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Making it fly: Second year of Balloon Festival ready for lift off

LAKESIDE — Last year, as the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside worked to get a new attraction — the White Mountain Balloon Festival — off the ground, they ran into a few bumps. But this year the event appears to have much greater momentum and better planning, as well as better weather.

Thirteen hot air balloons will attend the event, scheduled for this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 28-30. The event will also offer free concerts and a festival atmosphere with a beer garden, food vendors and more at Mountain Meadows Recreation Complex at 1101 South Woodland Road in Lakeside.

Unlike last year, all events are free, no tickets are necessary to attend.

Get up early, come back later

If you’re an early riser, come out to the festival grounds starting at 6 a.m. Conditions for balloon flights are often ideal during the early morning hours and lift-off for balloon flights is scheduled for 6:30 a.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Free tethered balloon rides will be offered on Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. Morning activities will wind down by 8:30 a.m., when the festival grounds close until evening.

If you miss the early morning splendor, come to the festival grounds in the evening. On Friday night, enjoy a kick-off concert with the renowned comedy and doo-wop group, The Alleycats. The Alleycats have appeared on the Jay Leno Show for years, as well as opening for Jerry Seinfeld, the Beach Boys, The Coasters and the Drifters and many others.

The concert is free and begins at 6:30 p.m.

After the concert enjoy the balloon glow from 8-9 p.m.

Musical entertainment will also be offered on Saturday starting at 4 p.m. through 8:30 p.m., with Shinin’ the Law and the Lakesiders band, and free tethered balloon rides and a balloon glow.

Balloonmeister invites

his friends, the community,

to be part of the fun

This year’s festival is headed-up by Doug Lenberg, the so-called balloonmeister. Lenberg has been piloting balloons since 1994 and began actively participating in balloon rally organization a few years later. He currently is active as balloonmeister at two balloon rallies in Durango, Colorado, and one in Bloomfield, New Mexico.

Lenberg said that he likes to create balloon festivals that are engaging to the local community.

“What my forté is, my ballooning people are all my friends. We’ve been ballooning together around the country for like, 25, 30 years. And I try to create a lcommunity-friendly balloon rally by inviting husband and wife balloon teams … the ones I invite are the ones who love to involve the community in the entire aspect of ballooning,” he said.

For example, the public can not only come out to see the balloons and meet the pilots, but they can volunteer to help out and be part of the balloon crew, even if they don’t know anything about hot-air balloons.

“We like to teach ballooning and teach people the fact that we are registered aircraft … we all carry pilot’s licenses,” Lenberg explained.

Another way the community can participate is to invite the balloons to land on their property.

“If you would like a balloon to land in your front yard, your backyard, your pasture — put out a white sheet. We consider a white sheet an invitation to drop in and visit you,” Lenberg explained.

“I have been known to fly down the Animas Valley and stop in at people’s places and they come out and bring me a cup of coffee and a burrito, say hi and we talk for awhile and then I’ll fly down the valley to somebody else’s house,” he said.

“It’s a way to involve the community, and that’s the type of balloon rally I like to put on and be involved with,” Lenberg said with pride.

For a complete schedule of activities and to learn more about the White Mountain Balloon Festival, visit

Show Low EMS is now Arrowhead Fire and Medical Authority

SHOW LOW — Arrowhead Mobile Healthcare, an ambulance services company operating in Lakeside, Show Low and Linden since 2000, recently changed its company name to Arrowhead Fire and Medical Authority. This change was completed this spring through the Arizona Corporation Commission and then finalized this May with the Arizona Department of Health Services (AzDHS).

But isn’t the only change underway for the company, which is seeking new sources of revenue.

The private ambulance company was the only provider in Show Low for 18 years. That was until August 2018 when the Arizona Department of Health Services ruled in favor of Timber Mesa’s application for an overlapping certification of need (CON) for Show Low, Linden and some surrounding areas.

