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Pete Aleshire

Stories by Pete

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PHS: Few finish university

Report: Just 15 percent of Payson High graduates finish at a university in six years

Only 15 percent of Payson High School graduates earn a college degree within six years compared to 18.6 percent of students statewide.

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Grim end to tragic tale

Father gets 20 years in death of daughter after years of missed chances

Gasoa Balas will likely spend the next 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to second degree murder, aggravated assault and driving under the influence Tuesday.

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Innermost secrets of the universe revealed

Glow-in-the-dark rocks, disappearing photons, lurking activators, stealthy scorpions, all at the rock show

Way, way, way in the back of the Payson Rimstones Rock Club’s Gem and Mineral Show in a side room in a black box with a weird light waited The Secret of the Universe.

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Abuse neglected

State task force to review 6,100 cases not investigated by Child Protective Services

Gov. Jan Brewer on Monday announced plans to create a team to oversee investigation of some 6,100 reports of child abuse or neglect that Child Protective Services set aside without investigating.

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Got to admit ... it’s getting better

Payson’s sales tax revenues on the rise, but construction continues to struggle

Hopeful numbers keep trickling in, as Rim Country struggles to regain the economic ground it lost in the real estate crash of 2007 and 2008.

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Hearing slated on wolf recovery area

As controversy builds, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold a hearing on changing the rules for the reintroduction of Mexican gray wolves at a hearing at the Hon-Dah Conference Center in Pinetop this afternoon and evening.

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Massive state water shortage looms

Payson talk laments shortfall lawmakers are ignoring

Arizona faces a potentially disastrous water shortage — but no one’s paying attention.

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Pine water board awards contract for master plan

The Pine Strawberry Water Improvement Board at its last meeting ap­proved the award of a nearly $70,000 contract to CH2M Hill, a water engineering and consulting firm that already operates the water district under contract.

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Haigler Creek proposed as a refuge for Gila trout

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hopes to establish thousands of threatened Gila trout in a three-mile stretch of Haigler Creek, residents learned at a recent meeting.

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In the shadow of winter

The little girl eyed the goose warily.

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Pine Water District approves fix for murky well water

Decision represents one of the final board actions after surprise resignations

The Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District last week approved installation of sensors and a bypass valve to prevent two crucial wells from ever pumping murky, gritty water into the system.

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Tonto Creek crossings closed

Mounting flows in Tonto Creek prompted Gila County to close all three crossings in Tonto Basin Saturday morning, effectively cutting off access to people living on the east side.

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Forest Service regulation on trailers triggers rebellion

Sheriffs refuse to cooperate in federal effort to prevent hunters from leaving camps set up

The Gila County Sheriff’s office has joined with other local officials to protest a new U.S. Forest Service threat to impound and tow away trailers left in the forest for more than 72 hours, according to Gila County Supervisor Tommie Martin.

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Feds still gathering comments on wolf reintroduction plans

Everyone has more time to sound off on plans to dramatically expand the area where endangered Mexican gray wolves can roam.

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Contaminated Pine well gets clean bill of health

A bacteria-infected well has been disinfected, tested, re-tested and stands nearly ready to go back online, Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District Manager Brad Cole told the district’s board last week.

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Five Pine-Strawberry board members resign

Five members of the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District abruptly resigned on Saturday, turning over management of the controversy-plagued district to the Gila County Board of Supervisors.

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Investigations still roil Pine/Strawberry water district

Investigations of Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District Board members continue to agitate customers — and roil relations on the board.

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Flurry of eagles

Arizona population increases, but protection debate persists

As volunteers and biologists labor to safeguard Arizona’s population of bald eagles, the legal battles about their future continue.

Danger signs for forests rising

The inexorable rise of average temperatures will batter forests in the Southwest by increasing the number of megafires and plagues like bark beetle outbreaks, according to the alarming results of recent studies.

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Payson’s pipeline project progresses

Work crews intermittently blocked Tyler Parkway this week with the latest work to prepare for the arrival of water from the Blue Ridge pipeline.

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Skepticism remains with news of added 4FRI contractor

Forests At Risk

The mystery land manager tapped to manage one of the largest, most complex logging operations in history turns out to be mostly a land broker that bundles timber sales.

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Why did they die? Timeline to tragedy

Report avoids assigning blame for death of 19 Prescott firefighters

The curiously unrevealing official report on the deaths of 19 Prescott Hotshots battling the Yarnell Hill Fire underscores the terrible risks firefighters inevitably run trying to protect poorly prepared communities in increasingly fire-prone forests.

Rim Country economy perks up

Payson sales rise sharply, but construction still lags

verything’s looking up, businesswise. Well, except for construction. Alas, poor construction.

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Wildfire lessons ignored

Payson, Gila County ignore danger in building codes despite lessons of Yarnell

Payson and Gila County have both balked at adopting firewise building standards, despite the rising danger of catastrophic wildfires like the one that devoured much of Yarnell and killed 19 firefighters trying to protect the community.

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College quandary

As Alliance compares sites, FS land sale inches along

The Rim Country Educational Alliance (SLE) continues to push the purchase of 260 acres from the U.S. Forest Service for a university campus — but also is doing a comparative analysis of other privately owned parcels.

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Talking and strumming in a good cause

Radiothon seeks to raise $10,000 to help children, domestic violence victims

Considering the fearful toll of the problem at hand — the folks who dropped by last week’s Radiothon at Chapman Auto Center had a pretty good time.

Navajo Generating Station owners propose alternative to reduce emissions

The coalition of power companies operating the Navajo Generating Station near Page have proposed an alternative way to reduce pollutants that will allow the plant to keep generating electricity until 2044.

