Wednesday, June 30, 2010



Pick up your copy of The Bear at the Rim Country's finest retail establishments, including The Beverage Place, Bashas', Safeway and Wal-Mart.

In this issue:
o An eyewitness to Dude Fire history
o Payson's new assisted living home
o Jim Keyworth on foul fireworks
o Complete 4th of July schedule
o Murky workings of your community college

Thanks for supporting journalistic integrity by reading the one paper you can count on to tell it like it really is -- not what the politicians want you to believe..

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

RANT & RAVE: Posted June 29, 2010

Editor’s note: Each week we print a selection of anonymous rants and raves submitted by our readers. Keep them under 250 words, free of profanity and personal attacks, and have at it. You need not sign your submission, which you may e-mail to or mail to Gazette Editor, 7736 N. Toya Vista Road, Payson, AZ 85541. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Gazette staff.

And don’t forget to visit BY THE PEOPLE. Just click on the right. You can leave your comments on any subject there as well.

Has the Star Valley town council lost its mind? The deal Payson is offering and has already approved is no deal at all. What happened to the principle upon which Star Valley was incorporated? What happened to standing up for what’s right? Maybe Payson can’t be stopped from stealing Star Valley’s water, but that’s no reason to roll over and play dead. Has anyone looked into recalling the council members who are playing footsie with Kenny and Buzz? I’ll sign the recall petitions and so will a lot of my neighbors. We’ve had it with these wishy washy council members. And if they’re not careful they won’t have any water to “wishy washy” with – nor will the rest of us they pledged to serve and protect. Thank you Gary Coon. You are the only one left with a vision of what our town is supposed to be all about.


“Special thanks to the Northern Gila County Sanitary District and the Town of Payson’s Water Department for providing this year’s fireworks display!” Give me a break. I’d give them special thanks if they’d provide two vital services without raising their rates. The sanitary district and the water department are not in the fireworks business and they need to stay the hell out.


Two thumbs down for my favorite president's speech from the oval office the other night. Some of his remedies for the B.P. oil mess: Prayer, God and interdenominational blessings-none of which has ever, in the history of the planet, helped a god damn thing.


It amazes me that Fumusa can "offer" to sell his water system to the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District (PSWID) for $500,000 (no interest) with a straight face. He must believe the only ones dumber than him are PSWID. My understanding is that he already has a forever obligation to sell them water at a fixed price that can't be changed AND pay for the electricity. His system adds nothing to Pine-Strawberry that he is not already giving. (Brooke Utilities President Robert) Hardcastle fleeced him on the deal and he knows it. This is business and the PSWID is spending our money unwisely if they don't enforce that deal as long as they can. For PSWID to buy his system for $500,000 is about as bad as the Indians selling Manhattan for $100 and a few pieces of junk. Come on PSWID, don't completely give away the store before you leave office. Maybe you ought to call Hardcastle to see if he can make some better deals for you. We in Pine-Strawberry expected better than this.


We have a disaster staring us in the face in Pine and Strawberry. As little as we thought of Brooke Utilities and Hardcastle at least the devil we knew was better than the devil we didn't. The PSWID ship has lost its rudder and is adrift in a sea of conspiracy theory, name calling, inside favored deals, resignations, and decision making that defy logic. There is, however, a common thread: Ray Pugel. From the beginning, Pugel has been trying to control the water situation in our town. First, with Brooke, now with PSWID. All the while no new water sources have been developed. Pugel holds the district hostage with his well that is more suspect every day. It is time for the Board of Supervisors to take over the district - they did once and need to do it again. Please, BOS, save us from ourselves!


Once again a dry spring and summer reminds us that this is a 100-year drought we’re in, and that one wet winter won’t change that harsh reality. Anybody still wonder why the prehistoric people left this area? We need to be more careful with water.

LETTER: Connection returns more to community

This week is Indie Week according to a Valley organization called Local First Arizona. That’s Indie as in independent, locally-owned businesses, and Indie Week is held to remind you to support your locally-owned businesses year-round.

Here in the Rim Country, the media and the chamber of commerce make a big, big deal out of buying local – and well they should. These are difficult economic times and we need to look out for ourselves and each other.

But here’s what I don’t understand: the Payson Roundup is owned by WorldWest, a Lawrence, Kan. Company that is affiliated with The World Company. How can the Roundup encourage the Rim Country to buy local when it’s not?

And don’t think for a minute that the Roundup isn’t sucking money out of the Rim Country. According to Local First Arizona, shopping at Arizona-based businesses keeps 43 cents of every dollar you spend in Arizona, compared to 15 cents for national chains

And lest you doubt that The World Company and WorldWest are big operations, combined they own the daily Lawrence Journal-World plus newspapers in Tonganoxie, Baldwin, Basehor, Bonner Springs, Eudora and De Soto in Kansas. Besides the Roundup, they also own newspapers in Steamboat Springs and Craig, Colo. The company also has the cable television franchise for Lawrence and also provides cable television service in Douglas County, Eudora, Tonganoxie and Basehor in Kansas.

Meanwhile back in Payson, Roundup Publisher John Naughton is president of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce. Could this explain why the chamber touts buying local but ignores the fact that the Roundup is anything but? Could it also explain why the chamber continues to give the Roundup sweetheart deals that other companies aren’t invited to bid on?

On the other hand, the Mogollon Connection is owned by a company based right here in Northern Arizona. At a time when our state and local economies need all the help they can get, the Connection is returning almost three times as much on the dollar as the Roundup.

For readers, it’s a no brainer. Not only do you support a local business when you read the Connection. But because the Connection is free, you save money in the process. It doesn’t matter how desperately they cut their subscription rate, they can’t beat free.

And then there’s the issue of honest, thorough, unbiased reporting, but don’t get me started. Suffice it to say, we need a second voice in the Rim Country.

And just as much as readers, advertisers need to stop supporting the paper that, according to Local First Arizona, sends 85 cents of every dollar to Kansas.

You do have a choice when you advertise. Choose the newspaper that keeps more of your money in Arizona. Choose the Mogollon Connection.

We need a second voice in the Rim Country, and we need to keep every penny we can right here.

Al Poskanzer

Nothing much explained in this revenge flick

The Movie Connection: Jonah Hex

By Andy McKinney  
Gazette/Connection Film Critic
I had a chance to read the script for “Jonah Hex” a couple of months ago.  I couldn’t imagine how a successful film could be made from it. 

Thanks to Director Jimmy Hayward, a successful film was made from the chaos of the script. Hayward has as his only directing credit the animated short film “Horton Hears a Who!” so go figure.
This is a revenge flick set in a comic book version of the Wild West during the Grant administration (Grant is played as a sober statesman by Aidan Quinn.)  Some technological impossibilities aside, it focuses on Jonah Hex, played by Josh Brolin in a bold role as the scar faced and unsympathetic Hex.

His quest is to slay the man who burnt his wife and son to death as Hex was helplessly watching. Hex’s spiritual connection to the dead is caused by his own near death experience.  The film opens with bounty hunter Hex dragging the bodies of three dead bad men into a Western hamlet for the reward money and it gets steadily more violent, dark and grim from there.
Besides Brolin in the title role, Megan Fox provides a convincing portrayal of a much too beautiful frontier whore who loves the facially mutilated Hex.  John Malkovich is the psychopathic nemesis to Hex.  One of my favorite actors from the old “Wire” series on HBO, Lance Reddick (lately seen on “Fringe”) has a small part as Smith, a gunsmith who makes special weapons for Hex.
The weakness of the film is that nothing much is explained.  Why does Fox love the broken, tortured Hex?  How does Hex animate dead men for interrogation?  What is the villain’s wonder weapon and how could it exist in 1870?  It is almost like it was made from a comic book.
If grim violence is your thing and you have a soft spot for goodhearted heroes who are dammed to eternity for their deeds, you may enjoy “Jonah Hex.”  I give it an average three saw blades, much to my surprise after seeing the script.  The PG-13 (violence-no bad words or fully naked people) supernatural western runs a short one hour and 21 minutes.  I think this one will have a hard time finding an audience.
Also starting this week is “Toy Story 3” from the reliably excellent Pixar Company.  I have enjoyed all of the Pixar offerings very much, and none more so than the two previous episodes in the “Toy Story” line.  Coming soon are the comedy “Grown Ups” and a spy shoot-um up “Knight and Day.” C U at the Saw Mill.

LETTER: Beginning to smell like water conspiracy

Is there a WATER conspiracy in Star Valley? You be the judge.

