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Storms so far bringing lightning and winds but not much moisture
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Arizona firefighters continue to toil on the superheated edge of disaster, with record temperatures, kindling-dry fuels and new fires flaring almost daily.

Despite the terrible conditions, crews have held the line on the big, currently active fires scattered across the state. Still, the forecast calls for near-record temperatures and extreme fire conditions across much of the state for the next week.

The White Mountains have been largely spared the worst of a bad fire season so far, but the slow build towards monsoon conditions will likely deliver a series of dry lightning storms across much of the state before rainfall begins to bring the danger down.

Lightning sparked the Horton Fire on Wednesday, just five miles Northeast of Hannigan Meadows south of Alpine. Some 40 firefighters with five engines, a dozer and a water tender rushed to contain the blaze — burning mostly through dead snags and downed trees in the Wallow Fire Scar. As of Wednesday, it had grown to 40 acres.

Other much larger blazes also bedeviled firefighters across the state, struggling with both record temperatures that hit 117 degrees in Phoenix, topped 100 in Payson and lurched into the 90s in Show Low.

The Telegraph Fire near Superior has grown to 166,000 acres, but is just 72% contained. The fire has produced numerous evacuation alerts, but exhausting efforts by 1,000 firefighters with air tanker support have so far held key fire lines – often anchored on highways.

The Telegraph and Mescal fires have now officially merged into a single 220,000 acre expanse of burned chaparral and desert grasslands. The Telegraph Fire has damaged at least 20 structures since it started on June 4 about 1.5 miles southeast of Superior. It has grown by more than 15,000 acres since last Tuesday and is now considered 59% contained.

The dry thunderstorms have complicated efforts, causing the fire to make wind-driven runs — sometimes outflanking fire crews. “The Telegraph Fire received outflow winds from cells building over the White Mountains in the later afternoon,” said the latest update in Inciweb. “Winds increased dramatically with gusts near 40 mph driving uncontained fire downslope to the south past Dripping Springs Road. After the outflow winds dissipated, fire returned to moderately active southerly growth through Sonoran Desert grass, brush, and cacti.”

In the Verde Valley, the Cornville Fire briefly threatened a small community after it started from unknown causes on June 13. The fire grew to 1,240 acres, but is now 92% contained. Crews are working on mop-up operations, with a wary eye on the developing storm systems.

The dangerous Slate Fire started on June 7 and is now 53% contained, at 11,435 acres. Some 177 firefighters continue to work the line, finishing containment lines and bracing for another week of extreme fire weather.

Closer to home, the 3,550-acre McDonald Tank Fire is 95% contained and the 3,000-acre Boggy Creek fire is 70% contained. Both fires started in May in the White Mountains, burning through the debris of previous major fires. Crews have strong containment lines established, but the extreme weather could kick the wildfires into renewed activity.

The National Weather Service says Arizona’s currently the most endangered state in the country, with a band of “extreme” fire weather running from the southeast corner of the state, up through the Sky Islands and along the Mogollon Rim all the way to the Grand Canyon and the extreme northwest corner of the state.

The whole rest of the state swelters in “high” or “very high” fire weather.

The National Weather Service office in Flagstaff has issued an extreme heat warning for most of the state, with high temperatures between 100 and 120 for all elevations below 5,000 feet.

The excessive heat warning covers lower elevations of Navajo, Yavapai and Coconino counties as well.

Moreover, most of New Mexico along the border with Arizona — especially adjacent to the Navajo Reservation and the White Mountains is covered by a “hazardous weather” warning as well as an extreme heat warning.

“Critical fire weather and very hot conditions will continue for much of the region through the weekend,” said the notice. “High-based showers and thunderstorms will be possible each afternoon and evening through Saturday across portions of central and soutehr Utah. Expect occasional lightning and gusty, erratic microburst winds.”

Thunderstorms will flirt with the White Mountains, but probably won’t deliver enough moisture to ease the extreme fire conditions, according to the forecast.

For Show Low, the forecast for the weekend calls for highs in the mid-90s, with a chance of isolated thunderstorms – but no more than a 20% chance of rain.

National Forests throughout the state remain in Stage II fire restrictions, which bans all fires, outdoor smoking, target shooting and other risky activities like welding, using explosives, charcoal fires, and use of any acetylene or other torch with an open flame in the National Forests.

The fire dangers is listed as “very high” in the Alpine and Lakeside ranger districts and “High in the Black Mesa and Clifton” districts of the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest. The danger is down to “moderate” in the Springerville Ranger District.

Cutting tall trees

Excitement filled the air Monday on Blue Ridge Loop in Pinetop as R&B Tree Removal teamed up with a crane from Perkins Cinders to remove four very tall Ponderosa Pine trees from the property of George and Carol Sue Myers on South Blue Ridge Loop. The crane was enlisted to lift sections of the tall trees over other homes and tall pines in the area.

