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Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year to our friends from frigid Denver

Editor's note: Actually there are worse places to be stuck, like in a snowbank on I-40, but we'd much rather be celebrating with our friends tonight.  So to Randy and Minnie and Jim and Michele and Bill and Paula and Diane and Jeanne and Susan and Noble and Sharon and Carol and Ray and Lisa B. and all our other good friends and supporters in the Rim Country, this New Year's greeting was borrowed from Google, our blog host site and the best search engine in the world.  Just don't use it as a verb (see following story).

Michigan college's annual list includes Palinisms

Lake Superior State University 
2011 List of Banished Words
(Editor's note: Since we consider ourselves wordsmiths, we always look forward to Lake Superior State University's annual list of words that need to be banned. The fact that we are from Michigan and so is LSSU doesn't hurt. Nor does the fact that two Sarah Palinisms are featured prominently on this year's list.  So here it is: the list of words and phrases that ought to be banned in 2011 - and why:)

A-HA MOMENT

"All this means is a point at which you understand something or something becomes clearer. Why can't you just say that?" Audrey Mayo, Killeen, Tex.

BACK STORY

"This should be on the list of words that don't need to exist because a perfectly good word has been used for years. In this case, the word is 'history,' or, for those who must be weaned, 'story.'" Jeff Williams, Sherwood, Ariz.

BFF

"These chicks call each other BFF (Best Friends Forever) and it lasts about 10 minutes. Now there's BFFA (Best Friends For Awhile), which makes more sense." Clare Rabe Forgach, Ft. Collins, Colo.

MAN UP

"A stupid phrase when directed at men. Even more stupid when directed at a woman, as in 'Alexis, you need to man up and join that Pilates class!'" Sherry Edwards, Clarkston, Mich.

"Another case of 'verbing' a noun and ending with a preposition that goes nowhere. Not only that, the phrase is insulting, especially when voiced by a female, who'd never think to say, 'Woman up!'" Aunt Shecky, East Greenbush, NY.

"Can a woman 'man-up,' or would she be expected to 'woman-up?'" Jay Leslie, Portland, Maine.

"Not just overused (a 2010 top word according to the Global Language Monitor) but bullying and sexist." Christopher K. Philippo, Glenmont, NY.

"We had to put up with 'lawyer up.' Now 'man up,' too? A chest-thumping cultural regression fit for frat boys stacking beer glasses." Craig Chalquist Ph.D., Walnut Creek, Calif.

REFUDIATE

"Adding this word to the English language simply because a part-time politician lacks a spell checker on her cell phone is an action that needs to be repudiated." Dale Humphreys, Muskegon, Mich.

Kuahmel Allah of Los Angeles, Calif. wants to banish what he called 'Sarah Palin-isms': "Let's 'refudiate' them on the double!"

MAMA GRIZZLIES

"Unless you are referring to a scientific study of Ursus arctos horribilis, this analogy of right-wing female politicians should rest in peace." Mark Carlson, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

"These politicians in Congress say 'the American People' as part of what seems like every statement they make! I see that others have noticed it, too, as various websites abound, including an entry on Wikipedia." Paul M. Girouard, St. Louis, Mo.

"No one in Washington can pontificate for more than two sentences without using it. Beyond overuse, these people imply that 'the American people' want/expect/demand all the same things. They don't." Dick Hilker, Loveland, Colo.

"Aren't all Americans people? Every political speech refers to the 'American' people as if simply saying 'Americans' (or 'people') is not enough." Deb Faust, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

I'M JUST SAYIN'

"'A phrase used to diffuse any ill feelings caused by a preceded remark,' according to the Urban Dictionary. Do we really need a qualifier at the end of every sentence? People feel uncomfortable with a comment that was made and then 'just sayin'' comes rolling off the tongue? It really doesn't change what was said, I'm just sayin'." Becky of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

"I'm just sayin'...'I'm not sayin'''…Actually, you ARE saying…A watered-down version of what I just said or intended to say….SAY what you are saying. DON'T SAY what you aren't saying." Julio Appling, Vancouver, Wash.

"Obviously you are saying it…you just said it!" Catherine Wilson, Granger, Ind.

"And we would never have known if you hadn't told us." Bob Forrest, Tempe, Ariz.

"When a 24-hour news network had the misguided notion to brand this phrase as a commentary segment called, 'Just sayin', I thought I was going to wretch." Casey Conroy, Pleasant Hill, Calif.

FACEBOOK / GOOGLE as verbs

"Facebook is a great, addicting website. Google is a great search engine. However, their use as verbs causes some deep problems. As bad as they are, the trend can only get worse, i.e. 'I'm going to Twitter a few people, then Yahoo the movie listings and maybe Amazon a book or two." Jordan of Waterloo, Ont.

LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST

"It's an absurdity followed by a redundancy. First, things are full or they're not; there is no fullest. Second, 'live life' is redundant. Finally, the expression is nauseatingly overused. What's wrong with enjoying life fully or completely? The phrase makes me gag. I'm surprised it hasn't appeared on the list before." Sylvia Hall, Williamsport, Penn.

VIRAL

"Often used to describe the spreading of items on the Internet i.e. 'The video went viral.' It is overused. I have no objection to this word's use as a way to differentiate a (viral) illness from bacterial." Jim Cance, Plainwell, Mich.

"This linguistic disease of a term must be quarantined." Kuahmel Allah, Los Angeles, Calif.

"Events, photographs, written pieces and even occasional videos that attracted a great deal of attention once were simply highly publicized, repeated in news broadcasts, and talked about for a few days. Now, however, it is no longer enough to give such offerings their 15 minutes of fame, but they must be declared to 'go viral.' As a result, any mindless stunt or vapid bit of writing is sent by its creators whirling around the Internet and, once whirled, its creators declare it (trumpets here) 'viral!' Enough already! If anything is to be declared worthy enough to 'go viral,' clearly it should be the LSSU Banished Words list for 2011!" Lawrence Mickel, Coventry, Conn.

"I knew it was time when the 2010 list of banished words appeared in Time magazine's, 'That Viral Thing' column." Dave Schaefer, Glenview, Ill.

"I didn't mind much when 'viral' came to mean an under-handed tactic by advertising companies to make their ads look like pop culture. However, now anything that becomes popular on YouTube is suddenly 'viral.' I just don't get it." Kevin Wood, Wallacetown, Ont.

"Every time I see a viral video on CNN or am asked to 'Let's go viral with this' in another lame e-mail forwarded message, it makes me sick." Lian Schmidt, Bandon, Ore.
EPIC

More than one nominator says the use of 'epic' has become an epic annoyance.

"Cecil B. DeMille movies are epic. Internet fallouts and opinions delivered in caps-lock are not. 'Epic fail,' 'epic win', 'epic (noun)' -- it doesn't matter; it needs to be banished until people recognize that echoing trite, hyperbolic Internet phrases in an effort to look witty or intelligent actually achieves the opposite." Kim U., Des Moines, Iowa.

"Over-use of the word 'epic' has reached epic proportions. Tim Blaney, Snoqualmie, Wash.

"Anything that this word describes in popular over-usage is rarely ever 'epic' in the traditional sense of being heroic, majestic, or just plain awe-inspiring." Mel F., Dallas, Tex.

"Standards for using 'epic' are so low, even 'awesome' is embarrassed." Mike of Kettering, Ohio.

"I'm sure that when the history books are written or updated and stories have been passed through the generations, the epic powder on the slopes during your last ski trip or your participation in last night's epic flash mob will probably not be included. This may be the root of this epic problem, but it seems as if during the past two years, any idea that was not successful was considered an 'epic-fail.' This includes the PowerPoint presentation you tried to give during this morning's meeting, but couldn't because of technical problems. Also, the ice storm of 'epic proportions' that is blanketing the east coast this winter sure looks a lot like the storm that happened last winter." DV, Seattle, Wash.
FAIL

One nominator says, "what originally may have been a term for a stockbroker's default is now abused by today's youth as virtually any kind of 'failure.' Whether it is someone tripping, a car accident, a costumed character scaring the living daylights out a kid, or just a poor choice in fashion, these people drive me crazy thinking that anything that is a mistake is a 'fail.' They fail proper language!"

"Fail is not a noun. It is not an adjective. It is a verb. If this word is not banned, then this entire word banishment system is full of FAIL. (Now doesn't that just sound silly?)" Daniel of Carrollton, Georgia.

"When FAILblog.org went up, it was a funny way to view videos of unfortunate people in unfortunate situations. The word fail is now used by people, very often just to tease others, when they 'FAIL.' Any time you screw up in life -- a trip up the stairs, a bump into a wall, or a Freudian slip, you get that word thrown in your face." Tyler Lynch, Washington, Iowa.

"Mis-used. Over-used. Used with complete disregard to the 'epic' weight of the word. Silence obnoxious reality TV personalities and sullen, anti-establishment teenagers everywhere by banishing this word." Natalie of Burlington, Ont.

