Give Glendon Good an idea and he’ll come up with a design to make it work.

Inventor Glendon Good inspects a solar tracking system attached to solar panels near his Sedona home Thursday, Sept. 2. The tracking device can help get more power out of the panels by following the rays of the sun as the day goes by.Good is a self-taught designer, engineer and craftsman. He started when he made a skateboard at the age of 8. In college he designed and built his own furniture. He found his niche and his career began.

His focus is aluminum. Some of his sleek pieces made with brushed aluminum and solid bamboo are on display at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City and at the Smithsonian Institution’s museum of design.

Good’s latest creation is a photovoltaic solar panel device that will draw more of the sun’s energy for use on earth.

“I’ve been working on a lot of alternative energy projects with others. I’m the kind of guy who does the nuts and bolts work. I find out how to put something together to make it work,” Good said as he laid out his drawings, pointed to the different parts and explained how they work, which he said could get approximately 27 percent more power out of the solar panels.

“The solar panels cost a bundle, so if you can make them more efficient that’s a big payoff,” Good said.

Another bonus with the tracking device is fewer panels are needed to generate the same amount of power so they take up less space. Instead of eight panels, maybe only six are needed.

Good strives for efficiency. His studio, where he designs and builds, is meticulously clean. Each piece, down to real nuts and bolts, are in separate bins, and sheets and tubes of aluminum are organized on shelves. His welding hood sits on a table next to his tungsten inert gas tanks and torch. On the wall behind Good’s desk hangs a six-foot diameter yin and yang he created out of aluminum. It is built to manually rotate depending on a person’s mood. It’s a fun piece, Good said as he moved it around.

The concept for the tracking device is simple: Have the panels move with the sun to capture its direct rays much the same as a sunflower does. The flower’s face pivots to always face the sun. Not only does Good’s design follow the sun dawn to dusk, it also pivots as the level of the sun changes with the seasons.

“A Flagstaff solar company came to see me about how homeowners can get more energy out of what they have,” Good said. “Tracking systems have been around for years. The problem is to put these units on a house. Most roofs aren’t strong enough.”

The device, with the panels, also needed to withstand 90 mph winds. With the weight of the panels and the frame, a roof can lift off, Good said.

“There are a lot of factors to consider, such as wind load, electrical grounding and how to move all the panels together without damaging them,” he said.

Good worked with a variety of specialists such as a structural engineer to assure the system could withstand 90 mph winds, which is required by building codes. A Rimrock company provided precision waterjet cutting for the intricate parts. To bring down the weight, the device is made with aluminum, and most of the components are recyclable.

Good built the prototypes in his studio on Upper Red Rock Loop Road. He started in January and built four prototypes.

“Figuring out all the little details takes time,” Good said in his quiet, laid-back manner.

His fourth prototype came close to being roof-mounted, his original and ongoing goal. It is a nine-panel, two-car carport that measures 12 feet by 20 feet. The panels are mounted on a grounded frame. During the day they track the sun and gather energy. At night they go flat and cover the cars. It produced enough energy to supply the needs of an average-sized house.

“It takes advantage of space by providing the dual benefits of covered parking and solar electricity production,” Good said. “It’s now at the Northern Arizona Center for Emerging Technology in Flagstaff. It’s being tested up there.”

A few yards down the hill from where Good lives is a 12-panel solar unit equipped with Good’s invention. While standing near the panels, a slight noise came from them.

“They just made a little adjustment,” Good said.

The solar tracking device works when a small photo sensor that follows the sun tells the linear actuator it needs to shorten or lengthen its rod, which is connected to another aluminum rod that the panels are mounted on. All 12 move together in unison.

“Throughout the day, little by little they shift,” Good said. “It’s electrical, but it runs off its own juice.”

Underneath the panels is a lower actuator that tilts the panel north to south, according to the azimuth, or angle, of the sun. The sun is lower in the sky during the winter than it is in the summer.

The panels, with final approval from the Yavapai County building department and APS was connected to the electrical grid Aug. 17.

In addition to designing and building the prototypes, Good prepared the schematic documents and instruction to ship to a manufacturer so they can be mass produced.

