Move to Arizona’s
RIM COUNTRY 2014 RELOCATION GUIDE
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO MAKE YOUR MOVE
Housing • Schools • Economy • Demographics • Jobs • Neighborhoods
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INTRODUCTION TO RIM COUNTRY Here’s the single best way to provoke an interesting conversation with someone in Rim Country: Ask them how they came to live here. Last night, I asked that question of a fellow at the Lions Club, during a lull in the meeting devoted to talking about how to raise money to provide eyeglasses and hearing aids for anyone who needed them in the community. He said he was living happily enough in California when an engineering friend of his said he’d done a statistical analysis on the quality of life in every town in the United States. Payson, Arizona came out on top. Curious, on his next vacation he detoured through Rim Country — and fell in love. He bought a retirement home on the spot, moved three years later and has been savoring the sunsets, the clean air and the mild winters ever since. You get that all the time — people who spent years passing through Rim Country before they uproot themselves, having fallen in love one stream and one sunset at a time. The region spent decades
growing on such word-of-mouth and serendipity. But four years of stagnation after the national housing bubble collapsed focused everyone’s attention on developing a balanced, year-round economy with good, middle-class jobs. Fortunately, the region last year also started construction on a pipeline that will double the water supply, making Rim Country one of the few areas in the state with enough water. This year Payson hopes to put the finishing touches on a deal to build a 6,000-student university and resume building, with hundreds of new homes in the planning pipeline. So we offer this introduction to the place we love, with insider information about the economy, the schools, the neighborhoods, real estate, the climate, recreation, entertainment and a host of other aspects of life in paradise. So, take a copy, browse. Who knows, maybe that’s how your story will start when someone asks you, “So how the heck did you end up in Rim Country?”
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| Move to RIM COUNTRY | 3
RIM COUNTRY REAL ESTATE
Overlooking Payson from Airport Road after a winter storm. On average, the town gets 22 inches of rain a year.
“It depends on how well the properties are priced,” she said. Is the home site built? Is it manufactured? Does it have a view? Is Think living by the water in Arizona is impossible? the lot large? Where is it located? Is it a distressed sale? How about a horse property? “We’re in a transitional market,” said Rose-Ellis. A cabin in the pines? She said that makes it difficult to nail down an appraisal that Maybe a desert adobe? makes everyone happy. Well, dream big because the Rim Country has it all at affordable But the numbers are on the upswing, said Rose-Ellis. prices. She said between 2011 and 2012, the price of houses went up an While the Phoenix market has taken off with prices reaching al- average of 1 percent. most pre-recession highs, the communiFrom 2012 to 2013, however, prices inties in Rim Country offer houses with creased by 8.64 percent. grand views of the Mogollon Rim for The time houses remain on the marunder $150,000. ket has shrunk as well. The Rim Country has property next to “The absorption rate is down to four streams stocked with trout or pools permonths,” she said. The time on the marfect for entertaining grandkids. ket hit a high of 10 months in 2011, dwinElevations range from the saguaro dled to six months in 2012 and has now cactus strewn warmth of Tonto Basin on dropped again. the banks of Tonto Creek minutes from Rose-Ellis said Payson home prices the shores of Roosevelt Lake, to the ponhave increased steadily, but still remain a derosa pine coolness of Whispering Pines bargain compared to the fully recovered, Payson median sale price near the top of the Rim on the banks of perhaps starting-to-bubble Phoenix mar2005 – $223,400 2010 – $221,600 the East Verde River. ket. 2006 – $247,500 2011 – $173,000 The tiny hamlets of Pine and Straw“Our prices as of last year are starting 2007 – $243,800 2012 – $165,900 berry have enough snow to keep winter to come back up,” she said, “but we are a lovers entertained, but not exhausted 2008 – $211,900 2013 – $174,408 whole different market than Phoenix.” with shoveling. In summer, the tempera2009 – $191,500 2014 – $193,000 She said she just had one house sell tures are the coolest in the area. before she even got the sign up in the Source: Zillow Area residents think of little Payson as yard. the big city, with enough shopping to fill the larder or decorate the “I just had a house sell for $368,000 before I could list it,” she said. house along with a host of other urban amenities. More heartening than ever, Rose-Ellis said more young families The Payson area has houses from doublewide prefabricated are moving to the area. “Younger families can afford to buy houses,” homes to mansions locked behind private gates, buyers just have to she said. decide what will make them happy. Another sign of the good times, foreclosures are drying up, said Deborah Rose-Ellis from the Realty One Group said the Payson Rose-Ellis. market is showing definite signs of improving, but just like a rela“There are sellers out there that can do better than foreclosures,” tionship, it’s complicated. she said.
BY MICHELE NELSON
ROUNDUP STAFF REPORTER
Move to Arizona’s
RIM COUNTRY 2014 RELOCATION GUIDE
John Naughton, Publisher • Pete Aleshire, Editor in Chief 708 N. Beeline Highway • PO Box 2520 • Payson, AZ 85547 (928) 474-5251 • payson.com No portion of the Rim Country Relocation Guide may be used in any manner without the expressed written consent of Roundup Publishing, a division of WorldWest Limited Liability Company. © 2014
Chaparral Pines On Site Real Estate Sales 928-474-1222 www.rimcountryrealestate.com
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THE RIM GOLF CLUB 300 S Clubhouse Rd. | Payson, AZ 85541 www.therimgolfclub.com Memberships (928) 472-1470
Rim Golf Club On Site Real Estate Sales 928-474-4532 www.rimcountryrealestate.com 2014
| Move to RIM COUNTRY | 5
THE FUNDAMENTALS: THE ECONOMY
Rim Country economy recovering BY ALEXIS BECHMAN ROUNDUP STAFF REPORTER
After a long struggle to recover from the real estate crash, Rim Country has turned a corner with at least three new subdivisions bringing 700 homes on the horizon. This signals developers have come back to the table and the area is finally seeing the start of a turnaround. The area’s real estate market is stabilizing, town reports indicate rising tax revenues in nearly every category — and there is continued progress in establishing a four-year university campus. The area still also relies heavily on tourism, with a large population of retirees and second-home owners. Payson has about 400 hotel rooms, but sits at the intersection of three national forests that draw millions of visitors annually. Some of the state’s most popular trout fishing streams lie within 15 miles of Payson, in addition to hundreds of miles of hiking trails. Home construction played a leading role in the economy before the downturn. At its peak, Payson was adding 300 homes a year to its housing stock. The town has made major strides toward diversifying its economy, with several light industrial businesses opening up in the past several years and plans to build a GILA COUNTY 6,000-student university, a 500-room conference hotel and solar panel assembly Avg. household income: plant, among others. Payson: $43,535 On the employment front, while Gila Arizona: $50,504 County has lagged behind Maricopa Gila County: $50,526 County, the county’s unemployment rate Nation: $53,046 in early 2014 remained behind most other Gila County’s cost of rural counties in the state. living index: 84% Most of the county’s job woes remain concentrated in the south, where the minPayson businesses: ing industry has struggled. Although at the Number of firms: 2,575 start of the year construction remained Wholesale sales: $13M minimal in Northern Gila County, the unRetain sales: $282M employment rate has remained just barely Sales per capita: $18,319 in Payson above the state average, dominated by $10,545 in Arizona now-booming Maricopa County. $13,637 in United States The impact of the recession on the tourist- and construction-oriented econLargest employers: omy of Rim Country has resulted in an inPayson School District tense focus on diversifying the economy in Mazatzal Hotel & Casino Payson, which is the largest town in Gila Payson Regional County, twice the size of county seat Medical Center Globe. At a meeting to discuss a revamp of the town’s general plan, almost 150 people agreed the town should intently focus on reviving — and then diversifying — the economy of a town that once relied on new construction and tourism. By contrast, a decade ago the general plan focused on managing rapid growth without outstripping the water supply. Today, concerns about water and rapid growth have been replaced by an almost single-minded focus on jobs and the economy. Revenue-wise, the Town of Payson saw a modest increase across the board in 2013, with nearly every source making gains from the depths of the recession. Everything from local sales tax, state-shared income, vehicle license tax and building permit revenue rose — even the town’s share of gas tax money from the state for building and maintaining roads jumped.
6 | Move to RIM COUNTRY | 2014
The Rim Country economy started on a strong note in 2014, with a rash of new construction (above) and expansion of manufacturing -like the ammunition firm in the industrial park off Airport Road. (left). The impact of the recession convinced town planners to seek more year-round employers like the proposed university campus, to provide more stability to the construction- and tourism-oriented economy
STARTING A BUSINESS IN RIM COUNTRY Resources for new businesses: • Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce: www.rimcountrychamber.com, (928) 474-4515 • Payson Community Development: (928) 474-5242, ext. 263 • Gila County Community Development: (928) 474-9276 • DES employment services: (928) 472-9339
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| Move to RIM COUNTRY | 7
THE FUNDAMENTALS: WATER
Rim Country solves its water woes
gest that the town now has enough water to support the build-out population of 38,000 envisioned by the general plan. In addition, Payson started construction in 2013 on the single most impor- many water-stressed, unincorporated communities along the way can also buy into the pipeline. tant guarantee of its future: The Blue Ridge Pipeline. Moreover, the rush of new water will allow the town to keep After decades of effort and an act of Congress, Payson secured three golf courses in the area lushly watered — rights to 3,000 acre-feet of water annually from since much of that water ends up back in the the C.C. Cragin Reservoir in the state’s most water table. The town also wants to turn the productive and reliable watershed. normally dry American Gulch into a stream runThe town this year started re-plumbing its ning through the middle of town, another projexisting water system to get ready for the arect designed to return the depleted water table rival of the new water next year. Previously, the to historic levels. town used about 1,800 acre-feet of water anBy contrast, towns and cities throughout nually from a complicated network of wells. the rest of Arizona face an uncertain water fuThe plan calls for relying entirely on water from ture. Many climate projections suggest the rethe pipeline for nine months of the year and ingion faces longer, more severe periods of jecting the excess water back into the underdrought in coming decades. Payson’s ample ground water table. water supply should then give it another key So while competing rural communities like advantage over its economic competitors. Prescott, Sedona, the Verde Valley, Sierra Vista The water will flow from the C.C. Cragin and others cope with a looming water shortReservoir — previously called the Blue Ridge age, Payson has enough water to support all its Reservoir — high atop the Mogollon Rim. An infuture growth plans. ternational mining company built the reservoir The town has so far installed a network of to store water it could trade with SRP, which new pipes to make that possible — connecting eventually acquired ownership of the dam and the isolated well-based networks into a single rights to the 14,000 acre-feet of water in the townwide system. The town even signed longlake. Payson lobbied tenaciously for a federal term contracts with the two country club delaw that gave it rights to the water as well. It fivelopments in town to provide ample water to nally succeeded in winning water rights, but irrigate the golf courses, which previously rethat meant it had to help overhaul and mainlied on reclaimed water. That has guaranteed tain SRP’s 15-mile-long pipeline from the reserthe future of the golf course developments, voir to the headwaters of the East Verde River nestled in the forest with views of the dramatic and build its own $32 million, 15-mile-long rock formations of Granite Dells. pipeline. Prior to locking in the Blue Ridge water, the Payson imposed a $7,500 per-house water town struggled to deal with the same kind of Water from the C.C. Cragin Reservoir will give impact fee to raise money to finance the dropping water table that casts a shadow over Payson enough water to support a build-out population of 38,000. pipeline project and qualified for federal grants most other rural communities in Arizona. At and long-term, low-interest-rate loans. The one time, Payson was known for having adopted the toughest water conservation measures in the state, town is now in the process of lowering that fee, a potential boon to new development. but the pipeline has dramatically changed the outlook. Few towns Payson’s size could have persisted so long and hanPayson partnered with the Salt River Project to win approval of the project and upgrade and extend the pipeline. Projections sug- dled such a complex project, but the rewards look tremendous.
