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Copper Fire near Globe burns 2652 acres and closes US 60

UPDATE : Wednesday, May 12

Fire officials say fire activity is beginning to quiet down as crews continue to patrol, monitor, and mop up on all divisions. Some resources are being released to allow them to become available for other potential new starts. There was no change in acreage and the fire is now 68% contained.

The US 60 outside of Globe between mileposts 253-311 - Globe to just west of Show Low, remains open and the ADOT expects that it may reopen completely as early as tonight.

"Eastbound traffic is being flagged through mileposts 257-261. Please slow down in that area and watch for flaggers and firefighting crews still working in the area. ADOT expects to open the highway completely tonight after crews come off the line. As a reminder, call 511 or check with ADOT's social media for traffic and road closure updates.

UPDATE : staff, May 11, 11:35 a.m.

An update from the Arizona Department of Transportation announces that US 60 outside of Globe between mileposts 253-311 has been reopened from Globe to just west of Show Low.

"However, eastbound traffic is being flagged through mileposts 257-261. Please slow down in that area and watch for flaggers and firefighting crews still working in the area. ADOT expects to open the highway completely tonight after crews come off the line. As a reminder, call 511 or check with ADOT's social media for traffic and road closure updates."

GLOBE — Most of the Copper Canyon Fire, which has burned 2,652 acres, was quiet Sunday.

Highway 60 reopened Monday afternoon.

The fire closed US Highway 60 between Globe and Show Low all weekend. Through most of the day, US 60 remained closed Monday between mileposts 253 and 311 — near Globe to just west of Show Low. The fire seriously damaged guardrails along that stretch of highway, and due to public safety concerns, ADOT (The Arizona Department of Transportation) decided to keep it closed for public safety.

A portion of the northeast corner remained active as the fire consumed an island of brush within the fire’s perimeter Monday. Firefighters continued to mop up and secure fire edges and engines patrolled the perimeter scouring for flare ups or hot spots. Firefighters successfully tied the northeastern edge of the fire into the Griffin Fire burn scar on the Tonto National Forest Monday.

The Copper Canyon Fire was ignited sometime during the afternoon of Friday, May 7, about three miles northeast of Globe. The fire was determined to be human-caused and was fueled by dry, hot and windy conditions, thus challenging suppression efforts. Investigation is currently underway as to the source of ignition. There are no evacuation orders at this time, however all residents should be on high alert and are urged to sign up with their county’s emergency management website for local emergency notifications.

Due to public safety concerns regarding guardrail fire damage along a stretch of the highway, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) decided to keep highway US 60 closed until it was safe. For traffic updates, including road closures, call 511 or check ADOT’s social media sites. To register for Navajo County emergency alerts, visit www.navajocountyaz.gov/Departments/Emergency-Management-and-Preparedness/Ready-Navajo-County-Notification-System/Ready-Navajo-County-Registration

While a majority of the Copper Canyon Fire remained quiet Monday, it was only 35 percent contained and 135 people were on the ground fighting the fire.


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PTLS chili cook-off winner gets to be top bear

And the Top Chef Bear for First Place winner in the 2021 White Mountain Chili Cook-Off is Pinetop Lakes Country Club.

A second carved Top Chef Bear was presented to Vincenzo D’Angona of The Crockery Cafe and Infusery who was the 2020 winner.

Tasting time for chili and cobbler at the 2021 White Mountain Chili Cook-Off on Saturday, May 8.

The attendees were the ones that voted for the 2021 White Mountain Chili Cook-Off winners this year.

And best decorations went to Wine Mountains at the 2021 Chili Cook-Off.

There were two seating of 150 people each for the 2021 White Mountain Chili Cook-Off in order to keep the event COVID-safe.

PINETOP-LAKESIDE — It was like a big family reunion at Mountain Meadows Recreation Center on Saturday, May 8, for the 2021 White Mountain Chili Cook-Off. With two seatings of 150 people each, at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., in spite of the blustery winds, people were only blown away by the taste of the chili and the cobbler entries.

