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Monday, January 31, 2011

O'Connor effort opposes state's education cuts

Sick and tired of what your state legislature is doing to education with its draconian budget cuts?

Today's (Jan. 31) Arizona Republic reveals a new public awareness initiative by retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to draw attention to Arizona's constitutional mandate to support education.

Called the Arizona Education Commitment, the group of community and business leaders is asking lawmakers to look for revenue sources instead of just making cuts to balance the state budget.

"Organizers plan to raise awareness through a website, ads and a word-of-mouth effort encouraging people to contact their legislators," writes Reporter Anne Ryman.

To read the entire article, on the front page of Valley & State, pick up a copy of the Republic or click on www.news.azcentral.com.

And remember, the Republic is your best newspaper deal.  For home delivery, call 1-800-332-6733.  You get the big Sunday paper, Bashas' and Safeway grocery fliers, hundreds of dollars worth of coupons, complete state and national sports coverage, and much more.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Harold Fish law gives convicted murderer new trial

By CHANNING TURNER
Cronkite News Service

PHOENIX – The Legislature can retroactively apply a 2006 law passed after local hiker Grant Kuenzli was shot to death that shifted the burden of proof in self-defense claims from defendants to prosecutors, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The ruling grants a new trial to Cesar Montes, who was charged in 2005 with killing a man outside a Tucson party. He appealed his 2008 second-degree murder conviction on the grounds that the state unfairly burdened him with proving his own innocence.

David Euchner, Montes’ attorney, said the ruling would apply to a few other cases in which the alleged offenses occurred before the law took effect.

“The burden of proof is such a big factor in this kind of a case, Euchner said. “It’s a total game-changer.”

SBA call to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, which argued the state’s case, wasn’t returned by late Wednesday afternoon.

Prior to 2006, defendants claiming self-defense were required to prove their claims. But that year, aggressive lobbying on behalf of Harold Fish, who was accused of shooting Kuenzli, who he said was threatening him near Flagstaff, caused the Legislature to pass a law shifting the burden of proof to prosecutors.

“The previous law required a person to prove their innocence, which goes against everything in our justice system,” Euchner said. “It’s tough to win when you have to prove you’re innocent.”

Conflicting lower court rulings confused the issue until the Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the Legislature hadn’t intended the change to apply retroactively in a similar self-defense case involving Pima County resident David Garcia.

But in 2009, the Legislature passed SB 1449, a separate piece of legislation that made the original law, SB 1145, retroactive. Wednesday’s ruling upheld the Legislature’s power to apply that law to Montes’ case despite its ruling in State v. Garcia.

“Nothing prohibited the Legislature from making SB 1145 retroactive,” the justices’ decision read. “Thus, the Legislature’s later enactment of SB 1449 did not ‘overrule’ Garcia.”

Montes is accused of the Sept. 11, 2005, shooting death of Benjamin Cota, 19. Cota and several others reportedly approached Montes, who was in his car, and attempted to open the driver-side door. Montes then shot Cota and wounded two of his companions, according to court documents.

Prosecutors charged Montes with one count of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Montes claimed self-defense, saying he had feared for his life after Cota approached his car in a threatening way with a 40-ounce beer bottle.

A jury rejected Montes’ defense and found him guilty of second-degree murder and both counts of aggravated assault. He was sentenced to multiple prison terms totaling 23 years.

But confusion over the 2006 law led Pima County public defender Robert J. Hirsh, then Montes’ attorney, to argue that the change entitled Montes to a new trial.

An appeals court affirmed the lower court’s conviction of Montes on Sept. 18, 2009, just weeks before the Legislature issued a statement of intent saying the self-defense law was “retroactively applicable to all cases in which the defendant did not plead guilty or no contest and that were pending … on April 24, 2006.”

Montes used the statement to justify a reconsideration of his case, which the appeals court denied on the basis that the Arizona Constitution and previous rulings “[make] it clear that the Legislature cannot nullify a Supreme Court decision by ‘clarifying’ the law.”

The Supreme Court, however, found the action constitutional by interpreting the law as a separate grant of retroactive applicability rather than a reversal of the court’s previous decision.

OHV decal dollars help educate young trail riders

The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests conservation education program “Kids in the Woods,” in cooperation with the Apache County Rough Riders, a local Eagar, Ariz., OHV club, was recently awarded a grant to create a pilot OHV education program called “Junior Trail Riders.”

“Junior Trail Riders” is a hands-on program that will teach Eagar and Springerville high school students about safe, ethical and responsible OHV use.

“The best way to ensure good OHV users in the future is to grow them,” said Hank Rogers, of the Apache County Rough Riders. “We hope this new program will help create a connection, an appreciation and a respect for the environment in these kids that will last them a lifetime.”

To better manage the skyrocketing number of OHVs in use in the state and to better protect wildlife and their habitat, the OHV Decal program was created in 2009.

“Protection of natural resources is a crucial component of OHV recreation and will help to ensure access to riding areas long into the future,” said Jimmy Simmons, Game and Fish OHV law enforcement program manager. “Programs like Junior Trail Riders are a huge step in the right direction.”

The community of Round Valley will also be a test area for the new program due to the close proximity of the national forest.

“We know that the test program will go well and look forward to expanding the program to all cities and towns within the A-S forest area,” said Rogers.

The statewide OHV Decal program provides the funding for the OHV Sticker Fund Project grant program administered by Arizona State Parks. OHV Decal funds and grant opportunities help pay for trail maintenance, signage, maps, facility development, habitat damage mitigation, education and enforcement.

If your OHV is made by the manufacturer for use over unimproved terrain and weighs 1,800 pounds or less, you are required by law to obtain the OHV Decal. The $25 OHV Decal can be purchased at any Motor Vehicle Department office, any MVD third-party service provider, or online at www.servicearizona.com. The OHV Decal must be renewed annually.

For more information about OHV use in Arizona, places to ride, and educational opportunities go to www.azgfd.gov/ohv.

School group will visit Payson graves on DC trip

The Payson Unified School District’s gifted and talented organizations and their parent organization the Payson Area Association for Gifted and Talented are sponsoring a field trip to Washington D.C. over Spring Break.

As a community service project, while they are there the students will be laying flowers at the memorial stones of Payson relatives. They will then take a picture of the headstone to give to the relative who lives here in Payson.

They may also do rubbings from the Vietnam Memorial.

If you have one or more relatives buried at Arlington National Cemetery or who is listed on the Vietnam Memorial, you can send their names to kristi.kisler@pusd.com and Kristi will add it to their list.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

'Confused' 93-year-old Payson man missing

The Payson Police Department is currently conducting an investigation in an attempt to locate a 93-year-old man missing from Payson.

Garwood (Gar) Baybrook was last seen on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at approximately 8:30 p.m. when he left his residence at 705 S. Bootleg Alley. Mr. Baybrook was driving a white 1992 Ford Escort station wagon with a black cargo container on the top bearing Arizona license plate 4MR910.

Mr. Baybrook is reported to be confused and suffers from memory loss, according to his family. Anyone having any information regarding Mr. Baybrook is asked to call the Payson Police Department at 928-474-5177.

Gun madness: AZ firearms go to Mexican cartels

Straw purchasers are those who buy guns on proxy for cartels, claiming that they are buying for themselves. Many of the weapons taken in the recovery were purchased legally by Arizonans who then delivered the guns to cartel representatives. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Rebekah Zemansky)

By REBEKAH ZEMANSKY
Cronkite News Service

PHOENIX — Traces of guns seized on both sides of the border helped federal agencies break up several rings involved in purchasing firearms in the Valley and shipping them to Mexican drug cartels, a federal official said Tuesday.

Authorities had arrested at least 20 people, with an additional 14 facing charges, for participating in the so-called straw purchases, according to Dennis K. Burke, the U.S. attorney for Arizona.

The suspects included those who purchased the weapons and those who bought the guns from them to take into Mexico, Burke said. Officials seized more than 700 guns, including AK-47s and powerful .50-caliber rifles.

“We really wanted to disassemble an entire organization, an entire firearms-trafficking organization, instead of just targeting straw purchasers,” Burke said.