BY PETE ALESHIRE ROUNDUP EDITOR
8 | Move to RIM COUNTRY | 2014
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THE FUNDAMENTALS: WATER
Arizona water shortage looms Arizona is going to run out of water. Well, not Payson: Two decades of effort have secured Rim Country’s water future. But everyone else is starting to feel a little panicked. Last year, a hearing of the House Agriculture and Water Committee chaired by State Rep. Brenda Barton (R-Payson) held in Payson highlighted the statewide problem — which served to emphasize Rim Country’s enormous advantage when it comes to securing an adequate water supply. “We will have to make some hard decisions,” Barton said. “We know that this is going to take a long time, but we want to have some short-term solutions to bridge from now to when we have the big projects completed.” She said Payson remains a model for the rest of the state. Local officials worked for 20 years to obtain rights to 3,000 acre-feet of water from the Blue Ridge Reservoir, enough to double the town’s long-term water supply. Payson then negotiated an agreement with the Salt River Project that AVERAGE DAILY controls rights to all the surface water in WATER USE: the Tonto National Forest and lined up Payson: federal grants and financing to build the 89 gallons pipeline. “The Blue Ridge agreement is very Phoenix: good for Payson and the Payson commu108 gallons nity,” said Barton. “We really should be Los Angeles: celebrating. It’s fabulous. That’s why I’m 123 gallons saying, it takes a long time to put these agreements together.” A report by the Arizona Water Resources Development Commission says that in coming decades the state’s annual water use will grow from about 7 million acre-feet to about 11 million acre-feet. An estimated 1.2 billion acre-feet remains stored in underground water tables, however, much of that water is too deep and too far from the areas that need it to solve the problem. A recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey concluded that the flow of the Verde River will decrease by 8,600 acre-feet annually in the course of the next century, mostly because of groundwater pumping. As a result, the river could go dry intermittently — as well as many of the groundwater wells in the area. Cities in the Verde Valley and the Salt River Project are in a protracted legal struggle with Prescott and Chino Valley, arguing that growth in those areas threatens to dry up the Verde River. Other studies have predicted a major crisis on the Colorado River, which drains half a continent and whose waters and reservoirs provide water to an estimated 40 million people in seven states. This winter, the Bureau of Reclamation warned that for the first time ever, it cannot deliver the full contract amount from the Colorado River to Arizona, California, Nevada and other states. The various water districts and states entitled to a share of the river currently use about a million acre-feet more than the river has provided in recent years. Projections suggest the shortfall could rise to a disastrous 8 million acre-feet in coming decades — which could cut off the spigot for Arizona, which stands in line behind California. Such a cutoff could cause a major water crisis in Phoenix and Tucson, both of which now rely on water from the Central Arizona Project.
This pipeline delivers some 11,000 acre-feet annually to the East Verde River from the Blue Ridge Reservoir atop the Mogollon Rim. The pipeline by 2015 will more than double Payson’s water supply.
10 | Move to RIM COUNTRY | 2014
THE FUNDAMENTALS: WEATHER
Picture perfect ...
JUST RIGHT: Average high: 73 Average low: 39 Average rain: 22 in.
BY PETE ALESHIRE ROUNDUP EDITOR
Rim Country’s definitely got four seasons. But we don’t overdo it. So we’ve got spring wildflowers — but not much of that spring slush and muck. We’ve got lazy summers and swimming holes — but no triple-digit temperatures and big air conditioning bills. We’ve got crisp falls saturated with golden sycamores, but no hard early freezes and miseries of slushy mud. Mild winters and a better than average shot at a White Christmas — but few opportunities to deploy the snow shovel. In truth, Payson enjoys a Goldilocks climate — not too hot, not too cold — just right. Year-round, the temperature averages a balmy 73 degrees. January’s the coldest month, with average highs of 54 — and average lows of 25. June’s the hottest month, with average highs of 90 and average lows of 49. Compare that to summer highs often topping 115 down in the Valley and you can understand why visitors flock to Rim Country in the summer. Moreover, Rim Country averages about 22 inches of rain annually — three times the total just 100 miles south in Phoenix. On average, the wettest month is August, with 3 inches — delivered in spectacular monsoon thunderstorms brewed in the Gulf of California that break against the ramparts of the Mogollon Rim. June remains the driest month, with about a third of an inch. When it comes to snow, Rim Country keeps it chill. At Payson’s 5,000-foot elevation, winter storms move through periodically — leaving 2 to 6 inches of snow, which usually melts away after a couple of days. However, up on the 7,500-foot-tall Mogollon Rim, the snow lingers all winter — perfect for folks who want to go snow-shoeing or crosscountry skiing, but don’t want to shovel the driveway. Rim Country offers the perfect balance of seasons, enough to soothe the souls of desert rats and stimulate the seasonal nostalgia of the snowbirds.
Payson January February March April May June July August September October November December Annual
Average Average High Low
54 58 63 71 80 90 93 91 85 75 63 55
25 27 31 35 42 50 58 58 51 40 30 25
2.3 2.3 2.7 1.2 0.7 0.4 2.4 3 1.8 1.9 1.7 1.75
4.8 5 4.7 3 0 0 0 0 0 0.1 2.2 3.6
77 80 89 91 99 106 107 104 103 94 8.3 76
-8 1 3 15 22 31 39 37 33 16 6 -7
12 | Move to RIM COUNTRY | 2014
Looking south over the drainage of the East Verde River.
A typical Rim Country sunset off Highway 260 during the monsoon season.
Summer transforms the East Verde River into a paradise for families.
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| Move to RIM COUNTRY | 13
THE FUNDAMENTALS: SCHOOLS
Diverse educational choices BY MICHELE NELSON ROUNDUP STAFF REPORTER
Despite the rural setting, the schools of Rim Country offer a diverse selection of educational choices. The 2,300-student Payson Unified School District (PUSD) forms the hub of the various districts. The Payson district operates four school sites. Uniquely, every student attends every school in the district. Payson Elementary School is a kindergarten through second grade school, Julia Randall Elementary, is a third through fifth grade school, Rim Country Middle School is a junior high, and Payson High School, has ninth through 12th grades. Payson Center for Success is a charter high school. Each has a perhaps-surprising array of top-ranked programs and activities. Like many rural school districts, Payson schools face sometimes-challenging demographics, with sizeable populations of lowincome and special education students of test scores that generally come in a little bit above the state average. However, the districtâ€™s teachers have worked to offer students many extras rare in a rural school, including ski and caving trips with an outdoor adventure club, a chance to design research projects using a satellite orbiting the planet Mars, state-of-the-art 3D printer for engineering projects, hands on ecology studies with the East Verde River, a championship band and music program, college credits for classes taught in partnership with Gila Community College, a full drama program, complete agricultural, business, computer, engineering, construction and culinary arts programs as well as a championship athletics program that draws in the whole community. Several other smaller school districts teach primary grades, with students transferring to Payson High School when they get older. This includes the small, well-funded Pine School District to the north and the Tonto Basin School District to the
The Payson Unified School District with 2,300 students is the largest in the region and the Christmas concerts are among the seasonal highlight, in a community that backs its schools.
PAYSON UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT 2013 AIMS SCORES JULIA RANDALL 2013 3rd grade 4th grade 5th grade
Math Score % pass 370 71 378 67 382 58
Reading Score % pass 461 80 481 82 497 85
Writing Score % pass
Science Score % pass 516
RIM COUNTRY MIDDLE SCHOOL 2013 6th grade 7th grade 8th grade
Math Score % pass 414 66 418 63 438 63
Reading Score % pass 512 84 531 89 525 79
Writing Score % pass 493 47 493 52
Science Score % pass
Reading Score % pass 721 88
Writing Score % pass 503 73
Science Score % pass 480 42
Reading Score % pass 707 83
Writing Score % pass 504 70
Science Score % pass 478 40
PAYSON HIGH SCHOOL 2013 10th grade
Math Score % pass 504 61
ARIZONA AVERAGE SCORES 10th grade
14 | Move to RIM COUNTRY | 2014
Math Score % pass 496 62
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THE FUNDAMENTALS: SCHOOLS south. The Rim Country hosts private and charter school options, including the Shelby School in Tonto Village, with one of the top chess teams in the whole country and an approach that individualizes instruction that draws in experts from other fields. In Payson, the private Christian school offers a faith-based education, while the Morgan’s Creek Montesorri has classes for the little ones. Gila County also hosts an alternative fully accredited high school, the Payson Education Center. The Rim Country community has supported its school system with a bond passed in the early 2000s. This allowed the district to significantly upgrade the facilities and buildings. The historic rock building near the newly built Julia Randall Elementary building that houses administration, while the elementary school covers grades 3-5, plus a pre-kindergarten program. Rim Country Middle School and Payson High School also received upgrades and a fresh coat of paint. Current facilities projects include work on the football field and track and a whole set of bleachers replaced. Just as every other district in Arizona has struggled with state-imposed budget cuts, PUSD suffered, but the tide seems to have turned during the 2013-14 year. For the first time in five years, enrollment increased. Test scores have held steady — remaining a little bit above the state and national average in most grades. But the 2013-14 year represents a transition year for the district. Next year, the district will no longer test on the AIMS (Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards) test, they will move to use a test that reflects more national expectations. However, the district remains way above average in the extras provided to students,
thanks to the combination of determined teachers and strong community support. The school system remains a focal point of the community, dominating sports coverage in the local paper, receiving consistent coverage of special events and performances and benefiting from more than $200,000 donated annually to the state’s Credit for Kids tax write-off donation system, as well as thousands of hours of volunteers’ time. During the 2013-14 school year, each school site added its own volunteer coordinator as a liaison with the community. Already, the elementary schools burst at the seams with in-classroom help. At the high school, volunteers have stepped up to help in the Advanced Placement science and engineering programs. Extras include field trips in the elementary schools, trips to watch plays in Phoenix and a firsthand look at the operations of local farms and ranches. High school culinary arts students compete for scholarships to nationally ranked cooking schools, and
business classes and clubs fly to other states to compete nationally. The district also offers award-winning music and theater classes, art, sports and career and technical education in the Payson High School. Because of the Rim Country’s central location in the state, teachers take their students to the Arizona State University campus to participate in photographing Mars at the Mars Imaging Project or see the facets of an insect’s eye on an electron microscope. At Northern Arizona University, students may watch the stars from the Lowell Observatory. Students from the peer counseling group have lobbied Arizona legislators to ban texting while driving. The Payson High School marching band played in Hawaii to honor the 70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor and marched in the Fiesta Bowl Parade televised nationally. To see more articles, please visit www. paysonroundup.com and click on the schools tab.
GILA COMMUNITY COLLEGE A little known gem in Payson is the Gila Community College (GCC), where residents from high school-age to senior citizens may obtain an associate degree in numerous subjects or further their education in medicine, writing, art or exercise classes. GCC also has a vibrant nursing program that students from outside of the Rim Country move to the area to study. Moreover, the college offers free tuition for seniors, who flock to enrichment classes, including creative writing, photography, ceramics, painting, computers and more. GCC is also poised to bring cosmetology training to its Payson campus. The Northern Arizona Vocational Institute of Technology is discontinuing one of its programs, so it has money available to help launch the program and an instructor has already committed.
