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Pete Aleshire

Stories by Pete

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Economic views clash in Payson mayor’s race

Does Evans do too much – or not enough?

He hasn’t done enough. And he’s a micromanager. Sometimes, you just can’t win — especially during an election.

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Moment of truth

Alliance to decide next month on where to build university

The Rim Country Educational Alliance (SLE) board hopes to pick a site for a university at a scheduled Sept. 18 meeting, said board chairman Steve Drury.

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Controversy swirls around Huppenthal

Republican primary for state superintendent seat focused on flip-flops, Common Core

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal continues to wage a confusing and controversial struggle to keep his job against a fierce primary challenge that turns on his on-again-off-again-on-again support for the adoption of federal academic standards and assessments.

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Sylvia Allen seeks to fill senate seat

Navajo County Supervisor and former state senator Sylvia Allen has emerged as the leading candidate to run for the state senate seat left vacant after the accidental death of Sen. Chester Crandell.

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Senator Crandell’s death overshadows campaign

The death of state Sen. Chester Crandell last week threw the already unusual race in the district that includes Northern Gila County into deep uncertainty.

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‘Dark money’ casts shadow on secretary of state race

The normally quiet secretary of state race has gotten unexpectedly controversial — and personal this year.

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Attorney general’s legal woes throw race wide open

Beset by legal and personal troubles, Attorney General Tom Horne has waged a dogged struggle to keep his job in the Republican primary against former state gaming director Mark Brnovich.

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Almost Shakespearean

The struggle between Payson Mayor Kenny Evans and challenger Randy Roberson after months of wounding accusation and indignant response has increasingly become a struggle almost Shakespearean — even biblical. It’s a wrenching tale of envy and ego — great strengths turned somehow to weakness.

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Service set for Sen. Chester Crandell

Mourners will gather on Saturday to “say goodbye friend and a great Arizonan” at the funeral in Heber for Sen. Chester Crandell, who died this weekend as a result of a fall from a horse.

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Rush to the right in shroud of dark money

Six Republicans with diverse views and experience vie for nomination in governor’s race, as negative attacks and outside money dominate debate

An avalanche of TV commercials in the Valley many of them funded by undisclosed outside interests has finally allowed state treasurer Doug Ducey and former Go-Daddy executive Christine Jones to break out of the six tightly bunched contenders for the Republican nomination for governor.

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Fred DuVal: Democrat awaits outcome of Republican battle

The former head of the Arizona Board of Regents and longtime political fixer and consultant also worked in the Bill Clinton White House. He has run up the middle in his positions so far, sharply criticizing the Obama administration for the unexpected crisis caused by the arrival of thousands of unaccompanied children from South America and calling for targeted tax cuts to attract high-tech businesses.

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Ducey brings governor’s campaign to Payson

Heavy spending and outside groups help treasurer move into lead

Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey has finally shot out ahead in the crowded Republican governor’s race like a bright red skeet — and you can hear the shotguns blasting away.

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Got, got, got no time

A persistent friend, a trickle of a river and a perfect day

If I’d had Jack’s phone number, I surely would have canceled. Dude, I’m way too busy to go fishing at 4 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon — with the rodeo tab and the election tab and Lord knows what all to do.

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Rep. Gosar: No fish hatchery shifts without congressional vote

The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee recently approved a bill by U.S. Congressman Paul Gosar to put a temporary halt to the closure of any more federally operated fish hatcheries.

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Horse camp saved

Revised plan still creates staging areas for ORVs, bars stream camping

The Tonto National Forest has abandoned a controversial proposal to convert the Houston Mesa Horse Camp into a camp for off-roaders.

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Slow progress on fire protection sparks debate

Payson mayor stresses complexity, challenger criticizes delay

Payson’s painfully slow, but careful consideration of a wildfire-adapted building code has been doused as an election issue by the vigorous debate about water policy — but it still draws a contrast between the two candidates for mayor.

