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April 2011


LIVING Pages 6-7 Stories look at the challenges facing the Payson Public Library and the success of Payson Regional Medical Center.

Andy Towle/Roundup


Payson Unified School District physical education instructors were jumping for joy because they finally landed a federal grant after four attempts. Pictured from left to right are: Randy Wilcox, Donna Moore, Judy Perham and Jackie Wallace. See related story on page 11.

Pages 10-14 Administrators talk about the struggles and successes of the school district.

Plan for ASU campus in Payson advances Crucial challenge still ahead BY




with thousands of students and hundreds of relatively well-paid, year-round jobs also calls for a glittering array of supportive business. The town has already negotiated a deal with a national hotel chain that wants to build a 500-room convention hotel next to the campus, which would specialize in hosting educational conferences and special events. Other elements of the plan include a $65 million solar power generating array on a covered Payson Event Center, a Chinese solar cell chip manufacturing plant, a research park and wireless Internet that will cover the whole town and allow students to watch class lectures and do research. Backers hope that the interlocking businesses will generate millions in taxes, provide thousands of new jobs and diversify the local economy, to make the region less dependent on the boom-bust cycles of tourism and construction, which have so magnified the effects of the recession. The persistent advocates for the plan have surmounted repeated, seemingly fatal problems in the course the past year, which sometimes reads like a dime-store cliffhanger. Most recently, they even engineered the purchase of 80 acres of land adjacent to Gila Community College so the project can go forward even if the U.S. Forest Service continues to move at its own, inexplicable pace in freeing its 300-acre parcel for sale.


Pages 20-22 Pine fire district gets new chief, Pine-Strawberry residents control their own water.

The bright, shining dream of a four-year college campus in Payson danced and shimmered just barely out of reach all year long, despite the furious efforts by local backers to close their hands on the bright prospect. At this writing, the chief threat to the realization of two years of effort that would likely provide a huge lift to the faltering of the whole region, remains deep cuts to university spending included in the budget for next year, which includes a reported $198 million cut in state funding. That’s more than the $170 million Gov. Jan Brewer proposed, but less than the $235 million the Senate originally favored. Arizona State University officials have told local backers of a Payson campus that they could conclude the negotiation if they faced the governor’s cuts, but would abandon the effort if they had to accommodate the Senate’s cuts. ASU officials have not yet said what they’ll do if the House version is implemented. In addition, the university has not yet released the results of a crucial marketing survey designed to determine whether they could get 1,000 to 6,000 students to enroll in a Payson campus, with tuition about 50 percent lower than ASU’s Tempe campus.

The high-tech, energy-self-sufficient Payson campus would focus on a limited list of undergraduate degrees, with in-depth programs in things like solar technology, rural health care, fire science and other fields adapted to a rural, forested, low-cost campus. ASU officials have said that if the marketing study shows the campus could attract enough students to pay its way and it doesn’t have to absorb crippling cuts next year, it can move forward with the Payson campus plan. The state budget situation should be resolved sometime in April, and the release of the marketing study is already overdue. So sometime in the month of April, the plan will either pass its most crucial test — or Payson will have to scramble to revive negotiations with a handful of other, private universities that have expressed an interest in building a college here. Payson Mayor Kenny Evans has vowed that Payson will get a college campus, no matter what ASU decides. However, campus backers have stressed the extra benefits that would come from the connection to the nation’s largest public university located just 90 minutes away. Local backers maintain that landing a high-tech college on a forested site on the boundary between Payson and Star Valley will jump-start the region’s tourist-dependent, recession-battered economy. The complex plan for the undergraduate campus

See ASU, page 3

Payson or Scottsdale Your Dream. Your Town. Your Way!

(928) 978-0527 direct Sharon D. King

(928) 474-2844 Office 104 E. Hwy. 260, Suite A

Designated Broker/Owner

Located in the Arizona State Credit Union Building



Blue Ridge pipeline clears key hurdles BY



Andy Towle/Roundup

On hand for the dedication of Payson Fire Station 13 were dignitaries representing many groups. Pictured here, LaRon Garrett (left) and Mayor Kenny Evans speak to the crowd.

New fire station dedicated SUBMITTED BY THE PAYSON FIRE DEPARTMENT The Payson Fire Department enters its 65th year of serving Payson facing both numerous challenges and exciting opportunities. The weak economy and reduced revenues mandated budget cuts to all town departments. For fire services this was realized through personnel reductions, furloughs and decreases to many operational budget line items. Although the level of resources has been reduced, the number of calls for service has increased more than 20 percent in the last five years. Even so, many important activities and projects were either initiated or accomplished this year. Funded by a voter-approved bond, construction on a third fire station in east Payson was started. While the need for the facility at this particular point in time was somewhat in debate, the station represents an important step forward for the department. The means to staff this facility are still in question, but may be helped by grants and reallocation of financial resources. Fire Station 13 sets up the future well, with the potential of an Arizona State University campus and increased development in the area. Meanwhile, other projects, such as finishing the rehab of Fire Station 11 and replacing aging equipment were stalled for at least another year. As mentioned before, emergency response activity has increased dramatically in recent years. In 2010, 2532 calls for service were received up from 2009’s total of 2341. Emergency medical services (EMS) response account for more than 70 percent of the department’s incident responses and to meet this need, advancing the training of members for that purpose is very important. One of our reserve firefighters completed advance training to become a paramedic adding to the cadre of 17 paramedics currently on staff. Fire responses have decreased to about 4 percent of total responses. Service calls and false alarm responses have also increased. Professional development of personnel moved forward with several accomplishments. A live fire training facility trailer, 95 percent funded by a federal assistance to firefighters grant, was placed in service. This facility allows firefighters, not only in Payson but across Rim Country, to regularly practice firefighting techniques in a safe and environmentally friendly way. Other mandated training such as hazardous materials response, EMS recertification, wildland firefighting and apparatus operations were also fulfilled. An important function of the training program is development of future leaders. Despite a very tight training budget, several members completed a variety of leadership and fire service management courses. Two PFD members completed the prestigious Executive Fire Officer program and several other members completed a number of courses at the National Fire Academy. Overall, more than 5,100 man hours of training was accomplished by the depart-

ment. The department’s mission includes reducing the risk of fires and other emergencies as well as responding to them. Risk reduction activities such as fire inspections and construction plan reviews discover issues before they can become problems. Despite losing a part-time employee, more than 1,100 plan reviews and inspections were accomplished. The Fire Wise program continued to gain traction with all 11 Payson area Fire Wise USA communities maintaining their recognition status. Fueled by a grant from the State Forestry Division, working partnerships between the department and property owners resulted in more than 58 acres receiving Fire Wise treatments. The department also collaborated with other northern Gila County fire services to produce a newspaper handout that helps spread the Fire Wise message and educate area residents in how to make their properties safer from wildfires. The PFD helped residents in other ways, too. Public education efforts which may take the form of fire station tours, specially prepared presentations or school programs reached out to over 3,500 Payson residents. Instruction in CPR techniques was provided to over 800 area residents. Car safety seats for children are a vital part of any family that has children. The PFD inspected 148 installations of these seats and provided additional instruction to parents. Having at least one working smoke alarm in your home is vital and firefighters provided 19 smoke alarms and assisted in replacing batteries in 41 more. The department led the effort to update the town’s Emergency Operations Plan. This plan provides the framework for the preparation, response to and recovery from major emergencies that may impact Payson. Another important planning process that was initiated in 2010 is an update of the Multijurisdiction Hazard Mitigation Plan. This plan describes the major hazards that may affect the town and identifies potential projects that may mitigate their impact. These two plans are used to provide a comprehensive system of risk management tools that will help to protect both lives and property. The state Legislature passed one law that legalized consumer fireworks. While the sale of fireworks could not be deterred, fortunately the law has a provision that allows cities and towns to prohibit the use of these fireworks. The Payson Town Council showed leadership in passing such an ordinance. The year ended on a high note with two notable occurrences. First, the Public Safety for Kids effort, in which Payson firefighters are involved, provided 115 families and 266 children with food, clothes and toys. Nearly $16,000 was raised to move this effort forward. The other positive experience was that there were no fires in Payson during the month of December. By anyone’s recount, this has never occurred before, as December is noted nationally for its high fire experience.

Decades of effort climaxed this year in crucial progress toward building a $30 million pipeline to secure Rim Country’s water future. The release of the environmental assessment for the Blue Ridge pipeline represents the last major hurdle before construction begins on a pipeline that will double the town’s secure water supply and could bolster the water future of a string of unincorporated communities. After spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and answering a last-minute flurry of Forest Service questions, the town got what amounts to a green light to build the 15-milelong, 18-inch-diameter pipe running along Houston Mesa Road. The only serious questions raised came from the residents of Mesa del Caballo, who objected to plans to build a water filtration and treatment plant on a 10-acre piece of Forest Service land on the edge of the subdivision, potentially cutting off access to public land for about six houses. The Forest Service rating system made the site adjacent to Mesa del Caballo the top site, mostly because it wouldn’t create an inholding — private land surrounded on four sides by Forest Service land. Other than that dust-up about the treatment plant location, the year offered solid progress and solid community support for the most important single project to affect Rim Country in generations. The Blue Ridge pipeline will carry 3,500 acre-feet annually from a reservoir atop the Rim to the town’s new treatment plant. That

includes 500 acre-feet set aside for other northern Gila County communities, providing they can negotiate a deal to buy into the pipeline with the Salt River Project. Mesa Del Caballo’s more than 700 residents stand to become the chief beneficiaries if water provider Brooke Utilities can negotiate a connection with Payson and SRP, since the chronically water-short subdivision can easily tap into the Blue Ridge water as it leaves Payson’s $7 million water treatment plant. However, other communities like Star Valley, Beaver Valley, East Verde Estates, Whispering Pines and others have also expressed an interest in getting a share of the Blue Ridge water. The utterly groundwater-dependent region secured this new supply of high-quality drinking water just in time. Studies suggest that projected shifts in the climate caused by a steady rise in average temperatures will result in more unstable weather in the Southwest, longer droughts and perhaps even the failure of the summer monsoons, which provide almost half of the region’s rainfall. Climate experts predict more water shortages in the region as growth resumes and overwhelming demand for water from the giant reservoirs along the Colorado River. That makes the long effort to secure Rim Country’s water supply visionary and vital. The completion of the environmental assessment cleared away the last major questions dogging the project, once the Forest Service accepts the results and designates a route and a site for the water treatment plant. Town officials say they’ll run some experiments at Washington Park this fall to figure out how to treat the pristine Blue Ridge water

so it can be safely mingled with the town’s groundwater, with its high mineral content. If all goes well, construction on the pipeline itself should start next spring. The assessment puts the town on schedule to start the 18- to 24-month construction process perhaps a year from now. That means the 3,000 acre-feet of water annually for Payson will arrive more or less on schedule in 2013 or 2014. However, the study and the town’s current pipeline construction plans left big questions about how communities along the pipeline route can connect. None have so far negotiated contracts with SRP — including fire departments who hoped the pipeline would include hydrants along the way to provide water for firefighters struggling to protect a dozen small subdivisions from wildfires in the dangerously overgrown forests. Payson officials have said they would design the pipeline to make it easy for those communities to eventually connect. However, the environmental consultants did not consider such connections and said the high pressures in the pipeline will make it hard to easily connect fire hydrants along the route. Many small fire departments had suggested such hydrants might prove invaluable for filling tanker trucks during major forest fires. The town’s environmental consultants found 14 archaeological sites along the route and noted the area includes potentially critical habitat for five endangered species. However, the consultants concluded the construction crews who will bury the big water pipe 5 to 10 feet beneath the surface, won’t have a major environmental impact despite the four creek crossings.

Andy Towle/Roundup

During a “Walk in the Woods,” conducted by researchers from Northern Arizona University’s Ecological Restoration Institute and forest managers from the Payson Ranger District, participants got to see firsthand the menace on every side in a tangled stand of crowded pines and stunted oaks along the Control Road near Tonto Village.

Payson rec program aims to bring more tourneys to town BY



Among the most exciting occurrences going on in the Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department is a well-oiled plan to help Payson reclaim the prestige it once proudly owned for being one of Arizona’s hot spots for slow-pitch softball. For unknown reasons, softball lost much of its luster, even though softball tournaments seemed to be a huge boost to the Rim Country economy, drawing players and their families from around the state. Among the upcoming tournaments to be hosted at Rumsey this year are the Town of Payson Senior Softball Invitational, the Cool Pines Memorial Day Classic, Rim View Classic, Girls Class B Arizona State Championships, Rim Country Roundup, the Mike Barr Memorial Coed Tournament and Home Run Derby. The Senior Softball Invitational will be played April 11, 12 and 13 on several Rumsey Park fields. The Memorial Day Classic, to be held May 18 and 29, is expected to attract a maximum of 28 men’s, women’s and coed teams. The Rim View Classic, slated for June 18 and 19, is also open to 28 teams in three divisions. The girls state tournament is open to players 10 years of age to seniors in high school and will be played July 8, 9 and 10. As many as 50 teams from around the state could enter. The Rim Country Roundup, also a senior tournament, will be Sept. 9, 10 and 11 and hosted by Tournsport Tournament Coordinators. All players in both senior tournaments must be 55 years of age or older. The Second Annual Mike Barr Memorial and Home Run Derby is set for Sept. 30 to Oct 2. It is open to the first 28 coed teams that enter. The main goal of the tournament is to raise money for a memorial fund that helps needy, local student-athletes pay school participation fees. If Friedrich Nietzsche was correct when he said, “That which does not kill you, makes you stronger,” those at the Payson Parks,

Recreation and Tourism Department have been hammered into robust and strapping beings by the challenges they’ve endured the past few years. The first indication of hard times the department was about to face occurred in 2008 with the laying off of Parks and Recreation Director Rick Manchester and the department’s entire staff of seasonal and part-time employees. The budget plan that Cameron Davis had earlier been adopted by the Payson Town Council resulted in a 37 percent cut to the recreation department. Hardest hit in the recreation department was the Payson Area Trails System (PATS), which lost all its funding at a time when the trails were being touted as a huge Rim Country attraction. Early in 2009, just after the cutbacks, rumors flowed freely that all recreation programs had ended and the department was closing its doors. Not so, said the town’s four remaining recreation leaders — Joseph Harris, Mary McMullen, Charlene Hunt and Deb Rose. Harris, McMullen and Hunt (now Brown) are no longer with the department, but it’s obvious the four played key roles in keeping the department up and running through the trials and tribulations of the fiscal bloodletting. About a year ago, Hunt (Brown), who oversaw the Payson Event Center and the almost year-round equestrian programs offered in Payson — resigned to accept another job at the Payson Police Department. Although Hunt (Brown) was a seasoned pro in equestrian activities, the programs she formerly supervised — including ropings, rodeos, gymkhanas, team pennings and benefits — continued unabated under the guidance of her replacement, Kaprice Bachtell. Without missing a beat, Tasha McIntyre has replaced McMullen and Mary Wolf has taken over for Harris. Cameron Davis is now the staff director. In battling the budget cuts and layoffs of the past few years, the recreation leaders for-

mulated a plan that utilized the help of a dedicated core of volunteers, some creative scheduling and what leaders called “cross training to help one another out.” The strategy was to have a least one paid staff member present at each event and fill in with volunteers. The tactics worked as the department continued to succeed, offering most of the same programs it had hosted for years. Among the boosts that helped buoy the battered department were several donations from the Friends of Parks and Recreation and a $5,000 contribution from a donor that asked to remain anonymous. Portions of donations were used to keep two youth basketball leagues and one adult league. In battling cuts, the leaders also schemed a bare-bones budget that has helped keep programs intact the past two years. In fact, the only program that was scrapped was girls slow-pitch softball and that occurred because Payson Little League was offering, for the first time, fast-pitch softball. Among the youth activities the department continues to offer are elementary school basketball programs, the NBA/WBNA skills challenge, spring break recreation program and sport camp, youth soccer league and youth Tball. The highly popular girls basketball, boys basketball and wrestling summer camps offered annually by high school coaches continue to be popular attractions. The department also has slated a 2011 full calendar of other programs including aquatics, PATS activities, outdoor recreation and special events. In aquatics, the department has turned over management of Taylor Pool to the highly acclaimed EVO Swim School of Gilbert. EVO is in the second year of a two-year contract to oversee the pool. In addition to hosting the wealth of programs, the department continues to groom and supervise two of the finest parks in smalltown Arizona — Green Valley and Rumsey. For more information about any of the department’s offerings, call (928) 474-5242, ext 7, or log on to the Town of Payson’s Web site at:



ASU campus so close to reality, yet so far away From page 1 From the start, the thing seemed impossible. ASU had no money and no bonding capacity. But then Evans came up with nearly $500 million in gifts and financing. Payson had a narrow tax base and leery residents fearful of getting stuck with the bill if it all went wrong. So Evans and the other backers conjured a legal framework that would create a taxing district to insulate town taxpayers. And then the state budget collapsed into a steaming sinkhole, prompting deep cuts in state support for universities and a doubling of tuition. Even that backers turned to their advantage, since the Payson plan will help meet the need for more degrees at a much lower cost. Thanks to vision, creativity and persistence — advocates for the campus have met every objection. The offer to ASU remains too good to pass up — and the benefits to this community will prove transformative. Payson Event Center