After a series of legal challenges and intervening motions by Show Low EMS (now Arrowhead Fire & Medical Authority), the case was escalated to Maricopa County Superior Court.

The court has not yet issued a ruling in the case.

However, Arrowhead and Timber Mesa Fire have continued to provide overlapping ambulance service in the areas of Show Low, Linden, Clay Springs, Vernon and some surrounding areas like White Mountain Lake.

Photo courtesy of Arrowhead Fire and Medical Authority  

An Arrowhead Fire & Medical Authority truck with the new company name and logo. The vehicle pictured is a medium duty ambulance which is larger than a typical ambulance. It is also a critical care and bariatric ambulance which has a larger patient compartment. The private ambulance company has two medium duty ambulances like the one pictured, in addition eight others that can be staffed if needed.

In addition to the name change, Arrowhead announced its vision to expand its services to include wildland fire emergency medical services (EMS) support and suppression. A June 13 press release from Arrowhead Fire and Medical Authority Assistant Chief Anthony Kugler and CEO Jim Broome lays out the company’s future plans.

Photo courtesy Greg Featherston///  

Jim Broome, CEO of Show Low EMS, which have provided ambulance transport services in Show Low, Linden and some surrounding areas since 2000. In August, the Department of Health Services awarded Timber Mesa Fire & Medical District an expanded service area which overlaps Show Low EMS. As a result, the private ambulance company is pursuing reversal of the decision through Maricopa County Superior Court.

“We were a powerful force from the mid 1990’s until 2009, providing wildland firefighters and EMS personnel to many fires throughout Arizona,” states Broome.

“In 2009, when the reimbursement for services took a dive, we exited the program; however, most of those problems have now been resolved and we have a new state forester,” he adds. “We’re currently wrapping up some training and our first Type 3 Engine is operational with plans to add two Type 6 Engines to our fleet. These engines will be used for response to wildland fires as a state or federal requested resource as well as requests from insurance companies to protect homes as the fire reaches the urban interface as we saw in California last year.”

In addition to fire response, Arrowhead’s Assistant Chief Anthony Kugler says the company is “being proactive” by creating a Wildland Defense Unit.

“Our firefighters will come out to your home and discuss possible solutions for protecting your home during the wildland fire season like treating your home and property with an environmentally friendly long term fire retardant,” further explains Kugler.

Arrowhead company history

The company, based in Benson, was originally named Arrowhead Mobile Healthcare. After expanding to Show Low in 2000, the ambulance provider has maintained operations in both cities.

“We have been planning to merge our southern operation in Benson with our northeastern Arizona operation in Show Low,” informs Kugler. “We realized there could be benefits to merging the southern Arizona and northeastern Arizona operations. All of these years we’ve had to keep separate insurances, separate offices, etc. Better insurance for our employees, better ambulances and being able to move personnel between Benson and Show Low when needed are a few benefits to merging the two operations.”

Kugler also pointed out that the off-seasons for Benson and Show Low are “polar opposites” which makes moving personnel a great way to maximize their workforce.

“During the off-season we may run our engine in support of our ambulances on serious accidents or medical calls that require more people and equipment than a normal ambulance has on board,” says Kugler.

The final approach

Although the private ambulance company and Timber Mesa Fire and Medical District provide ambulance service in overlapping areas, neither shows signs of letting off the gas when it comes to growth and adapting to community needs.

“Our press release is the intent, the outlook and the vision of Arrowhead,” said Kugler in a phone interview with the Independent on June 17. “We want to look at options that may infuse revenue into the district and ease the burden on the taxpayers.”

It’s no secret that Arrowhead pays close attention to what Timber Mesa Fire and Medical District does, what they spend and how they grow. This includes special attention to Timber Mesa’s recent merger with White Mountain Lake Fire Department and consideration of a future bond election for capital needs.

“It may be too late this year, but I would like to approach the Timber Mesa Fire Board about a contract to operate the district’s services,” says Kugler.

