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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Expect to die younger if you live in Gila County

CLICK ON MAPS TO ENLARGE
Life expectancy in 2007 was 81.8 years for women in Arizona, one of only a handful of states to see sharp gains in longevity in some counties and losses in others, a new report says. (Map courtesy University of Washington) 

Life expectancy in 2007 was 76.6 years for men in Arizona, one of only a handful of states to see sharp gains in longevity in some counties and losses in others, a new report says. (Map courtesy University of Washington) 

By MAGGIE PINGOLT
Cronkite News Service

WASHINGTON - A study on life expectancy shows “big extremes” between Arizona counties, with residents of some counties likely to live more than seven years longer than residents in others.

The report from the Institute of Health Metrics Evaluation at the University of Washington also said Arizona was one of a handful of states that saw life expectancy increase by more than five years in some counties while decreasing in nearby counties in the state over a 20-year span.

“Arizona is a state with big extremes,” Ali Mokdad, the lead researcher in the study’s U.S. county performance team, wrote in an email.

“In La Paz . . . life expectancy has gone down for men by one full year right next to a county, Yuma, that has gone up by more than eight years in life expectancy,” Mokdad wrote. “This simply should not be the case.”

The report compared life expectancy by county across the country, in 1987, 1997 and 2007. It said life expectancy in the U.S. ranged from 65.9 to 81.1 years for men and 73.5 to 86 years for women in 2007; the statewide average for Arizona was 76.7 for men and 81.8 for women that year.

The authors and state health officials said the gaps between counties in Arizona could be attributed to the availability of health care in the counties and differences in residents’ lifestyles.

The report’s authors pointed to obesity, smoking and other preventable factors to explain the difference between life expectancy in the U.S. and other countries. Those factors were cited by state officials for the disparities within Arizona.

Jeanette Shea, the assistant director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said the authors were “right on” in their commentary. She said the life expectancy numbers are indicative of smoking and obesity rates in the respective counties.

From Apache County in Arizona’s upper northeast to Yuma County in the southwest, there is more than a seven-year difference in life expectancy for men, according to the report. That gap grew markedly since 1987.

In Apache County, men’s life expectancy was 70.8 years in 2007, about a year higher than it was when the study began in 1987. The report claims that male life expectancy in Yuma County grew by more than eight years, to 78 years in 2007.

According to the state health department, about 15 percent of Apache County residents smoked in 2010, compared to 11.51 percent of Yuma residents.

Gila and Mohave counties, which have the highest smoking rates in the state at 22 percent and 23 percent, respectively, fall in the bottom five counties for life expectancy for men and women.

Arizona Department of Health Services Director Will Humble compared the varied quality of health from county to county to that of Colorado and Kentucky. It’s not that one state or county has better health services, although they might, he said, it’s because some people “take better care of themselves.”

“Mohave County is kind of our Kentucky and Yuma is our Colorado,” Humble said.

Mohave County Health Director Patty Mead said the numbers reflect numerous factors plaguing the county, including low-income and high-unemployment rates. Health concerns include diabetes and smoking.

“The county does see a number of people engaging in unhealthy behaviors,” Mead said.

The report’s authors propose that state and local policymakers “use the life-expectancy data and the county comparisons to tailor strategies to fit the dynamics of their communities.” Humble said his department would do just that.

“We’ll use this information for marketing efforts to identify target areas through the state,” Humble said.:

Life expectancy by county for men in 2007

Yuma County: 78 years
Maricopa County: 76.8 years
State of Arizona: 76.6 years
Cochise County: 75.8 years
Coconino County: 75.8 years
Pima County: 75.8 years
Yavapai County: 75.8 years
Pinal County: 75.3 years
Graham County: 74.6 years
Greenlee County: 74.6 years
La Paz County: 73.9 years
Gila County: 72.9 years
Mohave County: 72 years
Navajo County: 71.4 years
Santa Cruz County: 74.3 years
Apache County: 70.8 years


Life expectancy by county for women in 2007

Yuma County: 83.8 years
State of Arizona: 81.8 years
Pima County: 81.7 years
Maricopa County: 81.6 years
Yavapai County: 81.6 years
Cochise County: 81.1 years
La Paz County: 81 years
Santa Cruz County: 81 years
Coconino County: 80.8 years
Pinal County: 80.7 years
Apache County: 80 years
Gila County: 79.6 years
Graham County: 79.5 years
Greenlee County: 79.5 years
Navajo County: 79.5 years
Mohave County: 78.5 years

Source: “Falling Behind: Life expectancy in U.S. counties from 2000 to 2007 in an international context”

Game and Fish guns down another black bear

EDITORIAL
Once again we have to question the actions of Arizona Game and Fish personnel who shot and killed a 200-300-pound black bear after a bear attacked a Gilbert woman while she was walking her dog in Pinetop Tuesday.

According to a story in the June 30 Arizona Republic, the circumstances of the attack are still somewhat murky, but what happened shortly thereafter is crystal clear - "...federal wildlife personnel used tracking dogs that eventually found a bear several hundred yards away in a tree" and shot and killed it immediately.  Game and Fish officials say they are now conducting a forensic investigation to be sure they got the right bear.

Wait a minute - let's be very clear on this point: officials are not even positive the bear they found in the tree was the one who attacked the woman.  In a press release, AZGFD said, "Although highly unlikely, if the forensic necropsy determines that the bear was not the one responsible, tracking efforts will begin immediately to find the right bear."  So why not tranquilize the bear and run the tests to be positive?

We have to remember whose turf we are treading on when we recreate in the forest.  And while we realize that bears are not people and are not protected by the Constitution, the principle of innocent until proven guilty would have been fairly easy to follow in this case.

Too often in the past, trigger-happy officials have shot and killed bears and other wildlife without thinking first.  It's time for Game and Fish to reevaluate any policies and procedures that allow this kind of tragedy to occur.

Why should an agency that is charged with protecting wildlife be allowed to destroy it without first taking all precautions to make sure such action is necessary?

By the way, the injured woman is in serious but stable condition. 

Click on news.azcentral.com to read the Republic story. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In addition to all the events being planned by the Town of Payson to celebrate the 4th of July, here are a couple that haven't received much publicity:

Cermonial Flag Raising

The Payson Patriotic Events Committee will be presenting a Ceremonial Flag Raising event on Monday morning, July 4, at 8 a.m. at the Veteran's Memorial in Green Valley Park.

The Flag Raising will be a brief event to allow those who wish to be present to reflect upon the purpose for celebrating Independence Day.  

Scholarship Fund Dance

The Payson Pro Rodeo Committee is holding their annual Scholarship Fund Dance at the Ox-Bow Saloon this Friday and Saturday July 1 and 2 featuring the Landon Shill Band.

Doors open at 7 p.m. and music starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are a $5 donation. Come out and have some fun dancing and support our efforts to help our community. 

For more information call John Landino 468-6684
RANT & RAVE

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

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

Regarding an ASU-Payson campus 
That there are financial deals being cut is obvious. Who are the people investing in the private property adjacent to the proposed campus? Why no disclosure? Is the Town being bypassed i.e. potential investors? What interest is going to be paid? This deserves exploration. If not feasible (for the local media) perhaps someone on the AZ Republic staff would like a potentially juicy story.


Regarding summer events in Payson
When it comes to holding festivals, rodeos and other summer events, it isn’t whether it’s right or wrong for the Rim Country’s image. It’s whether it brings tourists up here. Meanwhile the Chamber and town’s Tourism Department could be doing so much to sponsor the right kinds of events that attract the right kinds of people. Ask Joe Harless about how his June Bug Blues Festival was run out of town.


Regarding town’s big ugly roadside sign
So the Town of Payson restricts the signage of small business owners and then continues to allow that butt-ugly portable digital roadside sign to be used to promote its own events. When there’s nothing going on, it’s used to encourage citizens to fight all that crime in Payson by turning in their neighbors.


