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4-H petting zoo at Tractor Supply launches season

Adam Diquattro jumped into his first year in 4-H with a steer he named Rado.

As an added challenge, Adam doesn’t live on a ranch.

“I really didn’t know anything about 4-H,” said the eighth-grader, “but since we live in Gisela, I wanted to learn how to work and celebrate livestock.”

What Adam does have, neighbor Cassie Lyman of Lyman Ranches. Her family has offered Adam a place to keep Rado, in addition to offering lots of coaching, even when Adam started his steer training with a broken leg.

“I never thought I could lead a steer,” said Adam.

Lyman has taken on running the 4-H livestock section of the local 4-H chapter. She hopes to help reinvigorate the program after a leadership turnover.

“Even if you live in town, you can show a guinea pig, rabbits, or chickens,” she said.

Contributed by Cassie Lyman 

Elias Lyman holds a little one enchanted by the chicken Lucky riding on the back of Muddy, the pot bellied pig.

Or, if an adult takes on leading a group, 4-H students can learn about archery, photography, robotics, food and nutrition, woodworking, plus many other topics.

“It’s about youth development around a project they desire to learn about,” said Lyman.

The petting zoo outside of the Tractor Supply on April 6, introduced kids to public speaking, responsibility, and leadership.

The petting zoo also wrapped up the Tractor Supply National Paper Clover campaign. Each year, Tractor Supply helps 4-H programs around the country raise money for programs by selling paper clovers. Past campaigns have raised more than $1 million to support local 4-H programs.

At a year and half old, Rado enjoyed his first public appearance.

“He’s been doing better than I thought,” said Adam.

For information or to enroll, visit or contact Renee Carstens at 928-978-8511, 928-402-4384 or

Part 2 in a series on suicide
Cheryl's Story: dealing with years of chronic pain

Debbie would see her sister Cheryl stand in the bathroom, press a towel to her face and scream.

The chronic pain Cheryl lived with for four years was often more than she could bear.

“She had a stroke at 54,” said Debbie. “She came back 85 percent. After about eight months, the nerve pain started.”

Cheryl’s nerve pain migrated from her neck to her entire body. She told Debbie it felt like she was being tased. Only over and over — every day.

Over the next three years, they consulted dozens of doctors, specialists, pain clinics, and alternative medicine providers. Cheryl spent thousands of dollars on tests and treatments, but her pain persisted.

On Dec. 8, Cheryl became the latest victim in a national public health crisis.

Gila County has the third highest suicide rate in Arizona, based on the Arizona Department of Health Services’ most recent report.

Rural residents are three times more likely to die from suicide than residents in urban settings.

A physical health problem is a significant risk factor for suicide, together with relationship problems, substance abuse, a recent crisis, financial problems, legal issues and homelessness.

Research shows that a combination of factors often leads to suicide. There is no single cause, studies say.

A pain specialist prescribed Cheryl opioids. They didn’t make the pain go away, but Cheryl became addicted.

“She got herself off the opioids,” said Debbie. “She was so strong when I think about it.”

Debbie’s role as Cheryl’s full-time caregiver took its toll. They were both trapped in Cheryl’s pain, reaching for a miracle that eluded them.

“She was terrified of the pain,” said Debbie, “knowing that even if she got a reprieve, it was coming back.”

Cheryl’s financial resources dwindled as they continued to search for relief for her pain.

“We were in the ER several times over the past year because the pain would be in her head, she felt like her head would explode,” said Debbie. “They would do the typical brain scans. They saw where she had the stroke, but nothing else.”

In August 2018, Cheryl attempted suicide, using the only two prescription drugs she still had. She survived, but afterward doctors would no longer prescribe pain medication of any kind.

It had been four years since the nerve pain began.

“One day Cheryl woke up and for some reason the pain had stopped,” said Debbie.

For the first time she was pain free for 10 days, but it didn’t last. The pain returned with a vengeance.

“Hospitals do not treat chronic pain in the ER,” said Debbie. “One time she went in, she was told she should not have come. She was wasting resources. Endangering the doctor’s license. She didn’t belong there.”

One time Cheryl told doctors she had a pinched bowel. It had happened before, so they took her in. She knew it was wrong, but she didn’t know what else to do, Debbie said.