Agents traced weapons seized at crime scenes in Mexico, Texas and Arizona back to those who purchased the guns legally from shops in the Phoenix area.

One of those charged purchased 40 semi-automatic weapons in a single day from a gun shop in Glendale, according to the indictment. At the same store, another buyer put a down payment on three sniper rifles at one time, records showed.

Then agents tracked connections between the buyers and the dealers who sold the guns to drug cartels using records, witnesses and phone calls, the indictment said.

Those accused of making straw purchases face charges alleging that they claimed falsely in documents that they were purchasing the guns for themselves.

“Straw purchasers might be considered by some as the low rung on the ladder, and they might be, but straw purchasers play an integral part in the firearms trafficking organization,” said Special Agent Bill Newell of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. “In my opinion [they] have as much blood on their hands as those individuals who ultimately pull the trigger.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Matt Allen said that Mexican law enforcement played an important role in tracing the seized weapons. Members of Mexican law enforcement organizations are frequently victims of trafficked firearms, Allen said.

Burke said those making such purchases don’t care where the weapons end up or that they are used in crimes.

“Most of these straw purchasers did it for the money, for greed,” Burke said. “The drug cartels go shopping for their war weapons in Arizona, and we’ve got evidence here.”

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Brewer's Medicaid cuts will cost thousands of jobs

Emily Jenkins, CEO of The Arizona Council of Human Service Providers. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Jorge Salazar)

By JORGE SALAZAR
Cronkite News Service

PHOENIX – Cuts Gov. Jan Brewer has proposed to Arizona’s Medicaid program would result in the loss of vital programs and cost thousands of jobs, leaders of several Arizona health organizations said Tuesday.

“We’re very concerned that this means that not only will we lose money to provide services to people but the employees of our agencies will lose their jobs, which will affect their families and their communities,” said Emily Jenkins, CEO of The Arizona Council of Human Service Providers.

Several groups involved with the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System hosted AHCCCS Provider Day at the Capitol, treating lawmakers lunch and explaining their concerns.

Among their points: Many jobs in Arizona are supported by state and federal money that comes in through the Medicaid program, and many low-income Arizonans depend on the care their groups provide.

On Tuesday, Brewer asked the federal government for approval to suspend AHCCCS coverage for 280,000 people due to the state’s budget crisis. It’s part of a plan to help address a projected $1.15 billion deficit for fiscal 2012, including $542 million in cuts to AHCCCS.

Jenkins said her organization stands to lose coverage for approximately 34,000 people with mental health issues.

“The revenue support is not just for jobs. It pays for real estate [and] facilities,” she said. “It pays for the groceries [hospitals] buy for patients at the hospitals, office supplies, utilities, all the things that support the economy within the communities.”

Karen Puthoff of PSA Art Awakenings, a psycho-social rehab program for adults that have serious mental illnesses and youngsters that are challenged by behavior illnesses, said the AHCCCS cuts will affect her program dramatically.

“At least 58,000 people are going to be affected by an at least 5 percent cut to take place beginning in April with one of our funding sources,” Puthoff said.

“We see it only getting more challenging. We are going to have to provide a lot more services with a lot less funding, so it will strap staff and it will be much more difficult for us to help the population in need if they are not qualified to receive the benefits,” she said.

Matthew Benson, a spokesman for the governor’s office, said Brewer understands that providers and people are affected by the cuts. But the alternative would mean cuts to essential services such as education and transportation, he said.

“There is no question that this would have an impact on the economy, but there is also an impact if the waiver is not accepted,” Benson said.

PUSD's first health and wellness night open to all

Photo courtesy PUSD

The Julia Randall Elementary PTO and the Payson Unified School District announce the 1st PUSD Family Health and Wellness Night...

Friday, January 28, 2011
6-8 pm
Julia Randall Elementary Gym

The community is invited to join in an evening of fitness, health and wellness, including:

TESTS
BMI (Body Mass Index)
Weight
Blood Sugar Levels

PARTICIPATE
Dance Dance Revolution
Cupstacking
Kickboxing
Yoga

LEARN
Nutrition
Backpack Awareness
Healthy Snacks

Free event! For more information contact pto4jre@yahoo.com

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mesa del Water Committee will present options

The Mesa del Water Committee and Brooke Utilities (Payson Water Co. Inc.) are working to present water solution choices and costs to the community in the upcoming months by e-mail, mail, fliers and meetings.

The committee met Tuesday night with Brooke Utilities (Payson Water Co.) President Bob Hardcastle and new Customer Service Rep. Katie Samarripas. The meeting was held to update the newest members of the committee, Anthony Anderson, Susan Campbell and Lois Sizemore, on water solution alternatives.

The committee needs the help of residents in getting the information to every household. Residents not on the committee's e-mail list who want to have the latest information on the water situation and community events should send their e-mail addresses to: Minnie955@msn.com. (E-mails addresses are not shared with anyone but the committee.)

Committee members and contact information is:

Randy Norman 474-4454 Norman1635@msn.com
Anthony Anderson 468-6589 anthnyandiane@yahoo.com
Minnie Norman 474-4454 Minnie955@msn.com
Irene Schwartzbauer 474-3360
Susan Campbell 978-2847
Lois Sizemore 468-2140

Houston Mesa Fire Dept. looking for new chief
 
The Houston Mesa Fire Department is looking for a new fire chief following the resignation of Fire Chief Chuck Jacobs.

Captain Russ Russell and Lieutenant Mike Weller are splitting the fire chief's responsibilities until a new fire chief is hired.

'King's Speech' leads with 12 Academy nominations

"The King's Speech" led all films with 12 Academy Award nominations, but will it ever come to the Sawmill?

Nominations were released Tuesday and you can see all of them in today's Arizona Republic.  Pick up a copy and you get the Bashas' and Safeway grocery fliers, or click on www.azcentral.com and read the story online.

Remember, the Republic gives you more.  That's why it's your best newspaper value.  For home delivery, including the big Sunday paper complete with hundreds of dollars worth of coupons and a comprehensive TV guide, call 1-800-332-6733.

After you subscribe, call the Sawmill at 468-0259 and tell them you want to see the good movies, not the shoot-em-ups and kids flicks.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lawmaker resumes quest to ban texting, driving

Steve Farley, D-Tucson, has authored bills that would forbid minors from any cell phone use while driving and outlaw texting while driving while part of a larger list of dangerous practices. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Channing Turner)

By CHANNING TURNER
Cronkite News Service

PHOENIX – Despite repeated failures in the past, a Tucson lawmaker is out to curb distracted driving with bills that would ban all cell phone use by drivers under 18 and outlaw text messaging as part of a wide range of distractions.

Another key, Democrat Steve Farley said, is working with a yet-unnamed Republican partner to get the bills through the GOP-dominated Legislature.

“I don’t need to have my name on it,” Farley said. “I just want it to get passed.”

HB 2426 would prohibit minors from any cell phone use while driving, including the use of hands-free devices, though it has exceptions for emergencies and reporting crimes. Offenders would be restricted from driving on public highways and prevented from receiving a license granting full driving privileges.

In the next couple weeks, Farley also plans to address text messaging in a bill to ban any activity that removes a person’s eyes, hands or attention from the road.

Farley has supported distracted-driving legislation since the 2007 legislative session, but Republican opposition has consistently blocked his bills, even when authored by GOP lawmakers.

The closest Arizona has come to a law against texting was last session, when a bill authored by Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, won Senate approval but was held in the House.

Since 2007, 30 other states have banned texting while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Michelle Donati, public affairs supervisor at AAA Arizona, said she supports an explicit ban on text messaging because the practice violates all three of the criteria used to determine driver distractions: taking eyes off the road, hands off the wheel and minds off the task at hand.

“Distracting driving is one of the biggest dangers on the road today,” she said. “Technology has enabled us to be in touch with each other around the clock, so with more people using technology, it’s really important that we put a ban in place.”

The city of Phoenix has banned text messaging while driving, but Donati said a statewide ban would give greater consistency to the law and ensure that drivers understand the danger.

