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Pete Aleshire

Stories by Pete

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Saving lives

Study: Fire codes work

Firefighters can accurately assess the vulnerability of structures to wildfires, which can save firefighters in a crisis by telling which homes they should try to save, according to a new study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Forest Service.

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A glimpse behind the scenes

Screening, discussion focus on documentary depicting Arizona’s most lethal gunfight

The fatal moment remains shrouded in mystery.

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Averting Disaster

Study proves value of thinning projects as California goes up in flames

Thinning treatments can save forested communities, even when the treatment leaves behind dense areas for wildlife, according to a comprehensive study of the effects of the two biggest wildfires in Arizona history.

The editor responds

I get it.

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Fair celebrates region’s roots

Dallon Stockton sat happily on the back of 1,100-pound Fireball, the two of them a happy pair of Northern Gila County Fair Showmanship Grand Champions.

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Lawmaker decries plan for monuments

Rep. Thorpe fighting Sedona, Grand Canyon proposals

Rep. Bob Thorpe last week came to Payson to urge voters to rally against formation of two new national monuments — one near Sedona and the other near the Grand Canyon.

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County battling prescription drug overdose epidemic

Gila County will get some $500,000 from the federal government to reduce the inexorable rise in deaths due to overdoses of prescription drugs.

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Film depicts violent tragedy

Documentary showing at the Sawmill dwells on Arizona’s most deadly gunfight

A bloody shootout.

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Rim Country boasts some of the most diverse and healthy riparian areas in the state.

Take a hike along one of region's streams

Rim Country boasts some of the most diverse and healthy riparian areas in the state. That includes miles of gloriously intact cottonwood and willow habitat along the banks of the East Verde River, just outside of Payson.

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Watching wildlife: Hummingbird frenzy

Hummingbirds mob feeders on their migrations

The battle rages. # I blame the rufous hummingbird — plucky little bully. # He’s buzzing the poor Anna’s hummingbird every time she gets near the feeder. # Ah, now, here’s a ruby-throated hummer. Maybe he’ll ... # Nope, still getting chased off by the rufous. # I’ve got about 100 reasons I never want to live anywhere but Payson — specifically overlooking the East Verde River. Hummingbirds consistently place in the top 25 on that list.

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Wow. What a Weekend!

Whoa. Dude.

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Cut costs, save lives

Studies show telemedicine improves outcomes

Evidence continues to mount that telemedicine systems that allow consultations through video hookups and data links in rural hospitals both improve outcomes — and save money.

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Learning to live with fire

Communities like Payson must find a way to live with wildfire by changing land use patterns and adopting new building codes, according to a study by an international team of experts published in the scientific journal Nature.

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Tonto Natural Bridge brings community together

Backers help keep state park open

The world’s largest natural travertine bridge represents Rim Country’s best-known tourist attraction — but it has also offered a heartening example of how a community and the State Parks can join forces to protect a natural treasure.

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Tonto National Monument holds key to ancient mystery

Builders vanished centuries ago

Just 60 miles outside of Payson, the dozing ruins of Tonto National Monument have lately yielded fresh clues to an ancient mystery. The 1,100-acre monument centered on two sets of well-preserved cliff dwellings have lately inspired new research, particularly in light of the discovery of 3,000- to 8,000-year-old spear points and other artifacts at a site overlooking Roosevelt Lake. Drawn by a spring that still lurks beneath the surface, ancient hunters regularly occupied the site over the course of millennia.

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Schools rating low

Near bottom on spending, quality

Arizona school kids face the worst of both worlds — low state spending on schools and poor results.

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Disaster's aftermath

Flagstaff acts, Payson dawdles

Traumatized by the lethal environmental effects of the Schultz Fire, Flagstaff continues to set the pace for a community response to wildfire.

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Hummingbird wars

The battle rages.

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Rim Country has some of the state’s most diverse and productive riparian areas

Rim Country boasts some of the most diverse and healthy riparian areas in the state. That includes miles of gloriously intact cottonwood and willow habitat along the banks of the East Verde River, just outside of Payson.

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The return of a native to Haigler Creek in Rim Country

If you want to hook a wary, wild German brown trout, head for Haigler Creek, off Colcord Road. But hurry: In another couple of years, the creek may harbor an even rarer treat for anglers — a reintroduced population of endangered, native Gila trout.

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The view from the Mogollon Rim

The Mogollon Rim puts the world back in proper perspective, with the wind rushing past and the view extending for 100 miles. The wind whispers of vanished worlds and sudden death — as well as the stubborn persistence of life.

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The East Verde River harbors lots of trout-stocked fishing holes

I tore myself loose late, knowing I’d never make it to Whispering Pines where I’d promised faithfully to meet Jack Kearns, a genial, quietly enthusiastic, endlessly good-humored retired utility company crew chief who now lives to fish.

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School board: Show us the receipt!

Teachers on trips still must submit the itemized details

Teachers taking students on education trips shouldn’t have to pay for hotel rooms out of their own pocket. On the other hand, they better bring back an itemized receipt if they want breakfast.