Let’s take a look at what has happened over the course of the last year. In May of 2009, Payson began to run the Tower well 8 to 10 hours a day for approximately 120 days straight. This is far more than ever before!

This was uncovered late in August by the report released from LFR. Their report cautioned Star Valley of the accelerated pumping practice by The Town of Payson on the Tower Well and its negative affect on neighboring wells. You would think that this report from our water experts would promote some sort of action from Star Valley’s Water and Sewer Commission.

Actually the action taken has left me in disbelief. Since August of 2009 the Chairman ( Vern Leis ) of the commission has done everything he can to destroy the relationship our town had with LFR and the credibility of the report’s they have released. He has actually proposed that our town stop doing business with LFR and start doing business with a local firm that has a major conflict of interest due to its relationship with the Town of Payson. He has even gone as far as to slander LFR and make public statements regarding them that are false.

One would think that after observing the heaviest pumping of the tower well in its history that those responsible for our monitoring program would want to step up the monitoring to be sure that the affected wells were recovering. But what they did is nothing! In fact they did not download any data from the monitoring program until mid December and that data has not been reviewed.

LFR has been our town’s hydrology firm since before we incorporated and has more knowledge pertaining to our water situation than any other firm in the state. They were there working side by side with us when we set up our monitoring program and they are the ones that completed our town's sustainable yield study. All of their reports are generated from actual data received from our towns monitoring program. It is precise, professional and easy to understand.

In September of 2009, (Star Valley Mayor) Bill Rappaport was quoted in the paper saying that he was naive to think that the tower well could affect any of our wells in Star Valley. There is absolutely no data to back up that statement and plenty of data proving the effects of the Tower Well on neighboring wells.

This year Rappaport announced a water agreement between Payson and Star Valley and how this could not have happened two years ago. That’s because unlike now, two years ago we had people in Star Valley trying to protect our water and those with knowledge of this subject ( like LFR ) would be able to look at the body of this new agreement to see that it was purely political and one sided for the benefit of Payson.

So now that we had one of the wettest winters on record we get to look at STAGE 1 Water restrictions being posted around Star Valley by Payson Water Co. ( AKA Brook Utilities). This restriction is not a result of the monitoring program showing our wells being low on water. It is Payson Water Co. wanting Star Valley residents to conserve water in Star Valley so that the Town of Payson can pump our conserved water out from under our town and sell it to Payson Water Co. for Mesa del Caballo. Are you beginning to smell something?

Chris Benjamin
Star Valley

Long executive session extends PSWID meeting

By Sam Schwalm
Gazette Contributor

The June 19 meeting of the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District (PSWID) board was much quieter than the last one, but it was very long as there was a three hour executive session at the beginning of the meeting, so the 1 p.m. meeting didn’t finish until 6:30 p.m.

This article became so long that I have broken it into two parts. This first part covers the more mundane issues. The second part will address the Milk Ranch and Strawberry Hollow wells.

Next regular PSWID Meeting: Saturday August 21, 2010 at 1:00 PM at the Pine Cultural Center

A Rate Hearing has been scheduled for Saturday July 3, 2010 at 10:00 AM at Pine Elementary School.

Mr. David Davis, the new attorney for the district, clarified that he has not represented Mr. Pugel on water issues. He stated that he has only represented Mr. Jim Hill on water issues.

There have been some objections by board members that they did not use the word “conspiracy” at the May 26 meeting. My recollection is that one of them did, but it isn’t a 100 percent recollection. I have no stomach to go back and listen to the recording of the May 26 meeting again, so I will go ahead and concede the point. Tetra Tech used the word in quotes in their letter of termination, so they may have heard it from board members outside of the meeting. In any case, even if the word was not said explicitly, the accusations made by Mr. Mike Greer and his cohorts fit the definition of a conspiracy.

Replacing Technical Staff and Finding New General Manager
Board is going to go through the set of engineering companies that applied earlier and start their search for a new District Engineer from there. This is the most critical position to fill as they have problems that they need a District Engineer to help address.

Board is going to put out a Request For Qualifications (RFQ) for a Hydrologist.

Most of the candidates for General Manager dropped out of consideration and the one that was left was not considered qualified enough. Board is restarting the advertisement/search process.

Board announced that Mr. Harry Jones, the interim General Manager, had submitted his resignation. Mr. Jones will remain on for an additional 60 days to provide transition for the next interim General Manager.
Board started the effort to find an interim General Manager to replace Mr. Jones until a full-time General Manager is identified and hired.

Conservation Stages
The water system survived the Memorial Day weekend fairly well, with storage levels dropping to 85% and recovering to 93% by the following Tuesday.

The 4th of July weekend is always the most difficult weekend of the year. Particularly when the 4th falls on the weekend because that usually results in people staying longer. The water levels in the ground have been dropping and more pumping is occurring to keep up. The system can produce a peak rate of 450 gallons per minute, but it isn’t known how long that can be sustained. Overall it is felt that the water availability is good compared to other years.

The board decided that when the storage level reaches 85% and can’t be recovered for 48 hours that the Stage 2 signs will go up. At 75% for 48 hours the Stage 3 signs will go up.

Seasonal meters will be left on. If it looks like water hauling may be required, then that may be reconsidered.

Water Sharing with Pine Creek Canyon Domestic Water Improvement District (Portals IV)
Mr. Ernie Borgoyne, the board Chairman for the Pine Creek Canyon Domestic Water Improvement District (Portals IV), spoke about the deep aquifer well that they are in the process of completing and the possibility of PCCDWID entering into a water sharing agreement with PSWID.
i. They are in the process of completing making the well operational. They anticipate that it will be operational in 30 to 45 days.
ii. They view the well as a backup well. The pump in the well is capable of providing 50 gallons per minute. The well has cost $800,000, including a backup generator. The well has its sand filtration as a filter installed at the bottom of the well.
iii. They will be willing to sit down at some time in the future and discuss the possibility of a water sharing agreement

Mr. Paul Paul provided some information about what it would take to connect the Portals IV well to the PSWID system.
i. It would require about 525 feet of pipe that would run through an existing utility easement.
ii. One connection option would be a permanent 6” PVC pipe for a rough estimate of $30,000. The second option would be a 4” pipe from Rain For Rent at a cost of $7600. This pipe could later be buried. Ancillary costs like permits, plans, surveying, etc. are not included in the numbers.

The following financial data can be found here: .
i. May Cash Flow
ii. May Statement of Activity (provided to Compass Bank)
iii. May Statement of Financial Position (provided to Compass Bank)
Cash Flow Position for May:
i. Total Cash In: $105,259.93
ii. Total Cash Out: $105,209.39
iii. Net Cash Flow: $50.54
Compass Bank report for the month of May:
i. Revenue: $105,248.37 (includes $12,030.54 in property taxes)
ii. Expenses: $122,101.20 (includes $19,357.01 in depreciation)
iii. Interest Expense: $16,786.49
iv. Net Income: -$33,627.76
v. Capitalized Work in Progress: $73,250.06
Cash Flow Position for year to date:
i. Total Cash In: $971,986.02
ii. Total Cash Out: $893,027.02
iii. Net Cash Flow: $78,959.00
Compass Bank report for the year to date:
i. Revenue: $971,432.59 (includes $298,079.57 in property taxes)
ii. Expenses: $1,013,105.82 (includes $149,951.93 in depreciation)
iii. Interest Expense: $143,878.75
iv. Net Income: -$184,998.55
v. Capitalized Work in Progress: $201,061.45

PSWID did not receive WIFA funding for the two grants that the district applied for. One grant request was for funding the development of a master plan and the other was for replacing old water meters.

A company named CHm2Hill made a presentation about what they could provide if the district chooses to contract out their operations to the company.

The board passed a resolution to start the process for the Nov. 2 election of three board members.

This update is from the group Water For Pine Strawberry. We will be providing an update after each of the PSWID meetings with a summary of what the board did, additional facts that are relevant to what went on, and some commentary. Updates on earlier meetings are available on our website: .

Water For Pine Strawberry is a group of residents who are concerned about the communities water issues and how they can best be resolved. Visit our web site,, for more information. The website for PSWID is .

Clarifications can be submitted by anyone who is explicitly named, implicitly identifiable, or a board member to items in this update. Clarifications will be posted on our website. We reserve the right to post a response. Clarifications must deal with the topics discussed in the update that relate to the individual or the board. They must be in family friendly language and be non-abusive. When the clarification is accepted, it will be posted to the website and notice of that posting will be added to the next update.

