestock operations from provisions of the existing animal cruelty laws.

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Rim Country economy finally gaining ground

Sales rise 7% as Payson’s plan review fees jump 44%

Rim Country’s economy continues to gain ground with a 7 percent improvement in sales reported on Payson’s January financial tracking report.

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Rural water system loan bill advances

A bill to set aside $30 million to help rural areas get loans to build or improve water systems advanced out of a state legislative committee this week.

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Massive change

Building code overhaul includes fire protection

Payson has undertaken a top-to-bottom overhaul of 1,000 pages of building code, including changes intended to reduce the danger a wildfire will sweep in from the forest and rage through the densely forested town, according to Payson Mayor Kenny Evans.

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Lawmakers still fighting AHCCCS expansion

Judge throws out lawsuit, but committee approves new restrictions

Republican state lawmakers continue to fight tenaciously to prevent the federally funded expansion of health care coverage for low-income residents — despite setbacks in court and the equally insistent opposition of Republican Gov. Jan Brewer.

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Wolf numbers jump 10 percent after long lag in recovery

Increase comes as feds ponder rule change

The number of Mexican Grey Wolves trotting through the wilds of Arizona and New Mexico jumped to 83 in 2013, a roughly 10 percent increase.

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Brush pit crisis

Firefighters alarmed at setback to brush clearing

With the fire season already looming, fire departments throughout the region are working feverishly to reopen the brush pits where homeowners can drop off brush cleared from their property.

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Republicans censure one of their own

County Republicans blast John McCain for voting record

The Republican Party’s harsh censure resolutions aimed at Sen. John McCain have set off a rash of inter-party polemics.

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Trio seeks the heart of jazz

Payson crowd tours of a century of a bewildering brilliance

Three music-obsessed chums took a near-sellout, foot-tapping Payson crowd on a sly and ecstatic tour of a century of musical innovation and improvisation Sunday.

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Jobless rate rises

County’s trend veers from state, nation

Gila County’s unemployment rate rose slightly in December, bucking the otherwise encouraging trend both statewide and nationally.

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Fossil Creek lawsuit: Troubled waters

Lawsuit seeks to keep cattle out of Fossil Creek watershed

A simmering dispute about whether to let cattle graze on 42,000 acres in the upper Fossil Creek watershed spilled over into to court once again last week.

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Let the battle begin!

Brewer’s budget creates winners and losers for school districts

Gov. Jan Brewer’s proposed budget came in for some rough handling in a key legislative committee this week, particularly some proposals related to education.

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Of mules and men: Lessons in acceptance

“Sandy” set her ears and planted her mule shoes.

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State budget boost

Gov. targets CPS, universities, prisons

No more bloodshed. But not much rehabilitation.

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Lawmaker peppered with questions about education

Rep. Barton lays out legislative priorities for skeptical crowd

Rep. Brenda Barton (R-Payson) faced a surprisingly tough series of questions about her support for K-12 education at a meeting of the Payson Tea Party last week.

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Life among the Apache

Remarkable memoir captures drama, racism, ironies and tragedy of the conflict that defined the West

Standing amidst the tumbled ruins of the stage stop, I studied the bruised and sullen thunderheads on the horizon.

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Governor still links scores, funding

Gov. Jan Brewer’s State of the State speech this week provided only modest hope for parents and teachers waiting for the state will restore school funding.

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‘Enough with the excuses’

Gov. Brewer proposes CPS shift to cope with ignored abuse cases in State of the State speech

Gov. Jan Brewer responded forcefully this week to a spreading crisis spawned by ignored reports of child abuse and neglect with a proposal to upgrade Child Protective Services into an independent agency whose director serves in the governor’s cabinet.

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Roosevelt Lake on the line

Can monster bass save vital fishery?

Move over little bass — the big bass is moving in.

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Fierce struggle for district seat

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick faces tough fight to continue representing Southern Gila County

Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick will have to mount a fierce struggle this year to hang onto her Arizona Congressional District 1 seat.

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Rim Country sales jump 6 percent

Rim Country’s economy continued to gain steam at the end of the year, with the exception of the still, sickly building sector.

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Former congressman headed to prison

Judge denies bail pending appeal for Rick Renzi

The congressman who once represented Rim Country must report to prison by Jan. 13, now that a federal judge has refused his request to remain free on bail while he appeals his convictions for corruption and money laundering.