Regarding Star Valley buying wells from Payson
Chuck Heron for Mayor! At least the former mayor realized that doing water business with Payson is like dealing with the devil. How soon the atrocity that is the Tower Well has been forgotten.  Payson shouldn't even have wells to sell in Star Valley.  It's not their town.


Regarding The Knolls water problem
According to you know who, Star Valley officials claimed The Knolls subdivision was without water for two days. According to one resident of The Knolls it never happened – at least at his house.


Regarding Brooke Utilities magical toll-free number
Why should anyone be surprised that Brooke Utilities could not be reached during a weekend emergency.  Just try getting through on their toll-free number.  It’s a joke and it always has been.


Regarding Flatlanders' manners
Dear Flatlanders:
We are happy to share the Rim Country with you on summer weekends, but please help us keep this beautiful country clean.  When we come to the Valley, we don't throw trash or cigarettes out our car windows, and we would appreciate it if you would return the courtesy when you visit us.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

'Where you're at depends on where you've been'

GUEST COMMENTARY

By George Templeton
Payson, Ariz.

Wheel stabilizers were a popular automotive aftermarket item sold in the 50’s. They were recommended for back roads where travel frequently required traversing unpaved wash-board surfaces, ruts, and pot holes. I can recall riding in a taxi. Its steering wheel had to be spun nearly a full rotation before the vehicle responded. The driver was constantly turning the wheel back and forth in an effort to keep the car going straight. There was no problem with falling asleep at the wheel here!

Wheel stabilizers were heavy lead hubcaps. They worked on sound scientific principles. The physics of angular momentum is what keeps the rifle bullet going straight and the bicycle from falling over. Spinning gyroscopes help moon rockets and ocean liners go straight. Lead hubcaps cannot be denied the same law of physics. However, lead hubcaps might not be the best solution for a steering problem.

Politicians treat us to endless repetition of trite ideas and slogans that are technically incorrect and not representative of the nuances of any situation. Powerful words are compelling but often are built on revisions of history and misrepresentation. As Pat Moynihan said, “You are entitled to your own opinion but you are not entitled to your own facts.”

A republican labeled Romney as a “co-conspirator” with Obama on health care. Another claimed that Democrats have “unlimited faith in limitless government” and they engage in “the morbid obesity of taxes and spending.” Really? People in glass houses should not throw stones!

Though handed a deficit, Democratic president Clinton (who raised taxes) was the only president to balance the budget and create a surplus. On September 30, 2002 congress allowed the Bush bipartisan 1990 anti-deficit Budget Enforcement Act to expire. This act required discretionary spending increases and tax cuts to be offset elsewhere within the budget. Thirty years of exporting American jobs that produce and add value shifted our economy to one relying on consumption. Deregulation, the republican tax cuts of Bush, and his failure to veto a single spending bill in nearly 6 years set the stage for the great recession. Consumers were over exuberant. Reputable financial magazines were predicting the stock market at 18,000 and that you “just could not lose” in real estate one month before the crash. It was not your father’s kind of banker. Banks could wheel and deal in investments and leverage increased imprudently. Wall Street had come up with a shell-game pyramid scheme. It is hard to do the right thing when you are making money.

Bush’s dogmatically conservative Republican administration engineered the 700 billion dollar wall-street bail-out and rescued them. However, the estimated 2.5 trillion dollar credit default bomb erased home values. The stock market largely recovered but banks were failing and would not loan. Now Alan Greenspan, the retired libertarian republican Fed chairman, admits that he was wrong about regulation. He says tax increases are necessary to fix the deficit.

Where you are at depends on where you have been. There is no undoing. Many thought that homes were tangible and had real value and not the volatile phantom wealth characteristic of the stock-market. They had too many of their eggs in one basket. They learned that their home was not the secure piggy bank that they thought it was. The rapidly growing number of retiring baby-boomers and laid-off workers were not spending depriving, government and business of revenue. This was the legacy that was handed to President Obama.

We know that both Republicans and Democrats regarded the crash as an exceptional situation that could not be treated as usual. Economists argue that the stimulus was necessary to avoid another world-wide great depression.

Taxes and spending are not what is morbidly obese. People who struggle with this medical condition take it seriously. Two thirds of Americans are overweight. Just over 34% of American adults are obese (up from 15% in the late 70’s). Stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer will consequently increase. The baby-boom generation will get old, sick, and die and their numbers are great. A demographer has described it as a snake swallowing a rabbit. We know that cost effective health-care has to focus on prevention or health management instead of disease management. Many cannot afford health insurance. Their friends and the church won’t be able to take care of them.

Jimmy Buffet’s 1978 song “Cheeseburger in Paradise” with mustard, onion slice, lettuce, pickle and tomato is obsolete. Now it has mayonnaise, triple cheese, bacon, hold everything else including the bun. Ronald Reagan would say that government is not to protect us from ourselves but rather to protect us from each other. However this problem impacts everyone.

Suppose we had a “business government”. First we have to do away with political parties. We hire the most qualified people, not true believers of any philosophy, religion, or politics. There are quantitative goals and objectives that will be measured according to previously agreed-upon metrics at a defined time and place. We recognize that all of our team members are honorable, intelligent, respected people of principle. The project champion values their critique. No one works at the company in order to make it fail. The role of the project champion is to defend, motivate, direct, and monitor the program with the help of many professionals who have deep knowledge.

Project parameters are discussed and cooperatively fine-tuned. Once a project is approved, such as health care, everyone tries to make it work. Those who go out of their way to cause project failure are dismissed. A future project might take a different route, but for now all must give the project a chance. Administrators and policies of programs in trouble would be closely examined. The new management will likely not embrace the old paradigm.

Few complex projects are free of complications. The project has contingency plans for dealing with uncertainties. Brinksmanship is not relied upon as a motivator. Solutions are not at their best when created under duress and in a panic. Flexible programs are revised. We enjoy being wrong when it is in our favor and will flip-flop on issues every time when that breeds success of the program.

So, what are the things in our government that differ from the business ethos? Could more business discipline help America? 

(Editor's note: We welcome intelligent contributions from across the political spectrum.  Send them to peoplesgazette@gmail.com)

Tonto (mostly) open for business, but no fires

PHOENIX (June 27, 2011) – With forest closures and fire restrictions limiting some recreation opportunities on the Tonto National Forest, forest officials are advising people to look ahead when making weekend plans.

“We want people to know that the Tonto is open for business, and so are the towns and businesses that cater to our visitors,” said Deputy Fire Staff Helen Graham. “From playing in the water at one of the lakes or rivers or camping in a cool pine forest, there are plenty of opportunities for folks to share the holiday weekend with us.”

The first rule for anyone who plans to visit public lands this weekend to know is that fireworks are strictly prohibited on national forests.

“Fireworks are banned year round on National Forest System lands, not just during fire season,” said Graham, “but the Independence Day holiday always provides that additional temptation to break out the firecrackers and bottle rockets. Put simply, we will not tolerate the use of fireworks on the Tonto National Forest, and people who break the law will receive hefty fines, and maybe some jail time.”

“Recreational shooting is also banned throughout the forest under current restrictions, and is of particular concern,” emphasized Graham. “We have had six fire starts since April related to recreational shooting activities.”

Secondly, campfires limited to charcoal cooking fires only are allowed in fire grills and grates provided by the Forest Service in developed recreation sites on the Cave Creek, Mesa, and Tonto Basin disticts (list below). No wood or charcoal campfires are allowed anywhere else on the forest.

Third, there are two closure areas on the forest. One area closure is on the northern boundaries of the forest and includes the towns of Pine and Strawberry. The other closure area is bounded by Sunflower, Punkin Center, and Roosevelt and Saguaro lakes. Closure and restriction orders, with maps, are available on the forest website.

Penalties for violating either the restriction or closure order include fines of up to $5,000 and up to six months in jail.