"It has taken over blogs, photo captions, 'status' comments. Anytime someone does something less than perfect, we have to read 'FAIL!' The word has failed us all." Aaron Yunker, Ishpeming, Mich.
WOW FACTOR

"This buzzword is served up with a heaping of cliché factor and a side order of irritation. But the lemmings from cable-TV cooking, whatever design and fashion shows keep dishing it out. I miss the old days when 'factor' was only on the math-and-science menu." Dan Muldoon, Omaha, Neb.

"Done-to-death phrase to point out something with a somewhat significantly appealing appearance." Ann Pepper, Knoxville, Tenn.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I-17 and I-40 reopen following overnight effort

PHOENIX — As Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) crews gain momentum in clearing ice and snow from overnight storms, the following highway restrictions have been lifted:

* I-17 is now open in both directions. Traffic had been closed Wednesday due to snow and congestion. This reopening will allow motorists to move between Flagstaff and Phoenix, although drivers should expect longer-than-normal travel times and continued snowplow patrols. However, if conditions change drivers should be prepared for delays or temporary closures.

* I-40 is now open in both directions after being closed earlier Thursday from roughly Kingman to Flagstaff to Holbrook. I-40 is a primary national transportation corridor and, like I-17, will remain a top priority for ADOT to keep clear and passable as weather conditions continue to evolve.

* State Route 89A remains closed from Pumphouse Wash at milepost 386 to Forest Highlands Road at milepost 397 due to winter conditions and resource allocation. The highway may open late Thursday afternoon based on weather.

* US 180 remains closed north of Flagstaff and is expected to remains so until at least Friday.

* State Route 77 between Globe and Winkleman has been reopened.

* State Route 366 in Graham County has been closed because gusting winds, snow and icy roads that are causing dangerous conditions. ADOT has deployed available crews and snow removal equipment from the Safford area to more heavily traveled routes on US 191 and US 70. With colder temperatures and more snow possible overnight, ADOT expects to keep SR 366 closed to all traffic until Saturday. Known locally as Swift Trail, SR 366 runs west off of US 191 south of Safford and goes to the top of Mount Graham.

* US 191 is impassible between Morenci and Hannigan Meadow in Greenlee County because snow, wind and ice. Drivers should avoid using the highway, which leads into the White Mountains. Travel though this area is made more difficult by the closure of US 180 in New Mexico, which serves as an alternate route between Morenci and Alpine.

* Other highways in northeastern Arizona, north of Payson, continue to experience extreme weather and whiteout conditions. State Route 87 and State Route 260 require snow chains or four-wheel-drive vehicles; temporary periods of closure in segments may be required based on current weather conditions.

ADOT strongly advises drivers to delay all travel through Thursday or until roadway and weather conditions improve. Commercial vehicles blocking travel lanes are making access by ADOT snowplows difficult, delaying the clearance of snow and ice. Drivers are encouraged to postpone travel until conditions improve later this week and into the weekend.

Before heading out on the roads, drivers are encouraged to call 5-1-1 or log on to ADOT's Traveler Information Center at www.az511.gov for the latest highway conditions around the state, or follow on Twitter @ArizonaDOT. The website features images along state highways that give drivers a glimpse of weather conditions in various regions. Driver safety tips are available from ADOT at KnowSnow.

Stranded Valley pair rescued by local samaritans

Story and photos by Guy Lewis

Around noon on Dec. 30, one of Gila County's finest diverted a grandmother and a seven-year-old birthday boy driving a two wheel drive Ford Fusion, east on Houston Mesa road.

Destination: the Control Road north towards Pine.

Reason for diversion: Arizona Highway 87 north of Payson was closed due to the heavy snow.

At about 1:20 p.m., Anne Theocharides of Mesa and her grandson Braeden Dusseault were found crossways along the road – nose pinned to the rock face of the hill they were trying to climb and the rear of the Ford Fusion against the snowbank to the east.

Gery Zimmerman and Robert White of Pine, E.J. Sandoval of Tempe, and Austin Wilbanks were slowing making their way north towards Pine in their 4-wheel drive pickup trucks when they rounded the bend north of the bridge at the Camp Geronimo turnoff. The four men worked for a little less then an hour turning Anne’s ford around and headed south - back to Payson.

Anne explained that today was Braeden’s seventh birthday and he wanted to visit his dad, David Dusseault, and maternal grandparents, Dave and Brenda Bigge, who were camping along the Control Road this week.

Had it not been for the chance meeting with the four men heading north, Anne and Braeden might still be pinned in the snow covered hills along the Control Road.

Winter storm, multi-car accident close Beeline

Storm photos from Channel 3 News.  For a complete slide show of storm photos, go to www.azfamily.com 

By Jim Keyworth
Gazette Editor

The winter storm pummeling the Rim Country is causing havoc on major highways.

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) announced that northbound Arizona Highway 87 is closed at milepost 254, north of Payson, due to snow and multiple crashes. According to former Gazette Editor and Pine resident Carol La Valley, a multi-car accident involving as many as 20-30 vehicles occurred Wednesday afternoon.

Chains and four-wheel drive are required for motorists heading east out of town on Arizona Highway 260.

For complete details on closures and restrictions for highways 87 and 260 and other major Arizona highways, see the summary at the end of this story.

ADOT also closed State Route 89A between Sedona and Flagstaff Wednesday afternoon. ADOT says the highway will remain closed at least until Thursday afternoon.

Traffic is also restricted on Interstate 17 at Stoneman Lake about 15 miles north of Camp Verde. Heavy tow trucks were en route Thursday morning to help clear the roadway.

After 80 vehicle slide-offs and over 40 crashes, the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DOS) closed all northbound and southbound traffic on Interstate 17 near Flagstaff just after 6 p.m. Wednesday due to hazardous travel conditions. There is no estimate on when DOS might be able to reopen I-17. They say the situation is bad and getting worse.

The storm, which arrived early Wednesday morning and is impacting most all of Arizona, is expected to move out Thursday. Snowfall totals in northern Arizona could be as high as high as two feet.

Phoenix is expected to receive up to 1 inch of rain, but with snow levels expected to drop to about 2,000 feet Thursday, northern parts of the Valley could see some snow as well.

Temperatures are expected to drop dramatically as the storm moves through the state with readings below freezing New Years Eve.


LATEST PRESS RELEASE FROM ADOT WITH CLOSURE UPDATES

I-40 closed across Northern Arizona

December 30, 2010
PHOENIX — As winter weather descends on Northern Arizona, the Arizona Department of Transportation is announcing the following highway closure:
  • Interstate 40 stretching through Kingman, Flagstaff and Holbrook (milepost 71 to 250) has been closed in both directions due to winter driving conditions.
  • I-17 northbound remains closed north of State Route 179. Traffic at this time is being diverted to southbound I-17. Drivers are advised to detour in advance or delay travels to avoid congestion at the turnaround.
  • I-17 southbound is closed at Airport Road, about two miles south of Flagstaff. Traffic is being rerouted back to the north. Travel south from Flagstaff at this time is not recommended; no reopen time has been established.
  • State Route 89A remains closed from Pumphouse Wash at milepost 386 to Forest Highlands Road at milepost 397 due to winter conditions and resource allocation.
ADOT strongly advises drivers to delay all travel through Thursday or until roadway and weather conditions improve. Commercial vehicles blocking travel lanes are making access by ADOT snowplows difficult, delaying the clearance of snow and ice.
Before heading out on the roads, drivers are encouraged to call 5-1-1 or log on to ADOT's Traveler Information Center at www.az511.gov for the latest highway conditions around the state, or follow on Twitter @ArizonaDOT. The website features images along state highways that give drivers a glimpse of weather conditions in various regions. Driver safety tips are available from ADOT at KnowSnow.

Additional Arizona Road Conditions | Winter Storm Alert
The following list from the Arizona Department of Transportation details road conditions for State and US Highways in Arizona that are affected by the current Winter Storm Conditions as of 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, December 29, 2010.

Conditions during storm events often change rapidly so this list may not be all-inclusive. Travelers are advised to avoid all affected roads unless travel is absolutely necessary. Ongoing information is also available from the Arizona Department of Transportation at az511.com.

