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Pete Aleshire

Stories by Pete

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Arizona gulping down water reserves

Crisis looms as Arizona mines its underground reserves

Western states use about twice as much Colorado River water as they can sustain, according to a recent study by researchers from Arizona State University.

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New law may weaken water rules

Ducey ponders bill to waive requirement for long-term supply

The Arizona House last week passed a bill that would deal a blow to efforts to link development to an adequate, long-term water supply.

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Dark money restrictions loosened

Laws will loosen donor rules, ban collecting of ballots

A sweeping series of controversial changes in the rules for political donors and elections have either moved through the Arizona Legislature on straight, party-line votes or already won the governor’s signature.

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East Verde Firewise committee wins award from State Farm

The East Verde Park Firewise Committee was one of more than 100 projects nationally to win a $500 award from State Farm to encourage brush clearing to protect communities from wildfires.

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Gov. Ducey signs ban on photo radar

Star Valley faces $400,000 financial impact

Gov. Doug Ducey dealt a body blow to Star Valley’s budget by signing a ban on photo radar on state-maintained highways.

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Beloved Bridge

Pine volunteers working hard to protect community

Two dozen volunteers turned out last week to throw a kit-built bridge across Pine Creek, the latest effort by the Pine Strawberry Fuel Reduction Committee to safeguard that unincorporated community.

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Voting fiasco spurs stormy hearing

Last week’s six-hour lines at the relative handful of open polling places in Maricopa County this week spurred a furious political backlash.

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Bill would allow towns to operate programs on federal lands

Earlier this month Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Prescott), who represents Rim Country in Congress, introduced a bill that would make it possible for state and local governments to operate facilities and manage federal lands.

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Students shine at Gila County Science Fair

Darby McFarlane figured she could revolutionize egg laying. So the Rim Country Middle School student set up an experiment for the Gila County Science Fair that involved feeding one group of chickens a high-protein, high-carb diet.

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Payson graduates’ college attendance rate low

Only about 38 percent start and fewer than 20 percent finish

Payson students attend college at a far lower rate than students statewide, according to figures compiled by the Arizona Board of Regents.

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University tuition rises as regents plead for support

State support has dropped 60 percent since 2008

Arizona State University wants to raise tuition by $200 annually for residents and $1,100 for foreign and out-of-state students, the latest in an inexorable string of increases that has boosted tuition from amongst the lowest in the nation to roughly 25th.

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Payson schools hope to cut energy bills by 10 percent

Energy audit pinpoints savings by controlling off-hour temperatures

The Payson Unified School District can cut its $650,000 annual energy bill by 10 to 15 percent, mostly by upgrading heating and cooling systems to operate only minimally in the evening when the buildings are closed, a team of consultants reported to the Payson School Board this week.

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Schools now free to pick their own tests

Gov. Doug Ducey this week signed a bill that could both streamline and upend school efforts to adopt a common test to measure student progress.

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Timber firms nearing collapse

The Eastern Arizona Counties Association has made a desperate plea for the U.S. Forest Service to knock loose enough forest thinning projects to keep the struggling timber industry in the White Mountains alive.

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Legislature votes to ban speed cameras

Star Valley faces crisis unless governor vetoes new law

The House has approved a ban on speed cameras on state highways, a potential body blow to Star Valley.

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ALA charter school blasts coverage

The American Leadership Academy letter to parents cited alleged inaccuracies and misrepresentations made by critics of the charter school and reported in a series by Roundup reporter Michele Nelson.

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Debating popular vote change in presidential elections

A national movement to change the way Americans elect a president spurred a sometimes baffling, ultimately confusing pitch by Arizona state Senator Sylvia Allen in a Payson appearance before the Gila County Republican Party.

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Weak schools = Weak economy

Expert lauds local effort to boost college attendance

Years of state cutbacks have weakened the educational system on which Arizona’s prosperity depends, according to Evelyn Casuga, with the Center for the Future of Arizona.

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Huge burns protect region

The Tonto National Forest took advantage of the wet winter to burn nearly 11,000 acres of brush and debris piles to help create a buffer zone around Rim Country communities.

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Former Jerome mayor challenges state Sen. Sylvia Allen

Education top issue for candidate running for Democratic nomination

The former mayor of Jerome wants to unseat Sen. Sylvia Allen (R-Snowflake), who represents most of Rim Country in a sprawling district that stretches from Flagstaff to Snowflake in the White Mountains.

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Test furor continues

Parents can’t opt out, but districts might

The state Senate this week killed a bill that would have allowed parents to prevent their children from taking standardized tests designed to compare student performance to national standards.

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Iwo Jima: A love story

Jack Day had the best of reasons to survive World War II’s most ferocious battle — no matter how long the odds

Jack Day felt the excited calm settle over him as the frail landing craft gunned its engine to run up onto the volcanic sands of Iwo Jima.

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Celebrating progress on university

Construction road opens as talks with ASU intensify

Backers of the plan to build a university in Payson on Thursday celebrated the construction of a road needed to start work on the 253-acre site.

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Surviving Iwo Jima

Rim Country veterans recall both triumph and terror in one of worst battles in history

Larry Norton crouched behind a cluster of tall, shell-blasted volcanic stones on Iwo Jima, staring anxiously out across the hellish landscape toward where two wounded Marines lay bleeding.

