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Area medical marijuana dispensary changes name, plans expansion

More than five years after opening the only medical marijuana facility in northern Gila County, Untamed Herbs is ready to grow.

Recently, the company came before Payson’s community development to discuss plans to add a 40,000-square-foot greenhouse facility and increase security at its current location at 200 N. Tonto St.

Founder Andrew Provencio said work should begin the second quarter of 2019 and be completed by the third quarter of 2019.

“We anticipate the total number of employees for the improvements to add 20 to 30 employees in 2019 as we ramp up,” he said. “These jobs will first be offered to current employees with the hiring process of additional employees in the second quarter.”

The expansion is needed in part to keep up with growing demand for the dispensary’s products, including cannabidiol or CBD items.

The dispensary already sees about 4,000 medical marijuana patients monthly. Overall retail sales and the number of patients has increased 20 percent every year, he said.

And last year, CBD sales increased more than 200 percent at Untamed Herbs.

CBD is a compound of the Cannabis sativa plant that does not make a user feel high like THC, but reportedly delivers all the benefits, helping with everything from insomnia and anxiety to arthritis.

Since Provencio’s return to the operation’s management in December 2017, Untamed Herbs has expanded its CBD product line, including Desert AZEE CBD, a national brand.

“There are multiple claims for medical relief made possible with this product. Since the FDA will not allow us to make any claims, we can say this — we source our CBD from United States of America hemp farms. We always use full spectrum oil for all of our product lines except Isolate. Ask for our tests,” Provencio wrote.

Commercialized hemp production has been legal since President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill.

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration approved a cannabidiol-based drug called Epidiolex as a treatment for severe forms of epilepsy — the first government-sanctioned medical use for CBD.

At Untamed Herbs, products include neuropathy salve; tinctures; CBD vape pens; gel caps; lip balm; gummies and soon, topical face serum and CBD pre-rolls.

There is also a line of CBD pet products.

“We are in the planning phase for a CBD store in Payson at the corner of Main Street and Highway 87 in the log building. It will be called the Payson CBD Outpost & General Store,” said Provencio, who is president of Desert Medical Campus, which owns the operation.

While expansion plans are in the works, the company recently went ahead and changed its name. The original Uncle Herbs name was dropped for Untamed Herbs.

“We felt it better described our community and our vision of having a wild, natural organic venue reflecting the town of Payson and our customers,” Provencio said. “We kept our Uncle Herbs infused product line that sells in more than 60 dispensaries throughout Arizona.”

There were some concerns Provencio would move the dispensary to the Valley, but so far, the dispensary is staying put.

“We are committed to maintaining a strong presence in Payson,” he said. “We invested more than a million dollars in equipment in 2018, staff training and improvements.”

Provencio recently signed on new business partners, which will invest $4 million into the grow and extraction facility in the next six months.

“We love our Payson customers and always try to provide the best, safe medicine available.”

For more information, visit

Use code “PaysonCBD” for 20 percent off.


Active Shooter Response Training

Imagine there is an active shooter in your building. You and 15 co-workers are hiding in the copy room, the copier used to barricade the door. The sound of gunfire grows closer.

Suddenly, the familiar voice of a co-worker begs to be let in. What do you do? Do you let them in?

According to Terry Staten, special agent for the Arizona Department of Gaming, the answer is no.

Why? Because opening the door could attract the shooter’s attention or it could be a trap with the shooter using the employee to gain access to the room.

This was a scary scenario Staten presented during active shooter training held at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino Jan. 28.

This training was given on the heels of an armed robbery perpetrated by two former employees at Mazatzal Hotel & Casino last year. The robbers, who fired shots during the robbery, were later arrested and charged with Hobbs Act robbery. No one was injured.

Along with Staten, Arizona Department of Gaming’s special agent Ryan Winfield discussed how to survive a shooting event.

“Active shooter incidents (ASIs) are no longer isolated incidents,” the agents said. “They happen just about everywhere and if a business does not have a plan in place, they need to get one.”