UPDATE: State Route 87 : Winter Storm Road Conditions:
State route 87 is closed from Payson to Heber-Overgaard because of snow
Snow or Ice reported on roadway - USE EXTREME CAUTION
On State Route 87, NS-bound from mile post 254.50, at HOUSTON MESA ROAD to mile post 264.0, 3.70 miles South of PINE
from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 3:18 PM to Thu, 30 Dec 2010 5:00 AM

On State Route 87, South-bound from mile post 290.0, 0.10 miles North of CLINTS WELL to mile post 317.0, 7.20 miles North of ELKS PICNIC GROUNDS from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 8:00 PM to Thu, 30 Dec 2010 6:00 AM

on State Route 87, On State Route 87, NS-bound from mile post 261.0, 6.50 miles North of HOUSTON MESA ROAD to mile post 340.0, 0.40 miles North of WINSLOW from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 7:16 AM to Thu, 30 Dec 2010 4:00 PM

UPDATE: State Route 260 : Winter Storm Conditions
State Route 260 is closed from Payson to Heber-Overgaard beacuse of snow
Snow or Ice reported on roadway - USE EXTREME CAUTION
On State Route 260, EW-bound from mile post 357.70, 0.20 miles East of SR 73 to mile post 377.46, at SR 273 from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 10:10 AM to Fri, 31 Dec 2010 12:10 PM

On State Route 260, EW-bound from mile post 325.20, 0.80 miles East of CLAY SPRINGS to mile post 340.10, at U S 60 rom Wed, 29 Dec 2010 10:09 AM to Fri, 31 Dec 2010 12:09 PM

On State Route 260, EW-bound from mile post 341.64, 1.40 miles West of SHOW LOW to mile post 357.70, 0.20 miles East of SR 73 from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 10:08 AM to Fri, 31 Dec 2010 12:08 PM

On State Route 260, EW-bound from mile post 302.70, 2.90 miles West of SR 277 to mile post 325.20, 0.80 miles East of CLAY SPRINGS from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 10:07 AM to Fri, 31 Dec 2010 12:07 PM

On State Route 260, EW-bound from mile post 251.80, at SR 87 to mile post 303.0, 2.60 miles West of SR 277 from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 9:09 AM to Thu, 30 Dec 2010 5:00 AM

On State Route 260, EW-bound from mile post 377.46, at SR 273 to mile post 398.67, at U S 180 from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 6:55 PM to Thu, 30 Dec 2010 6:30 PM

UPDATE: Interstate 40: Winter Storm Conditions
Interstate 40 is closed in both directions from milepost 71 to milepost 250 (Kingman-Flagstaff-Holbrook)
On Interstate 40, EW-bound from mile post 333.30, at U S 191 NORTH to mile post 359.60, at NEW MEXICO STATE LINE from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 6:58 PM to Thu, 30 Dec 2010 6:30 AM

State Route 64 : Winter Storm Conditions
Snow or Ice reported on roadway - USE EXTREME CAUTION
On State Route 64, EW-bound from mile post 186.0, 0.50 miles East of WILLIAMS to mile post 237.0, 4.59 miles West of GRAND CANYON

State Route 73 : Winter Storm Conditions
Snow or Ice reported on roadway - USE EXTREME CAUTION
On State Route 73, NS-bound from mile post 351.10, 6.50 miles South of U S 260 to mile post 357.70, at U S 260 from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 10:14 AM to Fri, 31 Dec 2010 12:14 PM

State Route 77 : Winter Storm Conditions
Snow or Ice reported on roadway - USE EXTREME CAUTION
On State Route 77, NS-bound from mile post 342.20, at U S 60 to mile post 361.10, at SNOWFLAKE from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 10:13 AM to Fri, 31 Dec 2010 12:13 PM

On State Route 77, NS-bound from mile post 140.0, 5.30 miles North of WINKELMAN to mile post 170.0, 0.80 miles South of U S 70 from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 7:42 PM to Thu, 30 Dec 2010 5:00 AM

State Route 89 : Winter Storm Conditions
Snow or Ice reported on roadway - USE EXTREME CAUTION
Winter Storm Alert on State Route 89, NS-bound from mile post 345.0, 13.70 miles North of CHINO VALLEY to mile post 363.80, at I 40 from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 6:48 PM to Thu, 30 Dec 2010 8:00 AM

State Route Alternate 89 : Winter Storm Conditions
*IMPASSABLE / ROAD CLOSED*
On State Route Alternate 89, NS-bound from mile post 386.50, 0.70 miles North of Cave Springs Campground to mile post 397.0, 0.10 miles South of Forest Highlands Dr from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 2:19 PM to Thu, 30 Dec 2010 4:00 PM

Snow or Ice reported on roadway:
On State Route Alternate 89, NS-bound from mile post 378.0, 0.10 miles South of Old Indian Rd to mile post 399.0, at I-17 from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 1:16 PM to Thu, 30 Dec 2010 4:00 PM

On State Route Alternate 89, NS-bound from mile post 335.0, 3.0 miles North of Forest Service Rd 643 to mile post 338.0, 1.0 miles South of Forest Service Rd 503 from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 9:36 AM to Thu, 30 Dec 2010 4:00 PM

On State Route Alternate 89, NS-bound from mile post 351.0, 0.10 miles South of Verde Heights Dr to mile post 399.0, at I-17 from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 7:12 AM to Thu, 30 Dec 2010 4:00 PM

State Route 261 : Winter Storm Conditions
Impassable / Road Closed on State Route 261, NS-bound from mile post 407.90, 4.50 miles South of SR 260 to mile post 395.0, 0.60 miles North of SR 273 from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 11:35 AM to Mon, 2 May 2011 1:35 PM - Road closed for winter.

State Route 264 : Winter Storm Conditions
Snow or Ice reported on roadway - USE EXTREME CAUTION
On State Route 264, EW-bound from mile post 404.0, 7.10 miles West of Bia006 to mile post 418.0, 6.80 miles East of Bia006 from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 8:19 PM to Thu, 30 Dec 2010 6:19 AM

On State Route 264, EW-bound from mile post 417.60, 6.40 miles East of Bia006 to mile post 445.50, 1.30 miles West of US-191 South from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 5:17 PM to Thu, 30 Dec 2010 5:00 AM

State Route 273 : Winter Storm Conditions
*IMPASSABLE / ROAD CLOSED*
On State Route 273, NS-bound from mile post 382.90, 1.50 miles South of SUNRISE SKI AREA to mile post 396.90, at END SR 273 from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 11:38 AM to Mon, 2 May 2011 1:38 PM
Road closed for winter.

State Route 277 : Winter Storm Conditions
Snow or Ice reported on roadway - USE EXTREME CAUTION
On State Route 277, NS-bound from mile post 306.0, 0.30 miles North of SR 260 to mile post 336.40, at SR 77 from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 10:11 AM to Fri, 31 Dec 2010 12:11 PM

US Highway 60 : Winter Storm Conditions
Snow or Ice reported on roadway - USE EXTREME CAUTION
On US Highway 60, EW-bound from mile post 353.1, 0.10 miles East of SR 61 to mile post 401.97, at New Mexico State Line from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 6:49 PM to Thu, 30 Dec 2010 6:30 PM

US Highway 89 : Winter Storm Conditions
Snow or Ice reported on roadway - USE EXTREME CAUTION
On US Highway 89, NS-bound from mile post 431.0, 0.60 miles North of SUNSET CRATER RD to mile post 420.0, 1.60 miles North of FLAGSTAFF from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 7:00 AM to Thu, 30 Dec 2010 4:00 PM

US Highway 180 : Winter Storm Conditions
Snow or Ice reported on roadway - USE EXTREME CAUTION
On US Highway 180, EW-bound from mile post 400.61, 0.10 miles East of US-60 / Main St to mile post 433.26, at New Mexico State Line from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 7:14 PM to Thu, 30 Dec 2010 6:30 PM

On US Highway 180, EW-bound from mile post 265.0, 0.70 miles West of SR-64 to mile post 250.0, 1.70 miles East of Cedar Ranch Rd from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 1:45 PM to Thu, 30 Dec 2010 4:00 PM

US Highway 191 : Winter Storm Conditions
Snow or Ice reported on roadway - USE EXTREME CAUTION
On US Highway 191, NS-bound from mile post 225.1, at FH084 to mile post 253.74, at US-180 from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 7:12 PM to Thu, 30 Dec 2010 6:30 PM

On US Highway 191, NS-bound from mile post 225.1, at FH084 to mile post 253.74, at US-180 from Wed, 29 Dec 2010 7:12 PM to Thu, 30 Dec 2010 6:30 PM

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

ADOT ready for approaching winter storm

I-40 and I-17 priorities for snowplowing

PHOENIX - As winter weather moves into Arizona Wednesday, the Arizona Department of Transportation is prepared for this latest storm that will bring snow and rain to much of the state, while making sure drivers have the tools and tips they need to plan their trips.

ADOT staff and plows are prepared to tackle snow and ice on interstate and state routes throughout the holiday weekend, but drivers should be prepared for temporary highway closures, quickly changing weather conditions and unpredictable roadways. I-40 and I-17 will remain the top priorities in Northern Arizona, patrolled by ADOT crews who consistently lead first responders into situations like those expected this week.

This week’s forecast calls for high winds and heavy snow – up to 20 inches – on Wednesday and Thursday, along with very cold temperatures that will lower the snow elevation significantly. ADOT is already making preparations to temporarily close a few Northern Arizona highways with little notice if the large amount of snow and ice create unsafe conditions for the traveling public.

Some of the highways likely to be closed temporarily include:

* US 180 between mileposts 236 (Kendrick Park) and 248 (Cedar Ranch)
* SR 89A between mileposts 386 (Pumphouse Wash) and 397 (Forest Highlands)
* SR 64 between mileposts 268 and 295 (east entrance to Grand Canyon Park)

These possible closures will allow more resources to be used on the highest priority roads. ADOT’s first priority is to keep Interstates 40 and 17 clear of snow and ice and open to drivers. If blowing and drifting snow become severe, even the interstate routes may be closed, as was experienced last year.