Farley said the new bill will address the failings of past attempts by banning more than just text messaging.

“It doesn’t matter what you’re doing that is distracting,” he said. “If you are weaving because of it, for example, then you are endangering the rest of the people on the roadway.”

Alberto Gutier, director of the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, said critics have historically questioned the difficulty of proving a driver is text messaging. Statutes that already ban reckless driving can provide the same deterrence and enforcement value, he added.

“Any law that prevents a tragedy – an injury or fatality – is worth it,” Gutier said. “But we have statutes in the books already, and maybe we should use those statues before we make something new.”

But Farley said having a specific distracted driving law would require the Arizona Department of Transportation to include distracted driving education in its programs. He said current reckless driving laws just aren’t designed to handle petty offenses like text messaging.

“Reckless driving involves eight points on your license, it involves up to six months in jail,” Farley said. “It’s like swatting a mosquito with a sledgehammer.”

States without laws against texting while driving:

_ Alabama
_ Alaska
_ Arizona
_ Florida
_ Idaho
_ Indiana
_ Maine
_ Mississippi
_ Missouri
_ Nevada
_ Montana
_ New Mexico
_ North Dakota
_ Ohio
_ Oklahoma
_ Pennsylvania
_ South Carolina
_ South Dakota
_ Texas
_ West Virginia


Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Christmas bird count documents 120 species

Photo of killdeer courtesy Arizona Game and Fish

A good Christmas gift for birding enthusiasts is wrapped in feathers.

Such was the case at the annual Christmas Bird Count, where 33 birding enthusiast volunteers spotted 120 different species and 14,110 total birds during the count in and around the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge.

The count was substantially lower than the 43,792 birds (121 species) 36 volunteers counted in 2009, but higher than the 10,954 and 112 species documented in 2008.

The discrepancy lies with the American coot. Over 27,000 of this waterfowl species were counted in 2009, compared to 3,697 in 2010, and three fewer volunteers could have also played a factor.

“I wouldn’t read too much into the overall numbers,” said Jeff Pebworth, wildlife program manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Kingman regional office. “The number of species documented is more valuable. The overall numbers can be influenced by weather, migration patterns, and data collection techniques. And, they counted virtually the same number of species as in 2009.”

DeeDee DeLorenzo, the event coordinator for the Audubon Society, credits the success of the annual count to the volunteers. While they had three fewer than in 2009, it was still higher than the 28 in 2008.

“We had great participation again this year,” DeLorenzo said. “The more eyes we can have in the field, the more thoroughly we can canvas the refuge. It was just a wonderful effort and I can’t thank all the volunteers enough for their time.

“We can’t do this without volunteers. They all did a great job of documenting the different species and keeping an accurate count of the overall numbers.”

The most common sighting during the Dec. 28 count was the snow goose, with a count of 4,685 individuals followed by the American coot with 3,697. Some other common sightings included the red-winged blackbird at 624, the rock pigeon at 469, the yellow-rumped warbler at 319, and the great-tailed grackle at 297.

In addition, two juvenile bald eagles were spotted as well as eight species never before documented at this effort: solitary sandpiper, neotropic cormorant, gray flycatcher, Tennessee warbler, Lucy’s warbler, black-throated gray warbler, cackling goose, and lark sparrow.

“It was also a good year for raptors,” DeLorenzo said. “We saw quite a few species this year, including a red-shouldered hawk.”

Participants paid a $5 fee to help offset the cost of publishing the results and maintaining the Christmas Bird Count website: www.audubon.org/bird/cbc.

As for the purpose of the counts, DeLorenzo said it is vital in monitoring the status of resident and migratory birds across the western hemisphere.

“This effort will evaluate the status of bird species in both the breeding and non-breeding seasons,” DeLorenzo said. “The Christmas Bird Count analysis will also focus on how birds may be reacting to global climate change.”

For more information on these events contact DeLorenzo at (928) 758-2707 for information regarding the backyard bird count later this year. For birding enthusiasts, visit www.birdyverde.org for information regarding the April Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival in Cottonwood.

For anyone interested in information regarding the 2011 Havasu CBC, contact DeLorenzo at the number above or e-mail poncho@citlink.net.

Eddie Armer will sign new book at Bootleg Alley

Eddie Armer performing outside Bootleg Alley by Jim Keyworth.

Eddie Armer, descendant of the pioneer Armer family, will be signing copies of the first printing of his book "The Silent Winds of the West" at Bootleg Alley Antiques & Art, 520 West Main St. on Saturday, Jan. 29 from 12-3 p.m.

In addition, Eddie will perform songs from his CD, which will also be available.  Come on down and visit with one of Payson's favorite storytellers.

Monday, January 24, 2011

CAC will convene at GCC Board meeting on Jan. 31

The next meeting of the Citizens Awareness Committee (CAC) will be the Gila Community College (GCC) Board meeting at either the Payson or Globe campus, now changed from Thursday, Jan. 27 to Monday, Jan. 31 at 2 p.m.

At this meeting, Bob Ashford, board chairman, will initiate a vote to do away with rules that were established for the GCC Board to follow. Included in these rules are term limits that would not allow Ashford to run for board chairman at this time. With his majority of board members from Globe it is expected the motion will pass, according to a CAC spokesperson.

Rim Country citizens are asked to attend this board meeting to protest during the public input period of the Meeting.

"If Bob Ashford is allowed to be re-elected he will be able to control any action related to our college's independence," said Payson GCC Board Member Tom Loeffler. "This meeting is critical to our efforts in achieving a better college through independence."

The meeting will be held on both campuses through interactive TV.  Seatiing is limited at the Payson Campus.

Brewer's higher education budget cuts ill-advised

Waiting to address the House Committee on Higher Education, Innovation and Reform are (from left): Tom Anderes, president of the Arizona Board of Regents; Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State University; Robert N. Shelton, president of the University of Arizona; and John D. Haeger, president of Northern Arizona University. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Lauren Gambino)

By LAUREN GAMBINO
Cronkite News Service

PHOENIX – Preparing for another big cut in higher education funding, the presidents of Arizona’s three public universities reminded lawmakers Wednesday that the their institutions are integral to the state economy.

“We are educational institutions, but we are extraordinary economic development agencies,” Northern Arizona University President John D. Haeger said in a presentation to the House Higher Education, Innovation and Reform Committee.

University of Arizona President Robert Shelton said he’s confident in the universities’ ability to contribute to the state economy but warned significant cuts to higher education funds would impede that.

“We cannot cut our way to greatness,” Shelton said. “We are having success doing what we are doing.”

Gov. Jan Brewer’s proposed budget has Arizona’s public universities facing a $170 million reduction in state funding for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The institutions have sustained $400 million in state budget cuts since the start of fiscal 2008.

Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow said expanding the institutions’ capacity to innovate and perform research would help them become more powerful economic agents.

“We need to ignite innovation, drive capitalism, and we have the critical ingredients to drive that forward,” Crow said. “I would agree, and many of you would probably agree, that one of the main drivers is what we produce: highly educated people, brand new and significant ideas and stuff.”

The presidents also shared plans to generate more revenue by expanding research and innovation. But they said they still would have to consider tuition and fee increases to offset the governor’s proposed cuts.

Public universities are not the only institutions receiving major budget cuts. Gov. Brewer’s budget plan proposes cutting state aid to community colleges by $64 million, or 46 percent.

Some committee members said they fear that further cuts would threaten the ability of universities to become more self-sufficient and have repercussions on the larger economy.

“Clearly, the cuts and the reductions in staff at our universities resulted in the loss of jobs in the private sector,” Rep. Tom Chabin, D-Flagstaff, said in an interview.

Steve Court, R-Mesa, the committee’s chairman, said lawmakers are looking for ways to help the universities.

“The whole state is stuck in a bad situation financially with revenues being down 35 percent, so the whole state is going to have to buckle up and make some sacrifices,” he said in an interview.

Proposed higher education cuts:
– From universities: $170 million, or 20 percent.
– From community colleges: $64 million, or 46 percent.