Outside these two closures, there are still ample opportunities to find a campsite in a cool pine forest. Near Payson, both the Ponderosa and Houston Mesa campgrounds offer developed camping opportunities, while more primitive campsites are found along Houston Mesa Road. Numerous campgrounds can be found along Arizona Highway 288, leading from Roosevelt Lake to Young, Ariz. North of Young, both the Alderwood and Haigler Canyon campgrounds are open. Campfire restrictions remain in effect at all of these locations, so gas or propane will have to be used for cooking and heating.

Those wanting to camp or picnic at one of the Tonto’s six lakes or two rivers have even more opportunities. On Roosevelt and Apache lakes there are 1,150 campsites available. The Lower Salt River Recreation Area can host thousands of picnickers, not to mention the tubing, rafting and boating available on Saguaro and Canyon lakes. Bartlett Lake and the Needle Rock Recreation Area near Cave Creek provide more recreation opportunities.

While uncontrolled fire is always a great concern in the forest, the increased numbers of visitors also impacts the resources due to the litter and trash left behind. Visitors are urged to follow the Leave No Trace principles to help decrease potential long-term damage from camping without a conscience.

If you pack it in - pack it out. Pack out all trash, leftover food and other litter.
It is prohibited to take glass containers around any water areas on the forest (for example, the Salt River, Roosevelt Lake, the reservoirs, etc.).

Take only photos, leave only memories.

Visit www.lnt.org/programs/principles.php to learn more about the Leave no Trace principles.

And finally, visitors are encouraged to “know before you go.”

Campgrounds across the forest will begin fill up early on Friday and many sites are first-come, first-serve. The earlier a camper arrives, the better opportunity for finding that perfect campsite.

Visitors to the Tonto National Forest need to make sure they have the proper permits for their vehicles, watercraft and activities, as some vendors may have limited hours during the weekend.

Tonto National Forest administrative offices will be closed Monday, July 4 to observe the Independence Day holiday. For more information, visit www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto/ or call 602-225-5200.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Don't miss Bootleg Alley at Fourth's First Friday

Be sure to join the fun for First Friday on Historic Main St. from 5-8 p.m. on July 1, and while you're there don't miss the festivities at Bootleg Alley Antiques & Art in the center of historic Payson - Main Street's most happening place.

Listen to the music of Payson's favorite band, Junction 87. Enjoy a meal of brats, chips and a soda for $5 with all proceeds benefiting the Kiwanis. Raffle tickets can be purchased from the Rodeo Committee as well as the Humane Society of Central Arizona. Those gathering can top off their evening with See's Chocolates purchased from the Soroptimists and ice cream from SCOOPS.

Bootleg Alley Antiques & Art is located at 520 W. Main St. Payson.

Twain would have called water boards idiots

PSWID WATCHDOG UPDATE

Hello Neighbor,

I came across this quote from Mark Twain the other day: “In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made school boards.” They must not have had water boards in his day.

I have about half a dozen major activities going on in my life and as my wife can attest, I don’t have enough time to do any of them very well. I will be working through my backlog of meeting summaries. I still have part two of the May meeting to do, as well as last Thursday’s meeting. To keep you from being on pins and needles, the following is a brief synopsis of my observations of what went on at last Thursday’s budget hearing:

1. The board passed the corrected budget. Property taxes for the district are increased by 50%.

2. The board continued to suppress the public’s ability to understand what it is that the board is doing. Members of the public were limited to just one question about the budget. For most of the questions that were asked, Mr. Gary Lovetro would first argue about the question itself and then launch into long speeches about all the things the board has done, but not really answer the question. Several times he lectured that the public had no input into the budget and shouldn’t expect to have any. Apparently, we are to just sit quietly and allow them to take what money they want and do with it whatever they please.

a. Comment: For last year’s budget and rate hikes, when the board was under different leadership, there were several public meetings where it was explained what challenges the district was facing, the makeup of the customer base, and the approach that was being taken to change the water rates. During those meetings many questions were asked by the public and ideas from the public were discussed. You may disagree with the final decisions that the board made, but at least the leadership of that board had the confidence to share their thoughts with the public and to listen to the public in return.

3. There was a great deal of complaining by the board about the Pine Creek Canyon road project and how it had “forced” them to raise property taxes. However, they would not answer the question as to why the $799,000 in the capital budget that is for yet to be identified purposes couldn’t have been lowered by $100,000 in order to keep the property taxes the same.

a. Comment: The board’s argument about the cost to the district being “extra” is based upon the false premise that they wouldn’t have had any reason to fix it otherwise. As you can remember the board made a big deal out of the aged piping and the critical need to address that as a reason to first elect them. Then as part of the justification to purchase the water companies. That pipe that runs along Pine Creek Canyon Road is one of those old pipes. As proof, a few weeks ago they fixed a leak behind my house and when they turned the water back on, a section of that pipe burst and they had to repair that. So the reality is that the road project accelerated the replacement of the pipe, which already needed to be replaced. Repairing the infrastructure might have just been a campaign slogan, and if they had a master plan (which they don’t) for repairing the old infrastructure, there might have been other things that were a higher priority, but it isn’t correct for the board to say that this is an extra expense being forced on them by the county. Only the timing is being forced.

4. One of the statements that Mr. Lovetro made several times is that a property tax increase is better than a rate increase because it is tax deductible. For those people that itemize their taxes that may be the case, but there are significant negatives to that approach:

a. It hides what the true cost of water is from the customer. The $300,000 is 13.9 % of revenue.

b. By avoiding a rate increase, the increase gets far less scrutiny by the public. Last year’s rate/budget meeting was held in the school gym and had at least 100 people attend. Many were very vocal and lots of good questions were asked (people weren’t limited to one question since it was prior to the free speech suppression effort under Mr. Lovetro). In fact, an error in the rate schedule was pointed out by a member of the public and it was corrected before the board voted on it. This year, there might have been 10 people at the budget meeting.

c. It places a burden on property owners who do not get water from the district. There are arguments that those property owners see increased value in their homes because their neighbors have access to water, but who has seen any increase in value for the last few years?

5. Mr. Ron Calderon continued his penchant for wildly inaccurate claims when he told the audience that the district is taking the same revenue as Brooke did, $1.8 million. Mr. Calderon is wrong on two counts, first the district is projecting that it will take in revenue of $2,165,419 in the next fiscal year. Secondly, the peak year of revenue for Brooke was 2006 at $1,293,709. In 2008, the last full year of Brooke operations, the revenue that Brooke took in was $1,123,072.

a. Taking a trip down memory lane, in 2008 Brooke’s operations expenses were $646,385. Prior to the purchase, the board swore that they could operate the district for $882,000, despite solid evidence and common sense to the contrary. Last year’s operations expenses were $1,253,639. Next years are projected to be $1,278,377.

b. Brooke’s expense for debt was $0. Last year’s debt expense (not included in operations expenses above) was $256,618. Projected yearly debt expense going forward is $498,052. The doubling of the debt costs is due to borrowing an additional $1,000,000 and starting to pay back principal on the loan. Prior to this the debt expense was for interest only.

Someone shared with me the questions that they sent to PSWID about the budget and PSWID’s esponses. The questions, the PSWID response, and any comments are below.

1. Meter Replacement Program - $26,614.00. How will this program be administered? Will you simply start in the oldest subdivision (I assume Cool Pines) and work your way through Pine and Strawberry to the newest? What is the cost of replacing a meter? How many years will it take to replace all of the water meters? Will the plan for replacing meters be made public so that everyone will know what meters will be replaced when?

a. PSWID Response: The District Manager developed models to evaluate a 1, 3, 5, 8 and 10-year replacement program. Only with the 8 and 10-years models could this work be completed in-house and without the need for an outside contractor. The District Manager has recommended to the Board that they approve the 8-year replacement plan. The order for which meters will be replaced will begin with the oldest meters first (not by subdivision) and continue until all meters have been replaced over the next 8 years. Meters cost anywhere from $37 to $199, depending on their size. There is no plan or need to inform the public which meters will be replaced and when. Typically, a service order will be issued to the field service crew with instructions to replace the meter at a certain address. Each meter replacement will take approximately 10 to 30 minutes to complete.

