The newspaper business isn’t for the thin-skinned.

Every story we publish has fans and critics, including feel-good feature stories we’re sure everyone will love. Someone always has a problem with even those, and they let me know.

For example, after we published the story “Sedona man plans to run for president,” I received an e-mail criticizing us for running it implying the story was a waste of space. The woman did, however, write back to apologize for flying off the handle. The first e-mail was definitely drafted in what could have been considered a harsh tone.

Since then, the story has proved to be the most popular yet on our website receiving over 20 comments as of Thursday, Dec. 2 — some of those in support of Dennis Knill and some of them not.

The woman’s first e-mail was a classic example of what we see at the paper. Her apology after I responded, however, was novel.

We receive more hate mail and phone calls telling us we’re horrible people when the story’s controversial, but I think readers would be surprised it can even happen when someone writes a story about a life being saved.

We have to let the insults roll off our backs, especially those that are personal. Criticism of the product is understandable and everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion and has the right to express that opinion. When the jabs turn personal — especially when we have never met the people dishing them out — that’s when the merit of the argument is lost.

We always welcome comments on our stories and work, whether they are positive or negative, but common courtesy goes a long way in getting your point across.

In a city that prides itself on being “different” and “diverse,” you’d think tolerance would be a given. Instead, hate seems to ignite at the mere spark of disagreement, which is too bad, especially during the holiday season.

We’re all in this together, whether we agree or not on any number of issues, and it’s in all of our best interests to follow the Golden Rule. It’s a simple concept but seems to sometimes be the hardest for many adults to master.

My home will soon be powered by the sun.

Pending an APS inspection and the flip of a switch, Mother Nature will heat my house, turn on my lights and power almost every other electricity-related activity at my residence, and her usage rate is much cheaper.

Granted, there is the up-front cost of installation, but with rebates and tax credits we didn’t feel we could go wrong.

Not only will our monthly APS bill decrease dramatically, if we owe anything at all, but I feel like we’re doing something good for the Earth and future generations who will inhabit the world the way we leave it for them.

As green living becomes a trend across the country, different states have begun to evaluate which source of renewable energy works best for their climates.

In plains states, people use wind to generate power. In cold states, they use geothermal. In states where water is plentiful, they use hydropower.

We figured in Arizona, how could we not ask the sun to help us produce energy for our home?
Our panels won’t cover the entire cost of our current rate of electricity consumption every month, but it will be close.

We estimate during our highest usage times, which is generally in the winter at my house, our solar panels will generate 85 to 90 percent of what we use. However, that simply gives us incentive to cut back on our consumption.

In the summer, when we use less energy, we should see our meter spin backward as we generate more than we need.

Going solar may seem overwhelming, or even expensive due to up front costs, but there are  resources available to educate the public on the benefits, both environmentally and financially.

Sustainable Arizona, a Sedona nonprofit dedicated to conservation and sustainable practices, offers several solar information links on its website.

I’m glad we made the switch, not only to save us money in the long run, but because we took a fairly significant step to mitigate our impact on the planet, which is something more people need to think about.

Sedona voters spoke loud and clear, and two Sedona Fire District Governing Board members blatantly ignored them.

Following the election of three new board members, the outgoing board had the option of filling a fourth vacant seat by appointing the candidate who finished just out of reach of a four-year term.

Douglas Fitzpatrick, the candidate in the fourth slot, lost the third seat to Dave Blauert by six votes, not a landslide or even healthy margin by any means.

Outgoing board member Liza Vernet and outgoing Chairman Ralph Graves voted to adopt a new policy allowing the board to appoint Fitzpatrick. Outgoing board member Bert Berkshire and board Clerk Charles Christensen decided their agenda is more important than what the voters — the people they are supposed to represent — want for the district.

Berkshire and Christensen claimed they simply wanted to stick with current policy, which requires interested individuals to go through an entire application process, and their claim is as transparent as a clean glass window.

Sedona Red Rock News Publisher Bob Larson was outraged when he heard the news that Berkshire and Christensen chose not to vote based on the will of the people.

“This is what’s wrong with government,” Larson said.

Berkshire stated at the meeting Wednesday, Nov. 17, that the item was put on the agenda because it served the best interests of those behind it. Who is that, Mr. Berkshire? The voters who would have elected Fitzpatrick if all four seats had been available by election? If so, yes, it would have served the best interests of Sedona area voters.

In fact, Berkshire should not have even voted on the item because he has a conflict of interest. He ran for a seat on the board and came in last. By not filling it with the fourth-place finisher, Berkshire himself can apply to be reappointed to the board.

Christensen, the only board member who will remain after the election, failed the simplest test he could have been given. He’s proved he is not interested in carrying out the will of the people, but instead is more concerned with his own agenda for the district.

It’s not often a board gets to poll voters before it makes a decision. This board had that opportunity through the election and failed to follow the people’s desire.

If Christensen thinks new board members will bow down to his wishes and appoint someone from his “team” rather than the candidate voters themselves selected, I hope Ty Montgomery, Dave Blauert and Phyllis Erick stand up for the community that voted them into office.

A reversal of this vote by the three incoming members would prove they’re ready to walk the walk they’ve been talking over the last few months.