“As with a lot of my projects I actually design myself out of a job,” Good said and smiled.
Good has not abandoned his original goal and hopes to soon develop a solar tracking unit that will work on a house roof, noting the roof is a great place for them to be.

The Village of Oak Creek may have the same beautiful views, but the community has a completely different feel to it than its counterpart six miles away in Sedona.

With less traffic, and fewer tourists scouring the area, the Village of Oak Creek has become a small town with its own personality.

Oakcreek Country Club General Manager Tony Rizzo takes a break outside of the club’s pro shop Wednesday, Aug. 18, in the Village of Oak Creek. Before being hired in June at the club, Rizzo owned a management company with his father in Glendale.That personality is taken up by its residents, and 33-year-old Village of Oak Creek resident Tony Rizzo and his family are no different.

Currently, Rizzo is the head cheese when it comes to the Village of Oakcreek As-sociation and the Oakcreek Country Club Golf Course, serving as general manager of both.

Speaking of cheese, Rizzo is a big fan of rooting for one of the Green Bay Packers’ biggest rivals, pledging loyalty to his favorite hometown football team in the Minnesota Vikings.

Since quarterback Brett Favre finally showed up to practice with his Vikings teammates Wednesday, Aug. 18, after fellow Vikings Jared Allen, Steve Hutchinson and Ryan Longwell showed up at Favre’s front doorstep, Rizzo believes the Vikings will have a great year and is excited the soon-to-be hall of famer is on the field.

“I’m a huge Vikings fan. It’s my team and I can’t wait for the season to start. I usually watch many of the games. I love the team we have, I think we’re going to be very good,” Rizzo said smiling.

Rizzo is originally from a small town in Minnesota called Coon Rapids and attended Totino-Grace High School in Fridley, Minn., before graduating in 1995.

Rizzo was a standout athlete in high school, playing basketball, baseball and golf, but most notably playing football where he earned second team All-State honors as a senior.

His football prowess earned him a spot in college on the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire football team.
Rizzo spent most of his four years at UW-Eau Claire as a backup offensive tackle, but he walked out of there with a degree in marketing and a minor in athletic coaching in May 2000.

After graduation, Rizzo spent most of his time working at the local golf course back in Minnesota before moving to California to eventually become the youngest general manager of the American Golf Corporation in its 36-year history.

At the time, it was the largest golf corporation in the world.

Eventually, Rizzo wound up working with his family in Glendale to help run the family business after leaving the American Golf Corporation in 2004.

Rizzo, along with his family, owned and operated a golf course in Glendale. The Rizzo family is quite involved in the game of golf and have been for most of their lives.

“I’ve been around golf most of my life. It’s something I love and enjoy,” Rizzo said.

Rizzo’s sister, Angie, is a player on the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour and her husband, Aaron Oberholser, is a professional golfer himself.

Oberholser plays on the Professional Golf Association Tour and the biggest win of his career came in 2006 at Pebble Beach.

Rizzo’s two brothers Joe and Andrew are involved in golf as well. Joe currently works at the Eagle Mountain Golf Club in Scottsdale and Andrew is working on getting his PGA status while living back home in the Twin Cities.

In 2007, Rizzo decided to start a family of his own and married his wife, Heather.

The pair got their first taste of family competition the day before the wedding when his wife’s family teed it up with the Rizzo’s in a friendly golf match.

“We all had a great time that day. It was a fun, family competition. We called it the Rizzo Open,” Rizzo said laughing.

Eventually, the family decided to sell their business and shortly thereafter, Rizzo and his wife made their first trip to Sedona earlier this year in February to run in the Sedona Marathon.

From that point on, the pair was in love with the area, so when the Oakcreek Country Club Golf Course came calling to hire Rizzo in June as its new general manager, the decision was easy.

“It was a no-brainer. We loved Sedona from the beginning so when the call came, it was an easy choice,” Rizzo said.

When asked what he hopes to bring to the table as the new general manager at the Oakcreek Country Club Golf Course, Rizzo said his main focus is customer service.

“I have a strong focus on customer service and hospitality. I really want to bring the community together and when people come play golf here, I want to make sure they feel welcome, and that this is the place to be,” Rizzo said.

