Bill would earmark court-ordered inflation money to restore funding
Rep. Brenda Barton (R-Payson) this week toured a Phoenix kindergarten class to highlight her bill requiring schools to offer all-day kindergarten if they get money from a settlement with the state concerning illegally withheld inflation funding.
Diabetes, obesity, smoking, mental health, cost of care pose health crisis
Gila County residents die sooner and suffer more health problems due to obesity, diabetes, teen pregnancy and smoking than residents in the rest of the state or nation, according to a survey of the health status of the county’s 53,000 residents.
Key groups endorse 4FRI prescription
The Forest Service blueprint for restoring millions of acres of densely overgrown, fire-prone ponderosa pine forest has won a vital endorsement from a group of expert skeptics.
Superintendent Wyman details possible impact of new laws
Payson Unified School District Superintendent Greg Wyman on Monday offered the school board a quick survey of a host of bills racing through the Legislature that could have a big impact on schools this year — quite aside from the enormous potential impact of Gov. Doug Ducey’s proposed budget.
‘Constitutional crisis’ hinges on court mediation
School districts battling to force the Legislature to provide illegally withheld inflation funding have agreed to closed-door mediation sessions in front of a panel of appeals court judges.
Payson financial figures suggest slowdown in once sharply recovering construction sector
Rim Country’s economy cooled a bit in November and December, according to Payson’s latest financial tracking report.
A nearly snowless January has given way to a warm, dry February, triggering alarms all across the West as a result of the thin snowpack.
Sen. Allen bill may ‘gut’ open meeting law
Sen. Sylvia Allen, who represents Rim Country, has proposed a controversial bill critics say would “gut” the state’s open meeting laws that require lawmakers at all levels to debate and make public policy in open, public meetings.
Budget woes, standards debate threaten schools
The battle against the adoption of federal standards and the tests linked to the standards has resumed now that the dust of the election has settled.
Assorted state lawmakers have once again launched an assault on photo radar traffic tickets, which still provide Star Valley with nearly $1 million annually.
No telling how many hours Larry Hinds Jr. has spent casting his line into the still waters of Green Valley Lake.
Can intensive grazing remedy invasive grass seeding blunder?
Here’s a pottery barn approach to meddling with ecosystems: You broke it, you fix it.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Looks like they’re ready to kiss and make up.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Partnership to produce 60,000 pounds of compost annually
It ain’t jet fuel. But it’s progress.
Dawn revealed a strange kingdom — a frigid fairyland.
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.
A transportation nightmare turned into a tourist triumph for Rim Country over the New Year’s holiday.
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.
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.
The heroic, bewildering, vital, baffling effort to build a university campus in Payson lurched through 2014.
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.
University plans being drawn up
The contract’s signed — now all they need is money.
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.
Plan to list yellow-billed cuckcoo could further protect and restrict Rim riparian areas
They’re devoted, cold-blooded parents.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Contract OK’d as Alliance chair resigns
One bombshell and one move forward.
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.
On Saturday, Payson staged a small-town celebration of Christmas that featured the cheer, joy and companionship of the season.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.