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16 | Move to RIM COUNTRY | 2014
Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce P.O. Box 1380, Payson, AZ 85547 (928) 474-4515 • Toll Free (800) 6PAYSON www.rimcountrychamber.com 2014
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THE FUNDAMENTALS: A UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
University plans advance – but slowly isting public universities in the state, ensuring a ready supply of students. The campus will offer key areas of study and undergraduate degrees, including topics like nursing, business, rural health care, This year. forest health, alternative energy, education, fire science and other Definitely this year. That’s the prediction on a long, frustrating effort to convince Ari- topics. Moreover, the Alliance plans to build a creative, state-of-the-art zona State University to build a four-year campus in Payson. Of course, that’s what backers said last year. At the start of 2014, campus that will turn the whole town into a high-speed, wireless Inbackers had won an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service to sell ternet site. The Alliance has already enlisted corporate partners, like the Rim Country Educational Alliance 260 acres on which to build a Corning, which wants to install computer screen walls and counter 6,000-student university, a 500-room convention hotel, research tops that will connect the dorms, classrooms and offices to a central system. The design will let students interact with teachers all parks and a host of other spin-off businesses. This could ultimately inject $150 million annually into the econ- over the world and access research materials from anywhere in the community. omy and transform the amenities, deTyler The campus will blend into a hilly, mographics and housing market of a Parkway forested site on the boundary berural town long dependent on tourism tween Payson and and Star Valley. The and second-home owners according campus design firm will create a to officials. forested campus designed for walking At this writing, backers were still 60 y. 2 lley and biking. The dorms will create a struggling with the complicated and w a E. Htar V campus community, with half-distime-consuming process necessary to to S Rim Club guised parking garages, shuttles and a get the Forest Service to approve a diParkway layout that will minimize the impact of rect sale of the property. Advocates cars and leave as much natural open for the university plan need to pay for space as possible. an independent appraiser to set the Moreover, the campus will rely on price for the land. Although they had solar and geothermal power, adthought they could get that done Backers hope to this year buy land on both sides of vanced energy-efficient design to quickly, the process is turning into anHighway 260 to build a 6,000-student university campus make it a sustainability showcase. other four-month delay. The addition of 6,000 students and several thousand new workAlthough the Alliance has continued to explore other sites and maintain contact with other universities interested in the project, ers at the university and spin-off businesses will increase the housstriking a deal with ASU to build on the huge, Forest Service parcel ing demand throughout the region. Moreover, the campus will bring remains the preferred plan. The hope is to begin construction late in many new high-skill jobs. Perhaps most important of all, the university and related busithis year or early next year — another slip in the oft-revised schednesses will boost economic activity during the normally slow winter ule. The towns of Payson and Star Valley partnered to set up the Rim months, making the region’s economy more diverse and more reCountry Educational Alliance Separate Legal Entity, which will ac- sistant to the economic shifts that can have such an impact on a tually build the campus and own the facilities. The Alliance will then tourist-based economy. Finally, the university will bring with it a host of new amenities — lease the facilities to the university and to other related businesses, using the lease payments and sales tax money generated to keep like a performing arts center, playing fields, a boost for the already diverse community of artists and a flush of regional and national the cost of the university facilities as low as possible. The plan calls for tuition 30 to 50 percent lower than the three ex- publicity.
BY PETE ALESHIRE
Messinger Payson Funeral Home MOUNTAIN MEADOWS MEMORIAL PARK & CREMATORY 901 South Westerly Road • (928) 474-2800 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Welcome to Gila County’s
What an Relocating excellent choice! to Gila County? Be sure to visit www.gilacountyaz.gov Board of Supervisors — 928-474-7100 Tommie C. Martin, District 1 Michael A. Pastor, District 2 John Marcanti, District 3 Building Permits — 928-474-9276 (for unincorporated areas only) Planning & Zoning — 928-474-9276 Septic Permits — 928-474-9276 Cooperative Extension — 928-474-4160 Voter Registration — 928-472-5340 ext 8733 Health & Emergency Services — 928-474-1210 Dog Licenses — 928-474-1210 Library District — 928-472-5340 ext 8768 www.gcldaz.org/gila/ Buckhead Landfill — 928-476-3350 Sheriff — 928-474-2208 Non Emergency 2014
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THE FUNDAMENTALS: HEALTH CARE
Small town – advanced medical care BY
ROUNDUP STAFF REPORTER
It can trace its roots back to a small clinic funded and built through the efforts of both pioneer and new residents. Today, Payson Regional Medical Center is a 44-bed, acute care hospital committed to providing quality, patient-centered care. The medical center’s more than 115 skilled physicians and allied health practitioners represent a variety of specialty areas to meet the needs of the growing community and to support good health at all stages of life. PRMC offers an array of outpatient services and specialty clinics including outpatient imaging, bone densitometry, diagnostic X-rays, ultrasound, nuclear medicine, nuclear cardiac stress testing, CT and PET scans, MRI, family practice, pediatrics, ENT, physical therapy and rehabilitation services, and orthopedic surgery. It also implements telemedicine, which integrates online communication and digital videoconferencing to enable face-to-face consultations with physicians, patients and specialists throughout the state and country.
Payson Regional Medical Center is one of the country’s top hospitals. In 2013 it received recognition as an outstanding rural hospital from two different sources. Becker’s Hospital Review ranked PRMC among its 100 Great Community Hospitals for 2013 and Healthgrades gave it a five-star rating for critical care of patients with respiratory failure and sepsis. The Becker recognition is based on rankings and awards from a variety of sources. In the case of PRMC, the sources were the Truven Health Analytics (formerly Thompson Reuters) and the Joint Commission and Healthgrades. PRMC has been on Truven’s list of 100 Top Hospitals four times: most recently in 2013 and also in 2010, 2009 and 2006. PRMC is one of only two Arizona hospitals meeting the criteria for the 2013 Truven Health 100 Top Hospitals award, including excellence in clinical outcomes, patient safety and satisfaction, financial performance and operational efficiency. In a news release, Becker’s said, “The selected hospitals have worked with limited resources to continually provide the quality of care and the experience Payson Regional Medical Center (above) offers a rich array of medical patients expect.” services and diagnostic tools. The trauma centers and specialty medical Becker’s Hospital Review is among centers of Phoenix and Scottsdale lie just 90 miles away — SENIOR CIRCLE a 15-minute trip in a medical helicopter (below). Senior Circle is a the leading hospital membership program committed to enrichmagazines for hosing the lives of adults age 50 and better. For pital business news $15 a year, members receive a selection of and analysis for hosvaluable discounts on health care goods and pital and health sysservices; social activities and events; travel tem executives. opportunities; exercise and wellness classes; Healthgrades is a in-hospital privileges and much more. For incomprehensive onformation, call (928) 472-9290. line resource to help compare, select and HEALTHY WOMAN connect with a docHealthy Woman is a free community retor or hospital. It source designed to empower women with compiles informathe knowledge to make informed health care tion about clinical and well-being decisions for themselves and outcomes, patient their loved ones. For information, call (928) satisfaction, patient 472-9290 or visit the Web site www.Healthysafety and health WomanOnline.com. conditions. Complementing the work of PRMC are long-term care and resiIts Critical Care Excellence Award recognizes hospitals for superior outcomes for treating four life-threatening conditions: pul- dential care facilities: Payson Care Center, Rim Country Health, Powmonary embolism, respiratory system failure, sepsis and diabetic ell House and several small group home care facilities, along with Hospice Compassus. acidosis and coma. Several home health services, including PRMC’s, also provide asIt ranks hospitals with a one- to five-star scale, with five defined sistance to residents in need of medical help in their residences and as “better than expected.” PRMC is the anchor for the Rim Country’s health care community other businesses offer non-medical help for clients with limited mobility or other disabilities. and continues to work to grow the area’s health services.
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THE FUNDAMENTALS: PAYSONS GENERAL PLAN
This image from alongside Airport Road shows Payson dusted with snow after a rare winter storm. Payson’s general plan envisions a build-out population of 38,000 with a diverse, year-round economy.
Payson plans to grow to 38,000 BY PETE ALESHIRE ROUNDUP EDITOR
Payson has a plan. And it’s very detailed. The town will complete overhauling its general plan this year, a land-use blueprint for the future. The plan envisions a town of about 38,000 in 20 square miles, the commercial and cultural hub of a much larger area. Much of the emphasis on town planning has focused on broadening and deepening the economic base of a community that had come to rely too heavily on seasonal tourism and attracting retirees. Outdoor and family tourism remain crucial to the economy, since the area serves as a gateway to four national forests, three major year-round streams and countless tributaries and hundreds of miles of hiking, biking and riding trails radiating out from the edge of town. Moreover, the region remains popular with retirees — with easy access to Phoenix, varied medical and social services, many recreational amenities for seniors and grandchildren alike, plus mild but distinct seasons that satisfy the urge for a little snow and fall colors without the need to break out the snow shovels. However, the land-use blueprint envisions more stable, yearround, high-wage industries. That’s why the town leaders have so doggedly pursued the plan to build a four-year university here — with all its spinoff benefits. The general plan reflects those priorities, setting the limits on everything from housing densities to where commercial businesses, industrial development and apartment complexes end up. The revision of the plan that will go to the voters later this year focused on making sure the town provides plenty of space for businesses that produce both jobs and sales tax, which supports most town services. However, residents also don’t want to sacrifice the
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small-town feel, forested neighborhoods and amenities — like the town’s two huge parks. The last time the town overhauled its general plan, most residents worried mostly about managing growth without outstripping the water supply. But starting work on the Blue Ridge pipeline to double the town’s water supply took care of the water worries. And the recession refocused most residents on attracting new residents and businesses and establishing a stable, year-round economy less subject to the boom and bust of the sales-tax-dependent tourist industry. Payson residents have focused on reviving — and then diversifying — the economy of a town that once relied on new construction and tourism to sustain a 4 percent growth rate. The plan now includes a proposed 6,000-student university campus, likely to produce a more diverse, year-round economy. Backers early this year hoped to conclude a deal to buy 240 acres from the U.S. Forest Service for a distinctive campus nestled in among towering ponderosa pines. The general plan includes restrictions on land use; a circulation plan that determines how much traffic each street will carry; and detailed projections for housing, resource management, annexations and many other elements. The 2000 U.S. Census listed 7,000 housing units, 1,200 of them vacant and 780 of them seasonal. The town had 5,800 households — 4,000 of them families, with an average family size of 2.71. At that time, the town had roughly 11,000 adults and 2,740 children and about 4,000 people older than 65. The Payson townsite was founded in 1882 with a population of 40 people. The tally grew slowly to 200 residents in 1922, then to 500 in 1930. By 1990, the population had reached 8,377. It exploded in the next decade, rising 62 percent to 13,620 in 2000. The U.S. Census Bureau listed the population at 15,171 in July of 2011.
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RIM COUNTRY COMMUNITIES: PAYSON
Payson: Hub of Rim Country Payson, with a population of 16,000, remains the economic and cultural center of Rim Country, with a population of perhaps 30,000. Parades down Main Street capture a happy, small-town feel exemplified by the Payson High School Marching Band.
Payson is situated almost at the geographic center of the state of Arizona. Some archaeological and anthropological theories contend it may have been home to one of the oldest civilizations in North America. It was a crossroads for trade among archaic peoples — the Sinagua were to the north, the Anasazi to the northeast, the Mogollon to the southeast, the Salado to the south and the Hohokam to the southwest and there is even evidence of trade goods from the great Mexican civilizations — the Aztecs, Mayans or Incas — making their way to the area. Now it serves as the business and political hub of Rim Country, with a concentration of hotels, restaurants, retail businesses and a diverse mix of housing. The 20-square-mile town harbors about 60 percent of the population in the larger Rim Country area. With a 2013 population of about 16,000, Payson remains the largest city in Gila County. Founded in 1882 and home of the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo, Payson sits at an elevation of 5,000 feet. Perched at the boundary between the pinyon juniper and ponderosa pine forests, the Anglo community started as a ranching town, evolved into a sawmill town, and now depends heavily on tourism, retirees and second-
FAST FACTS PAYSON Founded: 1882 Incorporated: 1973 Area: 20 square miles Elevation: 5,000 feet Households: 6,569 Housing units: 8,958 Married couples: 59% Female householder: 8% Average household size: 2.3 Average family size: 2.7 Household income: $43,500 Per capita income: $24,900 home owners. The town has full-service police and fire departments, a modern, up-to-date water system and a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment system run by the Northern Gila County Sanitary District, which this year started a plan to double the capacity of its facilities. The town’s general fund budget runs to
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about $12 million annually, with most of the money coming from local sales taxes paid by the large number of visitors who flood the area every summer. Thanks to the C.C. Cragin Reservoir project, Payson remains one of the few towns in Arizona with plenty of water. Payson features a diverse mingling of housing types in the many distinct neighborhoods, with a mix of small, older homes and modern custom homes that can feel initially disconcerting to buyers from more economically stratified communities. The town’s core area lying on either side of Highways 260 and 87 mostly features mid-priced homes, with a mix of distinctive homes on large, forested lots, modest mobile home clusters and older homes. But neighborhoods atop the mesa along Airport Road and lining Phoenix Street perched on the hills overlooking town offer an array of housing options — and some killer views. The community does include two gated, high-end country club developments, the mostly completed Chaparral Pines and the only partially developed Rim Club, both featuring high-end homes on championship golf courses. So here’s a brief guide to Payson’s neighborhoods.