Other hobbies besides following the Vikings and running a golf course include playing basketball, hiking and camping.

Rizzo also enjoys working on his 1986 Yamaha Maxim motorcycle, a junker he picked up a few years ago and has been restoring ever since.

“I’ve always had a love for motorcycles so I bought myself a beater and one day, I hope I can finish it,” Rizzo said.

As Rizzo and his family become more a part of the community in the Village of Oak Creek in their first year living here, the community becomes more a part of him every day as well. Hopefully, that will continue for a long, long time.

Sedona nonprofit named Recycling Nonprofit of Year

The Sedona Recycles Inc. staff is still overjoyed about a state-level award the organization recently received.

Sedona Recycles, located in West Sedona, was named the Recycling Nonprofit of the Year by the Arizona Recycling Coalition.

Sedona Recycles employees, from left, Meghan Kincheloe, Jill McCutcheon, Pete Hordorwich and Alex Rovang sit on top of a pile of recyclable cardboard Tuesday, Aug. 17, at the recycling center. The Arizona Recycling Coalition recently awarded the center with its nonprofit of the year award. Sedona Recycles serves Sedona and the Verde Valley.The award was a great way to celebrate 21 years of service to the Sedona area, Director of Community Development Meghan Kincheloe said.

“The coalition sent out nomination forms to nonprofits, businesses and organizations that participate in some form of recycling. We got several nominations,” Kincheloe said.

Kincheloe and Jill McCutcheon went to the recycling conference in Phoenix on Aug. 3 to receive the award. It hangs on the Shelby Drive office wall.

The Small Business of the Year award recipient created the plaque with the Arizona flag in the shape of the state in the center surrounded by the three recycle arrows. Around the edge of the plaque are flowers made from recycled soda bottles.

“This award is something we’ve worked hard for. It was cool to be down there along with the big cities like Phoenix and Tucson,” Kincheloe said. The other five categories included Municipality, School, Lifetime Achievement, Legislative Advocate and Large Business.

“We received the award at this huge banquet. There were several hundred people there,” McCutcheon said. “Sedona was recognized in that although we’re a small community, we have a presence in the state, and that’s thanks to the communities we serve.”

Sedona Recycles’ mission is to serve the Sedona and Verde Valley communities through public education and responsible resource recovery, and to promote and provide opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle.

The organization fulfills its mission by providing free recycling drop-off sites for people to deposit the recyclable materials they collect at their homes or businesses.

“Our education program reaches nearly every school in Sedona and the Verde Valley, and has helped generate recycling programs at 96 percent of local public, private and charter schools,” Kincheloe said.

The organization also operates a dual-stream material recovery operation in Sedona, and processes about 15 tons of material a day. Sorting is done through a partnership with Camp Verde’s Rainbow Acres, a community for adults with developmental disabilities.

“We have 13 drop-off sites with a total of 110 Dumpsters,” Kincheloe said. “We take just about everything but organics, Styrofoam and plastic grocery bags. Stores take those back.”

Items Sedona Recycles does take include paper, cardboard and paperboard, glass, steel, aluminum, plastics numbers one through seven, batteries, electronics, ink-jet printer and laser toner cartridges, and clothing, shoes, toys and small household items.

In addition to the drop-off sites, Sedona Recycles provides recycling bins to schools and businesses, and bins and pickup for special events and festivals.

“We encourage people to recycle everything possible and not throw items away that could be recycled so we can get closer to zero waste. Right now we’re about 10 percent to 15 percent recycling — that’s what we figure for Sedona and the Verde Valley,” Kincheloe said.

McCutcheon said the percentage was figured by surveying what was thrown away at the landfill and determining how much could have been recycled.

For more information and to find a nearby drop-off site, call 204-1185.

Tearful hugs and good-byes were the norm Tuesday, Aug. 10, as kindergarten students were left at school by parents on the first day of school in Sedona.

Kindergarten student Jazmine Scrogham stays close to her mother, Heather, before heading into her first day of school Tuesday, Aug. 10, at West Sedona School. For some parents, leaving their children at school for the first time was tough, providing an emotional moment for both the parents and children.Sedona parents of kindergarten students at West Sedona School said it was tough leaving their children at school for the first time.

