After reading feature writer Lu Stitt’s wrap-up of news events for 2010, I began thinking about the strides made by the Sedona Red Rock News and our staff over the past 12 months.

The last year was a year of change at the paper with new staff added, promotions made and a shift toward incorporating technology into our coverage.

It took hard work on the part of every employee in the newsroom, sales offices and press room to make the newspaper’s success in 2010 happen.

On the sales side, Kyle Larson took over both the display and classified advertising departments as the advertising director and led his staff to claim six awards in the Arizona Newspapers Association’s advertising competition.

Larson also welcomed two new sales representatives, Al Paliwoda and Christine Trcic, this year.
In the editorial department, leadership also shifted when Christopher Fox Graham became the assistant managing editor, and I took over as managing editor.

Photojournalist Tom Hood joined the team in January and brought home a second-place award from the ANA Better Newspapers Contest. Reporter Patrick Whitehurst came on board in November.

Our website,, took home first place in the state competition for newspapers with similar circulation and became popular with readers as they began commenting.

The most commented-on story this year was “Sedona man plans to run for president,” which received 29 comments.

Photojournalist Michele Bradley, who now works at our sister papers, earned a first- and third-place award from ANA, and sports reporter Brian Bergner Jr. and Production Manager John Stabe won first place for their Scorpions football season opener page design. The newspaper, as a whole, also won several other awards at the competition including honors for copy editing excellence and best use of photography.

We also expanded our collection of columns inviting journalism and yearbook students from Sedona Red Rock High School to write a weekly column, which gives all of us a look at the small world sitting on the west edge of the city.

Our staff has had a good year and we look forward to continuing our award-winning coverage in 2011 as Sedona’s longtime news source residents have come to rely upon.

Happy new year.

Exercise more.

Stop smoking.

Drink less.

Eat healthy.

Save money.

Spend more time with family.

Every year Americans vow to drop the vice with the tightest hold on their lives. Every year, most people fail.

The reason for failure? Setting the bar too high, not having an effective plan to achieve the resolution and expecting to fail all play a part in keeping people from bettering themselves year by year, dropping one habit at a time.

If one of the above reasons prevents most people from keeping their resolution, a new way to go about the tradition needs to be established.

I suggest lowering the bar. Why continually set yourself up for disappointment at the beginning of each year? Instead, be realistic and save yourself the inevitable feeling of failure.

Make keeping a resolution simple to boost confidence and create the feeling of accomplishment as you set out to conquer another year.

How about, “I resolve to brush my teeth,” or “I will drink water.”

The right resolution is foolproof and guarantees success.

I suggest taking baby steps. The first year on this program, resolve to do something you absolutely can’t fail at, something a child or intelligent animal does naturally. By doing this, you’re bound to feel great when it’s time to set the next resolution.

Then, you’ll be ready to up the ante.

Resolve to drive on the right side of the road only or take the trash out when it’s full. The second year’s resolution needs to include a task commonly accomplished by most people, but able to be shattered with one swift yank of the steering wheel.

Every year, set your sights approximately 1 millimeter higher and positive results are almost guaranteed.

By following the realists’ resolution regiment, within 20 to 25 years a participant can expect to reach a level where quitting smoking or drinking, exercising more or saving money truly can be achieved.

Until then, don’t get ahead of yourself.

Every year, around Thanksgiving, my mother asks me what I want for Christmas.

With each passing holiday season it becomes harder and harder to come up with ideas.

This year, while trying to dream up suggestions to avoid receiving anymore kitchen gadgets — no offense, Mom — I realized I am very lucky not to want anything other than what I’ve already received in nonmaterial gifts this year.

This year I received some of life’s best gifts.

I received a promotion to managing editor of Larson Newspapers’ three publications, a dream I’ve had since I was little girl.

Not too long after my promotion, another of my childhood dreams was fulfilled when I received quite possibly the best gift of all, a marriage proposal and a diamond ring from Mr. Right.

Along with the proposal came a wonderful family who has welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like one of their own on trips back East to visit them.

Aside from a job promotion, marriage proposal and family that tripled in size, I have many other gifts in my life that I am thankful for every day.

I have a mother, father, two sisters, future brother-in-law and niece I love very much.

I am healthy, active and young. I have good friends, some from further back than kindergarten.

I have two beautiful black labs, Zeke and Fletcher, to accompany me on any adventure.

I have a cozy home and someone wonderful to share it with.

I have a boss and staff who make my job enjoyable and extremely interesting.

I live in a beautiful area of the country with ample opportunity of any outdoor activity.

And, maybe most importantly, I am able to recognize my good fortune and want what I have rather than what I don’t, which is itself a gift.

Merry Christmas

Members of the Sedona City Council should not be involved in the public education process regarding the potential route transfer of State Route 89A.

In the end, it will be up to council to make the final decision, but members’ opinions need to be separated from the facts so the residents of Sedona can make an informed decision.

Ideally, the council’s decision should be based on the outcome of the public involvement process.