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Surprising diversity of neighborhoods SOUTHWEST PAYSON In the southwest quadrant of Payson you will find the oldest homes in the community located along Historic West Main and Frontier streets. One of the older formal developments is also in this area — Rodeo Ranches, to the south of Payson Golf Course. This area features larger homes priced in the upper range of the mid-level, with many dating back to the late 1960s and early 1970s. To the north of the golf course is Country Club Estates — Unit 1 is a mix of site-built and manufactured homes, while Unit 2 is sitebuilt. Around the golf course are the developments of Greenfaire, Fairway Oaks and Fairway Knolls, built in the 1980s and 1990s. Farther north of the golf course is the oddly named Country Club Vista — nowhere in this area does anyone actually have a vista of the country club. However, it is the oldest of the developments linked by name to Payson Golf Course, with homes built in the 1960s and ’70s. The site-built homes range from moderately priced, two-bedroom cottages to multi-level contemporaries at midrange prices. The homes just north of the original town site over in the area around Payson High and Rim Country Middle schools include multifamily units, older homes, newer homes built on razed lots and manufactured housing. Development names on a 1998 map of the area include: Wooded Estates, Hathaway Addition, Greer Subdivision, Payson Heights and Mogollon Rim Addition 3.The newest development in the area of Julia Randall Elementary School is Stone Creek, where homes are modular.
SOUTHEAST QUADRANT Built in the 1950s and early 1960s were the older homes on East Bonita and East Frontier. Only one small area has a name designation, the Russell Addition, located to the north side of Bonita. Homes of the same vintage lie along Aero, Phoenix and Cedar streets just off the Beeline Highway. Both areas have a mix of site-built and manufactured homes. The Twin Lakes manufactured home park has been around since the mid-1960s and the Sherwood Forest Mobile Home Park just north of St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church was created in the early 1970s. South of the Catholic church is Cowtown Estates, where building started in the mid 1960s. In the early 1980s, Golden Frontier, in the vicinity of Payson Regional Medical Center, started developing, linking Cowtown Estates and the surrounding neighborhoods to the older areas along East Frontier and East Bonita. The growth from East Aero, Phoenix and Cedar streets was to the east with the creation of the Pinon Ridge and Elk Ridge developments; and Rim View Heights Estates. These newer areas have more expensive homes than those closer to Beeline.
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Payson’s diverse neighborhoods include the sweeping vistas of the Chaparral Pines Golf Course (above) and the affordable neighborhoods clustered around Green Valley Park, with its frequent special events, summer concerts and vintage car show (below).
Gila Co. Arizona
Population 2012 Percent under 5 Percent under 18 Percent 65 years + Percent Female Percent white African American American Indian Asian alone, Two or More Races Hispanic or Latino White, not Hispanic
15,215 5 18 31 52 92 0.4 2 1 2 10 86
53,144 6 21 25 50 81 1 16 1 2 18 65
6.65 million 6 25 15 50 84 5 5 3 3 30 57
Same house 1 year + Percent Foreign born Non-English at home High school or higher B.A. or higher Veterans, 2008-2012 Commute (minutes) Housing units, 2010 Homeownership rate Apartments, condos Median home value Households, Persons/household Per capita income Household income Percent below poverty
83 5 7 90 18 2,150 20 8,958 73 10 $201,100 6,569 2.27 $24,690 $43,535 12
88 4 16 85 16 6,267 21 32,897 77 5 $140,500 20,245 2.59 $20,547 $38,504 21
80 14 27 85 27 530,700 25 2.9 million 66 21 $176,000 2.36 million 2.66 $25,571 $50,256 17
Business Quick Facts Number of firms Wholesaler sales Retail sales Sales per capita Motels/ food sales
Payson 2,575 $13 million 282 million $18,319 75 million
Gila Co. 5,250 XX 551 million $10,545 $106 million
Arizona 491,529 $58 billion $87 billion $13,637 $13 billion
Geography Square miles Persons/square mile
114 million 56.3
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NORTHWEST QUADRANT The schools complex along Longhorn Road (which is essentially the town’s extension of Highway 260) marks the north boundary of the southwest quadrant of the community. The areas developed around the schools are Forest Park, Payson West, Woodland Meadows and then farther north, on McLane, Timber Ridge. To the west of Rumsey Park and Payson Public Library, the residential areas are called Trailwood and Woodhill. Farther up McLane are Western Manor and Alpine Village. Payson North is part of the northwest quadrant, which has mixed site-built and manufactured homes. Farther north is Payson Ranchos, a mixed neighborhood of moderate-sized, site-built homes and manufactured housing. To the north is another modular home community called Payson Pines.
NORTHEAST QUADRANT Opposite Payson Ranchos on the Beeline is one of the older developments in Payson, called Payson Air Park. At one time it was one of the community’s landing “strips” thanks to its relatively flat and open layout. It has an older, mixed stock of site-built and manufactured homes, Payson Elementary School and several churches. To the south of Payson Air Park is more of Payson North, with a mix of site-built and manufactured homes in varying price ranges, and its later addition the site-built homes of Alpine Heights. South of Payson North is Park Payson Pines, another area with mixed stock. Farther east are the high-end country club developments of Chaparral Pines on the north side of East Highway 260 and on the south side, The Rim Club. North of Chaparral Pines are Oak Ridge Hills and The Woods at Payson, which are also upscale developments.
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NEIGHBORHOODS: STAR VALLEY
Savoring its deep rural roots Concerns of citizens about water shortages spurred the creation of Star Valley in 2005. The town’s leadership over its short history has continued that concern — expressing it through careful management of municipal resources. The Star Valley Town Council and its staff have been so conservative with the budget it was able to buy the local water system outright and had funds available to secure revenues requiring matches. It has also paved most of its roads; made improvements to the water system and plans for more updates for the utility; provided funds for senior transportation and the Meals on Wheels program for the community’s shut-ins; and made numerous contributions to both area and outside organizations. Star Valley maintains its rural, small-town atmosphere with minimal commercial and industrial areas and plenty of quiet neighborhoods. The community generally offers lower-cost housing than neighboring Payson, as well as more large lots with horse privileges. Most residents have their own wells for drinking water and rely on septic systems for wastewater. However, they enjoy the rural atmosphere and the lack of town sales and property taxes. The community relies on the Gila County Sheriff’s Office for policing. The independent
Hellsgate Fire Department provides fire protection, financed with a property tax. Town officials and residents like it that way and are proud to live in an area surrounded by national forest, offering plenty of adventures including trails for horseback riding, hiking and ATV rides. Star Valley boasts about 2,300 residents, with one-quarter older than 65, but families also take advantage of lower home prices. Like most of Rim Country, the median age is 44. Highway 260 cuts through the middle of the town, with most businesses located along the highway front, and residential areas and ranches behind that. A quick drive around town reveals a myriad of home styles and values. While a number are modest manufactured abodes, the town also has many horse ranches and higher end, new homes in The Knolls subdivision. The mix of house types in a single neighborhood remains typical of the housing pattern in Rim Country.
FAST FACTS Area: 6.4 square miles Population: 2,300 Households: 677 Families: 421 Households with children: 24% Married couples: 51% Average household size: 2.3 Average family size: 2.9 Median age: 44 Sex ratio female/males: 100/98 Median income: $27,375 Median family: $32,000 Per capita income: $19,400 Below poverty line: 10%
30 | Move to RIM COUNTRY | 2014
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NEIGHBORHOODS: ALONG THE EAST VERDE
The river runs through it East Verde Estates offers a rare opportunity to buy riverfront homes in Arizona at a surprisingly affordable cost. BY PETE ALESHIRE ROUNDUP EDITOR
Believe it or not — you can still buy a house on a year-round stream in Arizona — without paying million-dollar Sedona prices. Just 10 minutes outside of Payson, two small communities offer rural living and stream-front lots. A core of year-round residents gives each community an intimate, cohesive feel, but the population swells in the summer with grandchildren, second-home owners and renters — all anxious to fish and splash in the East Verde River, augmented by water from the C.C. Cragin Reservoir. East Verde Estates lies along EAST VERDE ESTATES the East Verde River and a canyon Population: 178 topped by spectacular limestone Income: $51,000 rock formations. About a third of Married: 60% the lots remain undeveloped, but With kids: 20% unlike many other rural commuHome age: 16 yrs. nities in the area, second-home 2nd Home: 28% owners account for only about 28 percent of the nearly 200 homes. FLOWING SPRINGS The Arizona Game and Fish Population: 41 Department stocks the East Income: $37,500 Verde before it enters the little Married: 69% subdivision, which grew from one With kids: 22% of the original homesteads in the Home age: 19 yrs. area. 2nd home: 47% The community includes vacation rentals, a popular bed and
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breakfast, great fishing and swimming holes — all just a 10-minute drive from the region’s employment center in Payson. Surprisingly moderate in price, the homes offer rare riverfront property in a desert state, lying only 100 miles from the fifth largest city in the country. The nearby community of Flowing Springs offers similar advantages, but it’s much smaller, more expensive and more dominated by vacation homes. The community lies down Flowing Springs Road, which also offers some of the best camping and fishing spots in Rim Country. The road ends at a gate, which protects Flowing Springs’ residents from traffic when the road hugging the banks of the East Verde draws recreational crowds.
NEIGHBORHOODS: PINE AND STRAWBERRY
Joys of small-town living
The annual Tellabration which brings together some of Arizona’s best storytellers is a popular event in Pine. BY TERESA MCQUERREY ROUNDUP STAFF REPORTER
Resident or visitor, the communities of Pine and Strawberry, while not off the beaten path, are where to get away from the hustle and bustle. Small, quiet and friendly in a wonderfully old-fashioned way, the area offers a variety of home options. Second-home owners dominate the real estate market, which offers lots of homes in all price ranges nestled in the trees, many with sweeping views of the looming Mogollon Rim. Once beset by water shortages, the community formed a water improvement district and now has an ample supply — a rarity for a rural community anywhere in Arizona. The topography and the varied building patterns in the course of the community’s long pioneer history has created a mix of homes for vacationers, retirees and yearrounders. Strawberry has a greater share of ranching properties in the narrow, meadowgraced valley. The community has many horse properties and also lies along the road that leads to the trailhead of the Highline Trail and Fossil Creek. Summer festivals, rural ambiance, a mild climate and a state-of-the-art, full-service library add to the popularity of the tiny mountain hamlets. The two unincorporated communities host numerous festivals that attract throngs
The Strawberry School House is the oldest standing school in Arizona.
of visitors as well as summer and full-time residents who savor the small-town camaraderie and cultural heritage. Festivities kick off in May and continue through to the Fall Apple Festival, with holiday celebrations tacked on at the end of the year. Anchoring the events are the decades-old Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day arts and crafts festivals that draw throngs of visitors from around the state. The Strawberry Patchers’ Quilt Festival and Strawberry Festival are also popular summer attractions. While the Fire on the Rim Mountain
To Verde Valley
To Payson and Phoenix
| Move to RIM COUNTRY | 37
NEIGHBORHOODS: PINE AND STRAWBERRY Bike Race in September is relatively new , it is growing in popularity and has become an attractive stop on the state’s cycling circuit. Held in September, the race includes 15-, 30- and 45-mile events on high country trails. A beer garden, food wagons, auctions, spaghetti dinner, kids race, bands and camping add to the overall ambiance. Newcomers are also drawn to the two towns because of their location near the Blue Ridge Reservoir northeast of Strawberry off State Route 87. It’s a popular spot for trout fishing, boating, camping and stargazing. Also in the two mountain towns, the Historic Walking Tour, Pine-Strawberry Museum and the presence of the many original log and rock cabins, provide residents, both new and old, with a connection to the pioneers who settled the area in the mid-1800s. Some of the old buildings have been transformed into antique stores, cafés and gift shops that are popular draws among visitors and part- and full-time residents. Among the pioneer homes that have been renovated is the popular Randall House that sits in the middle of Pine. Years ago it was transformed into a restaurant that serves up unique breakfasts, quiches, juicy burgers and creative salads. Pine and Strawberry are a retiree’s dream and a vacationer’s haven, partly due to the mild year-round climate in which the winter lows hover around 23 degrees and the summer highs reach 92 degrees. The temperatures are cool enough in the
Linda Armstrong, REALTOR® Young Realty & Investment Cell: (928) 970-2182 Fax: (928) 476-3904 Office: (928) 476-3433 Email: Linda.Armstrong@erayoung.net www.AZRimCountryHomes.com Each ERA Office is Independently Owned and Operated
FAST FACTS PINE AND STRAWBERRY
The Fire on the Rim Mountain Bike Race is the newest annual event in Pine. The race has become popular in the state’s cycling circuit and proceeds fund fuel reduction efforts in the communities of Pine and Strawberry.
summer to spend the entire day outside. While snow occasionally drapes the towns in the winter, it is usually short-lived. The two towns, located just above 5,500 feet in elevation, are located underneath the Mogollon Rim in the largest stand of towering pon- Pine volunteers have worked hard the past several years to expand the area’s selecderosa pine trees tion of bike, hiking and riding trails. Volunteers remain cheerful and essential in the community, with its small-town feel. in the world. Today, Pine the two towns. and Strawberry have a year-round populaThe community is served by a K-8 tion of about 4,000 people, but it can more school; the Senior Citizens Affairs Foundathan double in the spring and summer when tion which offers programs and operates a heat-weary, desert dwellers eager to escape thrift store; the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Lithe Valley’s searing temperatures flock to brary; and numerous community groups.
