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Pete Aleshire

Stories by Pete

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Historic water treaty

Tribe would get water supply, help Payson

The Tonto Apache Tribe and Payson are in the process of working out a federal water settlement that will not only give the tribe a permanent, long-term source of water in a drought-plagued state — it will provide a major boost to the town’s efforts to complete the Blue Ridge pipeline.

Rep. Barton’s animal cruelty bill dies lingering death

After months of fuss and flurry, Rep. Brenda Barton’s controversial animal cruelty bill died quietly in committee as the Legislature rushed to a belated adjournment.

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Health plan enrollment soars in Gila County

Political conflict continues as AHCCCS enrollment surges 13 percent

Gila County has reported the highest growth rate in the state in the past 12 months when it comes to people signing up for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System as newly eligible people take advantage of the expanded coverage through the federal Affordable Healthcare Act.

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Storm dampens classic car show

They washed the cars ... so it had to rain

Well, karma wise — it pretty much had to happen.

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Neglect of child abuse

Lawmakers sidestep CPS reforms

A new flurry of revelations is now swirling around the scandal-ridden Child Protective Services, including the Legislature’s balk on reforms, a spate of high-level firings, a critical investigation and an inexorable rise in the backlog of uninvestigated cases.

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Governor Brewer kills Barton bill

Law would have allowed guns in public buildings

Gov. Jan Brewer this week vetoed a bill that would make it harder for town councils to keep guns out of public buildings.

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Wildfires hit 3,000-year all-time high

Mounting tally of research suggests doubling of wildfires due to warming trend

Ongoing climate change will likely add three weeks to the fire season by 2050, according to several new studies.

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Moderate Republicans kill voucher bill

Plan to allow some to use taxpayer money to attend private schools could be revived this week

A last-minute revolt by eight moderate Republicans blocked passage of a bill that would have diverted millions of dollars in taxpayer money to private schools by creating what amounts to a vastly expanded voucher program.

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Schools face crisis

They came to the school budget workshop session worried about waste, accountability and budget limits.

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Frightening climate research mounting

Some of the recent research on climate change published in scientific journals includes:

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Budget signed

$9.2 billion plan defers action on CPS, offers small school boost

Gov. Jan Brewer last week signed a $9.2 billion state budget that grew out of a split-the-difference compromise between House and Senate Republicans.

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Let the trout stocking begin

Fishing season starts in Rim Country lakes and streams

Oh my. Oh my. It’s a stocking truck!

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Fire season blazes into early start

The 2014 fire season flared into action this weekend, with a 175-acre blaze near Flagstaff underscoring the danger posed by the return of the drought.

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Angry pleas for rate hike relief

Residents vent fears, frustrations at corporation commission session

Hundreds of angry water customers jammed a rare Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) meeting in Payson Friday to complain bitterly about steep proposed increases in the water rates for eight Rim Country communities served by Payson Water Com­pany (PWC), formerly owned by Brooke Utilities.

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Bigger bass stocked in Roosevelt

Arizona Game and Fish officials hope Florida fish will be answer to gizzard shad problem

They’re heeeeere ... But so far they’re just a wriggle and a prayer.

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Forest Service acts on appraisal, releasing college plan from limbo

After an agonizing eight-month delay, Tonto National Forest Supervisor Neil Bos­worth confirmed this week that he’s finally ready to seek an appraiser to put a value on the a 253-acre parcel on which the Rim Country Educational Alliance wants to build a university.

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A world hidden in the tremble of cottonwood leaves

Spring brings explosion of green in trees whose genetics affect thousands of species

Suddenly, the cottonwoods have their leaves back.

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The ghosts of Shoofly

A world lost and found again amidst a scattering of stones

I’m a ghost hunter.

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Road maintenance money hangs in legislative limbo

Payson, Gila County seek return of state gas tax funds

The money Payson and Gila County urgently need to fix crumbling roads remains tangled up in the budget standoff between Gov. Jan Brewer and the Legislature.

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Forest restoration thinning underway

Questions remain about big trees, contractor’s shifting business plan

The Four Forest Restoration Initiative contractor Good Earth Power AZ wants to build a mill to handle millions of tons of small trees in Williams instead of Winslow, the latest wrinkle in a high-stakes forest thinning project on which Rim Country’s future may well depend.

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Pending bills could undo local officials’ budget plans

The Legislature continues to make life hard for local governments, with a series of bills that could potentially gut planning and zoning efforts — and unbalance local budgets.

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School spending: Dead last

Well, it’s official: Dead last. No pussyfooting around.

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The song of hummingbirds sounds once more

Hummingbirds return to Rim Country, with more to say than you might think

Arizona boasts more species of hummingbirds than any other state, since we lie on the route along which many of the feathered tufts travel from the tropics on up into the rest of North America.

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House budget rebuff

Legislature whittles away at Gov. Jan Brewer’s proposal

A revolt by moderate Republicans last week produced a House budget higher than the Senate version, but lower than Gov. Jan Brewer had requested.

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D-Day: Blood, history and memory

Honor Flight unleashes veteran’s flood of memories

The unwieldy, flat-bottomed LST loaded with 15 tanks and 400 soldiers wallowed through a terrifying succession of mines, spikes and traps toward Omaha Beach. Down below, Motor Machinist Mate Emil Alberti tended to the engines roaring so loud he could not hear the shout of the man next to him — much less the German shells raining down on all sides.

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Dark horse runs hard

Former congressman wants to be governor

Former Congressman Frank Riggs hopes he can parlay a long-ago vote to impeach then-President Bill Clinton, a fierce advocacy for parental choice and charter schools and an effortless, small-town charm into a chance to run the state of Arizona.

