Thursday, March 31, 2011

Palo Verde built to be safe officials tell ACC

The largest nuclear plant in the U.S., Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station is equipped to handle emergency situations like the one in Japan, according to officials. (Public domain image)

Cronkite News Service

PHOENIX – Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station features stronger containment domes than the Japanese plant damaged by a tsunami, has multiple sources of backup power and has enough water on hand to cool its reactors for a year, plant officials told the Arizona Corporation Commission on Tuesday.

In addition, said Randall Edington, the plant’s executive vice president and chief nuclear officer, Palo Verde has extensive safety procedures in place if there were an emergency such as an act of terrorism.

“It is our mission to safely and efficiently generate electricity for the long term,” he said.

Commissioners Bob Stump and Paul Newman called for the hearing as officials in Japan continued trying to prevent a disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, where primary and backup cooling systems failed following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Palo Verde, which Arizona Public Service runs on behalf of several power companies, is located about 50 miles west of downtown Phoenix. The largest nuclear power plant in the U.S., it supplies electricity to about 4 million customers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.

Lee Allison, the state geologist and director for the Arizona Geological Survey, told the commission that Palo Verde’s location, including not having active faults nearby, sets it apart from the plant in Japan.

“There is low seismic activity in Arizona, and the chance of having a tsunami occur near the plant is very unlikely,” he said.

Palo Verde was built to withstand even the strongest shaking from the nearest faults, which are in California and southwestern Arizona, he said.

“The plant was built to withstand a magnitude 8 earthquake,” Allison said.

Stump said plant officials answered his questions, including how Palo Verde’s backup power systems work and how the plant stores nuclear waste.

“I felt it was critical that we revisit some of the emergency procedures at the Palo Verde in light of the tragedy in Japan so that the public can be reassured that Palo Verde is in fact safe, and so that potentially we can learn from the tragedy in Japan and potentially improve safety procedures if necessary,” he said.

Diane E. Brown, executive director of the Arizona Public Interest Research Group, acknowledged efforts to prevent emergencies at Palo Verde but told commissioners that the risk of something going wrong remains.

“Our main concern is that nuclear power plants are not immune to human errors, mechanical failures, natural disaster or losses of critical power supplies, and that inherently nuclear energy is dangerous and could result in an disaster,” she said later in a telephone interview.

Brown’s group released a report Tuesday raising concerns about the safety of nuclear power plants and nuclear waste and highlighting citations that Palo Verde has received from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She said the federal government should freeze construction of new reactors and stop re-licensing older plants until safety concerns have been addressed.

“We would be much better off raising up our commitment in Arizona to energy efficiency and renewable energy, which aren’t going to result in public health or environmental damage,” she said.

Facts about the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station:
-It has been the largest power producer of any kind in the U.S. since 1992.
-About 4 million people in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas receive power generated by the Palo Verde plant.
-It is capable of generating nearly 4,000 megawatts of electricity.
-It has been operating since 1986.
-It is located about 50 miles west of Phoenix in Tonopah, Ariz.
-APS owns 29.1 percent of the plant.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Read all about it: Teen gropes teen on front page

Many thanks to your Payson Roundup for the enlightening and graphic front page story on March 29 about a Payson High School senior groping a fellow student in a baseball field dugout -- nearly two years ago.

Certainly does a lot to make people want to come to the Rim Country for a vacation.  Or move their companies here to bring some new jobs.  Or open a restaurant.  Or buy a house and retire here.  One has to wonder if the chamber or the town's tourism folks picked up the phone and complained to Roundup Publisher John Naughton.

If it had to run at all, why couldn't that story have been placed somewhere other than the front page?  What did we gain by reading it?  What did our community gain by its placement?

Fabulous First Friday falls on April Fool's Day

First Friday on Main Street is April 1 -- no fooling!

Stroll down Payson's historic Main Street from 5-8 p.m. and experience great bargains, good fun, and, best of all, the many spirits and ghosts who inhabit the Rim Country's storied past.

Don't forget to stop by Down The Street Art Gallery as it celebrates it's 5th Anniversary. Enjoy a bubbly toast and anniversary cake while you wander the Gallery. We will have four of our artists demonstrating: Bob Gleason:basket weaving, John Gould:pottery, Geri Gittings:gourds and Dan Basinski:wood display. It is fascinating to watch the artists and even more interesting to chat with them while they create.

Just in time to fill those Easter baskets, the Soroptimists will be selling See's chocolates at Bootleg Alley Antiques & Art during First Friday festivities. As always, owners Ken and Brenda Mooney will be treating those gathering on their porch to a concert. This month's music is by one of Payson's favorites, John Carpino. Light refreshments will be served.

A chicken enchilada dinner with all the fixings, dessert and drink, plus music by Anything Goes, will be held at Community Presbyterian Church during First Friday festivities.  Cost is $5 with all the proceeds going to the Child Learning Center.

Two new artists will be welcomed during First Friday festivities, David Sanchez (ceramics) and Myles Andre Gaehler (African ceramic masks).  In addition, Peggy Gould's paintings and prints will be half price and John Gould will be demonstrating pinch pots.  The Goulds are moving out of the area.

Don't forget the Main Street thrift stores during First Friday.

Everyone is invited to join in the fun that is First Friday on Historic Main Street.

CEO says Intel would never come to AZ again


Here's a little something even the Republicans can understand.

We all know what the Republican-controlled Arizona State Legislature has done and is still doing to education.  We all know that Arizona ranks right at the bottom in education spending -- down there with the bottom-feeding states like Alabama and Mississippi -- and that proposed cuts in the new budget of some $500 million will destroy what little we have left.

But now we have new evidence that what we spend on education directly affects the jobs we attract to our state, and that corporate leaders are not only noticing but are speaking up.  According to a story in today's (March 30) Arizona Republic, Intel CEO and board chairman Craig Barrett told the Arizona Commerce Authority that if Intel were not already here in Arizona, it probably wouldn't come.

"Quality education is extremely important to a place like Intel," Barrett told the Authority.  In fact, he added, Arizona wouldn't even place in the top 10 locations.

Intel, for the record, has invested over $14 billion in new Arizona plants over the last decade and has plans to open a $5 billion fabrication plant in Chandler.

So this isn't just about taking from the poor and giving to the rich.  It's about jobs.  It's about our economic wellbeing.  It's about our state's ability to compete.

A stupid legislature that apparently was never educated itself doesn't value education enough to make it the last place cuts are made.  But why should we be surprised.  Look how the legislature is destroying our state parks, and they matter to our future as well.

These idiots have to go.  They simply have to go.  Where is the Tea Party on this issue?

(By the way, you can read the whole article by clicking on news.azcentral.comThe Arizona Republic is your best newspaper value.)

Jim Keyworth
Gazette Blog Editor

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Arizona has lowest cancer rates in the U.S.

Good news for Arizonans! Findings from a report by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) determined that Arizona’s cancer incidence rates are the lowest in the nation. According to the United States Cancer Statistics (USCS) Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report (which compares the rates of cancer across 49 states, six metropolitan areas and the District of Columbia) Arizona ranks 50th and 49th in key categories.

“This is a case where being last, means you are doing well,” said Wayne Tormala, Chief, Arizona Department of Health Services Bureau of Tobacco & Chronic Disease. “Being 50th means our rates are the lowest.”

Arizona has the lowest incidence of all cancers combined among men and women, the lowest rate of cancers among men, and the second lowest rate of all cancers among women.

Although Arizona can boast about its low cancer rates, it’s not all good news. According to the Arizona Cancer Registry, more people in Arizona are diagnosed with cancer at later stages.

“This truly makes the case for early detection and screening,” said Sharlene Bozack, Chief Government Relations Officer, American Cancer Society (ACS) Cancer Action Network Great West Division. “The earlier some cancers are found – like breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer – the more likely people are to survive those cancers.”

ACS has a strong focus on getting Arizonans screened, early and regularly. Its screening guidelines recommend:

* yearly mammograms for women starting at age 40
* a prostate exam (PSA) every 1-2 years for men over age 45, dependent upon personal risk factors
* a colonoscopy every 10 years for men and women over age 50

Unfortunately, according to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 60 percent of Arizona women did not have the recommended mammogram last year; 44 percent of men did not get their PSA test in the past two years, and 42 percent of adults over the age of 50 report they have never had a colonoscopy.