Though the event was free, it was essentially a sell out in that there were no more reservations available on Thursday evening when Community Services Manger Tony Alba addressed the town council. If someone cancelled, they were asked to notify the town so they could post availability for someone else to get that ticket. The cancelled reservation was then posted on the website where someone could capture that ticket.

In order to keep the event COVID-19-safe, walk ups were not allow so the town could manage the count. Participants were also required to wear masks until they were seated at their table.

In addition to the chili and cobbler teams, the event featured food vendors, a beer garden and wine tasting, a chainsaw carving demonstration by Trent Penrod of Burly Bear and live music by Blue Tattoo.

Eight chili teams competed along with two cobbler teams and the public voted for the winners.

The winners for best chili were: First place – Pinetop Lakes Country Club which included team members Greg Hathaway, Dorothy Doctor and John Kensho; Second place – Don’s ‘Hot Damn’ Chili by Don Coleman and Third Place, Hot Cookin’ Mamas whose team consisted of Ann Alba and Jacqueline Chevalier.

Best cobbler went to Pinetop Lakes Country Club and Best Decorations went to Wine Mountains.

Penrod carved two chef bears for winners’ trophies. The first was presented to Pinetop Lakes Country Club and the second, because there was no bear last year, went to Vincenzo D’Angona of The Crockery Cafe and Infusery who was the 2020 winner. Now, both can boast they are top chef bears.


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WMAT celebrates police week
  • Updated

WHITERIVER — This week the White Mountain Apache (WMA) Police Department is joining the nation in celebrating National Police Week May 9 – 15. The week will be filled with a lot of festivities ranging from school presentations to walks, runs, and a heated, but fun, basketball tournament among those who serve in law enforcement, security and emergency response.

President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day in 1962, and in a joint resolution Congress established National Police Week to recognize law enforcement officers who lost their lives protecting others in the line of duty.

Two of the Whiteriver runs this week will be in remembrance of WMA police officers Tenny Gatewood, Jr., (Badge P-22) and Officer David Kellywood (P-204).

Gatewood, 38, a nine year veteran of WMAPD, was the first WMA police officer killed in the line of duty on Dec. 9, 1999. According to lawmemorial.org, Gatewood was responding to a burglary call and stopped a vehicle he believed the suspects were in. A struggle ensued and the suspects, a father and son, shot Gatewood in the head before fleeing into the woods. Gatewood died. They were later captured and arrested. Gatewood was married and the father of four children.

Kellywood, 26, who had been with WMAPD only nine months, responded to a report of shots being fired near Hon-Dah Casino in Pinetop around 1 a.m. on Feb. 17, 2020. First on the scene, he was attacked by the subject in question, and in the struggle was shot and killed. A subsequent officer arrived on the scene and shot and killed the subject. Kellywood had previously served with the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office. Kellywood is survived by his wife and two children.

WMA Tribal Chairwoman Gwendena Lee-Gatewood reminded everyone of the upcoming festivities on her live Facebook stream on Saturday, May 8. She complimented Chief Theodore Shaw and his police force, rangers, dispatchers and Tribal forest rangers, acknowledging today’s pressures and scrutiny which everyone is under. She said there is a need for more officers and that the Tribe always advocates for them and are currently trying to get them a new building.

National Police activities are suggested around the country but each police jurisdiction often personalizes their own.

Monday, May 10, the WMA police department was to have a live interview on Apache radio, KNNB at 11 a.m., followed by a National Police Week kickoff at noon with a seat belt check point and Blue Ribbon distribution. Later in the day they planned their first school presentation at Theodore Roosevelt School, ending the day with a candlelight service at 8 p.m. in front of the Whiteriver Police Department.

Tuesday, May 11 will be two school presentations, one at 10 a.m. at McNary School and another at 1 p.m. at Whiteriver Elementary.