2. You state that you anticipate 2 new customers a month during 2011 - 2012? How many new customers did PSWID add in 2010-2011? Have you placed the income from "new customers" in miscellaneous revenues? By new I am assuming that these customers are added to your customer base and not just a replacement of someone moving out of the area.

a. PSWID Response: In the 2010-2011 Fiscal year PSWID had 34 New meter installs (and) $17,800.00 in miscellaneous revenues associated with these installs.

3. Does your attorney bill you for travel time to and from Phoenix? If he does have you considered having him participate in meetings via telephone conference? The information he offered at the May 19 meeting concerning impact fees was very interesting and worthwhile. However, he could have participated in the meeting and given the same information, at less cost (if he charges for travel time, mileage and meals) by telephone or with a letter to the board. Has he given you an estimate of how much legal work (and the cost of the legal work) that will be generated by the new Arizona impact fee policy?

a. PSWID Response: Billing records do not indicate travel time for attendance at meetings. We do get charged an hourly rate for all items done including attendance at meetings. I don’t think the public can determine if we need our attorney present at certain meetings or not-that is up to the board.

4. Milk Ranch Well #2 - $160,162.00. Does this price include everything that is needed to make the well fully functional and integrated into the PSWID system? I believe that the total purchase price for the Strawberry Hollow Well and Milk Ranch #1 was somewhere in the (including the monies needed to repair the Milk Ranch Well and integrate it into the PSWID system) $1.5 million range. How can you get a fully functional well fully integrated into the PSWID system (that) cost less than $160,162.000? Are you underestimating the cost of Milk Ranch #2? If you are not underestimating, what made Strawberry Hollow Well and Milk Ranch Well so much more expensive? Why is Milk Ranch Well #2 so much cheaper?

a. PSWID Response: Total Purchase and Costs for Milk Ranch #1 Well to date is $588,150.90 With hook up costs to date of $57,368.00 and a remaining $188,941.00 to finish. Total Costs of MRW #1 Well will be $834,445.99. Total costs for STRH003-Purchase and Hookup $479,451.26 making total for both wells MRW#1 & STRH003 $1,313,911.16. Cost to hook MRW#2 to system-$160,162.00- We are able to reduce the total cost to develop this well for several reasons: 1) District already owns the well casing needed for the project, 2) District already owns the pump column needed for this project, 3) source of power is already at well location, and 4) water produced from this well will be pumped into the 20,000 gallon storage tank being constructed at MRW#1 eliminating the need for an additional storage reservoir and booster pumps.5) PSWID Owns the land; this is the biggest savings compared to SH3 & MRW#1 transactions.

b. Comment: The above numbers do not include the value of the $171,000 in free meters that are being provided as part of the Milk Ranch Well purchase. The board claims that the value of those meters is $7,550, which is the actual physical cost of the meters. While that might be the out of pocket expense for the district, the district is foregoing $171,000 in revenue, which they will have to make up out of the pockets of their customers and property tax payers. So the cost of the Milk Ranch well to the community is $1,005,445.99, and the total for the two wells is $1,484,897.25.

5. I was told that Milk Ranch Well #2 was made possible because you recently discovered that PSWID owned some land that the board had not known PSWID owned. How did PSWID find out about this asset? What steps are being taken to ensure that PSWID knows about all of its assets?

a. PSWID Response: the parcel of land was brought to light during a parcel search in the planning stages for MRW#1. The PSWID engineer did a survey on MRW #1 & easements across the creek then informed PSWID that they owned this parcel of land, then a more complete title search confirmed the findings. The current planned piping location was made available due to that discovery, but is not the sole determining factor to proceed with this project. The District has an easement across the adjacent trailer park property which could have been used for the pipeline leading over to MRW#1. PSWID has a list of all the assets purchased from BUI in the purchase agreement and the District Manager will make himself familiar with property owned by the District and inform the Board, when necessary.

6. Service Truck Field Operations - $62,000.00. I assume this means the same as "service truck used in field operations." Please let me know if this assumption is correct. I assume that since this truck is a line item, no vote will have to be taken for this purchase. Is that a true assumption? Will a request for bids have to be published? Will the public be told when this purchase is made?

a. PSWID Response: Your two assumptions are correct. This line item is the service truck used in field operations and since it’s a line item in the budget, no vote will have to be taken for this purchase. PSWID will follow the procurement guidelines established in the District & Regulations. There are some exclusions to publishing requirement. There is no plan or need to inform the public when the purchase is made.

7. WIFA Grant. I notice that you are hoping for a WIFA Grant in the amount of $124,600.00 while WIFA expenses come to $101,400.00, I assume that some WIFA Grants require matching funds from you and that is why you have a "WIFA expense." Is this assumption correct?

a. PSWID Response: Yes, your assumption is correct. Grant funding is limited to 60% of planning and design work to a maximum of $35,000 per project.

8. You have $100,000 in proposed capital expenditures for Mapping System-AUTO CAD. You also have Auto CAD Mapping System in your WIFA Wish List. Does this mean that the mapping system will only be done with a WIFA Grant? Does this mean it will only be partially done if you don't get the grant? I notice quite a few items on the WIFA Grant wish list. How much are you hoping for each individual item?

a. PSWID Response: The AUTO CAD project will be completed with or without grant funding as an approved budget capital item. It is our hope that we will receive up to $35,000 to offset the planned expenditure. In regards to the WIFA Wish List, are hoping to receive up to 60% of planning and design work up to a maximum of $35,000 for each project.

9. Infrastructure & Development Improvements - $799,209.00. Please break this amount down. What improvements to what at what cost for each improvement?

a. PSWID Response: No Breakout for this item yet. Will be determined on needs during the fiscal year by management & Board.

10. Do you have a long term financial plan?

a. PSWID Response: What is meant by Long Term??-We have provided the Bank with a 24 month plan and because there is so much structural improvement required we need to address the immediate needs of the system first before a long term plan can be determined. A future years Water Master Plan will be the basis for the long-term capital expenditure plan.

11. Capital Funds from Loans - $1,786.961.00. In 2010 - 2011 and 2011 - 2012 you added (beyond the purchase price) to PSWID debt. How large of a customer base does PSWID need in order to end the dependence on loans? Is there anything that can be eliminated, or can things be done at a slower pace, in order to reduce the size of these loans and control PSWID debt?

a. PSWID Response: The current plan is to address the immediate needs and controlling costs and/or slower pace of operations has already been considered.

12. At the end of the 2010-2011 fiscal year what will be PSWID's total debt - purchase price and additional loans?

a. PSWID Response: This is provided in a monthly financial status report on our Website.

13. Why have you not broken out proposed capital expenditures in the Tentative Budget posted on your website as you did in the handout distributed at the May 19 meeting?

a. PSWID Response: the budget is always presented in summary form this is typical for all business operations. The details and the breakout of the items are determined by management and Board of Directors on an as needed basis.

This update is from the group Water For Pine Strawberry. We will post an update after each of the PSWID meetings with a summary of what the board did, additional facts that are relevant to what went on, and some commentary.  If you would like to be added to or removed from the list for these updates, please reply to WaterForPineStrawberry@hotmail.com. Updates on earlier meetings are available on our website: www.WaterForPineStrawberry.com

Water For Pine Strawberry is a group of residents who are concerned about the community’s water issues and how they can best be resolved. Visit our web site, www.WaterForPineStrawberry.com, for more information. The website for PSWID is www.pswid.org

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

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wash Fire 60 percent contained at 1,955 acres

Wash Fire Update

Fire Facts
Date started: June 23, 2011
Location: 8 miles NE of Heber-Overgaard 
Size: 1,955 acres estimated
Cause: human
Percent contained: 60
Estimated containment date: none
Number of personnel: About 253 including 7 hand crews
Equipment: 2 bulldozers, 14 engines
Aircraft: 2 helitankers and 1 light helicopter
Injuries to date: 0
Cost to date: $902,359
Properties threatened: power lines 

Fire Activity: Firefighters will patrol and mop up existing line to a depthof 300 feet today. Red flag conditions are expected today, and thepotential for very active fire behavior exists.