Although Arizona’s ranking among other states is impressive, cancer is a serious threat to Arizonans since more people in Arizona are diagnosed with cancer at later stages. This year alone, one in three colorectal cancers discovered will be fatal. While half of breast cancers are discovered early enough for treatment to be effective, for one of every two women in Arizona, the diagnosis will be at a later stage. That means, in 2011 more than 1,000 women will die when their breast cancer is discovered too late.

“Many factors affect whether people go for screenings,” added Tormala. “The economy may have an impact on early diagnosis as lost jobs means lost insurance, and that leads to potentially more advanced-stages of cancers in our state, calling for a heightened urgency for early prevention and education.”

“Next to prevention and intervention, well-founded data is a critical first step in addressing cancer in our state,” said Tormala. “We are currently discussing with cancer experts nationally and from throughout our state how to address the challenge of increasing early detection and disease management.”

Equally critical is hearing from people first-hand, which is why the Arizona Department of Health Services Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease has set up a survey link at to glean information from the public.

The link, starting today, will be open until April 29, 2011. The public is invited to comment on what can be done about early detection and screening in Arizona. This public comment will contribute to the development of initiatives for inclusion in the Arizona Cancer Control Plan and be utilized in future grant making. For more information about the program, and the Arizona Cancer Control Coalition (AzCCC), please visit

Historic aircraft find new life at Tucson 'Boneyard'

C-130 Hercules cargo planes sit on Celebrity Row at the “Boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Spring Eselgroth)

S-3 Viking planes, nicknamed “Hoovers,” sit on display at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Spring Eselgroth)

Cronkite News Service

TUCSON – At the “Boneyard,” row upon row of B-52s, F-4 Phantoms, A-10 Warthogs and some of the rarest military aircraft dating back to World War II provide a panoramic vision of aviation history.

But there is more to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group than storing mothballed aircraft on this site adjacent to Davis-Monthan AFB.

The operation cares for older fighter jets, some of which may end up as the nemesis in practice dogfights with newer jets. It also rejuvenates aircraft and reclaims parts, a service that brought in $557 million in 2010.

“We have a very diverse mission,” said Col. Patrick T. Kumashiro, who commands the facility.

When the facility was established in April 1946, its priority was simply offering a place to store old cargo planes and WWII bombers. Due to the dry climate and the clay-like subsoil that could support the weight of planes, Tucson turned out to be an ideal location.

The mission remained the same when Eddie Romero began working here as a civilian 26 years ago.

“It was a much smaller operation back then, he said. “They would just drop us out in the desert to work all day and we’d be out there with the coyotes.”

In many ways, the “Boneyard” and its growing mission are examples of how the military is taking steps to conserve resources, recycle materials and save money. According to Kumashiro, finding ways to stretch taxpayer dollars is part of the Air Force’s responsibility in the current economic climate.

One example is in the A-10 Wing Shop, where old or damaged wings of A-10C aircraft are replaced or repaired. Henry W. “Tank” Thomas Jr., a civilian worker, is the only person with the Air Force who removes old parts of ballistic foam from damaged wings and either builds new parts or adds to the old ones. Because of his specialized position, the base saves nearly $65,000 for each wing that is refurbished.

“This is a one-of-a-kind job that we do here at Davis-Monthan AFB,” Thomas said. “All other USAF bases that have A-10C aircraft order their foam pieces through the GSA (U.S. General Services Administration) supply system.”

As important as cost-saving measures are to those working here, it’s the spectacle of rare and historic aircraft that keeps tourists coming day in and day out. Every year between 25,000 and 30,000 visitors tour the “Boneyard.”

A stretch of road known as Celebrity Row displays some of the most significant aircraft in U.S history, including the YC-14, a prototype cargo plane designed to replace the C-130 Hercules, and the F-100 Super Sabre, the first U.S. Air Force aircraft to break the sound barrier.

Even for those who see it every day, the “Boneyard” continues to impress. Jeffrey Gammel, a longtime civilian employee, is still amazed when he comes to work and sees a C-5 Galaxy, one of the largest military aircraft in the world, being parked.

“Sometimes, you’ll be driving in and you’ll see the big C-5s come in and get rolled over the freeway and it’s a pretty cool sight,” Gammel said. “Yeah, I’ve always liked my job here.”

Facts about the facility:

– The “Boneyard” covers 2,600 acres.

– More than 4,000 aircraft are at the facility.

– It reached an all-time high in 1973 with 6,018 aircraft.

– Ninety-minute “Boneyard” tours are provided by the Pima Air and Space Museum Monday through Friday (except federal holidays).

ASU Art Museum offers photo glimpse into Warhol

Christopher Makos, n.d. Christopher Makos was Warhol’s personal photographer and art director for his books. He often accompanied him and documented his life and contributed to Interview magazine.

March 29, 2011 - Today, some people document their every mood via Twitter.

Andy Warhol used a camera, and judging by his archive, he must have spent a fortune on film. Warhol began carrying a camera every day, in approximately 1974, snapping two rolls of film a day.

Warhol photographed friends, scenes and interesting objects from his everyday life, accumulating more than 28,500 photos before his death in 1987.

Forty of those black-and-white photographs are now on display in the Multi-Purpose Room of the ASU Art Museum in a show titled “Who, What, Where: Photographs From the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program.” The exhibit runs through Aug. 6.

In 2008, ASU received 155 Warhol snapshots from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The foundation donated all of Warhol’s photos to education institutions across the United States in an effort to provide more access to the artist’s work for “study, review and enjoyment, and to draw attention to the lifelong commitment he had to the medium,” said Jean Makin, Print Collection manager and curator, Jules Heller Print Study Room, ASU Art Museum.

With his Minox EL and Konica FS-1, and his Polaroid, Warhol snapped photos of such “groupies” as Geri Miller, Maura Moynihan, Christopher Makos and Andre Leon Talley, and scenes such as monuments and the flea market in Paris.

Many of the photos of people were taken in Studio 54, said Diana Ledesma, an intern at the ASU Art Museum who wrote the explanatory text for the exhibit.

“Warhol created Interview magazine, based in a renovated power station, in 1969 to indulge in his fascinations with celebrities,” Ledesma said. She noted that Warhol wrote in his book “Exposures,” that he had a “social disease.”

Warhol wrote, “I have to go out every night. If I stay home one night I start spreading rumors to my dogs.”

Ledesma said that Warhol helped coin the term “superstar,” used to describe “the brightest and most powerful film, television and fashion celebrities.” Warhol, she added, also became one himself, after “multiple exhibitions, several books, two television shows and endless media coverage.”

Warhol moved to New York City after attending Carnegie Tech and got his big break on only his second day in the city.

“The art director of Glamour magazine, Tina Fredericks, gave Warhol an assignment to draw shoes − a perfect fit. His first published work appeared in the summer 1949 issue,” Ledesma said.

Makin said the ASU Art Museum has only one other Warhol work – a screenprint of a vase with flowers – “not a typical Warhol image.”

“Warhol was a tremendously influential artist to a whole generation of artists and art supporters and writers,” Makin added. “The black and white photographs offer a glimpse into his everyday existence; he thought of them as a visual diary, capturing who he had been with, what he was doing, where he had been. They are often the sources of images later seen in screenprints or paintings.

“Anyone who has studied Warhol will find these snapshots from his life fascinating. This type of collection normally would be available only to very few, larger institutions that could afford its acquisition. By distributing the enormous archive of Warhol’s Polaroids and black and white photographs to institutions across the country, the Warhol Foundation enabled more scholars, students and collectors access to this work.”

Hours at the ASU Art Museum are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. For more information call (480) 965-2787 or to go

Monday, March 28, 2011

Nuclear expert will discuss Japan crisis at GCC

Gila Community College presents a talk by Dr. Robert Mayer on the Nuclear Crisis in Japan.

Dr. Mayer has 50 years work experience in the nuclear industry.

He will talk about how the reactors in Japan are similar to the ones in the U.S., what happened at Three Mile Island, and the damage the Japanese earthquakes have done to the nuclear reactors there.