Free Summer Saturdays sizzle at Heard Museum

Contributed photo
Natalia Sarrah, 7, and sister Ava Sarrah, 5, of Peoria show off their beading prowess.

Culture, creativity and cool activities fill five July Saturdays at downtown Phoenix landmark

From exciting music and dance performances to an extravaganza of hands-on activities, artist demonstrations and free goody bags, Sizzlin’ Summer Saturdays gives kids and families a cool and creative way to spend July Saturdays. What’s better, mom and dad or grandpa and grandma can explore the Heard Museum and enjoy the activities for free as well, thanks to support from Target.

At Target Free Sizzlin’ Summer Saturdays, there’s something for everyone! Each Saturday from July 3-31, visitors can experience exciting dance performances and meet authors of popular kids’ books, and listen to readings.

This week, celebrate our nation’s rich heritage by creating special patriotic crafts! Kids can create their own stars-and-stripes themed artwork, plus see a tribute to American Indian military veterans in the exhibit HOME: Native People in the Southwest.

· Hands-on Activities – Create a red, white and blue charm necklace, scratch a star, paint a star pin, decorate a box using red, white and blue and patriotic decorations, and make your own American flag

· Performances – Hoop dancing and fancy dancing with Lane and Tyrese Jensen, Navajo/Maricopa [PLEASE NOTE DATE CHANGE]

· Book Reading & Signing – Conrad Storad, author of Don't Call Me Pig and other popular children’s books

Kids can enjoy several hands-on activities in addition to the dozens of interactive or make-and-take activities in three of the museum’s galleries: Every Picture Tells a tory, We Are! Arizona’s First People and HOME: Native People in the Southwest. They can also participate in a different “treasure hunt” in the museum each week. The Café at the Heard Museum will offer special kids and family lunches. Plus, each child will receive a treat and a take-home souvenir bag filled with activity sheets, crayons, stickers and more.

WHEN: Saturday, July 3, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

· Museum Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
· Hands-on activities – 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
· Special activities – 11 a.m. & 1:30 p.m.
· Performances – 11:30 a.m. & 1 p.m.
· Book readings – 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
· Book signings – 2 p.m. & 3 p.m.

WHERE: Heard Museum, 2301 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, Ariz.

COST: FREE! Everyone gets in free on Target Free Sizzlin’ Summer Saturdays, thanks to a grant from Target.

INFO: For more information, please call 602.252.8848 or visit’.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Edna Bernice Shaw loses battle with breast cancer

Edna Bernice Shaw
1943 - 2010

Born August 20, 1943, Edna Bernice Shaw became an angel June 24, 2010. 

She is the beloved daughter of Willie and Jewell Arter. She is survived by husband Dave Shaw, sister Lillie Beckett and brothers Willie Arter, Eddie Arter and Gene Arter. Also Survived by children Angie, Terry, Bobby Temples, Penny Rapp and Todd Temples, grandchildren David Jr., Daniel, Valarie, Brandon, Laycee, Cody, J.T., Milo, Skye and great-granddaughter Mercedes.

She fought a great fight with breast cancer but ultimately lost the war. She was a beloved wife and mother and will be missed greatly.

Terriers Paco and Sassy need temporary home

The Humane Society of Central Arizona is seeking temporary foster care assistance for the two dogs whose home was consumed by a fire in Mesa del Caballo last week.

Their owner intends to reclaim them once he secures adequate housing, but for now the two little terrier mixes are suffering a lot of trauma – from the fire itself and from now having to endure the overcrowded, noisy and decrepit conditions of the shelter. They are better suited to reside in a real home where they can comfortably await their owner and a new home.

Two-and-a-half year-old, Paco, and three-and-a-half year-old, Sassy, weigh in at just under 15 pounds. Paco may need some housebreaking assistance, both are in need of grooming, but both have been altered and are current on all their shots.

If you or anyone you know are interested in temporarily providing a home for these poor little pups, please contact Chandra Cushman at 474-5590, ext. 104, or stop by the shelter to meet Paco and Sassy in person. The shelter, located at 812 S. McLane Road, is now open 7 days a week, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Pennsylvania native Elizabeth Tucci dies at 85

Elizabeth Tucci
1924 - 2010

Elizabeth Tucci, 85, passed away in Payson, Ariz. June 23, 2010. She was born in Wilcox, Pa. July 22, 1924 to Clarence E. Johnson Sr. and Olga E. Nord.

Elizabeth is preceded in death by her parents and her husband Michael G. Tucci. She is survived by her son Thad Tucci and daughter-in-law Yvette Tucci of Young, Ariz., sisters Doris Johnson, Eileen DiNardo, and Virginia Johnson, brother Clarence Johnson Jr., grandson, Michael Tucci and many loving nieces and nephews.

The services were held Saturday, June 26 at Messinger Payson Funeral Home.  Donations may be made to  St. Benedict Mission, c/o Saint Philip the Apostle Church, 511 S. St. Philip St., Payson, AZ 85541

SV council delays decision on Payson water deal

By Matt Brabb
Mogollon Connection Editor

The Star Valley Town Council discussed, but did not to take action on an Intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with Payson regarding water rights during its regular council meeting on Tuesday. The IGA was proposed and passed by the Payson Town council over a month ago.

A majority of the council clearly support the measure, even though many admitted to having just received the document that day.

The proposal has three major components. First, the Town of Payson has offered to sell three wells that it owns that are located within Star Valley for $99,000, with the condition that Star Valley limits the pumping from those wells. Second it agrees to limit the pumping of the Tower Well, which has been at the heart of the friction between the two towns for the last several years to 855 acre-feet per year. Lastly, Payson agrees to be an emergency water provider for Star Valley should the need arise.

Critics have claimed that the IGA is more symbolic than anything, and as currently written doesn’t alter the status quo between the two towns to any meaningful extent.

They point out that under current conditions Payson is already limited to pumping 855 acre-feet per year from the Tower Well. That number is considered the maximum that can be extracted while remaining within “safe yield” which is the policy used by Payson in determining well production limitations. Payson Mayor Kenny Evans said that improvements could be made to the well to increase that figure, but as things stand, the proposed limit of 855 acre-feet does not alter the current pumping limit.

Critics have also pointed out that the Payson Town Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution to become an emergency water provider to outlying Rim Country communities in a meeting several months ago. The measure was passed to allow Payson to provide water for Mesa del Caballo, which has suffered water shortages on a regular basis over the past few years, but the resolution would apply to Star Valley as well.

Access to two of the three wells that Payson is willing to part with may also be an issue. Several years ago, Star Valley resident Chris Benjamin won a court battle that denied developers access to both wells, because pipelines would have to run across his property. As a result, Payson was never able to develop these wells.

Star Valley may face the same difficulty in gaining access to the wells.

Still, Star Valley Mayor Bill Rappaport was enthusiastic about the potential for an agreement.

“This is an act of faith between our two towns,” he said. “Payson is gifting us; this is the first real progress we’ve made to heal the wounds between the two towns. They are extending a hand of friendship, and I can’t see pushing it away.”

Star Valley Water and Sewer Commissioner Vern Leis agreed.

“If we say no, Star Valley will cease to exist,” he said.

Councilor Barbara Hartwell also spoke in favor of the IGA.

“Those of us not directly involved should back off and trust the water and sewer commission,” she said. “Without the water, we won’t get the sewer.”

Councilor George Binney was slightly less enthusiastic about the prospects for an agreement.

“I really hope we can make this work, I do have a problem with sections 8.2 and 8.3 (dealing with limitations on Tower Well production); it’s pretty hard to swallow,” he said.

“I see that the Tower Well is being protected, and we’re protecting our three wells, but there is no protection for all of the individual well owners,” he added.

The harshest criticism over the proposal came from Councilor Gary Coon.

“I’m not in favor of this,” he said.

In particular, he spoke of his fear that the town would not have access to two of the three wells it was considering purchasing.

“That restriction is still in place, and if we purchase them, we still have that problem; if he (Benjamin) says no, we have to make a decision going forward.”

Town Manager/Attorney Timothy Grier said that it would be confusing if Benjamin made that decision at this point.

“He was protecting Star Valley water at that time,” he said. “But that is not the issue now. He would be standing in the way of Star Valley becoming a water purveyor. It would be ironic if Mr. Benjamin used the results of a lawsuit funded by the Star Valley Water Coalition to stop Star Valley now.”

