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Pete Aleshire

Stories by Pete

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Blue Ridge Reservoir nearly empty

Normal winter will refill it as SRP seeks water contracts

The Salt River Project continues to seek water rights agreements with communities along the East Verde River for a share of water from the still nearly empty Blue Ridge Reservoir.

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Pine water district hears gush of good news

But problems with leaks, maintenance costs remain an ongoing challenge

You got your good news — and your bad news: Which do you want to hear first?

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Well owner wants to make a deal

Pine landowner wants water district to invest $400,000 for wells

Pine landowner Mark Fumusa made a polished pitch to the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District board in an attempt to convince the district to spend $400,000 to buy two shallow wells and partner on a new, deep well.

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Range for Mexican gray wolves includes Rim Country

Final federal reintroduction rules satisfy state, upset conservation groups

The federal government this week finalized a plan to increase the range of endangered Mexican gray wolves tenfold, a shift that could bring the beleaguered predators to Rim Country.

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Pine-Strawberry water board, contractor ready to kiss and make up

Looks like they’re ready to kiss and make up.

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Only prisons escape state budget woes

Governor wants tax cuts, hiring freeze, education cutbacks

Faced with a projected budget deficit, Gov. Doug Ducey has proposed a virtual freeze in state spending and cuts for most state programs, with the notable exception of prisons.

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Reforms aired

Gov. Ducey wants civics, more space in charters

Newly inaugurated Gov. Doug Ducey this week promised to reform the state’s schools by shifting more students to the highest performing charter schools, requiring students to pass a civics test and reducing administrative costs.

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Where the world began — and ended

Preshistoric Verde Valley evokes world of Sinagua

I sat on the shore of the place where the world begin, and watched it steam in the cold light of dawn.

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Economy mends

Payson sales rise 8 percent, building permits up 58 percent

Rim Country’s economy continued to register strong gain, outperforming the weakening statewide figures, according to Payson’s monthly budget tracking report for December.

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Gentle snowstorm

Ski resorts happy, but snow, rain barely dent drought

A laid-back winter storm brought just short of half an inch of rain to Payson Sunday and Monday, with an 80 percent chance for rain today, dropping to 40 percent by tonight.

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State vows lawsuit to stop wolf plan

Game and Fish disputes expansion of range to Rim Country

The battle to prevent the expansion of the range of the endangered Mexican gray wolf took another turn this week with word of a lawsuit by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

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Contractor takes new step forward for historic forest plan

Partnership to produce 60,000 pounds of compost annually

It ain’t jet fuel. But it’s progress.

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The whisper of angels

Dawn revealed a strange kingdom — a frigid fairyland.

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Working poor may lose care

Supreme Court allows lawsuit on AHCCCS expansion

The Arizona Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for a lawsuit filed by lawmakers seeking to roll back expanded eligibility for medical care for the working poor.

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Snow play lures slew of visitors

A transportation nightmare turned into a tourist triumph for Rim Country over the New Year’s holiday.

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4FRI thinning project makes substantial gains

After years of frustrating delay, the U.S. Forest Service this year made solid progress in launching an effort to thin dangerously overgrown forests — at no cost to taxpayers.

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Fire building codes year in review

In the 18 months since the Yarnell Hill Fire killed 19 firefighters trying to protect a woefully unprepared community, Payson and Gila County have taken few actions to avert a similar tragedy here.

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University project makes big gains until civil war breaks out

The heroic, bewildering, vital, baffling effort to build a university campus in Payson lurched through 2014.

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Rim Country’s 2014 struggles set stage for 2015

Roundup recaps key news stories of last year

It wasn’t really the best of times. But it was way better than the worst of times.

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Alliance signs contract

University plans being drawn up

The contract’s signed — now all they need is money.

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Empathy, yawns and thumbs

A writer and a dog explore their relationship on the banks of the East Verde

Teetering along on two legs, I flounder through the streamside brush and over the crafty cobbles somewhere on the East Verde.

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Another endangered streamside bird

Plan to list yellow-billed cuckcoo could further protect and restrict Rim riparian areas

They’re devoted, cold-blooded parents.

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4FRI thinning project lurches into motion

In a major step forward for the best hope of protecting Northern Arizona communities from wildfire, Good Earth Power AZ, LLC (GEPAZ) signed a lease to build a small-tree lumber mill on a 37-are parcel in Williams.

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State support plunges, so tuition soars

Report underscores value of Payson’s low-cost university plan

Arizona cut public support for universities and so drove up tuition at one of the highest rates in the country between 2007 and 2012, according to a just-released analysis by the College Board Advocacy and Policy Center.

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Forest Service score: 300,000 acres treated

Restoring forests now dominates management goals

Forest Service restoration projects in Northern Arizona have treated 300,000 acres since the launch of the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) in 2010, according to the latest annual tally of the program’s accomplishments.

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Latest figures show local economy better than statewide

Sales tax collections growing a bit faster

Rim Country’s economy continues to perk along a little better than the statewide economy, according to the latest financial tracking report from Payson.

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University plan bombshell hits

Contract OK’d as Alliance chair resigns

One bombshell and one move forward.