ADOT’s first priority is public safety, and snowplowing is always a main focus during critical winter safety operations. These operations are a year-round focus for ADOT. The agency prepares by servicing equipment, training personnel and stocking up on materials. When weather hits, ADOT staff clear the snow and ice, focusing on the most critical transportation routes first. Afterwards, Transportation Department personnel repair damaged roads and equipment. It’s a continuous cycle, but one that is crucial as we work to ensure the safety and mobility of the traveling public.

Resources translate into readiness. ADOT has 395 employees who are trained snowplow operators. During winter storms, these operators typically work 12-hour shifts to keep roads clear and open. ADOT also has 196 snowplow trucks in its fleet statewide that are serviced, staffed and ready to go. In addition, Arizona is fully stocked with deicer chemicals, which include a granular product called Ice Slicer and liquid magnesium chloride. Finally, ADOT has many employees statewide who are ready to manage operations during the height of any winter storm.

While ADOT is prepared to keep the roads clear and open as we have in years past, motorists should be prepared when driving through regions prone to snowy and icy conditions. That includes becoming more familiar with safe driving tips and carrying a winter preparedness kit in your vehicle. This information can be found below and also on ADOT’s “Know Snow” Web site at www.azdot.gov/KnowSnow. The Web site also contains downloadable snow maps of snowplowing routes.

Before heading out on the roads, drivers are encouraged to call 5-1-1 or log on to ADOT’s Traveler Information Center at www.az511.gov for the latest highway conditions around the state. The Web site features images along state highways that give drivers a glimpse of weather conditions in various regions.

ADOT reminds motorists to drive with caution and offers tips:


* Slow down. Drive defensively. Be patient and allow additional time for your trip.
* Carry snow chains or cables, in case highways are snow-packed and icy. Also be sure to pack an emergency kit in your car that includes a fully charged cell phone, extra food and water, blankets, a flashlight, extra batteries, a shovel, an ice scraper, and sand for traction.
* Leave sufficient space between your vehicle and others. Give yourself plenty of room and time to stop to avoid upcoming hazards.
* If stopped on the roadway, leave room for emergency vehicles to get around you.
* Don’t follow snowplows too closely, and do not pass them.
* Make sure your vehicle has plenty of fuel and pack extra clothing for winter weather.
* If you slide off the roadway, stay with your vehicle. ADOT or the Highway Patrol will respond.
* Check weather and road conditions before you leave. Let someone know your route.

Clearance sale on paperbacks, videos in January

LIBRARY FRIENDS OF PAYSON 
BOOKSTORE

During the month of January the Library Friends of Payson Bookstore is featuring a clearance sale on paperback books and videos.

All paperback books will be priced at 20 cents or five for $1.00. Videos will be 50 cents or 2 for $1.00.

Hurry in to take full advantage of these incredible bargains. It’s a great way to ensure that you have plenty of reading and viewing material for the cold months of winter yet to come. What better way to spend those frosty days than curled up with a good book or movie and something warm to drink!

The Bookstore constantly receives high quality donations. Volunteers place these books on the shelves as quickly as possible. Therefore, the wise patron will stop by frequently during January.

The LFOP Bookstore is located to the right of the circulation desk just inside the Payson Public Library, 328 N. McLane Road. For more information visit the Library Friends of Payson website at www.libraryfriendsofpayson.org

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

ADOT advises allowing extra time to get home

Delays on Beeline, 10-mile backup on I-10

PHOENIX - Travelers heading home on state highways to wrap up the holiday weekend are encouraged to allow extra travel time. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) says traffic backups can be expected approaching some existing work zones, although construction work will not resume until next week. Among the safety improvement locations where delays should be anticipated:


-- Interstate 10 approximately 11 miles west of the State Route 85 junction west of the Phoenix area: A major bridge repair project at the Hassayampa River has required the closure of the westbound I-10 bridge. I-10 is limited to one lane in each direction using the eastbound bridge. Drivers are encouraged to allow at least 90 minutes of extra travel time due to busy traffic conditions. Drivers can consider US 60 through Wickenburg and Vicksburg Junction to connect with I-10 as an alternate. By Monday afternoon (Dec. 27), the westbound delay was approaching 10 miles (to milepost 111).


-- Arizona State Route 87 between the Phoenix area and Payson: A highway widening and shoulder improvement project five miles north of the Bush Highway/Saguaro Lake turnoff (south of Sunflower) limits travel to one lane in each direction. Heavier traffic, especially in the southbound direction, should be expected.


-- Grand Avenue (US 60) in the Phoenix region: New lanes were opened in late November between 83rd Avenue and Loop 101. However, an existing work zone with limited lanes remains in place between Loop 101 and Loop 303.


-- Interstate 17 between Flagstaff and Phoenix: Although no major lane restrictions are in place, drivers are encouraged to allow extra travel time due to anticipated heavier traffic and be alert to changing weather conditions and snow expected later in the week.


ADOT reminds drivers to remember the following safe driving tips: Be patient, do not follow other vehicles too closely; obey speed limits, buckle up and never drive while impaired. Information about highway conditions is available on ADOT's Travel Information site at www.az511.gov or by calling 5-1-1. Specific information on the I-10 Hassayampa Bridge Project is available at www.azdot.gov/hassy.


About the I-10 Hassayampa River bridge safety repair project: The $3.9 million project to replace the aging bridge decks began in October. A new westbound bridge deck is scheduled to be completed in spring 2011. I-10 traffic will then be switched to the westbound bridge to allow crews to repair the eastbound structure. The entire project is scheduled for completion by fall 2011.

UA finds extinct comet may be coming back to life

This image combines thirty exposures made with the Catalina Sky Survey's 60-inch telescope a few days after the initial discovery. It shows the outburst of (596) Scheila. (Image by Alex Gibbs and Steve Larson)

By University Communications

Tucson, Ariz., Dec. 2010 - An asteroid discovered more than 100 years ago may not be an asteroid at all, but an extinct comet that is coming back to life, according to new observations.

The night of  Dec. 11, Steve Larson, senior staff scientist with the Catalina Sky Survey, was searching for potentially hazardous asteroids when he came across what looked like a comet: a faint, wispy tail surrounding a bright, star-like core. Four images taken over the course of 30 minutes revealed the object was moving relative to the background stars.

"Its brightness of a total magnitude of 13.4 visual, which is about 900 times fainter than the faintest star you can see in a clear, dark sky, led me to suspect that it was a known comet, but I checked the comet database and got nothing," Larson said.

According to Larson, comets are thought to be a major source of Earth's water, and "extinct" comets may be useful resources for space exploration.

Further investigation revealed that the object was a known asteroid called (596) Scheila, discovered in 1906. The extraterrestrial rock is tumbling through space alongside thousands of similar objects in our solar system's main asteroid belt, roughly between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, out of the ecliptic plane in which most planets and asteroids travel.

Catalina Sky Survey team member Alex Gibbs checked previous images in the survey's archives but found no activity until Dec. 3. At that time, the object appeared brighter and slightly diffuse.

Previous analysis of (596) Scheila's color indicated that it is composed of primitive carbonaceous material left over from the formation of the solar system and might be an extinct comet.

After the discovery was announced, the astronomical community responded by pointing many of the world's largest telescopes at the object to obtain images and spectra to determine if its tail consists of ice and gases spewing out of the body or if it is dust left behind from a collision with another asteroid. Preliminary spectra of the outburst show that the coma surrounding the asteroid is composed of dust, but more observations will be needed to understand just what is happening with (596) Scheila.

"Most asteroids are collision fragments from larger asteroids and display a range of mineral composition," Larson explained. "But a fraction are thought to be former comets whose volatile ices have been driven off by the sun. If the activity in Scheila proves to be cometary in nature, this will be only the sixth known main-belt comet, and about 100 times larger than previously identified main belt comets."

In 1998, Larson founded the Catalina Sky Survey, a NASA-supported project to discover and catalog Earth-approaching and potentially hazardous asteroids. It operates two telescopes in the Catalina Mountains and one in Australia and is currently discovering 70 percent of the world's known near-Earth objects, including one that fell in northern Sudan in 2008.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Brief Beeline closure scheduled for Wednesday

Arizona State Route 87 will be closed in both directions for about 30 minutes on Wednesday (Dec. 29) at milepost 205 (six miles north of the Bush Highway; 17 miles north of Fountain Hills) for construction-related activity.

Motorists should prepare for possible delays beginning at 10 a.m. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) urges motorists to use caution, watch for flaggers and obey speed limits in the construction zone.

For more information about construction on SR 87 between the Valley and Payson, visit http://www.valleyfreeways.org/Highways/Valley_Freeways/SR87/index.asp; and, for information about upcoming closures and restrictions, visit http://www.valleyfreeways.org/Highways/Valley_Freeways/SR87/closures_restrictions.asp.

Part 3: Warming climate endangers Arizona


Urban planners say green spaces such as Civic Space Park in downtown Phoenix can help mitigate the effects of warming temperatures in Arizona’s cities. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Grant Martin)

By GRANT MARTIN
Cronkite News Service

(This concludes the Cronkite News Service special report on the impact of a warming climate on the state of Arizona.  To read the first two parts, click on FOREST at the right and scroll down.)