When contacted, Benjamin said that he had not yet made up his mind about giving the town access should the council vote to buy the wells from Payson. He said that he wanted to meet with the Star Valley Water and Sewer Commission to discuss how much of an impact pumping the wells would have on the well that supports the Sky Run Gated RV Resort, which he owns and operates.

Benjamin claims that when the Tower Well is used, Sky Run Well levels drop, and he fears the impact that the two new wells might have because they are even closer to the Sky Run Well than the Tower Well.

Coon had other objections to the proposed IGA. He noted that what the town was really after was getting access to its share of water from the CC Cragin (formerly Blue Ridge) Pipeline.

The town can only do that if it becomes a water purveyor, which according to Grier is why it needs the wells Payson is willing to sell them. The town will have access to at least one of them, and that should be enough for the town to qualify, though according to Grier it is difficult to nail down exactly what SRP requires to be qualified as a water purveyor.

Coon advised going back to the Payson Town Council and asking to negotiate a clause in the IGA that states that Star Valley will be able to use the Tower Well pipeline to deliver water from the Cragin water treatment plant to Star Valley.

“There’s nothing in here about the pipeline,” he said. “The part that might make this a good deal is the part that is not in here. We need to go back and negotiate.”

(Pick up your free copy of the Mogollon Connection every Wednesday, and thanks for supporting truthful journalism.)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

GCC reinstates full tuition waiver for seniors

By Matt Brabb
Connection Editor

The Gila Community College (GCC) governing board met on Thursday and made a number of decisions ranging from senior tuition waivers to whether or not to ask voters to approve a $1.5 million secondary property tax increase.

The board voted to reinstate a 100 percent tuition waiver for seniors aged 60 and above, but defeated an attempt to put the property tax increase on the ballot. A super majority (four votes out of five) of the board was needed to put the matter to the public. The vote was 3-2 with Dr. Larry Stephenson and Tom Loeffler, who both represent the Payson GCC campus voting no.

Board President Bob Ashford made an impassioned plea for the tax.

“This would still leave us near the bottom for tax rates across the state. Without this, the possibility is very real that without earmarks or grants, the nursing program could go away if we had to stop the bleeding to pay our bills.

“The citizens of Gila County have seen the good we’ve done in getting our residents from welfare to the work force,” said Ashford.

Stephenson sounded a familiar theme in explaining the reason for his no vote.

“I can’t support this motion,” he said. “If we cannot account for the money we have spent so far, we have no business asking for more. I’m voting no based on our woeful lack of information from EAC.”

GCC relies on Eastern Arizona College (EAC) for accreditation, and Stephenson and Loeffler have often criticized the financial data supplied by EAC for being vague and difficult to formulate a budget for GCC.

While agreeing that the college could use the increase, Loeffler also voted no to put the matter before the voters.

“Gila County does need a vibrant community college, but at this time with the economy the way it is, I find it difficult to put another tax on the citizens of this county,” said Loeffler.

“If we are independent, I believe the voters of Gila County would be more likely to support us,” he added.

GCC is exploring ways to remove the provisional tag it wears, which ties it to another college, as it presently is with EAC.

In another important decision, the board voted to reintroduce senior waivers for those 60 and above. The college saw a significant drop in enrollment when it did away with the waivers last year.

Voting no, Loeffler noted that the proposed policy was more generous than any other college in the state, and that in light of the college’s questionable financial situation, was a questionable move.

“No community college does this. The most they give is a 50 percent waiver for those 60 and over, and most give nothing,” he said.

Ashford countered by claiming that the community missed the senior waivers.

“Citizens have been speaking loudly that they need this back,” he said.

In addition, he pointed out that the increase in enrollment would result in additional state aid, which is given in proportion to enrollment.

“We need to get our enrollment back up to become independent,” he argued.

The board also voted to adopt the 2010-2011 fiscal year budget from GCC. It was approved with four yes votes and one abstention by Stephenson.

“I am abstaining because the public statement for this budget did not include tuition as revenue,” explained Stephenson.

Before voting on the budget, one other matter was brought up by Loeffler. He questioned GCC Senior Dean Stephen Cullen about whether or not several members of the college staff, including Dean Cullen, were scheduled to receive raises despite the fact that a furlough amounting to a 20 percent pay cut is still in place for college personnel.

Loeffler had a document that seemed to indicate that a number of staff members were budgeted to receive small raises.

“I see some small increases in salary; is that for all or just certain staff members?” Loeffler asked.

Ashford responded that there were no raises in the new budget for any of the deans.

“According to this document there is,” said Loeffler.

“It seems inconsistent to furlough employees and then turn around give some of them raises,” agreed Stephenson.

“Apparently you have a document that we don’t have,” answered Ashford.

Substation would improve area's power reliability

Tonto Basin, Ariz. (June 25, 2010) – Tonto National Forest officials are seeking public comment on the Mazatzal Substation draft Environmental Assessment (EA) on the Tonto Basin Ranger District of the Tonto National Forest.

The Arizona Public Service Company is proposing to construct a new substation and establish approximately one mile of transmission lines to provide reliable power to the communities in the Payson, Rye, and Tonto Basin areas. The project is located on National Forest System land on the east side of Arizona State Route 87, north of Arizona 188 in Gila County. The public comment period begins Friday, June 25 and ends 30 days later on Saturday, July 24.

An online copy of the EA is posted at the Tonto National Forest website at Printed or CD-ROM copies of the EA are also available by request at the Tonto Basin Ranger District Office, 28079 North AZ Highway 188, Roosevelt, AZ 85545 and the Tonto National Forest Supervisor’s Office at 2324 East McDowell Road, Phoenix, AZ 85051.

Comments may be mailed to:
Mazatzal Draft EA Public Comments
c/o Kevin Duncan, EPG
4141 North 32nd Street, Suite 102
Phoenix, AZ 85018

Comments may be submitted via email to using the subject line Mazatzal Draft EA Public Comments. Comments may be hand delivered weekdays 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the above address. The deadline for submitting comments is July 24.

These comments will only be considered if you include your full name and a physical mailing address in your comments. Names and addresses of commentors will become part of the public record.

If you have any questions concerning this process, please contact Troy Waskey at (928) 467-3230 or by e-mail at

Sycamore Fire north of Fountain Hills contained

Contributed photo: A helicopter drop on the Sycamore Fire.  During its peak, the fire caused delays southbound on the Beeline Highway.

Fire Name: Sycamore

Time/Date Started: 2:20 p.m., June 24, 2010

Location: On State Road 87 Between mile markers 208 and 210 in the Mesquite Wash area north of Fountain Hills

Acres: 187 acres.

Cause: Human caused, under investigation.

Terrain: Low desert, hilly.

Contained: 100%

Observation: Continued mop-up operations.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sycamore Fire now 80 percent contained

Southbound Beeline traffic still impeded

Fire Name: Sycamore

Time/Date Started: 2:20 p.m., June 24, 2010

Location: On State Road 87 Between mile markers 208 and 210 in the Mesquite Wash area north of Fountain Hills

Acres: 187 acres.

Cause: Human caused, under investigation.

Terrain: Low desert, hilly.

Contained: 80%

Resources currently committed:
3 hotshot crews
4 engines
1 water tenders

Estimated Cost to Date: Unknown

Structures threatened: None

Observation: The fire is 80-percent contained. Both northbound lanes are open on Arizona State Road 87. One southbound lane is open but at a reduced speed. Motorists are cautioned to watch their speed and be alert for firefighters and equipment still working in the area.

A Type 3 Team is on scene. The incident commander is Rod Weeks. At the highpoint of battling the blaze there were 129 personnel at work. Currently 90 personnel continue work on the fire.

Firefighters are making great progress, continuing containment efforts, patrolling the perimeter and extinguishing any hot spots along the fire’s edge.

Payson department heads switch to contract

By Matt Brabb
Mogollon Connection Editor

In an effort to control costs, the Payson Town Council gave Mayor Kenny Evans the authority to sign an employment agreement with Water Superintendent Buzz Walker and Community Development Director Ray Erlandsen a day after allowing the two to take early retirement.

Both men will be employed by Educational Service Incorporated (ESI), and will basically be leased back to the town.

Though they will both be paid a substantial sum in a an early retirement buy-out, the town hopes to save money because the two will accept a less costly retirement package.