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Lashed by the storm

Rim Country Archaeological Society finds joy and mystery in the ruins of Chaco Canyon

Ed Spicer stood on the cliff edge, overlooking the 800-year-old ruins of Pueblo Bonito, once the mystic center of an ancient world. A genial fighter pilot with artificial knees, an inexhaustible sense of adventure and an insatiable curiosity, Ed dubiously surveyed the rain clouds gathering south of Chaco Canyon.

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Christmas light show!

On Saturday, Payson staged a small-town celebration of Christmas that featured the cheer, joy and companionship of the season.

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Spirit of Christmas hits a high note

An exuberant assortment of angle-voiced singers, passionate musicians, bouncing gymnasts, costumed super heroes, cute-as-a-button ninjas and loving families welcomed the season Sunday with a joyful rendering of the “Spirit of Christmas.”

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School funds ‘impossible’

The Legislature and school advocates remain far apart when it comes to complying with a court order to adjust school budgets for inflation, according to recent testimony in the state’s appeal of the court order.

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Alliance board meets again to consider development contract

The Rim Country Educational Alliance board will meet next Thursday to consider a contract with DCK Global to buy a $4.1 million Forest Service parcel and draw up plans to build a 6,000-student university in Payson, according to Chairman Steve Drury.

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Forecasts suggest wet winter ahead

Arizona may enjoy more heavy snowfall

The planet should brace for far more of the kinds of extreme El Niño events that in 1997-98 brought droughts, floods and fires worldwide — but near-record snow and rainfall in Arizona, according to recently published research.

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Worse to come

More megadroughts likely

Most of Arizona remains mired in drought despite a 50 percent chance of rain for the next three days, with a growing body of research suggesting we’d best get used to it.

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Chasing Ghosts

A silent battlefield, a chance encounter and a mysterious name inspire writer’s quest for lost family history

I stood in the late light on the lush green swale where the Union line broke from ego and pride and bad luck on Sept. 20 of 1863 on the battlefield of Chickamauga.

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Programs can cut risk

But most Rim Country communities still woefully unprepared for wildfire

Cost sharing programs work great when it comes to convincing people to reduce brush and wildfire dangers around their homes, but only when people understand what they have to do, according to a recent study in Colorado.

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Historic study draws praise, support

4FRI environmental assessment focuses on massive thinning

The historic draft of an environmental impact statement (EIS) for perhaps the largest logging project in history has already drawn high marks, even from environmental groups.

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Evans steps away

Says he’ll leave university land purchase to the Alliance board

Assured the Rim Country Educational Alliance has the money to buy a 253-acre Forest Service parcel for a university campus, Payson Mayor Kenny Evans has apparently backed away from a plan for the Rim Country Educational Foundation to buy the land.

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Land purchase divides university backers

The festering conflict between Payson Mayor Kenny Evans and Rim Country Educational Alli­ance (SLE) Chairman Steve Drury broke into the open Thursday over contrasting plans for buying 253 acres to build a university campus in Payson.

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Thinning projects would yield water

Reducing tree densities could boost runoff by 20 percent

Thinning Northern Arizona’s forests could increase runoff by 20 percent, which would restore streams, wetlands, springs and produce more water for Phoenix and other cities, according to a just-completed study by researchers from Northern Arizona Univer­sity.

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Beautiful light

Rim Country photographers produce a scenic calendar to support food banks

Alarmed by the persistence of hunger in the community, The Rim Country Camera Club (R3C) this year produced a beautiful calender for 2015, which they’re selling now, with all proceeds going to area food banks.

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Moving forward

Alliance meeting slated to buy university land

The Rim Country Educational Alliance Board is scheduled to meet on Thursday to consider moving forward to purchase two parcels of Forest Service land totaling some 274 acres — 253 acres immediately and another 21 acres in about a year.

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Mayor announces university land purchase

In a press release Friday morning, Payson Mayor Kenny Evans announced plans to purchase a 250-acre Forest Service parcel as the site for a university campus.

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High stakes effort to prevent wildfires

County group hopes to jump-start stalled forest thinning process

Desperate to break a dangerous deadlock, Eastern Arizona Counties Association (EOC) has taken the plunge into the complex and politically charged effort to prevent catastrophic wildfires by thinning the forests.

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Marines remember

Birthday celebrated through laughter and tears

The hard-bitten prosecutor and combat veteran stood ramrod straight on his two artificial legs and struggled to speak.

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Payson’s economy perking along

Region outperforming state with strong gains in construction

Rim Country’s recovering economy continued to outperform the rest of the state in October as evidenced by figures in Payson’s monthly budget tracking report.

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Water, fire districts hold elections

The Tuesday elections brought new boards and new resolutions to old problems for a handful of Rim Country communities.

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Turnout determines election outcomes

“None of you bums” won a landslide victory at the polls on Tuesday.

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Republican sweep

All state offices, Legislature

Republicans swept state offices Tuesday and added to their already comfortable margins in the state House and Senate.

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Winter eagles return

Green Valley Park migrants once again delight onlookers

Payson’s very own bald eagles have returned to Green Valley Lake, part of a continent spanning migratory lifestyle that every year delights Rim Country residents.