It’s the year 2100.

A nine-mile paved loop in the Sonoran Desert outside Tucson is the only evidence of Saguaro National Park, which was shut down after its last surviving cactus was finally suffocated by an invasive grass.

In Flagstaff, chairlifts transport skiers above barren mountainsides, while the formerly individual trails below having been forced into an indistinct snowy expanse by a recent fire that wiped out thousands of acres of forest.

Millions of families in Phoenix and Tucson drink desalinated ocean water routed in canals from Mexico and California, a costly but necessary means of compensating for decades of drought that had drained the supply previously provided by the Colorado River.

These are just a few of the possibilities that experts from around the state offered when Cronkite News asked them how Arizona’s forests, deserts and major metropolitan areas might look at the end of the century given generally accepted rates of global warming.

Experts interviewed for this project based the possible outcomes on a projected increase in average annual temperature of 6 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century.

While each offered a different perspective and prediction for the future, all of the scientists interviewed agreed that Arizona must adapt quickly and with sensitivity toward an uncertain future.

Arizona without saguaros? Drought, plant invaders pose threats


Rising temps threaten water supply, air quality

PHOENIX – In the mid-20th century, this city experienced a population boom as people moved here from across the country, seeking the health benefits to be derived from a mild climate and low pollen count. Over the next century, however, a confluence of factors – each tied to climate change – threaten this quality of life.

From the summit of nearby Camelback Mountain, one can often see a thick blanket of smog enveloping the downtown area. As the temperature rises over the next century, experts say, the air quality will deteriorate even further, potentially causing serious health problems for many area residents.

Anthony Brazel, a climatologist at Arizona State University’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, offers a dire forecast for the region’s air quality.

“There are already a number of studies worrying about livability and air quality,” Brazel said, “and as it gets hotter it’ll exacerbate ozone problems and ultraviolet radiation, especially during the summer months.”

Brazel has conducted extensive research on the “urban heat island” phenomenon, which suggests that Phoenix will heat at an even faster rate than its surroundings over the next century.

“Buildings, cement, asphalt, those sorts of infrastructure parts absorb a fair amount of heat during the day and release it at night,” Brazel said. “Already, since the middle of the 20th century, nighttime temperatures during the summer months here have risen by about 10 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Such temperatures will place an even higher premium on air conditioning in homes, driving up energy costs. Low-income residents may not have the resources to maintain a reasonable quality of life within their homes.

The heat island effect may be mitigated by a variety of measures, such as providing for more shade, reflective surfaces on buildings, thermally efficient construction materials and naturally green expanses such as parks.

But those steps could be moot in the face of an impending crisis of water availability.

A recent study by University of Arizona scientists Jonathan Overpeck and Bradley Udall projects that the average annual flow of the Colorado is projected to decrease by as much as 20 percent by 2050.

Even with conservation and re-use of its existing water supply, Arizona may be forced to rely on desalinated ocean water, requiring a canal construction project unprecedented in scale or expense.

Without sufficient water or cooling mechanisms, millions could conceivably leave cities like Phoenix and Tucson for more habitable climes.

“If it becomes too hot here, what happens if there’s a heat wave?,” asked Darren Ruddell, a researcher at Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability.

“Lots of people are going to die, lots of people are going to become sick and frankly a lot of people are going to leave,” he said. “And so we need to design cities more efficiently to reduce human vulnerability to climate change and heat stress.”

Ruddell asserts that water conservation is a critical means of ensuring the future viability of Arizona’s cities.

“Right now, about 65 percent of Phoenix’s residential water use is for outdoor purposes,” he said. “That’s our irrigation, that’s our pools, that’s our lawns, and that’s the kind of wastefulness that will need to be addressed in the future.”

Already, the cities of Mesa and Tempe are offering $500 subsidies to homeowners who convert their yards from grass to turf or gravel.

Though Ruddell remains unconvinced that the program will be viable in the long term – he believes the cooling effect of natural grass is more vital than the benefits of water conservation – the measures suggest that the issue of water scarcity is already on local city planners’ minds.

It’s also important for architects to take such considerations into account when designing new buildings in Arizona’s urban areas, according to Harvey Bryan, a sustainability scientist at ASU’s School of Architecture.

“No one knows how to use glass these days,” said Bryan. “Sure, it looks pretty, but it can be incredibly wasteful.”

Because of the amount of light and heat that glass lets into a building, it drives up energy costs associated with cooling the interior at a rate that may not be sustainable.

According to Bryan, architects should incorporate such methods by incorporating more vegetation along building exteriors, painting rooftops to better reflect heat instead of absorbing it and designing larger rooms to allow for better circulation of air.

As Phoenix adapts to accommodate each of these recommendations and considerations into its infrastructure and architecture, the view in 90 years from Camelback Mountain will likely reveal a city far better adapted to the challenges and social responsibilities brought about by climate change.

Forest management helps mitigate climate change

(Editor's note: We apologize for all the climate change articles the last few days. These things tend to go in cycles. Or maybe after all the profligacy of the holiday season and faced with the prospect of a new year, it's time for a hefty dose of climate change sobriety.)

FORT COLLINS, Colo. The U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) has released a new scientific summary regarding forest management methods to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Integrated Management of Carbon Sequestration and Biomass Utilization Opportunities in a Changing Climate: Proceedings of the 2009 National Silviculture Workshop; 2009 June 15-18; Boise, ID, (RMRS-P- 61) contains scientific findings concerning how the forest environment is changing, treatment effects on carbon pools such as forests, computerized tools for simulating forest growth, models for collaboration and more. The ability of trees to withdraw carbon from the atmosphere --carbon equestration-- is considered one of the most important steps in reducing the effects of climate change.

Forests and soils act as carbon pools because of their ability to store carbon from the atmosphere. Foresters challenged by how to manage vegetation in a changing climate will benefit from research findings summarized in these proceedings.

“This was one of the first meetings where scientists and managers discussed the challenges of forest management in addressing issues of carbon sequestration, climate change and biomass utilization,” said RMRS Research Forester, Dr. Theresa Jain, who presented a paper at the workshop and was an editor of the proceedings.

To view the report on the web go to http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_p061.html or to order a free copy send your name, organization, and address to Publications Distribution, Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 240 West Prospect Road, Fort Collins, Colorado 80526 or visit our website at www.fs.fed.us/rm/publications.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

BLM restores protection for America's wildlands

Washington, DC - A secretarial order issued today by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar restores balance and clarity to the management of public lands by establishing common-sense policy for the protection of backcountry areas where Americans recreate, find solitude, and enjoy the wild.

Secretarial Order 3310 directs the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), based on the input of the public and local communities through its existing land management planning process, to designate appropriate areas with wilderness characteristics under its jurisdiction as "Wild Lands" and to manage them to protect their wilderness values.

"Americans love the wild places where they hunt, fish, hike, and get away from it all, and they expect these lands to be protected wisely on their behalf," said Salazar. "This policy ensures that the lands of the American public are protected for current and future generations to come."

The BLM, which manages more land than any other federal agency, has not had any comprehensive national wilderness policy since 2003, when the wilderness management guidance in the agency's handbook was revoked as part of a controversial out-of-court settlement between then-Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, the State of Utah, and other parties.

"The new Wild Lands policy affirms the BLM's authorities under the law - and our responsibility to the American people - to protect the wilderness characteristics of the lands we oversee as part of our multiple use mission," said BLM Director Bob Abbey.

Abbey said that Secretarial Order 3310 fills an important land management need for the public and the agency. "Wild Lands," which will be designated through a public process, will be managed to protect wilderness characteristics unless or until such time as a new public planning process modifies the designation. Because the "Wild Lands" designation can be made and later modified through a public administrative process, it differs from "Wilderness Areas," which are designated by Congress and cannot be modified except by legislation, and "Wilderness Study Areas," which BLM typically must manage to protect wilderness characteristics until Congress determines whether to permanently protect them as Wilderness Areas or modify their management.

Secretarial Order 3310 also directs the BLM to maintain a current inventory of public lands with wilderness characteristics, which will contribute to the agency’s ability to make balanced, informed land management decisions, consistent with its multiple-use mission.

"Simple principles guide this common-sense policy," said Salazar. "First: the protection of wild lands is important to the American people and should therefore be a high priority in BLM's management policies. Second: the public should have a say in designating certain public lands as 'Wild Lands' and expanding those areas or modifying their management over time. And third: we should know more about which American lands remain wild, so we can make wise choices, informed by science, for our children, grandchildren and future generations."

"We are charting a new course for balanced land management which allows the BLM to take into account all of the resources for which it is responsible through a transparent, public land use planning process," said Abbey.

The Secretarial Order does not change the management of existing Wilderness Study Areas pending before Congress or congressionally designated units of the National Wilderness Preservation System. BLM may also still develop recommendations, with public involvement, regarding possible Congressional designation of lands into the National Wilderness Preservation System.