Most parents called it a rite of passage and said their
children were well prepared and anxious.

Jessica Herrera said there was little doubt her daughter, Tressie, was going to do fine. It helps knowing her daughter’s teacher very well.

“She is ready for the first day,” Herrera said.

West Sedona School Principal Lisa Hirsch said there were 50 kindergarten students enrolled on the first day of school. Two of its classes are a combination of kindergarten and first-grade students, and the third class is for preschool to second grade.

Hirsch said young children seeing their parents leave for the first time can be extremely frightening, especially for a
5-year-old child.

“It’s called separation anxiety,” she said. A young child may not realize what is going on, and a few might think their parents are leaving them and not coming back, since this pattern is so new to them.

The majority of students, Hirsch said, understand they are being dropped off for the school day, especially if they attended preschool.

First-grader Elsey Schroedl, 6, seems a bit nervous while waiting for classroom doors to open on the first day of school at West Sedona School on Tuesday, Aug. 10. Administrators and teachers from West Sedona School, Big Park Community School and Sedona Red Rock High School welcomed hundreds of students back from their summer vacations for the 2010-2011 school year.However, she said, there will likely be a few students who might be surprised at the length of the school day, since the time preschoolers spend in school per day is often not as long.

“Some students will cry and hang onto parents,” Hirsch said. “In a few minutes, the crying stops. They are very young. They are only 5.”

Josiah Fleishman was dropping off his daughter, Athena, for kindergarten and said he was excited for her, adding it was a nice school with a good staff.

“I am so proud to see her growing up. I didn’t think [this] would come so soon. I have full confidence in her, and she will do great. She’s ready. She is fearless,” he said.

Maria Diaz, who was dropping off her daughter, Ana Ruby, called it an exciting time. She said her daughter is ready for this next step, and she is sure Ana Ruby will soon become friends with some classmates.

Tressie Herrera, 4, holds her mother’s hand while waiting for doors to open for the first day of kindergarten class at West Sedona School on Tuesday, Aug. 10. Kris Rodarte, a parent teacher association member of the school, said West Sedona has great teachers, so the first day of school was going to be great.

Jazmine Scrogham clung to her mother while crying, but her mother, Heather Scrogham, said the tears had nothing to do with school; they were mostly for her daughter getting into trouble beforehand.

She said it was going to be difficult to leave her daughter at kindergarten because she would be thinking about her constantly.

“I will be crying all day at work today,” Scrogham said.

Positive change certainly can start with one person, and Sedona’s Susan Henkels has begun.

Henkels is attending a class in which a project to change the world is a part. Henkels had an idea, a big idea.Susan Henkels relaxes in the garden at her West Sedona home July 29. She started a campaign to change the world by celebrating personal relationships. Sunday, Sept. 5, is expected to be proclaimed “A Day in the Heart of Relationship” by the Sedona City Council.

“Originally, I wanted to flip the divorce statistics from 60:40 to 40:60 by 2022. I still do, but I needed a project I could finish in the four-month span of the class. So I chose a day to celebrate relationships,” Henkels said, “one day to acknowledge and appreciate the people you care about.”

Henkels chose the Sunday before Labor Day and Sedona to start.

With that idea in mind, she drafted a proclamation designating Sunday, Sept. 5, as “A Day in the Heart of Relationship.” Henkels went to Sedona Mayor Rob Adams, who agreed it was a great idea and approved having the proclamation brought before the City Council. The council will read and present the proclamation to Henkels at its regular meeting Tuesday, Aug. 10.

“It has been said that wealth was the No. 1 value in our lives. Recent surveys indicate that relationship is now the more important value,” Henkels said. “It’s a day of its own for all of Sedona to celebrate and share with others the joy of their relationships.”

Henkels has counseled couples for many years and discovered two things most often missing in nearly all of the troubled relationships: gratitude and appreciation. “A Day in the Heart of Relationship” is an experience in showing appreciation and gratitude to the people each person cares about, she said.

“As a country, I think we’re sad; we’re depressed. We could use something that can help turn that around. This, when people participate, has the potential to do that, at least on a personal level, and it could grow out to the community,” Henkels said.