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Hospital touts trauma team upgrades

People who live in rural areas suffer a significantly greater risk that they’ll die from an accident — even from something as simple as a fall.

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Losing Lobo’s respect on the banks of Haigler Creek

A fly-fishing challenged photographer faces a fateful choice

“This time, we’re going to fish,” I said flintily to Lobo, as he jumped down out of the Jeep at the Fisherman’s Point parking area off Colcord Road. He landed lightly on four paws, cocked his head, and studied me skeptically.

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Flames of controversy

Senators oppose plan to budget for wildfires

Arizona’s two U.S. Senators have come out against a widely hailed, bipartisan effort to fundamentally change how the federal government finances its wildfire fighting efforts.

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Rim Country bracing for wildfires

Fire chiefs, emergency workers now rely on network of water stored for fire trucks

An improvised handful of water tanks and bladders has grown into a sophisticated network essential to the firefighting strategy of every fire department in Rim Country.

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Republican seeks to unseat Attorney General Horne

Brnovich cites legal woes of incumbent

A Republican candidate seeking to unseat an incumbent from his own party brought his hard-hitting campaign to Payson last week, with an appearance before the Payson Tea Party.

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Dangerous search yields only mystery, frustration

Gila County Sheriff’s Lt. Tim Scott made a somber report on the mysterious disappearance of Paul Tomasso, 56, who left his car for a four-day hike on Feb. 13 and disappeared into the rugged wilderness.

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Pullen seeks treasurer’s office

Longtime Republican insider, activist and financier Randy Pullen stumped through Payson hopefully en route to the state treasurer’s office with an appearance before the Gila County Republican Party.

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Appeals court upholds $7.3 million verdict

Repeated knee surgeries left woman crippled; in chronic pain

A Gila County Superior Court judge made no mistakes in the course of a trial that ended in a $7.3 million jury verdict for a woman whose botched knee surgery left her in chronic pain and unable to walk normally, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled last week.

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Judge won’t run

Duber cites prosecutor ‘bullying’

Citing “bullying, cunning use of rules and political self-interest” by the Gila County Attorney’s Office, Gila County Superior Court Judge Robert Duber has decided not to seek re-election.

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Frightening fire season starts with a close call

Firefighters prepare for the worst

A frightening fire season nearly started with disaster when piled up brush caught fire on the outskirts of Whispering Pines right after the last storm of winter, fire chiefs from throughout the area learned at a pre-fire-season gathering last week.

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Guns in town hall

Bill to curtail limits clears House

The state House has passed a measure that would make it more difficult to keep guns out of public buildings — and impose potentially steep costs on towns if they try.

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Water bill blunder

Financing bill barely saved

The near-death of a state bill to make it easier to finance local water projects last week briefly threw Payson into a panic about financing for the final $30 million needed to build the Blue Ridge pipeline.

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House strips funds from thinning bill

State lawmakers cut original $25 million for thinning to $200,000

A bill designed to provide money to thin the forest around fire-menaced communities last week survived a state House vote — but only after lawmakers stripped away most of the money proposed.

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Fire code furor

Payson seeks to cut danger despite council’s qualms

Despite the council’s qualms about the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) Code, the Payson Town Council is moving forward with an effort to reduce the risk the next megafire could consume the whole town, says Mayor Kenny Evans.

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Archaeological Society unearths a great time Saturday

On a high ridge overlooking Payson, clues to a gripping mystery lie scattered — mostly hidden from view.

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Barton’s animal cruelty bill advances

House approves changes after controversial provisions cut

A controversial bill on animal cruelty sponsored by a Rim Country lawmaker eked through the House last week.

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Senator fights wolf reintroduction

Rim Country’s representative pushing bill to defy federal rules

Rim Country Sen. Chester Crandell (R-Heber) has taken the lead in pressing for legislation to limit the reintroduction of Mexican Gray Wolves in Arizona.

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Rim Country senator: ‘We’re going to starve to death’

Crandell advocates more carbon dioxide in the air to spur plant growth

Sen. Chester Crandell (R-Heber) at a recent senate committee hearing said reducing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would inhibit plant growth so that “we’re going to starve to death because we cannot produce enough food for the amount of people being produced on the Earth.”

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End of one woman’s chaotic crime wave

Woman sentenced for assaults, burglary, fleeing cops, child abuse

A Payson woman who launch­ed a crime wave of her own is now heading for prison to serve a nine-year sentence.

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We have lost one of our own

A beloved Hellsgate volunteer firefighter who battled the Wallow and Yarnell fires, kept aging fire trucks running and did endless favors for his many friends, collapsed and died Friday while taking a fitness test.

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Auditor: Classroom spending dwindling

Payson schools have less money to spend on each child than in 2008, but the district has a B grade overall, mostly because students continue to do better in math, reading, writing and science than either comparable districts or the average student statewide.

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Start your engines ...

Fierce governor’s race hits Payson with plea to keep cutting budget

Secretary of State Ken Bennett brought his freshly minted campaign for governor to Payson on Saturday, calling for fresh spending cuts in the precariously balanced state budget and the eventual elimination of the income tax.

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Law would force re-votes on ballot measures

Rim Country senator pushes bill to put propositions back on ballot every eight years

The Senate Elections Committee on a party-line vote has approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Chester Crandell (R-Heber) that would require voters to re-approve ballot measures every eight years.

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Local lawmakers would make sheriffs ultimate authority

A bill sponsored by Rim Country’s state legislative delegation that would have required federal law enforcement personnel to register with local sheriffs and turn over half of their fines to the counties has died in committee.