These incidents are unpredictable and evolve quickly, with the victims often random with no connection to the suspect.

“I don’t think any place is immune,” said Staten.

It is unusual for people to “just snap.” Attackers often spend months studying previous attacks, devising their own plan and amassing weapons.

In the first 28 days of 2019, there were 27 mass shootings, according to the website, Gun Violence Archive.

There are three time-tested emergency responses to an active shooter situation: Run, hide, fight.

If possible, identify a safe exit and encourage others to leave the building. Notify 911. They will need to know the location and number of the attacker(s), physical descriptions, type of weapon and number of victims injured or killed.

If not, find a room with a door you can lock and/or barricade. Turn off all audible cell phone alerts. Keep silent. Identify items in the room that can be used in self-defense. Avoid windows and doors.

“If the shooter breaks into the room, you’ll have to fight,” said Staten. “Use whatever methods possible to disarm and disable the shooter until law enforcement arrives.”

Law enforcement

response time

Depending on your location, response time can vary and the 911 system can get overloaded when calls start pouring in.

“The whole Payson area shares the same 911 system,” Staten said. “Imagine how easily the system could be overloaded with an attack at the casino when the rodeo is going on, for example.”


“Prevention is key,” the agents said. “If you see something, say something.”

Saying nothing because “I don’t want to get involved” can cost lives.

It’s important to become aware of the environment and those who share it. For example, how many potential exits were there in the last public building you entered?

Social media has become a breeding ground for extremism including online threats of violence, and other red flags. Users who identify patterns of violent and aggressive posts, weapons research and stated intent should report them to law enforcement.

A person’s abrupt change in appearance can be a warning. Do they suddenly look disheveled, with poor hygiene? Has their affect changed from professional, social and communicative to withdrawn, monosyllabic and despondent? Have they become aggressive?

We can do a better job of reaching out to one another when we notice these or more subtle changes and intervene before things get out of hand.

Numerous ASIs have been prevented by people reporting changes in behavior.

In 81 percent of school shootings, the attacker told at least one person before the attack. In 59 percent of ASIs two other individuals had information prior to attack.

How many lives could have been saved if they had told law enforcement?

Be Prepared —

Proactive Plan

Have a designated gathering area, preplanned evacuation route and safe areas to shelter in place.

  • Supervisor get a headcount.
  • Lock and barricade doors.
  • Prepare employees to respond effectively and evacuate to safety (prior training exercises).
  • Have an emergency action plan in place including an emergency notification system.
  • Follow instructions of law enforcement personnel arriving on the scene.
  • Have a Go Bag prepared in advance for a designated person to hand to law enforcement.

“A Go Bag should contain a master key to all building doors and offices, floor plans to individual floors and crawl spaces, said Staten, “and elevator keys with locations for elevator control switches, and the power control boxes with access keys.”

A seminar participant asked, “What happens if the attacker is an ex employee and knows the emergency action plan?”

Staten responded, “Then change the plan.”

When law enforcement arrives:

  • Keep both hands visible and avoid making sudden movements.
  • Do not engage officers responding to the threat, there will be assistance available after evacuation.
  • Provide information to officers when it is safe to do so (there will be a safe location where law enforcement will debrief survivors and obtain information).
  • Knowing what to expect will assist law enforcement personnel as they work to eliminate the threat

Who is committing these acts of gun violence?

Based on analysis of incidents examined by the FBI and NYPD, they are 95 percent male, 5 percent female, with a median age of 35 (schools 15-19) and 98 percent are single attackers.

Profiles of attackers include the mentally ill, terrorists, students (who may feel they have been bullied or unheard), domestic violence and workplace violence (disgruntled terminated employees, or disagreements between co-workers). They may be in dire financial straits, have suicidal ideation, be victims of extreme abuse.

They may be children.

Co-presenter Ryan Winfield told of a 15-year-old’s plan to blow up the classroom with himself in it. The plan was foiled by an observant teacher who saw him drawing nuclear bombs. Crisis intervention was brought in, a court order obtained for lengthy treatment.