There had to be a way to stop the pain.

Tests revealed there was no pinched bowel. They discharged her.

On Dec. 8, Cheryl drove herself to a bridge east of town and stepped off.

Debbie was driving to Phoenix to visit her brother who has cancer, when Cheryl died.

Four months later, Debbie has found some peace that Cheryl is no longer suffering, but said, “I’m angry and heartbroken that Cheryl felt she had no other choice.”

Transforming stigma

Arizona’s suicide rates rose 17 percent from 1999 to 2016, according the Centers for Disease Control’s most recent report.

The stigma surrounding those who attempt it, and those left behind, often prevents people from reaching out to find the help they need or even knowing where to look, experts say.

For this series, the Roundup interviewed half a dozen people, including therapists, medical officials, people who have lost someone to suicide and those working to prevent suicide.

All agreed that suicide is often something people think will happen to someone else. Someone else’s family. Someone else’s friend.

Except it isn’t.

Suicide can affect anyone.

Statistics are useful in determining the scope of the problem, but not how to resolve it.

Each number represents a person’s story, a life lost, and the ripple effect that goes out through family, friends, partners, co-workers and the community.

Not all suicides can be prevented, but many can through education, empathy and action, experts say.

The first step is to recognize the warning signs and reach out.

Trust and community

Every conversation about suicide involves trust. Trust is built on connection, openness, honesty and respect, said John Schuderer, chair of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Yavapai County.

Becoming more aware, understanding and proactive in supporting those who may be suicidal is a first step.

Building a connected community where people are invested in the life and well-being of others — even those who are different — is the next.

If people get to know one another on a deeper level and foster relationships of trust and openness, they can recognize the need for intervention sooner. Becoming aware of the resources and support systems in a community can help others connect with the help they need.

Future articles will discuss prevention, intervention and support options for those bereaved by suicide.

Travel management
Forest Service releases environmental impact statement for motorized travel

After a decade of study and re-study, the Tonto National Forest has released the latest — and maybe final — version of its plan to protect the forest by limiting off-roaders to a network of 6,000 established miles of roads and trails.

Among other things, the draft of the final plan would ban off-roaders from most of the Payson Area Trail System (PATS), a move designed to protect the popular system of hiking and bike riding trails.

Payson has long sought to turn the network of trails on Forest Service land on the outskirts of town into a first-class tourist amenity, but many of the trails are deeply rutted as a result of heavy off-road use and years of neglect.

The release of the draft supplemental environmental impact statement last week added 76 miles of road to the system open to the public, plus another 50 miles of roads and trails left open to administrative use. The additions came after the Forest Service went through a time-consuming decision-making process in response to 13 objections filed to the 2016 proposal. The review resulted in a change of about 2 percent of the road and trail designations.

The “revised alternative C” would leave open to public use 3,000 miles of roads and nearly 3,000 miles of motorized trails.

The plan would close to the public another 3,000 miles of roads and trails, many of then tracks through the forest created by repeated use by cross-country riders.

The plan would also bar cross-country travel, with the exception of elk and bear hunters retrieving their kill within a mile of a road and some cross-country travel to reach campsites. The plan calls for the establishment of two large areas designated for continued, cross-country travel on the outskirts of the Valley — what amount to free-play zones for off-roaders.

The biggest gain came in the form of an interactive, online map showing the route and designation of some 6,000 miles of roads and trails across the 2.8-million-acre forest, which stretches from the outskirts of Phoenix to the Mogollon Rim. The Tonto National Forest remains one of the most visited in the nation, with huge off-road use. About 4.8 million people live within an hour’s drive of the forest.

To see the map, go to this story on the Roundup’s website and click on the link. You can zoom in from a view of the whole forest to look at sections of individual trails. Put the cursor on the line of the trail and a popup window gives the status of that route.

The release of the supplemental environmental statement triggers a new, 45-day comment period — with topics limited to the changes based on the 13 objections lodged in 2016.

Congress back in 2005 ordered every national forest in the country to come up with a plan to prevent the unrestrained, cross-country travel.

The Tonto National Forest is the last forest in Arizona to come up with its plan.

The proposed road network leaves most of the forest within a mile of a public use road, with the exceptions mostly limited to a few wilderness areas.