One of the major, recent add-ons to the increasingly ambitious and complex project would as a side effect solve one of Payson’s highest wish-list priorities — covering the event center so it could serve as a year-round focal point for conventions and trade shows. That would draw business during the winter months, when Rim Country hotels and businesses normally struggle to survive the disappearance of the fair-weather tourists. The proposed $65 million solar energy project would make the campus energy independent and would include a $15 million roof on the Payson Event Center. Town officials have struck a deal with private investors to cover the event center and its parking lot with cutting-edge solar panels, which would generate 10 megawatts of power. That solar field array would generate enough power to supply 20 percent of the energy needs in all of northern Gila County. The big complication lies in the dependence of the project on various federal grants and tax incentives that expire later this year. As a result, the town desperately wants to start construction on the solar array by August. Unfortunately, the nearly completed deal with ASU has now gotten tangled in the Arizona Senate’s just-adopted pro-

posed budget, which would cut university funding by $65 million on top of the $170 million cut included in Gov. Jan Brewer’s budget proposal. Those cuts would nearly double the $250 million in state cuts imposed on the universities in the past two years. ASU officials have said that if the state Senate version passes, ASU will have to cut its budget by $107 million. That would require such deep layoffs, the university would no longer have the resources to complete the plan to build a low-cost, undergraduate campus for up to 6,000 students in Payson, with the doors opening in 2013 or 2014. Moreover, such deep cuts will likely force all three state universities to limit enrollment of qualified students for the first time in state history. Even without the extra $65 million in cuts, ASU has proposed boosting its tuition next year to $9,200 annually. Tuition at Arizona’s three public universities has gone from among the lowest in the nation to among the highest in about four years. Evans said the glittering prospect of solar energy production and a covered event center has made the often-missed deadlines for doing a deal terribly urgent. Town officials say that the combination of a proposed convention hotel next to the campus and the year-round capacity of a covered event center would allow the town to compete for conventions and trade shows, transforming the tourist economy here. “Short of an earthquake in Yuma or some other disaster, those timelines are the No. 1 reason we’re feeling all the pressure,” said Evans. If the state budget derails the deal, Evans said he will turn quickly to one of the private universities that have also expressed interest in building a campus here, said Evans. In that case, the town would still hope to sign an agreement quickly enough that work on the solar project would start before the third week in August. Evans said such a shift in partners would be difficult, but not impossible — although the town’s agreement to negotiate exclusively with ASU has cut off the conversation until now. “Our discussions (with the other universities) were fairly advanced three years ago. They looked at it and have been on the site and know that we’re talking about a boutique campus that’s

Andy Towle/Roundup

This member of the Union forces steadies himself to take careful aim as the rebels reformed their remaining troops during the Civil War re-enactment at Green Valley Park. looking at very high-tech solutions. Will it be tough? Sure. But not any tougher than the last three months.” Evans said the proposed solar project will cost $65 million, but various grants and tax breaks will reduce the effective cost to about $22 million for the investors. That amounts to about $2,000 per megawatt of generating capacity, a cost much lower than replacing a conventional power plant. Various state and federal rules designed to increase the development of alternative energy would allow the investors to depreciate 100 percent of the cost of the facility in just one year. In addition, Arizona Public Service has incentives to buy the output of the solar power facility at relatively high rates. The plans for the Payson campus have already made several, hair-raising, lastminute, Jack Bauer-type escapes in the endless plot twists of Payson’s economic melodrama. At one point, it looked like the Forest Service’s frustrating, often-incomprehensible delay in clearing a 300-acre piece of land for sale would doom the plan. But then backers of the campus struck a deal to buy a 67-acre parcel next door to Gila Community College, with plans to add the Forest Service parcel later. Meanwhile, project backers this year

also scored a big success in the Legislature, with the advance of a bill that will make the complicated partnership between Payson and ASU possible. That success came in the form of the advance of SB 1997 through the Senate and a key House committee. The new law would give the Arizona Board of Regents the legal ability to form a “separate legal entity” (SLE) — the key to Payson’s effort to build and operate the campus. SB 1997 holds the key to the complicated framework for financing and operating the campus. Evans and other backers of the project have been working for more than two years to come up with a way for Payson to build the campus and related facilities, like a convention hotel and a research park. Payson officials had to find a way to take advantage of up to $500 million in donations and promised loans, while protecting Payson taxpayers from liability and not drawing on ASU’s nearly exhausted capacity to use bonds to finance the campus. The plan that emerged relies on setting up the campus and related facilities as a world unto itself, operating as a Separate Legal Entity (SLE). The town council would serve as the board for a newly created district for the roughly 300-acre campus. The SLE could buy land, levy taxes, build facilities and enter

into contracts — but just within that little world. Evans said the SLE would serve the same purpose as when a private individual forms a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). For instance, if a doctor forms an LLC and faces a ruinous lawsuit — his personal assets outside the corporation are protected. By the same token, Payson taxpayers wouldn’t have any legal obligations if some disaster overtook the plans to build the campus, costing people their investment or leaving the special legal entity unable to pay off bonds. The town hoped to take advantage of existing law concerning these special legal entities. However, existing legislation didn’t include universities on the list of public agencies that could set up such an entity. SB 1997 essentially adds the Board of Regents to the existing list. It also makes some other changes. For instance, the measure gives the entity the same powers as the town within its boundaries — including an immunity from taxation by other agencies. It also makes it clear that the entity can make up its own zoning regulations within its boundaries. That would give the town council broad authority to adapt the existing zoning requirements to the specialized needs of the campus.

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Payson Regional Medical Center 2010 PRMC awarded accreditation from the Joint Commission Payson Regional Medical Center has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval™ for accreditation by demonstrating compliance with The Joint Commission’s national standards for health care quality and safety in hospitals. The accreditation award recognizes (name of organization)’s dedication to continuous compliance with The Joint Commission’s state-of-the-art standards. Payson Regional Medical Center (PRMC) underwent a rigorous unannounced on-site survey in November, 2010. A team of Joint Commission expert surveyors evaluated PRMC for compliance with standards of care specific to the needs of patients, including infection prevention and control, leadership and medication management. "In achieving Joint Commission accreditation, Payson Regional Medical Center has demonstrated its commitment to the highest level of care for its patients," says Mark Pelletier, R.N., M.S., executive director, Hospital Programs, Accreditation and Certification Services, The Joint Commission. “Accreditation is a voluntary process and I commend Payson Regional Medical Center for successfully undertaking this challenge to elevate its standard of care and instill confidence in the community it serves.” "With Joint Commission accreditation, we

are demonstrating our ongoing and significant investment in quality on a day-to-day basis from the top down. Joint Commission accreditation provides us a framework to take our organization to the next level and helps create a culture of excellence,” says Chris Wolf, CEO. “Achieving Joint Commission accreditation, for our organization, shows our commitment to excellence and continually improving the care we provide.” The Joint Commission’s hospital standards address important functions relating to the care of patients and the management of hospitals. The standards are developed in consultation with health care experts, providers, measurement experts and patients. Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits more than 18,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation's oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more about The Joint Commission at

PRMC is named one of the nation’s Top 100 Hospitals by Thomson Reuters Payson Regional Medical Center (PRMC) was named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals® by Thomson Reuters, a leading provider of information and solutions to improve the cost and quality of healthcare. The award recognizes hospitals that have achieved excellence in clinical outcomes, patient safety, patient satisfaction, financial performance, and operational efficiency. This is the second time PRMC has been recognized with this honor. “To be recognized for this award for the second time is a testament to the outstanding work and commitment of our dedicated health team and the doctors in our community,” said Chris Wolf, Chief Executive Officer of PRMC. PRMC previously was recognized as a Top 100 hospital in 2006. The hospital is one of only three Arizona hospitals recognized as meeting the criteria of this award. Having a 100 Top Hospital award-winner in the community means that: • Patients are measurably less likely to have a complications, adverse patient safety event, or die unnecessarily, or be readmitted. • Patients are more likely to receive care efficiently at a reasonable comparative cost. • The community can rely on the hospital as a well-managed major employer that will continue to invest in newer technology and services the community needs. The winners were identified through an indepth analysis, the Thomson Reuters 100 Top

Hospitals®: National Benchmarks study. The study evaluated 3,000 short-term, acute care, non-federal hospitals in nine areas: mortality, medical complications, patient safety, average length of stay, expenses, profitability, cash-todebt ratio, patient satisfaction, and adherence to clinical standards of care. The winning hospitals were announced in the March 30 edition of Modern Healthcare magazine. “The 100 Top Hospitals winners raised the bar again this year, delivering a higher level of reliable care and greater value for their communities,” said Jean Chenoweth, senior vice president for performance improvement and 100 Top Hospitals programs at Thomson Reuters. If all Medicare inpatients received the same level of care as Medicare patients treated in the winning hospitals: More than 107,500 additional patients would survive each year. Nearly 132,000 patient complications would be avoided annually. Expenses would decline by $5.9 billion a year. The average patient stay would decrease by nearly half a day. More information on this study and other 100 Top Hospitals research is available at To learn more about Payson Regional Medical Center, go to


Left to right: Hart Hinze, CNO; Lura Ryden, RN of the Family Birthing Center - Clinical Director of the Year; Josh Price, RN of the Emergency Department - Employee of the Year; Lori O’Haver of the Business Office Non-Clinical Director of the Year; Chris Wolf, CEO; and Pete Finelli, CFO.

CFO receives Outstanding Achievement Award Peter Finelli, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Payson Regional Medical Center, has been honored with an Outstanding Achievement Award from Community Health Systems, one of the nation’s leading systems of general acutecare hospitals. The organization includes Payson Regional Medical Center and over 120 other hospitals in 29 states. The Outstanding Achievement Award recognizes hospital leaders who have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to quality healthcare and operational excellence. Since joining PRMC in September 2003, Finelli has managed the finances of the organization helping the hospital to be recognized as

one of the 100 Top Hospitals in the nation by Thomson Reuters. His leadership of the financial services areas have reduced overhead, expanded services and increased employee moral. Finelli is grateful for the award and credits both strong leadership and the work of frontline employees throughout the hospital for making the accomplishment possible. “At Payson Regional, we are focused on excellence at every level of the organization. I’m fortunate to be associated with a team of professionals who understand what it takes to be successful and to grow so we can better serve our community.”

Josh Price, RN, named PRMC’s Patient Choice Award winner Josh Price, RN, Named Payson Regional Medical Center’s Patient Choice Award Winner When Payson Regional Medical Center (PRMC) asked former patients to nominate exceptional nurses who exceeded expectations, the community responded with an incredible number of nominations. The Patient Choice Award recognizes the quality care, comfort and compassion offered by the nurses at PRMC, and honors one nurse in particular. As part of National Nurse’s Week, May 6-12, Josh Price, RN, was presented with the award at a hospital ceremony. Payson Regional Medical Center asks former patients to spotlight an exceptional nurse because patients are the ones directly impacted by outstanding care. “Sometimes it’s just too hard to spot one nurse when there are so many nurses in our hospital doing such an incredible job caring for our patients,” says Hart Hintzie Chief Nursing Officer for PRMC. “That’s why we asked patients to help us make the choice. They see the little things that matter so much on a very personal level.” Price, a graduate of the nursing program at Gateway Community College, has been employed by PRMC since April, 2008. He is a member of the Emergency Nurses Association. Kim Reger, RN, director of the emergency department at PRMC is proud of Josh’s accomplishments and contributions to the team, “He is right in there volunteering and helping to find the solution. It’s all about his attitude! He

finds a way to make the unpleasant tolerable and the painful, not so bad and the busy day – just another fun day at work with his friends and family. Josh is our go to guy and we are proud to have him as a member of our ED team.” As the 2010 Nurse of the Year at Payson Regional Medical Center Josh received a recognition plaque and a cash award.

Payson Regional Medical Center’s Maternity Center recognized by the Arizona Perinatal Trust The Payson Regional Medical Center’s Maternity Center has been recognized by the Arizona Perinatal Trust. This certification is a quality improvement process that includes matching hospital capabilities and capacity to established guidelines through a selfassessment process and a site visit by a team of peer professionals. This voluntary certification process has resulted in improved perinatal outcomes. Being recognized with this professional designation demonstrates the high level of commitment and excellent patient care the Maternity Center delivers. Voluntary Certification is a quality improvement process that includes matching hospital capabilities and capacity to established guidelines through a selfassessment process and a site visit by a team of peer professionals. This voluntary certification process has resulted in improved perinatal outcomes. Effective planning and efforts to improve perinatal services is dependent on quality Perinatal Data. In collaboration with Arizona Department of Health

Services, the APT provides an annual perinatal data profile to member hospitals. This data supports individual hospitals in their efforts toward quality improvement, state and local agencies in regional planning for improving birth outcomes. The Maternity Center at PRMC offers private rooms. In addition, the Center provides complete health screenings, childbirth and support services for women of all ages. Obstetrics and Gynecological Services are staffed by qualified specialists. These services offer comprehensive pregnancy care, including ultrasound, nutrition services, and prenatal and breastfeeding education. The Arizona Perinatal Trust (APT), a 501(c) (3) nonprofit was established in September 1980. The Trust was initially funded with a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Trust is dedicated to improving the health of Arizona's mothers and babies and works to facilitate the availability of professional Perinatal Education throughout Arizona.

NEW DOCTORS AT PAYSON REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER Matilda Garcia, M.D. Pediatrician Payson Pediatrics is honored to welcome Dr. Matilda Garcia to their medical practice beginning April 1. Dr. Garcia moved to Payson from Queen Creek, Ariz. where she operated Bethesda Pediatrics. She joined Dr. Andrew Haug in the Payson Pediatrics medical office. Dr. Garcia is accepting new patients. To make an appointment please call (928) 472-4675. Payson Pediatrics is located at 126 E. Main Street. Suite B in Payson. Dr. Garcia graduated medical school in 1981 from Saint Louis University in Baguio City, Philippines. She earned her M.P.H in 1989, from San Diego State University, shortly after immigrating to the United States with her family. Dr. Garcia completed her pediatric residency at St. Joseph's Hospital (Phoenix, Ariz.) in 1993 and worked for Mercy Hospital in San Diego, as well as private practice from 1993 to 1997. In 1997, Dr. Garcia served as a faculty member for the Pediatric Residency program at St. Joe's, and later served as the program's Director until 2003. In the summer of 2003, Dr. Garcia opened her own private practice in Chandler, AZ. Dr. Garcia lives with her husband of 35 years and her loving dog, Moe. She is mother to two daughters and a grandmother.

Robert Gilbert, M.D. Gasteroenterologist Gastroenterologist Robert Gilbert M.D., has been practicing at PRMC since October 2010. Currently he is in the area on a limited basis, as he also has a practice in Florida. Gilbert is in Payson every four weeks, seeing new patients (6 to 8) three days and doing endoscopic procedures. However, he is also available through PRMC’s telemedicine program. Gilbert and his wife decided to become part-time residents of the area to be closer to their son, who is a physician in the PRMC emergency room, and his family.

Originally from Michigan, Gilbert has been practicing since 1980. Gilbert says colorectal cancer is the third most often diagnosed form of cancer and the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths. He added that early detection, through colonoscopy, results in a good survival rate. He recommends that people between 40 and 50 get a colonoscopy, and if there are no risk factors, such as family history, get another every 10 years. “Colon cancer is preventable, beatable and treatable,” Gilbert said.

received his Doctor of Medicine at the University of Calgary in 1983. After completing his residency in general surgery at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec he entered private practice in Windsor, Ontario until moving to the United States. Zakaluzny is a member of the Fellow American College of Surgeons (F.A.C.S.), as well as Fellow International College of Surgeons (F.I.C.S.), and many other professional memberships demonstrating expertise in his field.

John Navarro, Athletic Director Sam Gillette, D.O. We are pleased to announce the arrival of our new board-certified cardiologist, Sam Gillette, D.O. He and his family relocated to Payson just after he completed his cardiology fellowship this summer at Pontiac Osteopathic Regional Medical Center and St. Joseph’s Mercy Oakland Hospital in Pontiac, Michigan. Dr. Gillette is a graduate of Michigan State University undergraduate and medical school in East Lansing, Mich. He is a board-certified in American Osteopathic Internal Medicine and in Cardiology, Echocardiography and Nuclear Medicine.

Ihor Zakaluzny, M.D. F.A.C.S. General Surgeon Payson Regional Medical Center has Ihor Zakaluzny, M.D. F.A.C.S. as a new general surgeon. Dr. Zakaluzny is a board certified general surgeon with extensive experience in gastrointestinal endoscopy and diseases, general gynecology, minimally invasive laparoscopic surgeries, as well as interest in surgical nutrition and surgical infection. Dr. Zakaluzny is joining the newly formed Payson Surgery Associates, located at 126 E. Main Street, Suite A. The office phone number is 928-4721222. Originally from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Dr. Zakaluzny has been in private general surgery practice in Oakland, Maryland since 1997. He

Payson High School is one of the few small-town schools in the state that has access to a full-time certified athletic trainer and also a program to educate and train student volunteers. The trainer is 30-year-old John Navarro whose salary is paid by Payson Regional Medical Center, but he spends the majority of his working day on the PHS campus looking after the health, rehabilitation and training needs of the school’s student athletes. As part of having Navarro work at the school is a “Volunteen” program established by PRMC that currently certifies, teaches and prepares student trainers. In turn, they work under the guidance of Navarro during team practices and at games. Navarro arrived in Payson in August 2010 after teaching physical education and weight training for four years at San Tan High School in Queen Creek. Prior to that, he attended Grand Canyon State University where he got his start in athletic training. During the fall, he and the student trainers were responsible for looking after more than 200 athletes in the sports of football, soccer, volleyball and cross country. The duties included the coordination and carrying out of treatment of injured athletes and communicating of results to coaches, managing the dayto-day operations of the training room, coordinating physicals for athletes, maintaining health records and maintenance and evaluation of equipment used by the athletes. “It’s been great being here, (the job) is a real good fit for me and my family,” he said. His family includes wife Meghan and daughter Rosa.





6 April 2011

Photos by Andy Towle/Roundup

Cynthia Sambrano (top left photo), a Music Together teacher, begins with the “Hello” song and goes around the room and asks everyone their name, so all the children get to know each other. Heather Stroops (top right photo) sings along with Cynthia Sambrano, while her son Heustin seems to be thinking that he isn't sure why he is here. Elan Hughes (left) scrapes garbanzo beans into a blender after they have been drained and washed. The beans were the base of the Spicy White Bean Dip prepared during the “Grecian Holiday” cooking class at the Payson Public Library, which was guided by Library Director Terry Morris.