Auntie Gail’s Collectables
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Hardscrabble Road to 3691 Hall Lane Cell: 928.978.0469 Shop: 928.476.3009
Population: 2,000 Area: 32 sq. miles Elevation: 5,448 feet Established: 1884 Households: 882 Housing units: 2,242 Married: 62% Household size: 2.2 Family size: 2.6 Under 18: 3% Over 65: 23% Median age: 53 Household: $40,000 Family: $46,000 Per capita: $25,000
3824 N. Highway 87, Pine, Az P.O. Box 1712, Pine, AZ 85544
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Wesley Schleef ~ Owner
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NEIGHBORHOODS: PINE AND STRAWBERRY
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P.O. Box 329, 3640 Highway 87, Pine, AZ 85544 Bus 928.476.2272 Fax 928.476.2474 Toll Free 800.287.1430 www.daleinpine.com
P.O. Box 329, 3640 Highway 87, Pine, AZ 85544 Bus 928.476.3279 Fax 928.476.2474 Toll Free 800.287.1430 www.GingerJeffers.com
An Independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates, LLC
An independently owned and operated member of BRER Affiliates, LLC. Not affiliated with Prudential
Art for the home and the perfect gift
Myra’s Art Gallery Country Cabin Decor
Owned and Operated by Ed and Myra Kraemer Fine art and handmade crafts featuring original paintings, prints, sculpture, photography, Indian jewelry, pottery, and greeting cards. Services include custom framing including barn wood, steel sihouette art and mirrors.
6264 Hardscrabble Mesa Rd., Pine, AZ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 928.476.3044
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NEIGHBORHOODS: ALONG TONTO CREEK FAST FACTS CHRISTOPHER CREEK Population: 156 Income: $34,440 Median age: 60 Over 65: 35% Under 18: 6% Average Home Price: $399,000 Size: 2,500 sq. ft. TONTO VILLAGE Population: 256 Income: $30,000 Avg. Age: 43 Under 18: 27% Over 65: 20% Married: 72% With kids: 36% Home age: 23 yrs. 2nd home: 71% One of Rim Country’s most popular hiking trails runs along the course of spring-fed Horton Creek.
Living the good life along Tonto Creek Two forested communities provide both a gateway to the towering, forested expanses atop the Mogollon Rim, and easy access to Tonto Creek. The little community of Christopher Creek lies tucked in among the ponderosa pines about 17 miles east of Payson, near the base of the 1,500-foot-tall ramparts of the Rim. The community includes both high-end mountain homes and modest cabins, many fronting on Christopher Creek. The community also attracts many vacationing families, eager to spend time in the forest with streams where kids can hunt crayfish and splash about all day long. Upstream the creek harbors popular camping areas, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department stocks the little creek throughout the summer. Most of the homes are owned by retirees and vacation homeowners. The average house price remains well above the average for the region. Residents have a church, a little store, rental cabins and two popular restaurants — but mostly lots of peace and quiet. Just down the road lies Tonto Village, with much lower home prices, a mix of housing and a larger percentage of year-round residents. Tonto Village has a bar and a store and lots of wildlife — including bears that sometimes make the rounds to see if they can find
Star Valley Payson any untended trash bins. Residents report frequent sightings of elk, deer, javelina and other wildlife. The community lies along the Control Road, a scenic dirt road that connects Tonto Village to Pine and Strawberry. Both communities lie close to Tonto Creek — one of the most popular fishing areas in the state. The spring that gushes from the base of the Rim flows through a state fish hatchery, which supplies most of the rainbow trout stocked into the region’s lakes and rivers all summer. On Tonto Creek sits Kohl’s Ranch, a historic lodge and restaurant that offers summer rentals — and time shares. A road hugging the stream is lined with more expensive, custom homes with an access to the creek almost unique in the state. Camp
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Tontozona lies at the end of that road. In August, the site is home to the first week of practice for Arizona State University football team. The cluster of settlements lies about 20 minutes from Payson and perhaps 15 minutes from where Highway 87 tops out on the Mogollon Rim. That provides easy access to a string of trout-stocked lakes atop the Rim, some of the best camping spots in the state and year-round recreation. The elevation is about the same as Pine and Strawberry, which means these communities get a lot more winter than Payson or Star Valley. Pines line the streams rather than the cottonwoods and sycamores found along the East Verde River on the outskirts of lower-elevation Payson.
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WHEN IT COMES TO
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AM E R I CA’S
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Dan Curtis Cell (928) 978-0006
& AUTOMOTIVE SPECIALISTS
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620 E. Highway 260, Suite D-4 Payson, AZ 85541
Sally Cantrill Designated Broker CRS, GRI GRI
SallyCan@PremierRealtySolutions.com Phone/Text: (480) 822-0587 Payson Area: (928) 978-1610 Fax: (888) 511-1605
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NEIGHBORHOODS: TONTO BASIN
Where water meets desert
BY MICHELE NELSON
the last Ice Age stopped in the basin for game and drink. The Salado Indians Tonto Basin — a cozy created settlements fillcommunity by the banks ing the basin with farms, of Tonto Creek — lies only irrigation canals and 20 minutes from Payson, stone buildings. but it feels a world away. Area: 31 square miles Then came the Unlike Payson’s pineElevation: 2,238 feet Apache and their wancovered slopes, saguaro Population: 840 dering ways — until ficactus dominate in the nally the farmers and Households: 439 basin. ranchers settled to take Tonto Creek runs Housing units: 726 advantage of the rich soil through the town, splitWith children: 9% deposited by the invadting the basin that the Married couples: 51% ing and receding waters Mazatzal and Sierra Female headed: 7% of the creek. Ancha mountains define. Household size: 1.9 Tonto Basin offers imThe creek flows from Family size: 2.4 pressive hunting and headwaters coming off Median age: 58 recreation opportunities, of the Mogollon Rim, Under 18: 10% but it also houses famithrough the Hellsgate Over 65: 33% lies. Wilderness and down to Median income One of the projects Tonto Basin before RooHousehold: $23,398 the community is most sevelt Lake swallows it Family: $29,091 proud of is the school. up. Preschool children to Residents live on both Per capita: $15,157 eighth-graders attend. sides of the creek, which One of the only schools can prove a challenge in Arizona to remain debt when runoff down the free, the community built creek cuts the commuthe school in the late nity in half — usually sev1970s with money raised eral times a year. from residents. Today Folks on the far side of about 70 students atthe creek sometimes tend. have to wait for days beBut the stream also fore they can make the affects the school. During crossing — but live there really wet storms, stuanyway for the natural dents cannot reach the beauty and the friendly school because the water people. is too high to cross, so the Gila County hopes to school closes down — for get enough federal funds creek days. In all ways, Tonto Basin is a to bridge the crossing in years to come. Humans have settled the area since town defined by nature, especially its pre-historic times. Ancient hunters from creek.
ROUNDUP STAFF REPORTER
Poppies mingle with saguaros at the entrance to Tonto National Monument (above) overlooking Roosevelt Lake (top right). The Halloween party at the Tonto Basin School is one of the social highlights of the tight-knit community (right).
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APARTMENTS & MOBILES Cindy Miller, Manager
120 South Tonto Street • Payson, AZ 85541 Phone: (928) 472-9238 FAX: (928) 472-7918 E-mail: email@example.com
804 S BEELINE HWY • PAYSON, AZ 85541 2014
| Move to RIM COUNTRY | 43
NEIGHBORHOODS: DOWN HOUSTON MESA ROAD FAST FACTS WHISPERING PINES Population: 148 Median age: 55 Under 18: 23% Over 65: 25% Married: 72% With Children: 37% Home age: 23 years 2nd homes: 71%
BEAVER VALLEY The East Verde River offers an abundance of fishing holes and swimming spots.
East Verde River corridor WHISPERING PINES Many homes in this small community on the banks of the East Verde River boast rare stream frontage on a creek stocked all summer by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The stream has been augmented in recent years by water released into the headwaters of the East Verde from the Blue Ridge Reservoir atop the Rim. Dominated by vacation and second-home ownership patterns, the community lies about 15 miles from Payson on the well-maintained Houston Mesa Road. The unique homes are tucked in among the trees fronting the creek.
MESA DEL CABALLO Population: 765 Income: $26,188 Avg. age: 47 Under 18: 22% Over 65: 17% Housing: 406 2nd Home: 23% The homes are both further away from shopping and other town amenities than most of the other creekside communities and more expensive. The community has its own volunteer fire department and a cozy, intimate feeling. Many families have owned land and
Population: 226 Income: $37,166 Married: 68% With kids: 18% Home age: 20 years 2nd home: 47%
Beaver Valley Mesa Del Caballo
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homes there for generations. The area was the site of one of the original homesteads in the region and maintains a remote, western feel. BEAVER VALLEY This small community fronts on the East Verde River and dates back to one of the first homesteads in the region. Itâ€™s about eight miles from Payson on Houston Mesa Road and sits almost on top of stocked fishing holes and popular camping, hiking and picnicking areas. Residents have their own fire department and water company. The subdivision has a grassy playground for children â€” often the grandchildren of longtime residents or the children of visitors enjoying an old-time vacation.
MESA DEL CABALLO Sitting on a mesa overlooking the East Verde between Beaver Valley and Payson, the unincorporated community offers some of the least expensive housing in the region in a rural setting. Plagued by water shortages in recent years, the community has obtained access to water from the pending Blue Ridge pipeline, which should end shortages and boost property values by 2015. The roughly 800 properties offer an array of conditions and prices, from endearing rural getaways to real fixer-uppers. It is one of the best deals for homes and real estate, with easy access to the East Verde River and miles of hiking, riding and biking trails.
G et more out of life. Spacious apartments Weekly housekeeping Major appliances | Utilities included Chef-prepared meals Monthly agreements | Social events To learn more about our community in Payson, call (928) 474-3912.
All faiths or beliefs are welcome. 11-G0067
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Auto, Home, Commercial, Life & Health Specialists, Medicare Supplements Affordable Care Act Guidance
BIGPayson.com 978-478-7151 807 S. Beeline Hwy, Ste. C Payson, AZ 85541 2014
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ITS A LIFESTYLE: ENTERTAINMENT
Rim Country: Always something happening While there is no crazy club scene, Rim Country doesn’t lack in things to do. From the movie theater, bowling alley to gambling at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino, Rim Country offers a just-enough selection of places to hang out, listen to music, enjoy a good meal and meet fellow wanderers. And the area has more than its share of bands, musicians and artists — including some big-league talents like songwriter/performer John Carpino, who has made a career out of writing about and making music in Rim Country. So, here’s a list of places residents entertain one another.
The Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department stages events all year long. Last year that included country and folk singer Suzy Bogguss (top) performing at the Old Time Opry event. The region also has many jazz fans who delighted in the Sonoran Swing Band when it played at the Mogollon Health Alliance’s Black and White Ball (below).
Recreation and Tourism Department hosts free concerts in Green Valley Park all summer long, with top-ranked acts performing in an old-style bandstand for crowds seated on a grassy amphitheater. Dimi Espresso: This coffee shop only opened a year ago, but it has quickly come to be the place to meet friends for a hot drink. Sit in front of the fireplace and read a book, play pool or strum a tune on the collection of instruments offered. The café frequently hosts events, from belly dancing to ballroom dancing and open mic.
Mazatzal Casino: Operated by the Tonto Apache Tribe, the resort includes an array of slots and live poker and blackjack, hotel, two restaurants (where you can find the best all-you-can-eat fish fry and steak sandwich) and a long succession of special events. The casino regularly lands touring acts. Buffalo Bar and Grill: Repeatedly named the No. 1 place to meet singles by readers of the Payson Roundup, the Buffalo has a small dance floor, pool table, plays music most nights and offers live music most weekends. Every Sunday, the popular local country band Junction 87 hosts a country-western jam session. Sidewinders Saloon:This relaxed bar in Pine offers live music most weekends, where locals and visitors mingle on a big dance floor. The weekend music provides a great way to cap a day of hiking or browsing the Pine antique shops.
Journigan House: This historic restaurant on Main Street offers steaks and seafood — not to mention live music on the weekends. The Journigan House has a big patio for summer dining, a great deal on Happy Hour specials, an eclectic menu — and lots of ghost stories of its own. Cooks report that pans fly through the kitchen and temperature changes dramatically in cold spots. Patrons say one of the ghosts is connected to the picture of a little girl in the main dining room.
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Concerts in the Park:The Payson Parks,
Special Events: Special events from spring to fall offer lots of opportunities to get out of the house and mingle with visitors and locals. Some of the most popular events include a classic car show every spring, craft fairs, the Mogollon Monster Mudder, the giant July 4 bash, and the August Doin’s during the Payson Rodeo. Rim Country Lanes: This popular bowling alley hosts several active local leagues, has beer and basic grub. Sawmill Theatres: This six-screen theater offers all the latest releases, but with one-third less the crowds than Phoenix. Located in the Sawmill Crossing next to Scoops Ice Cream and Espresso and the popular Macky’s Grill, the theater offers low-cost matinees.
When Consistency and Reliability Count Commercial & Residential
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200 E. Tyler Parkway, Payson, Arizona (Across from Home Depot)
501 W. Frontier St., Payson • 474-9330 Located 5 Blocks West of the Payson Post Office
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SERVICES Morning Worship - Sunday 9:30 AM Bible Studies For All Ages - Sunday 11:00 AM Youth Night - Thursday 6:00 PM Prayer Meeting - Tuesday 6:00 PM Open Mon-Fri 7:00 AM - 6:00 PM Pre-school & After School Programs
| Move to RIM COUNTRY | 47
ITS A LIFESTYLE: ATTRACTIONS
ATTRACTIONS Here’s the big challenge when you move to Rim Country: Not sounding like some clueless flatlander for a year after you make the switch. It’s kinda like dropping names at a cocktail party in Hollywood — only here finding a cool place to watch the stars has a whole different connotation. Not to worry: Got you covered. Here’s a short list of places you just have to visit whether you’re visiting on the weekends thinking about moving to paradise. Tonto Natural Bridge State Park:The world’s largest natural travertine bridge remains a marvel of geology and a touchstone of history. A vast dike of dissolved limestone deposited by ancient springs created the massive wall of travertine. Pine Creek then cut a cavernous tunnel through the center. Tonto National Monument: This 800-year-old Sinagua Indian ruin perches beneath an overhang at the base of a soaring cliff overlooking Roosevelt Lake. The Sinagua once built whole cities with irrigation works along the Salt River, with most of their settlements now hidden by Roosevelt Lake. But after centuries of living along the river, they built a series of fortress-like settlements some 800 years ago. They occupied these beautiful constructions for less than 200 years before vanishing mysteriously. Fossil Creek: This spring-fed creek tinted tropical-seas-turquoise creates a chain of deep, crystal clear pools and waterfalls in a deep canyon just east of the little hamlet of Strawberry. It also serves as the premier refuge for native fish in the state and a year-round adventure. East Verde River: This trout-stocked stream starts in springs beneath the Mogollon Rim then runs past the second-home and retirement enclave of Whispering Pines, the historic, laid-back refuge of Beaver Valley, the hidden delight of Flowing Springs and the leafy paradise of East Verde Estates. Check out the undeveloped camping spots north of the Control Road or the easy access to trout-stocked swimming holes off Flowing Springs Road and Houston Mesa Road. The Tonto Natural Bridge State Park (above) remains one of the region’s most popular destinations along with the 800-year-old cliff ruins of the Tonto National Monument (below).
Tonto Creek: About 15 miles north of Payson, this stream offers hiking, camping, fishing and daydreaming opportunities. Mogollon Rim: Forest Road 300 threads along this 200-mile-long chain of 1,200-foot-tall cliffs that marks the southern edge of the uplift that created the Colorado Plateau. Great views, camping, fishing and winter cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Rim Country Lakes: A series of lakes atop the Mogollon Rim provide some of the most popular fishing and camping spots in the state, most of them a roughly 40-minute drive from Payson. Roosevelt Lake:The first federal reclamation project in the West, Roosevelt Lake also offers terrific fishing opportunities for bass, catfish, buffalo fish and other warm-water species, plus campgrounds and boat launching ramps.
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Servicing The Rim Country Continuously Since 1965 Licensed Contractor #A-070745 B-04 039733-04
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(928) 474-2231 1900 E. HIGHWAY 260 â€˘ PAYSON PINE OFFICE (928) 476-3664
PHOENIX PHONE (602) 258-6804
FAX (928) 474-0956
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| Move to RIM COUNTRY | 49
LIFESTYLE: TONTO APACHE TRIBE
Tonto Apache: Vital to the community BY PETE ALESHIRE ROUNDUP EDITOR
Last year Carolena Guerra made history by celebrating the first coming of age Sunrise Ceremony in the history of the Tonto Apache Reservation, which occupies about 300 acres on the southern edge of Payson. Between 200 and 300 people drawn from three Arizona Apache reservations attended the four days of dancing, singing, ceremonies, feasting and gift-giving that marked the transition to adulthood for girls of the tribe and also created intimate, ceremonial and family bonds between scattered Apache bands. The Tonto Apache Tribe remains a key element of the community, operating a casino and conference center, contributing to many community charities and causes and laying plans for the development of the mostly raw land that lies along the entrance to the town. The tribe has secured expanded water rights that give it many options for the future in a state where other areas are confronting alarming water shortages. The casino remains one of the biggest employers in town and the setting for conventions and activities, including broad community gatherings and commercial trade shows and conventions. But the joyful celebration of Carolena’s Sunrise Ceremony connected the tribe to its deepest roots and gave them a chance to celebrate the long struggle to regain ancestral lands — as well as a chance to welcome the larger community. In the days when the Apache were hunted by the armies of both the United States and Mexico, fleeing bands led by people like Cochise and Geronimo would sometimes stop in their headlong flight to stage the elaborate ceremony. They believed the invocation of White Painted Woman and the G’aan Mountain Spirits at the heart of the ceremony would bless and protect their people. White Painted Woman is among the central figures in Apache belief and mythology, having given birth to the heroes Killer of Enemies and Child of Waters, who slew many monsters to make the world safe for human beings. She continues to safeguard the people, renewed in such ceremonies. The Tonto Apache suffered persecution and exile, with sojourns on reservations distant from their homeland. They finally gained through sheer persistence creation of their own reservation in 1972, but initially only 85 acres, making it the smallest reservation in the nation. In 2010, they won the addition of another 292 acres. This finally gave the roughly 140-member tribe the space to create the sort of encampment necessary to stage a Sunrise Ceremony. The joyful ceremony drew singers, dancers and medicine men from the San Carlos and White Mountain Reservations to celebrate the renewal of a ceremony stretching back thousands of years. The Guerra family invited Roundup editor Pete Aleshire to attend and document the ceremony.
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The family of Carolena Guerra last year held the first Sunrise Ceremony on the Tonto Apache Reservation in Payson, made possible with the long-awaited expansion of the reservation to some 400 acres.
The Mazatzal Hotel & Casino owned by the Tonto Apache Tribe plays a vital role in the community — and the economy.
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| Move to RIM COUNTRY | 51
ITS A LIFESTYLE: DISTINCTIVE BUSINESSES
Getting down to business
FAST FACTS Per capita income 14.3% above state and 4.5% above national averages. Poverty rate 45% below Arizona and 19.5% below national averages. Cost of living 7.8% below Arizona and 6.2% below national averages. Gas 10% below national average. Source: Area Vibes
BY ALEXIS BECHMAN ROUNDUP STAFF REPORTER
Businesses have been opening in Rim Country at a slow but steady pace despite the impact of the recession and the long, slow recovery. With the turn of the year, quicker home sales, the prospect of at least four major new developments with up to 600 homes, strong sales by a handful of new, major retailers and a sharp rise in permit fees paid by would-be developers and builders will hopefully signal the end of the slowdown locally. For a complete list of businesses, visit PaysonMarketplace.com. The site, operated by the Payson Roundup, is an expanded online phone book. The site provides detailed information and reviews about nearly every business in Rim Country, including those smaller shops tucked away and off the main highways. The Roundup also launched a new feature on its Web site to let would-be buyers search the MLS listings and connect to local Realtors. The recent arrivals add to Rim Country’s distinctive businesses. Rim Country has always attracted folks with diverse experience who have opted for lifestyle over maximizing income — which means the business community includes its share of former corporate executives, artists and entrepreneurs. Moreover, the busy summer tourism season brings a flush of business that can sustain unusual business models. For instance, Fossil Creek Creamery has awardwinning goat cheeses and fudge and is featured at local restaurants.
The area also supports craft stores and art galleries, including two galleries operated by the local artists whose work adorns the walls. Some of the newer businesses that have joined include: The beers at THAT Brewery, 3270 N. Highway 87, and Mountain Top Brewery, 401 N. Tyler Parkway, are dreamed up and concocted on site. Meanwhile, Dimi Espresso coffee shop has won a loyal following in Payson, offering Wi-Fi, a cozy atmosphere, plenty of space to spread out, pastries, lunch,
smoothies and a satisfying variety of coffee. The new social hub even has dance lessons and open mic nights. One of the most successful restaurants to open in Payson in years, Ayothaya Thai Café, at 404 E. Highway 260, has brought new life and flavors to Rim Country. Owners Mac and Man Katepratoom brought the décor and their knowledge of Thai food from Thailand from which they immigrated nearly a decade ago. Also joining the Rim Country business community in 2013 were Big Lots, PetSmart and Sal & Teresa’s Mexican Restaurant.
Rim Country has lots of distinctly local businesses like Dimi Espresso in Payson (top), which serves up dancing and open mic nights along with the coffee. Pine and Strawberry boast an array of antique and art shops, a honey stand, an ice cream parlor and restaurants.
