Since Feb. 6, readers may have noticed a new byline appearing in our three newspapers: Steph Berens.

A North American Studies major at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, Berens emailed me in December, asking if we had an internship available for a few months this spring.

Berens had family in the Village of Oak Creek, had attended Sedona Red Rock High School in 2011 and had recently wrapped up an exchange program at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. She had worked for several student publications in Germany and Canada and wanted to intern at a newspaper to see if journalism was a career she wanted to pursue.

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Earlier this month, attendees at Middlebury College disrupted a lecture by controversial author Charles Murray.

Murray, who has been labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “white nationalist” who uses “racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics,” was to be questioned on stage by a liberal professor who would challenge Murray’s views and counter his arguments. But the protestors disrupted the lecture and subsequently disrupted a closed-door debate between the two men.

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Fire season is just around the corner and it’s time to get your home prepared.

The 2017 fire season looks like it may be a big one. There was a huge amount of precipitation last fall and winter throughout the West.

California witnessed the wettest winter in five years with some parts of the state getting 250 percent more precipitation than in a typical year. Thousands of people were evacuated after spillway damage to the Oroville Dam in Northern California threatened to collapse the entire dam.

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Residents have seen the usual uptick in traffic this spring, with seasonal monumental delays.

The traffic adjustments in Uptown — jaywalking barriers, the temporary median and police officers controlling the lights — have helped, but there is little anyone can do to speed up traffic on State Route 179. West Sedona has seen clogs at the lights and slowgoing from Soldier Pass Road to Arroyo Piñon Drive.

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Imagine the only voice from Congress that Americans heard from was the Speaker of the House. Members of the House of Representatives would not speak to their constituents and every question proffered to them, whether in their local offices, at public events, or before or after major votes was answered with, “I am unable to speak on the matter. Please direct your question to the Speaker of the House, the only person who can speak on behalf of Congress.”

Insanity, right? Undemocratic? Illogical for an elected body?

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While many of Sedona’s events strive to bring tourists to the city, the St. Patrick’s Parade is one of the few big ones aimed primarily at locals, though visitors are obviously more than welcome to attend.

Schoolchildren, businesses, clubs and nonprofits from around Sedona and the Verde Valley will be joined by public officials and municipal staff and representatives of Sedona, Cottonwood, Camp Verde, both Yavapai and Coconino counties, the U.S. Forest Service and the Yavapai-Apache Nation. Entrants come from as far away as Chino Valley and Flagstaff.

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