Library’s challenge is the budget TERESA MCQUERREY



sked to talk about the successes and challenges at the Payson Public Library during 2010, Library Director Terry Morris could come up with only one major challenge. “Our challenge (last year, and still) is getting the budget back so the Library Friends aren’t buying all the books,” she said. Among the highlights of year, Morris cited the following: • The library participated in a stimulus program with the county and has received 10 laptops for use with wireless service; and will be available soon. • Our cooking classes are a huge success; all max out in enrollment well in advance; both sessions’ participants are terrific, they have a lot of fun and have become friends. • The children’s programs are doing very well; once a month we do a family movie day at noon on Saturday (second Saturday) with free popcorn and we give away a copy of the movie. We lost Harryette Stanley, who handled the children’s programs, and that left a gaping hole, but we hope to hire someone soon. The storytime for the littlest ones is great and many stay over to participate in the craft program. The





Payson Regional Medical Center had a stellar year in 2010. It was acknowledged as one of the top 100 hospitals in the country for 2009 back in March and again awarded the ranking for 2010. The ranking is made by Thomson Reuters, a leading provider of information and solutions to improve the cost and quality of health care. This is the third award in five years from Thomson Reuters. It was first received in 2006. The award recognizes hospitals that have achieved excellence in clinical outcomes, patient safety, patient satisfaction, financial performance, and operational efficiency. “To be recognized for this award for the second consecutive year is a testament to the outstanding work and commitment of our dedicated health team and the doctors in our community,” said Chris Wolf, Chief Executive Officer of PRMC. The top hospitals were identified through an in-depth analysis made in the Thomson Reuters 100 Top Hospitals: National Benchmarks study. The study evaluated 3,000 short-term, acute-care, non-federal hospitals in nine areas: mortality, medical complications, patient safety, average length of stay, expenses, profitability, cash-to-debt ratio, patient satisfaction, and adherence to clinical

standards of care. PRMC is a 44-bed acute care hospital with 351 employees. In 2010, the hospital treated 12,701 emergency room patients, more than 2,500 inpatients, and nearly 32,000 outpatient visits. In 2010, PRMC made capital investments of more than $2.2 million with a total community benefit of approximately $29 million. PRMC was chosen as one of the best small hospitals in Arizona through a survey of consumers made in 2010. The annual survey is conducted by Ranking Arizona magazine, the largest business opinion poll in Arizona. Ranking Arizona is based purely on voters’ opinion. Participants vote based on quality of product, service and who they would recommend doing business with. PRMC’s continuing success was celebrated by a special event in November 2010. Among those successes: a 94 percent score on the Joint Commission Survey; recognition as one of the Top 100 hospitals by Thomson Reuters for the second time in four years; chosen by consumers for the Top 10 small hospitals in Ranking Arizona magazine; an outstanding state survey and review for all PRMC physician clinics; Perinatal Trust Certification for the PRMC Family Birthing Center; and

Core Measures scores continue to climb toward 100 percent. Joint Commission Survey

Rebecca Nissala, director of quality management at PRMC, explained the Joint Commission is the entity that accredits hospitals and represents the gold standard for quality in health care. The 94 percent score was the highest awarded any hospital in the Community Health Systems company, which has 132 facilities. Nissala said the people conducting the survey visit thousands of hospitals and they were all very impressed. Many of them told her, “I would have no problem being in this hospital.” PRMC was also recognized as having achieved excellence in clinical outcomes. Nissala said all of PRMC’s physician clinics are licensed by the state, but it is not a requirement. However, since PRMC wanted to assure its patients receive the highest quality of care at all levels, it sought a state survey and review for its clinics. “We had zero deficiencies,” Nissala said. She attributed the outstanding results to the efforts of Linda Parsons, PRMC quality specialist. “She is very knowledgeable about state regulations,” Nissala said. Arizona Perinatal Trust Certification

This certification of the PRMC

Family Birthing Center is a quality improvement process that includes matching hospital capabilities and capacity to established guidelines through a self-assessment process and a site visit by a team of peer professionals. This voluntary certification process has resulted in improved perinatal outcomes. Being recognized with this professional designation demonstrates the high level of commitment and excellent patient care the Family Birthing Center delivers. The center offers private rooms. In addition, it provides complete health screenings, childbirth and support services for women of all ages. Qualified specialists staff obstetrics and gynecological services. These services offer comprehensive pregnancy care, including ultrasound, nutrition services, and prenatal and breastfeeding education. Lura Ryden is the center’s director and Nissala said she does an outstanding job. “Our scores are higher than even large hospitals in the Valley,” Nissala said. Wolf gave all the credit for the hospital’s ever-widening array of awards to the staff. “The absolute hard work and dedication of our employees’ efforts ensure the best patient care,” Wolf said. See PRMC, page 7



See Library, page 7

PRMC makes top 100 list again



Payson Senior Circle now boasts 2,000+ members BY



The Payson Chapter of Senior Circle was started in 1999. It is a medical outreach program sponsored by Payson Regional Medical Center. The program is designed to enrich the lives of people 50 or better by providing health education and activities to its members. The programs purpose is to also connect local medical professionals with the community in an effort to build confidence in Payson’s health services. For the last several years, Senior Circle has maintained a membership base of approximately 1,600 members. Despite challenges due to economic conditions, the Senior Circle membership grew by 25 percent in the last year. As of January 2011, the Senior Circle had just in excess of 2,000 members. Efforts to bring interesting health education lectures to the Circle paid off. The administration of PRMC stepped up to the plate and many department directors of the hospital brought topics of interests to members through the Lunch and Learn program. In 2010 the Lunch and Learn programs included business office director Lori O’Haver, who spoke on Medicare benefits; Linda Parson, quality specialist, speaking about patient rights; Becky Nissala, director of quality control, discussing fall prevention; Guy Lanahan, director of PRMC’s Diagnostic Imaging Center, updated members on its high-quality equipment; and Chief Nursing Officer Hart Hintze spoke on men’s issues. This April, Kerry Cassens, director of infection control, will be speaking on food-borne illnesses, and then in May discussing disaster planning. Doctors included in the Senior Circle’s lecture series were Dr. Darnell, Dr. Zonakis, Dr. Gilbert, Dr. York, Dr. Crosby, Dr. Gillette and the new general surgeon, Dr. Ihor Zakaluzny. Dr. Zonakis will be back in April to speak on allergies and Dr. Zak will lecture in June on varicose veins. The doctors are a big draw to the Senior Circle Health Education Program and typically 65-70 members turn out to learn the latest on various health issues. The newly added day and des-

tination trips have also been a big attraction for members. Last year, more than 50 people enjoyed a trip to Branson, Mo. Trips have also included a day trip to the LaPosada resort in Winslow, Sedona Festival of Lights, and a theater production at the Broadway Palms. In March, members headed to Sabino Canyon and in April they will take a ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad. Trips that are also a go include Bearizona in Williams in June and a trip to Durango, Colo. in July. Classes are bursting at the seams at the Circle — so much so that the members recently raised more than $1,400 for a big screen television to accommodate the large class sizes. Feeling Fit, Zumba and tai chi classes are primarily interactive video programs and the larger television allows for better viewing and participation. The Senior Circle not only brings health education lectures and activities to the Payson 50plus population, it also provides opportunities to develop friendships and venues for getting together with others. New social classes that were added this past year include pinochle, hand and foot and more computer courses. The Bunco group is popular at the Senior Circle, with anywhere from 12 to 16 ladies showing up each week to laugh and have a great time. Additional free services at the Senior Circle include monthly hearing tests and blood screening tests, which are conducted twice a year. The most recent blood screening served 92 Senior Circle members. The success of the Senior Circle is solely due to the hard work, determination and teamwork of the volunteers and the adviser. The Senior Circle volunteers man the office, answer the phones, manage the medical loan closet, perform all the membership data entry, lead classes, create forms, decorate, paint — the list goes on. A special thank you goes out to all these hard-working individuals who make this program so successful. The program is open to any Rim Country resident 50 or older and is only $15 per year. For more information, call the Senior Circle at (928) 472-9290.

Library looks to overcome challenges From page 6 bilingual storytime doesn’t have that many participants yet, but it is still doing fine. The craft program is growing and the kids just love the video game tournaments. • The Roads Scholars program from the Arizona Humanities Council, sponsored by the Library Friends of Payson, has gone well over the two years it has been presented. It offers a cultural touch for the community on topics not often found. • The Summer Reading Program had more than 300 participants in 2010. • Taste of Rim Country was over the top in 2010, everyone had a great time, including the chefs. It is one of the more accessible events in town and half the ticket price is tax deductible. Looking ahead, Morris said the library is again hosting a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution. “It’s called ‘Key Ingredients’ and it is on the history of cooking and local foods,” she said. The exhibit will go up in June and continue through Aug. 1.

Andy Towle/Roundup

Sam Boggs happily received a breakfast plate of pancakes, bacon and scrambled eggs from Rondee Dalgliesh, as Senior Center Director Joanne Conlin waited on the next patron, Saturday, Sept. 11. Other items on the menu at the Payson Senior Center for $4 included, orange juice, sausage and coffee, or milk.

PRMC continues to provide best care to patients From page 6 “It’s very humbling (to be so honored). And we take it seriously,” he said. A fact that makes the awards for outstanding service and care even more impressive is that all of it was possible in spite of the rough economic times of 2010. PRMC had survived the state budget storms as of mid June 2010, according to a story by Pete Aleshire in the June 15, 2010 Roundup. The region depends critically on the services offered by the medical complex, which already writes off some $2 million dollars annually in unpaid medical bills run up by people without insurance. It would be much, much worse if not for Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), the state’s innovative version of the federally funded Medicaid program. Advances in technology

Adding to the stellar year for PRMC was all the new technology and expanded facilities that helped enhance patient care. While the new imaging technology actually came online in late 2009, the first full year of operation was 2010. PRMC brought digital mammography services and an Open Bore MRI into its imaging program in 2009. Digital mammography

Digital is the latest in “high-tech, soft touch” mammography. The outpatient facility combines full-field digital mammography with a new breast cushion that dramatically eases the discomfort many women feel when they get a mammogram. MammoPad creates a softer, warmer mammogram and has been clinically demonstrated to reduce discomfort for most women. Selenia digital mammography incorporates revolutionary imaging technology that provides incredibly sharp images. MammoPad and Selenia digital mammography together provide a more positive experience for women. Payson Regional Medical Center is a certified Pink Ribbon Facility, a distinction awarded only to an elite group of health care facilities. By offering women a softer mammogram, PRMC hopes to increase the number of area women who follow recommendations for regular screenings. Selenia digital mammography offers a number of other practical advantages and patient conveniences. Because there is no waiting for film to be developed it can significantly reduce the time patients spend in the breast center, as well as reduce the need for repeat exams due to under or over exposure.

Digital images are easily stored and transferred electronically, eliminating the dependency on one set of original films, which can be misfiled or lost in transit. Open Bore MRI

The PRMC Open Bore MRI addresses comfort like no other. The Espree offers a foot of spacious headroom, so patients will no longer feel like they’re nose-to-nose with the top of the magnet. Even better, for most of the exams a patient’s head won’t have to even be in the system due to its very short design. They won’t experience that in any other MRI. Most of all, it’s the most powerful open MRI on the market today, so patients can rest easy inside and also rest easy with a confident diagnosis. Larger patients are often referred to conventional open MRIs due to capacity. However, traditional open MRIs are much less powerful and produce lower quality images. But now diagnostic accuracy will not have to be sacrificed for comfort. The Espree’s extra-large open bore will accommodate patients of all sizes and is perfect for those who get anxious during an MRI. What does an MRI scan show?

Using an MRI scanner, it is possible to make pictures of almost all the tissue in the body. The tissue that has the least hydrogen atoms (such as bones) turns out dark, while the tissue that has many hydrogen atoms (such as fatty tissue) looks much brighter. By changing the timing of the radio wave pulses it is possible to gain information about the different types of tissues that are present. An MRI scan is also able to provide clear pictures of parts of the body that are surrounded by bone tissue, so the technique is useful when examining the brain and spinal cord. Because the MRI scan gives very detailed pictures, it is the best technique when it comes to finding tumors (benign or malignant abnormal growths) in the brain. If a tumor is present, the scan can also be used to find out if it has spread into nearby brain tissue. The MRI scan is also able to show both the heart and the large blood vessels in the surrounding tissue. This makes it possible to detect heart defects that have been building up since birth, as well as changes in the thickness of the muscles around the heart following a heart attack. This sophisticated system allows direct cross sectional imaging in three planes of any area in the body including: • neuro • spine • orthopedic • chest, abdomen and pelvis

• MR angiography PRMC takes health care to “streets”

The health care PRMC provides Rim Country residents and visitors is not confined to its buildings over on South Ponderosa Street. It offers it through a variety of outreach programs. Primary among these are the Home Health Care service and Senior Circle program, but it is also a major player in the annual Women’s Health and Wellness Forum in the spring and Health Fair in the fall, plus the upcoming discount sports physicals it will be offering in early May. Payson Regional Home Health turned 20 in 2010

Payson Regional Home Health agency celebrated its 20th anniversary of providing excellent service and quality care in 2010. And to meet the growing need for home health services in the community, the office relocated to 708 E. Highway 260. “Payson Regional Home Health is excited about this new chapter in our agency’s history and we are taking this opportunity to renew our commitment to our patients, their families and the Payson health care community,” said Bonnie Sweeny, agency administrator in a March 2010 article. Home Health provides comprehensive inhome health and supportive services to home care patients to maximize the health and independence of all who qualify for and desire home-based health care services. Payson Regional Home Health recently attained CHAP (Community Health Accreditation Program, Inc.) Accredited Agency Deemed Status. The “gold” standard for Home Health accreditation, CHAP signifies that an organization has achieved excellence in operations and the services it provides to people in need. “Quality in home health care is our No. 1 goal, so we measured our 2009 quality comparison scores against the 12 national indicators of quality as researched by an independent company, SHP,” Sweeny said. “SHP, Strategic Healthcare Programs, is a health care intelligence solutions provider who could access the most recent quality data for us. (Medicare compiles this same data, but it is not as current). In 11 out of the 12 categories, Payson Regional Home Health exceeded national norms by up to 15 percent. “I am honored in my role as the director of such a fine group of care providers,” Sweeny added. “Working side-by-side with Payson’s most qualified professionals, I know firsthand the incredible dedication and quality of care that our team provides. I look forward to continuing in that wonderful tradition for many more years in our new home.”




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Paving roads, vaccinations, flood work among county accomplishments BY



“Where to begin?” was my first thought when asked to report on Gila County’s 2010 progress highlights — my second thought was, “I won’t be able to cover them all!” So saying, I will apologize right up front for everything and everyone I miss. I will begin with a quick overview of some of our achievements because they were so important to me and the folks they affected and then discuss a few others more in depth. This initial collection includes: the paving of the Control Road past Tonto Village; the paving of three more miles of the Young Road; the preparation for the reconstruction of the Pine Creek Canyon Road in Pine; the preparation for a right-turn lane off Highway 260 onto Colcord Road; the new jury deliberation room in Payson for Judge Dorothy Little; the 2,167 households countywide that were assisted through the Community Action Program; the 9,500 vaccinations to pediatric and adult residents; the recorder’s office microfilming of its historical documents dating back to 1881; the 2,000-plus residents on the east side of Tonto Creek provided for by emergency services during last year’s flooding; the new communications site on Aztec Peak near Young; and last, but not least — the forest fires we didn’t have because of the county’s fire-water system for helicopters. Now if that weren’t enough, let me visit about the work being done by our County Library District in conjunction with Gila County’s eight public libraries — Payson, Pine, Young, Tonto Basin, Miami, Globe, San Carlos and Hayden. An estimated 35 percent of enrolling kindergartners in Gila County do not have what are considered the “prereading skills” necessary to become successful readers — and, therefore, successful students. For instance, pre-kindergartners with the ability to understand and use effectively 3,000 words are considered to have a good base for pre-reading. One-third of our pre-kindergartners, countywide, have a very limited vocabulary, some as few as 500 words or less — many not knowing the words for colors, letters, body parts, sounds and so on when they enter kindergarten at age 5. With grant monies from the Gila

Regional Council’s First Things First Initiative, and in partnership with the eight libraries, our county library has targeted this unserved and/or underserved population, along with attempting to reach all pre-kindergarten children in general. They would like to profoundly boost the vocabulary of all prekindergartners. All children in Gila County, from birth to their fifth birthday, are eligible to participate in this program whereby each month they receive, free of charge, an age-appropriate book delivered to their home. By the end of 2010, the first year of the program, there were 863 children receiving books monthly in an effort to bring into being a generation of reading-ready kindergartners for Gila County. If you have or know of children under 5 years old who would like to participate, please contact your local library or one of the county’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) offices. Secondly, online resources were enhanced last year at all eight libraries. The County Library District received a grant from the state library to add 28 new machines to the libraries’ free Public Internet Access Program. The county’s libraries also completed becoming Wi-Fi hot spots. Some of the online resources newly available include the expanded Learning Express, which is a site offering test preparation, sample test taking and skill building for all courses available from grade school through graduate school; Mango Language, a language learning site for a variety of languages; a virtual reference collection of subjects like auto repair and home improvement (and hundreds more); and full-text magazine, newsletter and journal articles. Finally, the County Library District partnered in 2010 with the superintendent of school’s office to provide a very large collection of teaching resource materials to teachers, parents and home-schoolers through the public libraries’ checkout system. Materials include book collections; posters; math manipulatives; how-to instructions on building natural science collections like rocks, insects, etc.; and subject studies in natural resources, mining, and so forth. This material can be accessed by a Subject Search for Teacher Resources through any of the libraries’ card catalogs.