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Battered Rim Country economy takes another hit

Federal shutdown extended to privately run campgrounds

The federal shutdown this week spread to virtually all of the campgrounds in Rim Country at the worst possible time of the year. Talks between the White House and Congress Thursday revived hopes that the shutdown will end soon. Senate Republicans were expected to meet with the White House today. The issue now involves both the government shutdown and a deal to raise the limit on the debt.

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Barton: Obama is ‘de Fuhrer’

Payson state lawmaker makes headlines with comments about ‘thugs’ and ‘tyranny’

Payson state Rep. Brenda Barton made national headlines this week when a post on her Facebook page referred to President Barack Obama as “De Fuhrer” and to National Park Service rangers as “thugs.”

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Shutdown stalls college land sale

College backers had deal on appraisal when Forest Service furloughs struck. At a crucial moment, the federal government shutdown has stalled Payson’s effort to buy 240 acres of Forest Service land for an Arizona State University campus.

Council OKs shift to self-serve fuel at airport

Skeptics argue corporate jet pilots will avoid the pump

Even the darn airport’s going self-service. Money. Money. Money.

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Fossil Creek: A fragile ark

Fossil Creek has become a world-class refuge for wildlife — a veritable Noah’s ark for rare and endangered species both above and below the turquoise-blue waters of the travertine-laden creek.

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Densities may jump

Payson General Plan overhaul would allow far more homes per acre in rural area

Payson Councilor Ed Blair lodged a vigorous but futile protest to a little-noticed change in the town’s General Plan that could potentially allow far more homes in rural, large-lot areas.

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Fiddle fest brims with love of the music

She didn’t fall: Nope, she climbed off the fame’s rocket, to raise a family.

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House approves bill co-sponsored by Gosar

Rim Country’s representative co-author of a bill that would waive environmental laws to double or triple timber harvest

The Forest Service would have at least double timber harvesting and give local counties and schools 25 percent of the money it earns under the terms of a bill approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last week.

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Forest thinning progress

1,000-acre local project on latest list

Hoping to get a stalled forest restoration project moving, the Forest Service has issued “task orders” to cut 8,600 acres of ponderosa pine forest.

Health care reform kicks in soon; premiums lower than expected

Critics make last-ditch effort to kill or delay offer of health insurance for 32 million Americans

The debate about health care reforms remains as schizophrenic as ever as Arizonans get their first look at how much it will cost to extend health insurance to an estimated 1 million residents.

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Death rates shape health debate

The often-bitter debate about whether to expand the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) with federal funds turns in part on dueling studies on death rates among patients.

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Dinner benefits P/S fuel break effort

Sometimes, helping a worthy cause just melts in your mouth. Delicious. No other word for it.

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Wolfish howls of protest

Plan would dramatically expand reintroduction range for Mexican wolf

A federal plan to dramatically increase the range of reintroduced Mexican gray wolves to include most of Gila County has provoked a flurry of reaction — much of it critical.

Aero Fair Reflections

The seven prop-driven faux fighter planes roared overhead in perfect, heart-stopping formation. A single red plane flew alone at the rear — channeling the Red Baron.

Roundup wins big

‘General Excellence’ award from Arizona Newspapers Association

The Payson Roundup picked up more than a dozen awards Saturday night at the annual Arizona Newspapers Associa­tion’s Better Newspapers Contest, including the top, statewide award for general excellence among non-daily newspapers between 3,500 and 10,000 circulation.

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Same controversy, different company

Forest Service transfer of thinning contract draws praise, questions

The names have changed — but the plan’s the same. The U.S. Forest Service on Friday announced it will transfer a contract to thin 300,000 acres of Arizona forests to Good Earth, an international company that operates thinning and logging projects in Africa that turn wood into electricity.

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Indian rodeo brings top riders, ropers to Payson

Some of the best cowboys in the country gathered in Payson last weekend. Didn’t matter a bit that they were all Indians. Well, actually, maybe it does matter they were Native Americans, gathered for the regional finals the Southwestern Indian Rodeo Association, on a perfect day in a nearly empty arena.

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States urged to insist on control of federal lands

Western voters should crusade to force the federal government to turn its vast holdings over to the states, Utah state lawmaker Ken Ivory told about 65 people in a provocative speech in Payson Wednesday.

Development proves costly

General Plan: Money-losing houses vs. tax-paying business

Here’s a simple business concept: Don’t sell at a loss. But towns sell at a loss all the time when it comes to new development.

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Fossil Creek lovers speak out

Forest Service concepts draw mostly bad reviews at overflow Pine meeting

Confronted with more than 100 mostly irate citizens, U.S. Forest Service rangers and planners stressed that they don’t really want to slam the Fossil Creek door on Rim Country.

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Demolition Derby highlights fair

Perhaps the biggest Payson Demolition Derby crowd ever turned out for the smallest-ever number of cars and trucks, but a smash ’em-up finale and a bunch of muddy kids saved the day.

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Plan to let wolves wander draws sharp reactions

Fish and Wildlife Service agrees to let Mexican gray wolves expand out of remote area on Arizona-New Mexico border

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will settle a decade of lawsuits by allowing Mexican gray wolves to spread outside the long-standing recovery area in a wilderness on the Arizona-New Mexico border.

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Highways dominate Payson’s future

General Plan update ponders impact of frontage on growth

Payson remains a prisoner of the state highway, which generates most of the traffic accidents, congestion and sales tax revenue that pays for police, fire and other town services.