General Information: The Wash Fire is burning in piñon/juniper with a grass understory on the Sitgreaves side of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests on the Black Mesa Ranger District.

Safety Message: Heavy recreation traffic was observed in the general vicinity of the fire today. Motorists should be alert due to the presence of firefighter vehicles on the highways and Forest roads.

Voted the Best Small Town in Arizona and nestled among the cool pines of the majestic Mogollon Rim - Payson, Arizona comes alive in patriotic colors during its 4th of July Celebration. Whether you are a local Payson resident or a visitor, you will be treated to a show well worth the trip. Payson is known for its beautiful weather in July and breathtaking sunsets. So bring your chairs, a picnic basket and blanket, or grab some food from one of the vendors that will be on hand and enjoy a day of fun. The Fireworks show & games are all FREE to the public. The event will feature, great food vendors, bouncy houses, games, prizes, music, beautiful scenery and Payson is generally 20 degrees cooler than Phoenix.
4TH OF JULY WEEKEND IN PAYSON ARIZONA
Come and enjoy Fun, Food, Entertainment & Fireworks
 
FRIDAY, JULY 1st

First Friday on Main Street
The 4th of July celebration always starts with FIRST FRIDAY. Take a leisurely stroll down Historic Main Street with your sweet heart or friends. Noted as one of Payson’s best places to “meet someone” by the Payson Roundup.
Place: Historic Main Street
Time:  5-8:00 PM

SATURDAY, JULY 2nd
Enjoy live entertainment, laid back atmosphere, and food vendors at the Summer Concert Series. The performing band will be Terry McFee Orchestra.This band performs a variety of musical selections which includes fox trots, ballads, waltzes, swing tunes, big band hits, polkas, and more!
Time: 7-9 PM
Place: Green Valley Park
Fee:
FREE
SUNDAY, JULY 3rd
Payson Pro Rodeo Committee’s First Annual CHILI COOK OFF
ADMISSION:  $4.00 buys you a cup, spoon & a ticket to vote for your favorite People’s Choice Chili.
PARTICIPANTS CHECK IN: 9:00 AM
ENTRY FEE:
Peoples Choice (anything goes in it) $10.00 Chili can be brought with you (2-3 gal.)
Casi Sanctioned Red Chili (beef, spices, no filler) $15.00 Chili has to be cooked on site.
Serving of Casi Red Chili begins at 2:00 PM
Awards presented at 4:00 PM. Three awards for People’s Choice, Ten for Casi Red Chili.
MONDAY, JULY 4th
8:00 AM: Patriotic Ceremony will start off the celebration with a patriotic solute to those men and women who have made this a free country.
1-4:00 PM: Kid games. Kids will enjoy everything from sack races to egg toss to tug of war. Finally we will conduct the 3rd Annual Payson Arizona Foot Races.
5:30-9:00 PM: Live music by The Higher Power Band. A variety of great music for all ages.
9:00 PM: FIREWORKS. Enjoy one of Arizona’s most spectacular fireworks shows. Surrounded on the west by the Mazatzal Mountain Range, on the East by the Granite Dells and to the North the Majestic Mogollon Rim, Green Valley Park is a picturesque setting for a spectacular night of fun, bright lights and large boom!
Free Shuttle to Green Valley Park
Due to the popularity of this event we have started running busses from the Payson High School to Green Valley Park. On July 4, starting at 5:30 pm, a shuttle bus will pick you up at the Payson High School administration parking lot (off of McLane rd.) and transport you to Green Valley Park. After the show the buses will return you to your car.
Directions: From Highway 260 & 87 - go west on Long Horn Road and turn left on McLane Rd.  Follow signs to the Payson High School Administation parking lot.  This will be the main pick up and drop off point.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A BLOG READER POSTS...

This is more than an awesome blog; it's a contribution to the field of study on so many levels.  Thanks for doing it.

New study: Medical debt occurs despite insurance

The continuity of health insurance coverage is an important factor in both debt problems and seeking medical care, finds a new UA study. 

By Ginny Geib
UA College of Pharmacy

June 21, 2011 - Being insured doesn't lower the odds of accruing medical debt.

Health insurance is not protecting Arizonans from having problems paying medical bills, and having bill problems is keeping families from getting needed medical care and prescription medicines, a new study has found.

According to a study published online June 16 by the American Journal of Public Health, after taking age, income and health status into account, simply being insured does not lower the odds of accruing debt related to medical care or medications.

In addition, said University of Arizona College of Pharmacy research scientist Patricia M. Herman, who directed the study, medical debt is a separate and better predictor of whether people will delay or forego needed medical care than their insurance status.

"On average, insurance coverage in Arizona is not protecting families from experiencing medical debt," Herman said. "From other studies we knew that paying medical bills is a problem for a substantial portion of both insured and uninsured Americans. This study helped clarify that the fact of medical debt is an additional and larger barrier to getting needed health care than whether a person is insured or not."

The study analyzed data from more than 2,300 cases included in the Arizona Health Survey, a comprehensive survey of 4,200 Arizona households designed to assess insurance coverage, health status, behaviors and social and environmental factors that affect health. The health survey was conducted in 2008, before the full impact of the nation's recent financial recession and high unemployment.

Because individuals 65 and older have access to Medicare, the study focused on adults age 18 to 64. Researchers used logistic regression models to examine predictors of medical debt, including insurance status, and the relative impact of medical debt and insurance status on subjects' decisions to obtain needed health care or prescribed medicine.

Herman's analysis determined that the continuity of health insurance coverage is an important factor in both debt problems and seeking medical care. "People who experience coverage gaps are more than twice as likely to report problems paying medical bills, and are six times as likely to report delayed care," she said.

Among the implications of the findings, Herman said, are that health insurance should be portable, universally available, or both, so that families do not experience coverage gaps, and that serious efforts are needed to reduce large out-of-pocket costs to insured patients, to reduce medical debt.

Co-authors of the study are Michele Walsh of the University of Arizona Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, and Jill Rissi of the Portland State University Hatfield School of Government. The study was funded by St. Luke's Health Initiatives, a Phoenix-based public foundation focused on Arizona health policy and strength-based community development.

Wash Fire at 1955 acres, roads to Holbrook opened

WASH FIRE UPDATE
With the Willow Fire burning north of Bear Canyon Lake 75 percent contained at 213 acres, firefighters are now focused on the Wash Fire. Here's the latest:

Fire Facts 
Date started: June 23, 2011
Location: 8 miles NE of Heber-Overgaard
Size: 1,955 acres estimated
Percent contained: 10
Estimated containment date: None yet

Number of personnel: About 160 including 5 handcrews
Equipment: 3 bulldozers, 10 engines
Cause: human
Aircraft: 2 helitankers
Injuries to date: 0
Cost to date: $370,000
Properties threatened: power lines

Fire Activity: On Friday firefighters finished a dozer line around the entire fire, and began improving the line around the fire perimeter. Helitankers will continue to support firefighters on the ground today as needed. Firefighters will continue to construct line, patrol and mop up existing line. Although fire activity is minimal, hot and dry weather continues, and the potential for very active fire behavior exists.

Community Meeting: A community meeting will be conducted at 6 p.m., June 25 in the Mogollon High School gymnasium, in Heber, AZ. Representatives from the Apache/Sitgreaves National Forest and the Eastern Arizona Incident Management Team will be available to provide current information about the fires and the forest, and answer questions from the audience.