USA Today now running Gazette Blog posts

We are very excited to announce that USA Today is running Rim Country Gazette Blog posts.

Subscribers to the electronic version simply enter their local zip code to see items from a variety of sources including The Arizona Republic and, now, the Rim Country Gazette Blog.

Here's a sample sent to us by Gary Bedsworth:

* Access to forest restricted by closure at 87
Source: Rim Country Gazette - Payson AZ Access to forest restricted by closure at...
* Prescribed fires continue in Geronimo Estates area
Source: Rim Country Gazette - Payson AZ Prescribed fires continue in Geronimo...
* Source: Rim Country Gazette - Payson AZ Don't bet the farm on ASU Payson campus

* Source: azcentral.com Fountain Hills hires business recruiter
* Scottsdale Arts 'genre support groups' forming
Source: azcentral.com Scottsdale Arts 'genre support groups'...
* Scottsdale eatery, neighbors take bar permit fight to council
Source: azcentral.com Scottsdale eatery, neighbors take bar...
* JFK ambulance won't be pulled from Barrett-Jackson auction
Source: azcentral.com JFK ambulance won't be pulled from...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pianist Cristiana Pegoraro appears Wednesday

NASHVILLE, TN – (January 4, 2011) – International solo pianist, recording artist and UN World Peace Award recipient Cristiana Pegoraro will perform at the Payson High School Auditorium in Payson, AZ on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 7 p.m.

This is the fourth 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 www.tccarim.org or calling 928-978-4363 or 928-474-6115.

Pegoraro graduated with honors from the Conservatory of Terni, Italy at 16 years of age. She continued her studies in Vienna, Salzburg, Berlin and New York City. Ms.

Pegoraro has recorded 22 albums for Decision Products, Dynamic, and Nuova Era labels, as well as her own imprint “DIVA.” Cristiana is truly an international artist, performing worldwide, including an appearance at the United Nations General Assembly.

She has collaborated on recordings and concert tours with Unicef, Amnesty International and other international organizations in support of peace and the safety of children. The UN award was given to Ms. Pegoraro on the occasion of her 10th sold out performance at New York’s Lincoln Center. Cristiana is also an accomplished composer, recording and performing her works.

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 www.LiveOnStage.biz.

Local Red Cross offers home fire safety tips

Photo courtesy Red Cross
Red Cross volunteers helps Jeremy (left) and Justin following fire.

Volunteers respond to 37 fires since Jan. 1


(PHOENIX) January 23, 2011 — Red Cross volunteers have been working around the clock since the start of the New Year. Last night, responders helped five people following two home fires in the Valley. Since January first, volunteers have been called to the scene of 37 home fires helping meet the immediate emergency needs of 141 people. The majority of the home fires have been in the Phoenix area, but volunteers have helped people from Lake Havasu City to Whiteriver and San Luis to Flagstaff.

Home fires are the biggest disaster threat to families. Last year, the Grand Canyon Chapter responded to nearly 550 home fires. With the recent rash of fires, your local Red Cross is encouraging Arizonans to take steps to minimize the risk of home fires by remembering two key fire safety steps: install a smoke alarm and develop a fire escape plan.

"Fires can strike suddenly and spread quickly,” says Bill Epps, Chief Executive Officer, Grand Canyon Chapter. “It’s important that people take simple and inexpensive steps now, such as installing a smoke alarm inside bedrooms, outside sleeping areas and on every level of their homes. They should also create a plan of escape in case they need to leave at a moment’s notice, because during a fire every second counts and being prepared can greatly reduce the affects of these devastating disasters.”

It is recommended that people check each smoke alarm in their home by pushing the test button at least once a month and replace batteries every year. Fire escape plans should include at least two escape routes from every room in the home, and a convenient meeting place at a safe distance from the home. Practice your escape plan at least twice a year and revise as necessary.

The Red Cross is committed to helping people learn how to minimize the risk of a home fire. The Grand Canyon Chapter also recommends the following fire safety tips:

Simple Steps to Help Prevent Fires

• Keep all sources of fuel (paper, clothing, bedding, and carpets or rugs) at least three feet away from all heat sources when cooking, or using alternative heating like a space heater.

• Don’t leave the kitchen while you’re frying, grilling or broiling food, and don’t leave home if you’re simmering, baking, boiling or roasting food.

• Keep matches and lighters away from and out of reach of children.

Safety Tips in the Event that a Fire Strikes Your Home

• Once you are out, stay out! Call the fire department from a neighbor’s home.

• If you see smoke or fire in your first escape route, use your second way out. If you must exit through smoke, crawl low under the smoke to your exit. If you are escaping through a closed door, feel the door before opening it. If the door is warm, use your second way out.

• If smoke, heat, or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with the door closed. Signal for help using a brightly colored cloth at the window. If there is a telephone in the room, call the fire department and tell them where you are.

For more Red Cross fire safety and preparedness information visit www.arizonaredcross.org. 

About the American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter

The American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter is where volunteers from across central and northern Arizona come together to help people in need every day. The volunteer-led organization serves more than 5.2 million people in communities across Apache, Coconino, Gila, La Paz, Maricopa, Mohave, Navajo, Pinal, Yavapai and Yuma counties. The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the financial generosity of Arizona neighbors to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.arizonaredcross.org or call 1-800-842-7349.  To give blood, visit www.givelife.org or call 1-800-GIVE LIFE.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Don't bet the farm on ASU Payson campus

PERSPECTIVE
PERSPECTIVE
PERSPECTIVE
All we continue to get is evasiveness relative to the ASU Payson campus.  The latest: Gov. Jan Brewer mentions the need for a statewide network of four-year campuses and Mayor Kenny Evans tells us that she is "absolutely" talking about Payson -- except that she didn't mention Payson.  Not once.  Not at all.

The mayor says private land has been purchased but won't tell us how much or where.

And the timeline for opening the campus keeps slipping and sliding further into the future.  If the mayor is now admitting it'll be 2014, we're betting 2017 at the very best.

"The mayor declined to release details..." is the standard line used in local newspaper accounts.  "If we were standing on a round log," as the mayor puts it, we'd be tempted to jump off.

Editor

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mark Kelly: wife Gabrielle Giffords is 'such a fighter'

Mark Kelly courtesy Arizona Public Media

In an austere conference room at Tucson's University Medical Center, Mark Kelly met with Arizona Public Media's Michael Chihak to talk in detail about the tragic events of January 8--when his wife, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and 18 others were shot at a public forum--and Giffords' progress since.

The Navy officer and astronaut has remained at his wife's bedside since the shooting, but said he is finally getting sleep. Giffords, who was shot through the left side of her brain, is now able to open her eyes, move her arms and legs, and has given Kelly a neck rub. She has also pulled her husband's wedding ring off his finger. She then put it back on him, "fortunately," Kelly joked.

Giffords' "great" progress despite the seriousness of her injury is a testament to her spirit, said Kelly.

"She's such a fighter," he said. "I've heard people say this [her recovery] is kind of like a miracle. I wouldn't disagree with that."

Kelly said he draws strength from the support the Tucson community and the nation have shown the Jan. 8 shooting victims. He has received hundreds of e-mails and letters, including one from a Craycroft Elementary School fourth-grader who offered his hope that Giffords gets better and even sent along his lunch money.

"It was really, really touching," said Kelly, adding with a smile, "I'm going to try to give him back his money, though."

Giffords is the only victim of the Jan. 8 shooting remaining at UMC. Her family has said she will be moved to the TIRR Memorial Hermann rehabilitation hospital in Houston, part of the Texas Medical Center, on Friday.

To watch the video of the interview click on this link and scroll to bottom: http://azpm.org/news/spotlight/2011/1/19/120-kelly-shes-a-fighter/

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pilot program helps homeowners harvest water

Rillito River in Tucson. (Photo courtesy the Watershed Management Group)

By University Communications January 18, 2011

A University of Arizona research group is backing an innovative new water conservation program that one day could save thousands of acre-feet of water for area environmental projects.