Andy Towle/Roundup

Shane Shepard, of Intermountain West, and other members of the crew, scrape and smooth the hot asphalt as the asphalt screed finisher lays down a new layer of pavement and works its way diligently toward Pine on Highway 87. Another area making progress in 2010 was the Public Works Department, which, besides its otherwise very busy schedule, oversaw the design, bidding, construction and remodeling of a number of facilities. For a little background, our management and financial management team was recommending that we take advantage of the times and solve several growing problems with some new facilities. Our road crew in Globe was housed on the Russell Gulch Landfill site and would have to move under the new permitted expansion of that landfill. It was time to consolidate our Public Works Department in the southern end of the county as we had done in the north about 10 years ago. Our women’s jailing facilities were verging on federal intervention for acute overcrowding issues. Lease space in both Payson and Globe for a large portion of our county employees was a growing financial burden. In October of 2009, we sold $8 million worth of 20-year bonds to address these and other issues. As testament to the

very sound supervision and financial management that Gila County had experienced the preceding 15-plus years, and even though we are a political subdivision of an almost bankrupt state, we received an A+ bond rating and sold the bonds for 4.1 percent interest. As a side note, this rate was better than either the state of California bonds or the New York City bonds that were sold the same day! Some of the money went to pay off older bonds that had higher interest rates and the savings from this old debt service and the leases that were retired by the new facilities more than paid for the debt service on the new bonds. New facilities include the purchase of the First American Title building in Payson that we had been leasing, a 40bed women’s’ jail facility in Globe, and a public works complex in Globe. We went to bid on these facilities when construction activity was at its lowest and so we had lots of bidders and very competitive construction bids. For instance, the public works complex was estimated to be a $4.2 million project and the winning bid was $2.8 mil-

lion. This savings allowed us to also build an enhanced 911 dispatch center and remodel existing facilities to retire even more lease space. Another area of interest that received a lot of my attention and in which I feel we made a lot of progress was the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI). Highlights of this effort last year included the county hosting and helping host much of the top leadership of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and his direct leadership team. This effort in 2010 has led to the signing of an memorandum of understanding between the U.S. Forest Service and the 4FRI collaborative, a NEPA process for the project that is on an unheard of 18month deadline and a Request for Proposal (RFP) due out in April of this year. By no means have I mentioned all the progress made or the projects completed in 2010, but this is enough for now. If you’d like more information, come on by — we’ll have a cup of coffee and visit.

Proudly serving the Rim Country since 1969 We appreciate your business and we thank you for entrusting us with your insurance and financial needs.



431 S. Beeline Highway • (928) 474-2265 •


Overman Designs

We’re just that AWESOME

Chad, Melissa & Kaylee Overman of Overman Designs, would like to express our gratitude to all of the wonderful people of Payson who have embraced our showroom making it a fabulous success! We are ecstatic to be nominated as one of the top jewelers in the Rim Country! Payson has shared many marriage proposals, wedding anniversaries, births of babies and countless “just becauses” with us. We look forward to the many more special occasions Payson will share with us! We truly enjoy being part of this wonderful community and being able to provide not only the finest quality jewelry in the industry, but also providing our custom designs at the very best pricing. Over the years, our clients have become friends. Our favorite part of our job is making dreams come true and helping share in all the special celebrations of our friends! Again, thank you Payson!

Come in today, check out our awesome inventory! Also coming soon, look forward to our vault sale! We are clearing out room for a whole new inventory.

Payson has asked us for more so they will get more. We always strive to meet our clients desires.

 We have economical/wholesale pricing.  We have an office in downtown Los Angeles, where all of our pieces are manufactured right here in the U.S.A.  Our team of 7th generation master craftsmen not only handcraft our custom designs, they also hand restore all jewelry that comes in for repair.  Our entire showroom is full of custom designs created by either Chad Alexander or Melissa Lynn.  Chad Alexander is a certified graduate from the accredited school of the Gemological Institute of America.  Melissa Lynn has completed another line of the finest quality sterling silver with natural gemstones.

207 E. Hwy 260 • Payson, AZ • 468-1008




10 Progress 2011

Keeping dollars in the classroom BY



aving the annual opportunity to contribute to this progress edition of the Roundup is a unique and valued opportunity, one where we get to share some of the good things that have taken place in our schools this year. That’s particularly important when K-12 education in Arizona, and most other states, is facing the most difficult budget challenge in living memory. Casey O’Brien It may be easy to assume that in Payson we are stagnating or even slipping backwards. The truth is that we have seen students and teachers excel on numerous fronts this year and the district is positioning itself well to not only endure this difficult time, but sustain momentum. Many of you may have read the recent Roundup article on the national study that showed how Payson Unified is a leading district when it comes to return on investment. Just this week, the Arizona Auditor General’s office released their annual report on Arizona School District Spending for last fiscal year (2010). Payson compares quite favorably to our peers, but like most every other district we are still challenged to increase the percentage of dollars going to the classroom. One of the primary reasons is not because we have increased administration. For last year we were well below our peer districts in administrative costs. The truth is that classroom dollars have decreased because sales tax revenues that support specific classroom site funding have dropped significantly. In other words, even though we make real efforts to keep classroom dollars flowing, if the well of dollars is drying up, we simply have a harder time filling the “classroom bucket.” Having said this, let’s look in a bit more detail about the new audit data and along with that, what we have done this year to ensure a greater percentage of dollars remain at the classroom level. For this AG’s report, our peer group was identified as unified districts within a certain range of student enrollment, rural, and for one of the comparisons, in a poverty rate range of 17-22 percent. Although we have a higher student to teacher ratio than our peers, we were ranked number five out of 22 districts with respect to student achievement. There is some room for improvement, but clearly a very good ranking. Comparing the percent of dollars in the classroom, we were number nine out of 25 and continued to do better than the state average. In consideration of the belt tightening that has taken place this year, I believe we see will some very positive moves up the rankings for the FY2011 report that will come out next year at this time. Although sales tax revenues are still slumping, we have gone to considerable lengths to preserve teacher positions in the classroom. As you know, we had to make painful cuts to our budget and consequently staffing. The first level of cuts was at the district office level. We cut expenditures at the district office by over $200,000, which was a 20-percent cut. Site level administration was cut by over $230,000, also a nearly 20-percent cut. Overall support staff and administrative positions represented about 16 percent of the budget, but accounted for 34 percent of the total budget reductions. This allowed us to keep the cuts at the classroom level to just eight percent. We are now stretched tight as a drum administratively, but that was the right thing to do. My prediction, based on how we approached cutting the budget in 2010, is that the 2011 report will reflect more dollars kept in the classroom, significantly less on administration, and PUSD as a leading district with regard to the AG’s rankings of district efficiency. As we see Arizona climb to the top three states in class size and the bottom three in per-pupil funding, this coming school year presents very sobering challenges. As painful as the decision has been, closing Frontier Elementary will allow us to significantly reduce physical plant costs and non-classroom expenditures. Some increase in class sizes will be inevitable next school year, but we will look to minimize that impact to the classroom, particularly in the primary grades, so that we will not falter in our placement as a high achieving/cost efficient school district.


Andy Towle/Roundup

Looking starry-eyed but focused, this piccolo player watches for direction while on the field executing a mass movement with other band members during halftime at a Payson High School football game.

Budget woes overshadow student accomplishments Money troubles dominated a rough year for Payson Unified School District BY



Andy Towle/Roundup

Burning an opponent in effigy is always a good way to solidify school spirit. benefits and the incessant hail of bad news from the state Legislature. The formative event proved the decision to close Frontier Elementary School in a desperate effort to cope with a projected $930,000 deficit. The board not only voted to close Frontier, but also approved the shift in the alignment of the two surviving elementary schools. One will take all the K-2 students in the district, the second will cater to all of the 3rd- through 5th-grade students. That means two-thirds of the elementary school students in the district will attend a different school in the fall and a student who remains in the district for her whole career will change schools four times before she’s done.

year. “My kids are already on the bus for an hour a day,” she said, predicting that she’ll spend much of her day shuttling from one school to another. Laura Nantry appealed to the board to consider other cuts to avoid laying off teachers and increasing class sizes. She provided a sheet that detailed $100,000 in cuts in the central office, enough to save two teachers. She also appealed to the board to consider an across-the-board, 5-percent pay cut, which would generate enough savings to avoid any teacher layoffs.


Over at the Payson Unified School District — it was a wonderful, awful year. Alas: It’s bound to get worse. Thank God for the kids — and the community. That sums up the district’s schizophrenic year as budget woes alternated with student accomplishments — like a child on the honor roll with alcoholic parents. In this case, the state Legislature played the role of the alcoholic parent — with a seemingly unending string of budget cuts and threatened beatings. So on one hand, the year saw the downcast school board voting to close Frontier Elementary School to whittle $300,000 from a projected $930,000 deficit. And on the other hand, the high school reported a heartening rise in the once-worrisome graduation rate. On one hand, the school board already grappling with a recommendation to lay off 22 employees and increase class sizes, learned that a draconian state Senate budget could well double the number of teacher layoffs. Members of the House and Gov. Brewer oppose those Senate-proposed cuts. On the other hand, the district earned plaudits as a result of a national study showing that the district has great test scores in relation to its mix of students and its per-student spending. But that’s the kind of year it turned out to be for the 2,400-student district and the roughly 300 staff members. Every triumph seemed shadowed with some additional piece of bad news. So students triumphed in statewide competitions, workers finished the eagerly awaited agricultural building, every meeting featured the announcement of thousands of dollars in community donations, the Credit for Kids tax check-off brought in almost a quarter-million dollars and new programs proved successful at getting extra help for faltering students. But for each flush of good news came the offsetting downer, including news of declining enrollment, a rising number of homeless students, an increase in low-income students, cuts in teacher

In the Payson school district, test scores are well above the state average in elementary school, drop sharply when students enter middle school and remain at or below the state average through 12th grade. The school board accepted the recommendation of a study committee that concluded shifting to a K-8 system at three campuses would result in too many mixed-grade classes and would make it difficult to offer electives, sports programs and things like music and drama if the 6th-8th graders were spread out onto three campuses. The administration also supported the closure of Frontier and the shift to a K-2 and 2-5 model. “I feel this is by far the most strategic and viable option,” Superintendent Casey O’Brien told the school board this year at the melancholy meeting at which they ultimately voted to close Frontier. Some parents expressed concern about the decision. “They came here with their minds made up,” said Melinda Rolan after the half-hour hearing. She said each of her four children will wind up in a different school next

See Payson, page 12



Payson students have much to ‘toot their horn’ about BY



Payson schools celebrate many good things happening throughout the district this year. Despite the difficult economy and budget shortfalls, teachers, students, support staff, administrators and governing board continue to savor significant milestones that make all Payson schools great places for students to get a solid public education. We know we can toot our own horns. We have the bands to prove it. Payson High School’s Longhorn Band has consistently brought home “superior” ratings from competitive statewide festivals. Their fund-raising efforts resulted in handsome new uniforms that will match their look to their sound. Rim Country Middle School’s band, directed by music teacher Mike Buskirk, garnered its own “superior” rating at its Large Group Festival. Thanks largely to the talented Greg Larkins, elementary students enjoy band this year. Their thriving after-school band promises a long, strong tradition for Payson schools. We can also sing the praises of our donors. First, Credit for Kids donors, $215,000 strong. They recognize that rich extracurricular activities programs make a difference to students and to the Payson community. Cash donations will exceed $100,000 this year. Our large donors like Mogollon Sporting Association, Payson Glass, FAN Club and Tonto Community Concert Association always step up when we need help. We received a significant number of memorial donations from our friends Glenn Hale and Alice Bowers. Service clubs like Kiwanis and Rotary help our students in many ways. Individual donors surprise us with their unfailing generosity. You name it, from cash to coats, once we put out the word that students need some kind of assistance, donors meet those needs. Payson schools gained recognition at the state and national level this year by securing large, competitive grants. Competitive grants require us to step into the arena with much larger and, often, much poorer districts. We won a $40,000 Carl Perkins Green Technologies Grant, one of only five awarded statewide. Payson High School Construction Technologies teacher Richard Alvarez, his academic partner Andrew Fiala, and their students will

Andy Towle/Roundup

Payson High School’s Longhorn Band has consistently brought home “superior” ratings from competitive statewide festivals. learn and apply complex math, physics and construction concepts to solar-powered devices. Homelessness continues to strain our resources and pull at our heartstrings. We won our second McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Sub-grant in the amount of $80,000. Identification, enrollment and education of homeless students proceed smoothly thanks to this generous grant, awarded to only 19 Arizona school districts, and our dedicated Homeless Services Team. The granddaddy of all grants this year is the Carol M. White PEP (Physical Education Program) grant, a federallyfunded, five-year grant in the amount of $1.1 million. Plans for this grant include Adventure Education, inline skating, nutrition education, heart-rate monitors, dance and yoga. Elementary physical education teacher Donna Moore, her PE colleagues and our students will earn a huge “return on investment” from this

grant. Everyone likes to brag about their kids. We do, too. Take the 23 millionaires, students that have read 1 million words and more, at Julia Randall Elementary School. For these members of the Millionaires Club, it’s not so much about reading a whole lot of words and books as it is about loving to read a whole lot. Take the scholar athletes at Payson High School that have landed places on all-star teams and in top state rankings. Sophomore Chioya Hill was named to the 3A East All Region all-star girls basketball team. Coach Kelly Krieg says, “She led us in both scoring and rebounding…and can only improve.” Tanner Hintze was voted onto the 3A East All Region boys basketball team. Westin Gibson and Payson Herring will compete in the 2011 5A-2A All-star game next summer, capping off superb PHS football careers.

Vo l l e y b a l l coach Arnold Stonebrink notes that his players went all the way to the quarterfinals in the state 3A tourn a m e n t . Individual performances by players like T r i n i t y England (who won a scholarship to play at ChandlerG i l b e r t Community College) contributed to a great season. Spring sports are in full “swing,” including baseball, softball, golf and track and field. See for yourself the discipline, competitiveness and quality of our sports programs by attending a

game or two. Take the legal eagles at Rim Country Middle School. Students in teacher Ted Tatum’s eighth-grade Social Studies class, along with School Resource Officer David Vaughn, wanted to do a mock trial. No store-bought, pre-packaged case for these students. They chose to get their teeth into our justice system by writing their own case based on the 9/11 terrorist acts. Local attorneys donate their time to assist, while students play all parts from defense and prosecution attorneys, to witnesses and jury members. Take the Dragon Hearts at Payson Center for Success. All PCS students (Dragons) are required to give time to the Payson community. PCS Dragon Heart students volunteer all over Payson: Head Start, St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Kaitie’s Closet, Teen Court and Habitat for Humanity ReStore, among others. As school secretary

Kerry Wright says, “Once a student starts, they just don’t seem to quit.” Take the square-foot gardeners at Payson Elementary School. Students and teachers, under the leadership of fourthgrade teacher Jodi Lorenz and an Eagle Scout candidate, tended the flowers and vegetables until they were ready for the harvest. They made salads for everyone at PES to enjoy and learned valuable lessons about sustainability and green gardening. Take the book fairs at Frontier Elementary School. Most Payson schools hold Book Fairs to increase their library collections and get books into the hands of students and families, but no school does a better Book Fair than FES. Students, teachers and families assure the Book Fair’s success by partnering it with their traditional Navajo Taco Dinner, an Art Extravaganza and student musical entertainment. The result? An extremely successful fund-raiser and FES’s signature event. We simply have to strut our stuff on the stage of the Payson High School Auditorium. From there, we see a “new” performance hall, complete from top to bottom with fresh paint, new seating and new carpeting. The auditorium belongs to everyone at Payson schools and to the community at large. It is Payson’s largest indoor venue and host to plays, concerts and meetings. Now our auditorium is welcoming, fresh and comfortable for all our guests. Let’s hear a cock-a-doodle-doo for the new Stevens Agriculture Education Building at Payson High School. Teacher Jadee Garner’s students use equipment from welders to bench grinders, veterinary instruments to laptops. Their new building, named in honor of former Ag teacher Wendell Stevens, asserts its presence on the PHS campus and will serve students for years to come. We have done a fair amount of boasting about our schools, because you should know that despite the financial realities, our teachers, administrators, support staff and governing board never lose sight of our goal: to educate children — day in and day out, student by student. We will continue to improve our students’ education. We will continue to serve students in safe, clean facilities. We will continue to solicit support and partnership in our efforts. We will continue to boast to anyone that Payson is one of the best communities anywhere to raise children.


• Scott Davidson, RCMS Science/Math Teacher, Gila County Rural Schools Teacher of the Year • Beverly Adams, PHS Science Teacher, Golden Bell Award Runner-up • $12 million solar energy project, largest school project of its kind in AZ • $1.1 million Carol M. White PEP (Physical Education Program) Grant • $40,000 Green Technologies Grant for PHS Building Trades Program • Kinder +, tuition-based all-day kindergarten

• AED’s (Automated Electronic Defibrillators) installed at major district sites • AIMS tutoring for high school students • Tonto Community Concert Association hosts 5 outreach concerts with 500-600 students per concert • Kaitie’s Closet provides FREE clothing to K-8 students at PUSD schools • Bands march, choirs sing, actors act, artists paint in strong Fine Arts programs • Stevens Agriculture Education Building opens on PHS campus

OUR MISSION Educate and prepare students in a safe and supportive environment that promotes academic excellence for success in a changing world



Payson school district tries to overcome budget woes From page 10 “Please review all possible options that would save teachers’ jobs” and avoid big projected increases in class sizes, she said. The school board must still act on layoffs. The configuration committee recommended laying off 11 teachers, which would force a substantial increase in class sizes — mostly at the elementary school level. Elementary school classes right now mostly have 20 to 25 students. Under the new configuration with 11 teacher layoffs, that range will rise to 25 to 30 — and sometimes even more. Class sizes in the middle school and the high school would rise less dramatically. District administrators have struggled with the budget for months, trying to minimize the layoffs. Three teachers have already announced plans to retire next year, reducing the number of actual layoffs. Administrators had privately said they hoped to lay off only 5-7 teachers, when the projected cost of employee health benefits began to fall from the worstcase-scenario projections. However, that was before the Arizona state Senate proposed a budget that made big cuts in funding for K-12 schools above those proposed by Gov. Jan Brewer. In the past two years, the Legislature has cut K-12 spending accounting for a portion of the district’s projected $930,000 deficit. The loss of 100 students and the loss of short-term federal stimulus funding also worsened the shortfall. But if the House accepts the state Senate budget and the Governor signs it — the district would have to cope with an additional $520,000 shortfall. That would cover the salaries and benefits of roughly 10 teachers. O’Brien said Arizona already has the third largest average class size in the country and the third worst per-student spending. O’Brien said the committee’s recommendation of a shift to separate K-2 and 3-5 schools was based on the assumption the district would have to lay off 11 teachers. Based on that roughly 7-percent decline in the teaching staff, putting all the students at each grade level on a single campus would make it much easier to even out class sizes and avoid mixed-grade classrooms. The district’s enrollment this year dropped by 100 students, or about 4 percent. Board members embraced the K-2 and 3-5 configuration based on the assumption of significant teacher layoffs. Several said they supported the K2 configuration to reduce class sizes and reduce busing, although the class sizes would actually remain similar in either configuration and busing would likely increase with the K-2 approach.