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Auditor wants PSWID evidence

The state auditor general’s office has asked the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District for a host of documents in connection with the peculiar way the district bought and installed 13 generators for well pumps in 2011.

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Strange political twist

Turns out, most campaign signs in town ‘illegal’

Last week’s flap over an independent group’s campaign signs had a surprising result: Turns out, virtually every campaign sign in town is illegal.

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Blue Ridge pipeline shut off as reservoir empties

SRP predicts winter will refill it

The Salt River Project last week shut down the Blue Ridge pipeline’s discharge into the East Verde River weeks early after virtually emptying the reservoir.

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Payson launches annexation plan

The Payson Town Council last week took the first step toward annexing an 80-acre parcel for a light industrial park, despite the qualms of residents who spoke.

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Sen. Chester Crandell found dead

Fall from horse may have killed Rim Country representative

Family members found the body of state Sen. Chester Crandell on a ranch Thursday morning after he was apparently thrown from a horse, according to Navajo County Sheriff K. C. Clark and Chief Deputy Jim Molessa.

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Wolves may come to Payson

Plan would add region to reintroduction area

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a revised proposal to save the endangered Mexican gray wolf by including all of Rim Country in a sprawling, two-state area where it could introduce new wolf packs.

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Air show cancellation for lack of insurance prompts criticism

Problems with insurance coverage have prompted cancellation of the Payson Aero Fair, which for years has offered kids rides in small planes manned by volunteer pilots.

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Forests at a terrible tipping point

Conference looks at Schultz Fire as an example of the peril to forested communities

Wildfires pose a dire threat to forested communities which only regional efforts and a dramatic shift in forest management can avert, expert speakers told a statewide audience at a Flagstaff conference on forest health and wildfires sponsored by Arizona Forward on Friday.

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Praying for light as the storm gathers

A photographer finds a strange truth in the quest for sunset amongst the ruins of Wupatki

The gathering storm matched my mood: I was sore afflicted — and full of trouble.

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Poor rich people and dark money

The Greasy Pole

Man, it’s getting weird out there.

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Health insurance expansion tangled in court

State lawmakers seek to reverse coverage for 300,000

Lawsuits, contradictory court rulings and election politics continue to bedevil the Affordable Healthcare Act, even now that it’s up and running.

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Site shopping

Alliance studying costs of four sites for university

The Rim Country Educational Alliance has hired the Tetra Tech engineering firm to provide a detailed analysis of four possible university sites, including the preferred 253-acre Forest Service-owned parcel on which the Alliance will get an appraisal in the next few weeks.

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Thinning contract: ‘A monumental task’

The logging company many hope will protect forested communities from catastrophic wildfires continues to struggle to marshal a massive effort, but hasn’t yet cut much, participants at a conference on Forest Health learned last week.

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Forest Service now letting fires burn

The smoke that this week poured down off the Rim from two fires totaling 5,000 acres marks a striking shift in Forest Service fire strategy in an urgent effort to prevent community and forest-destroying wildfires.

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Flood of Controversy

Tower Well, Blue Ridge again bubble into politics

Two years after council members from neighboring towns declared the water wars at an end, Payson’s ongoing use of the Tower Well in Star Valley has bubbled up into the council campaigns in both towns.

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A shaggy dog tale of the osprey and the wolf

Travels With Lobo

The shrill whistle cut through soft lapping of Woods Canyon Lake on the forested shore. I looked up, as I stepped over a gnarly ponderosa pine root.

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Governor candidate hails Payson’s plan

Former Congressman Frank Riggs stressed his knowledge of the federal government, his fierce opposition to federal Common Core standards and his long political experience in his pitch for the Republican nomination for governor to a select audience at Chaparral Pines in Payson recently, the latest in a parade of Republican candidates to make repeated visits to Rim Country.

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Pine-Strawberry board ponders mystery of the missing well

Holiday weekend forces district to juggle supply

First it’s the frigging itty-bitty little pipes.