Past versions of the plan have drawn fire from all sides. Off-roaders have objected to attempts to close hundreds of miles of existing, mostly use-created, roads and trails. Environmental groups have objected that the proposed plans have left a dense network of roads criss-crossing every area of the forest.

The latest version of the plan seems unlikely to satisfy either group, with the addition of 125 miles of open roads and trails.

The list of alternatives ranged from a low-use “Alternative B” with about 2,500 miles of roads left open to the public to the heavy use “Alternative D” with 5,000 miles of roads left open. The middle ground “Alternative C revised” emerged as the preferred alternative — with 3,000 miles of roads plus 3,000 miles of trails.

The draft environmental statement acknowledged the difficulty of balancing incompatible uses. Any off-road use affects erosion, wildlife and archaeological sites. Moreover, horseback riders and hikers and mountain bikers all prefer their own trails where they don’t have to compete with noisy off-roaders.

The impact statement authors commented, “The courts have recognized that if minimizing environmental impacts were the sole or overriding criteria for travel planning, the simple solution is to eliminate all motorized travel. However, the task before forest managers is not absolute minimization, but optimizing public access while still providing crucial protection for environmental and cultural resources.”

However, a coalition of environmental groups had previously blasted the 2016 version of the plan. The Southwest Center for Biological Diversity, Archaeology Southwest, the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society and Wildearth Guardians filed a joint objection, saying the plan failed to consider the cumulative impact of leaving 6,000 miles of roads and trails open to unlimited motorized use.

“This action, which is forestwide in scope and will significantly affect nearly all resources on the Tonto National Forest, was evaluated through the use of only four alternatives. There is no indication that alternatives were developed in response to environmental or resource impact concerns, rather they were developed to allow the public to respond to various degrees of motorized use, limiting the ability of the public to advocate for protection of specific resources,” wrote Katie Davis, on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity.

The two-year review attempted to address some of those concerns, with sections on the issues like air pollution. The Forest Service reviewed the recommendations for about two-thirds of the designations. This resulted in dropping about 500 miles of roads and trails and adding about 600 miles of roads and trails, with the net gain of roughly 125 miles of roads and trails open to the public or administrative use.

The review also dropped almost all of the PATS trails system from the motorized trails system, leaving the door open to Payson’s long-time plan to turn the PATS system into a major tourist amenity.

Contact the writer at

Casino gives area charities $26,000-plus

Rim Country charities give to area residents in need throughout the year.

This month, they were the beneficiaries thanks to the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino and Tonto Apache Tribe.

The casino gave $26,401 to 52 area non-profits in a ceremony Friday, April 5.

This is the biggest group ever to get money from the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino’s charity funding program, according to Patricia Wisner, who coordinates the program.

It was the idea of Hubert Nanty, general manager of the casino, she said.

Nanty explained the Tonto Apache Tribe’s gaming compact with the state allows it to give away unclaimed winnings. This occurs when people who the casino has banned, due to a variety of issues, come back and gamble anyway.

Last fall, one of these individuals won a $20,000 jackpot. Since they were excluded, they could not claim the funds.

Casino officials decided to put the money into the charity fund, bringing the total to more than $26,000.

Recipients included groups from throughout the Rim Country.

Each group received a check for $507.73.

Wisner asked several groups how the money would be used.

Some will add the funds to their scholarship programs while others will use it to buy food.

• At Community Presbyterian Church, the money will go into the Deacons Fund and provide food for 100 families.

• The Diocesan Council for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul will use it to give eight families boxes of food.

• Payson Community Kids will use the money to keep its facility open on Fridays in June and provide breakfast and lunch to participating children.

• The Payson Senior Center can use it to provide 66 Meals on Wheels dinners or make 27 door-to-door trips through its senior transportation program.

• The Senior Citizens Affairs (Pine-Strawberry) plans to use the money for Meals on Wheels and to provide lunches at the senior dining room at the Pine-Strawberry Community Center as well as provide community assistance with emergencies.

Both the Humane Society of Central Arizona and the Payson Area Woofers Society (PAWS) plan to use the money to do spay and neuter services; the Humane Society will use it for 15 dogs and cats and also provide them with vaccinations and microchips.