Emergency Information available: Please call the Public Information Lines (593)333-3412 or (928)333-3412 for further updates, or call the Fire Information Line listed at the top of this page.

General Information: The Wash Fire is burning in Pinyon juniper with a grass understory on the Sitgreaves side of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests on the Black Mesa Ranger District.

Highways 277 and 377 have been reopened, and power has been restored to Heber and Overgaard.  (A related story from the Arizona Department of Transportation [ADOT] follows.)

Safety Message: Heavy recreation traffic is expected in the general vicinity of the fire over the weekend. Motorists should be alert due to the presence of firefighter vehicles on the highways and Forest roads.

ADOT reopens State Routes 377 and 277

PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Transportation reopened two highways in northeast Arizona that were closed yesterday (June 23) due to the Wash Fire near Heber-Overgaard.

State Route 377 was reopened to the public this afternoon between the SR 277 junction and SR 77 near Holbrook (mileposts 1-34) and SR 277 reopened between Heber (SR 260 junction) and near Snowflake (mileposts 306-321) late last night.

Although the highways are now open, ADOT urges drivers to be cautious as efforts continue to bring the fire under control.

Approximately 130 miles of state highways are still closed due to several major wildfires burning across Arizona or due to the threat of wildfires. ADOT reminds motorists that the following closures on state highways remain in effect:

US 191 is closed over a 77-mile stretch between Alpine and north of Clifton (milepost 176-253).
SR 261 is closed between the SR 260 junction and SR 273 junction (mileposts 395-413).
SR 273 is closed south of the Sunrise Ski area to the SR 261 junction (mileposts 383-394).
In southern Arizona, SR 366 is closed at milepost 118 leading up to Mount Graham (milepost 143) near Safford after the U.S. Forest Service determined the risk of wildfire is too extreme to allow access.

Additional information on active wildfires can be obtained through the Arizona Division of Emergency Management at http://www.azein.gov. To stay up-to-date with the latest highway conditions around the state, visit the ADOT Traveler Information Center at www.az511.gov or call 5-1-1

Friday, June 24, 2011

Self-serving Neanderthals would burn us down

Some random thoughts:
I love a campfire as much as anyone. In fact, I don’t particularly enjoy camping without one. As a result, I limit my outdoor experience a lot more than I like. I do this, like my Momma and Daddy taught me, out of respect for authority. When The Forest Service says, “No campfires,” I choke back my disappointment, figuring they are doing this for the common good. I will live to camp another day, and I want a wilderness in which to enjoy it.


It makes me furious, then, when brainless, completely self serving Neanderthals ignore perfectly reasonable restrictions. What would serve as common sense in a more evolved being is intentionally ignored. These creatures thumb their nose at regulations to satisfy their primitive urgings. They, too, love a campfire, and, by God and Budweiser, ain’t no prissy Forest Service gonna interfere with their longings. Everyone knows The Forest Service is against the common man, anyhow.

Burn, baby, burn.

And, as of this moment, five hundred thousand acres of prime Arizona wilderness have done so. The Wallow fire, as this one is named, is about twenty five per cent contained. Four thousand Hot Shots and other heroes are working their tails off to attempt to contain the blaze to something under a million acres – the price of Liberty for a couple of brain-dead “individuals.”

The state of Arizona was the last contiguous territory to finally gain enough educated concerned and motivated citizens to form a majority, voting to come in from the wild and become a state. There is still a significant minority, however, yearning for “The Old Days” when a man made his own law and organized government was the despotic enemy. A vote today might not achieve the same result.

Fortunately, all Arizona citizens are allowed (some say encouraged) to accumulate as many unregulated firearms as one can afford. First, of course, you have to figure the monthly payment on the six-wheel, four wheel drive, crew cab diesel with a raised chassis and a ten thousand pound hauling package, and child support for three kids under the age of five. The economy sure puts a squeeze on a man’s rights.

When the government comes to take away everything a common man owns, though, the right to form a “well regulated militia” will be our salvation.

Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota and others all have a state bird, a state flower and a state song. Arizona has a state handgun. Yee Haw! That kinda tells it all.

On another note, I’m noticing with great interest how many people are finally standing up to that socialistic, secret-scheming despot Mayor Kenny Evans. It’s only taken three incredibly difficult years of openly negotiating, planning, and organizing, with dogged determination to bring two monumental, profoundly uplifting and broadly beneficial projects to the little town he was sworn to serve. Payson will soon have the best continuous supply of fresh water and possibly the best ongoing source of fiscal and cultural support of any small town in Arizona, possibly in the entire west.

The combination of a small town mountain setting with a heritage of great old west legends and a well earned reputation of “neighborly-ness” with a relatively small state college and an abundant supply of fresh water is guaranteed to be the envy of the whole state and beyond. The equalized tax burden, alone, is something to salivate over.

Suddenly, the recognition of these undertakings has come into the conscience-ness of some obviously hoodwinked town citizens, though. “Wait just a minute!” come the shouts. “We need more explanation. We were never consulted, Why didn’t The Roundup report this skullduggery?”

To some, the advent of a college here in the midst of Paradise is abhorrent on its face.  It will obviously be the ruin of this little pristine, uniformly wealthy, smooth running, self-sufficient machine which guarantees everyone a continuous better way of life each year. It ain’t broke, by some estimates, so why work on it?

Others might answer that change obviously comes with some serious concerns. It is well documented, for example, that colleges are a rat’s nest of wild un-contained mayhem and that rural children coming to find an affordable education are all from no-count families with a slobbering desire to burn down the town or “Hoo Rah” innocent civilians with their fast running new automobiles. The noise factor, alone, is enough to keep folks renewing their Prozac prescriptions.

Just name me one single small town with a local college that has ever amounted to anything.

Adopting a pet comes with well-known concerns, too. Fleas, disease, and bad behavior are but a few possible negative results. Even more seriously, adopting a child is a great un-known. The possible problems are daunting.

I’m told there are bold, brave individuals with a positive vision of some challenges being worth it though.

I could go on, but I should probably save some observations for a rainy day. As it appears now, I’ll have lots of time for contemplation.

Mesa del Caballo adds blog to inform community

Photo by Randy Norman
In an effort to keep residents and the rest of the Rim Country informed about the latest events and activities in Mesa del Caballo, a brand new blog is now up and running.  Created by Minnie Norman, secretary of the Mesa del Caballo Community Center, it features a schedule of events plus articles and photos of  community activities, history, and other helpful information.  It can be accessed by clicking here: www.mesadelcaballocommunitycenter.wordpress.com or by scrolling down to RECOMMENDED SITES on the right.  The Rim Country Gazette Blog will continue to offer a Mesa del Caballo tab and will work closely with the new Mesa del Blog to keep our readers informed.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

WILLOW FIRE UPDATE


June 23, 2011 - 8 a.m. update

FIRE FACTS
Date started: June 19, 2011
Location: 1 mile north of Bear Canyon Lake
Size: 213 acres
Cause: Under investigation
Containment: 45 percent
Estimated containment date: June 23, 2011
Cost to date: $908,205
Number of firefighters: 384
Equipment: 2 bulldozers, 1 air attack plane, 1 light helicopter

Fire Activity: The fire is burning in mixed conifer. Observed fire on Wednesday included smoldering in duff and timber litter. Today, crews will continue to hold and improve the lines installed around the perimeter of the fire, mop up more than 300 feet in and patrol the outside of the perimeter looking for hot spots outside of the lines. Crews will also continue fire rehabilitation work requested by the forest.

Closures/Evacuations/Advisories:
Area Closure: Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest has announced a Closure for Public Safety for a portion of the Black Mesa Ranger District (mainly on the south side of SH 260) effective 12:01 am today. Most of the District (on the north side of SH 260) remains open at this time. A description of
the area closed is posted on the Willow Fire Inciweb page www.inciweb.org/

Area Closure: Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest has announced a Closure for Public Safety in the area of the Willow Fire. A description of the area closed is posted on the Willow Fire Inciweb page.