20 years. The teachers argued that the current policy enables the district to compete with other districts to recruit teachers and also saves the district money by encouraging teachers to not use their sick days. The district has to hire a substitute teacher anytime a teacher misses work, whereas the district incurs no extra cost when an administrator or classified employee misses work. Moreover, students often lose instructional time when a substitute fills in. “We demonstrated that teachers have already made more than their fair share of sacrifices,” said teacher representative Wayne Gorry. He said the state plans to limit pay for extra training, which will result in a $2,000 to $6,000 pay cut for some of the district’s teachers. Gorry said the changes would offend and discourage teachers, but wouldn’t save much money — if any. A sharp change in the sick leave policy would only further damage the already “terrible” morale of the teaching staff, he said. “For the sake of students, at some point you need to find a way to show some support for teachers and hopefully allow them to thrive in their work environment and not just survive.” The decision will have virtually no impact on the district’s current financial crisis, since current employees will get payouts for all the days they’ve earned up to this point. However, Underwood said, “I feel we need to somehow keep trimming our budget and you have to look at everything. We’ve got to reduce our budget with a little here and a little there.”

It didn’t include students who transferred to another school district before graduating. It also didn’t include students who repeated a year before graduating, got a GED or graduated after completing missing, make-up classes the following summer. Typically, those students are included in calculations of a five-year graduation rate, which often boosts overall rates by 1-4 percent. The recent rise in graduation rates in Payson represents a welcome turnaround, since earlier in the decade the district’s graduation rate fell sharply from a high of 89 percent in 2002, according to a study posted on the state department of education’s Web site. A national study in 2009 found that in the past decade the nation’s high school graduation rate rose from 66 percent to 71 percent. The study documented a big gap between urban and suburban schools. The graduation rate in districts in the nation’s 50 largest cities stood at 53 percent, compared to 71 percent in suburban schools. Gap in graduation rates

The state figures also show telling differences in rates between various groups. For instance, the state figures showed that girls posted a 78-percent graduation rate — compared to 68 percent for boys. Most schools report a gap between males and females, but Payson’s came in at nearly twice the average. Payson also reported a dismaying 48percent graduation rate among the small number of Hispanic students, as reported in the 2009 state data. That

districts in the nation. Payson schools rank in the top third nationally on student scores but in the bottom third in the adjusted cost per student, according to the comprehensive survey by the Center for American Progress, released last month. The Payson Unified School District actually ranked seventh statewide when it came to beating the “expected” student test scores based on things like total budget and the number of lowincome students in the school. “It would be analogous to a high poverty, homeless student getting a full scholarship to Stanford. That’s an exaggeration, but the basic drift in beating the demographic odds. We significantly outperform our demographic profile,” said O’Brien. The researchers concluded that inflation-adjusted spending on education nationally has tripled in the past 40 years, but student test scores have stagnated or declined. The U.S. now spends more per student on education than most other industrialized countries, but American students increasingly lag behind their counterparts internationally. “Despite massive increases in expenditures,” the researchers concluded, “overall student outcomes have remained largely stagnant, and achievement gaps remain wide in many areas.” The researchers analyzed the budgets and test scores of schools that enroll more than 80 percent of the nation’s students to provide a rough measure of which districts got the highest achievement for the lowest expenditure.

the sharp drop in state support in the past two years. The district got a big infusion of federal money last year and this year, which will mostly evaporate in fiscal 2011-12. The district spent 58 percent of its money on “instructional expenditures” — mostly teacher salaries. That’s a little less than the national average, which stands at about 60 percent. The other highly efficient districts in the country spent more like 61 percent of their budgets on the classroom, according to the study. Payson schools spent 10 percent of its budget on administration, 21 percent on operations and food service and 11 percent on student and staff support. The researchers tried to adjust the spending figures so they could compare districts nationwide. The study took into account Payson’s above-average cost of living. That means that the $7,463 per student spent in Payson actually represented $8,849 per student compared to districts nationwide. Then the researchers adjusted the figures again based on the number of special needs and lowincome students, which generally cost 40 percent more to educate comparably. After making that adjustment, Payson’s per-student spending came out at $6,491 on a national scale. Per-student rate

In Arizona, that adjusted per-student rate ranged from $10,020 to $5,385. Payson ranked 29th out of 85 districts. The study found dramatic differences in per-student spending among the states, but concluded that higher spending doesn’t necessarily produce

Staffing decision

The board will likely soon have to repeat last year’s trauma by approving layoffs of teachers and staff. Last year, administrators bore the brunt of the layoffs, with a 20-percent reduction in the central office, said O’Brien. This year, the consolidation committee recommended focusing the layoffs on teachers. The 10 or 12 layoffs among the classified staff mostly stem from closing Frontier. Under the committee’s proposal, teachers will take the hit for most of the remaining cuts. Unfortunately, a furor about teacher sick pay battered morale between the vote to close Frontier and the not-yetimposed layoffs. Recently, the school board capped weeks of discussions by imposing an 80day cap on payouts for unused sick days for teachers who leave the district after eight years — with a maximum payout of about $6,400 only after 20 years of service. “I feel we’re all on different pages,” said Board Chairman Barbara Underwood to the roughly 50 teachers who attended the recent board meeting. The teachers had accepted the loss of the unlimited payouts, but had proposed a 120-day cap — which amounted to a roughly $3,200 difference of agreement with the board. Many teachers walked out of the meeting frustrated and disgruntled after the board rejected their proposed compromise and settled on the 80-day cap, a number they decided on during a closed-door executive session. Teachers who have already accumulated more than 80 days will still get paid for those days when they retire or get laid off. Above that cap, teachers will get paid half the $80-a-day substitute teacher rate at the end of each year for any unused sick days. Currently, 26 of the district’s 300 employees have accumulated more than 100 hours of sick leave. Superintendent Casey O’Brien explained that the motion will make teachers eligible for partial payments after eight years instead of 10. Teachers will still get paid at half the substitute teacher rate if they leave after 8-20 years of service and at the full rate after

Andy Towle/Roundup photos

Aldo Chinilles (left) and Wayne Snell lift a solar panel into place at Payson High School. Payson schools received state and national recognition this year by securing large, competitive grants, including a $40,000 Carl Perkins Green Technologies Grant. Major accomplishments

Unfortunately, the drumbeat of bleak budget news has often overshadowed some major accomplishments this year. For instance, Payson High School’s four-year graduation rate has risen sharply since 2006 — from 71 percent to about 82 percent, according to a report to the school board. The sharp rise reflected a 15-percent improvement in one of the district’s most worrisome benchmarks — boosting the district’s performance from below the state average to a little bit above. Reducing the dropout rate “has been a district focus,” said Payson High School Principal Kathe Ketchem. She said programs to flag students who have been struggling and provide extra help for students who falter have whittled away at the dropout rate. Several additional programs instituted recently could reduce the rate further in years to come, she suggested. “We review a student’s progress towards graduation on a semester basis. When we see students that are behind, we adjust their schedule. This is critical data, it helps classroom teachers see what areas they should focus on.” Despite the improvement, the daunting number of students who don’t complete high school remains a major concern. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that high school graduates made 32 percent more money on average than high school dropouts — which works out to an extra $8,000 a year for the rest of their lives. The unemployment rate for people without a high school diploma currently stands at nearly 17 percent, compared to a rate of less than 5 percent for people with a college degree. The district based the rate on the number of 9th-graders who graduated from the district within four years.

dropout rate looked bad even when compared to the 69-percent graduation rate among “economically disadvantaged” students and the 70-percent graduation rate among students with disabilities. Payson fell somewhere in the middle of the pack statewide in the 2009 state data. For instance, the district’s overall 73-percent graduation rate compared to 84 percent in the Globe Unified School District, 65 percent in the reservationbased San Carlos school district, 74 percent in Safford, 81 percent in Flagstaff, 81 percent in Page, 78 percent in Mesa, 89 percent in Scottsdale, 86 percent in Show Low, 85 percent in Blue Ridge, 83 percent in Tucson, 83 percent in Superior, 77 percent in Prescott, and 94 percent in Sedona. Despite the gains, Payson’s graduation rate remains well below the 2002 high of 89 percent, according to a study of state graduation rates by the Arizona Department of Education posted on its Web site. The report noted that Gila County had among the worst graduation rates in the state — behind only Pinal and Yavapai Counties. The report put the county’s four-year graduation rate at 66 percent and its five-year rate at 68 percent. The county’s dismal performance in that report reflected rates in the southern half of the county, including Globe’s 70 percent, Miami’s 71 percent and San Carlos’ dismal 39 percent. By 2009, Globe and San Carlos had risen significantly, but Payson fell before making its big gain this year. ‘Bang for the Buck’

The district also had a chance to break from all the hard choices and bad news when a national survey concluded taxpayers get more “bang for their buck” from the Payson Unified School District than a great majority of school

The researchers took the raw budget numbers and student test scores, then corrected for things like the percentage of low-income students, the percentage of special education students and the cost of living in the district. Payson ranks in top tier

Payson ranked in the top tier nationally due to its combination of high scores and low costs. The district rankings, based on 2008 scores and budgets, provided a fascinating snapshot of districts nationwide. Payson’s high ratings came in spite of a somewhat higher than average share of low-income students. Some 54 percent of Payson’s students qualified as low-income, compared to 47 percent statewide. Nonetheless, Payson students scored well above the state average. The district’s elementary school students did especially well — scoring 16 percent to 19 percent higher than the state average in math and reading. The Payson advantage dwindled to 5 percent above the state average in middle school and deteriorated to 2 percent below the state average in 12th-grade. Unfortunately, the district’s high-performing elementary schools will bear the brunt of the proposed budget cuts — with big increases in class sizes. The district had slightly more lowincome students than the state average and roughly the same share of special education students. However, only 18 percent of the district’s students were from minority groups compared to 52 percent of the students statewide. The district spent $7,463 per student. Of that, 37 percent came from the state, 55 percent from local property taxes and 8 percent from the federal government. The study focused on statistics from 2008, so did not take into account

Charlie Houken (left) and Ethan Durnez check the width and depth of the trench where more lines will be placed for the solar panel project. higher test scores. Some states had dramatic differences between rich districts and poor districts. In Arizona, the adjusted spending gap stands at $4,635 per student. That’s higher than a lot of states, but much less than California’s $6,175, Nevada’s $6,731, Colorado’s $4,723 or New Mexico’s $6,109. Arizona also had one of the most dramatic ranges between the most efficient districts and the least efficient. If the least efficient districts in Arizona got as much achievement per dollar spent as Payson schools, their scores would shoot up 36 percent — second only to New Mexico’s 38 percent nationwide, according to the study’s findings. The researchers concluded that the money spent does matter — but it doesn’t guarantee results. If the “inefficient” schools nationwide did as well as highly efficient schools like Payson, it would save $175 billion annually, the study concluded. Roughly 3 percent of the nation’s students attend highly inefficient schools, with high per-student spending and low test scores. The researchers tried to tease out of the mass of data the qualities that distinguish highly efficient schools. For instance, they devote about 3 percent less of their budgets to the classroom. In that regard, at least, Payson schools actually resembled inefficient schools rather than the other highly efficient schools. The most efficient schools, like Payson, also focus intensively on student achievement, had strong community support and showed a willingness to make tough budget and program choices, the researchers concluded.



Attention to needs makes PEC successful BY



In 2005, Gila County School Superintendent Linda O’Dell established the Gila County Regional School District, which includes the Payson Education Center. Part of our mission is to address each student’s individual needs, both academically and socially. This close attention to individual needs is what makes our school so successful, and it is what sets us apart from the traditional school model. We constantly evaluate our students’ progress and keep them accountable for their behavior and their advancement towards graduation. Of course, this can be particularly challenging since students work at different rates and at various levels. But, our staff rises to the challenge by assuming many roles and responsibilities in order to offer a meaningful educational experience. This year has been one of expansion. At the beginning of the school year, we expanded our campus from three rooms to seven rooms, including a science work room, a library room, and a weight room. Besides the physical space, we have also expanded our class offerings. We continue to offer the A+ and AGS learning systems, but have created a wide variety of small group classes and electives.

This year we have added beginning drafting, speech and debate, fantasy literature, and sign language, to name a few. Students have remarked that the different classes break up the day and keep the academic day fun and informative. Like many students statewide, our students often struggle with math. So, this year we have added a highly qualified math teacher to our staff and extended our math tutoring options. The Linda O’Dell changes and expanded class offerings have been very successful as evidenced in our school’s increased enrollment, graduation rate, and improvements in our AIMS reading and writing results. At the beginning of the year, we set a goal of making our school more visible in the community. To accomplish this, our students have participated in town-sponsored events, such as Trunk-or-Treat, and have worked on various community projects such as refurbishing a non-profit food cart and helping with the Tonto Creek restoration project. Additionally, we continue to invite community members to speak to our students about various topics. We had a representative from the Gila County Recorder’s Office speak about voting

and the democratic process, and as a result we had several students register to vote and participate in an election for the first time. As a school, we are continuing to bring more speakers in from the community and develop more project-based learning opportunities for our students, especially if those projects include a way for students to give back to our community. This year is our second year in the continuous improvement cycle for accreditation through AdvancED, a process intended to ensure that our students are getting a quality education every day. We are also looking forward to offering more project-based classes, including specially-designed classes created around works of literature. These classes will offer a variety of activities that cover academic standards across the curriculum in the areas of language arts, science, social studies and technology. It’s important that teachers and students are excited about the classes we offer. As a result, our school continues to solicit and receive student input about our classes. This semester, we are offering a multidisciplinary class covering the art, literature, and history of the European Middle Ages in response to student requests. We are extremely pleased with how our school has evolved over the years and look forward to serving our students as they prepare for their futures.

Andy Towle/Roundup

Mikayla Armstrong (left) and Abby Hazelo take center stage during a recent concert that featured students from Rim Country Middle School and the Payson Jazz Band.

Time flies when you are having fun at the middle school BY



It might be a cliché, but time does fly when you’re having fun. I can’t believe fourth quarter, the last nine weeks of school is upon us. As principal of RCMS, I want to send out a big “thank you” to all parents and staff who continue to support our MASH (Mandatory After School Help) program. Since the implementation of MASH, we have seen our failure rate drop by over 50 percent compared to last year before MASH was implemented. In April, our students will take the AIMS (Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards) test. Our wonderful teachers will continue to work on planning differentiated lesson plans to best meet the needs of all students so they can excel on this test. We provide universal screening assessments to catch any students in need of math or reading intervention as a part of our RTI (Response to Intervention) program. We will be busy during the fourth quarter. Finally, our Gifted and Talented students, with the help of Rim Country Middle School, have organized and raised over $45,000 to take students and their chaperones on an educational adventure to

our nation’s capitol. The students and their families raised all the funding for this amazing field trip. The idea for this trip began when a small group of gifted eighth-grade students approached two teachers, Ms. Kristi Kisler and Mrs. Marlene Armstrong, about the possibility of traveling to Washington, D.C. With the help of the Payson Area Association for Gifted and Talented (PAAGT), the process of researching the cost, coordinating the fundraisers, designing a rigorous and fun itinerary, and putting all the paperwork in order was completed. What a wonderful experience for our students. I can’t wait to hear what they learned from their experience visiting our nation’s capitol. Remember, third-quarter grades will be sent home with your child. Please discuss and go over these grades with your child. We hope that these grades will give you a good indication of your child’s progress and learning. Please feel free to call the school if you have any questions in regards to your child’s grade and we will be more than happy to have your child’s teacher call you back or set up an appointment. Go Mavericks!

Andy Towle/Roundup

Maryann Rowe comments on the book John Rowe is checking out, as he plays guitar and thought this might be useful. Barbara Gustuvsen (photo below) sorts through books that weren’t displayed because of lack of room. One of the Rim Country Literacy Program’s goals for 2011 is to raise $12,000 to cover the costs of moving to a larger facility.

Rim Country Literacy Program changes lives BY



The motto of the Rim Country Literacy Program is “Changing lives through literacy.” The year of 2010 was one for the books when it comes to meeting that goal. According the RCLP’s annual report, in 2010 there was a 50percent increase in the number of students served from 2009. Of the 114 students participating, 56 percent were in the English language program and 44 percent were in the adult basic education program. The largest age group served was from 25 to 44 — 68 percent of the students fell into that age range. The RCLP has served Rim Country residents since 1994. It offers adult basic education, including GED

preparation. The adult basic education program also helps students with reading, mathematics, employment applications, resume writing and any specific work-related skill that may be needed. English language classes, reading classes and citizenship preparation are also offered. All of the services are provided to participants at no charge. There is only one paid position with the program — that of a parttime director. Volunteers provide the educational services; there are eight volunteer tutors and 20 other volunteers. Together they donated 3,202 hours to RCLP in 2010. Fran Yates, president of the RCLP’s board of directors, said the program needs more space, so the board wants to raise $12,000 to underwrite a move to a larger facility and cover a year in

increased costs. With a move, RCLP could Did you expand its programs know? to provide more citiThe following zenship classes along noted individuals with computer and finished high financial literacy school through classes. the GED Other goals for program: 2011 include: • Bill Cosby • An increase in • Peter Jennings community aware• John Travolta ness of RCLP and of • Hilary Swank its literacy programs • Michael J. Fox • A new, professional Web site • Christian Slater • An active and dedicated board • Increased funding and improved long-term savings • Training for tutors and office volunteers • Developing a corps of special event volunteers • An increase in the number of tutors and office volunteers • Upgrading instructional materials Funds for RCLP come from direct public support, government support, Friends of Literacy, fund-raising and grants. Its major contributors are the Gila County Department of Education (the county school superintendent’s office), Gila County District One Supervisor Tommie Martin, the Town of Payson, United Way, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Kiwanis, Soroptimists and Walmart. To learn more about RCLP, call (928) 4687257 or go online to

Andy Towle/Roundup

Making the school grounds look better is an ongoing project at RCMS as Pedro Chavez throws more dirt in the wheel barrow. Below, these boys work hard at getting the ground level.



