After the Sedona Marathon in February, organizers announced it would not return for 2012 and was on “indefinite hiatus.”

Then, a new group announced it would host a marathon in 2012.

Then, the Sedona Marathon organizers said they would be back in 2013.

Then, the new marathon group killed its plans for a 2012 event.

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Traveling more than 10 miles under the speed limit, coming to a dead stop in a 40-mph lane to take a picture, improper use of roundabouts or asking where to see red rocks while standing at Red Rock Crossing are habits of visitors that have at some point driven nearly every Sedona resident crazy.

We live here. We see the beautiful landscape day in and day out on our way to work, school or the store. We’ve already slowed or stopped to admire the landscape, and when we’re in a hurry, we sometimes forget how we reacted the first time we stumbled into red rock country.

Every tourist town is the same.

Something about the town — natural beauty, arts, culture — draws people in to live.

That same force in turn attracts visitors.

A “tourist trap” can only function if the bait is good.

When I lived in Jackson Hole, Wyo., locals expressed similar irritation with visitors, even though they all knew those “tourons” paid their salaries.

Traffic would back up for miles heading into the town square, people crossing busy streets neglected to find a crosswalk and tourists would ask, while standing directly in front of Wyoming’s natural wonder, “Where can I see the Grand Tetons?”

Living in tourist towns, however, gives us an advantage while traveling to another — we know what not to do to anger the locals.

I recently returned from the island of Kauai in Hawaii where my husband and I spent the week enjoying ourselves while not irritating the islanders.

In fact, we made friends with a group of native Hawaiians while hovering under a beach shelter on a rainy day.

They told us stories about their families, how they make a living in the small island towns and what visitors do to drive them crazy. Then they fed us local cuisine cooked on the beach barbecue.

They felt comfortable sharing their home with us because we didn’t storm in camera clicking and brake lights flashing, blocking traffic. We took our knowledge of typical tourist behavior and did our best not to let the bad shine through.

Sure, we came back with tons of photographs and visited several tourist traps, but we did so in a respectful manner to those who call Princeville, Lihue, Kapaa and Hanalei home.

We also welcome visitors into our beautiful backyard, but respectful guests make hospitality much easier.

For some, high school graduation is the end. For others, it’s just the next step to a university degree. However, college would be prohibitively expensive for many if it wasn’t for the philanthropy of scholarships.

On Tuesday, May 10, 32 Sedona Red Rock High School seniors received $212,300 in scholarship funds from 29 donors. Many of those donors gave multiple scholarships and many of the students won more than just one award. Even if the numbers were slightly skewed higher due to three big scholarships, according to school staff, the total was the highest in the school’s history.

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Over the past year and a half the Sedona Red Rock News has begun strictly enforcing our guidelines when it comes to letters to the editor, and particularly the length requirement.

Letters are required to be 300 words or less, and if they’re longer, I send them back to the author and ask him or her to revise the letter.

Since we began enforcing the letter’s length requirement, we’ve received many requests for us to make an exception for certain letters or to use the letter as a guest perspective.

When it comes to letter length, we rarely, if ever, allow a letter over 300 words to slip through making sure we treat everyone equally. If I allow one letter to run at 400 words I have numerous other writers calling for the same favor.

We developed the length requirement to ensure any resident who wants to be heard can do so. Long letters take up more space and force us to print fewer letters.

In some cases, however, more than 300 words is needed to express an opinion or point of view on a topic that is important to the community. In those instances, we consider allowing a reader to submit a guest perspective.

Guest perspectives must first be approved by editorial staff before they will be considered for publication.

A letter over 300 words doesn’t necessarily warrant it as guest perspective.

When considering guest perspectives for publication several factors are evaluated including, but not limited to:

  • The author’s expertise in the area. Is the author a current or former elected official? Does the author work in the field in question?
  • Original content. Guest perspectives must offer new information and not be repetition of a previous guest perspective, staff article or column. We also require the author does not submit the piece for publication in any other venue.
  • Importance to the community. The value that residents will find in obtaining the information will be considered. Guest perspectives are not meant to be thank you letters or give credit to groups or individuals. The purpose is to discuss an issue and give an opinion.
  • Factual information. Documents supporting any number or statistics must be provided.
  • Submission frequency. Has the author already written a guest perspective on this topic or any other topic within the last few weeks? We will not print multiple guest perspectives by a single individual within a short period of time. Editorial staff will use its discretion in determining when a reasonable amount of time has passed or whether the guest perspective is vital to public knowledge.

Our letters to the editor guidelines can be found on our website at www.redrocknews.com under “submissions.”

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