According to Evans, legacy costs incurred by the town for its retired workers or workers nearing retirement are becoming an insupportable financial burden for the town. Though steps were taken to deal with the matter for employees hired after January 1, 2010, employees brought on before that time are entitled to a varying number of costly benefits that the town is finding difficult to support, particularly in these tough economic times.

“There has been some misinformation about this,” stated Evans. “Walker and Erlandsen did not come to us for this. We went to them. We are trying to save some of the legacy costs that are beginning to be a heavy burden on this town.”

“We cannot break a contract unilaterally; there are some 14,000 pages in the rule book to interpret.”

Speaking of conditions in place at the time when contracts made companies and other entities responsible for lifelong pensions and health benefits for entire families, Evans said, “No one in 1980 could have envisioned the weight of legacy costs. Not the feds, not General Motors, not the towns and cities. This was an effort on our part to get employees to give up some of their contractual rights in order for us to continue to benefit from their experience,” he added.

When asked for a specific figure that the town is likely to save from the early retirement program, which approximately seven to eight town employees are eligible for, Town Manager Debra Galbraith said the town stood to save $298,000 in fiscal year 2010-11 and $332,000 in 2011-12.

When asked about the potential for conflicts of interest arising because Walker and Erlandsen are no longer employees of the town, and could potentially take other jobs where conflicts could arise, Evans said the town could not prevent the two from exploring other opportunities.

“As a matter of federal law, we can’t prohibit them from doing that, but as a practical matter we are in control. We are never more than 31 days from being able to terminate the contracts.”

Evans said that the town would have to come up with an additional $3.2 million to cover a projected shortfall in money set up in a fund for legacy costs next year, and that that number would likely rise year after year.

“We’re trying to stop the bleeding,” he said. “We can’t continue to have a declining employment rate while at the same time seeing an increasing retirement rate.”

“Everyone will be on the same page before I leave,” he said.

(For the real story, pick up your copy of the Mogollon Connection every Wednesday. It's the one Rim Country newspaper that tells it like it is.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fire slows southbound traffic, but 87 still open

Sycamore Fire on Tonto National Forest 70 percent contained

Fire Name: Sycamore

Time/Date Started: 2:20 p.m., June 24, 2010

Location: On Arizona 87 between mile markers 208 and 210 in the Mesquite Wash area north of Fountain Hills

Acres: 187 

Cause: Human caused, under investigation.

Terrain: Low desert, hilly.

Contained: 70%

Resources currently committed:
3 hotshot crews
4 engines
1 water tenders

Estimated Cost to Date: Unknown
Structures threatened: None

Observation: The fire is 70-percent contained. Both northbound lanes are open on Arizona 87. One southbound lane is open but at a reduced speed. Motorists are cautioned to watch their speed and be alert for firefighters and equipment working in the area. A Type 3 Team is on scene. The incident commander is Rod Weeks. At the high point of battling the blaze there were 129 personnel at work. Currently 90 personnel continue work on the fire. Firefighters are continuing containment efforts, patrolling the perimeter and extinguishing any hot spots along the fire’s edge.

Blasting delays continue next week of AZ 260

PAYSON – The Arizona Department of Transportation will close a two-mile segment of Arizona State Route 260 13 miles east of Star Valley at 2 p.m. on Monday, June 28, and Tuesday, June 29. The roadway will be closed to provide a safe work zone for crews as they conduct blasting operations on a project to widen the highway. Eastbound traffic will be stopped at approximately milepost 265 and westbound traffic will be stopped at approximately milepost 267.

Drivers can expect delays of up to 45 minutes and should allow extra time to reach their destinations. Speed limits are reduced and a width restriction of 10 feet is in place. Message boards, temporary barricades, and signage will guide motorists through the work zone.

A night shift will begin on Monday, June 28. Work hours will be 8 p.m. to 4:30 a.m., Monday through Wednesday evening. Drivers should delays of up to 10 minutes.

ADOT advises drivers to slow down, be alert for workers and heavy equipment, and anticipate delays as construction continues until fall 2011.

Information regarding the project is available on the toll-free project hotline at 1-877-521-1118. Weekly construction e-updates are available at

While ADOT strives to inform the public about planned roadway restrictions, during any construction project there is a possibility that unscheduled closures or restrictions may occur. Drivers can visit ADOT’s Travel Information Site at or call 5-1-1 for the most current information about restrictions statewide.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Education campaign against Medicare fraud begins

A new Medicare Fraud Prevention Education Campaign kicks off with a $1 million national & ethnic radio buy targeted around the $250 one time tax-free donut hole rebate check included in the Affordable Care Act.

As eligible seniors who have entered the Medicare Part D donut hole this year begin to receive their tax-free, one time rebate check for $250 starting last week, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and senior officials from the Administration on Aging and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today launched a national education effort to ensure that seniors have the information they need to protect themselves from potential scams or fraud when it comes to their Medicare benefits.

The national fraud prevention campaign will include radio, television and print advertising and outreach efforts.

The campaign will begin with a $1 million national radio buy that will run in June through August as $250 tax-free rebate checks get mailed to eligible seniors each month. CMS will purchase time in markets with high percentages of Medicare recipients who fall into the donut hole and time on ethnic radio to communicate with groups of seniors who have been particularly targeted by scam artists.

Thirty second and sixty second radio spots will be produced in English, Spanish, Korean, and Armenian for the initial radio buy. English language spots will begin running in a small number of markets by the end of this week. The number of markets will steadily increase and the national buy will be completely in place by the end of June

CMS will post audio files of the English language and Spanish language 60 second spots later today at Scripts for the spots are attached at the end of this release and can also be found at

“The more we can work together to educate the American people about ways to protect themselves and the health care system from fraud and scams, the better chance we have to protect taxpayer dollars and the Medicare Trust Funds,” said Secretary Sebelius. “In addition to this outreach and education media campaign, we are working with organizations across the country to ensure seniors know where to turn to get information about the new law and their Medicare benefits.”

“Since early April, we have learned of seniors across the country who are being asked for personal information to help them get a rebate check,” said CMS Acting Administrator Marilynn Tavenner. “Beneficiaries who reach the donut hole will get a check mailed to the same address Medicare uses to send them information now without doing anything special. Seniors should be on the look-out for scams where people they don’t know ask them for their personal information in order to get their checks. This is not how the process will work. Checks will come directly to beneficiaries who qualify for this benefit under the Affordable Care Act. Seniors or family members should contact us at 1-800-MEDICARE to report any of these types of calls or go to to learn more about efforts to fight scams like these.”

The first $250 checks are being mailed June 10 to those Medicare beneficiaries who entered the Medicare Part D donut hole, also known as the coverage gap, in the first quarter of 2010 and are not eligible for Medicare Extra Help (also known as the low-income subsidy or LIS). The donut hole is the period in the prescription drug benefit in which the beneficiary pays 100 percent of the cost of their drugs until they hit the catastrophic coverage. People in the Extra Help program already have assistance with the cost of prescription drugs. Beneficiaries should contact the Social Security Administration at for information about Extra Help.

“Empowering consumers to prevent fraud is essential in preserving the integrity of the Medicare and Medicaid programs," said Assistant Secretary Kathy Greenlee. “This joint education and outreach campaign will not only protect seniors from fraud and scams but will help protect the Medicare trust fund as well.”

Listen to Medicare’s Official messages about the $250 Part D rebate Check: -- English 30 second PSA (audio, mp3) -- English 60 second PSA (audio, mp3)

60 –Second Radio Script Affordable Care Act Fraud Prevention
Did you know that you are one of our more important resources when it comes to fighting Medicare Fraud and stopping scams against seniors.
Protect your personal Medicare information. Don’t share it with anyone except your trusted sources and Medicare.
The new Affordable Care Act, passed by Congress and signed by the President – contains some important benefits for Medicare beneficiaries.
If you’re enrolled in a Medicare prescription drug plan and enter the donut hole this year, you will receive a one-time tax free $250 rebate check – if you are not already receiving Medicare Extra Help.
The donut hole rebate check will be mailed to the same address Medicare uses to send you information now. So there is no need to share your personal Medicare information with anyone who calls you asking for it on the phone.
If you have any questions, visit or call -1800 Medicare.
Brought to you by Medicare and the US Department of Health and Human Services

30 Second Radio Script Affordable Care Act Fraud Prevention
The new Affordable Care Act offers important new benefits to people with Medicare.
If you’re enrolled in a Medicare prescription drug plan and enter the donut hole this year, you will receive a one-time, tax- free $250 rebate - if you are not already receiving Medicare Extra Help.
After you reach the donut hole, your check will be mailed to the same address Medicare uses to send you information.
No need to do anything special AND no need to give ANYONE your personal Medicare information if they call you.
If you have any questions visit or call 1-800 Medicare.
Brought to you by Medicare and the US Department of Health and Human Services

Arizona Highways puts Rim campground in Top 10

As summer approaches, Arizona Highways Magazine is offering two very cool features in the current issue.