Please come for a very informative evening.
Wednesday, March 30, at 6:00 pm, in room 405.

Rules completed for Medical Marijuana program

ADHS has finished rulemaking for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Program, and posted the new guidelines this morning. The rules outline the application process for qualifying patients, caregivers, dispensaries and dispensary agents, as well as requirements for each. The program will begin on April 14, 2011.

“It has been our mission since the initiative passed to make this the best medical marijuana program in the country,” said Will Humble, ADHS Director. “Our goal from the outset was to set the stage for a medical marijuana program, as opposed to a recreational one.”

Department objectives include: ensuring access to patients across the state, setting clear expectations for the certifications and dispensaries, awarding dispensary certificates in an effective way and establishing reasonable compliance and oversight provisions. The rules package details how the system works from beginning to end. Also, ADHS has included screening criteria for dispensary applicants in competitive areas of the state. While these criteria will not disqualify an applicant from being considered, they will be used to determine the most suitable candidates.

The next step is the qualifying patient certification process, which begins on April 14. Dispensary applications are available and will be accepted beginning June 1. A set of Frequently Asked Questions is available to help people understand the processes. All of the information is available on the ADHS website at

UA prof finds no Anti-U.S bias in Arab news

Al Jazeera English,
Al Jazeera's English-language news channel.

Al Jazeera Arabic
Here, the network's channel offered in Arabic. Journalism professor Shahira Fahmy found no difference in content that went out separately to English-speaking and Arabic-speaking audiences.

(Editor's note: At a time when Arab bashing is in vogue, this story out of the U of A seemed refreshing.)

By University of Arizona Communications

March 25, Tucson, Ariz. - A University of Arizona journalism professor analyzed the Arabic news network's coverage for pro- and anti-U.S. bias and found none.

At a time when the world is closely watching revolution in the Middle East, people can be confident that the news they get from the English version of Al-Jazeera does not differ from the news being displayed to Arab viewers, according to a study by a researcher in the University of Arizona School of Journalism.

In a study published in the recent issue of The International Communication Gazette, UA associate professor Shahira Fahmy compared the content of Al-Jazeera's English online coverage to its Arabic-language coverage. Some critics of Arab media in general, and more specifically Al-Jazeera, say that the news for English-language speakers has a more pro-Western viewpoint but inflames hatred toward Americans and Europeans with anti-Western content for its Arab audience in Arabic.

Fahmy and Mohammed Al Emad, a student from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, studied 238 articles from March 2004 about the U.S. conflict with al-Qaida to note the prominence of the stories, including frequency and placement, use of sources and tone of coverage.

They found some difference in placement of stories between the English and Arabic website versions, but no other differences. On both websites, the overwhelming majority of attributed sources were from the U.S. and its allies. Also, both Al-Jazeera websites did not shy away from negative coverage regarding those involved in the conflict.

"I am happy this study is getting published in the West because when I hear people say that the Arabic version of news includes the language of terror organizations, while the English version of news has them removed, it shows me we need a better understanding of how news is portrayed in different languages," Fahmy said.

Al-Jazeera was the first 24-hour all-news cable television network in the Arab world, launched in 1996, and is considered the leading independent news source in the Middle East. The network started an Arabic Internet website in January 2001, followed by an English-language website in 2003.

Fahmy chose March 2004 to analyze stories because it was the first anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and attacks by al-Qaida against U.S. troops were on the rise.

Out of the 238 stories analyzed, 139 were downloaded from the Arabic-language website and 99 from the English website. Each story had two sources, on average, and most of those were from the U.S. or coalition countries. Only about a third of the sources represented al-Qaida.

Most importantly, Fahmy found that the stories didn't differ in tone of coverage and that overall the English-and Arab-language websites did not provide different perspectives of the war to Arabic- and English-language online users.

Fahmy explains, "I think there should be more comparative research in this area because we rely heavily on the media for information about international crises around the world. And in many countries, including the United States, the public lacks direct contact with Al-Jazeera. This lack of access leads to a lack of knowledge about the network's content produced in different languages specifically regarding issues related to war and terrorism. This lack of knowledge might then act as a catalyst for a more polarized public opinion worldwide."

The study: Fahmy, S. S., & Al Emad, M. (2011). Al-Jazeera vs Al-Jazeera: A comparison of the network's English and Arabic online coverage. The International Communication Gazette, 73 (1).

15 official state items, much more in Republic

If you missed the big Sunday Arizona Republic, you missed all the pleasure that a Sunday paper can bring.  But all is not lost because Monday's Republic is full of great reads, including:

o A front page story on the trend for more and more of us seniors to work into retirement to overcome declining home values and investment portfolios.  You can even view a slide show on potential employment options.

o A story in the Valley & State section details (and decries) your Arizona State Legislature's onerous plan to decimate the state parks system by transferring park money to the state's general fund.

o After those sobering stories, it's time for a little fun (at the expense of the legislature, of course).  In Monday's Arizona Living section you can guffaw over an expanded list of official state items -- a takeoff on the legislature's attempt to name an official state firearm.  Our favorites: Official Euphemism: active-adult community, Official Pastime: complaining about our legislature, and Official Fatigued Icon: Kokopelli.

Pick up a copy of the Republic when you're in town today, or click on  Best of all, pick up the phone and call toll free 1-800-332-6733 to order home delivery of the Republic.  There's a lot more to Arizona than the local police reports. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

AZ legislature needs to get a life and out of ours

OK, this has to stop. Your Arizona State Legislature is out of control, and that’s putting it kindly.

Putting it unkindly, your Arizona State Legislature is stupid, heartless, immoral and racist.

And then there’s Republican Sen. Scott Bundgaard. I’ll bet the ladies over at our own Time Out Shelter are shaking their heads over his antics. Not that they haven’t seen such behavior before, but to claim immunity from arrest after you’ve pummeled your girlfriend – on the side of a freeway, for God’s sake? And then lie about it? How low can a state senator go?

But this isn’t about Scott Bundgaard. It’s about a state legislature that is proving just how low it can go, a state legislature that has cut education to the bone (placing us down there below the likes of Mississippi and Alabama), that has literally condemned those in need of organ transplants to death (talk about death panels), and that won’t make the hard choice to get our budget back under control. The hard choice is a tax increase, but nobody has the guts to do that anymore.

Rather, it’s a state legislature that wants to impose a flat tax rate that will have the effect of raising taxes on everybody who makes less than $100,000 a year, while lowering them on everyone who makes over $100,000 a year. That is so Republican.

But what has really ticked me off is House Bill 2443 which would prevent abortions based on the race or gender of the fetus. It’s on its way to Gov. Jan (couldn’t speak a grammatical sentence if her life depended on it) Brewer where her signature will make it law.

Now that’s a good law you might argue. It’s wrong to base abortions on the race or gender of a fetus. And you would be right. It is wrong.

But that’s not why your Arizona State Legislature passed it. No. In fact, the reason they passed it is to impose further restrictions on a woman’s right to choose while PRETENDING to do it “to protect against bigotry and prejudice,” according to Rep. Steve Montenegro of Litchfield Park who is behind the bill. It will not surprise you that Montenegro is a Republican. It will also not surprise you that the bill passed on strict party lines – the Republicans in favor, the Democrats opposed.

In fact, as Rep. Katie Hobbs of Phoenix (a Democrat) pointed out, Montenegro could cite no evidence that such a problem even exists – except a magazine article about such practices in Asian countries.

I don’t care what you think about abortion. Personally I don’t think it’s anybody else’s damn business what a woman chooses to do with her body. Just like the woman who chooses to terminate a pregnancy, the self righteous who think it is their business will have to answer one day to their maker – who is really the ultimate authority on the matter. I truly believe He or She or It will come down on the side of women on this one.

If you believe otherwise, that’s fine. It’s still a free country, I think.

But regardless of how you feel about abortion, I don’t see how you can tolerate a state legislature whose Republican members couldn’t behave ethically if Jesus himself were standing before them.

So frankly, I’ve had it. I don’t like these Bozos. I don’t like what they stand for. I don’t like what they’re doing to our state.