The BLM manages 245 million acres in the United States, including iconic American landscapes like Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in Colorado, the Headwaters Forest Reserve's ancient redwood forest in California, and the Iditarod National Historic Trail in Alaska. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 11 western states and Alaska. The bureau also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation.

The BLM's multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes its mission by managing activities such as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.

Kick off new year at Almost New's $1 Bag Sale

So you didn't get what you wanted for Christmas? Me neither. But don't fret. Just join me at the Almost New Thrift Shop's big $1 Bag Sale from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday Jan. 3.

Select from HUNDREDS of clothes, shoes, belts, etc. Anything else you wear (except for jewelry) that can fit into one of our bags, can be yours for just one dollar. This sale will take place the first Monday of every month. This month’s sale will be Monday, January 3, 9 a.m. to 4:30 pm.

We have lots of inventory to choose from so come and help us support our health scholarship fund and the many other programs put on by the Mogollon Health Alliance Auxiliary.

For more information, call the Almost New Thrift Shop at (928) 468-5515.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Part 2: Warming climate threatens AZ's forests

Researchers say this area of the Coconino National Forest, which burned in 1996, is decades away from returning to its native state, if it ever does. They say rising temperatures have weakened trees, raising the potential for devastating wildfires that will open the door to invasive species. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Grant Martin)


Eerie Flagstaff forest resembles graveyard

By GRANT MARTIN
Cronkite News Service

It’s the year 2100.

A nine-mile paved loop in the Sonoran Desert outside Tucson is the only evidence of Saguaro National Park, which was shut down after its last surviving cactus was finally suffocated by an invasive grass.
In Flagstaff, chairlifts transport skiers above barren mountainsides, while the formerly individual trails below having been forced into an indistinct snowy expanse by a recent fire that wiped out thousands of acres of forest.

Millions of families in Phoenix and Tucson drink desalinated ocean water routed in canals from Mexico and California, a costly but necessary means of compensating for decades of drought that had drained the supply previously provided by the Colorado River.

These are just a few of the possibilities that experts from around the state offered when Cronkite News asked them how Arizona’s forests, deserts and major metropolitan areas might look at the end of the century given generally accepted rates of global warming.

Experts interviewed for this project based the possible outcomes on a projected increase in average annual temperature of 6 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century.

While each offered a different perspective and prediction for the future, all of the scientists interviewed agreed that Arizona must adapt quickly and with sensitivity toward an uncertain future.

FLAGSTAFF – Drivers headed northwest along U.S. Route 180 from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon travel through an eerie landscape amidst the otherwise lush and verdant Coconino National Forest.

Charred trunks protrude from a grassy savannah, thin skeletons of the towering ponderosa pines that had dominated these hillsides. Blackened tree limbs are scattered among them. There are barely any patches of green here, and there are no sounds of wildlife.

It resembles nothing so much as a graveyard.

Arizona forestry experts fear such landscapes might be increasingly common over the next century, as warmer temperatures and drier weather create virtually ideal conditions for wildfires. Such fires have already ravaged hundreds of thousands of acres of Arizona’s forests in the past few decades.

“We’re already seeing fires of increased frequency and intensity,” said Tom Kolb, a professor at Northern Arizona University’s School of Forestry in Flagstaff. “Conditions here are definitely more hot and dry than they were a hundred years ago, and that’s contributing to the fires that have become almost an annual occurrence around here.”

This summer, a blaze swept through over 15,000 acres of the Coconino National Forest, threatening homes and destroying wildlife habitat. The damage is just a fraction of that caused by 2002’s catastrophic Rodeo-Chediski Fire, which consumed over 450,000 acres in the White Mountains, forcing the evacuations of Show Low and other nearby communities.

Recent though the devastation along Route 180 may appear, it’s actually evidence of a wildfire that occurred in 1996. There has been scarcely any regeneration of the vegetation that had thrived here prior to that fire, and experts believe it may take several decades – if ever – before any significant new growth restores natural beauty to these hills.

“Ponderosa pines reproduce only by seeds,” explains Pete Fule, an ecological restoration expert who also teaches at NAU. “These seeds can only carry a certain distance away from parent trees, so when you have a large disturbance event that kills trees over a pretty big area, it’s difficult for them to regenerate back into that site.”

As wildfires continue to eliminate the ponderosa pine and other native trees from their habitat in Arizona, they create an opportunity for invasive species such as bromus tectorum, commonly called “cheatgrass,” to take their place. Cheatgrass has supplanted the native vegetation in many wildfire sites throughout northern Arizona, essentially transforming forests into prairies.

Because cheatgrass is itself very flammable, these resulting savannahs are veritable tinderboxes for the surrounding forests, providing fuel that will only add to the intensity of future fires.

At least one recent study suggests that the proliferation of grassy plains in areas previously occupied by forest vegetation – such as the transformation evident along Route 180 – is to be expected.

Fule explained that a third of large wildfire sites throughout the Southwest in the past half century never returned to their original conditions.

Fire is hardly the only agent of change affecting Arizona’s forests as temperatures climb over the next 90 years.

Pine bark beetles, already responsible for the deaths of millions of pinyon and ponderosa pines in the state, reproduce at a faster rate in warmer weather. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has referred to these beetles as “the Katrina of the West,” and their devastation might just be beginning. Healthy pines are able to defend themselves against infestation by pushing the beetles out with sap, but droughts weaken trees, rendering them more vulnerable to attacks.

Such droughts would also threaten Arizona’s spruces, firs and aspens, which rely on moisture more than pines. Such species thrive today in moderately moist habitats such as the temperate hardwood forests around the White Mountains.

Also, as Arizona’s forests become increasingly warm, existing vegetation may relocate, especially at higher elevations, to areas more favorable to their growth. For instance, junipers and pinyon pines – two trees typically found in Arizona’s low-lying woodlands, could conceivably adapt to climate change by moving upwards in elevation to more moderate conditions, supplanting ponderosa pines in the process.

Fule, quipping that “plants aren’t really good at walking,” doubts whether the native vegetation can relocate quickly enough to adapt to the changing climate. If this proves to be the case, the vegetation in low-lying areas might simply die off.

“The key point about modern climate change,” Fule said, “is that it’s happening very quickly. It seems unlikely that modern ecosystems, just acting through natural processes of regeneration, would be able to keep up. In fact, people have done modeling studies to look at how fast plants would have to move, and it’s pretty darn fast. It’s something that exceeds, by orders of magnitude, the fastest movement of plants that we’ve ever seen in the fossil record.”

Kolb’s office looks out over a nearby hill resplendent with healthy ponderosa pines. Asked what he would expect to see were he to look out his window in 100 years, Kolb conjectured that the hillside would have fewer ponderosas and more junipers and pinyons, species that would have crept up in elevation to adapt to the rising temperatures.

Then he turned away from the window and shrugged.

“If it doesn’t look like that,” Kolb said, “then it might just be an ugly, burned landscape out there.”

(Watch for Part 3: Phoenix tomorrow.  To read Part 1, click on the FOREST tab at the right and scroll down.)

Leaked Santa documents reveal surprises

Shouts & Murmurs
Santaleaks
by Ben Greenman
December 20, 2010

An analysis of more than a hundred thousand documents recently leaked by a disgruntled elf has revealed several surprising facts about the North Pole’s most famous citizen.

· Santa and several top elves colluded to circumvent a ban on Chinese-made toys, despite pressure from the North Pole community to deliver only toys made locally.

· Santa has, over the years, acted to undermine potential successors, privately disparaging one of his nephews as “lazy,” another as “not really committed to the whole Christmas thing,” and yet another as “incapable of growing a beard of the appropriate size, if you know what I mean.”

· Senior North Pole officials were astonished when an elf in Santa’s cabinet proposed halting a long-standing program monitoring pouting and crying. “For years, we’ve been telling people that they’d better not do this,” one said in a confidential cable, “and now we’re removing all restrictions? What’s next? Decriminalizing the failure to watch out?”

· After Santa suffered a serious hip injury, in the late seventies, the Prime Minister of Norway offered him access to several chimneys to conduct entrance and egress exercises.

· A reported mixup in 2004 that brought eleven-year-old Jack Keller, of Seattle, a book of math games instead of a football was not accidental: Santa was sending a message.

· During home visits last Christmas, Santa spied on the C.E.O.s of several Fortune 500 companies, and collected personal data including but not limited to credit-card and frequent-flier numbers.

· The song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” has more basis in truth than was previously thought; elves worried for years about Santa’s philandering, which began to decrease only recently, after Mrs. Claus discovered an illicit text message from an Arizona school-board member.

· Santa doesn’t enjoy going to certain St. Louis suburbs. “They just give me the creeps,” he told one top elf.

· Most cookies left out for Santa end up being fed to the reindeer.

· In 2007, Santa suppressed the delivery of gifts to more than a thousand residents of Los Angeles as a result of his displeasure with the movie “Fred Claus.”

· Just this year, Santa accepted a payment of twelve million dollars to keep Charlie Sheen on the “nice” list.