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State resists ruling on school funding

Supreme Court says lawmakers broke the law by cutting $1.6 billion in inflation adjustments

A series of court rulings could force the Arizona Legislature to restore as much as $1.6 billion in funding for schools — but key lawmakers are already promising to thwart the latest ruling.

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Brightest students most neglected

Payson doesn’t give its gifted students much extra attention, with a relative handful of advanced placement tests, few breakout programs for students identified as gifted and little attempt to provide extra or accelerated classes. Heck, this year the high school doesn’t even offer calculus.

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Rescuing the Dove of the Desert

San Xavier del Bac restoration saves colorful history

The strangely various congregation rose to their feet beneath the dual, double scalloped domes of one of the oldest, most vivid, most unusual churches in the West.

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Researchers make predictions on how climate shifts will affect the planet

Nature Notes

Home on the range — where seldom is heard, a discouraging word. Well, not exactly: Leastwise, not when it comes to research on how shifts in the climate will likely affect the forests of Rim Country — and the rest of the West.

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Last stand for the last of the old-growth forest

The socketed end of the bone jutted from the snow, adding an ominous note to the brooding silence of the looming pines and firs.

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Child vs. child

Lawmaker would divert preschool money to Child Protective Services

Faced with a child abuse budget scandal, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) offered an odd remedy: Let’s take money away from early childhood education and support to investigate child abuse and neglect.

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State Forestry hopes to double firefighting budget

Fallout from Yarnell tragedy

Staggered by the mounting costs of the Yarnell Hill Fire and dire fire predictions for 2014, the State Division of Forestry hopes the Legislature will double its firefighting budget this year.

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Another immigrant comes to Rim Country

Coatimundi killed near Payson indicates strange creature has extended its range again

A strange escapee from the teeming tropics had made it to Rim Country.

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Beware the gizzard shad, my son

Roosevelt Lake bass, crappie, bluegill continue to decline

The sharp decline in Roosevelt Lake’s once stellar reputation as a bass fishery continues to bedevil local businesses and the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

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Jobless rate drops

Gila County falls to 8.4%; mirrors state

The year ended on a strong note with a sharp drop in unemployment in Gila County.

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‘Scientific misconduct’ claimed in eagle dispute

A federal court judge has once again extended the legal battle over whether to restore endangered species protection to Arizona bald eagles.

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CPS scandal festers

Ignored child abuse cases included in reports to governor, Legislature

Gov. Jan Brewer has declined calls for a special session of the Legislature to deal with the crisis triggered by the revelation that Child Protective Services classified as “not investigated” more than 6,400 re­ports of child abuse and neglect.

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The gift of a day, a father and a Lazuli Bunting

My father and I stood clutching binoculars beneath the winter-naked trees at the edge of our lives at the edge of a habitat, blood strangers groping for a connection. The wind rustled through the spiny oak leaves of Madera Canyon as we read the sign explaining that life is most diverse at the edge between two habitats — oak and grass, wood and meadow, scrub and grassland.

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The more you cut – the more pine trees grow

Research shows forest thinning boosts growth of remaining trees

Here’s a puzzle: Cut down half the ponderosa pines on an acre of land and you end up with just as much wood as when you started — eventually.

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Rim Country lands key 4FRI project

1,000 acres close to Christopher Creek in first phase of landmark restoration

Good Earth Power has started a nearly 1,000-acre thinning project in Rim Country, one of the first projects in the eagerly awaited Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI).

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Forest Service clarifies trailer towing policy

New statement revokes threat to tow away hunter’s trailers left in the forest

The Coconino National Forest has apparently backed away from a threat to ticket and tow hunters’ trailers left in the forest for more than 72 hours.

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Middle Schools: A failed experiment?

The Payson Unified School District faces wrenching changes — and deep questions about how to accommodate both state and federal mandates.

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Obamacare good for some, troubling for others

The Greasy Pole

Had one of those days when the news actually mattered.

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Arizona fined for Yarnell deaths

The 19 firefighters who died in the Yarnell Hill Fire this summer were “unnecessarily and unreasonably exposed to the deadly hazards of wildland firefighting” due to poor communications and the lack of an effective strategy the Arizona Division of Occupa­tional Safety and Health has concluded after a comprehensive investigation.

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Capturing the Christmas spirit

For the annual “Spirit of Christmas,” the churches gave to us — 12 shepherds flocking ...