The program, called Conserve to Enhance, or C2E, plans to offer subsidies to help a number of local homeowners install rainwater-harvesting equipment, including 2,400-gallon cisterns. Those subsidies will range from $500 to $1,000.

Some homes will participate in the pilot program as well but without the subsidy. In exchange, homeowners will monitor their water use and donate the money they've saved to support riparian restoration projects in Tucson.

Joanna Nadeau, a research analyst for the UA Water Resources Research Center, or WRRC, said about 80 applications have been received for the project, although not all of those will qualify for the equipment subsidy, and suggests that those interested can still fill out a brief online application.

Nadeau said that C2E will continue to accept applications. "We don't know if all of the 80 applicants thus far are even eligible or will be geographically spread out enough, which is one of our selection criteria. There is still room for more people to apply."

Conserve to Enhance currently is managed by the WRRC, the Watershed Management Group, the Sonoran Institute and an independent advisory board made up of city, county and other representatives.

The program evolved from a WRRC research project that surveyed environmental enhancement programs – restoration projects, plantings, etc. – around the state. The survey found that insecure or insufficient water supplies limited a number of the programs.

"That started this quest to get water for important projects in the environmental sector," Nadeau said. "One idea was to use water conservation as a source of water, since many people are already motivated to help the environment."

Conservation programs have been in place in many communities to help moderate heavy water use. Tucson Water's "Beat the Peak" is one long-standing example. Conserve to Enhance is instead geared to engage residents who are interested in benefitting the environment. Presently that includes two existing projects in Tucson. One is the Swan Wetlands on the Rillito River. The other is Atterbury Wash near Lakeside Park.

"Our plan is to scale the program up so that people who enjoyed it the first year can just keep on doing it," Nadeau said. "Those who sign up now are committed to just the one year of seeing how much water is saved and making a donation to the program.

"We're also brainstorming ways to bring this program to the UA and to have students and the Campus Sustainability Group participate so the University could be saving water to enhance the environment. And if anyone is interested in that, they're welcome to join us."

For more information contact:
Joanna Nadeau
UA Water Resources Research Center
520-621-7292
jbate@email.arizona.edu
GAZETTE BLOG ADDITIONS

We're excited to announce that The Arizona Republic and Arizona Republic Sports websites can now be accessed directly from the Gazette Blog.  

Simply scroll at the right to RECOMMENDED SITES and click Local State National News (Republic) or Sports (Republic Sports).  Remember, local weather (click Weather) and Reader Supported News (click National News) are also available from the Gazette Blog.  

You don't really have to go anywhere else to stay informed.

China's one child policy comes to America

Reader Supported News | Perspective 

(Gazette Blog Editor's note: To visit the Reader Supported News (RSN) website, our preferred online source for national news and commentary, click on NATIONAL NEWS at the right under RECOMMENDED SITES.)

By JP Sottile, Reader Supported News
19 January 11

The great green hope.

Born out of the wreckage from the Great Recession and incubated by the fallout of our Oil and Gas Presidency.

Quickly instructed by resilient American know-how and graduating just in time to lead the economy of the 21st Century.

Our great green hope was alive. The future glowed with the emerald hue of manufacturing jobs and energy independence. America would once again lead the world in building something. President Obama delivered the birth announcement in 2008 and Congress sent along congratulatory gifts of stimulus money.

Alas, the baby has been strangled in the bassinet.

That's right, folks. While we were busy playing partisan coochie-coochie-coo, the Chinese quietly killed off the great green hope. Last week, Evergreen Solar of Massachusetts announced that it is shutting down a solar panel factory, shipping 800 jobs and all that know-how to China. Although Evergreen received $43 million in state government subsidies, they couldn't justify staying here in the good ol' US of A when the Chinese simply offered them "much higher government support."

Apparently, the Chinese policy is to allow only one child of this new, green economy - theirs.
The emerging green hope of the Red Chinese is growing by great leaps and bounds. In fact, China recently passed Denmark, Germany and the United States as the world's leading maker of wind turbines. Obviously, they are not content to fill the shelves of Wal-Mart and Target with petroleum-based plastic widgets, disposable holiday trinkets and mass-produced cookware. They are not content with taking over the steel industry, techno-gadget production and airplane construction. Yes, they are also out to out-build us in airplanes. You can thank GE for that. They've just announced a technology-transferring deal to help the Chinese catch us in airplane manufacturing.

Ain't free trade grand?

And that's the problem. The real freedom in free trade is the virtual screwdriver given by our trade policy to the hands of big corporations. They've used it to dislodge one factory after another, loosening the foundations of the Middle Class and shipping it overseas. Meanwhile, the Chinese leverage their massive surplus of labor and hands-on style of government intervention to transfer as much of our post-World War II wealth as humanly possible. But we shouldn't blame the Chinese. No, the people who have made this happen are the well-traveled, well-heeled denizens sitting on the boards of supposedly "American" corporations and the fishy financial institutions that feed them. We should blame their free market political puppets and the people who peddle us cheaper, cheaper and even cheaper stuff. They are rich uncles of China's economic One Child Policy.

You see, the fact behind the fiction of free trade is that "capital," i.e. incredibly rich people, should be "free" to go where profit margins are largest. And profit margins increase where labor is cheap and malleable. For instance, where the government, the army and the police function almost seamlessly, each vigilantly suppressing the political aspirations of working folks or any disputes they might have with management. That's a "good labor market."

It also helps to have government subsidies for just about everything. To have zero requirement to provide health care or pensions or to meet minimum safety standards. And if you don't have to deal with cleaning up any poisons you leave in the air, the water or the soil? Bingo! Now, that's a "good profit margin."

But that's not America.

So, what's the result of our almost religious belief in free trade fundamentalism?

We now find ourselves kowtowing to one of the world's most repressive regimes. To the people who brought you Tiananmen Square, the use of prisoners as unwilling organ donors and some blustery saber-rattling over Taiwan. Although, we don't really mind the saber-rattling. If nothing else, that keeps the defense industry in tax-payer clover. The green economy actually refers to the "green" they take on April 15th and give to weapons makers. Otherwise, there isn't going to be a "green economy."
Perhaps the problem is not that Americans cannot compete, or that China is too ruthless. No, the problem is that the High Prophets of Free Trade care far more about the high profits in their off-shore bank accounts than they do about the country and people who made it all possible in the first place. Their loyalty is to the bottom line. That makes them bottom feeders.

But they are not stupid. They see the future.

China's economy is global capital's favored child. It is growing and prospering. Eventually, the billion-plus consumers of China will make up for the stagnant consumption of a decrepit American marketplace. The pyramid scheme called "the credit card economy" is obviously over. The wealth of the Middle and Working Classes has been, by and large, transferred to the top 1%. And now that America's green economy is suffering from a miscarriage of economic justice, there is little left to keep GE and the rest of corporate America at home. Like the latch-key kids of the 70s and 80s, they will give us plenty of T.V. to watch, some sickly sweet snacks to eat and the promise that they will be home as soon as they get off work.
Unlike the actual parents of those kids in the 70s and 80s, these people are never coming home. They work abroad.

JP Sottile is a newsroom veteran. His credits include a stint on the Newshour news desk, C-SPAN, Executive Producer for ABC affiliate WJLA in Washington, and a two-time Washington Regional Emmy Award Winner. In addition, JP is a documentary filmmaker.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Smithsonian's 'America by Food' coming to Globe

(Phoenix, AZ) - The Arizona Humanities Council is proud to bring the Smithsonian Institution's traveling exhibition of Key Ingredients: America by Food to six different regions throughout Arizona from October 2010 through August 2011.

The Key Ingredients: America by Food Smithsonian exhibit opens on Saturday, January 29, and runs through March 13, 2011 in Globe at the Gila County Historical Society Museum (1330 N. Broad St.).