However, it appears several council members have already made up their minds and want to use the public process to persuade residents rather than educate them.

City staff has worked with the Arizona Department of Transportation at the direction of council to negotiate a deal for the possible take-over of State Route 89A in West Sedona.

The possibility of assuming control and liability of the highway came about after public outcry in response to ADOT’s proposal to install streetlights along the corridor for safety reasons.

The city has limited time to make a decision or ADOT’s plan moves forward.

City staff is burdened with the mission of finding out how the entire population of the city feels about the issues, not just those who show up at the meetings.

Gauging where the majority of the people stand on any issue can be challenging.

When lights were proposed, people turned out in droves to protest, even going as far as standing on the highway with signs.

Later, when the route transfer was proposed as an alternative, just as many people spoke out against the city — which relies on one source of taxable income — taking on a financial obligation of this scale.

Where the majority actually stands is unknown, and we may even find out many people aren’t that concerned about the issue because they have bigger challenges facing them.

Despite what is revealed, the best way to ensure the facts are delivered without spin is to keep the politicians out of it.

When I wake up and it’s raining, I dread my commute to work.

It’s not that I don’t know how to drive in unfavorable conditions. I learned to drive in western Wyoming and used to make a 10 to 12-hour trek from Missoula, Mont., to Lander, Wyo., on snow-packed, ice-covered mountain passes so I could be with my family on Christmas.

I’ve slid sideways at speeds that barely moved the speedometer and dealt with white-out conditions.

However, what made winter driving up north easier was people understood a few basic precautions and took them — slow down, and leave more space between you and the car in front of you.

My trip into Sedona on Thursday morning, Dec. 16, was quite possibly the worst I’ve experienced since I moved to Arizona. Luckily, after making the drive day after day you begin to pick out the drivers to stay away from — they cut people off, tailgate at high speeds and have little to no regard for others on the road.

I spotted one of those drivers approaching in the passing lane Thursday and knew right away I better keep my eye on him. Approaching a red light at Cornville Road he was tailgating a small Honda Civic with his big blue Dodge Ram in the right lane.

After the light turned green the Honda kept a safe distance from the car in front of it, proper technique for a water-covered highway, as it accelerated. The man in the blue truck looked over at me a couple of times — we were now driving next to each other — and then, in one fell swoop, moved into my lane pushing me onto the shoulder.

Luckily, I knew he was there and just as dangerous as the driver of the black Land Cruiser that weaves tightly in and out of traffic every morning, and I had only made it up to 45 miles per hour.

Shaken by the situation, I didn’t get his license plate number before he pulled the same maneuver on another vehicle to get back into the left lane.

I understand it’s frustrating when slow traffic drives in the left lane. I’ve been known to become quite annoyed by the oblivious driver traveling 5 miles per hour below the speed limit in the fast lane.

However, getting annoyed and driving dangerously are two different reactions.

When it’s wet and slick on the highway, be aware of those around you. If you’re going slow, stay in the right lane where you belong. If you’re going fast, don’t put others in danger by driving like a maniac.

I’m not surprised we rarely make it out of storm without a car accident. The sad part is the cautious driver is often the victim of someone else’s bad driving.

I almost became that victim Thursday. Strangely, it was the first day in months I didn’t see a single law enforcement officer between my home in Clarkdale and office in Uptown.

Yavapai County has grown since the last census, despite an economic downturn, and now it is feeling the growing pains.

The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors authorized $85,000 to be spent on a Maryland consulting firm hired to help the county redraw its district lines.

County Administrator Julie Ayers predicts the county outgrew the three-district model and will be forced to divide into five districts instead once the 2010 Census results are released.

Ideally, those of us in the Verde Valley would like to see two districts on our side of the mountain and three on Prescott’s side.

Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor Chip Davis currently stands as the lone Verde Valley representative on the board. Supervisors Tom Thurman and Carol Springer have not been known to blackball the Verde Valley when it comes to approving Verde Valley items that come before them, but their interests do rest with their constituents on the other side of the hill.

If there are going to be five districts, it would be nice if Davis received a little help.

Ayers predicted in November the population of the Verde Valley won’t be large enough to support two districts. Law requires all districts in a county be similar in size with regard to population.

She said a portion of the Verde Valley will likely be grouped with communities from the outside.
Where those lines are drawn will affect county residents forever, and it’s important it be done correctly.

Bringing in outside help may be necessary. Redistricting doesn’t happen often in small-growing rural areas so it’s not surprising the county doesn’t have the staff to do the job completely in-house.

Bringing someone in from the outside, however, and from as far away as Maryland, also presents challenges. It’s important the consultant does not just look at a population map and start drawing lines.

He needs to study the county, community by community, and understand the culture of each area when it comes to conservation, way of life and future economic plan. Many factors other than population density need to be considered.

Redrawing the lines will be a tremendously demanding job completed in a relatively short period of time, which means everything possible needs to be done to make sure it is done right.

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