Flag day spectacular

SHOW LOW — Flag Day is celebrated on June 14 every year, commemorating a resolution by the Second Continental Congress called The Flag Resolution enacted on June 14, 1777 in Philadelphia. With the words “Resolved, The flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation,” the official Flag was born.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that day as Flag Day, and in 1948, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress, according to historical sources.

This week, 190 American Flags were hard to miss across from the Victorian in Show Low. They were placed there by Fishers of Men for Veterans, a non-profit organization based in Pinetop Lakeside. The Fishers place flag displays around the holidays of Memorial Day, May 31; the Fourth of July; Veterans’ Day, Nov. 11; and the anniversaries of the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan on Dec. 7 and September 11.

The September 11 display last year bore a significance not readily observable, including 219 American flags in the same place as this week’s Flag Day display. Then, each flag represented an Arizona veteran who perished in the wars after September 11, including the 13 service members who came from local communities here.

About Fishers of Men

The name comes from the New Testament: “And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me and I will make you fishers of men.” Gospel of Mark 1:17, King James Bible. The same instruction appears in two other New Testament books as well, in Matthew and not so eloquently in Luke, “Fear not; from henceforth thou shall catch men.” (5:10)

In 2006, one strong lady took that passage to heart and formed non profit 501 © 3 organization, Fishers of Men for Veterans in 2008, which she calls a ministry. It took awhile to raise the $1,000 filing fee for the corporation commission. She and other volunteers asked not to be named in a newspaper article, because they don’t want to take anything away from their non-denominational force of volunteers that do all the work.

By all appearances, the organization has been a big success over the years. Through fundraising and donations, the organization provides food, emergency boxes, blankets, sleeping bags, tents, clothing, personal hygiene kits, household goods as well as help for veterans to find housing, guidance with civilian transitions and working with other agencies to help veterans access the benefits and programs available to them. Their Kind Heart Bags are filled with hand warmers, scarves, hats, instant hot chocolate and the Fishers tie the bags to trees in areas that are frequented by veterans in need, like bus stops and public parks. There are four types of bags, for adult and juvenile males, and adult and juvenile females.

Other events by The Fishers

Fishers of Men holds specific events annually or bi annually like Wreaths Across America, typically scheduled for the week before Christmas. It is an effort to place live wreaths at the headstones of veterans as a “living tribute” to them, stated its website. They also launched a Bike Program in 2018 through which the group accepted old adult bicycles, fixed them up and gave them to veterans, a total of 12 bikes that year, in order to help the vets be independent and able to travel to appointments at the Veterans Administration.

In August, 2019 the group hosted a “Stand Down” at Blue Ridge High School. Stand down is a military phrase which describes a relaxation of a military unit’s mission or status. At that event, 37 vendors showed up to provide assistance to the vets in attendance at Blue Ridge. Given out to the vets was a meal, clothing, blankets, jackets, sleeping bags, tents, hygiene items, dog food, information about veterinary services and discounts, animal adoptions and government benefits. The group also raffled off donated items. The money paid for tickets went to the organization.

They also have yard or rummage sales throughout the year, the proceeds of which help keep the operation going. And every year in October, for the last 10 years, the group launched a coat “give away,” the Fishers like to call it. Hundreds of coats, jackets, gloves and scarves were distributed not only to veterans, but members of their families. Items not used were donated to another ministry for distribution all over the White Mountains.

The ministry also partners with local police and fire departments. The Fishers donate back packs to the departments which contain essential items for vets in need whom the authorities come across in the community. The blue backpacks are heavy and loaded with about three days of instant meals, clothing, hygiene items, etc. The packs are a particular color of blue which make it easy to identify the recipient as being a veteran in need.

Finally, the group has done light construction work, like building wheelchair ramps. One of the volunteers drafts specs, blueprints, for the particular project—as of last year, they had built 30 ramps. The resident is not asked to provide the materials; the Fishers somehow come up with that through donations.

Official sponsors of the ministry have included KNS Tech Services in Snowflake, Containers on Demand, LLC in Show Low, Wagon Wheel RV & Mini Storage in Lakeside, which donates a storage site to the Fishers, Painted Desert Quilts in Holbrook, Law for Veterans in Florence and American Service Animal Society in Chandler, made available a 40 acre parcel in Pinedale to help train animals.

The public fuels the ministry’s good work with contributions and donations, for which Fishers of Men is very grateful. Visit their website at fishersofmenforveterans.com or call (928) 369-8455. Donations are tax deductible.

The Wall that Heals

In October coming up, The Fishers would like to remind the community that beginning October 28 through the 31st, The Wall That Heals will be on display at the Mountain Meadow Recreation Complex in Pinetop Lakeside. It is three-quarters scale traveling replica of the stunning Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The event is a program of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Founders of the Wall, according to a flyer provided to the Independent by Fishers of Men. As the date gets closer, the full event schedule for the event will be posted at www.PINETOPLAKESIDE.com. The town is looking for volunteers for that event as well--the contact person for that is Tony Alba at (928) 368-8696 ext. 240 or Talba@pintoplakesideaz.gov.