Road Closures: Forest Road 91 eastbound at Forest Road 89. Forest Road 75 northbound and westbound off of Forest Road 34, (forest road 34 is open).  Forest road 84 north off of Forest Road 300. Forest Road 89 north off of forest road 300.

Camp and Lake Closures: Bear Canyon Lake and trails.

Restrictions: Stage II fire restrictions have been in place on the Sitgreaves Forest of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests since June 3, 2011. For information on the forest restrictions please visit www.fs.usda.gov/asnf/

General Information: The Willow Fire is on the Sitgreaves side of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests on the Black Mesa Ranger District. The location of the fire is approximately one mile north of Bear Canyon Lake on the Mogollon Rim. Bear Canyon Lake is about 25 miles northeast of Payson and 25 miles west of Heber-Overgaard.
31st annual 4th OF JULY
ARTS & CRAFTS FESTIVAL

 
July 2nd & 3rd, Sat. 8-5, Sun. 8-4
July 2nd & 3rd, 2011, Sat. 8-5, Sun. 8-4
 
OVER 80 CRAFT BOOTHS FEATURING STAINED GLASS, JEWELRY, WOOD ITEMS, POTTERY, HAND WOVEN BASKETS, HAND KNITTED & CROCHETED ITEMS, ART WORK, GREETING CARDS, COPPER ITEMS, RECYCLED DENIM, CANDLES, AND MUCH, MUCH MORE! FIRE DEPT. HOSTS PANCAKE BREAKFAST, SENIOR CENTER SERVING NAVAJO TACOS, LOTS OF FOOD VENDORS, QUILT RAFFLE, PLAYGROUND FOR CHILDREN, CLOWN FACE PAINTING


FUN FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY.
 
Pine Community Center Ramada
Highway 87 & Randal Pl. , Pine, AZ.

Sponsored by Pine-Strawberry
Arts & Crafts Guild
IN TODAY'S AZ REPUBLIC...

Thursday's (June 23) Republic is another one of those must-read blockbuster issues:

o James Arthur Ray is convicted of negligent homicide in the Sedona sweat-lodge deaths of three followers.

o A revealing new study suggests that people put on weight little by little over the years without realizing it because they pick the wrong combinations and portions of foods and make unhealthy life choices.

o Columnist E.J. Montini weighs in on Sen. John McCain's racist claim that illegal immigrants are starting wildfires in Arizona.

o And those Diamondbacks just keep rolling.  They remain all alone atop the National League West standings after squeezing out a second straight road win in Kansas City.

To read them all, click here: azcentral.com 

Or for home delivery seven days a week, including the big Sunday paper chock full of hundreds of dollars worth of coupons and much more, call toll-free 1-800-332-6733.  Operators, as they say, are standing by.

There's a whole lot more going on in Arizona than the local police and court reports.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Landfill fees on greenwaste waived June 25, July 2

The Gila County Board of Supervisors will waive the landfill fees for greenwaste on two Saturdays to allow Rim Country residents to clear their property of weeds and brush to protect their homes of fire danger.

On Saturday, June 25 and Saturday, July 2, greenwaste will be accepted from residents at the landfills at no charge, excluding commercial haulers. Greenwaste includes tree limbs, pine needles, brush, grass clippings, weeds and leaves.

All other trash will be regular price.

The hours for the Buckhead Mesa Landfill are Monday – Saturday 8 a.m. till 4 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday, July 4.

For additional information you may reach the landfill scalehouse at (928) 476-3350.

Smithsonian food exhibit opens June 25 in Payson

(Phoenix, AZ) - The Smithsonian Institution's traveling exhibition of Key Ingredients: America by Food will make it's last stop in Arizona at Payson Public Library.

The tour began last October 2010 in Topawa and has traveled to six different regions throughout Arizona.

Key Ingredients will open this weekend in Payson on Saturday, June 25 and will run through Sunday, August 7, 2011.

Payson Public Library
328 N. McLane Rd.
Payson, AZ 85541

Exhibition Days and Hours
Tuesdays through Fridays: 9 AM to 6 PM
Saturdays: 10 AM to 2 PM

About Key Ingredients: American 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.

Special Features of the Payson Exhibit
· A 1940s kitchen display with antique stove and utensils
· Historic and current cookbook display
· Vintage apron & kitchen linens display
· Local recipes collage
· Discount passes to Anna Mae Deming's historic kitchen at the Rim Country Museum

Key Ingredients Events in Payson:
· AHC Speaker presentation on Arizona foods
· Extreme Couponing class
· Fry bread sales by Fry Bread for Families
· Rim Country Classic Auto Club appearance
· Picnic in a Jar cooking classes
· Demonstration of "How to Deep-Pit Meat" with Albert Hunt

Payson Recipe CardFeatured Recipe

COWBELLE FRY BREAD
Courtesy of Lena Aja as adapted from her entry in The Chuck Box, a cookbook produced by the Northern Arizona Chapter of the Arizona State Cowbelles, a women's professional organization that promotes the ranching industry.

Click here to download the recipe card: http://www.azhumanities.org/pdf/ki/Payson Recipe Card.pdf

Fry Bread in Payson, Arizona

In Payson, as elsewhere in the Southwest, fry bread is a popular attraction at many festivals, rodeos, and Native American pow-wows. No silverware is needed, as you simply top the fry bread with your desired ingredients, roll it up, and eat. If topped with ground beef or beans to make a "Navajo taco," people often add lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and green chiles to complete the dish. Fry bread is in our bones and hearts here in Payson, bringing us together in times of both celebration and need, and reminding us of comfort and home.

About the Arizona Humanities Council
www.azhumanities.org

The Arizona Humanities Council, founded in 1973, is an independent nonprofit organization that works in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Arizona Humanities Council builds a just and civil society by creating opportunities to explore our shared human experiences through discussion, learning and reflection.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

300-acre Willow Fire burning 25 miles NE of Payson

Willow Fire Update

Fire Facts 
Date started: June 19, 2011
Number of personnel: 278 including 7 hand crews
Location: 1 mile north of Bear Canyon Lake
Equipment: 4 bulldozers
Cause: Under Investigation
Aircraft: 2 Air Attack planes, 1 helitanker, 1
Size: 305 acres
Percent contained: 10
Estimated containment date:
Injuries to date: 0
Cost to date: $87,000
Properties threatened: Moderate risk to two residences and two 345kv power lines 

General Information: The Willow Fire is currently active on the Sitgreaves side of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests on the Black Mesa Ranger District. The location of the fire is approximately one mile north of Bear Canyon Lake on the Mogollon Rim. Bear Canyon Lake is about 25 miles northeast of Payson and 25 miles west of Heber-Overgaard. The fire is moving in a northeasterly direction. The Eastern Arizona Type 2 Incident Management Team assumed command of the fire on Monday, June 20. 

Fire Activity: The fire is burning in mixed conifer mainly consisting of Douglas and White fir. Observed fire on Monday included burning with the wind in the grass component, torching and spotting. Crews have completed dozer lines around the fire perimeter and conducted two small burnout operations. They also contained two small spot fires. Today, crews will continue to hold and improve the lines installed and search for spot fires. 

Closures/Evacuations/Advisories: Road Closures: Forest Road 91 eastbound at Forest Road 89. Forest Road 75 northbound and westbound off of Forest Road 34, (forest road 34 is open). Forest road 84 north off of Forest Road 300. Forest Road 89 north off of forest road 300. 

Camp and Lake Closures: Bear Canyon Lake and trails. 