If you disagree, please comment on this column below and I will run it. Even if you’re comment is just “Bullsh*t” like the guy who commented on the Obamacare First Anniversary article I posted the other day. Heck, maybe you can even provide an insight that will help me understand the kind of behavior Your Arizona State Legislature is displaying.

I would be amazed, but I’m open to it.

Otherwise, I say it’s time for the real middle class – not the Tea Party retirees who claim to represent the middle class – to rise up and throw the immoral bums out.

Commuity colleges hiking tuition in face of cuts

Krystal Sanchez, 20, works on financial aid forms in the library at Phoenix College. She is studying to be a social worker but was only able to afford to take two classes and could face increased tuition in the coming years. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Tessa Muggeridge)
Phoenix College student Joseph Wolde, 20, talks with a friend on campus. Wolde said if he loses his financial aid, he might leave school to join the military. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Tessa Muggeridge)

Cronkite News Service

PHOENIX – After a disappointing experience and a $38,000 bill for a year in cosmetology school, Krystal Sanchez decided to go to community college to become a social worker.

Sanchez, 20, picked Phoenix College near her home but could only afford to take two classes. She also works full-time at a group home.

Now Sanchez faces higher tuition costs next semester as community college districts around Arizona grapple with state funding cuts.

“I’m paying out of pocket, and I make monthly payments,” she said. “If tuition goes up, some people won’t be able to pay for it.”

The governing board for Maricopa Community Colleges, the state’s largest district with 10 schools and more than 260,000 students, voted 4-1 on Tuesday night to raise tuition from $71 per credit to $76 for Arizona residents. It added or increased fees for 441 classes and reduced or eliminated fees for 121 others.

With a third year of state budget cuts looming, other community college districts are searching for ways to save money and bring in new revenue in addition to raising tuition.

Cochise College in southeastern Arizona will add or raise fees for some courses and leave open positions unfilled. Pima Community College plans layoffs and will close a small branch campus. Yavapai College is cutting some sports teams and reducing enrollment in nursing, an expensive program.

Under the proposed budget by Gov. Jan Brewer, Maricopa Community Colleges faces a $38.4 million cut, or 85 percent of the funding it received this fiscal year. That number would take the district from being funded at 8 percent from the state to 2 percent, district spokesman Tom Gariepy said.

At Phoenix College, some students said they already have to work hard to pay for tuition as it is.

Daniel Stephens, 50, an Air Force veteran who began studying art in the fall, said he’s already strained using two loans and working part-time to pay for school. But he said education is too important to skip.

“If they raise tuition up too much, I don’t know what I would have to do,” he said. “I understand it to a degree because the whole system is tight, but I think they could do a whole lot better in taking money from places other than education.”

Joseph Wolde, 20, who is studying criminal justice, said the cuts are short-sighted because young people are the future.

“You raise the prices and people won’t want to be here anymore,” he said.

The governing board at Cochise College recently approved increasing tuition by $9 per credit, the largest jump ever, to $63 for in-state students. It will also increase or add course fees ranging from $15 to $300 for high-cost programs like nursing and aviation, said Kevin Butler, vice president for administration.

Under Brewer’s proposal, Cochise, which has about 16,000 students, would lose $2.5 million in funding from the state next fiscal year.

“We’ve tried to maintain a $2 increment in tuition increases … but now that we’ve incurred back to back to back to back budget cuts, we really have to do something on the revenue side,” Butler said. “In order to make up $2.5 million, we would have had to increase our tuition about $30 a credit hour, and we just can’t do that in our market.”

At Yavapai College in Prescott, tuition will rise next fall from $62 to $67 per credit. Spokeswoman Katie Hoeschler said Brewer’s proposal calls for a $3.4 million cut for Yavapai, which has about 13,000 students.

“We really haven’t changed much for our programs and services until this most recent cut because it has been so drastic,” she said.

Now, Yavapai cut 15 of around 280 staff positions, won’t fill open positions and will slice the hours of part-time faculty members. It also cut the men’s and women’s basketball teams, trimmed enrollment in its nursing program by half and has planned $600,000 in administrative cuts for next year, Hoeschler said.

Pima Community College’s governing board last month approved a $5 increase to bring fall tuition to $58 per credit, the largest increase the school has ever seen, said Executive Vice Chancellor David Bea.

Pima, which has about 80,000 students, would lose about $9 million under Brewer’s proposal, or about 6 percent of its operating budget, Bea said.

After working hard to avoid layoffs and only eliminating positions by attrition, Bea said the drop in state funding will mean layoffs for the first time. Pima will also close an education center, a small branch campus that’s in northeast Tucson, eliminate childcare facilities and enact a partial hiring freeze, he said.

That comes after years of an on-and-off partial hiring freeze, shifting staff from a 37.5- to a 40-hour work week and eliminating 7 percent of staff and 14 percent of administrative positions through attrition, Bea said.

“We’re doing everything we can. From the general operating standpoint, it’s getting very tight,” he said. “The trend in state funding over time doesn’t give you a lot of optimism.”

Friday, March 25, 2011

Wildcats upend Duke, headed to Elite Eight

From UANews
Led by an extraordinary second half performance and a career-high 32 points from Derrick Williams, the Arizona Wildcats advanced to the Elite 8 with a 93-77 win over Duke Thursday evening. The Wildcats will face UConn on Saturday.

For complete coverage, click

Sorghum could be the biofuel crop of Arizona

Sorghum could be the biofuel crop of Arizona. Varieties of sorghum planted as an experimental crop were harvested and juiced this year into ethanol. (Photo courtesy of Mike Ottman)
Treated wastewater could be used to irrigate sweet sorghum, providing many of the nutrients the plants need and helping to conserve water. (Photo courtesy of Mike Ottman).

By Shelley Littin
NASA Space Grant intern
University of Arizona Communications

March 24, 2011 - Fuels developed from biomass such as sugar or grain crops or algae could be used more widely in the future to power automobiles, homes, industrial manufacturing facilities and airplane engines.

Scientists and engineers at the University of Arizona are on a mission to develop sustainable agricultural biofuel field crops for Arizona and the desert Southwest – crops that will fuel a new industry as well as America's engines.

Biofuels – fuels developed from biomass such as sugar or grain crops or algae – have as many and diverse uses as traditional energy sources and could be used more widely in the future to power many technologies including automobiles, homes, industrial manufacturing facilities and airplane engines.

"There's no doubt that we're going to have biofuels in the future because no matter what, petroleum is a finite resource," said Dennis Ray, a plant geneticist at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. "Problems today are not solved by one discipline."

The biofuel development project could benefit Arizona's economy as well as the environment.

"We're looking at rural development. If you have a little industry in this area, you need people to run the processing plant. That means jobs. That means bringing money back into these communities," said Ray. "It's always a much bigger picture for what we're looking at in the long run."

An ideal place for biofuels

Arizona could be home to a thriving biofuel industry in the future, said Mark Riley, professor and department head of agricultural and biosystems engineering.

"We get a tremendous amount of sunlight," said Riley, which enables crops to be grown year-round or off-sequence from other parts of the country.

"A good example is from traditional agriculture. Yuma County in the western part of the state grows 95 percent of the country's winter vegetables because nowhere else can grow vegetables during that time of the year. In that same vein, we could be growing sources of sugar to make ethanol off-sequence from when other regions are growing corn."

"Biofuels don't make sense if you have to transport them long distances," said Riley. "Some of the largest population growth in this country is in the Southwest, and there really isn't yet a whole lot of agriculture geared toward producing fuels."

"We need to be producing the fuels close to where they're going to be used."

Petroleum is transported through an extensive network of pipelines from the Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Seaboard. The pipes are not completely watertight, so the greater the transport distance, the more water leaks in. This works because petroleum does not mix with water, but ethanol does.

Ethanol, therefore, needs to be transported by truck, so producing it locally would save on fuel and transportation costs.

The sugarcane of the desert

To be a viable biofuel crop for Arizona, the plants need to do well in arid environments. That rules out corn, which requires a lot of water, as an option in most parts of the Southwest.

"There are hundreds of plants that you could use as biofuels," said Ray. "Oil seeds where you can use the oil almost directly for diesel, cellulosic plants where you can break down cell walls into ethanol, and plants like sorghum where you use the sugar to make ethanol."