Enrollment, classes continued to expand at GCC Payson campus BY



The Payson Campus of Gila Community College enjoyed a successful year of providing courses to the Rim Country community. In May, 12 individuals earned associate degrees in Nursing, Business and General Studies. More than 180 students earned certificates in the following areas: basic emergency medical technician, basic wildland firefighting, bookkeeping, certified personal trainer, culinary fundamentals, fire department operations, hazardous material first responder, laboratory assistant, medical assistant, nursing assistant and phlebotomy. The college continues to provide quality workforce training and transfer programs for the community. The Associate of Applied Science Degree in Nursing remains the most popular degree, with many students currently working on the prerequisite courses to gain admission into the program. This year, we admitted 24 students into the nursing program, the largest class to date. The college partners with Payson Regional Medical Center, Rim Country Health and Retirement Community and various medical facilities in the greater metropolitan Phoenix area to provide clinical experiences for the nursing students. Enrollment in all areas of the college is growing steadily, with a 10-percent increase over the same time last year. In addition, the college continues its strong partnership with Payson High School and Northern Arizona Vocational Institute of Technology (NAVIT), providing Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses for high school students both on the college campus and at the high school. Central programs at the college include health-related occupations, fire science, nursing assistant and website

development. On the high school campus, students earn college credit in automotive training, construction, culinary arts, elementary education and information technology. The college also provides college credit for math classes at Payson High School. This year, the college expanded its partnerships to include Payson Education Center, where high school students earned college credit for taking American Sign Language. The college remains committed to providing courses for personal enrichment for Rim Country residents. Art and physical education courses prove to be the most popular. A sampling of available art courses include ceramics, crafts, jewelry, Photoshop, digital photography and painting. Popular physical education courses include aerobics, bowling, chi gong, mixed martial arts, physioball, strength training, yoga and use of the college wellness center. These courses are popular with senior citizens, who, if age 60 and older, receive a senior scholarship and have their tuition paid by the college. Looking forward, the college plans to expand the courses offered at Payson High School to include certificate programs in Animal Systems Specialist, Renewable Sustainable Energy and Theater Arts Technician. The college is excited to have entered into agreements with Arizona State University (ASU) to provide Transfer Admissions Guarantee (TAG) programs for 11 different majors at ASU. Benefits for students include: guaranteed admission to ASU degree programs when a TAG is completed, a cost effective pathway ensuring that all courses transfer and apply to an ASU degree, eligibility for a tuition incentive for Arizona residents and access to advisement and other pre-enrollment services. Moreover, students may be eligible for financial awards. These new TAG agreements will aid students planning

Andy Towle/Roundup

All smiles right before the start of graduation ceremonies at Gila Community College Payson Campus, (left to right) Brian Ruder, Jeannie Graham, Jessica Hudon and Thomas W. Ammerman, pose for several cameras at the same time in front of the Payson High School Auditorium, May 12, 2010. Below, walkway entrance to Gila Community College.

to work towards their baccalaureate degrees. A similar agreement with ASU allows nursing students to continue

their education through an on-line baccalaureate degree program. The Gila Community College staff

and faculty strive to provide an excellent educational experience for students of all ages and goals.

RCLP “Changing Lives RCLP through Literacy” since 1994


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For more information about the Rim Country Literacy Program, Call the Literacy Office at 468-7257 Monday through Thursday between 9am and 2pm Rim Country Literacy Program is a 501(c)(3) non-profit volunteer organization

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Progress 2011 15

Rim Country economy: long ride on a bumpy road BY



Although the recession was officially over, Payson’s retail economy in 2010 sputtered along, rebounding ever so slightly over 2009. With the construction industry still in shambles throughout the Rim Country after taking a whipping over the last few years, sales tax figures showed only a marginal increase. On the other hand, it was not a decrease, meaning the area is possibly coming out of a slump after bottoming out. By the numbers as of Dec. 31, Payson’s sales tax revenues raised $18,000 over the same period in 2009. However, by contrast, December figures reflected a nearly $400,000 drop over 2008, when the economy was still active. Revenue from building permits remains just as non-existent as last year, with no sign yet that the construction industry has recovered in Rim Country. Building permit revenue dropped about $782 for the first six months to about $61,000. By contrast, building permit revenue dropped $48,000 for the same period between 2009 and 2008. Before 2008, the housing industry was the mainstay of the economy. With real estate and construction sectors still struggling in 2010, it could be some time before we see a complete economic turnaround. Alternatively, the tourism and retail industries have largely held their ground. The taxes collected for hotel and motel rentals totaled $27,000 in November, about the same as in 2008 — and up about 27 percent from last year’s low point. Taxes on restaurant and bar spending stood at $43,000 in November, down from $49,000 in 2008 and $47,000 in 2009. For the retail trade, November tax collections stood at $259,000 — about the same as last year and down by a modest 19 percent from 2008.

Andy Towle/Roundup

Messinger Payson Funeral Home was one of a handful of businesses that relocated to larger locations. Construction remains underway for the new mortuary on South Westerly Drive. The state-of-the-art facility will include two chapels, a community room for after-service gatherings and an autopsy room. Hoping to bridge the gap between business owners and spur new economic growth, the town hosted a meeting in early November to discuss big changes in the town’s economic development strategy. Town officials hope this new townwide group will brainstorm new ways businesses can help businesses. So far, a steering committee has met several times, but no action has taken place. Only time will tell how the new organization functions and if it has any impact on the economy. While one new business group took off, another struggled to find its footing in 2010. In August, the Northern Gila County Economic Development Corporation’s (NGCEDC) director resigned. The organization’s former president, Jerry Miles, took over as the new director. Miles admitted he lacked experience running an economic cor-

poration, but said a qualified board backs him. The group is still brainstorming ways to attract new businesses to town as well as how to help existing business owners expand. So what is working? • The Payson Regional Medical Center was named one of the top 100 hospitals in the country — the only facility in Arizona to take that honor. • The Payson Farmer’s Market has given small businesses an opportunity to sell their products. The event has stuck a cord with residents and has taken off. This year, organizers say the market will have new vendors as well as familiar favorites. • Organizers of the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino leadership program are celebrating the program’s success with several graduates going on to serve on tribal council, work in the casino’s bakery and accomplish personal and professional goals.

Andy Towle/Roundup

In April 2010, Gila Community College won best non-profit at the Rim Country Business Awards with Pam Butterfield of GCC (center) accepting the award from Chamber Manager John Stanton and presenter Julie Ruttle.

Looking back at a year of openings, milestones and a few closings BY



In an economy where people were searching for value and bargain basement prices, thrift and second hand stores did well in 2010, with several even expanding to larger locations. People also found value in simpler pleasures, like the iconic Ice Cream truck and Farmer’s Market. Here is a brief list of some of the business that opened, celebrated anniversaries, new locations and a few that closed their doors. New businesses

• Splatz Ice Cream Novelties ice cream truck rolled down Payson streets throughout the summer with owner Colleen Johnson behind the wheel. • Ray’s Auto Exchange, a used car lot, opened at 910 S. McLane Road. • Cindy Gregory and Kristine McCormack opened Mattress Experts, LLC at 221 E. Highway 260, in the Safeway Shopping Center in August. • Terri Steely, “the cake lady,” opened My Sister’s Bakery, at 1101 S. Beeline Highway. • In July, Jose Mojica fulfilled a lifetime dream with the opening of Azul Tequila Mexican Restaurant. • On June 8, Barbara Hartwell opened Tax and Bookkeeping Services, LLC in the Twin Pines Shopping Center, 512 S. Beeline, Suite 8. • Wicks Auto & Diesel opened at 113 W. Cedar Lane. • Nancy and Chuck Hallock opened Uptown Espresso Nov. 3 at 612 N. Beeline Highway. • On Nov. 1, Southern Lady Designs opened adjacent to Artists of the Rim art gallery, at 408 W. Main St., Suite 4. • In Pine, the Early Bird Restaurant opened off Highway 87. • Polish Plus nail saloon opened Aug. 2 at 107 W. Wade Lane. • East West Exchange bookstore opened at 100 N. Tonto St. • The Small Cafe, at 512 S. Beeline Highway, reopened under new owners. Milestones

Alexis Bechman/Roundup

JoAnn Johnston was excited to welcome customers to Green Mountain Emporium’s new space off Highway 260.

Frontier, celebrated 20 years. • Got Memories of Payson, a home movie to DVD transfer shop, moved to the Western Village, 1104 S. Beeline. • In August, Joyce Kolb and Eddie Harrison moved the Sears hometown store at 400 E. Highway 260 to 113 E. Highway 260, formerly occupied by Aaron’s. • Quality Plus’s owners Gary and Rosemary Reed celebrated their 11th anniversary. • Payson Regional Home Health agency celebrated its 20th anniversary at 708 E. Highway 260.

Alexis Bechman/Roundup

Abraham Ryan marvels at his ice cream selection as Splatz Ice Cream Novelties owner Colleen Johnson looks on.

• After two years on Main Street, JoAnn Johnston moved Green Mountain Emporium, a consignment shop, next to the 260 Cafe, at 801 E. Highway 260 in October. • The owners of Messinger Payson Funeral Home broke ground on a new, 14,000-square-foot mortuary in August at 900 S. Westerly Drive. The new space will accommodate funerals as well as meetings and community events. • Rim Country Cleaners, formerly Class Cleaners, opened under new ownership at 112 E. Highway 260. • Crabdree Insurance and Financial Services moved from its location of 17 years to 431 S. Beeline Highway. • The Twin Pines Barber Shop, 512 S. Beeline Highway, Suite 3, celebrated 29 years in business. • The Quilters Outpost re-opened as


Andy Towle/Roundup

• After 25 years in business, the Sugar Shack, in the Swiss Village Shops, closed its doors in June. • It’s New 2 You second hand shop, at 503 W. Main Street, closed after only a few months in business.

Getting a taste test of a tiger melon at the Farmers Market, Tyler Meng, visiting from Chicago, IL, and Heike Cailliau, take a slice from Freddy Munoz at the Da-nede Farms vegetable stand July 17.

Coming soon

Quilting Sisters under new owners Cheryl and Richard Dolby. • Paper and Metal Scrappers owners moved their longstanding shop in the Swiss Village to the Sawmill

Anytime Fitness, a 24-hour gym, will open at the end of April or early May. The 4,000-square-foot facility will feature the latest fitness equipment, individual cable TV access on exercise machines and virtual classes.

Crossing, 200 W. Main St., Suite C. • Back to Basics health food market celebrated 18 years in business at 908 N. Beeline. • Cookie Cutters salon, 200 W.



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Gila sheriff’s office takes part in Lexipol project BY



This past year saw the beginning of a collaborative effort by the 11 Arizona Counties covered by the Arizona Counties Insurance Pool (ACIP) to increase the quality of policies that govern the operation of the members’ Sheriff’s Offices. Most rural agencies lack the resources necessary to keep up with the ever-changing legal landscape that affects the day to day workings of a law enforcement entity. Lexipol, a nationally recognized leader in public safety policy, was contracted to develop an initial policy manual and to provide an ongoing legal review with subsequent updates to ensure that the product remains current and is continually reviewed by legal experts. The Gila County Sheriff’s Office partic- John Armer ipated in the project beginning in February, which was the start of the effort to produce the initial manual. Law enforcement managers and executives from the member agencies as well as employees of ACIP worked with Lexipol officials to tweak the manual to conform to Arizona Law and best practices learned in rural law enforcement. 2011 will see the manual customized to each individual jurisdiction with work toward acceptance and implementation. Sheriff’s Office communications

In addition to the continual upkeep of the Sheriff’s Office’s vast communications system, several key projects were completed during 2010 that affect law enforcement communications countywide. Sheriff’s Office communications personnel worked with Qwest throughout 2010 to implement the steps toward providing “Next Generation� 911 service to the citizens of Gila County. In addition to the services already a part of the state’s 911 system, Next Generation will eventually provide enhanced information to emergency dispatchers in Globe and

Payson. Receiving detailed information about the location of the call (including mapping and elevation) from both land and cellular calls will be a unique feature of the new system. Text and internet enabled callers will also have the capability of texting and e-mailing 911 information to the communications centers. Streaming video from smart phone users directly from the scene of an incident is another feature that is contemplated when the new system is implemented. In December of 2009, the Sheriff’s Office received a grant from the Arizona Department of Homeland Security (AzDHS) to construct a communications site on Aztec Peak, south of Young. The project was an effort to improve radio coverage in the areas of Young and the eastern portion of the county, areas typically difficult for communications due to topography and the fact that it is on the fringe of existing systems. The installation was complicated in that there is no commercial electrical power at the site and it is located on the edge of a designated Wilderness area. The challenges to installation were overcome by a collaborative effort between the Sheriff’s Office and Forest Service officials, including District Ranger Dave Frew and Communications Technician Dave Riddle. The result of the installation will not only be a new radio for the Sheriff’s Office, but an improvement in the existing Forest Service system already at the site. The contract was awarded to Canyon State Communications (an Arizona company with offices in Globe) in September and testing was begun on the system in December. Law enforcement and dispatch contracts were maintained with Star Valley as well as dispatch contracts with Pine/Strawberry, Tonto Basin, Pleasant Valley and Gisela fire departments. In November, the Tonto Apache Tribe contacted the Sheriff’s Office exploring a dispatching contract and negotiations began, with final approval and acceptance scheduled for 2011. As part of Gila County’s overall plan to move certain county offices in Globe, the Sheriff’s Office was afforded a new communications center near the courthouse. The old center, amounting to not much more than a closet in the old office build-



Andy Towle/Roundup

The “Next Generation� 911 service will allow smart phone users to stream video directly from the scene of an accident, giving Sheriff’s deputies and other law enforcement personnel detailed information about the call. ing, was moved to the new location in December. The new office provides for much needed expansion of the communications system and contains upgraded accommodations for dispatch employees who must occupy the center 24 hours a day 7 days a week. In addition to the center, communications shelters and radio towers were installed in Globe and Payson to provide for relocation of current equipment as well as plan for future upgrades. The new shelters were also provided from a grant from AzDHS. Building construction

Sheriff John Armer is also proud to announce the recent completion of a new 40-bed addition to the Globe Central Jail which had been under construction since Jan. 4, 2010. The building was designed by Tamara Clarke of the DLR Group, a comprehensive architectural/engineering design and planning firm out of Phoenix. The new 40-bed expansion was a necessary addition to Gila County’s two existing and aging detention centers to help alleviate serious female overcrowding issues which gave rise to great concern of adequate housing since early 2004. At that time, statistics showed that 1 out of 4 arrests were females (25 percent) but current stats for 2010 have revealed that number has increased to approximately 29 percent. Also as a note of interest, the new facility has increased


the Sheriff’s Office detention staff by 5 to its present level of 72 which includes medical staff. Administrative services

Administrative services enhanced their work processes on all levels thanks to cross training. All Administrative service employees participated in this endeavor to increase employees’ knowledge and skills to better serve the public. Now each employee can not only successfully complete their own respective work, but those of their fellow co-workers. Cross training has enabled this area to offer seamless service to the community we serve. Narcotics: Gila County Meth Coalition

Under the umbrella of the Gila County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Armer supports the Gila County Meth Coalition. The Coalition is a community based organization bringing citizens at large and local agencies together to provide education on drug abuse, prevention and treatment. The organization works closely with all area law enforcement agencies to provide current information about drug abuse. Gila County Narcotics Task Force

The Task Force continued working the remote areas in Gila County for illicit marijuana cultivation sites during 2010. The unit worked a total of 12 grows during the year and arrested 10 suspects in

conjunction with the investigations. The commander of the unit considers 8 of the 12 grows to have been large in comparison to seizures from other years. A total of 18,639 plants were seized which would have yielded an estimated 27,958.5 pound of processed marijuana. The value of the drugs would they have made it to the street would have been an estimated $23,764,725.00. Other statistics produced by the Task Force unrelated to illegal cultivation include: 139 narcotics arrests, 163 other arrests, 2,256.45 pounds of marijuana seized, 117.84 grams of methamphetamine seized, 5.9 grams of cocaine seized, 5 gallons of PCP seized, 15.2 grams of heroin seized, 28 illegal prescriptions seized, 11 vehicles seized, $234,201.00 seized in cash, 14 firearms seized, 2 stolen cars and 2 stolen guns recovered and 26 drug presentations were conducted with 1,320 attendees. Sheriff’s Office employment

The Sheriff’s Office received an approximate 5-percent increase in staffing levels from 2009 to 2010 (for a total of 180 authorized), mainly due to detention personnel necessary for the new women’s facility in Globe. The new detention hires are being trained for the eventual occupation of the new building described above. Throughout both years the Sheriff’s Office maintained an approximate 89-percent fill rate of authorized positions, based on end of the calendar year data.