Exhibition Dates and Hours

January 29 through March 13, 2011
Mondays through Thursdays: 10 AM to 4 PM

Fridays: 10 AM to 8 PM

Saturdays: 11 AM to 3 PM

Special Features

- Period kitchen and utensil display

- Local and historic cookbook display

- Collages of historic, food-related photographs

- "Find the artifact" game

Events
- Taste of Globe and Taste of Miami food festivals

- Dutch oven and Apache cooking event

- Food themed art and quilt shows

- Food themed First Friday lectures

- Ethnobotanic garden

Featured Recipe - Cornish Pasties

Globe Recipe CardA collection of six recipes cards has been compiled from each of the Arizona host sites featuring a Key Ingredient. The recipes include: Sonoran Desert Hummus, Amalia's Posole, Cornish Pasties, Beef and Squash Stew, Burrito de Carne con Chile Verde, and Frybread.

The History of Cornish Pasties in Globe, Arizona

In the late 1800s, miners from Cornwall, England, migrated to the United States, some making their way to the copper mines of Globe. They brought with them a traditional dish, the "pasty" (rhymes with "nasty"), which the Cornish wife would prepare and carry to the mine in a round "pasty bucket," with a lower reservoir that held hot water or coffee to keep the food warm until lunchtime. Over time, the pasty became a favorite dish among the residents of Globe and are still enjoyed in the area.

About Key Ingredients: America by Food

This Smithsonian exhibition provides an entertaining and informative overview of our country's diverse regional cooking and eating traditions, and investigates how culture, ethnicity, landscape, and tradition influence foods and flavors we enjoy across the nation. Our recipes, menus, ceremonies, and etiquette are directly affected by our country's rich ethnic diversity, by the history and innovations of food preparation technology, and by the ever-changing availability of key ingredients. At the local level, the Smithsonian's Key Ingredients inspires the gathering, celebration, and preservation of the finest of what rural America has to offer.

Meeting on closing Frontier Elementary tonight

The PUSD School Board will take comments at 5:30 p.m. tonight (Jan. 19) on the possible closure of Frontier Elementary School and on converting Julia Randall and Payson elementaries into K-2 and 3-5 schools due to budgetary issues.

The meeting is at Julia Randall and is open to the public.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Time for champions of truth to step forward

Yesterday was a national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is the only federal holiday honoring an individual other than past presidents of the U.S. The holiday was, and still is, controversial.

It was born at a time of continuing, but lessening racial strife in the country. First proposed immediately after the assassination of Dr. King in 1968, it was not approved by congress until 1983 and signed by President Ronald Reagan. Even then there was simmering opposition, and it continues to a degree today.

The state of Arizona is a prime example of resistance to accepting the holiday. The year after it was adopted, Arizona chose to rescind it within the state and paid a dear price for the next five years. A Super Bowl was canceled for Tempe and moved to California. The state fell under a national tourism boycott and suffered loses in tourism revenues until a state wide referendum restored the observance in 1992.

Not until 2000 did the state of South Carolina accept the observance as a paid holiday for state workers. Change comes slowly and often grudgingly, but it does come, especially when it is the right thing to do.

Today’s contentious political climate is an emerging breeding ground for reviving old animosities. Not since the hugely divisive days of the Civil Rights struggle has the U.S. been torn by such seemingly intractable differences among citizens. The present political issues are increasingly clouded by rancorous rhetoric. It is becoming more important to score points against a perceived opponent than to discuss differences. If that was ever in doubt, the recent tragic event in Tucson has brought this into full focus.

The mere mention by a county sheriff that he believes vitriolic rhetoric overheard in the media can be a contributing factor influencing deranged actions to some degree, has set off a firestorm of attacks against him and others agreeing with the premise. One has to wonder why any person would take offense to such a worthwhile thought. It cannot be said that it was aimed at any specific group or person, but some groups or persons came rapidly to identify themselves as being offended. They, apparently, let it be undeniably known that they defend vitriolic speech. An attack on rude behavior is an attack on them, they say. They, then, clearly and unapologetically accept bad mannered action. That anyone or any group would come so strongly and rapidly to the defense of ruthless slander or worse, plainly identifies them as advocates by their own admission.

The issue is not about identifying offending groups. Most are already well known. It is about refusing to sanction ruthless and vicious behavior and slanderous speech. Oddly, this behavior is seen as a precious asset and is strongly defended by some. As soon as Sheriff Dupnik made his remarks and many others affirmed them, the true believers in abominable tactics came roaring forth to take offense. Notice, not all opposition groups came forward. Many affirmed the notion that scurrilous actions should be unacceptable in civil debate. A national poll showed conclusively that an overwhelming number of Americans from all political persuasions agreed that a more civil and temperate tone is needed in politics. By their actions, though, a few holdouts made known their resolve to defend offensive behavior.

Defending, even championing, rude actions separates legitimate opposition from scallywags who attempt to pervert the entire political process. The few individuals who continue to promote and defend an unsocial agenda have made it abundantly clear that they see this as a right and intend to promote and defend it vigorously.

A window is finally open, however, for people of principle to come forward and deplore this destructive agenda. It is now obvious that attempting to take the high road has only given license to some who are devoted to villainy. Sadly, it has taken a tragic event to illustrate the true differences in philosophy among political dissidents in today’s America.

It is time for champions of fairness, truth and civil behavior to step forward and reclaim honorable means of settling differences. Dr. King once put it very well:

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy"
(Martin Luther King, Jr.).

10 careers with incredibly high divorce rates

(Reprinted with permission of careeroverview.com)

Various studies have been released that examine the marriage and divorce rates of certain occupations. Due to high stress levels, long or odd hours, and even job descriptions that involve a little too much touchy-feely time with customers, the jobs on this list rank highest when it comes to risk for divorce. If you're in one of the industries below, don't use that as an excuse for letting your marriage fall apart. Instead, prove that you're the exception, and maybe schedule an extra counseling session or two, just in case.

1. Fish and game wardens:
The study conducted by the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, led by a professor emeritus at Radford University, found that fish and game wardens split up with their spouses at a rate of 25.5%, more than 9% higher than the average reports coming from Americans overall. Depending on your education, experience, and employer, you can make a decent living working as a fish and game warden, but the power trip you get protecting wildlife but not translate well into the domestic world.
2. Dancers and choreographers: Dancers and choreographers have the highest divorce rate of any other occupation, and we guess we're not that surprised. With tight clothes, lots of intimate partner practice time, and a job description that requires you to get down and dirty (even ballet is pretty erotic), temptation is everywhere.
3. Bartenders: Similarly, we're not super surprised with the bartender connection. The attractive girls and guys who serve you drinks and compete for tips have the second highest divorce rate, at 38.4%.
4. Extruding machine operator: You can make all sorts of dirty jokes about why this occupation made the list, but we'll blame the occasional night and weekend shifts and rapid decline in employment opportunities.
5. Telephone operators: Telephone operators land in the top 10 occupations with high divorce rates, and we can't blame them. An entire day of people hanging up on you or yelling at you? If your spouse isn't whispering sweet nothings into your ear the rest of the time, we don't see how you could possible stay sane, or even civil.
6. Massage therapists: The Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology study found that massage therapists have a divorce rate of 38.2%, one of the highest. There's only so much scientific and medical justification for groping, caressing and rubbing if you're attracted to your client.
7. Food and tobacco factory workers: There's a 30% divorce rate for people working in food and tobacco factories. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that this occupation also carries one of the highest risks for injury and illness, particularly if you're in dairy or seafood. Workers in this industry also account for 54% of all jobs in America.
8. Gaming cage worker: Gaming cage workers carry about the same divorce rate as extruding machine operators, with a slightly higher risk. Also possibly one of jobs where ethics comes into play more often than not, gaming cage workers are responsible for changing out money for chips, and handling all the cash and paperwork that fuels the casino. This industry also has a pretty bleak employment outlook for the next few years.
9. Gaming service worker: With a divorce rate at just over 31%, gaming service workers may want to rethink heading to the Little White Chapel on their lunch break. Competition is high for this profession, which includes jobs in surveillance, personnel and operations management, slot key supervision, bet takers, and table dealers.
10. Psychiatric nurses and home health aides: Taking care of mentally unstable or physically challenged individuals who aren't related to you takes a lot of patience, commitment and understanding. A typical day — no matter what your exact job description is — can be physically and emotionally draining as you deal with intimate tasks like bathing and changing, as well as frustrating calls to insurance companies or absent family members. You'll need an understanding spouse to deal with your own mood swings after work.