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Controversial voucher bill stalled

Plan to divert hundreds of millions to private schools stuck

A Senate-approved bill that would make virtually any student in the state eligible for a tax-payer provided voucher to attend private school may not make it through the House, say observers.

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Logger still struggling

The contractor charged with the largest forest restoration project in history has both trumpeted its progress — and suffered another setback.

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New limit on Fossil Creek visits

Forest Service will now allow just 148 cars per day

The Forest Service will impose a $6 entrance fee and require advanced reservations to visit Fossil Creek starting May 1.

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Doctor challenges Sen. McCain in Republican primary

Kelli Ward offers radically conservative proposals

Former state senator Dr. Kelli Ward brought her insurgent crusade to unseat fellow Republican U.S. Senator John McCain to Payson this week, with a wide-ranging attack on McCain. She spent hours of patiently answering questions posed by members of the Payson Tea Party.

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Gym safe – still

State officials say added tests in Pine reveal no health risk from mercury

The problematic Pine Elementary School gym passed the latest mercury monitoring test with flying colors, according to state officials.

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Controlled burns to continue

Rim Country residents can expect more large, controlled burns this week to create a buffer zone around forested communities.

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Safest of cities

20th lowest crime rate in state

Payson ranked as one of the 20 safest cities in Arizona in a statewide, city-by-city rating system developed by SafeWise.

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El Niño wimps out

Stay tuned for March madness

The mighty El Niño wimped out.

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School job training money restored

House, Senate vie for credit for reversing cuts voted last year

Gov. Doug Ducey this week quickly signed a bill to restore funding for vocational education throughout Arizona.

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Forest Service wants to speed up 4FRI thinning

The U.S. Forest Service will invest another $100 million over the next 10 years in an effort to accelerate the largest forest restoration project in history.

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Auditor rates Payson Arizona Region's schools highly

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 by the Auditor General’s Office.

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Telemedicine comes to Rim Country

A telemedicine hookup with medical experts can reduce in-hospital mortality by 26 percent and the length of time spent in the hospital by 20 percent, according to a study published in CHEST, a peer-reviewed medical journal of the American College of Chest Physicians.

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Plenty of Water: Payson will get 3,000 acre-feet a year from reservoir in 2018

The construction of the pipeline that will more than double Payson’s long-term water supply went into high gear in 2015, with completion of the in-town sections and work well under way on the 14-mile stretch of pipe along the East Verde between Washington Park and Payson.

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Payson water future faces frightening peril

Forest Service wants to protect 100-square-mile watershed from crown fires

The U.S. Forest Service this week released the details of a plan to dramatically thin 64,000 acres of hillside forest to protect the C.C. Cragin Reservoir and surrounding communities from the effects of a catastrophic wildfire.

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House moves to restore vocational education money

Committee votes to put back $30 million after talks with governor

A key House committee this week voted to restore almost all of the $30 million lawmakers cut from the budget for job training programs last year.

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Pine, Young gym floor tests scheduled

Measuring mercury risk

The rubberized gym floor in the Pine Strawberry School on Feb. 16 will get another test to make sure it’s not emitting worrisome levels of mercury gas, the Department of Environmental Quality confirmed on Thursday.

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ASU now pondering Mesa campus

Arizona State University and the City of Mesa have unveiled their plans to open another branch campus there.

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Pension deal progress

Senate plan to limit police, fire benefits needs approval of House and voters

The Arizona Senate has adopted a landmark plan to save the state pension system for police officers and firefighters from bankruptcy, but the measure faces an uncertain future in the House.

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Gym said safe

Frustrated Pine parents decry exposure of kids to mercury

Trace amounts of mercury rising from the Pine-Strawberry School gym floor pose absolutely no risk to children, state representatives and experts assured worried parents this week.

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4FRI: Painfully slow progress

Good Earth years behind schedule, but plans to thin 16,000 acres in 2016

This year logging trucks will drive 6.7 million miles hauling 823,000 tons of wood harvested from 16,000 acres as part of the Four Forest Restoration Initiative.

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State’s $10 billion budget debate grows with the surplus

Governor’s proposed 1.4 percent increase draws praise, criticism

Gov. Doug Ducey’s austere budget features a 1.4 percent increase in spending, $1 billion in reserves, more tax cuts and the elimination of the once-massive “structural deficit.”

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Schools face budget chaos

New state funding formula could inflict more pain on districts with declining enrollment

In a perfectly awful fiscal storm, changes in state budgeting could have a crushing impact on Payson Unified School District if the opening of a charter school this year causes a big dip in enrollment.

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Arizona’s school funding still dead last

State spending on education 31 percent below national average

Arizona ranks dead last in state support for K-12 schools, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Arizona university cutbacks continue

Ducey budget would change 5-year trend

Arizona remains one of only two states in the nation still cutting state funding for higher education several years into the economic recovery, according to a state-by-state survey by the Center for the Study of Education Policy.

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Legislative revolt

Lawmakers push for vocational funds

A legislative revolt is brewing against a proposed $30 million cut in vocational training for K-12 schools.

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Let the MONSTER Go, kiddo

White amur’s better for weed control than as a main course

This young angler pulled this monster out of Green Valley Lake recently, a fish big enough to double as his younger brother.