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Rim Country Health is privileged to serve the population of the Rim Country of Central and Northern Arizona. This Second Annual Report highlights the support and resources that we bring to our communities. 2010 was a rough year in the Arizona and U.S. economy but we are proud to say that we did not have to lay off a single employee. In fact, we have added to our staff. Our employees are the lifeblood of the services that we provide and we value each and every one of them. Their love and compassion for the residents and families we serve is absolutely our greatest asset. Today, as Gila County’s only full-service campus, Rim Country provides a wide array of services: behavior management for adults, specialty care unit (advanced dementia and Alzheimer’s), full in-patient and out-patient therapy, short-term rehabilitation, free monthly Community Wellness Program and Open Gym, case management, skilled nursing services, outpatient dialysis, independent-living apartments, educational seminars and meeting rooms for Payson-area not-for-profits and church groups. Mission Statement This statement says in part “provide a full complement of care services, offering quality, compassion, integrity and expertise.” We trust that you will find this summary and report of our contributions to Northern Arizona and Payson informative and helpful. We want to thank you for utilizing our services even more in 2010 than in 2009.

Thanks for your support! 2010 Community Involvement • Rim Country Quilt Roundup • Beeline Cruise-In Auto Show • Payson Supply Line 9-11 Fundraiser • Payson Ministerial Alliance “Spirit of Christmas” • Town of Payson Softball Team Sponsor • Board Member Chamber of Commerce • Mogollon Health Alliance B&W Ball Table Sponsor • Dialysis Center Sponsor • Business Buzz, Chamber of Commerce • Business Showcase, Chamber of Commerce • Mogollon Sporting Alliance Benefit • Pine-Strawberry Health Fair vendor • Payson Rodeo Sponsor May & August • Town of Payson Summer Concerts in the Park • Women’s Wellness Forum 2010 Community Benefits Report Summary • Number of Employees 12/31/10 150 • Annual Payroll in Payson $4,674,229.28 • Number of people served 299 • Number of rehabilitation patients 263 • Amount spent on local vendors $577,282.03 • Charity care given $19,441.67 • Local groups holding meetings on campus 27 • Residents discharged to homes in 2009 67

Rim Country Health & Retirement C ommunity 807 W. Longhorn Road • (928) 474-1120




20 Progress 2011

photos by Andy Towle/Roundup

Pine, Strawberry overcoming water supply challenges BY




One of the toughest challenges residents of Pine and Strawberry had to overcome was water shortages that date back decades when the two towns turned from rural farming and ranching communities into vacation and retirement hot spots. In 2005, an Arizona Corporation Commissioner characterized the two towns’ water woes as the worst the commission had ever had to deal with. At the same time, the commission authorized a 33.1 percent increase in summer water rates which infuriated water users. Most residents steadfastly blamed Brooke Utilities and its president, Bob Hardcastle, for the woes, saying they’d allowed the system they owned to fall into disrepair and were mismanaging both the Pine and Strawberry water companies. On Sept. 30, 2009, the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District’s long and taxing quest — that included a successful recall election of board members — to take control of two water companies from Brooke Utilities peaked with the board paying a purchase price of $3.5 million. See PSWID, page 21


elying on self sufficiency, close cooperation and community moral and physical strength, those who founded Pine and Strawberry were able to survive the challenges of pioneer life. They were a hearty bunch, and today the residents of the two tiny mountain towns tucked in lush forest land under the Mogollon Rim retain some of that same courage and persistence shown by pioneers. For example, today’s residents have been able to survive threats that might have throttled the growth and existence of most of Arizona’s small towns. The dangers have included devastating bark beetle attacks, a decade-long drought that led to water shortages and catastrophic fire dangers. Today, residents are breathing a little easier that all those perils have been met face to face and steps have been taken to insure the safety and future of both Pine and Strawberry.

The Arts and Crafts Festival is just one of the popular events that bring crowds of locals and summer visitors to the cool mountain towns of Pine and Strawberry. Showing off her newly painted face, Anisa Abedian (above) certainly appears to be the kitten she wanted, as Linda Abedian smiles at the excellent artwork. Blue Owl (at left) demonstrates the sound produced by an Agave Didjeridoo, which he made.

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PSWID purchases two deep wells, with plans for another well From page 20 Then board president Bill Haney, who spearheaded the effort to assume control of the two water companies, signaled the sale was complete by e-mailing fellow board members saying, “At 11:40 (a.m.) this morning, the fat lady sang.” Today, the two water companies are being run by PSWID, which is now focusing on securing new water sources that can meet Pine and Strawberry’s needs for years to come. Most recently, the board has purchased two deep wells, Milk Ranch and Strawberry Hollow, which could prove to be the answer to residents’ water woes. Plans are in the works to drill yet another deep well which would supply even more water. Fire protection Another challenge that had to be met was protecting the town from catastrophic forest fires like the Dude and Rodeo-Chediski blazes that scorched and scarred much of northern Arizona’s national forest land. The efforts to provide protection peaked in 2004 when the U. S. Forest Service encircled the two towns with a fuel break designed to insure that should a wildfire break out, it could be controlled before enveloping the two tiny towns. Since that first break was built, the forest service, state fire officials and the Pine-Strawberry Fire Department have continued with thinning projects designed to help protect the two towns and the health of Arizona’s largest ponderosa pine forest. Today, Pine and Strawberry residents see almost daily firefighters trudging off into the woods to conduct controlled burns and wrap up thinning projects. The firebreak buffer zones have park-like qualities — big trees, generously spaced, with open ground free of brush and bramble. While blazes have threatened the areas around Pine and Strawberry, such as the 2005 Webber and Willow Fires, officials have been able to keep them at bay in part due to the thinning and firebreak projects. Beetles invade The invasion of the bark beetles, beginning in 2002, was described by

Andy Towle/Roundup

Dawn Potter (holding basket) helps William York decide which sucker he can have, as his mom, Bonnie York watches. Dylan England (far right) watched and waited for his turn. The event was the Pine Arts and Crafts Festival and the booth was the Payson High School Band raising money for uniforms. longtime residents as one of the worst catastrophes ever seen in the Rim Country. State and federal officials call the infestation the largest ever recorded in Arizona. The tiny beetles, which are about the size of a match head and are dark brown in color, killed thousands of

drought stressed trees rendering the forest underneath the Mogollon Rim more a sea of brown than green. In 2004, above average precipitation and a wet winter helped end the dreaded bark beetle epidemic that seems now to be only a horrible memory. If there was any good to come out of

the beetle infestation, it was that it made people turn dead serious about forest health. Since the outbreak, there has been a new emphasis on thinning forests back to what they were a century ago and Pine and Strawberry residents have put new emphasis on cleaning their properties, landscaping and pro-

tecting critical habitat. While progress is most often defined as improving and developing, there are those in the close knit towns of Pine and Strawberry that say progress is ongoing at the foot of the Rim, but not at the expense of smalltown charm, old-fashioned camaraderie and sense of community.

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Tonto Village got its start in 1913 One of the first homes in Tonto Village lies on Lot #3 and was homesteaded by Henry Haught and his wife Julia. BY


Tonto Village is just 15 minutes east of Payson on Highway 260. The area is surrounded and within the Tonto National Forest and the village lies within the tallest pine trees known as ponderosa pines. The first settler in the area was Henry F. Haught and his wife Julia. They homesteaded 80 acres in the surrounding area in 1913. Henry started a sawmill. It was located THE north of the fire Control Road near the VILLAGE APS power lines just east of the village. Henry met and became acquainted with Howard Standage, and Henry sold lumber to Howard. Howard then bought the sawmill from Henry and hired workers to start the sawmill business. The sawmill was located adjacent to the western entrance to the village from the Janet Control Road. The sawmill stayed active until the Snyder mid-forties. Henry was then interested in developing the property and began digging wells for water. By the way, Henry’s house still stands on lot #3 in Tonto Village I. The land then changed hands in 1955 and was bought by Howard, his son Douglas, and Richard Johnson. In 1957, wells were dug to handle the eastern 15 acres of property which became the first subdivision and contained 65 lots. Tonto Village II was accomplished in 1960 and an additional 101 lots were added. In 1979, the remainder of the land was added to Tonto Village with an additional 89 lots and is now known as Tonto Village III. In the 1970s, a lumber company was started by Flo and John Haulot. The lumber company was known as Honest John’s Lumber Company. It was located on Thompson Road and furnished lumber for many of the cabins that were built in the village. At the present time, the a r e a holds a restaurant, bar and general store, a beauty shop, a chapel, a welding shop, a charter school, and the fire station known as station #22 of the Hellsgate Fire District. Last year, a bladder that holds many gallons of water was placed in what is known as the “island” by the fire department to aid the firefighters in case of fire. One of the biggest changes in the area and a most sought after feat was the paving of the Control Road that runs adjacent to Johnson Boulevard, which is the main street of the village. The paving ends just after the last home in Tonto Village III. Special events within the community include quad rides led by Danny Cain through the forest, when the weather permits, fund-raisers by the Fireflies Auxiliary to the fire department such as Memorial Weekend breakfasts which heralds in the summer season for our parttime residents. There is also a Labor Day BBQ to celebrate the end of summer that is also hosted by the fire department auxiliary. There is also a Kids N’ Critters parade that goes along with the celebration of the Labor Day weekend. The parade may be small, but the contestants win a trophy for the best decorated quad and the kids get free ice cream. There have been parrots, goats, dogs and cats in very creative costumes. One of the more popular pastimes is the pool competition among the ladies of the area. At the Double D Bar, the ladies play nine ball on Tuesday evenings and compete with the ladies of Christopher Creek. A newly formed men’s group now plays on Thursday evenings. There is also a group of ladies that get together on Wednesday afternoons to play dominoes. The gals are known as the Domino Divas and once a year gather together with the domino group in Christopher Creek for an afternoon of getting to know each other and to compete for prizes. The winter is also a great get-away for the people from the Valley to play in the snow. The cars line up along the road to the village filled with sleds and anything that will slide down a hill, and children’s handiwork at making snowmen can be seen all along the road. Tonto Village is a close knit community filled with volunteers who will help out in any situation, and I find it a h l t b t f thi littl it k

The main street in Pine is a focal point of visitors with its many interesting shops and old buildings.

Tom Brossart/Roundup

P-S Fire Department gets new chief T he communities of Pine and Strawberry had another active year with much progress occurring in several different venues. In some ways you could say there were some major shifts, as we saw members of both the PSWID board and the fire board resign after contentious disagreements. On the other hand, recent election results for both of those very boards seemed to indicate that the community desires its members to stay the course. PINE/ The Pine-Strawberry Fire STRAWBERRY Department welcomed a new HAPPENINGS fire chief, David Staub, and by all indications he has settled into his new position smoothly, so far avoiding much of the controversy that surrounded his predecessor. One of the most welcome and noteworthy news items of the year was the fact that for Jodee Smith the first time since most anyone can remember, we made it through an entire summer without once leaving Stage 1 water conservation. Yes, gardeners actually got to garden, summer residents didn’t have to limit their guests’ water usage (or worse, run out completely), and we didn’t have to pay a single hauling fee! The PSWID board has taken a lot of flak this year, but let’s give credit where credit is due. The repairs that were made to the infrastructure have provided a tremendous boon to our water supply, but that’s just one of the many accomplishments water users have realized this year. In October, the meter moratorium was lifted, meaning that new construction can begin again in our towns. When the real estate market rebounds, this should be a significant boost to those wishing to build in Pine or Strawberry. In December, water operations were turned over to CH2MHill, an extremely experienced water management company, in a smooth transition that should be a huge benefit to the community. In addition, the Strawberry Hollow (SH3) well has been purchased, and since the necessary infrastructure is already in place, it is helping supply additional water right now. Furthermore, the Milk Ranch Well tests have proven promising and funding has been approved to purchase that, too. I must say, I was a bit skeptical that a group of ordinary citizens could deliver on their promise to settle a water issue that has existed for several decades, but in the brief period since the board purchased Brooke Utilities, they have delivered beyond expectations. Of course, all of these improvements cost money and, not surprisingly, some part-time residents are crying foul at the new water rates, but it seems that the majority of folks are relieved to see actual progress. While a handful of folks continue to question every step or perceived misstep, the fact is the PSWID board has tackled our community’s water woes head on. Not only have they accomplished short-term goals to bring us water now, they continue to look ahead to the needs of Pine and Strawberry by pursuing

In spite of a tight budget and shrinking economy, the Pine-Strawberry Elementary School has managed to improve their program in several areas under the leadership of principal Mike Clark. This past year, both school buildings received a much needed fresh coat of paint after 20 long years. The parking lot was sealed and restriped and large awnings were placed over the intermediate playground. The school was able to replace two old, high-mileage buses as well. On the student level, the Builder’s Club was resurrected and they joined the student council to complete a highly successful food and clothing drive to benefit the community. There were several successful additional fund-raisers as well, including the Fall Festival which earned $1,700 for the middle school-aged kids, the Christmas Tree Auction which contributed $1,500 directly to classrooms, and a rummage sale that collected several hundred dollars for the 8th-grade field trip. With budget cuts constantly looming over schools, it was a welcome relief to receive $44,070 through the Credit for

Kids donations from an extremely generous and caring community. The Pine-Strawberry Fuel Reduction Committee has also had a busy and productive year in 2010. Utilizing a federal grant from FEMA, they were able to build an 8’ x 20’ Firewise Trailer. The purpose of this project is to ensure the safety of Arizona’s Rim Country communities by educating the public about actions they can take to reduce the ignitability of structures and homes to prevent fire starts. The trailer is available for use by folks in the entire Rim Country and contains wildfire prevention information, a variety of informative brochures for distribution, and eye-catching displays. Communities may request the use of the trailer during special events, fairs and similar functions. The PSFR Committee has also been very busy with firewise treatment projects in the Pine and Strawberry area. Work was completed on the 40-acre Krebs property which had previously presented a severe fire danger near the cen-

that wasn’t there prior to clearing. They are also nearing completion of the firewise treatment on a large parcel in Strawberry, the 56-acre Hunt property. This area has been identified by fire professionals as one of the most likely areas that fire could enter the town of Strawberry because of the steep wilderness canyons. In fact, the area nearly provided entrance for the Cave Creek Complex Fire in 2005. In addition, the planning process for two new projects was begun in 2010 and treatment is slated to be completed this year. The first, Portals IV, is a recognized Firewise Community and PSFR will assist them with maintaining that status by treating property in that area. Arrowhead Estates is a small community completely surrounded by U.S. Forest near the Natural Bridge and directly down-canyon from Pine that will also receive firewise treatment assistance. This project will help mitigate fire danger to Pine and Strawberry from the south. Lastly, Pine/Strawberry was chosen as one of 9 areas in the state to introduce a new wildfire prevention program called Ready Set Go which is designed to provide homeowners with a personal wildfire action plan. PSFR will work with the fire department to promote this new program in the area, so residents can look for this information to be available soon. On the economic front, the PineStrawberry B u s i n e s s Community continues to think of innovative ways to bring folks into our towns beyond the major summer holiday peaks. The Apple Festival took shape this year, bringing people to Pine during one of our most beautiful and colorful seasons, while the May Day Gardening Expo grows larger and more exciting by constantly adding new features. The popular Shop Hops are adding a new feature this year: a Swap Meet at the Community Center, which should bring even more bargain hunters to Pine each month. The greatest success by far, though, would have to be the Festival of Lights Celebration. This year’s event was teeming with hundreds of visitors and included the tree lighting, music, a festive craft show, and lots of holiday goodies. It is inspiring to see the business communities of Pine and Strawberry continue to find ways to thrive in spite of the economic downturn. Yes, it has been another productive year for our communities, and I’m sure that 2011 will be a great time of progress and positive accomplishments for both Pine and Strawberry. The level of commitment and passion that many residents and volunteers bring our area continue to



Progress in the pines:

Jobs are coming to Christopher Creek C

h r i s t o p h e r - Ko h l ’ s Fire Station has more full-time people, better equipment, better technology and a full-time communications person. The community and its visitors are more protected than they have ever been. The community’s other organizations seem to be going strong as well. Most notably, the Christopher Creek Home Owner’s Association, TWIG (Tonto Watershed Improvement Group), and the CCVA (Christopher Creek Visitor’s Association). The CCVA has been lucky to have stumbled across some terrific new folks who want to get involved. There is no shortage of folks who want to maintain the peace and serenity of Christopher Creek, while providing a thriving local economy. As Christopher Creek Lodge enters its 61st year of business in 2011, they are expecting business to pick up. They are currently looking for reliable, honest workers to clean rooms full-time and part-time. The Grey Hackle Lodge will open again in mid-May and is ready to welcome its summer guests. ERA Young Realty & Investment in Christopher Creek has reported a sale of 15 properties for 2010 in the Christopher Creek area which includes 22 subdivisions. They now have 41 properties listed for sale. ERA Real Estate has offices in 50 states and 41 countries and territories throughout the world. ERA Young Realty has five offices in the Rim area. The Christopher Creek office was established in 1992 and has enjoyed serving the area for 19 years. Recently, Glori Surman was hired as the company’s newest agent as they gear up for 2011. The Creekside Restaurant is ramping up and getting ready

for the summer season. They are expecting a revival of visitors as the economy continues to improve. The new Landmark is nearly finished being built and it is looking nice. While there is no firm date for its grand opening, it KREEK can’t be too KAPERS far off. Cyndi and Gary, the new owners, plan to have a job fair just prior to its opening. The Tall Pines Market Jason Harris has a new owner in Mike Jelinek. Mike has made a bunch of terrific improvements, and the store looks better than ever. Customers will really enjoy Mike’s new touches. Mike is also considering providing a small amount of ATV rentals. There are a handful of new smaller businesses that are springing up. In that same spirit of new small businesses, I plan to lend myself and maybe a handful of volunteers (probably other business folks from the Chamber of Commerce) to anyone considering or wanting to start a business (or existing businesses looking for some ideas or networking opportunities). I’ll be happy to go over any ideas and offer my very candid advice and try and help point folks in the right direction. Between Christopher Creek Lodge and the Grey Hackle Lodge, we handle over 5,000 guests annually. I believe this represents a tremendous opportunity for ancillary businesses or services. I’ve already spoken with a few folks with ideas ranging from a Farmer’s Market to a small coffee shop. The future of Christopher Creek is looking brighter and brighter.

