Batten down the hatches, bar the doors or run for cover, whichever is best in dealing with the flocks of flatlanders and desert dwellers clustering in Pine-Strawberry Friday, July 6 and Sunday, July 7, to cavort in the 39th Annual Fourth of July Festival sponsored by the Arts and Crafts Guild.

The festival will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. the following day.

Guild members are expecting good-sized crowds knowing the Independence Day event is one of the best attended of the five festivals held each summer and fall.

Juried arts and crafts vendors will hawk their wares while food vendors dole out their scrumptious fair-type foods. Live entertainment is certain to amp up the festivities a notch or two, especially if the hometown musical duo of Trouble in Paradise is cranking out their soulful tunes.

Most importantly about the festival, money earned is donated to non-profit organizations in the two towns.

Past recipients have included the Pine-Strawberry Fire Fighters Association, food bank, Community Education, Recreation, Cultural Association (CERCA), Senior Citizens Affairs Foundation (SCAF), Tonto Rim Search and Rescue and others.

The best hope for mountain folk is low-landers who visit for the fireworks in Payson or the festival and more in Pine-Strawberry heed the fire restrictions that have been put in place by the Tonto National Forest and the fire district.

Those of us who live in the thick ponderosa forest at the foot of the Rim have most likely witnessed visitors blatantly ignoring fire restrictions. As citizens, it’s our duty to report any infractions we notice.

Those who see smoke, fire, burning, charcoal grills, smoking outside, use of outdoor fire pits or setting off fireworks are asked to report the incident immediately to either the Pine, 928-476-4272, or Strawberry, 928-476-2313, fire stations.

School earns an A

Pine-Strawberry residents, especially parents, should be extremely proud that the local school has received an A rating from the Arizona Department of Education.

Gila County Superintendent Roy Sandoval, at a school year ending board meeting, presented a plaque to school administrators and board members signifying the achievement.

The state rating system measures year-to-year student academic growth and proficiency in language arts, math and science before doling out grades to all Arizona schools.

The grading system was instituted to meet the standards of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

Trail work continues

Pine Strawberry Fuel Reduction Trails Committee members will gather at 8 a.m., Sunday, June 30 at the Mohawk entrance in Cool Pines to complete trail maintenance in the area.

Those who don’t know the way to the site should meet volunteers by the electric sign at Ponderosa Market for directions or to carpool. Volunteers should bring their own water and wear long sleeved shirts, long pants and bring along a pair of gloves.

Davis steps down

Congratulations to friend Bobby Davis for his decision to finally retire to spend more time with his family.

Bobby submitted his resignation on June 13 as the Town of Payson’s economic development specialist.

Bobby and I worked alongside one another for years when he was the advertising director for the Payson Roundup and I was the paper’s sports editor.

A former Marine and Texas high school standout football player, Bobby is a genuinely good man; the kind you’re proud to call a friend.

From our conversations, it’s obvious Bobby has worked hard over the decades at a myriad of challenging jobs.

It’s time now for him to kick back and enjoy.

Some of this old football coach’s favorite moments were talking with Bobby about the sport in Texas where high school football is more of a religion than a game.

The trappings of Texas football game travel in chartered airlines, playing in pro and college stadiums in front of thousands, coaching as a full-time well-paying job (no classroom teaching) and lucrative scholarships to D-1 universities — exist in only dreams of Arizona high school coaches.

In bidding Bobby best wishes, I’ll pirate the memorable mantra from “Friday Night Lights,” a nonfiction book that documented prep football in Texas — “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”

At the library

The popular Movie Madness events at the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library return at 1 p.m., Wednesday, July 17 with the showing “Lego Movie — The Second Part.”

The movie is not rated and is 107 minutes in length. Seating is limited to 12 and refreshments will be served.

Library Director Becky Waer is inviting patrons and others, to help celebrate the Grand Canyon’s centennial celebration by piecing together a “community puzzle for all” now in place in the young adults section.

Also Waer and Pine Library Friends members are asking for gift card donations for the next benefit raffle.

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

Waer also recommends townspeople consider registering online for the summer reading program “A Universe of Stories” at The program, open to all ages, child to adult, began June 1 and will continue through Aug. 16.

Thought for the week

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” – Martin Luther King

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