“It doesn’t take a million dollars a month to handle a handful of structure fires a year in this small community. In fact there is a private fire department in Arizona that has been very progressive in managing fire districts, as well as serving county areas where there are no fire districts, and we would model our proposal after their operations.”

65th Annual Taylor Independence Day Celebration hosts speaker Col. Mark D. Lyman

TAYLOR — The 65th Annual Taylor Independence Day Celebration and Night Rodeo is a time when community and family come together. Though many who grew up in Taylor grew up and moved away, they find their way back to Taylor to celebrate the Fourth of July together. You know they are home because ATVs are heard all over town the night before the celebration officially begins as friends and family are re-united.

This year the celebration will begin Friday night, July 5, at 8 p.m. with the Home Run Derby at the Taylor Ballfield on Center Street.

Saturday, July 6 is the big day. The community gets up early to be present for the first firing of the anvil at 5 a.m., a tradition that began with the early pioneers and was revived in 1953. There is no sleeping in for residents on that day.

As they travel throughout the neighborhoods firing the anvil, the historic Jennings Band follows behind them playing patriotic music. The band uses a 180 year-old bass brought to Taylor by Cyrus Jennings in 1889, and it is played by one of Cyrus Jennings’ descendants.

At 6 a.m. there is a July 4th Celebration Run – 10K and 2-mile at the Taylor Airport. Anyone can register up until the start of the race, but is not guaranteed a t-shirt if they have not pre-registered.

At 8 a.m. there is a Men’s Softball Tournament at the Taylor and Snowflake softball fields with prizes for first and second place.

At 10 a.m. at the Taylor Stake Center the annual patriotic program begins. This year the special guest speaker has strong ties to the Taylor community. Col. Mark D. Lyman was born in Monticello, Utah and is the son of Gordon D. and Kynra Dyal Lyman. Prior to moving to Snowflake for high school, his family lived in the Dakotas and the state of Washington. He graduated from Snowflake High School in 1987 and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brigham Young University in 1993 in American Studies.

In 1997 he graduated from the University of Arizona School of Medicine, specializing in pathology and became board certified in 2004. He currently serves as the Consultant to the Air Force Surgeon General for Pathology and as the Department Chair for Keesler Air Force Base Laboratories, Biloxi, Mississippi.

Lyman is married to Brenda Shumway, daughter of Lenn and Carmen Shumway, and they are the parents of six children. Lyman’s great-great uncle was the late A.Z. Palmer, one of the original settlers of Snowflake, who together with Mark Kartchner opened the first store in Snowflake and later other businesses. A historical marker for A. Z. Palmer & Sons is on the left front of the Taylor Museum.

The Taylor Museum will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the log cabin located at Willow Lane and Main Street, the Standiford House on South Main, the Pioneer Museum at 50 South 400 East, and the Shumway Schoolhouse on Old Shumway Road off of Hwy. 77 will be open from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Country music will begin at the Rodeo Park after the patriotic program with a barbecue, a night rodeo and fireworks, followed by a dance on the Rodeo Pavilion.

This year the 4th of July night rodeo is under the direction of Taylor Rodeo, Inc., a non-profit, who will handle the event with support from the Town of Taylor who is a $5,000 sponsor. In the March 7 council meeting Town Manager Gus Lundberg explained that The Town of Taylor agreed to provide the necessary equipment for this event – a tractor, a water truck, sanitation, restroom supplies, port-a-potties, additional trash receptacles and fireworks for the display at the end of the rodeo.

For those that somehow missed the firing of the anvil in the wee hours of the morning, fear-not, it will be fired again at the night rodeo. According to the Town of Taylor website, the heavy duty anvil was used by the Mormon Battalion in 1847. It was later brought to Taylor by Joseph S. Hancock in the late 1800’s to be in his blacksmith shop. In the late 19th century, Taylor’s forefathers came up with the idea of firing it as a substitution for the cannon and fireworks.