New jeweler puts a twist on custom pieces BY



Making Native Americaninspired jewelry for 30 years at his wooden jeweler’s bench has been good for Fred Tenca. With a distinct style that mixes the curves of San Francisco architecture with precious metals and gemstones found in traditional Native American pieces, Tenca has carved out his own niche. Pieces range from wide, leather bands inlaid with chunky blue and white buffalo turquoise to delicate rings and brooches featuring larimar, charoite, red coral and lapis lazuli. Most of the designs are created on a whim. Tenca creates unique pieces, including pendants using all types of stones. “I figure out the design as I am doing it,” he said. At his roll-top desk, pliers, files, leather mallet, ring sizes and torch all sit at arm’s length. If he feels like working on custom rings, Tenca said he sits down and cranks out several in one sitting — same with pendants, earrings and bracelets. Several of his pieces feature thin gold and silver twisted around a brooch or pendant. Tenca, 60, said his mentor, who loved to mimic the curvatures of early architecture found in San Francisco, inspired this style. Several weeks ago, Tenca opened Tenca Design and Jewelry at 410 W. Main St., Suite C. Tenca owned and operated a similar store in a Prescott trading post for some 10 years. After working with a friend in Payson, Tenca realized he

Fred Tenca

loved the warmer temperatures of the area and the people, so he decided to move his business. “I like it here better,” he said. Tenca started his career in jewelry repair and design by chance at age 25 when a jeweler he used to frequent gave him the opportunity to solder several pieces. After watching him work, the jeweler told Tenca he had a knack for the field and gave him a job repairing pieces. Over time, Tenca began making his own earrings and pendants. Some of his earliest pieces featured amethyst, rubies and tourmaline. Today, Tenca mostly works in stones found in Southweststyle jewelry. Tenca buys the stones at various gem shows including those in Tucson and Gallup, N.M. Tenca said he loves working with a customer to design a custom piece. “I am willingly to really work with people and get them what they want,” he said. One woman recently came in with several stones and asked Tenca what he could do with them. After looking at the shape of the stones, Tenca designed a pendant shaped like an arrow. For more information, call (928) 468-1623.

Alexis Bechman/Roundup

The original bell that rang in the early years was restored and dedicated to Maude Jennings, who taught at the school for 12 years.

‘Little Red Schoolhouse’ is completed

Tonto Basin School Superintendent Johnny Ketchem is retiring after this school year. BY



Once again, the Payson Roundup has asked me to write an article about Tonto Basin Elementary School for the Progress Edition. And once again, I am happy to oblige, because I believe this is a great school that has made great progress, not just this year, but over the last several years. Over the past year, many exciting things have happened in our small school district. Our “Little Red Schoolhouse” was completed and ready for the first day of school, welcoming students ages 3-5. This building was modeled after the original school, which was torn down in the late ’80s in order to construct the building we now use for Kindergarten through 8th grade. We had a dedication of this new “Little Red Schoolhouse” building in November, which was proudly attended by over 150 former students from this community. One of the best things to come out of our new preschool is that we are still providing educational services to our youngest students at no charge. As today’s school districts face budget cuts and are forced to cut programs, continuing to provide a no-fee preschool is one of our sources of pride. Another program that we are proud to continue at Tonto Basin is our all-day Kindergarten. This is an area where many state districts have had to cut back because of funding issues. Our philosophy is that providing an allday Kindergarten better prepares our future student body. We will continue to offer our Kindergarten students a full-day program as long as we can. In the age of “going green,” we are doing our best to save costs, save energy and save taxpayers’ money. We were fortunate enough to receive grant monies to erect a much-needed shade structure over our playground — covered in solar panels! This structure will provide us with energy so we will be able to significantly reduce our electric costs, and it will enable our students to find relief from the sun during hotter months. While we are on the subject of saving energy costs, an additional grant we received last year enabled us to take down the older high-energy, heat-generating halogen lights we had, and replace them with low-energy, cool lights which brighten the gymnasium better than the old ones. Sports

Photos and memorabilia from the original schoolhouse were spread out on tables at the new Little Red Schoolhouse dedication ceremony in Tonto Basin.

More than two dozen classmates that attended the Little Red Schoolhouse in Tonto Basin from the 1930s to the 1980s attended the dedication ceremony for the new schoolhouse in November. and community events are now lit up better than before, and at a significantly lower cost. One other addition to our school this year has been the new front office. We now have a much larger area for the office, and building this new space allowed us to convert the older, much smaller space into a very nice office for the principal. This, in turn, provided more room for our business manager, and we were able to add more space to the staff workroom. One of the best things about the addition of the new office is that all visitors to the school now must pass through and sign in. We are able to provide a much safer environment for our students this way. I asked my staff to help me with ideas to include in this article. One of the most important signs of “progress” to them, considering the times and financial situation we are all in, is the fact that Tonto Basin still provides our students with small-sized classrooms. Our largest class this year has 17 students in it. Tonto Basin’s governing board, staff, and community have always held the interests of our students above those of

budgets, financial constraints and the many other obstacles with which education is faced in today’s world. We are proud of our little school and the things we have accomplished over the past year, but we are most proud of how we have maintained our local traditions. Tonto Basin students line up every morning together, and say the Pledge of Allegiance as a school. We use this time to publicly acknowledge student successes and honor special days for staff members and students. Our Christmas program this year was attended by the largest audience we have ever had, and our gymnasium was filled to standing-room only. Our eighth-grade students are still provided with a solemn ceremony acknowledging their rite of passage from elementary school into high school. This year is my last one here in this great little place, as I move on to retirement. I am very proud of this school’s accomplishments while I have been a part of it, and I look forward to watching Tonto Basin Elementary School continue to grow in the future under the tutelage of my successor.



New exhibit shows history of Tonto Apache Tribe BY



Andy Towle/Roundup

Teri Alba, conference sales coordinator with the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino, helped create the display case with guidance from museum experts in Payson. on the track. In short, it’s an everyday facility well worth the time and effort it took to build. Until the tribe’s contribution, Bradley and other school officials were wallowing through insufficient Credit for Kids tax contributions questioning if the new track would ever be completed. Prior to the contribution, tribe officials said they understood the need for the new track mostly because the old dirt facility was in disrepair and home

track and field meets had been canceled for fear of an injury to an athlete. The tribe’s donation might also have served as a bit of a spur for other contributors to get on the bandwagon and help out. Only three years later, donations from Credit for Kids, money from a handful of boosters and a school board appropriation funded $128,598.37 to purchase new bleachers that helped to wrap up the Stadium Improvement Project. That long-awaited project had

its roots in the mid-1980s. There’s more

Other donations from the tribe that benefit the Rim Country included regular contributions from Mazatzal Casino proceeds. A year ago, Jerry Holland, tribe controller, gave about $30,000 to Payson and $10,000 to Star Valley as part of the tribe’s pact with the state. In Payson, the money will probably

be used to install flashing school zone lights near Frontier Elementary School. In addition to the tribe’s gesture of helping build the track and donating to the towns, the Tonto Apaches have long allowed their reservation facilities to be used for youth programs including postseason sports team celebrations, Elk Hoop Shoots, youth basketball tournaments and league games, Special


The Tonto Apache Tribe has a rich and storied history dating back to 1885 when a reservation near Camp Verde where they had been placed along with the Yavapai tribe was dissolved, and tribal members began the long trek back to the Rim Country. When they arrived, they found settlers had taken over their land, so they lived for years in shacks and cabins without modern conveniences. In 1972, the U.S. government finally recognized the tribe and allocated it 85 acres to live on just south of Payson. Today, many of the tribal members continue to reside there. Few knew the history of the tribe, including some Payson pioneers, until last fall when a new museum exhibit opened in the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino that tells the tribe’s story and offers visitors an up-close look at some of the tribe’s artifacts and culture. The exhibit, titled “Tonto Apaches: Then and Now,” gives guests an opportunity to learn about tribal migrations and how the tribe came to be in Payson. It is probably the most complete account of the tribe’s history, but there’s even more to the tribe than what is accounted for in the exhibit. It’s the tribe’s contributions to the people of Payson. There have been many, and the offerings are most often generously doled out to those in need or for worthwhile projects that benefit youth, the schools system and townspeople. For instance, one of the tribe’s most charitable and far-reaching gestures occurred in July of 2001 when tribe officials doled out the largest single contribution — $150,000 — ever received by the school district. The donation, which was given to then PHS athletic director Dave Bradley, was used to build the state-ofthe-art, all-weather track that now encircles the PHS football field. It gives Payson one of the finest track and field facilities in Arizona and allows both PHS and visiting athletes to practice and compete in mostly ideal conditions and without fear of injury. It is also used by community members who want jog, run or work out. PHS and Rim Country Middle School PE teachers also regularly hold classes

See Tribe, page 25

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Dennis Fendler (above photo) and Andy Towle (left photo)/Roundup

The Community Recreation Center (above) offers a gym, indoor pool and expanded weight room facilities. A new museum exhibit (at left) at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino showcases the tribe’s history. From pots to jewelry, everything in the display is on loan from a member of the tribe.

Tribe sponsors community events, adds acres to reservation From page 24 Olympics practice swim sessions, Trunk or Treat and weight training. The tribe is also a sponsor of the annual Hashknife Pony Express Ride. Even funerals, retirement parties and the annual Pioneer Dinner Dances are held in their facilities located on the reservation just south of Payson. Community Recreation Center

Those facilities include a Community Recreation Center that features an indoor pool with a spa, shower facilities, a gymnasium and expanded weight room. The tribe hires and trains certified lifeguards to oversee pool activities. Near the CRC are buildings that house youth center facilities, the tribal courthouse and human resources, which renders the tribal land almost a self-sufficient city. In the courthouse, the tribe has the only appeals court in the Southwestern part of the country. Judges hear both local cases and those from other tribes. Last year, the tribe culminated a

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year-long project to acquire its own sewer system. The tribe also is in the process of acquiring an additional 240 acres of land from the Forest Service to better accommodate the growing number of tribal members. Mazatzal Casino

Also located on the reservation is the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino — one of the Rim Country’s largest employers, offering career opportunities in accounting, administrative support, maintenance, security, hospitality, food service and environmental services. Hotel and Casino officials say they take pride in offering competitive wages, outstanding working conditions and a variety of family friendly benefits. Inside the hotel-casino, visitors will find slots, video poker, live black jack, a 150-seat bingo hall and a keno parlor. The Apache Spirits Sports Bar is a hot spot for locals and visitors hoping to catch a few glimpses of the latest sporting events, all the while enjoying their favorite libations. The newly expanded Cedar Ridge

Restaurant serves up a variety of scrumptious meals and desserts, including specialty buffets. At a gift shop inside the casino-hotel, outstanding beadwork, basketry and arts and crafts done by the nationally recognized tribal members can be purchased. Just south of the hotel-casino is the Tonto Apache Tribal Market and Smoke Shop that sells tax-free cigarettes. Of course, the reservation is located just minutes from the scenic pines, lakes and streams of the Rim Country, which allows tribal visitors the opportunity to enjoy camping, hunting, hiking and fishing. Although the Tonto Apaches were not officially recognized until a Congressional act was passed in 1972, the accomplishments of dedicated tribal members since then have led the tribe to become a major player on the Rim Country’s economic, social, educational and sports scene. In retrospect, the tribe’s emergence from obscurity leaves a legacy of dedication and perseverance that can turn lives and create new opportunities.



Star Valley takes steps to success BY TIM GRIER STAR VALLEY TOWN MANAGER

The Town of Star Valley has had many accomplishments to brag about this past year. Star Valley has a strong commitment to preserving its rural and historic integrity, while enhancing the quality of life and safety of its citizens. The mayor, council, commission members, town manager and staff are dedicated to the hard work it takes to make the newly incorporated Town of Star Valley a model town committed to serving its citizens. In March of 2010, Star Valley found itself looking for a new home. It didn’t have to look far, and found what started as the SRJ model home, then Hellsgate Fire Department office for its new digs. The town was able to purchase the beautiful building at a bargain price and now has a permanent home without the overhead cost of a lease agreement. It is just one of the positive steps the town has taken to managing a positive budget. Star Valley is one of the few towns or cities that has been able to maintain a solvent budget in these challenging economic times. The town has not only been able to purchase its new town hall, it has paved almost every road in the town! Star Valley has promoted economic development, researched water and sewer solutions, and explored ways to mitigate flood damage while building a “Rainy Day” fund in its budget to ensure a strong fiscal future. The result of our strong, balanced budget has allowed the town council to support programs such as the “Food Drive,” “Meals on Wheels,” and the “Ridership Program” for our senior citizens. Donations to the Gila County Mounted Posses outfitted the search and rescue volunteers with GPS radios. The town donated funds to the Tonto Natural Bridge to encourage tourism and preserve the national landmark. Star Valley continues to maintain and improve its roads. Shoulder work, grading, culvert installation and new street signs were provided by our small yet efficient streets and roads crew under the supervision of our building official, Joe Janusz. Mayfield Canyon Road now has a natural concrete apron to

improve drainage and prevent damage to the road surface. Street improvements are scheduled to begin on Moonlight Drive. A new, low water crossing has been completed on Valley Road. Star Valley established a “General Plan” that gives focus to a sound future. Research of water issues continues work to ensure a sustainable water supply. Star Valley is exploring a partnership with Payson to bring water from the Blue Ridge Reservoir. The research of water and sewer issues is key to our town. We continue to address flood control issues looking at retention basins, low water crossings and creek maintenance to mitigate flood damage. The floodwater commission works to protect property. The safety of Star Valley citizens is top priority, and in addition to the control of floodwaters, the Star Valley council recently authorized the implementation of an emergency evacuation plan to be put in place before the approaching wildfire season. Intergovernmental agreements (IGA) with Gila County provide law enforcement, animal control, elections and rural addressing for Star Valley. A renewed IGA with the Humane Society of Central Arizona provides a safe and caring facility for atlarge or at-risk animals. Proposition 202 grant money (funding from Native American Tribes) assists in the cost of Star Valley’s law enforcement contract. The town has also been awarded a Star Thistle grant by the U.S. Forest Service to continue efforts to eliminate the noxious weed in Star Valley. Continued progress with Community Development Block Grant projects such as Valley Road Crossing (a low water crossing), town hall improvements and a fire hydrant study are just a few of the projects propelling the development of Star Valley in the new year. Your mayor, council, commissions, manager and staff are dedicated to swift and courteous service to its community. This dedication began with service from Diane McDaniel, who was so instrumental to the start of this small town. Her husband, Judge Ronnie McDaniel, continued service as the town’s first mayor. The dedication of the McDaniels gave exemplary lead to all those who work so hard to ensure this town’s success story.

Forest Service breakthrough will protect Rim communities BY



Rim Country’s landlord had a good year — except for the weird and frustrating parts. The U.S. Forest Service owns most of Gila County. Communities like Payson, Star Valley, Pine, Strawberry and others exist as tiny islands of privately owned land in an overgrown sea of public lands. This year, the tale of the Forest Service read a little like epic Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” On the positive side, the Forest Service signed a landmark agreement to negotiate long-term contracts with timber companies to thin a million acres of badly overgrown forest, which pose a grave danger to the survival of every community in Rim Country. The 4-Forests Initiative won the backing of environmentalists by focusing on restoring a fireadapted ecosystem dominated by big trees and grassy meadows. Moreover, the Forest Service also finally approved an environmental assessment of the Blue Ridge pipeline route, quickly completed a string of parking areas and toilets along the East Verde River to protect that vulnerable stream and continued making big progress on the years-long effort to clear buffer zones around most communities. Equally wonderful, Rim Country dodged the wildfire bullet for another year — with no big fires to threaten forested communities, despite the thickets of small trees that have sprung up as a result of a century of misguided fire suppression and overgrazing. Nearly normal rainfall reduced the number of dead, tinder-dry trees and provided good conditions for controlled burns. The Forest Service has dramatically shifted its fire management system, letting low-intensity fires burn whenever possible during damp periods, using the flames to restore the forest to more natural conditions. Finally on the happy news side of the ledger, the Forest Service undertook a comprehensive study of Fossil Creek, with an eye toward protecting the national treasure from the impact of the crush of weekend crowds. The Forest Service is now considering a plan that would extend the ban on camping and fires along the gushing, restored creek that has

become one of the most lush refuges for endangered native fish and other species in the state. The proposed management plan would perhaps also ban cars down in the canyon during busy summer weekends in favor of parking lots up on top and shuttle buses. On the other hand, the Forest Service struggled to keep up with the demands posed by the use and abuse of the millions of acres of land it owns and manages in Rim Country. The Tonto National Forest remains far behind many other forests in overhauling its badly outdated, 20-year-old forest plan. The forest also remains more than a year behind schedule in an ambitious plan to prevent off-road vehicles from inflicting environmental damage by driving cross country. Several years ago, Congress ordered the Forest Service to come up with a plan in every forest for limiting or eliminating cross-country travel and better manage its haphazard network of dirt roads. The Tonto National Forest has enough dirt roads to cover the distance from Los Angeles to New York and more than 18 months ago released a list of which roads it would leave open and which roads it will close, but final action has been stalled by the succession of budget problems, lawsuits and crises that have beset that sprawling agency. In addition, the glacial pace of Forest Service decision-making posed an almost fatal challenge to Payson’s effort to build a college campus on a 300acre parcel of Forest Service land Congress designated for sale or trade a decade ago. Payson officials have been negotiating with Arizona State University for more than two years to build a campus on the parcel on which the Payson Ranger District now stands. After months of meetings with the Forest Service, town officials realized it could take another two years to jump through all the federal hoops to actually acquire the land. Only the purchase of 67 acres of adjoining land saved the project. The town now hopes to build the first phase of the campus on the private land while it continues to negotiate to acquire the Forest Service parcel. Moreover, the Payson Ranger District was hit this year by a series of transfers and retirements that stripped away the whole upper level of management, including all of the local Forest Service officials who had been negotiating with Payson concerning the Blue Ridge pipeline and the ASU campus.

Anderson Dental Group Creating Beautiful Smiles 712 N. Beeline Hwy., Payson (928) 474-4581




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Progress Edition 2011  

Rim Country Progress Edition 2011