"I'm a plant breeder geneticist, so what I do is improve or change the plants for whatever's needed," said Ray. "I work on three very different crops. One is lesquerella, which is an oil seed. Another is guayule, a rubber-producing plant that also makes these amazing resins, and these resins can be burned directly or used in all sorts of different ways as a fuel source. And then of course there's sweet sorghum."

Called the sugarcane of the desert, sweet sorghum is one of the most promising crops for biofuel.

"Sweet sorghum is a tall grass, and it grows to about 3-4 meters," said Riley. "It can grow in about 110-120 days, and it produces a substantial amount of ethanol. We think we can get 500-600 gallons of ethanol per acre – generally for corn you get about 300 gallons of ethanol per acre."

Sweet sorghum also is easier to process into fuel than corn.

Ethanol is produced from corn and other grain crops in basically two steps: First the starch is broken down into sugars, and then the sugars are fermented into ethanol by yeast, just as beer is fermented.

When juiced, crops such as sugarcane and sweet sorghum yield sugars instead of starch, thus eliminating the first steps of the process for corn-based ethanol.

"Even after you squeeze the stalks and get the juice out, there's a lot of biomass that's still available," said Riley. "That could be used as animal feed as a way to supplement what a grower would be able to get."

Don Slack, a professor in the department of agricultural and biosystems engineering, has studied the irrigation needs of sweet sorghum. "It's known as a drought-tolerant, salt-tolerant, tough crop," said Slack. "Sorghum would be a preferred crop in a hot, arid region."

Sweet sorghum needs little water, and since it's not intended for food it can be irrigated with treated wastewater, which provides many of the nutrients the crop needs.

It also has very low nitrogen requirements, according to a study by Mike Ottman, an agronomist in the plant sciences department.

Said Ottman: "You wouldn't think about it but nitrogen fertilizer is made using fossil fuels. In the case of corn, maybe one-third to half of the energy that goes into growing the crop is the energy required to make the fertilizer."

"Sweet sorghum's not part of the food chain, so if there's more sweet sorghum that's going toward producing biofuels it's not taking away corn that's used to feed animals or people," added Riley.

The researchers are trying to develop a way to plant and harvest effectively two crops in one year.

"You could effectively double the growth, double the amount of ethanol per year, just because our growing seasons are much longer than other parts of the country," said Riley. "It's really taking advantage of our location."

The right crop: the search for sustainability

The scientists are testing and developing several other crops, including three types of switchgrass and three varieties of perennial grasses in the genus Panicum.

These grasses produce cellulose instead of starch. Like starch, cellulose is made up of chains of sugar molecules held together by what are called glycosidic bonds. However, the orientation of the bonds in a cellulose molecule creates a more rigid structure, making cellulose harder to break down.

"The conversion of cellulose to sugar is a little more difficult than the conversion of starch to sugar," said Ottman. "You can't just do straight chemical hydrolysis. You need enzymes, and these enzymes are expensive."

For now, most of the ethanol production plants in the U.S. process grain crops. But that could change: The cellulosic process should start taking off by 2015, according to the target date of our energy policy, said Ottman.

And perennial grasses as biofuel crops have important benefits. Cellulose is one of the most abundant organic molecules on Earth and could yield an equally abundant source of fuel on the future.

Numerous research questions remain for each crop, including the amount of water and fertilizers needed, when to plant and when to harvest, how far apart to plant the seeds to optimize the harvest and how best to store and transport the fuel once it's processed. Said Ray: "These are all little things that make a big difference."

"The goal of the project, of all these projects, is to have a commercial product," said Ray. "The end goal is to give back to folks who have given to us through funding and in other ways."

The agricultural methods developed in Arizona would work in many arid or semi-arid environments, said Ray, "which actually applies to much of the Earth. So what we do here is transferrable. The desert plants don't know if they're in Chihuahua or Texas. Borders mean nothing to them. It has to do with the environment."

"One hundred and fifty years ago petroleum was used for kerosene for lamps in the Northeast to replace whale oil. In 150 years you wouldn't recognize what we're doing with biofuels now," said Ray. "We're gaining knowledge so that we understand what's needed and how this whole process works."

Biofuels research at the UA is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Sun Grant Initiative from the U.S. Department of Energy and the UA's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

15 AZ counties unite against 'irresponsible' budget


(Globe, March 22, 2011)—Elected officials from each of Arizona’s fifteen counties joined forces this week in vehement opposition to the state budget passed by the State Senate, calling it “an irresponsible attack on county government.”

In a series of letters to state lawmakers and in committee testimony, county officials, including sheriffs, supervisors, county attorneys, treasurers, recorders, and school superintendents decried several provisions of the budget that would shift state costs and responsibilities to counties. These include making counties responsible for:
• Funding the state Motor Vehicle Division ($16.3 million)
• Paying incarceration costs for state prisoners sentenced to less than a year ($55 million)
• Funding the Department of Public Safety (DPS) through a diversion of county road building and maintenance money ($21 million)

The budget’s total impact on county governments is estimated to be $150 million.

In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday morning, Navajo County Supervisor David Tenney informed lawmakers that the budget would have a catastrophic and unsustainable impact on Arizona’s counties, including their ability to provide law enforcement and criminal justice services.

“There is nothing conservative about putting the state ‘in the black’ by ‘shifting the red’ to counties,” Tenney said. “A shift of state costs to counties does not cut spending; it only shifts those costs to county taxpayers. In fact, some counties may have to increase property taxes to pay for these shifts.”

Gila County Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael Pastor echoed Tenney’s remarks. “Gila County sales taxes alone are down over $1.75 million since 2008, yet the state keeps shifting its responsibilities to us. State lawmakers should pass a balanced budget, but not by burdening local taxpayers.”

Benefits abound as Obamacare turns 1

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, Arizona residents have more freedom and control over their health care choices. All Americans now have the freedom from worrying about losing their insurance, or having it capped unexpectedly if someone is in an accident or becomes sick. They no longer have to live in fear of double-digit premium increases from their insurance companies without recourse or accountability. The law reduces costs for families and businesses and has already made it illegal for insurance companies to deny care to children because of a pre-existing condition. And it includes substantial new benefits and freedoms for Arizona residents.

Specifically, the Affordable Care Act is already helping the people of Arizona by:

Providing New Benefits and Lowering Costs for Medicare Beneficiaries
Nearly all 44 million beneficiaries who have Medicare, including 817,000 in Arizona, can now receive free preventive services – like mammograms and colonoscopies – as well as a free annual wellness visit with their doctor. Also, more than 66,490 Arizona residents who hit the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the “donut hole” received $250 tax-free rebates, and will receive a 50% discount on brand name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole this year. By 2020, the law will close the donut hole completely. Taken together, the changes in the law will save seniors enrolled in traditional Medicare more than $3,500 over the next 10 years. 

Lowering Taxes for Small Businesses
The law provides $40 billion of tax credits to up to 4 million small businesses, including up to 70,704 in Arizona to help offset the costs of purchasing coverage for their employees and makes premiums more affordable. 

Providing Greater Resources for Arizona
The law gives Governors millions of dollars in Federal support for their work to hold down insurance premiums, build competitive insurance marketplaces, provide insurance to early retirees, and strengthen their public health and prevention efforts. So far, Arizona has received $33 million from the Affordable Care Act.

Grants to Arizona include:
· $1 million to plan for a Health Insurance Exchange
· $1 million to crack down on unreasonable insurance premium increases
· $14.8 million to support capital development in community health centers
· $1.8 million from the Prevention and Public Health Fund
· $8 million in Therapeutic Discovery Project Program Tax Credits and Grants
· $533,038 for Medicare improvements for patients and providers
· $3.2 million for demonstration projects to address health professions workforce needs
· $499,970 for aging and disability resource centers
· $2.2 million for Maternal, Infant and Childhood Home Visiting 

Providing New Coverage Options for Young Adults
Insurance companies are now required to allow parents to keep their children up to age 26 without job-based coverage on their insurance plans. An estimated 29,500 young adults in Arizona could gain insurance coverage as a result of the law. 

