Smoke being emitted from the Coldwater Fire just south of Clints Well and along the Beeline Highway has hovered over Pine-Strawberry for days causing burning eyes, runny noses and wheezing for some residents.

The wildfire, although it is being managed, is not as much of a worry as it might have been 15 years ago when the sight and smell of smoke was disconcerting.

During those years, the sage advice from longtime residents was to pack favorite belongings and place them beside the front door to ensure taking them along if there was an evacuation during a catastrophic wildfire. In those days the two tiny mountain hamlets were considered to be high fire danger zones primed for burning, especially after an insurance company structure assessment and protection team gave Pine-Strawberry only a 20 percent survival rate if a wildfire was to enter the communities. The area was ranked by the insurance industry a top-10 most dangerous place to live in the country and some underwriters refused to insure homes in Pine-Strawberry, especially Pine Creek Canyon.

That all began to change in 2004 when the Pine Strawberry Fuel Reduction Committee was formed to encourage citizens to work together to make P-S a safer place to live. Since then committee members have worked hand in hand with the Pine-Strawberry Fire Department and U.S. Forest Service to take a proactive role in fire education, mitigation and prevention projects.

Trail building has been one of the most important missions PSFR has undertaken. Mike Brandt, PSFR president and retired fire captain, points out that the trails give firefighters access to remote places where wildfires might be burning.

They also attract hikers, outdoorsmen and other visitors to the area giving PSFR more clout when it applies for grants.

Those interested in helping the trail building crews need only to show up on any workday, no experience required.

Participants need long pants, hat, gloves, water and a sack lunch; although on some workdays there are sponsored lunches.

Work on Trail 15, Pine-Strawberry Trail, began June 9 and will continue at 8 a.m., Wednesday, June 19 and the same time on Sunday, June 23.

Festival this weekend

With Valley area temperatures now climbing past the 100- degree mark, it’s almost a certainty flatlanders will flock to Pine-Strawberry June 15-16 for a cooling respite at the Pine-Strawberry Festival.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday at the community center.

There will be activities for the entire family including arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, strawberry treats and most important for the desert dwellers — cool mountain air.

More madness

The always popular Movie Madness events at the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library continue today, June 14, with the showing of “Space Dogs” and on Friday, June 21 when the movie of choice is “Wrinkle in Time.”

Both movies begin at 1 p.m.

The movie “Space Dogs” is G-rated and is 73 minutes; while “Wrinkle in Time” is rated PG and 115 minutes in length.

Refreshments will be provided and attendance is limited to 12. Call 928-476-3678 for details.

Nice job

Congratulations to Payson High School softball player Raci Miranda for being named to the 3A East first team, 3A All-State and the conference’s player of the year.

Only a sophomore, Miranda’s future is bright in her remaining two seasons and on to the college level.

On a somber note, her grandfather, Tom Weeks, died last fall and wasn’t able to see Miranda and her sister, Mercedes, excel in the sport.

Only about a week prior to his death, this scribe and Tom had a conversation about his two granddaughters and the sport itself. He was extremely proud of both and what they had accomplished.

At the library

Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library Director Becky Waer and Pine Library Friends are asking for gift card donations for the next benefit raffle.

“The variety of cards has always been great,” says Waer. “Once we receive (cards) we can begin selling raffle tickets at the library.”

The value of the cards is at the discretion of the owner. To donate, drop the cards off at the library. The raffle will be held at the annual Labor Day book sale.

Also at the library, readers of all ages, children to adults, may register online for the summer reading program “A Universe of Stories” at pinelibrary.azsummer The program began June 1 and will continue through Aug. 16.

“Earn great prizes,” says Waer.

The library, at 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, will host “Dr. T-Rex, Space Adventures in Science” in the library activity room. Dr. T-Rex is a well-versed paleontologist who relies on humor in his presentation.

CASA pleas for volunteers

During this scribe’s 37 years as a public school teacher, I worked hand in hand with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers as they looked after the welfare of students and worked to find them permanent homes.

Driven by a mission and a vision, the volunteers most often had a huge positive impact on the students’ welfare.

Today, CASA of Gila County is in need of advocates to be in children’s corners.

Their motto is “Because every child deserves a voice.”

To volunteer, call the Payson CASA office at 928-474-7145.

Thought for the week

“A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.”

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