The July issue is called “Ultimate Camping,” and it features the 10 “coolest” campsites in our state – including Arizona Bay (near Kingman), Crabtree Wash (near Apache Junction), Cutthroat Campground, Primitive Campground (Monument Valley), Spillway Campground (near Payson), Three Dunes (near Lake Havasu), and others near Tucson and the Grand Canyon– as well as best places to see endangered wildlife – including Sipe White Mountain, Pinetop, Swift Trail (near Safford), Cave Creek Canyon, Sierra Vista, Mount Lemmon, and Madera Canyon among others.

"I thought it could make for a fun, enlightening note/story for your blog readers," Editor in Chief Robert Stieve told the Gazette.

Also in the July issue:

OUTTA SITE! You've heard of rooms with a view? Well, Arizona Highways went looking for something a little different. And they found it. From the remote wilderness of the Grand Canyon to a place on the Colorado River that can only be reached by boat, they discovered 10 of the best campsites in Arizona.

WATCH FOR WILDLIFE -- People get excited about seeing elk. And antelope. And anything else in the wild kingdom. They'll even stop in the middle of the road and pull out their cameras. But that's a bad idea. Instead, go where our wildlife expert likes to go. It's safer, it's scenic, and you might even catch a glimpse of an endangered species.

Don't be fooled by imitations.  Arizona Highways Magazine is the single most authortative source for information on our state's great outdoors. 

GCC offering new body conditioning class in fall

GCC is offering a new Body Conditioning class this Fall.

Instructor Marissa Ward will teach a total body strength and conditioning class suitable for every fitness level. The class will be held in the large community room, and will use a variety of fitness equipment including dumbbells, steps and rubber tubing for a complete exercise program.

You may register now for this and all other Fall semester classes, by going online at, or visit the campus at 201 N. Mud Springs Rd.

Arizona's biggest downside -- its wacky politics

Like many of you, Arizona is my adopted state.

Unlike many of you, I didn’t come here for the climate.

I slinked into Arizona back in 1974 like a native lizard on the heels of a divorce. My ex was moving to Arizona to be near her retired parents – and she was bringing our two-year-old daughter with her.

What’s a father to do? I left a great family, a great job, and a great house because I couldn’t bear to be 2,000 miles from my daughter.

There was, to be sure, an aura about Arizona – especially for someone like me who had never been West. I loved the whole cowboy thing. I soon got a horse of my own – and a hat and boots. I built a home on the edge of the forest so I could ride forever.

For a semi-professional photographer, there were so many new and stunning things to take pictures of. The desert. The mountains. The saguaros. The snowbirds.

And then there was the state flag. Nobody but nobody has a cooler state flag than Arizona.

But the state had its downsides too. In Michigan, it was too cold for cockroaches and termites. In Michigan, a pig was a pig – not a javelina.

Then there was the coming of the killer bees. Arizona was one of the first places in the U.S. to be invaded.

And a scorching hot day in Michigan was 90 degrees, not a bleeping 125 – in the shade.

But the biggest downside to Arizona for me was – and remains – its politics. I was far from a liberal when I arrived (heck, I voted for Nixon), but Arizona politics are so far to the right that I was instantly branded with a big “L” on my forehead.

This is, after all, the state of Barry Goldwater, a man, by the way, whom I respect immensely. And of John McCain, a man I used to respect immensely until he chose Bozo Palin to be his running mate and then flipflopped on everything he stood for in the face of opposition from the likes of lightweight extremist J.D. Hayworth.

Don’t even get me started on Ev Mecham, the biggest dodo to ever serve as governor of any state anywhere. And Fife Symington? Don’t go there either.

And now we have Senate Bill 1070, an Arizona original, by which cops can stop anyone they want on the streets and demand to see proof of citizenship.

In my humble opinion, this isn’t about illegal immigrants – we’re all on the same page on that subject. No, it’s about our personal freedoms as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

If we’re going to preserve our freedoms, we best not allow any encroachment – even on Mexicans. Because, as history has proven, it’s a small step to the next level.

But the immediate problem is the black eye suffered by Arizona as a result of SB1070. At a time when the state is under great economic duress others are boycotting us, thus imposing greater hardships.

What’s at risk? That cash cow called tourism, including mostly conventions, potentially $90 million worth of the latter over the next five years, according to the City of Phoenix.

But never fear, because Gov. Jan Brewer, the impetus behind SB1070, has formed a tourism task force to revitalize our image. It has a month to present the gov with a plan

That’s not a lot of time, and meanwhile the convention and hotel cancellations are pouring in. Although we weren’t invited to participate on the task force, we’d like to offer our assistance – as a public service and at no cost to the taxpayers of Arizona.

Now the official ad campaign of the state of Arizona is currently “Free to be.” In light of SB1070, that has to go – unless, of course, we change it to “Free to be – as long as you’re a honky.”

But I think we can do better, and I humbly and respectfully submit the following for the Governor’s consideration:

“But it’s a dry bigotry.”

“We’re white and we wuv it, you wascally wabbits.”

“Grab your guns and come see us.”

Or a variation of the above done in an authentic Arizona drawl:

“Y’all come see us – and bring your guns, y’hear.”

“Now you know why it’s called Tex-Mex.”

“You think 115 is hot? Be glad you’re not Mexican.”

Or the shorter version…

“Making it really hot for Mexicans.”

“We don’t need no stinkin’ conventions.”

“Home of Sheriff Joe.”

“Our parks may be closed, but by God we’re lily white.”

“Visit Arizona: we’ll provide the white sheets.”

“The PURE state, if you get our drift.”

“Out here, we call ‘em Messcans.”

“We might not be politically correct, but our flag is cool.”

“Forests with no trees, rivers with no water, and a state with no Mexicans”

“Where nary is heard a Spanish word”

Wednesday, June 23, 2010



In this issue:

o Schultz fire rages near Flagstaff
o Star Valley council tables water deal with Payson
o Controversial, but road to Young will be paved
o Jim Keyworth on the Rim Country's newest thrift store
o Noble Collins on the 100 Greatest Books of All Time
o Mary Williams on days that go from bad to worst

Thanks for supporting truthful, balanced, unbiased journalism.

Kids manning 25 GLH lemonade stands on July 3

Contributed photo
Many of the 25-plus lemonade stands will be decorated with a theme and some kids will be dressed up in costume.

Kids are standing for kids at more than 25 decorated lemonade stands around the Rim Country.

The event features multiple lemonade stands set up by local children community-wide with the profits benefiting the Gracie Lee Haught Children's Memorial Fund.

In the past, Kids Standing for Kids has hosted 20 to 25 lemonade stands all running at one time from Payson up to Pine. This year we will have locations from Tonto Basin up to Pine and involve more than 50 kids from the area. Many of the stands are decorated with a theme and some kids have even dressed up in costume.

Buy an ice cold cup of lemonade and support the Gracie Lee Haught Children’s Memorial Fund from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 3.

"This event is a great way for parents and kids to interact, encourage the philanthropic spirit, build their customer service skills, and provide great community contribution opportunities while enjoying a great summertime activity," said parent Amity Justice.

Lemonade locations include: AZ Coil, AZ Exotics, Basha’s, Buffalo Grill, Butcher Hook in Tonto Basin, Canyon State Credit Union, Chapman Auto Center, Coldwell Banker Bishop Realty’s Pine office, From Head to Toe Essentials, Green Valley Park, Jennifer's Skin Care, Payson Feed & Pet, Payson Golf Course, Pine Country Animal Clinic, Plant Fair Nursery, Rim Country Hay & Grain, Safeway, Scoops, Tonto Basin Marketplace, Twin Pines Shopping Center, Uncle Tom's Kwik Stop, Walgreen’s and Western Village.

Proceeds benefit the Gracie Lee Haught Children’s Memorial Fund’s safety, car seat, and children’s crisis medical bills programs. The event has raise between $3,500 and $6,500 in the past. GLH thanks Wal-Mart, APS, and Pine Ice for the supplies.