Covering Children with Pre-Existing Conditions
Most insurance companies are now banned from denying coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition. An estimated 411,000 kids with a pre-existing condition in Arizona will be protected because of this provision. In 2014, insurers are banned from discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition.

Removing Lifetime Limits on Health Benefits
The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits – freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014. This will protect 3.4 million Arizona residents with private insurance coverage from these limits. 

Making it Illegal for an Insurance Company to Drop Coverage When You Get Sick
The law bans insurance companies from dropping coverage when an individual gets sick because of simple mistake on an application. This will protect 384,000 Arizona residents who buy coverage on the individual market from losing their coverage when they need it the most. 

Increasing the Value of Health Insurance
Under the law, insurance companies must provide consumers greater value by spending at least 80% of premium dollars on health care and quality improvements instead of overhead, executive salaries or marketing. If they don’t, they must provide consumers a rebate or reduce premiums. This means that 3.4 million Arizona residents with private insurance coverage will receive greater value for their premium dollars. 

Scrutinizing Unreasonable Premium Increases
New rules in the law require insurers to publicly justify unreasonable premium increases, and strengthen States’ abilities to crack down on premium hikes. 

Strengthening Economic Growth in Arizona
Since the President signed the Affordable Care Act into law last March, the economy has created nearly 1.4 million private sector jobs, and has grown at an average annual rate of 2.7%. Experts predict that the Affordable Care Act will create anywhere from 250,000 – 400,000 jobs each year. 

Lowering Early Retiree Coverage Costs
An estimated 103,000 people from Arizona retired before they were eligible for Medicare and have health coverage through their former employers. Unfortunately, the number of firms that provide health coverage to their retirees has decreased over time. But thanks to the creation of the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program in the Affordable Care Act, 40 employers in Arizona have been approved to receive support to firms that continue to provide health coverage to their early retirees—lowering their total health care costs. In 2010, employers in Arizona received $2.5 million in payments. 

Creating New Coverage Options for Individuals with Pre-Existing Conditions
Residents of Arizona who have been locked out of the coverage system because of a pre-existing condition are now eligible for coverage through a new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan that was created under the law. To learn more about the plan available in Arizona go here: 

Increasing Support for Community Health Centers
The Affordable Care Act increases the funding available to the more than 1,100 community health centers in all 50 States, including the 132 existing Community Health Centers in Arizona in rural communities and inner cities, enabling them to double the number of patients they serve from 19 million to nearly 40 million by 2015. This builds on a $2 billion investment in Community Health Centers in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which has provided an unprecedented opportunity to serve more patients, create new jobs, and meet the significant increase in demand for primary health care services. 

Reducing the Health Care Workforce Shortage
Nearly 16% of Arizona residents live in an underserved area. The law includes new resources to boost the number of doctors, nurses and health care providers in communities where they are needed most. These resources include grants, scholarships, loan repayment programs, as well as increased support for educational institutions that provide training for a range of health care careers.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Time Out launches resource rich website

Time Out, Inc. has launched its new website, at  The website provides comprehensive information, resource links, and suggestions for victims of domestic violence and those who want to help.

The site, designed by Webbness based in Payson, with content developed by Semilla Business Solutions based in Chandler, offers:
·         - Background information about the agency, its leadership, and major supporters
·         - Extensive information and resource links for victims who want help
·         - Guidance for those who want to help someone they know
·        - Ways to make a difference through contributions of goods or services
·         - Information on Time Out’s popular Thrift Shop including special sales and donation guidelines
·         - Links to domestic violence related news and events
·         - Screen reader functionality for visually impaired persons

The website welcomes visitors with bold energetic colors, a clean uncluttered design, and featured content centered on Time Out’s mission to help individuals break the cycle of abuse in their lives.  “With changing information needs, increased access to the internet, and rural domestic violence resource deficits, it makes sense to provide women and men with online access to comprehensive victim service information,” said Gerry Bailey, Executive Director. “We stand ready to serve victims who desire immediate intervention. Our website also embodies our commitment to supporting those who want to consider options other than emergency shelter.”

Jessye Johnson, Director of Member Services of the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence, confirmed the importance of Time Out’s new website: “Having resources and services available in rural areas can help to ease the actual and imposed isolation that victims experience.  Secure web-based resources are an excellent way for someone in a rural community to maintain anonymity and confidentiality if reaching out, in person, is not an option.”

As with many domestic violence programs across the nation, Time Out has experienced increased demand for services among domestic violence victims living in and around Gila County.  Agency data reveals a 42 percent increase in demand for emergency shelter among women and their children in the last half of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009.  Requests for community-based assistance among victims of abuse who prefer to remain living at home grew by 67% throughout calendar year 2010. The number of children served in the emergency shelter program grew by 11% in FY2010 compared to the previous fiscal year.

Since opening the emergency shelter in 1993, Time Out has served over 5,000 male and female victims of domestic abuse and their children, primarily residents of Payson or nearby Gila County communities. In addition to emergency shelter beds, Time Out also offers educational services, advocacy, therapeutic programs, specialized children’s services, lay legal advocacy, employment support, and transitional housing for long-term support.  The agency’s community-based program assists domestic violence victims who want help but prefer to remain living at home. Time Out’s Thrift Shop features gently used donated goods for resale and provides much needed revenue to support a portion of the agency’s operating costs.

For more information on domestic violence programs and services, contact Time Out, Inc. at 928-472-8007 or at  

About Time Out:  Time Out, a private non-profit agency founded in 1992, provides crisis intervention, community outreach/prevention programs, emergency shelter, supportive services, and transitional housing for adult victims of domestic violence and their children.  Services are available to Arizona residents, although Time Out also shelters women and children who derive from outside the state. Each year, Time Out improves the safety and well-being of more than 1,300 crisis hotline callers and over 450 abuse survivors.

Public prefers WTP1 for Cragin water plant

The following, from SWCA Environmental Consultants, is the Public Comment Summary in reaction to the Environmental Assessment  (EA) regarding the Proposed Town of Payson – C.C. Cragin (Blue Ridge Reservoir) Water Pipeline and Treatment Plant Project.

DATE: March 21, 2011

The Town of Payson – Cragin Water Pipeline and Treatment Plant Project EA public comment period began on Feb. 4, 2011 and closed on March 4, 2011. Due to the high-level of public involvement, interest, and subsequent meetings by neighborhoods and the Town of Payson, comments were accepted up to March 18, 2011. This document summarizes the public comments on the EA.

- A total of 203 comments were received.

- A total of 178 persons/entities commented on the project.

- A total of 25 commenters sent duplicate letters to the Payson RD, SWCA, and the Forest
Supervisors office.

WTP1 (Across Houston Mesa Road from Mesa del Caballo)
- A total of 6 commenters oppose the WTP1 location.

- A total of 46 commenters prefer the WTP1 location.

WTP2 (Adjacent to Mesa del Caballo)
- A total of 158 commenters oppose WTP2.

- Of these 158 comments, 145 commenters cite opposition due to property values.

- Of these 158 comments, 98 submitted form letters that cite the following reasons for
opposition to WTP2:
Access to National Forest
Quality of Life
Property Values
WTP2 not presented in Scoping

- A total of 115 commenters cited concerns over WTP2 not being presented during scoping.

Changes to the EA
- Approximately 5-8 comments will result in changes to the EA. Of these:
2 pertain to grazing/rangeland comments
3 pertain to existing infrastructure and the proposed construction’s potential
impacts to noise, air and water quality, and wildlife/vegetation.

By Bruce Wales

(Inspired by a blossoming young niece who is just beginning to find herself.)

I'm just a fly on your wall, hmmm.
spying what you do
My, my, you're getting so tall, hmmm.
trying all that is new.

I'm just an eye from afar, hmmm.
catching glimpses of you
My, my, you're going so far, hmmm.
I'd like to be you.

There are so many paths to explore-
a million things to be growing for
layered dimensions are hidden from more
who track only one rut, one single yawn, one crashing boar.

I'm just a word in your head, hmmm
a name from the past
Something mem'ry has said, hmmm
you're glowing so fast.

I'm just a fly on your wall.
I'm just an eye from afar

I'm just a mouse in the corner

I'm just a word in your head

And you are being all of you

while you can be more of you

I'm just a fly on your wall.

hmmm. hmmm. hmmm.