· A potential environmental disaster was kept secret by the North Pole in 2008, after a large bag filled with painted blocks from Vietnam fell from Santa’s sleigh into the Anglezarke reservoir, in Lancashire, raising fears of lead contamination. Elves with scuba gear and flashlights were sent in to retrieve the blocks under cover of night.

· Contrary to popular belief, Santa cannot really tell when you’re sleeping or when you’re awake, but he will fly into a rage if his ability to do so is questioned. ♦

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Read more http://www.newyorker.com/talk/2010/12/20/101220ta_talk_greenman#ixzz199H8jYYe

Reprinted from Reader Supported News with attribution.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Allow extra travel time for Beeline restrictions

PHOENIX — Dashing between Payson and the Phoenix area this holiday season? The Arizona Department of Transportation reminds you that lane restrictions in an existing construction zone along State Route 87 could require some extra travel time during the busiest travel periods between now and New Year's weekend.

Southbound traffic is shifted to the northbound lanes with one lane in each direction from milepost 204 (about 15 miles northeast of Fountain Hills, just past the Saguaro Lake turnoff) to milepost 210. Lowered speed limits and other restrictions are in place from milepost 211 to milepost 213.

ADOT is adding a climbing lane and shoulders to southbound SR 87 and is performing erosion-control work to reinforce embankments along the roadway. Work began just after Labor Day and is slated for completion by Memorial Day 2011. The project requires around-the-clock work and periodic, brief closures for construction-related activity. Motorists are asked to obey posted speed limits in the work zone and watch for workers and heavy equipment.

No work is scheduled over the three-day Christmas and New Year's holiday weekends, but existing lane restrictions will remain in place.

ADOT plans to reopen SR 87 with two lanes in each direction before the busy summer travel season. This project is a component of the Maricopa Association of Governments Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) and is funded by the RTP and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.


Updated conditions on SR 87 and all of Arizona's highways

Sign up for email alerts via ADOT's Web page at www.azdot.gov.
Highway condition updates are provided via Twitter at www.Twitter.com/ArizonaDOT.
ADOT's Travel Information site also tracks highway conditions at www.az511.gov and by phone at 5-1-1.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

As climate warms, Arizona's future uncertain

Buffelgrass blankets an area of the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson. Researchers say warming temperatures and fewer winter freezes are helping the invasive plant spread, posing a threat to saguaro cactuses and other native plants. (Photo by Aaryn Olsson, University of Arizona)

The Santa Cruz River runs dry through Tucson. Researchers say that water availability will be among the challenges Arizona’s urban areas will face as warming temperatures cut existing supplies. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Grant Martin)

Part 1 of 3

By GRANT MARTIN
Cronkite News Service

It’s the year 2100.

A nine-mile paved loop in the Sonoran Desert outside Tucson is the only evidence of Saguaro National Park, which was shut down after its last surviving cactus was finally suffocated by an invasive grass.

In Flagstaff, chairlifts transport skiers above barren mountainsides, while the formerly individual trails below having been forced into an indistinct snowy expanse by a recent fire that wiped out thousands of acres of forest.

Millions of families in Phoenix and Tucson drink desalinated ocean water routed in canals from Mexico and California, a costly but necessary means of compensating for decades of drought that had drained the supply previously provided by the Colorado River.

These are just a few of the possibilities that experts from around the state offered when Cronkite News asked them how Arizona’s forests, deserts and major metropolitan areas might look at the end of the century given generally accepted rates of global warming.

Experts interviewed for this project based the possible outcomes on a projected increase in average annual temperature of 6 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century.

While each offered a different perspective and prediction for the future, all of the scientists interviewed agreed that Arizona must adapt quickly and with sensitivity toward an uncertain future.

Arizona without saguaros? Drought, plant invaders pose threats


TUCSON – Saguaro National Park boasts breathtaking views, its undulating landscape studded with thousands of its namesake cactuses. It’s a sight as spectacular as it is uniquely Arizonan, as no other state can claim nearly as much habitat for the towering saguaro.

In turn, Arizona has embraced the saguaro as an unofficial state symbol – there are five on its license plates, and a saguaro features prominently on the state’s quarter design – and state law imposes fines of up to $250,000 on anyone convicted of destroying one.

Such protections, however, could prove futile in the face of sweeping ecological changes brought on by rising temperatures.

University of Arizona researchers Jeremy Weiss and Jonathan Overpeck assert that projected droughts and the decreased frequency of freezing temperatures might make the desert uninhabitable for some of its most iconic vegetation.

“You have to have a fair bit of summer precipitation, like the monsoons in the Sonoran Desert,” Weiss said in an interview. “Species like the saguaro and palo verde can’t survive in other deserts like the Mohave in southeastern California because it’s just too dry over there.”

Freezing temperatures, meanwhile, are a paradoxical boon to native vegetation. Saguaros have thrived here for centuries largely because of an ideal thermal balance: warm and moist enough for most of the year to facilitate growth, but just cold enough in the winter to inhibit the intrusion of competitive, non-native species.

“We’re seeing fall freezes come later, we’re seeing the last spring freeze come earlier, and we’re seeing a fewer number of freezes during the winter,” Weiss said. “Now the question is, how does this less limiting environment affect where we find certain types of vegetation in the state?”

Julio Betancourt, a researcher for the U.S. Geological Survey in Tucson, believes the answer is already making its presence felt in the expanses between vegetation in the Sonoran Desert.

“These bare spaces are critical,” Betancourt said. “I can go out in the desert and walk up to a saguaro with a can of gasoline, pour it over it, set it ablaze, and the fire’s not going to spread, simply because there’s so much bare ground and so little continuity in fuel.”

Without freezing temperatures to check their advance, however, invasive species of vegetation – most notably an African weed called buffelgrass – are filling these bare spaces and creating unprecedented fire risks in the Sonoran Desert.

“Now what’s happening,” Betancourt said, “is we have these non-native species, such as buffelgrass, spreading and creating heavy fuel for fires in areas that have never before burned. And because the native shrubs and cactuses are so poorly adapted to fires, they don’t really recover from fires but are instead displaced by the invasive grasses.”

Buffelgrass and other invasive species also threaten native vegetation by absorbing crucial moisture and nutrients from the ground as they spread, effectively suffocating saguaros and palo verdes.

Asked about how the landscape might be different 100 years from now, Betancourt pointed to Saguaro National Park.

“In a hundred years, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s called Buffelgrass National Park,” he said.

Buffelgrass was first introduced to America in the 1930s on ranches in the Southwest as an inexpensive, self-sustaining food for cattle. It was deliberately introduced to the Sonoran Desert shortly afterwards as a means of combating erosion. Buffelgrass and red brome, another non-native grass, were the primary catalysts of the 2005 Cave Creek Complex fire, which charred nearly 250,000 acres of desert north of Phoenix.

At a ranger office in Saguaro National Park, a stalk of buffelgrass is taped to a piece of posterboard, its attributes and identifying features clearly labeled. It’s one of the first things new rangers at the park must study.

“We try to be as vigilant as we can with the resources we have,” said Dana Backer, a resource ecologist at the park. “It’s an enormous concern, and it’s something we take very seriously.”

During summer months, when buffelgrass spreads most quickly, teams of rangers and volunteers trudge up the park’s hillsides each morning wearing masks and gloves and carrying herbicide containers on their backs. Once a stand of buffelgrass is identified, it’s sprayed with chemicals and dyed blue to track progress.

“It’s awfully uncomfortable, especially once the sun comes out, but it’s work that needs to be done,” said Backer, who estimated that 2,000 acres of buffelgrass had already invaded the park.

“But frankly, it’s moving faster than we can keep up with it,” Backer said.

(Watch for Part 2: Flagstaff and Part 3: Phoenix.)

Dr. Jass, Heart Beats bring New Orleans sound

Courtesy photo - Dr. Claudio Zamorano

Festive Authentic "New Orleans" Music
Dr Jass & The Heart Beats
Coming Sunday January 9th, 2 pm
Community Presbyterian Church
800 W. Main Street, Payson


Dr Jass & The Heart Beats bring a wide variety of musical influences into their basic groove of funky, contemporary New Orleans street music, including rhythm and blues, swing, and Dixie. The group's leader, Dr. Claudio Zamorano, has extensive playing experience as a trumpeter leading a New Orleans-styled jazz band for more than fourteen years at the Hot Jazz Club of Santiago, Chile'. Obviously, American jazz has had a major impact upon the choice of music being played around the world.

This six-piece ensemble was formed this year for the purpose of entertaining those who love toe-tapping music that reaches the soul, that is joyful, and that makes one want to get up and move! The group is available for public events, dances, private parties and even weddings. The band has an exciting combination of sounds and does some vocals. They have developed their own style of "trad" jazz with more of a contemporary groove. Audiences of all ages find the music infectious and danceable.

Dr Jass & The Heart Beats features Dale Knighton on banjo, Mike Buskirk on bass trombone, Robert Tarallo on clarinet, Larry Brasen on upright bass, Gerry Reynolds on drums, and of course, Dr Claudio Zamorano on trumpet.