Wednesday, May 12 will be the Officer Memorial Runs. The Gatewood Memorial Run will begin at 7 a.m. and is open to the general public. Anyone may participate that would like to run or bike from the Gatewood Memorial location– Upper Log to Roberts Ranch (State Route 73, Milepost 351).

The next hour, 8 a.m., the Kellywood Memorial Relay Run will begin and will include only designated law enforcement officers. They will run from the Kellywood Memorial Site (Hondah RV Park) to Whiteriver Police Department.

Next is the Memorial Fun Walk, open to the general public. Participants will walk from the Apostolic Church parking lot (W. Rainbow St. across EMS). Runners and walkers will meet at the Whiteriver Assembly of God Church parking lot and together make their way to the Whiteriver Police Department.

Thursday, May 12 there will be more school presentations, the first at 9:45 a.m. at Alchesay High School, followed by a 1 p.m. presentation at Canyon Day Junior High.

Friday, May 14 ends the festivities with an 8 a.m. basketball tournament featuring the Whiteriver Police Department, EMS, Fire Department, Department of Corrections, Game & Fish and Housing Security at Memorial Hall at the Theodore Roosevelt School.

Lee-Gatewood summed up the upcoming police week in a special message to the Independent, stating, “Of our police force, two have lost their life in the line of duty. They accepted the call to be the guardian of our lives and property – of we the citizens. Both exemplified everything noble about policing as being honest and compassionate. Both fought as warriors on the outside but caring hearts on the inside and both paid the ultimate sacrifice. We must remember that Officers and Dispatchers and the administrative staff work together to help protect its community, they too are a precious Human Resource with families. We are thankful for the work they do and the time they commit to help maintain order.”

The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the fallen and telling the story of American law enforcement, and making it safer for those who serve, will hold a virtual 33rd Annual Candlelight Vigil during National Police Week on Thursday, May 13. It will honor 394 officers who died in the line of duty; 295 are from 2020; 99 are historical and 182 of the 2020 deaths were related to COVID-19. That event will be Livestreamed on social media platforms (Facebook, YouTube) and NLEOMF website at 8 p.m. EDT.


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Chief Joe Shelley is shifting gears

SHOW LOW — Police Chief Joe Shelley is headed to the lake and whatever else retired guys do nowadays.

Shelley is leaving law enforcement and is stepping into the civilian life with his wife Kara. After nearly seven and a half years as a respected leader in the Show Low Police Department, May 14 will be the day he turns in his badge for good.

The year he started his career in law enforcement, the National Institute of Justice published an article which stated that officers’ careers lasted an average of 26.4 years. Shelley beat that 1987 statistic. His career has spanned an impressive 34 years.

Shelley began with the Mesa, Arizona police department and proceeded to work his way up to the rank of Commander of Criminal Investigations. Then the City of Show Low managed to entice him away from the hustle and bustle of the metro beat. It was an a huge adjustment for the big city guy, but he quickly learned to slow down and was taught what the locals fondly call “mountain time.”

“I went down to the local barbershop during my two-week visit while I was considering this job and quickly found that people (in Show Low) were very opinionated and lived at a totally different pace from the life I came from, which was great!” Shelly said.

Not only did Shelley adjust to the slower speed of life, but he also had to adjust to the realities of fire season in the White Mountains.

“I was amazed at just how integrated all the agencies are: fire, the towns, (Navajo County Sheriff) and Show Low. They all work in tandem, like one team. It has to keep everyone safe when fires break out,” Shelley said.

“April 1 through July is fire season and two of the largest fires in Arizona happened right here. We have to be ready to jump into action at a moment’s notice,” Shelly said.

“I had some good times and some trying times in this career...real life is not like it is in the movies,” Shelley said.

Chief Shelley hates the grief bullies cause and that is what made him decide to apply and graduate from the academy in the first place. “I know it is a cliché, but it is a baseline — (officers) like helping people and they dislike bullies,” Shelley said.