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Candidate calls for pragmatic solutions

State House candidate Lanny Morrison wants better schools, even if it means a tax increase

The state Legislature should pay schools the inflation adjustments recently ordered by the courts and further increase spending on schools and higher education, state legislative candidate Lanny Morrison told a gathering of the Democratic Club of Northern Gila County last week.

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Pine plan panned

Board frets about future

In a meeting marked by good humor and civility, the newly seated Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District’s irritation with the draft of a master plan for the future stood out.

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Painfully dry year

Blue Ridge nearly empty

The Blue Ridge Reservoir has dwindled to just 28 percent of its capacity in the wake of one of the driest years ever recorded on the watersheds of the Salt and Verde rivers.

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Monsoon storms clear as temperatures rise

Chance of rain rises after Tuesday as "severe" drought continues

The monsoon conditions that have quenched the fire danger and delivered greater than normal rainfall for the past two weeks will likely clear up today and Monday. The US Weather Service puts the chance of rain in Payson at just about zero today and tomorrow.

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Judge candidate tackles conflict

Town attorney Tim Wright seeks superior court seat

Candidate for a Gila County Superior Court judgeship Tim Wright made a low-key appeal for support to the Rim Country Republicans on Saturday, touting his background and explaining his judicial philosophy.

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In the rough

Water contract roils mayor’s race

Challenger Randy Roberson has raised sharp questions about the deal incumbent Payson Mayor Kenny Evans negotiated and the town council approved with the town’s two private country clubs to provide irrigation water for their golf courses for the next 50 years.

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Governor candidate wants to end income tax

Bennett pushes broader version of sales tax in Payson appearance

Arizona should accelerate growth by replacing the income tax with a much broader version of the sales tax a Republican candidate for governor told the Payson Tea Party last week. The 3-5 percent tax on services and products would also replace the current, exemption-riddled sales tax, Secretary of State Ken Bennett said.

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Controversy continues about how Forest Service should cover the $2 billion annual cost of fighting fires

Senate committee hearing focuses on devastating impact of wildfires in the west

A key senate committee continues to debate a new way to finance federal firefighting and forest thinning efforts sponsored by U.S. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake.

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State offers schools help in tracking student data

The Arizona Department of Education has awarded a contract with a private vendor it hopes will significantly reduce the cost to school districts of tracking students, in the face of shifts that will increasingly link school funding to student test scores.

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Downed by disaster

Archeologist charts 10,000-year history of humans in Rim Country until climate catastrophe struck

Archeologists have found new clues to explain the climate disaster that brought an ancient civilization crashing down in ruins scattered across Rim Country, Tonto National Forest Archeologist Scott Wood told a fascinated gathering of listeners at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park on Saturday.

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Gisela continues to simmer

Angry Gisela residents have asked the Arizona Corporation Commission to reconsider its recent approval of a huge water rate increase — and in the meantime are investigating drilling their own wells.

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In the saddle of the Great Ones

The little Navajo girl chased the calf all the way to the end of the arena, her rope twirling overhead. I could hardly breathe, afraid she’d fall off that towering horse, but her face was wreathed in a grin of pure joy, the latest in a long line of expert horsemen.

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Fossil Creek: ‘Outstandingly remarkable’

Unique features dictate management

Who matters most?

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Cutting the baby in half

Forest Service grapples with no-win choices

Confronted with two women’s voracious conflicting demands for a disputed baby, King Solomon proposed cutting the infant neatly in half.

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Congressman lays out impeachment plan

Rep. Paul Gosar last week said he hopes Republicans can use a no-confidence vote and the threat of impeachment of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to force Senate Democrats to stay off the campaign trail in October.

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Monsoon hits home

Tonto Forest restrictions lifted

As the monsoon took hold this week, the Tonto National Forest lifted fire restrictions and the Coconino National Forest reopened Fossil Creek.