For more information call 472-2588 or log onto

Possible dog poisonings reported in Mesa del

At least two possible dog poisonings have been reported in Mesa del Caballo in the past 10 days.

Residents are advised to take extra caution when leaving dogs in their yards, and to report any information on the poisonings to the Gila Country Sheriff's Department at (928) 425-4449 or (928) 474-2208. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

POETRY: Floyd Collins 1925

Floyd Collins

By Noble Collins

A coal-oil lantern‘s flame
spits and sputters,
flickers shadows on the walls,
then ,with a final sigh, allows the darkness in.

in cold and damp confined,
a fallen boulder holding fast his leg,
Floyd Collins, explorer of the underground,
Shouts a hoarse “Hello!“ for hours on end
to no one within miles of his plight.

The greatest irony of all:
the great explorer - captive to the cave
a hundred meters from the open air,
a meager distance , normally, to crawl,
but nothing will dislodge the heavy stone
which holds him fast and causes grinding pain

“The Greatest Caver!” some had called this man,
renowned for finding wondrous worlds within -
columned caverns, crystal passageways
honeycombed beneath a naïve earth

Now venturing once more
to find connections to the Mammoth Cave.
A new-found entrance, hoping to provide.
to lure the tourist dollars to his own
His “Crystal Cave” which goes unnoticed still.

In early evening, searchers finally come,
and there by torchlight called into to the dark,
“Floyd Collins, are you there?” but hear no sound,
and still again,
“Floyd, are you there?”
then one says “Listen!”
and, frozen to their pose, a weak response is heard ,
the hoarse voice recognized:
“Yes, I am here, but trapped,
and cannot move my leg.”

A sigh of great relief, is breathed into the night’s cold air,
for Floyd has been found alive
and only needs a rock removed, a fairly easy rescue, so it seems.
So, quickly now, they set about
to formulate a plan -to get him out.
“Hold on!” they call
“We’re here to get you out.”

But morning came and still there was no plan;
no firm agreement of the right approach.
The opening looked small, and
did the passage twist a bit and narrow when inside?
One said it did, and left to get some proper tools
to shore the crumbling sides
and bring a sturdy rope and harness
thus to pull him out -
to pull Floyd Collins out.

A smallish boy was chosen
to climb inside the cave
to navigate its twisting crumbling passageways -
squeezing even him -
and twenty minutes down, he came upon the man -
a smiling grimy face with head and shoulders barely visible,
one arm stretched out to touch his rescuer’s hand.

“I cannot use the rope.” Floyd said, “This rock has pinned me good.”
“but maybe you can dig around and free me from the side”
The boy agreed, but shifting rocks soon threatened
to undo the feeble shoveling, and so he stopped the work.
“Sir,” he said,
“ I must get better tools and stronger arms to help me dig,
but I will leave you water and some food ‘til our return.”
And then he crawled away.

By now, the town had heard the news, and when the boy crawled out
he was amazed to find a hundred people gathered ‘round
to witness Floyd’s release -
(a great moan rising as they heard the lad’s report)

Soon, heated mumbling made its way throughout the crowd
“For God’s sake, can’t we get him out?”
“Someone get him out!”

Another day, and then another, ended in debate
as first one plan was offered and rejected ,
then another seemed to offer better chances.
No one was sure, and none came forward to go down
except the boy who daily took some food and water
and some meager cheer
to aid Floyd Collins in his peril.

(The boy wrote it all down,
and later won a prize
the one named for Pulitzer.
but that was later.)

Day by day, a train unloaded hundreds more
as, quickly, the small town whistle-stop became a major depot
bringing news reporters and a morbid crowd who
hungered for some stark sensation, cheap excitement,
entertainment in a barren age now linked by newsprint
(back-fence gossip, just as surely as a whispered phrase).


So. More and more they came to form a mingling crowd -
thousands now to see the growing show,
the dire event become a carnival.
and, of course, they must be fed
and entertained,
and there was money to be made.

All the while a man was trapped beneath the earth -
in total darkness and no sound -
lonely, afraid, cold
wet, hungry,
slowly losing hope.

First one took charge
and then another.
“Go in.” said some.
“Stay out.” said others -
brilliant architects and great leaders,
but no help to Floyd,
and it began to rain

The crowd now neared ten thousand,
and all around the world
they bought up every edition of every newspaper
and every EXTRA!


But Floyd, cold, and wet
hungry and afraid
couldn’t move his leg
and didn’t imagine such things

A hole was dug
It quickly filled with mud and water
A light was lowered on a rope.
Did it navigate the twisted caved-in tunnel
to bring some warmth to Floyd?
There was no way to tell,
and no more volunteers to scramble down and see

Once, he shouted, “I’m free, boys.
Come on down and get me out.”
but they knew it wasn’t so

Another hole was started, larger now
and pumps were brought to get the water out.
Around the clock they worked
as, finally, all agreed upon the plan.

The crowd, wet and grumbling
down to their last dollar and no food left to buy
began to stumble back to town.
“What a sorry show!” they all agreed,
“and what a sorry ending”

It took two weeks to dig the hole.
No words or sounds from Floyd ,
and when they finally broke through
they were ten feet above his body,
So they closed the cave and let it be his grave.

Later, other men went back
to get the body out.
They put him in a glass box for all to see,

Floyd Collins -
a shy man who only wanted to succeed in his own way.-
a spectacle for other men’s coffers.

Soon, though, the news came from other places
and was of different things.
The train no longer stops here,
and for a very long time, now,
no one speaks of Floyd Collins anymore.

Scottsdale facility offers 100 free MRIs to vets

Southwest MRI would like to thank our veterans for their service and dedication to our country. In honor of our veterans, Uchendu Azodo, M.D. Fellowship-trained Musculoskeletal Radiologist and owner of Southwest MRI is offering 100 free MRIs, by appointment, to veterans during the entire month of July.

Spaces will fill quickly! MRIs will be scheduled Monday through Friday
beginning at 9 a.m., July 1-July 31st; please call 480.245.5848. No referral is required, however.

If you would like the report sent to your physician please bring their name, address phone and fax number with you to your appointment.

Who: Veterans
What: 100 Free MRIs. Spaces will fill quickly, please call to schedule your appointment.
Where: Southwest MRI at 11013 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale AZ 85254
Contact: 480.245.5848

Recently opened, Southwest MRI is a single-modality specialty outpatient center proud to use the best MRI equipment and offer complete MR imaging, including: orthopedic imaging, neuroimaging, breast imaging, and TMJ pathology. Since MRI is the only study being performed, each patient will have a personalized experience knowing they are in highly trained hands and
that Dr. Azodo is always available.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Who cares if it's average - it's 'The A-Team'

The A-Team

The Movie Connection
By Andy McKinney 
Gazette/Connection Film Critic
Fans of the classic TV show will not be disappointed in the big screen return of the fabled rascally renegade Robin Hoods. 

The quartet of ex-soldiers is depicted early in their career in the film version.  The lads are Special Op troops of the highest order who are framed, disgraced, thrown out of the Army and imprisoned.  The film shows them as they attempt to salvage their reputations and resume their lives. 

The film is a wild combination of “Mission Impossible”, the James Bond films and the Marx Brothers.  It is a fast, funny, exciting ride that fans of the original TV series will enjoy.
Liam Neeson leads the bunch as the cigar chomping, ever cheerful boss who plans the elaborate operations.  An actor of his caliber brings a lot even to a cardboardish character.  Bradley Cooper has a prominent role as Face, the con man who can weasel himself into and out of anywhere.  The Mr. T character, B.A., is gamely played by Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in a hopeless attempt to equal the original. 

The plum role has been taken with a vengeance by Sharlto Copely as Murdock.  Murdock is the pilot of the gang who happens to be certifiably insane.  Copely makes us believe it and seems to have a wonderful time while doing so.
Jessica Biel provides the eye candy as the sometimes girl friend of the Face character.  Watch for Gerald McRaney-star of the 80’s TV hit “Simon and Simon”-in a pivotal role as a double dealing general.
All in all the film is a success.  There are two episodes where director Joe Carnahan (notably director of “Smokin Aces”) lets spectacular computer generated special effects get away from him.  There is a silly skit where the band drops from an airplane into a tank, resulting eventually in the improbable destruction of a huge container ship.  But who cares?  It’s “The A-Team.”
“The A-Team” runs just short of two full hours.  The PG-13 rated film deserves an average three saw blades.
Next week we have “Jonah Hex,” the dark, western, comic based film and the third in Pixar’s wonderful “Toy Story” series.  Something for the little ones and their grams and also something for the hard core set.