It’s not about who finished fourth — it could have been Joe Demme or Mel Rycus or Berkshire himself. It’s about representing your constituents, which Berkshire and Christensen did not do.

A few years ago I hiked along the Broken Arrow Trail to the Devil’s Dining Room sinkhole with a local geologist.

While the hike was wonderful and the views were spectacular, recreation wasn’t why we were there.

The man took me to one of three sites proposed by the Arizona Water Company for a 1.5 million-gallon water tank to show me why building it near the sinkhole was a terrible idea. The sinkhole is approximately 30 feet wide and 90 feet deep, and potentially compromises the sturdiness of the ground around it.

I wrote a story about the geologist’s findings then, and the water tank issue drifted to the back of residents’ minds until it resurfaced a few weeks ago.

To my surprise, the Broken Arrow option is still considered an alternative among three others, one of which is to do nothing at this time. Even more astonishing was the discovery many residents, including some of our Sedona City Council members, aren’t aware of the issues with the Broken Arrow location or are simply choosing to ignore them.

The proposal offers four options — build a tank at Broken Arrow, northwest of the Chapel of the Holy Cross or in the Little Horse area, or do nothing at this time.

Right before the public comment period closed Monday, Nov. 15, residents turned out in droves at public meetings to voice their opinions on where a water tank should be built if it needs to be built at all.

Allegedly, the tank is needed to provide water for household use and fire suppression for current and future residents along State Route 179, a valid need.

However, let’s not rush the decision. If the economic downturn has bought us anything, it’s time.

Future growth won’t be an issue anytime in the near future. We have to fill the vacant homes in Sedona before we start building new ones and that alone will take some time.

The economy is improving but the climb up from the bottom will be much slower than the slide down; so there’s no reason to get in a hurry.

For now, the “do nothing” alternative is the best bet, but eventually we’ll have to do something. In the meantime, more research and public outreach should be conducted to determine the best location for the tank.

As Yavapai and Coconino counties count more ballots, the race for three Sedona Fire District Governing Board seats gets more exciting.

As of Thursday morning, Nov. 11, at 9 a.m., Ty Montgomery, Phyllis Erick and Dave Blauert hung on to the three openings, but only by a hair.

The gap between Douglas Fitzpatrick and Blauert narrowed from 29 votes to 18 leaving Fitzpatrick just out of reach of the board seat.

Yet, there is a way all four of them could serve.

Currently, the board is operating one-man down after former board member Don Harr resigned. The seat has not be filled and motions on how to fill it have died in a tie vote, 2-2, much like other recent board business.

The current board should simply appoint whichever candidate falls short of election to a seat, whether it be Blauert or Fitzpatrick.

In such a close race, it’s apparent many voters feel both men are worthy to serve.
If the current board takes the initiative to appoint someone now, they could keep balance on the board rather than leaving Montgomery to potentially stand alone in selection of the fifth member.

Seating of these four on the board would give an even split to the two slates. During campaign season Montgomery, Fitzpatrick and Dick Fishel ran on a slate against Erick, Blauert and Joe Demme.

If Montgomery, Erick and Blauert are elected, the board should appoint Fitzpatrick to the empty seat. If Fitzpatrick manages to slip by Blauert in the final days of vote counting, Blauert should be appointed.

The voters have already selected their top four candidates and appointing the No. 4 finisher to serve Harr’s remaining term would be following the will of the people, which is what the board is supposed to be doing.

Ultimately, appointment of a person to fill a vacant seat on any board or council should be in line with who the public would select, not only who the board wants.

In this case, the board is lucky because it knows exactly who the public would want in the fourth seat.

On a beautiful fall afternoon nature lovers gathered along Oak Creek to celebrate one of Sedona’s natural gems.

A warm fall breeze blew through the trees lining the creek, rattling the colorful leaves and reminding us of the wonders of the world around us and the importance of preserving it.

The Benefactors of Red Rock State Park gathered at the home of Linda Goldenstein and Bill Lacy on Sunday, Nov. 7, to celebrate progress made and encourage more effort to keep Red Rock State Park open despite drastic state budget cuts.

When the state announced last year it would close parks due to lack of funding the Benefactors rose to the challenge, raising more than $70,000 to keep the park open.

Thanks to their efforts visitors continue to enjoy strolls along the park’s trails, meditative moments along Oak Creek and educational programs broadening their knowledge of the Earth and the processes responsible for shaping it.

Nature is a gift to all of us and recreation is a right those of us who live around here understand and cherish.

Others, however, don’t have the courage to embrace the freedom of the outdoors, and Red Rock State Park plays a major role in helping those individuals take the first leap.

The park offers a safe place for residents or visitors uncertain of their outdoor skills to enjoy nature and Sedona’s beauty.

Children also benefit from the park’s ability to teach appreciation for nature and an understanding of how it all works.

Without the park, someone anxious to enjoy a hiking trail while on vacation may never hear the birds sing, watch the lizards jet about or encounter the beauty of Oak Creek.

Without the park, Sedona and Verde Valley students may not experience first-rate environmental education and learn to love and protect nature.

Without the park, thousands of tourists each year may not be encouraged to spend a little more time in Sedona.

More Articles ...