(Poetry contributions are welcome.  Send them to

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

No sense building a campus if they aren't coming


So now the on again-off again ASU campus is, guess what, off again.  We hate to say we told you so, but we told you so.  

Wonder how many newspapers all those stories about ASU coming to Payson have sold?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Guitar-vocalist Joanie Smith will perform Friday

Enjoy an evening of live acoustic music featuring tunes from different genres which blend early pop ballads, Dixie, jazz, and even some country.

Guitar Vocalist Joanie Smith-Reynolds will be teaming up with another guitar vocalist Dale Knighton, and drummer Gerry Reynolds in a single Payson performance.

So, mark your calendars:

Friday, March 25th - 7:30 pm
East-West Exchange Bookstore Event Center
100 N Tonto Street (off Longhorn), Payson

$10 donation at the door requested
Advance tickets on sale at East-West Exchange
Seating limited to 70

It's OK to let us us know that you will be coming!

Thinning now can prevent large wildfires later

A 2007 controlled burn removes underbrush near Munds Park. State Forester Scott Hunt told lawmakers that Arizona’s forests need to be thinned to help watersheds and prevent catastrophic wildfires. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Stephanie Sanchez)

Cronkite News Service

PHOENIX – Arizona’s forests must be thinned to address overgrowth that harms watersheds and endangers wildlife and surrounding communities, the state’s top forestry official told lawmwakers recently.

“We have too many trees,” State Forester Scott Hunt told the House Agriculture and Water Committee.

Hunt said thick forest canopies and underbrush intercept a lot of rain and snow that otherwise would reach watersheds, causing it to evaporate, and an overabundance of trees draws up and transpires even more water.

Thinner forests more efficiently convert snowpack into stream flow, he said, citing a study showing that water yields can be increased between 15-40 percent when ponderosa pine forests are thinned.

“Healthy forests are the foundation of healthy watersheds, and healthy watersheds, conversely, are the foundations of healthy forests,” he said.

Hunt showed lawmakers a picture of the same patch of forest in 1875 and 2003. The older landscape had far fewer trees, he said, because natural fires cleared smaller trees and underbrush while preserving older trees, he said.

“What happens when we have a lot of trees together is that when we have fires they are high-intensity, catastrophic, they threaten our communities,” he said.

Other challenges to the health of Arizona’s forests include increasing temperatures and insect outbreaks, Hunt said.

“The forests are in an unhealthy state, and we’re trying to get them back to a restorative state,” he said.

Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter, agreed that Arizona’s forests need maintenance.

“We’ve had 100 years of policies that have created these conditions,” Bahr said in a telephone interview. “What needs to happen is thinning and the reintroduction of fire to restore the natural processes.”

Heritage Fund gives head start to leopard frogs

Celebrating 20 years of
conserving Arizona’s wildlife

One of the most beneficial sources of funding for Arizona’s wildlife and outdoor recreationists is the Heritage Fund. Two decades ago, Arizonans overwhelmingly approved the creation of the fund, which, among other things, directs money from lottery ticket sales to the Arizona Game and Fish Department to invest in conservation efforts like educating children about wildlife, acquiring critical wildlife habitats for sensitive species, and protecting and recovering many of the state’s imperiled wildlife.

One sensitive species benefiting from the Heritage Fund is the Chiricahua leopard frog. This medium-sized frog was once abundant throughout the White Mountains of eastern Arizona. It has a green-brown skin color with numerous dark spots on its back, thus its name “leopard frog.”

Reductions in the frogs’ distribution the past few decades prompted their listing as federally threatened in 2002 under the Endangered Species Act. Reasons for declines of wildlife species are not always clear, and several interacting factors are often at play. Biologists generally agree that predation by introduced species, especially crayfish, American bullfrogs and sport fishes, and chytridiomycosis, a fungal skin disease that is killing frogs and toads around the globe, are the leading causes. Other factors have also contributed to their decline, including degradation and loss of wetlands, recent catastrophic wildfires, drought and contaminants.

To address declines of Chiricahua leopard frog populations, a team of state and federal scientists and stakeholders developed a species recovery plan, identifying captive propagation and reintroductions into suitable habitat as one of many activities intended to reach recovery criteria in order to delist them from the endangered species list.

In 2000, Game and Fish personnel, in cooperation with Region I fisheries program staff, converted portions of an old, idled fish hatchery in Pinetop to “head start” and then eventually propagate Chiricahua leopard frogs. Head starting leopard frogs consists of collecting wild-born egg masses, incubating and raising the young in a predator-free environment, then releasing the juveniles or young adults back to the wild.

Since 2000, more than 1,000 frogs have been produced and released into their historic habitats. Department biologists believe the source population for these frogs may have disappeared, so this captive breeding group could represent the last remnants of the only robust White Mountains population.

One of the project tasks consisted of increasing tank sizes from 10 gallons to 1,500 gallons, resulting in higher frog survival and husbandry efficiency. Annual operating costs are minimized by producing feeder crickets on site. Department personnel are also developing a captive frog propagation husbandry manual that describes use of idled fish hatchery facilities for this purpose. Other research being conducted on these captive frogs includes use of spot pattern recognition as a long-term means of identifying individual frogs, and call playback response testing procedures, both aerial and underwater.

Because the department receives no Arizona tax dollars to cover its operating budget, unlike most state agencies, the Heritage Fund is critical to recovering or sustaining Arizona’s unique native wildlife and to managing more than 800 species. The fund’s impact is multiplied through its use as a match for federal dollars. To learn more about the Heritage Fund and wildlife, visit

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Nuts and bolts info about your Medicare benefits

By David Sayen
Regional Administrator
U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

So you’re turning 65. Congratulations! It’s time to start taking advantage of your Medicare benefits. And just how do you do that?

First, a quick overview of the benefits. Medicare Part A pays for hospitalization, and many eligible people don’t have to pay premiums for it. Part B covers doctor’s fees, outpatient care, home health care, screenings for cancer, glaucoma, diabetes and other diseases, and other medical services. Part B has a monthly premium, which for most beneficiaries is $115.40 in 2011.

Part C is Medicare managed care and Part D is prescription drug coverage.

In most cases, if you’re already getting benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), you’ll automatically get Part A and Part B starting the first day of the month you turn 65. (If your birthday is on the first day of the month, Part A and Part B will start the first day of the prior month.)

You’ll get your red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail 3 months before your 65th birthday. If you don’t want Part B, follow the instructions that come with the card, and send the card back. If you keep the card, you keep Part B and will pay Part B premiums.

If you aren’t getting Social Security or RRB benefits (because, for instance, you’re still working), you’ll need to sign up for Part A and Part B.

It’s easy to do. You can sign up by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. If you’re 65 or older, you can also apply online for Part A (if you don’t have to pay premiums) and Part B at The whole process can take less than 10 minutes.

You can sign up when you’re first eligible for Part B. If you’re eligible for Part B when you turn 65, you have a 7-month window that begins 3 months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65.

But make sure you sign up early! That way you’ll avoid any delay in getting your benefits. The best time is the 3 months before you turn 65. Then you’ll get coverage the month you actually hit your 65th birthday.

If you wait until the last four months of your Initial Enrollment Period, your start date for coverage may be delayed for as long as 3 months. You may also face a penalty in the form of a higher Part B premium.

If you didn’t enroll in Part A and/or Part B when you were first eligible because you were employed and covered under a group health plan based on that employment, you have a Special Enrollment Period. That means you can sign up any time while you or your spouse are working and you have employer or union group coverage. Or you can enroll during the 8-month period that begins after your employment ends or your group health coverage ends, whichever happens first.

Usually, you don’t pay a late enrollment penalty if you sign up during a Special Enrollment Period.

But here’s an important caveat: If you have COBRA coverage or a retiree health plan, you don’t have coverage based on current employment. You’re not eligible for a special enrollment period when that coverage ends.

For more information about enrolling in Medicare, visit You can also get free, personalized counseling from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Call 1-800-MEDICARE to get a number for your state’s SHIP, or to ask other questions about Medicare.

David Sayen is Medicare’s regional administrator for California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, and the Pacific Trust Territories. You can get answers to your Medicare questions 24/7 by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Why isn't the nation's sunniest state going solar?