“It was eerie,” said Winfield, “15 years old. It was eye-opening for me this kid had planned the whole thing.”

Attackers can be divided into five categories, according to Staten, with motives including anger, revenge, terrorism, ideology or mental illness.

They can be co-workers, classmates, family members, or have no connection with the victims. The location itself can be the target.

“Be alert to your surroundings,” said Winfield. “If something doesn’t look right, grab somebody and let them know. You are the eyes and ears for law enforcement.”

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Operation Payson Warming Center a go

Moving as quickly as bureaucracy will allow, homeless advocate Doug Stewart will put up a short-lived tent shelter on Frontier Street by the end of February to house and feed Payson’s homeless population.

He received a temporary use permit in mid-January from the Town of Payson Community Development Department for the six-week project.

“The basic premise of it is simple,” Stewart told town staff, “erect a military style tent, with the help of Sgt. Van Camp ... to assess and collect data for the town and Gila County and keep people warm.”

Payson Mayor Tom Morrissey has repeatedly said solving the homeless problem tops his priority list.

“What this is, we are taking care of people that need help,” said Morrissey. “It’s not like we’re bringing zombies into the neighborhood.”

Stewart stressed the program is short term.

“We want to get people in there to fill out intakes to answer how long and why they are homeless,” said Stewart. “There is a bigger picture to this small story.”

Due to a lack of statistics, Gila County is the only county in Arizona not receiving homeless service grants from the Housing and Urban Development.

This year, HUD awarded $38.5 million for 77 Continuum of Care Renewal Grants in Arizona.

“HUD continues to challenge state and local planning organizations called “Continuums of Care” to support their highest performing local programs that have proven most effective in meeting the needs of persons enduring homelessness in their communities,” wrote HUD in a press release.

In its Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, HUD found that 552,830 people went without shelter on a single night in 2018 — a slight increase from last year.

The good news? Fewer families with children and veterans live on the street.

That leaves a demographic Stewart plans on identifying then finding services to help.

The project has the full support of first responders.

“We obviously support this project,” said Payson Police Chief Don Engler at the Community Development meeting. “Good statistics not only help the town, but the county. I think this is a real positive project. Doug works real closely with us.”

The temporary project has a safety plan. Fire has signed off on the evacuation plan. The location offers water and power, in addition to more security.

Local churches and volunteer organizations will feed the homeless.

By 6:30 a.m. volunteers will release children to catch school buses.

Otherwise, Stewart and his volunteers will have the tent secured and monitored all night.

“One of the things you are trying to do is control a homeless shelter,” he said. “We are not going to have people walking up and down Frontier ... we don’t want angry parents and neighbors. We want to respect our neighbors,” said Stewart.

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Student hit in crosswalk

Police cited a driver Wednesday after they hit a sixth grader student leaving Rim Country Middle School.

Shawna Daniels hit the student while the teen was in the crosswalk near South Meadow Street and West Bonita Street, just after school let out at 1:30 p.m., said Police Chief Don Engler.

The impact knocked the teen to the ground, but she was able to get up and had only minor injuries. Paramedics treated and released her on scene, Engler said.

Daniels reportedly told officers another vehicle had restricted her view in the congested area outside the school and she did not see the teen until she was in front of her vehicle.

The impact happened at a low speed. Daniels was cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

The school reportedly has an after-school attendant to help students cross safely, but the person was not in the area at the time, Engler said.

While there is a crosswalk, lights and signage in the area, some parents have complained additional sidewalks are needed in the surrounding streets, including Bonita Street.

Currently, there are no walkway improvements scheduled near the high school or middle school, said Sheila DeSchaaf, director of Payson Public Works, Planning and Development.

An additional crosswalk is planned in the area of Julia Randall Elementary School across West Main Street in conjunction with a slurry seal/restriping project later this year. Crosswalks were added on South Green Valley Parkway at Lake Drive near the main entry to JRE this past spring/summer, she said.

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