A donation of $5 or more for each person attending is requested at the door. Refreshments will be served. For more information or to rsvp, contact Gerry Reynolds at gerryr@cox.net, or 602-619-3355.

This event is produced by the Payson Friends of Jazz volunteers in conjunction with the Community Presbyterian Church.

LETTER: Repeal of DADT strengthens military

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Editor:
With the repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," we mark the end of more than a decade of discrimination that not only marred the image of our armed forces—it needlessly threatened our nation’s security.

The men and women of our armed forces—regardless of sexual orientation or creed—already serve our country with courage, honor, and distinction. By signing the repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" into law today, we ensure they can do so openly and honestly, further strengthening the confidence and bonds of our troops and their units—and more deeply securing America in the process.

That’s why Organizing for America-Arizona (OFA-AZ) supporters volunteers and concerned citizens across Arizona spent the past several weeks working to ensure we overturned this outdated and unnecessary policy and why we’re celebrating this victory on behalf of all our families and communities.

OFA-AZ supporters and Arizonans applaud President Obama and Congressional leaders for ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and moving our military into a stronger, more effective future.

Jessica Jones
State Director
Organizing for America-Arizona (OFA-AZ)

PERSPECTIVE on Xmas replacing CHRISTmas

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Writing in the Dec. 22 Arizona Republic, Valley 101 columnist Clay Thompson had this to say to a reader who wanted to know "when they took Christ out of Christmas and made it Xmas":

"If you are someone who truly believes Dec. 25 is the birthday of Christ ... then how can anybody else take the 'Christ' out of it for you?"

Good advice for all of us on so many fronts: we need to spend less time worrying about what others think or do and more minding our own business.

And remember, you can read Clay Thompson daily when you subscribe to the Republic.  You'll also get the big Sunday paper, hundreds of dollars in coupons, a TV guide, Bashas' and Safeway sale inserts twice a week, complete Suns, D-Backs and Cards coverage, and so much more.  It's far and away the best value for your newspaper dollar.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Blog will feature Cronkite's Washington Bureau

ASU News Service expands to D.C. next year

(Editor's note: Our blog has proudly carried selected articles provided by Cronkite News Service since our inception. We are very excited about the new Washington news bureau and look forward to providing this coverage to our 5,000 readers.) 

PHOENIX (Dec. 21, 2010) - Cronkite News Service, a multiplatform daily news operation providing Arizonans with critical public policy stories, is opening a year-round Washington news bureau, Arizona State University announced today.

Advanced students from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication will cover Congress, federal agencies, the White House and the Supreme Court, searching for stories that uniquely impact Arizona news readers and viewers. The bureau will open in May.

"ASU is focused on tackling the biggest challenges facing society today, and insuring a robust, free press within a rapidly changing digital media landscape is critical to our future," said ASU President Michael M. Crow. "The Cronkite School is leading the way in journalism education, creating innovative educational opportunities for aspiring journalists while providing invaluable news services to our region. The Cronkite News Service Washington bureau is the next logical step in the Cronkite School's rapid development."

Washington stories will be distributed to daily newspapers, TV news operations and news websites across Arizona via Cronkite News Service, which the school opened in Phoenix in 2007. The stories also will be featured on Cronkite News, the school's daily news website, and Cronkite NewsWatch, a 30-minute nightly newscast that airs on the PBS channel Eight World, reaching more than 1 million households statewide.

"Regional Washington reporting is critical to a fully informed electorate, and unfortunately economic struggles have forced many news organizations to dramatically cut back on this important news coverage," said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan, a former Washington regional correspondent for The Associated Press. "The CNS Washington bureau will provide readers and viewers across Arizona stories they are not getting elsewhere while giving our best Cronkite student journalists an unparalleled professional experience."

Steve Crane, a longtime editor and journalism educator and administrator, has been named director of Cronkite's Washington operations. His duties will include serving as director of the news bureau and creating new Cronkite professional programs in Washington. He will hold the faculty rank of professor of practice.

Crane, a former Washington Times political reporter and editor, ran the Washington bureau of Capital News Service, the University of Maryland's public affairs program, from 1997 to 2005. His students' reporting was honored with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Robert F. Kennedy Center, among others. He was promoted to assistant dean at Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism when Callahan, then the school's associate dean, left College Park to become the founding dean at Cronkite in August 2005.

"Quite simply, there is no one better for this new and exciting position than Steve Crane," Callahan said. "He has extraordinary journalism and teaching skills that have long made him one of the best journalism educators in the country, and he has deep experiences in creating powerful new and innovative journalism education programs at Maryland. We're tremendously fortunate to have Steve joining our team."

As assistant dean at Maryland, Crane oversaw the school's news operations – daily news bureaus in Washington and the state capital of Annapolis, Md., an online newsmagazine and a TV newscast. He also directed the master's program, oversaw the curriculum on the undergraduate and master's levels, served as the adjunct faculty director, worked closely with professional news organizations and funders, and developed and launched a new multimedia journalism certificate program for Washington journalists.

"Cronkite News Service has already proven itself invaluable to students at Arizona State, to the news outlets that run their stories and to the residents of the state who benefit from their reporting," Crane said. "There's no greater need right now than critical coverage of the federal government and no better training ground for young reporters than the big leagues of Washington. I've seen Cronkite students at work and I know what they're capable of. This is a tremendous opportunity for everyone involved."

The Cronkite School joins the journalism programs at Maryland, Northwestern University and the University of Missouri as the only schools with daily news operations in Washington.

The Cronkite News Service Washington bureau will be located in DuPont House, a Connecticut Avenue town house recently purchased by the university that is minutes from the city's major institutions and newsmakers.

The Cronkite School, named in honor of the late CBS News anchor, has enjoyed unprecedented growth since Crow made it an independent school in 2005.

During the past five years, Cronkite moved into its $71 million state-of-the-art digital media complex in downtown Phoenix and added new programs such as Cronkite News Service, Cronkite NewsWatch, the Carnegie-Knight News21 Initiative, the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, the New Media Innovation Lab, the Azcentral.com Multimedia Reporting Program, reporting specializations in business and economics coverage and Latino issues, the Cronkite New Media Academy, ABC News on Campus, AZ Fact Check, the Reynolds High School Journalism Institute, Village Voice Media and Meredith Corp. minority training programs, the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, the National Center on Disability and Journalism and the Hubert H. Humphrey fellowship program for international journalists.

The school also has doubled its faculty and staff, adding national journalism luminaries such as former Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr., former CNN anchor Aaron Brown, former Minneapolis Star Tribune Editor Tim McGuire, former BET Vice President Retha Hill, former Sacramento Bee Executive Editor Rick Rodriguez and digital media leader Dan Gillmor.

Over the same period, Cronkite students have dominated national journalism competitions. Cronkite students have finished first in the Society of Professional Journalists‚ Mark of Excellence competition for five consecutive years, and have the best record in the Hearst Journalism Awards.

Group proves homophobia alive and well in U.S.

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(Editor's note: In case you thought we had progressed from the Dark Ages, the following press release will dispel the notion. You have to wonder how our country can survive such ignorance and hatred.)

Liberty Counsel in conjunction with the Freedom Federation

NEWS RELEASE
December 18, 2010

Freedom Federation Pledges Full Mobilization on Behalf of 40 Million Americans to Overturn DADT Repeal

Washington, DC - Mathew Staver, on behalf the Freedom Federation, made the following statement in response to the Senate's vote to repeal Section 654, Title 10, U.S.C. (1993), which is usually mislabeled by the subsequent Executive policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT): "Our armed forces should take heart, because the American people will not turn its back on you. This vote happened because opportunistic Senators - only days before Christmas - put political interest groups above supporting our men and women in uniform."

Staver continued, "This action will be overturned in the next Congress because it breaks the bond of trust that must exist between the military and those who command in the Pentagon and Congress. Today's vote will prove as costly to its proponents as ObamaCare was to its advocates. We promise a full mobilization of faith-based and policy organizations, veterans, and military families in the states of every Senator who voted for repeal of DADT against the advice of our service chiefs and during a time of war. Those Senators - and the Pentagon leaders responsible for this breach of trust - should understand that they will be the object of concerted political action against them."

The Freedom Federation is a federation of multiracial, multiethnic, and multigenerational faith-based and policy leaders and organizations representing 40 million people. The Freedom Federation is not a separate organization. It is a federation of organizations with large and unique constituencies that share common core values. Ninety-four organizations were represented on a letter from the Freedom Federation which was hand-delivered this week to every member of Congress, warning Congress not to repeal DADT.

A partial listing of some of the organizations signing the letter includes, but is not limited to, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Teen Mania Ministries, American Association of Christian Counselors, Let Freedom Ring, Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, American Family Association, Family Research Council; Liberty Counsel, Liberty Alliance Action, Vision America, The Oak Initiative, The Call to Action, Concerned Women for America, High Impact Leadership Coalition, Campaign for Working Families, Conservative Action Project, Traditional Values Coalition, Renewing American Leadership, Conservative HQ, Constitution Party, Bott Radio Network, Center for Military Readiness, Strang Communications, and many more.