For Sedona, now that the State Route 179 construction is coming to an end and the roundabouts are in, Henkels said the city and its residents are ready to celebrate the beginning of a vibrant time.

“I think we are ready to play together as a team, with a shared vision of the possibility that powerful relationships can begin to heal our town, our state, our country and our world,” Henkels said.

Henkels invites everyone who is reading this article to take the day on in any way they would like to honor the relationships that are important to them. The relationships can include spouses, significant others, family, friends, someone who may be alone, pets, employees, bosses, customers or visitors. It can be people within an organization or on a committee, a congregation, city workers or any other relationship that is deemed important and meaningful.

All who participate can choose the method by which they want to celebrate. It is whatever people come up with. Henkels has no preconceived agenda. However, one couple she talked with plan to renew their wedding vows on that day. Four of her friends are getting together for a party.

“Even if it’s just a ‘thank you’ to the person you live with who’s done something nice for you, or simply tell them, ‘I love you,’” Henkels said. “My biggest concern is people will think this is a nice thought, but won’t do anything. I really want people to actually do something. It is amazing the good feeling you get when you do.”

As far as measurable results from her project, Henkels said she doesn’t know. She just hopes people will take the day to celebrate their relationships and pass it forward.

“Part of the project is to give it away,” Henkels said.

Now, Henkels asks that people send her an e-mail describing what they are actually going to do, relationship-wise, on Sept. 5. Photos of the event are also welcome at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

“If we do this, Sedona will be known as a friendly, welcoming community where people interact with honor, appreciation and respect. I also would like to see Sedona become a model for this ‘Day in the Heart of Relationship’ for every city and town in this country,” Henkels said.

Sedona’s Cullen Heath is headed south for the winter.

Heath is this year’s participant in the Rotary Club of Sedona Youth Exchange program. He will spend the next 11 months with a host family in Santos, Brazil. The small town is a few miles east of Sao Paulo.Cullen Heath is excited about his upcoming exchange student trip to Santos, Brazil, for the next year. He is a participant in the Rotary Club of Sedona Youth Exchange program. Heath talked Thursday, July 29, about what he plans to do while in Brazil.

“It’s a very tropical area. The weather’s perfect, and my host family lives right on the beach,” Health said. “This is something I really wanted to do.”

Heath was born in Sedona and attended Sedona Charter School. He is the son of Suzi Heath and Max Kanaus, and he graduated in May from Sedona Red Rock High School. His brother, Max Kanaus Jr. is 10 years old. Heath speaks Spanish but said he’ll have to learn Portuguese, the language spoken in Brazil.

When he returns, Heath will be ready to start classes as a college freshman. So far he has not decided on a college but may attend Arizona State University or the University of Arizona.

In Santos, Heath will attend classes with his host brother and sister, Diogo, 20, and Juliana, 19, learning mostly about the culture and the language.

“I’ve spoken with my host family. I’m looking forward to meeting them. I also want to see Rio [de Janeiro] and spend time on the beach,” the tall blond wearing a Malibu T-shirt said.

Heath sees his adventure as a great opportunity not many people have a chance to experience. Rotary worldwide sponsors about 7,000 students in the international program. Youth from the United States travel to other countries and youth from those countries come to the U.S. The goal of the program is to promote international understanding.

Funds to support the exchange are provided by the sending and receiving Rotary Clubs as well as money raised by the student.

“The Rotary is a great club. I’ve attended some of the meetings. They do a lot in the community,” Heath said.

Rotary Club of Sedona New Generations Chairwoman Kathy Gorchesky sponsored Health for the program. She knows Heath through his mother from the Scorpion Booster Club. Suzi Heath is on the board and Gorchesky is the president.

“[Gorchesky] really made it possible for me and pushed it forward,” Heath said.
Gorchesky said Heath was a very deserving person to be a participant in the exchange program, and thinks he will do very well in Brazil with his host family.

“He is a fabulous person. Cullen is very adventurous and has a genuine interest in service above self,” Gorchesky said.

Heath is sure the exchange experience will affect his future but is not sure in what way yet.

“I’ll learn another language, for sure, and I’ll have a better understanding of a different culture — I’ll be living right there,” Heath said. “I’ll have an adopted, extended family, too.”
Heath was completely packed for the trip a full week before his departure date of Saturday,
Aug. 7.