When asked what he was most proud of, Shelley mentioned his wife Kara and step-daughter Cecelia, as well as his siblings and many nieces and nephews. Joe Shelley loves family, his faith and his community. However the one case which still sticks out in his mind, was a young bully back in Mesa. He is grateful to have influenced him to change his environment and went on graduate with a better mindset.

“I want others to know that I am very proud of this department and all we have accomplished. The Show Low community is incredible and I am glad to be a part of it,” Shelley said.

Chief Joe Shelley isn’t quite sure what exactly is next for him, but he does know, that it will involve more time with Kara and Cecelia, some football coaching, a lot of walking of Philos, his yellow Labrador Retriever, some camping, time with family and loads of home remodeling, and maybe a skydiving trip or two. Time to enjoy life in different clothes.


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Sunrise Park Resort will open for summer activities May 27

GREER — Escape the heat and join the fun at Sunrise Park Resort, starting May 27, 2021. From zip lining to archery and scenic lift rides to downhill mountain biking, however you’re looking to spend your summer, Sunrise Park Resort has you covered. To kick off the season, Sunrise has a weekend jam packed with activities for the whole family.

ADMISSION DISCOUNTS: Early bird gets the worm! The first person in line each day between May 27-30 will receive (1) one-day Explorers Pass. Additionally, the next 20 people in line will receive a 50% discount on admission tickets.

PRIZES: Sunrise Park Resort will be raffling off door prizes every hour throughout the entire opening weekend (May 27-30, 2021), with a grand prize raffle at the end of each day. But that’s not it — there will also be prizes hidden throughout the resort, so keep your eyes peeled throughout your visit.

LIVE MUSIC: Dust off your dancing shoes. Visitors can expect live music every day throughout the opening weekend from 12 to 3:30 p.m. Bands include Relentless and Planting Seeds.

5K RUN: On your mark, get set… go! Runners can meet at Sunrise General Store on Saturday, May 29 at 8 a.m. for a race to the base of Sunrise Mountain. First three finishers in both the men’s and women’s categories will win a prize.

HORSESHOE TOURNAMENT: Grab your lucky horseshoe and meet at the base of Sunrise Mountain on Saturday, May 29 at 11 a.m. for a horseshoe tournament. The tournament will be facilitated by Sinone Tortice and prizes will be awarded to 1st — 6th place in both the singles and doubles categories.

“Sunrise Park Resort has transformed from Arizona’s premier ski resort into a summer mountain escape.” said General Manager Roger Leslie. “From zip lining to hiking, mountain biking to fishing, we have activities the whole family will enjoy.”

Summer activities at Sunrise Park Resort include Arizona’s longest and fastest zip line, 13 different mountain bike trails, hiking, horseback riding, lake activities and more. All activities are dependent on weather. Sunrise Park Resort will be open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For up to date information, a full list of summer activities and prices, visit www.sunrise.ski.

Fire danger is at an all time high. Please no open campfires until further notice and put out cigarette butts completely.

Sunrise Park Resort is committed to guest safety while enjoying our mountain. In accordance with CDC guidelines, guests will be encouraged to wear face masks and practice 6 feet separation. Hand sanitizers are available throughout the property and designated staff will clean all public access areas and touch-points.

About Sunrise Park Resort:

Sunrise Park Resort, owned by the White Mountain Apache Tribe, is nestled in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona. Located 220 miles (4-hours) from both Phoenix, AZ and Albuquerque, NM, Sunrise Park Resort is one of the Southwest’s premiere skiing destinations and offers 65 runs spread out across three peaks. In the summer, the resort transforms into a cool mountain getaway, offering activities such as Arizona’s longest and fastest zipline, the only lift-served mountain biking trails in the state, hiking trails, kayaking, lake fishing, and camping. For the past 50 years, Sunrise Park Resort has been the prime draw for tourism in the White Mountains and looks forward to continuing to welcome tourists for decades to come.

For more information, please visit www.sunrise.ski.


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