Pine column

Gary Morris, P-S fire chief, was honored with a national award for implementing procedures to make firefighters safer when fighting basement fires.

Pine-Strawberry Fire Chief Gary Morris was a bit startled when he learned he was the recipient of one of the National Institute of Occupation Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) most prestigious awards.

“Chief Morris stated he was unaware of the existence of such an award and was quite surprised when he received it,” said a NIOSH official.

The award for Research Service was for the information he learned through research proving that older, traditional tactics for fighting basement fires “were without scientific foundation and firefighters were being killed as a result.”

Morris’ scientific research resulted in the development of modern training programs and operating procedures on how to fight basement fires in a safer manner.

The training programs Morris formulated will reduce the likelihood of firefighters dying in basement fires.

In addition to authoring the research service piece, Morris has written articles related to firefighter safety, which have appeared in fire, emergency and medical service publications. He often lectures on fire service management, health and safety programs, disaster planning and incident management systems in major incidents.

Before coming to Pine-Strawberry, Morris was for three years the fire chief for Seattle and served 30 years with the City of Phoenix Fire Department.

Morris holds an associate degree in fire science from Phoenix College, a bachelor’s of science degree in industrial supervision from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix.

In October 2017, P-S fire board members lauded his service and extended his contract for three years.

Summer camp at FBC

The First Baptist Bible Church of Pine is hosting a Vacation Bible School from noon until 3 p.m., Monday, June 10 to Friday, June 14. It is open to children from ages 4 years to those entering sixth grade. There is no cost to participate. “Just come to have fun and learn about Jesus,” is the invitation from church member Marjorie Baumann.

Space hijinks

Children who enjoy mischief, mayhem and fun will want to be in the audience for “Dr. T-Rex, Space Adventures in Science” from noon to 1 p.m., Wednesday, June 12 in the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library activity room.

Dr. T-Rex is a well-versed paleontologist who also is a ton of laughs.

For the show, he uses six realistic and life-sized dinosaur puppets combined with audience participation. Using those, he shows the audience why “it stinks to be extinct.”

One who has seen the program calls it, “A great show for kids.”

Fossil Springs closes

Those planning a hiking or swimming summer respite to Fossil Springs had better do so before June comes to an end.

That’s because the highly popular riparian area, highlighted by 70-degree turquoise water and travertine rock formations, will be closed July 1 through Aug. 31.

The Fossil Springs Trail and its trailhead are located three miles west of Strawberry.

The Forest Service is closing the area due to the extreme number of injuries and emergency calls in the area during the two hottest months of the year.

Also Fossil Creek Road, which emergency responders use to access the creek, is not passable for any type vehicles due to rock falls.

Just four months ago, Gila County sheriff’s deputies were thwarted in their attempt to rescue an itinerant man when, riding in a side-by-side, they discovered the road was completely covered by a rockslide.

As a result of the slide, emergency crews must now walk up to eight miles, in and out, to provide assistance.

Reaching those in need of help has become a Herculean task for the Pine-Strawberry Fire Department, Tonto Rim Search and Rescue, CERT and more.

However, not all is lost for those set on hiking or swimming in the pristine area. Several entrances are open that can be reached from the Camp Verde side of Fossil Creek including Waterfall Trailhead, Irving/Flume Trailhead, Tonto Bench, Fossil Creek Bridge, Homestead, Sally May and Purple Mountain.

However, reservations are required to park at any Fossil Creek access point through Oct. 1.

Reservations are available by calling 877-444-6777 or at

Fabric art featured

The Strawberry Patchers’ 23rd Annual Quilt Show, to be held today, Friday and tomorrow, Saturday, June 7-8 at the community center in Pine, is expected to draw quilters and fans from around the state.

The show is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days and admission is $3. Those who donate a non-perishable food item for the local food bank at the door will be given a raffle ticket to a quilt drawing to be held Saturday, June 8.

The quilt show features a vendor mall, free demonstrations, bake sale, door prizes and raffle basket. Viewers’ choice voting is on Friday only.

AG&F meets June 7

Those who hurry can make the Arizona Game and Fish Commission meeting that begins at 8 a.m., Friday June 7, at the Quality Inn on Beeline in Payson.

Those who wish to address the commission should fill out a request called a “blue slip” upon arrival.

Thought for the week

Summer is when laziness finds respectability.

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