AZ supremes uphold Constitutional right to curse

In the Valley & State section of today's (Jan. 18) Arizona Republic, columnist E.J. Montini takes exception to Arizona House Speaker Kirk Adams objection to his use of the term "death panel" for a legislature that refuses to fund organ transplants. "I will (stop calling the legislature a death panel)," Montini wrote. "As soon as they stop being one." Go to www.news.central.com to read the entire column.

And on the editorial page, the Republic endorses a 2 percent water rate increase for Phoenix residents. "Water is the most basic of services, but it is also the most complicated to supply," the editorial said.

Also on the editorial page, the Republic agrees with an Arizona Supreme Court decision that it is not a crime to curse.  " ...the court observed that the law generally should resist the impulse to criminalize the use of words," according to the editorial.

Go to www.opinions.azcentral.com to read the editorials.

And remember, to have the Republic delivered to your doorstep seven days a week -- easily your best newspaper value -- call 1-800-332-6733.

Monday, January 17, 2011

GCC Board's Loeffler asks for community support

(UPDATE: I received word on Friday that Bob Ashford has rescheduled the Gila Community College Board meeting. The new date is January 31. Everything else is the same, 2 p.m. at the Payson or Globe campus. The Payson location will have limited seating I'm told, so if anyone wants to go to Globe there will be more seating there.
Tom Loeffler)

Hello, I’m Tom Loeffler, a member of the Community College Governing Board and I’m asking for your help.

Recently, the Board chair, Robert Ashford, in an apparent illegal move, repealed all the Board policies so that he could ignore term limits and be elected chairman again. In doing this he betrayed the public trust in an elected official, ignored two previous valid motions by the Board and skirted the Open Meeting Law. This action is one of many irregularities.

Our only recourse is to demonstrate our outrage of his actions by speaking out at the next Board meeting. This meeting is currently scheduled for Thursday, January 27 at 2pm at the Payson and Globe Campuses of the college.

Talking points for those willing to speak up at the meeting:

1. No mention in the Dec. 9th agenda that a vote to repeal the established policies was coming up for a vote as is required. Only items on the agenda may be acted upon.
2. Chair refused to follow the wishes of the entire board by ignoring two valid motions, unanimously approved at two meetings, to table all discussion of policies until a work session was held. One of these was made by the chairman himself.
3. Robert’s rules of order, The Open Meeting law and the public trust were all violated.
4. Chair ignored the term limits and pushed this change through for one reason only-for his own gain.
5. Since Bob Ashford, as chair has absolute control of the agenda, which also is a violation of the very policies he threw out, he can control future actions of the board and direction of the college to his own agenda.
6. By not placing the policy repeal on the agenda, the Chair did a disservice to the voters by not notifying them to his intention to repeal all policies.
7. Not only did the chair not give any proper notice to the public, the Chair gave NO notice to Board members of his intentions.
8. To simply throw out all Board policies for his own gain is not only extremely self-serving, but is simply bad business practice.

Please feel free to express any other feeling or ideas you may have on this subject.

*** The decision from the open Meeting Law complaint has now come down and the Attorney General ruled against us. He said “update” could mean repeal of the policies.

Thank you for your support in striving to make OUR college the best it can be.

The list to date where Loeffler will be speaking regarding the repeal of all board policies (see above) and the legislation to allow GCC to be independent:
 

Jan 18th. 10 am         County Board meeting
Jan. 19th   6 pm         Gila Co. Democrat Party Mtg. at Library
Jan. 20th  5:30 pm       Payson Town Council   town hall
Jan. 20th  6 pm           Tea Party   Tiny's
Jan  26th  5:30 pm       Optimist Club     Crosswinds
Jan   31st  12 noon      Gila Co. Republican Party Mtg.  Tiny's

Much more to Sheriff Dupnik that meets the eye

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, the man who is being criticized by the right wing media for speaking his mind following the Tucson shootings, says he is merely "voicing the concerns of many law-enforcement officials" in an in-depth profile on the front page of today's (Jan. 17) Arizona Republic.

The article also details how the right wing media villified Dupnik, including Glenn Beck actually having an imposter pretending to be Dupnik call his show.

To read the article, pick up a copy of the Republic or go to www.azcentral.com

For home delivery of the morning Republic, your best newspaper value, call 1-800-332-6733

Sunday, January 16, 2011

BEST WAYS TO ACCESS BLOG

It has been brought to our attention that some readers have been unable to access the blog the last few days.  These are probably people who access it through the old Rim Country Gazette website, which, we suspect, has expired.

Obviously if you're reading this you don't have a problem.  But please tell your friends and neighbors that the best two ways to get to the blog are:

1. Go to our offiicial address at www.rimcountrygazette.blogspot.com

2. Google Rim Country Gazette Blog and click on the link provided

Once there, set it as a favorite for easy future access.

Runaway renegade library staff takes TP away

It has been brought to our attention by several people that the Payson Public Library is now requiring patrons to request toilet paper at the front desk.

We ignored this situation initially because we remember once many years ago being chastised by then Roundup editor (a real editor, we might add) Jerry Thebado for making a joke about the Town of Payson’s waterless urinals that he called “toilet humor.”

We ignored this situation even though the initial report came in the form of a phone call from former Rim Country Gazette editor Carol La Valley, who was laughing so hard she could hardly talk. This is good stuff for one of your columns she said.

I’m pretty confident she didn’t give this tip to the Roundup because it’s just the kind of thing they wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole even though Thebado long ago flew the coop.

Anyway, we ran into Hal and Kathy Baas Friday evening and they noted that it’s difficult to request toilet paper from the front desk when you are using the facility after hours and the front desk is closed. They were apparently attending an evening meeting of some sort in the library meeting room. Clearly the new library policy had elevated into a classic Catch 22.

Now my journalistic curiosity was aroused, toilet humor be damned. I wondered if the Payson Town Council was aware of this new library policy, which, according to a sign on the bathroom doors, was instituted because of the theft of toilet paper.

Alas, my relationship with the current town leadership is in disarray. I have been openly critical of Mayor Kenny Evans’ extravagant claims about a four-year institution coming to Payson. I couldn’t just pick up the phone and call Kenny about a matter so trivial when he’s involved with building a $550 million “world class” university right here in River City.

And then there’s Town Manager Debra Galbraith. Ever since she tried to say that the Roundup was the official town newspaper and I reported that one citizen had to catch her outside on a smoke break we haven’t exactly been speaking.

But then, like a sign from above, I received an e-mail from Councilor Ed Blair, the lone holdover from the Edwards administration – the regime of the people that arose in conjunction with the Rim Country Gazette.

I hit REPLY and asked Blair what he knew about the library’s new TP policy. His response:

“I was in the bathroom after (the) CAC (meeting) last Thursday and the sign said, ‘Because of stealing of toilet paper, ask for some at the front desk.’

“Sounds like an embarrassing situation for the one needing to ask…

“I wonder if thievery couldn’t be prevented some other way. I’ve seen metal rods with big Master locks on both ends.”

(That’s Ed – always looking for a better way.)

So there you have it. The town council wasn’t consulted or informed. A runaway renegade library staff careening out of control has imposed its own TP policy on an unwary public. It’s time for action.

I could live with Ed’s solution, but there’s something about “big Master locks on both ends” that doesn’t fit with an institution of enlightenment.

Instead, I propose a massive campaign whereby we all donate a single roll of toilet paper to the Payson Public Library. And to get the ball rolling (or, should we say, “the roll rolling”) The Consort is picking ours up at Bashas’ today. I’ll try and get a photo of the actual first donation of toilet paper to run on the blog – unless, of course, the library doesn’t want the publicity – or the toilet paper.

And if that’s the case we need to resort to Plan B. Please allow me to quote from an earlier “Off the Rim” column about Phoebe, the toilet paper tube-burying dog that lives in Star Valley:

“In the early West, before the invention of toilet paper, corncobs and pages torn from newspapers and magazines were commonly employed. The Sears catalog was revered for this reason, and it generated a spinoff called the ‘Rears and Sorebutt’ catalog. The Farmer's Almanac even had a hole in it so it could be hung on a hook to facilitate its employment in the outhouse.”