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| Move to RIM COUNTRY | 53
ITS A LIFESTYLE: RIM COUNTRY CHURCHES
Make a joyful noise BY PETE ALESHIRE ROUNDUP EDITOR
Rim Country boasts numerous churches, which remain active in almost every phase of community affairs. The churches contribute to every good cause in the community, playing the leading role in the community food drive that supports the food banks, programs to help children from low-income families and the increasingly popular community garden. The joyful and creative contributions of the various congregations come into musical focus every year with the “Spirit of Christmas” pageant, which fills the 800-seat Payson High School Auditorium to overflowing for two shows every year. The brimming, joyful cast perfectly captured the mingling of joy and reverence of the season, plus the delight of living in a small town where everyone gets involved. The cast offered a madcap mixture of songs, skits, minisermons and unexpected delights, laid as heartfelt gifts in the straw of the manger. You might have predicted the wise men, shepherds, the drummer boy, the Christmas carols and earnest discussions between the redeemed father and the troubled teenager. But who could have foreseen the three-foot-tall, black-clad ninjas, the pyramid of yo-yo-ers, the professional flamenco guitarist or the tumblers in camouflage? Eric Santana and Stephanie Connolly directed the sprawling, joyful extravaganza, which each year demonstrates not only the happy creativity of Rim Country’s treasure of churches, but the surprisingly professional quality of the musicians in the congregations. Some 70 people labored every weekend for more than two months to stage the pag-
Rim Country churches Calvary Chapel Payson 1103 N. Beeline Hwy. at Sherwood Dr., Payson; (928) 468-0801
Payson Center for Spiritual Awareness 107 W. Wade Lane, #2, Payson; (928) 978-9100 or (928) 478-6935
Catholic Church of the Holy Nativity A Roman Catholic Church under the Personal Ordinate of the Chair of St. Peter. 1414 N. Easy Street (corner of Easy Street & Bradley Dr.), Payson; (928) 478-6988
Payson First Assembly of God (PFA) 1100 W. Lake Drive, the Church at Green Valley Park, Payson; (928) 474-2302
Christopher Creek Bible Fellowship - I.F.C.A. Highway 260, Christopher Creek, first driveway past fire station on left; (928) 478-4857 or (928) 478-4310 Church of Christ 306 E. Aero, Payson; (928) 468-0134
eant, with its distinctive mix of tearful fervor, silly jokes, drop-dead-cute kids, ba-daboom humor and heartfelt reverence. The array of singers never hit a false note, including Melissa Walden, Lora Henning, Christie Varner, Macie Chernov, Dan Cobb, Mike Stoll and Isaac Bradford. Periodically, the cavorting shepherds, clowns, dancing angels and whoknowswhat went careening down the aisle, scattering balloons and grins throughout the appreciative audience, touched to tears and laughter by the outburst of Christmas spirit. In the end, Matt Neuman and Janelle Hauptman playing Mary and Joseph took center stage with Leeanna Johnson doubling as the baby Jesus in swaddling clothes sleeping blissfully in the spotlight. Cast members crowded around, reaching out in joy and tenderness to touch the wrappings of the baby — like those wise men long ago who saw the child and fell down and opened up their treasures, gold and frankincense and myrrh — the Word made flesh to dwell among us, full of grace and truth. That baby never fussed a wink throughout the long performance. Kind of a miracle. Gives you hope — along with the little ninjas, the yo-yo team and the songs of angels — all infused with the “Spirit of Christmas.”
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Church of Christ in Payson 401 E. Tyler Parkway, Payson; (928) 474-5149 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Ponderosa; Mogollon; Manzanita Wards: Aero Drive and 913 S. Ponderosa, Payson; (928) 4728709, (928) 474-6367, (928) 468-1103, (928) 468-8157, (928) 474-3788, (928) 472-2266 Pine Ward: Highway 87, Pine; (928) 476-3757 Church on Randall Place, SBC 6338 W. Randall Place (turn west on Randall Place road near the Thrift Store), Pine; (928) 4764249, (928) 472-6439, (928) 970-4249 Community Presbyterian Church 800 W. Main Street, Payson; (928) 474-2059 Crossroads Foursquare Church 114 E. Cedar Lane, Payson Desert Community Christian Fellowship, SB 173 Stephen’s Way, Tonto Basin; (928) 479-2216 East Verde Baptist Church Houston Mesa Road at Whispering Pines Control Road; (928) 474-9385 Expedition Church Services at Julia Randall Elementary Gym, 902 W. Main, Payson; (928) 474-9128 First Baptist Church (Independent/Fundamental) 303 W. Main St., (928) 474-3530 First Baptist Church of Pine 4039 N. Highway 87, Pine; (928) 476-3552 First Southern Baptist Church 302 S. Ash (corners of Bonita & Colcord and Ash), Payson Gisela Community Church Tatum Trail, Gisela Iglesia Evangélica La Roca 302 E. Rancho Road, Payson; (928) 238-0240 or (928) 303-4087 Jehovah’s Witnesses North Payson Congregation, 1616 N. McLane; (928) 474-7867, (928) 474-2750: Congregation Espanol de Testieos de Jehovah, 9928) 4727867, (928) 474-8763
Payson First Church of the Nazarene 200 E. Tyler Parkway, Payson; (928) 474-5890 Payson Living Word Bible Church 208 S. McLane Road, Payson (across from the high school; (928) 474-8606 Payson United Methodist Church 414 N. Easy Street (between Zurich St. and Malibu St., behind ACE Hardware), Payson; (928) 474-0485 Payson United Pentecostal Church - The First Church Meets in Mesa del Caballo; (928) 469-2171 Ponderosa Bible Church 1800 N. Beeline Hwy., Payson; (928) 474-9279 Rim Country Cowboy Church Meets at Star Valley Baptist Church, 4180 E. Highway 260, Star Valley; (928) 474-5557 Rim Valley Church 208 S. McLane Road, Payson; (801) 513-4286 Rock of Ages Evangelical Lutheran Church (Wisconsin Synod) 204 W. Airport Rd. (corner of Airport Rd. and N. McLane), Payson; (928) 474-2098 St. Paul’s Episcopal Church 1000 N. Easy St. (corner of Sherwood & Easy St.), Payson; (928) 474-3834 St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church 511 S. St. Phillips Street, Payson; (928) 474-2392 Seventh-day Adventist Church 700 E. Wade Lane, Payson; (928) 474-9209 Shepherd of the Pines Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) 507 W. Wade Lane; (928) 474-5440, (928) 4788603 Shiloh Christian Fellowship 501 E. Rancho Road (across the street from Payson Elementary School), Payson; (928) 4743138 Star Valley Baptist Church 4 miles east of Payson at 4180 E. Highway 260; (928) 474-5557 Strawberry Chapel in the Pines Fossil Creek Road, Strawberry; (928) 476-3893 Tonto Basin Bible Church Hwy. 188 off Dryer Dr., Tonto Basin; (928) 4792299 Tonto Basin Catholic Mission Meets Thursdays at the Tonto Basin Chamber building for Catholic Mass
Lifehouse Christian Center Meets at Mountain High Coffeeworks, 3652 N. Cemetary Rd., Pine; (928) 242-0773
Tonto Creek Shores/Tonto Valley Bible Church Lots 240-241 Valley View Road, Gisela; (928) 474-1360
Mount Cross Lutheran Church (ELCA) 601 E. Highway 260, Payson; (928) 474-2552
Tonto Village Chapel 15 miles East of Payson on Highway 260, turn left on Control Road, go 1 mile; (928) 951-4493, (928) 478-5070
Mountain Bible Church 302 E. Rancho Road in Payson; (928) 472-7800 Payson Bible Fellowship Meets at Rim Country Health and Retirement Community, 807 W. Longhorn Road
Unity of Payson Meets at Board of Realtors Conference Room, 600 E. Hwy. 260, Payson; (928) 478-8515
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| Move to RIM COUNTRY | 55
ITS A LIFESTYLE: LOW-COST DECORATING
Cheap chic: BY ALEXIS BECHMAN ROUNDUP STAFF REPORTER
Looking to outfit your new home? There are plenty of furniture and antique shops in Rim Country. Whether your style is cowboy collectible, woodsy cabin charm, vintage, modern or somewhere in between, the area is a treasure trove for shoppers within all budgets. Here is a list of businesses that can take your home from drab to fab.
Once you move in you can decorate on a budget in Rim Country stores
THRIFT SHOPS There is a thrift shop on just about every corner of Payson. Most are filled with bargains and it is quite common to find a gem among the junk. And to boot, nearly all of the thrift stores are run by nonprofits so all sales go toward supporting a good cause. Thrift stores include Loot Resale (403 S. Ash), Senior Center Thrift Store (512 W. Main St.), Pine-Strawberry Thrift Store (3916 N. Highway 87, Pine), the Nook (408 W. Main St.), Time Out Thrift Store (500 S. Beeline Highway), Animal Welfare Thrift Shop (434 S. Ash St.) and St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store (1006 S. Beeline Highway).
FURNITURE Roud’s: The largest furniture store in the area, Roud’s Fine Home ANTIQUE SHOPS Furnishings, located at 107 E. HighBootleg Alley Antiques & Art way 260, offers everything from (520 W. Main Street). new mattresses to entertainment Carpenter’s Wife (112 W. Wade units and sofas. Prices are on the Lane): Frequently named by Rim medium to high side. Country voters as the best antique Mattress Experts & More: This shop with 16 rooms filled with anstore, located at 221 E. Highway tiques and collectibles. 260 in the Safeway Center, recently Granny’s Attic Antiques (800 E. expanded its inventory to include State Highway 260): Features sevmore than bedroom furniture. eral rooms brimming with treasWhen the business opened in ures. One of the interesting 2010, the owners had no intention collections Granny’s Attic has is anof getting into furniture, but they tique fishing lures and rods. listened to their customers. Whether it’s china, sewing ma“We wanted to buy quality chines, books or linens — you can closeout models that could be sold probably find it at Granny’s Attic. at hugely discounted prices. We will Main Street Mercantile (216 W. be getting new closeouts in about Main Street). every seven to 10 days, so the styles Western Village of Payson and product will be changing con(1104 S. Beeline Highway): The stantly.” place for rustic, cowboy memoraPayson Galleria: Located off bilia and household goods. Bonita Street, Payson Galleria also offers new furniture, but in a Just about 15 miles north on smaller, more intimate location. Highway 87 is the small, artsy comBesides new, the shop also offer munity of Pine, where antiques gently used furniture, mattress Attic Antique Mart is packed to the rafters with antiques and colabound. sets, interior décor, most of it Granny’s lectibles. Tymeless Antiques & TreasAmerican made, including some ures is just off Highway 87 on Hardscrabble Road. Several dealers from Payson craftsmen. Bealls Outlet: Need a cheese grater or new towels? Bealls is the display their goods throughout the store, bringing a vast selection place for discounted house wares. They offer 15 percent off for sen- of items. Moose Mountain: The shop, at 6264 Hardscrabble Road in Pine, iors on Monday and 15 percent off for those 49 and younger on Friis packed to the rafters with gifts in all shapes, sizes and prices. “I days. Big Lots: Big Lots opened in the Rim Country Mall in 2013 and feel there is something here for everybody,” said owner Kris quickly became the place for reasonably priced furniture and house Lovetro. She considers the array of gifts, antiques and collectibles wares. They offer an eclectic mix of frames, pillows, bedding and “Pine Country accents.” The shop has a variety of dealers displaying their specialties for knickknacks. Walmart: Open 24 hours, Walmart is the place for any last- sale as well as gently used furniture. Different dealers contribute to Moose Mountain’s Vintage Linen Closet. minute items.
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E Alternative High School E Individualized Programs E Options for Learning E Small Class Sizes E AdvancED Accredited Payson Education Center 112 West Cedar Lane Payson, AZ 85541 Phone: 928-468-8509 Web Search: Payson Education Center www.paysonedctr.org Part theGGila County District PART OFof THE ILA C OUNTY Regional REGIONALSchool SCHOOL DISTRICT
| Move to RIM COUNTRY | 57
ITS A LIFESTYLE: FOUR-SEASON RECREATION
Fun all year Forest Road 300 provides scenery and camping in spring.
The Rim lakes provide fishing, boating and paddleboarding opportunities in summer.