This year dads get the longest day of the year

SHOW LOW — This year the earth is getting in on the celebration of dads with the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, as Father’s Day falls on the summer solstice.

Though Father’s Day unofficially started in 1908, Washington state was first to hold an official statewide celebration on June 19, 1910. It was all due to one widow woman bound and determined to honor her one-of-a-kind father, William Jackson Smart, a twice-married, twice-widowed, Civil War veteran on both sides of the conflict, and single father to 14 children.

In 1916, President Wilson used telegraph signals sent from Washington D.C. to unfurl a flag in Spokane D.C. to commemorate the day.

Despite all the passion and effort, the paternal holiday was slow to take off, partially because men found such celebrations to be too feminine and partly due to the events of the times. The 1920s and 1930s gave rise to a popular movement to while combining Mother’s Day and Father’s Day into one Parents’ Day and do away with the commercialism which had overtaken the event. Each Mother’s Day, pro-Parents’ Day groups would rally in New York City’s Central Park as a public reminder, said Parents’ Day activist and radio performer Robert Spere, “that both parents should be loved and respected together.”

However, the Great Depression squashed the efforts to de-commercialize and consolidate the holidays. As advertisers and troubled retailers doubled down on campaigns to make Father’s Day a “second Christmas” for men, promoting specialized gifts, such as neckties, hats, socks, pipes and tobacco, golf clubs and other sporting goods, and of course, greeting cards.

World War II ushered in a new era and advertisers began promoting the idea that Father’s Day was a way to honor US troops and support the war effort. In the end, Father’s Day may not have been a federal holiday, but it was solidly a national institution.

In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged the states to observe Father’s Day and finally it was officially named a national holiday in 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed it into law.

“Let each American make this Father’s Day an occasion for renewal of the love and gratitude we bear to our fathers, increasing and enduring through all the years,” Nixon wrote in the document.

Today’s Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of every June in the US, however it is quite rare for Father’s Day to fall both on summer solstice and June 20.

Summer solstice occurs when the Sun reaches its northernmost point from the celestial equator, the timing is not based on a specific calendar date or time. Therefore, each solstice will not always occur on the same day. It shifts through June 20, 21, and 22.

Marking the astronomical start of summer in the northern half of the globe, summer solstice occurs as the Sun travels along its northernmost path in the sky at exactly 7:32 p.m. Arizona time as Earth arrives at the point in its orbit where the North Pole is at its maximum tilt, roughly around 23.5 degrees toward the Sun, resulting in the longest period of sunlight hours, followed by the shortest night of the calendar year.

The word “solstice” is derived from the Latin word solstitium — translated sun stopped. The June solstice is significant because the Sun reaches its northernmost point in the sky at this time, at which point the Sun’s path does not change for a brief period of time, due to the tilt of the Earth’s axis.

Following the solstice, the Sun seems to reverse course. Of course the Sun is not really moving. Instead, this visible change in position is actually caused by the tilt of Earth’s axis as it orbits the Sun, as well as Earth’s elliptical, rather than circular orbit.

If dad is a rare kind of guy, this is definitely the year to let him know.

Show Low weather is predicted to be partly-cloudy, with a high of 93-degrees and a low of 65, so be sure to allow dad some downtime to do whatever makes him feel appreciated.

Summit Healthcare announces new CEO

The Governing Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Shawn D. Morrow has been selected as Chief Executive Officer to replace Ron McArthur who is retiring on August 6.

Morrow is a seasoned healthcare administrator with over 20 years’ experience leading tertiary, mid-size and small hospitals. He holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Murray State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Portuguese/Business Management from Brigham Young University. Shawn is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) and a GE Fellow in the Health Management Academy.

In accepting the CEO position, Morrow said, “It is with tremendous excitement that I accept the offer of employment as the CEO of Summit Healthcare. I look forward to serving with the Board, Executive Leadership Team, Medical Staff, and each caregiver to continue building on the strong legacy of health and healthcare that is associated with the Summit Healthcare brand. My family and I can’t wait to relocate and integrate into the community. I appreciate the trust that comes with this position and feel honored at being added to your team.”

Morrow and his family enjoy golfing, fishing, basketball and small community living making them a natural fit for the White Mountains.

“Serving as CEO of Summit Healthcare has been the highlight of my 43 year career,” said Ron McArthur.

Paul Watson, Governing Board Chairman, said, “The leadership Ron has provided over the past 11 years has been instrumental in Summit’s success. His accomplishments are immeasurable.”

Morrow’s start date is August 2 and he and McArthur will be working together to ensure a smooth transition.

Paul Watson said, “With Shawn’s depth of experiences, we are confident we have chosen the best leader to take Summit Healthcare to the next level as we continue to meet the healthcare needs of the White Mountain communities.”

About Summit Healthcare

Summit Healthcare is a not-for-profit health care organization with the primary mission to provide exceptional, compassionate care, close to home. For further information, please call 928-537-4375 or visit our website at www.SummitHealthcare.net.