More information on the Taylor Fourth of July Celebration can be found at

Kidnapping, sex abuse trial begins for Joey Fish


HOLBROOK — Jury selection started Tuesday for the kidnapping and sexual abuse trial of Taylor resident Joey Fish. Fish was indicted by a Navajo County Grand Jury on November 28, 2017, on two counts of kidnapping and two counts of sexual abuse, all concerning an incident in the boy’s locker room at Snowflake High School on November 20, 2017.

The jury trial was supposed to have started last month, but the court ran out of jurors — only 25 of 200 summoned showed up, according to court records.

This time around, there was a better response as around 75 potential jurors filled the courtroom of Judge Dale Nielson on Tuesday and the court began the process of jury selection.

The objective in jury selection is to impanel a jury of the defendant’s peers who can fairly and impartially hear the case and decide which version of the facts they believe — there is usually more than one version to decide on.

The potential jurors began arriving at the court before nine o’clock and the process started about one and a half hours later.

The judge announced the four charges against Fish and noted that the defendant has pled not guilty. He then administered an oath to the jurors: they rose and swore that each would answer the upcoming questions truthfully.

Next were the attorneys.

Prosecuting attorney for Navajo County, Robert Edwards, introduced himself and identified his boss, County Attorney Brad Carlyon. Roberts, tall and slender was dressed elegantly in a black suit and tie.

Defense counsel from Flagstaff, Bruce Griffen also dressed in a black pin-striped suit and tie, introduced himself and his client. Fish, the 19 year-old defendant, is a large man, tall and musclebound. He was well-groomed in a white shirt and tie.

It’s important for the potential jurors to understand the nature of the dispute they will be called upon to decide, so the rules of court allow each side to make what is called a “mini opening statement” to the whole crowd even before the final jury is selected.

The prosecutor went first. He told the group that the school offered a weight lifting class which was popular among the school’s football players, like Fish. Other students attended as well. Edwards said that in the locker room in between sessions, Fish pinned down one of the younger students, a 16 year-old individual smaller than Fish and grabbed the student’s genitals both over and under the clothing.

Technically, if someone improperly restrains another person, it is considered a type of kidnapping. Sexual abuse involves sexually touching another without that person’s consent.

Edwards went on to say that one of the school coaches heard the commotion and broke up the incident. But when the coach left, said Edwards, Fish did it again, resulting in double the number of charges.

Defense counsel said that there is little dispute about the acts — he admitted that Fish grabbed the student’s genitals both over and under the clothing. The crux of this case involves the motive Fish had for doing so, Griffen said.

There are various types of kidnapping prohibited by Arizona law. The type of kidnapping done “to inflict a sexual offense” is as serious as it gets, a Class 2 felony, and that is exactly what Fish is charged with. It appeared the defense will try to characterize what happened there as typical locker room antics, horseplay, and that Fish had no sexual motive.

The prosecutors must prove every element of each charge beyond a reasonable doubt. That means they must prove that not only did Fish restrain someone, but did it “with the intent to inflict a sexual offense.” It is unknown how the state intends to do that; the jury is allowed to make reasonable inferences from circumstantial evidence or a defendant’s statements before, during or after the act. Its permissible to point to the demeanor of the defendant at the time, any statements made during or after the act.

By noon of the first day, the jury process had just started. It is unknown how long selection will take or in fact, the length of the trial.

At the close of the trial, however, when everybody is done testifying and the parties have rested their cases, the jury will be instructed as to the laws they must apply. They are not only instructed about the charges actually filed against Fish, but could be instructed about “lesser included offenses,” whereby the jury could convict Fish of less-serious crimes than the ones he is charged with.

For example, if the jury has a reasonable doubt about the sexual intent, the seriousness of the kidnapping charge goes way down and it’s conceivable that Fish could be convicted of a misdemeanor simple assault charge. Finally, if the state does not produce enough evidence to support any charge beyond a reasonable doubt, Fish could be acquitted.

The jury will decide.