Nowhere else in Arizona has as much water as the Rim Country or such perfect weather to enjoy it. Trout-stocked Tonto Creek, Horton Creek, East Verde River, Fossil Creek and Haigler Creek flow in and around the land under the shadow of the Mogollon Rim. Rim lakes like Woods Canyon, Willow Springs, Chevelon, Bear Canyon, Knoll, and the Blue Ridge Reservoir are less than an hour from Payson. South of Payson the Salt River Project watersheds of Roosevelt Lake, Apache Lake, Canyon Lake and Saguaro Lake, offer world-class fishing, boating and water recreation. Fishermen can catch bass in Roosevelt, Apache or Saguaro lakes. But the Rim Country has other four-season recreation, with more than 300 average days of sunshine and an altitude ranging from 4,000 to 7,000 feet, terrain that ranges from Sonoran Desert to the largest ponderosa pine forest in the world. SPRING: BUSTING OUT ALL OVER Rim Country enjoys the best weather of the year during those months — with wildflowers thrown in for variety. Birding, wildflower photography, hiking and camping all remain popular, especially in the riparian areas along the East Verde River and Tonto Creek. Payson has a 50-mile network of trails in town, which connect to Forest Service trails of all difficulties. To find out about hikes, meet up with the Payson Packers each Tuesday morning for a half-day guided hike or see the Payson Roundup’sVisitors Guide. Also, Payson, Pine and Strawberry are all gateway communities to the Arizona Trail, which runs from the Mexico to the Utah border. SUMMER: LIVING IS EASY In the summer, visitors escape the desert heat to splash about in streams and lakes, including Fossil, Tonto, Horton, Haigler and Christopher Creeks — not to mention the East Verde River. To learn their secrets, attend a meeting of the Flycasters Club held monthly in Payson. The Rim lakes, Willow, Woods, Bear Canyon, Black Canyon, Chevelon, Knoll and the Blue Ridge Reservoir sit at an elevation of 7,000 feet and are just a 30-minute drive from Payson.
Payson’s Green Valley Park provides fishing and colorful trees in fall.
FALL: A RIOT OF COLORS By October the bugle of elk in the rutting season permeates the early morning air and the leaves along Rim Country streams have begun to change. Hunters converge on Payson decked out in fatigues and driving ATVs. The riparian corridors offer some of the best displays of fall color in the state.
The nearby Mogollon Rim provides snowshoeing and cross country skiing in winter
58 | Move to RIM COUNTRY | 2014
WINTER: THE SILENCE OF SNOW Winter has a subtle magical quality many overlook. The Payson area has mild winters with three to four snowstorms that drop enough white powder on the shrubbery to create a winter wonderland without requiring constant shoveling. Snow-covered forest roads atop the Mogollon Rim offer nearby places to go snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The lower elevation areas in the Tonto Basin offer year-round hiking and camping.
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| Move to RIM COUNTRY | 59
THE FUTURE: ASSESSING THE COST OF DEVELOPMENT
Planning for future growth: One heck of a ride With the housing market suddenly stirring, Payson will once more confront some of the crucial trade-offs of growth. The town reported four major developments with a total of about 600 homes have started the process of seeking approval, although full construction will take years. The return to growth comes just as Payson finishes work on overhauling its general plan, with a shift to higher-density development and more attention paid to the cost of providing the water, sewer, streets and public services needed to serve the new residents. Most towns sell at a loss when it comes to new development. For instance, in a lowdensity, mostly residential town like Payson — people who move into a new house often generate less revenue to the town than it costs to provide water, sewer, street maintenance, police, fire, parks and other services. The recent overhaul of the general plan offers a different way to look at new development. Payson hopes to attract sales-taxgenerating businesses — and maybe compact, high-density developments that don’t require the extension of water and sewer lines, to help balance the costs of providing services to low-density development. Payson gets 40 percent of its revenue from sales taxes and just 6 percent from property taxes. Another 16 percent of the budget comes from state-shared revenue,
Payson hosts three major rodeos every year, including the Indian Rodeo Association’s big show. The town’s general plan envisions a population of 38,000 at buildout, which will require juggling the tradeoffs of growth.
mostly based on population. Grants, fines and minor taxes account for the rest of the roughly $15.5 million in annual revenues. The general plan overhaul spends a lot of time focused on increasing job-producing industrial development and sales-taxgenerating stores. After all, someone has got to pay the bill for the $69 million needed for infrastructure, including streets, police and fire protection, water, parks, community development, libraries, airport operations and other costs. That’s the new infrastructure estimate in the town’s Capital Improvements Plan wish list for the period from 2012 to 2017. For instance, once upon a time, the town hoped to pay for the $50 million Blue Ridge pipeline mostly with a $7,500-per-house water impact fee imposed on new developments. But when building dried up residents had to foot the bill with a 25 percent jump in water rates. Up until now, Payson has remained a res-
60 | Move to RIM COUNTRY | 2014
idential and retirement community with an economy mostly dominated by the tourist industry. The town mingles neighborhoods dominated by mobile home parks, with older homes and two expensive country clubs. The town has a limited stock of apartments, few year-round industries and a retail sector dominated by highway-fronting businesses dependent on out-of-town shoppers. The town’s current zoning plan earmarks 6,735 acres for residential — about 55 percent of the land in town. “Only in communities with significant property taxes does residential development pay for itself,” the general plan update concludes. “In Payson, the net cost of residential development is subsidized by other revenue sources — like sales tax.” The future land use map earmarks 1,260 of the remaining, undeveloped land for nonresidential development plus another 1,332 for mixed-use development that mingles commercial developments, office space, apartments and homes. The resulting 2,592 acres available for commercial development represents a doubling since 2003. “The 1,332 acres designated for mixed use development is distributed in every section of town,” the report concluded. “It should host commercial activity that will provide direct benefit to the surrounding neighborhoods and to the town by capturing sales from pass-through travelers.”
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| Move to RIM COUNTRY | 61
ITS A LIFESTYLE: ORGANIZED SPORTING ACTIVITIES FAST FACTS
Payson offers a rich array of recreational programs year-round including the Mogollon Monster Mudder (above) and the small-town summer delight of Taylor Pool in Rumsey Park (below).
Organized activities for both adults and children include: • Youth soccer leagues • Youth T-ball • Little League baseball and softball • Youth flag & tackle football • Youth basketball • Youth volleyball • Youth and adult archery, & firearms target shooting • Spring soccer league • Men’s, women’s and co-ed adult softball leagues • Adult men’s basketball • Adult co-ed volleyball
No shortage of organized recreation in Rim Country BY KEITH MORRIS ROUNDUP SPORTS EDITOR
“Somebody called into the radio station this morning and said, ‘there’s nothing to do in Payson,’” Cameron Davis said. “We’re sure killing ourselves for no reason, then, if there’s nothing to do here.” The Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism director chuckled at the notion. He then spent the next 35 minutes going over the wide variety of outdoor and recreational activities available to area residents and visitors, many offered by Parks and Rec and some by other organizations. “We are one of the very few small communities that has facilities like that — that you can use year-round,” Davis said. “And because of our mild climate, there are people who are out on those fields in January and December. Unlike grass fields that die off in the winter, our residents actually are able to get out and play on our facilities.” Also, Taylor Pool at Rumsey Park opens from Memorial Day weekend through the end of July, with open swimming from 1-4 p.m. daily. EVO Swim School offers swimming lessons and kids can compete on that organization’s swim team. Additionally, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament for adults, as well as students in the eighth-12th grades is held every May. The recreation department also offers kids camps for baseball, basketball, soccer, football, volleyball and wrestling. Parks and
Rec also offers a six- to eight-week summer rec camp, offering sports and activities for kindergartners through sixth grade from 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday, featuring lunch, in the middle school gym beginning the week after school ends. Although Parks and Rec isn’t currently offering tennis lessons or leagues, Rumsey Park does feature tennis courts. A sand volleyball league also starts up in the summer, along with dodgeball tournaments. Bat Night is offered once a year, featuring a biologist teaching kids about bats at Green Valley Park. There have also been fossil digs. Meanwhile, Green Valley Lake offers fishing, canoeing and kayaking.
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Special events each year include: the Mogollon Monster Mudder 5K Run the first weekend of June. That’s part of the Mountain High Games, which also features a horseshoe tournament, a mud bog , a 4H 3D archery tournament and ATV trail rides by Rim Country Power Sports. Another big event, scheduled for May 24 this year, is the annual Sprint Triathlon for ages 15 and over, consisting of a 500-yard swim, 14-mile bike and 5K run. The Turkey Trot 5K Run is held every Saturday before Thanksgiving. The Third Annual End of Summer Madness ASA Fastpitch Girls Softball Tournament should once again be a huge boon for the local economy. Parks and Rec is also trying to attract a large soccer tournament. And, of course, there’s the ASU football team training at Camp Tontozona from Aug. 12-16. The Annual NFL Punt, Pass and Kick competition is held each August or September. Other events are the Beeline Cruise-in Car Show on April 26, the Wildlife Festival on May 10, the Optimist Kids Fishing Festival, and the annual Easter Eggstravaganza in Rumsey Park on April 19. For rodeo fans, the Event Center hosts the Arizona High School Rodeo Finals June 11-15, the Southwest Junior Bull Riding Association event July 26, the Southwest Indian Rodeo Finals on Sept. 13 and the AHSRA and Arizona Junior High Rodeo Association season openers Sept. 20-21.
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A FINAL THOUGHT
Falling in love with Rim Country BY PETE ALESHIRE ROUNDUP EDITOR
I fell in love with her at first sight on that very first day. It was just past a bleak Christmas on my first day on a new job in Payson, after what felt like the collapse of my life. I had no sooner settled into my office, then the snow started drifting down onto the parking lot — big, lazy flakes with all the time in the world. So I grabbed a camera and headed out of the town to which I was a stranger. Veering onto Flowing Springs Road, I parked and tromped through the gathering snow to an overlook. Below, the East Verde River wandered past the ridge. She took my breath away in that first, heart-stopping moment. I was stream-struck, my heart thudding, my breath coming in white puffs. That moment overlooking the East Verde changed my life. I’d been passing through Payson for 20 years on assignments for Arizona Highways, barely stopping. But in the past five years, I’ve learned all its secret places — and found the place I belong. There on that ridge in the snow with a hint of steam rising off the glistening surface of the East Verde River, my new life began. After a bruising tumble through the cataracts and boulder-choked canyons, I’d come down now to this wide, quiet space in the humming silence of the snow. The river saved me by letting me love her, for love binds up every wound. The Payson Roundup offered me sanctuary, introduced me to the river and then gave me the gift of the thing I had always sought, never knowing. Rim Country — and the East Verde — have taken me in. Now I love her — without judgment or expectation. I have cast my life upon her waters, for she is helplessly beautiful, utterly reliable, ef-
fortlessly graceful. I study her features, savor her moods, smile at her quirks. After a lifetime spent in California and the Sonoran Desert, I live now for the first time with seasons. The giant, deep-barked cottonwoods dominate, along with the sensuously white-boled sycamore. More different trees crowd the river’s banks than almost any other stream in the West. I am still learning the trees like you memorize the years of your children’s births. I wander along beneath Arizona walnuts and Arizona ashes and happily greet the lonely ponderosas towering above the pinons. I look for the Arizona cypress and the Arizona alders and always respect my box elders. I aspire to distinguish at a glance the white, Emory, Gambel and Palmer oaks, not to mention the oneseed, Utah and alligator junipers and both the desert and Goodding willows. And when I have mastered all of those, I shall take care to learn the leaf shapes of the soapberry, mulberry, hackberry and chokecherry. I am learning the angular austerity of winter, the green haze of the first leaves, the riotous green of August, the brilliance of fall, the ritual mourning of the fallen leaves, the exhilarating rush of summer floods, the cold, sullen fury of winter storms, the smell of damp earth and new grass and decaying leaves and approaching storms. So I go down to the still waters now every morning with my sharp-nosed, gold-eyed dog to watch the magic of the first light. I have seen soaring eagles and scarlet summer tanagers and hunting herons and startled elk and bristling javelina. I have swum with the otters — but that’s a whole other story. The river, she pays me no mind — but does not mind me. I’m fine with that. I just want to watch her — how she moves, the rustle of her dress, the gleam of light in her hair, the sound of her sighs.
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66 | Move to RIM COUNTRY | 2014
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