My friends and fellow library patrons, this is an institution that houses books. Books are made up of pages of paper, much like the pages in a Sears catalog.

In this age of computers, surely the library could determine and then make available for this use a pile of the books that are least read. Some might see this application as a return to the Dark Ages of ignorance, but in the interest of public sanitation – not to mention saving patrons the embarrassment of having to request toilet paper from the front desk, this last resort plan might have to be implemented.

But not if we all drop off a roll of toilet paper at the library. Whatever your political persuasion, we can surely agree on this noble cause.

Now, it is time for action!

Number of Medicare improvements take effect

MEDICARE NEWS
A MONTHLY COLUMN

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

What’s new in Medicare for 2011?

There are a number of improvements to Medicare this year, thanks to the new Affordable Care Act.

One big change is that people with Medicare Part D, the prescription drug program, will see a 50 percent discount on prescription drugs if they’re in the so-called donut hole.

The donut hole is the point at which your Part D coverage temporarily stops, and you pay all of your drug costs out of your own pocket. You enter this gap when your total drug costs for the year – meaning all costs paid by you and your insurance company -- hit a certain level. The threshold for this year is $2,840.

Once you’re in the hole, you pay all of your drug costs. When your out-of-pocket spending for the year hits $4,550, you get out of the hole. After that, you have catastrophic coverage, and you’ll pay only about 5 percent of your drug costs.

So how does the discount work?

In 2010, people who went in the donut hole got a one-time, tax-free check for $250. This year, instead of a check, people in the hole will get a 50 percent discount on almost all brand-name prescription drugs and a 7 percent discount on generic drugs. These discounts can produce big savings for people who need expensive medications. The discounts will gradually increase until the hole is completely closed in 2020.

A caveat: People who have drug coverage through a retiree plan, or people who have the Part D low-income subsidy are not eligible for a discount.

The health law also eliminated most co-pays and deductibles for a range of Medicare preventive health services. The idea was to reduce out-of-pocket expenses so more people with Medicare will take advantage of these services, which can keep you healthy and detect disease when it’s in the earliest, most treatable stages.

Among the preventive services Medicare covers are:

-Screenings for breast, prostate, colon, and cervical cancer;

-Tests for glaucoma, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems that can lead to heart attack or stroke;

-HIV screening, hepatitis B shots, and annual flu and pneumonia shots.

People with Medicare can also get counseling from their doctor or other qualified health professional to help them stop smoking, and to help them manage their diabetes on their own.

For a complete list of Medicare-covered preventive health benefits, go to www.Medicare.gov.

In addition, people with Medicare now can get a wellness exam every year, with no out-of-pocket costs. This exam lets you and your doctor put together a prevention plan just for you, based on your current health and risk factors.

When you first sign up for Medicare, you’re also eligible for a onetime “Welcome to Medicare” physical exam. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, this exam no longer has a deductible or a 20-percent co-pay.

One last point: Although Medicare’s annual open enrollment period closed on December 31, you can still make some limited changes to your health coverage until February 14.

If you’re in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can switch to Original Medicare during this period. If you make that change, you also have until February 14 to sign up for a Part D prescription drug plan.
 
However, you can’t do the reverse -- switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage during this period. You also can’t switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, or from one Part D plan to another. 
(David Sayen is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Pacific Trust Territories.)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dist. 2 citizens urged to support independent GCC

To residents in Gila County District 2:

Please contact your Gila County Supervisor Mike Pastor and ask him to support a Formal Resolution by the Board of Supervisors in support of Independence for Gila Community College (GCC). Below find five "talking points" that would be benefits as the result of Gila Community College becoming independent. Please include your favorite "talking points" when communicating to Mike Pastor. Please phone or e-mail him at 928-402-8753 mpastor@co.Gila.AZ.us

Also, please forward this request to others in your neighborhoods of District 2, south of Frontier St. to the Forest/Tribal land, east from Arizona Hwy 87 to the Rim Club. We supporters of Gila Community College Independence THANK YOU for your efforts!

GILA COMMUNITY COLLEGE INDEPENDENCE
TALKING POINTS

KEEPING OUR TAX MONEY IN GILA CO.
Currently the college budget is $6.1 million. Of that $6.1 million, approximately $2.6 million comes back into the county as salaries etc. The remaining $3.5 million leaves the county and does not come back. That is $3.5 million of our taxes that goes to other counties and is used to support their economic growth. KEEP OUR TAXES IN OUR COUNTY.

PROVIDE SKILLED WORKFORCE
An independent college will allow for focusing courses on needed skills to attract business investments that create jobs and taxes for local communities.  Our college can work with prospective businesses to provide training for future employees. ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY FOR LOCAL COMMUNITIES.

INVESTMENT IN ECONOMIC GROWTH
The cost of providing effective education and providing economic growth could be reduced by achieving independence. As an independent college we could take over more and more of the administrative duties and reduce the current overhead we now pay. The elected board would gain control over the budget and insure the best value for the money spent. MORE COST EFFECTIVE EDUCATION.

DEVELOP BUDGET AND BUSINESS PLAN
As an independent college our first hire would be a financial director to get a handle on our finances. The current college board requires a detailed budget along with a multi-year business plan to develop the most cost effective, yet educationally superior community college. Voters deserve the most for their tax dollars. BETTER FINANCIAL PLANNING.

NO INCREASE IN PROPERTY TAXES
If we move in a controlled fashion and add positions and functions as funds allow, we can increase the staff needed to function independently without raising property taxes.  With the increase in student enrollment and the normal inflation of the tax levy we can add two to four positions per year for the next four years after we achieve independence. NO NEW TAXES.

GCC Board Member Tom Loeffler will speak at 5:30 p.m. at the Jan. 26 meeting of the Optimist Club at Crosswinds Restaurant.  The public is invited to learn more about an independent Gila Community College.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Company offers travel options for women over 40

Courtesy photo

If you want to feel younger "Stay active and travel," is the advice of Explorations in Travel's president and founder Debbie Jacobs.

Explorations in Travel designs outdoor and cultural vacations all around the globe for women over 40.

"I've had 70 and 80 year old women on trips with me that some of the younger women had a difficult time keeping up with," says Debbie who led her first women's travel vacation over 25 years ago. "Their secret is really no secret at all," she explains. "They have stayed active; walking, biking, swimming, playing golf and gardening. They are open to trying new things and keep themselves open to new experiences."

On a trip to New Zealand, "While the rest of the group was enjoying a relaxing day in town, one woman opted to go bungy jumping because it was free for people over 60."

"We don't usually have women jumping off of bridges for the first time with us but we do have many women who try cross country skiing, canoeing, white water rafting and other outdoor recreations."

Numerous studies have shown that physical activity can improve one's strength, speed and even contributes to a more positive outlook on life. (New England Journal of Medicine 1994, Sports and Exercise 1996)

Itineraries are designed to accommodate a range of skill levels. Hikers and walkers can keep their own pace. "We really are planning vacations and not Olympic events," assures Debbie.

"Our leaders and guides love what they do and enjoy sharing their enthusiasm and skills with the women who join us."

An upcoming rafting adventure on the Rogue River in May is the perfect vacation for women new to adventure travel to discover the joys of a wilderness vacation. Experienced paddlers will be happy they explored the Rogue, one of the country's Wild & Scenic Rivers.

"We travel off the beaten path as much as possible," adds veteran leader Becca Brown, "we want the women who travel with us to get a taste of the local culture, to meet the people who live in the smaller villages and towns and to experience the beauty of the natural environment."

Traveling may not slow down the birthdays but it certainly is a great way to celebrate them. Asked what she thought of her vacation one participant put it simply; "Sublime," she said, "just sublime."

To find out more about the upcoming rafting adventure on the Rogue River phone: 802-257-0152 email: women@exploretravel.com or visit the website: http://exploretravel.com