RECESSION: Making or breaking it in rural Arizona

Contributed photo
Tourism is critical to the recovery of rural Arizona, and outdoor venues like these are the great draw that attracts summer throngs to the Rim Country.

How long can rural communities survive during slow recovery?

(An exclusive interview with Arizona State Treasurer and candidate for Governor Dean Martin, and one of the leading Arizona economic experts, Dr. Lee McPheter, Research Professor of Economics at W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.)

By Jesse Horn
Connection Executive Editor

Richard Feynman once noted that there are a hundred billion stars in the galaxy.

“That used to be a huge number,” he said, “But it's less than the national deficit!”

There is no doubt that our country has seen some profound economic changes over the past couple of years, and Arizona is seeing some of the worst. With measures being taken and new taxes enacted to combat these challenges, one of the big questions is when will rural communities see a turn for the better?

For much of Rim Country, Memorial Day Weekend and the Fourth of July are when tourist dollars pump life back into the economy and contribute to the yearly financial survival of businesses. With the first big difficult year now past, and businesses able to start seeing how the first summer holiday compared to last, there are some surprising findings.

Many of the typical high traffic businesses we spoke to, from retail to services, indicated that they are surprisingly on track for matching, if not surpassing last year’s numbers. Jim Burton of Coldwell Banker Realty stated that gross revenue was up 15 percent when compared with last year’s first five months. According to his figures, sales are similar to those from 2000 to 2003.

“We are really about equal to where we were last year,” he said.

Although this is encouraging, the impact of a slow economy is still being felt. From business closures to diminishing school enrollment numbers, there are still signs that we have a ways to go. With the loss of construction growth, there is a serious lack of year-round industry to aid rural economic sustainability.

In order to understand where these communities stand and what we should expect in the future we spoke to Dr. Lee McPheters, one of the state’s leading financial experts. Dr. McPheters is Research Professor of Economics at W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU.

“Here is our current perspective on the Arizona economy,” Dr. McPheters explained. “First, the Arizona overall unemployment rate (9.5 percent) is under 10 percent, but that is because unemployment remains lower in the large metropolitan areas such as Phoenix, where the rate is 8.9 percent. While still high, the more favorable rates in the large metro areas pull down the overall state average, and this masks the problems in the rural areas.”

Dr. McPheters went on to state that the smaller metropolitan areas and rural counties have been harder hit by the downturn.

“The Lake Havasu-Kingman area has an unemployment rate of more than 10 percent, and Prescott has 9.9 percent (rates seasonally adjusted). But most of the rural counties have unemployment rates well into the double digits. The Yuma County rate is usually highest in the state, and now it is over 25 percent. The unemployment rate in Santa Cruz County exceeds 15 percent. These are depression level unemployment numbers, and only an extended period of economic growth can bring a return to normal.”

So, what does Dr. McPheters see coming in the future?

“Our forecast is that the state will lose jobs for the year as a whole, compared to last year. But the losses month-by-month are getting smaller, and it appears that the Arizona economy is bottoming out and a rebound may be ahead starting in the second half of the year. The bad news is that the rural areas are likely to be among the last to recover. The metropolitan areas are helped by population growth, which is expected to recover over the next couple of years for Arizona.”

One factor contributing to this is the migration of people from the rural areas looking for work.

“Many rural areas have population growth below the state average, and that will make their recovery slower.”

We also contacted Arizona State Treasurer Dean Martin, who has been on track with where the economy is going, and shares Dr. McPheters cautious optimism.

“Looking at the economy we are beginning to see the bottom of the recent recession,” he stated.

“But it’s important to keep in mind that recovery is not fast in nature. Realistically we have an excess supply of homes that continue to be a drag on the economy. The three to four years for recovery that some are talking about is optimistic. In all reality we are probably looking at six to seven years before we see peak levels like we saw before the housing bubble collapsed.”

Treasurer Martin indicated that if things continue on their current path, we would likely be in the process of recovery by the end of the year.

“There will likely be a turning point this year, and we may see positive numbers in 2010. The question is whether we will start to see a pick up in time for this summer season.”

Martin stated that raw materials including mining and logging, along with industries like construction will be very slow to come back.

“One thing that I am concerned about is the price of gas. How will gas prices affect tourism? We should not see a spike like we did a couple of years ago, if there isn’t another terrorist attack or something unexpected. Overall, the experts are expecting things to flatten out. There may be isolated areas of growth, but for now flat is the new up.”

Martin also cautioned that there are other factors to consider.

“We don’t know how the tax increase is going to effect things as well. There is a spike in the economy as people try to make purchases before the changes take place, but there is always a crash that follows a spike, and this may happen just as tourism sets in. Things are flattening out and we are poised for a recovery. But as we hit bottom we are at our weakest point. If there is a terrorist attack, or another Rodeo-Chediski, then we will have difficulty managing through it. I am cautiously optimistic for 2010.”

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Big Rx discounts for many Medicare recipients

Washington DC – More Medicare beneficiaries will qualify for “Extra Help” with their prescription drug costs, and be eligible to pay no more than $2.50 for generic drugs and $6.30 for each brand name drug thanks to changes to Medicare’s Low-Income Subsidy Program (also known as LIS or “Extra Help”) that takes effect this year. These changes make it easier than ever for people on Medicare with limited incomes to save on their drug costs.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimates that “Extra Help” can save eligible Medicare beneficiaries as much as $3,900 per year. It is estimated that more than 1.8 million people with Medicare may be eligible for “Extra Help,” but are not currently enrolled to take advantage of these savings.

Changes in the law enacted in the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) of 2008 make it easier for Medicare beneficiaries to qualify for “Extra Help” by changing the way income and assets are counted in 2010. When determining eligibility for “Extra Help,” the Social Security Administration, which handles enrollment in the program, will no longer count life insurance policies as a resource. In addition, help received from family and friends to pay for household expenses like food, mortgage, rent and utilities will no longer count as income.

“These changes to the ‘Extra Help’ program make it easier for more people to get help paying for their prescription drugs,” said Marilyn Tavenner, CMS Principal Deputy Administrator. “Even if you were turned down for ‘Extra Help’ before, you should reapply. If you qualify, you will receive help paying for Medicare prescription drug coverage premiums, copayments and deductibles.”

To qualify, Medicare beneficiaries’ incomes must be less than $16,245 a year (or $21,855 for married couples) and have resources limited to $12,510 (or $25,010 for married couples). Resources include bank accounts, stocks, and bonds, but do not include houses, cars, or life insurance policies.

There is no cost to apply for “Extra Help.” Medicare beneficiaries, family members, trusted counselors or caregivers can apply online at or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778) and ask for the Application for Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs.

Medicare beneficiaries can also receive assistance in their local communities from their State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Local SHIP contact information can be found on the back of the Medicare & You 2010 handbook or online at All the information you give is confidential.

Most beneficiaries enrolled in a Part D plan whose income is too high to qualify for the “Extra Help,” but who enter the donut hole in 2010, will receive a one-time, tax-free rebate check of $250 to help out with high prescription drug costs thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The new law contains some important new benefits to help seniors and others who are caught in the coverage gap. To learn more about the Affordable Care Act and these new benefits through Medicare, visit

These $250 checks will begin to get mailed out to eligible beneficiaries on June 10 and will be sent to beneficiaries soon after they enter the coverage gap. For more information on how to get your rebate check, log on to

The donut hole is the period in the prescription drug benefit in which beneficiaries generally pay 100 percent of the cost of their drugs until they hit the catastrophic coverage. Beneficiaries who qualify for Medicare “Extra Help” do not have a donut hole.

To learn more about Medicare prescription drug coverage, visit, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

Marine veteran, pipefitter John Daly dies at 63

John Daly
1947 - 2010

John Patrick Daly, 63, passed away in Mesa, Ariz. on June 10, 2010. He was born in Astoria, New York on January 10, 1947. He was married to Charlotte (O’Neil) Daly who lives in Star Valley, Ariz.

John is survived by his wife Charlotte, daughters Cathy and Debbie, sons Patrick, Bryan and Kevin, sister Eileen, brother Neil and 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

John was in the Marine Corps, and was a steam pipefitter for 35 years in New York. He is a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7401 and a member of the American Legion Post 69.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 3 p.m. July 17 at the Ameican Legion Post 69, 709 E. Hwy 260, Payson.