Since solar is more expensive than conventional electricity, Arizona residents have been slow to convert – but with a seemingly endless supply of sunshine, the state's solar potential is powerful.

By Allie Nicodemo
ASU Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development

Arizona has more sunny days per year than any other state in the United States, and Phoenix residents enjoy more than 300 sun-filled days per year, according to the city’s official website. Given this seemingly endless supply of sunlight, why isn’t the state completely powered by solar electricity?

ASU researchers explain why Arizona has yet to see a complete solar overhaul and what projects are under way to make solar electricity more accessible to everyone.

Compared to the east coast, Arizonans enjoy relatively low electricity costs. This is partly because the largest nuclear power plant in the country, Palo Verde, is located here, says Stephen Goodnick, a professor of electrical engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Goodnick also serves as deputy director of ASU LightWorks, an initiative that brings together all light-inspired research at ASU.

Since solar is more expensive than conventional electricity, Arizona residents have been slow to convert.

“People started adopting it because of the incentives and rebates,” Goodnick says. “But without that economic incentive it just depends on helping the environment, and that motivates a much smaller group.”

Solar panels are expensive to install and cost more per watt of electricity, says Venkatachalam Krishnan, a graduate student and research assistant in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering. While a kilowatt-hour of electricity that originated from a nuclear power plant may cost 10 to 12 cents, the same amount of solar electricity could cost 25 to 30 cents per kilowatt-hour, Krishnan says.

Large-scale solar projects have been stalled because of project financing difficulties as well. For example, the Solana Generating Station is an APS solar plant that has been in the works for several years but has not been completed due to a lack of financial support.

“They finally received loan guarantees from the government, but it took that federal intervention,” Goodnick says. Once completed in 2013, the Solana Generating Station will be one of the largest solar power plants in the world, serving 70,000 APS customers.

Aside from cost, the other reason solar is not our main source of electricity is because it is difficult to store. Sunshine is plentiful during the day, but people need access to electricity at night as well. If the prevalence of solar continues to increase within the existing energy infrastructure, this problem will need to be solved.

“There’s not a good storage technology, which you would need to mitigate the fact that it’s not working at night or if it’s a cloudy day,” Goodnick says. Engineers at ASU are working to improve existing storage methods, such as batteries, which currently don’t provide adequate storage for their weight. Another possibility is using solar thermal technology to heat up a carrier liquid, such as molten salt. The liquid can store heat for eight to 10 hours, producing steam to power turbines and generate electricity, even at night. APS will use this method at the Solana Generating Station, Goodnick says.

Once the problem of storage has been addressed, solar electricity will make more economic sense for both businesses and residents of Arizona.

“The cost of solar electric has been coming down rapidly,” Goodnick says. “Based on current trends, some say by 2015 it will be at least equal to the cost of utility electricity.”

Henry Braun is another ASU research assistant and graduate student in engineering. He says residents will probably switch to solar electricity before businesses, recognizing solar as a smart long-term investment.

“If you’re paying retail price for your electricity, it becomes worth it to do solar sooner,” Braun says.

Residents who do switch to solar will need to connect to the existing electrical grid – the network that links power suppliers and consumers. Researchers at ASU’s Power Systems Engineering Research Center are working to build a smart grid that adapts to advancing technology as hundreds of thousands of people begin producing solar power locally.

ASU researchers also are working to make solar panels more powerful and effective once they are more widely used. Solar panels are made up of solar cells, or photovoltaic cells, which are made of amorphous silicon. “It’s similar stuff to what the processor in your computer is made of,” Braun says.

Photovoltaic cells convert photons – the basic unit of light energy – directly into electricity.

“The basic idea is that when a photon hits an electron, it adds energy to it and you harvest that energy,” Braun says.

Rooftop solar panels typically have a large, rectangular surface area made up of solar cells. Unfortunately, current systems operate at about 18 percent efficiency, which means just 18 percent of the sunlight hitting the solar panel is converted into electricity. With this low efficiency rate, panels must be large enough to collect as many photons from the sun as possible, and building these large panels is expensive. However, another approach is to concentrate sunlight onto smaller, more efficient solar cells. ASU is taking its expertise in materials and combining it with the University of Arizona’s expertise in optics to develop a new technique that will make such concentrating solar systems more efficient.

“If the cost of the solar cell is the limiting factor, we could make a very small solar cell and then make a giant mirror that concentrates all the light on it,” Goodnick says. “It’s the same amount of sunlight but focused on a very small piece of solar cell.”

A solar cell built for one of these concentrated systems would operate at a 35 percent to 40 percent efficiency rate. The cell structure would be more complicated, with different types of cells layered on top of one another.

“Each part of that stack is optimized for a particular part of the solar spectrum, and that’s why it’s more efficient,” Goodnick says. These new solar panels also will be equipped with a special tracking system that allows them to follow the sun as it moves across the sky, ensuring maximum sunlight absorption all day long.

ASU’s campus is already partially powered by solar electricity. The university is considered a leader in college sustainability by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, earning a grade of A- on the College Sustainability 2010 Report Card.

“We’re about to celebrate reaching 10 megawatts of solar power generated at peak power, which is the largest of any university in the country,” Goodnick says. As the ASU campus continues its solar transformation, it also serves as a testing facility for new advances in solar technology.

TCCA concert a tribute to Elton John, Billy Joel


NASHVILLE, TN – (February 28, 2011) – Ace “Piano Men” and recording artist Jim Witter will deliver his inimitable tribute to Elton John and Billy Joel at the Payson High School Auditorium in Payson, Ariz. on Monday, March 21 at 7 p.m.

This is the sixth performance in the Tonto Community Concert Association’s 2010/2011 concert season. Single tickets are $30 (if seating is available). Children and youth, grade 12 and under, will be admitted free when accompanied by a ticket holding adult. For more information visit the association website at or call 928-978-4363 or 928-474-6115.

Jim Witter is a 20 year performer and writer, with record deals on Sony Music Canada and Curb Records/Nashville. His recording career includes 10 top ten radio hits in Canada and 7 hit videos on CMT. He has earned multiple awards and nominations from the Canadian Country Music Association, Juno Awards and most recently, a Dove Award nomination for “Inspirational Album of the Year.”

The “Piano Men” production is Jim’s own creation and represents a return to the roots of his own early musical inspirations. This multi-media “rockumentary” includes a live band and elaborate slide/video presentation and a “sing-along” of TV theme songs of the 70’s.

The Tonto Community Concert Association is committed to bringing quality entertainment to the Rim Country through an annual concert series and support of the fine arts in Payson schools. This series is intended as an enriching cultural experience for the people of Payson and those in surrounding communities.

Live On Stage, Inc. provides excellent, affordable, entertainment attractions and support services to an American community of concert presenters. For more information, visit

Three state agencies continue to monitor radiation

PHOENIX – Working together with federal and local partners, three state agencies are keeping close tabs on the radar and changing situation with the air currents from Japan. There is a plume coming toward the southwestern U.S. coast from Japan. At this time, the amount of radiation in the plume is not much different than people experience on a cross-country flight.

The Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency (ARRA), the Division of Emergency Management (ADEM) and the Department of Health Services (ADHS) issued a statement today emphasizing that people in Arizona are safe from dangerous radiation and need to be aware of potential dangers of taking potassium iodide when there is no danger.

“Between the state and federal agencies monitoring the situation, we are confident that there is no danger to the people today,” said Will Humble, ADHS Director. “We are worried that people are taking medication that they don’t need and could create problems for themselves.”

Arizonans should not take potassium iodide as a precautionary measure:

• It is not necessary given the current circumstances in Japan,
• It can be dangerous to people with allergies to iodine, shellfish or who have thyroid problems, and
• Taken inappropriately, it can have serious side effects including abnormal heart rhythms, nausea, vomiting, electrolyte abnormalities and bleeding.

Besides the air monitoring conducted by ARRA in Arizona, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have all stated that there is no risk expected to Arizona or its residents as a result of the situation in Japan.

For more information on the emergency in Japan, including answers to some frequently asked questions, visit the Arizona Emergency Information Network (AzEIN) website at or email questions to .