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Lawmaker’s AHCCCS suit rebuffed

Lawmakers seeking to reverse the expansion of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System suffered another setback in court this week.

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Sale gets go-ahead

Archaeologists clear way for university site

The Forest Service can go ahead and sell a 253-acre parcel for a university, but Payson should avoid building on three archaeological sites, concluded a preliminary study.

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School inflation negotiations fail

But lawmakers propose plan to boost K-12 spending

School districts will go back to court in an attempt to force state lawmakers to pay some $1.3 billion in illegally withheld inflation funding after negotiations on a settlement broke down this week.

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Arrest in 37-year-old murder

Daughter of former Payson couple shot in 1978

For 37 years, the murder of their daughter remained an agonizing mystery.

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Payson enrollment still on the rise

Growth in upper grades suggests students returning

The Payson Unified School District got more good news this week as this semester’s enrollment figures grew.

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Forest restoration contractor bedeviled by breakdowns

But vital forest thinning projects finally underway

Good Earth Power Arizona (GEPAZ) has finally started cutting and processing trees in its Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) contract, but remains bedeviled by breakdowns and skepticism.

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Forests affect climate

Studies show forests have greater impact than scientists realized

Forests have a much greater impact on global climate than scientists realized, according to a series of recent studies.

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APS wants to slash solar energy incentives

Corporation commission approval spawns controversy

Although Arizona faces a federal mandate to cut the use of coal-fired power plants, homeowners will face sharply higher costs if they go solar — thanks to new fees on rooftop solar systems imposed by Arizona Public Service and the Salt River Project.

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Rim Country cool

Payson avoids record heat

Rim Country continues to enjoy a more-or-less average year, with a mild fire season, normal rainfall and predictions of a wetter-than average winter.

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Taking flight

Bald eagle population records record growth

Arizona’s unique population of desert-nesting bald eagles continues to delight and surprise researchers — steadily expanding their range and producing more and more gangly fledglings.

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Wait times drop

Banner builds up staff, slashes long ER waiting room delays

Emergency room waiting times have been cut in half in the past two weeks, according to Mike Herring, chief nursing officer for Banner Payson Medical Center.

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EPA rules blasted

Arizona officials oppose plan to cut pollution 34 percent

Opposition continues to build among Arizona elected officials to a plan by the Environmental Protection Agency to limit carbon dioxide and other pollutants produced by coal-fired power plants.

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Lawmaker blasts EPA for spill

Rep. Thorpe decries toxic plume heading down Animas River toward Lake Powell

State lawmakers found a whole new reason to bash the Environmental Protection Agency with news that a botched mine cleanup effort released 3 million gallons of mine waste rushing down the Animas River in Colorado headed for Lake Powell.

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Study bears out region’s painfully slow recovery

Arizona lags U.S., Gila County lags state

Does it seem like the boom’s never going to return?

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Arizona revenues rebounding

$322 million windfall revives debate about education cuts

Higher than expected tax collections have turned the state’s projected deficit into a $266 million ending balance.

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Big changes possible in medical care for working poor

Lawsuit, governor’s proposal may force big changes in AHCCCS

Arizona’s tenacious battle to limit or modify the federally-funded medical program for low-income residents continues, both in court and at the Legislature.

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Rim Country presses for access to Fossil Creek

Leaders meet with Forest Service on rescues, plans to further limit access to protect creek

The U.S. Forest Service’s plan to close off Fossil Creek to most access by vehicles for at least an interim period has provoked debate and criticism — both from people seeking more access and from environmental groups challenging the years-long delay in adopting a plan to protect the spring-fed creek.

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Wildfire protection

Payson Ranger District snags $1.9 million

The Payson Ranger District has snagged another $1.9 million for thinning projects to protect Rim Country communities.

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Stream stocking experiment befuddles anglers

Low catch rates on East Verde prompt complaints

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has been experimenting with the number of fish stocked into the East Verde River and Tonto Creek every week, part of a statewide effort to keep anglers happy without wasting fish.

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State’s wildfire season mild, but much of West goes up in flames

A mild spring and a wet monsoon have helped underscore the sea change in the U.S. Forest Service’s attitude toward forest fires across Arizona.

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Education level dropping

But campus boosts worker education

Arizona continues to lag further and further behind the rest of the country when it comes to producing an educated workforce, according to an analysis by the Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

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Judge rebuffs Fossil Creek grazing

Legal fight to protect endangered frog continues

A federal judge has dealt another setback to the Coconino National Forest’s effort to renew a grazing permit on the headwaters of Fossil Creek.

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Tribe supports award-winning Payson FFA chapter

The Tonto Apache Tribe has donated $4,060 to the Payson FFA chapter, to help seven top agriculture students attend a national competition.

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Life's handiwork

Bridge offers lesson in the power of time – and living things

Sitting in one of my favorite places in the world, I listen to the dim, cool drip of life — the maker of worlds, the merger of geology and biology.

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Big increase in abandoned campfires

Abandoned campfires continue to pose a hazard to forested communities, despite the unusually mild, wet year.