Restrictions: Stage II fire restrictions have been in place on the Sitgreaves Forest of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests since June 3, 2011. For information on the forest restrictions please visit www.fs.usda.gov/asnf/

Splenda leaves lingering aftertaste on environment

By Richard Harth
ASU Biodesign Institute

June 20, 2011 -Recently, the global use of artificial sweeteners in foods has dramatically increased. A new study led by César Torres, and Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown – researchers at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University – examines the trail of sucralose, one of the most popular of such products, after it is digested in the human body.

ASU researchers, along with their collaborators, report in a recent issue of the journal Environmental Engineering Science, that sucralose is remarkably resistant to breakdown processes common in wastewater treatment plants, ultimately finding its way into ground and surface waters.

The full effects of growing quantities of sucralose in the environment are presently unknown. “Sucralose is a chlorinated sugar. Some of my work focuses on bioremediation of chlorinated organics,” says Krajmalnik-Brown. “I know that many are toxic and they are more difficult to biodegrade than the non-chlorinated counterparts. Because of this, I became interested in sucralose and its fate in the environment.”

The initial experimental work was performed by Smitha Ramakrishna, who at the time was a high school intern at the Biodesign Institute. For her innovative research, she received multiple awards including the Arizona Governor’s Future Innovator Award (2008), and the Stockholm Junior Water Prize Regional Winner (2008). She continues her studies in the field at the Department of Environmental Science and Public Policy at Harvard College, Harvard University.

Artificial sweeteners appear in a dizzying assortment of consumer products. Sucralose – a chlorinated carbohydrate popularly marketed under the brand name Splenda® – iis one of the most ubiquitous, appearing in over 4000 products sold in over 80 countries. Its widespread adoption followed approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1999. Launches of new products containing the sweetener increased by 15 percent in 2009 and total worldwide sales increased by 14 percent in 2010.

Sucralose and other artificial sweeteners are used for a variety of reasons, most commonly as low calorie weight-loss alternatives to sugar and for those suffering from glucose-related ailments like diabetes. Prior studies have indicated that sucralose is not broken down by the human body, but passes instead through the digestive tract to be expelled in feces and urine.

While some studies suggest that sucralose has very low toxicity, making it safe for human consumption, it has recently been shown in animal models to have measurable impact on the chemical and microbiological condition of gut microflora. The full implications of these changes and their relevance to human consumption of sucralose have yet to be properly investigated.

What is currently known, is that essentially all of the sucralose consumed in foods ultimately winds up in wastewater treatment plants. Here, domestic and industrial sewage will undergo several stages of treatment, designed to degrade or remove harmful elements, before they are expelled into natural waterways. Such treatment plants use a combination of physical, chemical and biological processes to treat wastewater and remove potentially harmful organic substances.

The molecular structure of sucralose is hydrophilic, meaning that it is highly soluble in water and unlikely to settle out of solution. For this reason, chemical processes (including disinfection) or biological processes (either anaerobic or aerobic degradation) offer the only alternatives. The new study however, shows that these processes are similarly ineffective in degrading sucralose in wastewater treatment facilities.

The effectiveness of anaerobic and aerobic treatment of sucralose was evaluated through the field sampling of wastewater and surface water. The aim of the study was to identify what elements in the treatment process could be manipulated to successfully degrade sucralose, prior to its entry into the environment.

Sampling of wastewater was carried out at seven full-scale wastewater treatment plants in southern Arizona. Lab-scale anaerobic and aerobic biodegradation of sucralose was examined in biological batch reactors, which ran for at least 48 days. The results of the wastewater sampling showed that at each of the seven treatment facilities, no correlation could be detected between the level of treatment and sucralose concentration, indicating that sucralose was highly resistant to all forms of degradation.

In the batch reactors, degradation of wastewater sludge was examined under three experimental conditions, using sucrose, sucralose, and a combination of the two. None of the experimental conditions yielded significant sucralose degradation. The group also examined one of the final stages of conventional wastewater treatment, in which chlorine, O3 or UV light are used to disinfect and degrade those compounds resistant to other means of breakdown. In all three cases, degradation of sucralose was found to be negligible.

The authors stress that the resistance of sucralose to degradation may have a positive side, in that intermediary chlorinated products, which may be highly toxic to humans are not produced. Further, the resiliency of sucralose may make it useful to environmental engineers as a labeling agent to trace wastewater contributions to the environment.

The study showed that successful breakdown of sucralose would require additional interventions above and beyond conventional wastewater treatment, for example the use of filtration through activated carbon, which has been shown in other studies to enhance sucralose removal. In the meantime, the study establishes that sucralose is able to endure existing treatment and to travel significant distances from its point of discharge. With sucralose production and use increasing at such a rapid clip, it is of vital concern that long-term environmental impacts to plant and animal species as well as to humans be addressed.

Mayor Evans going 'wrong way' on ASU campus

LETTER TO KENNY EVANS

(Blog Editor's note: We are reprinting the following letter sent to Payson Mayor Kenny Evans in the interest of the free flow of information on an issue that impacts the economic well being of our entire community.  We're guessing it won't be published anywhere else.  Be sure to click on the link below to read about an alternative plan for improving the state's university system.)

Date: Friday, June 17, 2011, 1:06 PM

> Greetings, Payson Mayor Kenny Evans:
>
> I noticed that you are looking to establish an ASU campus
> in Payson as indicated in various newspaper articles;
> however, I believe that you are fundamentally going about
> this the wrong way, as discussed below:
>
> It is not practical to assume that tuition pricing to
> include paying off the loans for campus construction will
> result in a "low-cost" model. Likewise, assuming that
> proceeds from a future research park and a convention center
> will somehow subsidize the tuition rate for students is also
> unrealistic.
>
> So, use the hundreds of millions of dollars in investor
> money loans to entice a prestigous PRIVATE university to
> establish a presence in Payson instead of ASU. This
> private university will more realiably pay back your
> investors' loan monies and won't have to worry about having
> a "low-cost" tuition rate. Moreover, after the initial
> investment, this private university can subsequently raise
> its own funds for future campus expansion and maintenance
> and can integrate itself into the proposed research park and
> convention center.
>
> For example, look at the City of Prescott, AZ. They have
> the prestiguous Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
> campus. That private university not only provides much
> needed economic growth and development but also results in a
> "destination effect" thereby placing that city "on the
> map". Such a similar success story can also happen to
> Payson when attracting a prominent private university as it,
> too, would be adaptive to market and industry forces while
> attracting both in-state and out-of-state students.
>
> Remember, it is not necessary for Payson to educate a large
> volume of students at the "low-cost" price point because my
> university system restructuring plan (which I had previously
> sent to you) already accomplishes this by converting the ASU
> West campus into a free-standing, non-research state
> university.
>
> Payson can still receive an accessible and affordable state
> university education by using the low-volume, small campus
> model that is either integrated / embedded within the local
> community college (similar to what NAU is doing with
> Prescott's Yavapai College) or taking over an abandoned
> local school (similar to ASU's approach in Lake Havasu
> City).
>
> However, it seems premature to establish a state university
> campus presence in Payson now because its local community
> college (Gila County Community College) is still
> under-developed and undergoing the process of achieving
> independence, thereby analogous to "putting the cart before
> the horse." Thus, GCC's continued success is necessary for
> any state university campus to thrive in Payson while
> providing a symbiotic relationship by possibly offering
> classroom building space "free of charge" to that state
> university's students.
>
> To summarize, here is what I recommend happen for the Town
> of Payson:
>
> (1) Support my university system restructuring plan, as
> indicated again by my website link below:
>
> http://PSUandAzTech.blogspot.com
>
> (2) Attract a prestigous, PRIVATE university campus by
> using the investor loan monies.
>
> (3) Work with GCC and Gila County governmental officials to
> build-up the GCC Payson campus. In particular, look at
> initiating a local bond election to construct new buildings
> at GCC, one of which could be "donated" towards a state
> university campus within GCC.
>
> (4) Understand that this is a long-term process that
> requires time and patience.
>
> Thanks again for your time and attention,
>
> -Sanjeev Ramchandra