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Fest reels in money

More than 7,200 individuals reveled in the parade of films, celebrities and workshops provided by the 14th annual Sedona International Film Festival & Workshop’s weeklong program, up 1,300 from the prior year.

The festival began with preview screenings of “Strip Search” and “The Mist” on…

The city of Sedona spent $1.8 million on experts and studies during the years from 1999 to the early part of 2008, on average $200,000 per year.

More than a million of those dollars was consumed by the Public Works Department for studies and plans on sewers, drains and traffic design.

Another quarter-of-a- million dollars bought expertise in subjects for the Community Development Depart-ment, including transit feasibility, housing studies and historical resources.…

Of the small handful of magic prop manufacturers in the world, Village of Oak Creek resident Nick Ruggiero is among the most highly specialized.

He’s known for his high-tech, esoteric props — most priced well beyond the $2,000 range.

Ruggiero’s clients, many of whom are highly regarded in the illusionist community, approach Ruggiero with their ideas — the tricks they’d like to perform — and it’s Ruggiero’s job to come up with the gaff, he said.

It’s a complicated process that requires an expert understanding of a variety tools, materials and scientific principles.

Ruggiero said he became fascinated with magic at the age of 13. He quickly began learning tricks and reading every magic book he could get his hands on.

Years later, a massive library of books related to magic line the walls of Ruggiero’s home and he’s read every one of them, he said.

“If you want to build nice magic, you’ve got to know what came before you,” Ruggiero said.

Respectable magicians don’t use rabbits anymore. They’re looking for more and many turn to the high-tech to bring their acts to the forefront, according to Ruggiero.

His list of clients include popular magicians like David Copperfield and the late Doug Henning, but most of his clients are just hobbyists, he said — wealthy hobbyists who like to perform for their guests.

Doctors and lawyers seem to have a particularly affinity for the trade, Ruggiero said. They’re hoping to learn the secrets, or at least buy a machine that can perform the tricks for them.

That’s where Ruggiero comes in. 

Tyler Midkiff

Larson Newspapers…

The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing regarding a proposal that Yavapai County incur a long-term obligation pursuant to a lease-purchase agreement, secured by a ground lease agreement in certain real property owned by the county and repayment of the obligation from annual appropriations from the general fund of the county, to fund the construction of a Superior Court building, Juvenile Detention building and two Justice buildings located in Yavapai County.

The hearing will be at 10 a.m., on Monday, March 17, at the Yavapai County Cottonwood Annex, 10 S. Sixth St., Cottonwood.

The estimated principal amount of the obligation is $50 million and, with interest estimated at $27,857,485, the estimated total financing cost is $77,857,485, but this cost may be significantly higher or lower depending on the actual interest rates and actual payment dates.

For more information, call 1-928-771-3200.…

District eyes lowering tax

Lowering the mil levy rate for its 2008-09 fiscal year was the first order of discussion at the Sedona Fire District Governing Board meeting Feb. 27.

Mil levy is the term for the district’s tax rate which is applied against the assessed property value made by Yavapai County and Coconino County.

An example of the mil levy tax calculation for a home

with a market value of half-a-million dollars:

$500,000 market value times 0.10 assessment ratio [Yavapai County] times 0.0175 SFD mil levy rate [for 2007-08] = $875.…

Yavapai County voters can now request to be added to a list of Permanent Early Voters.

A new option this year, voters on the list automatically receive ballots by mail without requesting one.

For approximately 20 years, Arizona voters have been able to request early ballots but not be added to a permanent list.

Yavapai County Recorder Ana Wayman-Trujillo mailed letters to voters in February detailing the option and a request form to be added to the list.

To sign up, voters must fill out the form, sign it and mail it back to the recorder’s office. A person must sign the form in order to be added to the list.

Visit or call, 1-928-771-3248.

Trista Steers

Larson Newspapers…

Writer and director Philippe Caland relies on improvisation in his films.

It’s an unorthodox approach, he said, and it’s one that requires a lot of trust from his actors.

It’s also one of the reasons he chooses to star in his films, he said — to be certain his ideas and intentions are getting through.

“Ripple Effect,” Caland’s latest film, which will screen twice during this year’s Sedona International Film Festival, stars Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker, Academy Award nominees Virginia Madsen and Minnie Driver, and Caland in the leading role.…

Darabont horrifies Sedona

“The Mist,” a cinematic adaptation of Stephen King’s novella of the same name, is the crazy, intense horror film Academy Award-nominated director Frank Darabont always wanted to make.

In fact, it was almost his first movie. But he instead directed “The Shawshank Redemption,” which he said fooled everyone into thinking he was an optimistic sweetheart of a filmmaker.

With “The Mist,” audiences are able to learn the truth, Darabont joked.…

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