“I’m going to Los Angeles to visit family for a week before I take off for Brazil,” he said.

meet_your_newsroom_logoWhile hard news stories are a community newspaper’s meat and bones, its feature stories comprise its heart and soul.

Rather than cover the movers and shakers of city and county government, feature stories explore the lives of individual residents and the good works done by local nonprofits, volunteer organizations, students and seniors.

Sedona Red Rock News Feature Writer Lu StittLu Stitt is the Sedona Red Rock News’ feature writer, having worked as a reporter in Sedona and Cottonwood for more than 15 years.

“Being the oldest reporter on staff, I don’t have any knowledge to pass on — everyone is very capable — but I think my years help enhance my stories,” Stitt said. “I have a lot of life under my belt.”

Stitt was born in Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1947, the middle of three daughters. Stitt said she was the “adventurous one” — her sisters Tess, 67, and Anita, 61, both still live in Fort Wayne.

Stitt attended Bishop Lures High School, a parochial school, and graduated in 1965.

She went to work as a secretary for International Harvester, a farm machinery and big truck company, but took night classes to become an English teacher at Indiana University-Purdue University Extension.

Three years later, she met her future husband, a fraternity pledge who she said looked like actor Sal Mineo, from “Rebel Without a Cause.”

The couple married in May 1968 and Stitt left school to raise their three children, Brian, Angela and Daniel.

The family moved to Mesa in 1973 so that Stitt’s husband could work at International Harvester’s proving grounds in Phoenix.

As they drove into Salt River Canyon, Stitt said she felt like she was coming home even though she’d never been in Arizona before.

After her youngest child started kindergarten, Stitt returned to school.
“I needed something to fill my time and I loved going to college,” Stitt said. “When my kids were doing their homework, so was I.”

Lu Stitt plays the flute during a Clarkdale holiday celebration. Stitt is the feature writer for the Sedona Red Rock News.She took a series of writing classes at Mesa Community College. In her third semester, she was approached to write for MCC’s school newspaper, The Legend.

“I liked the process, and so I wanted to get a degree in journalism,” Stitt said.
Stitt transferred to Arizona State University in fall 1981. She graduated with a degree in mass communications with a specialty in journalism in 1984 at age 38. She met news anchor Walter Cronkite, for whom ASU named the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication the following year.

Like most ASU journalism students fresh out of school, Stitt applied to write for The Arizona Republic, but the newspaper never hired students without experience. Stitt did freelance for the paper covering feature stories, such as the haunted house of Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks.

Once Stitt’s children were grown and out of the house, she went back to work full-time in 1988 as an administrative secretary for ASU’s news bureau.
In 1994, Stitt said she found an opening working with Larson Newspapers and contacted then

Managing Editor Tom Brossart, who hired her as a feature writer within the week.

Stitt said she was surprised to arrive and find Patrick Schweiss working as Larson Newspapers production department manager — coincidently she had worked with him in 1988 when he was a student employee of ASU’s transportation and parking department.

One of her first feature stories was interviewing “Singin’ in the Rain” actor Donald O’Connor, chosen as grand marshal of the Sedona St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 1995.

Brossart promoted Stitt to news editor of the Cottonwood Journal Extra in 1995 and she covered features and hard news in Cottonwood, Clarkdale and Jerome. She transferred back to Sedona as the feature writer in October.

Over the last 15 years, Stitt has interviewed hundreds of residents and a few celebrities, such as former President Gerald Ford, 1996 presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, comedian Jerry Stiller and actresses Anne Meara and Connie Stevens.

Part of her passion for journalism comes from a desire to give back to the community.

“This job leaves me little time to volunteer,” Stitt said. “But I can bring out the stories, cases and campaigns that are doing good things. I’ve had people tell me they volunteered because of an article. That’s my way of giving back.”

Family is also important to Stitt. Her daughter, Angela, 38, shares Stitt’s home in Cottonwood with her daughter, Nikol, 17, and son, Tyler, 15. Stitt regularly visits her sons in Phoenix, 41-year-old Brian and 35-year-old Daniel, his wife, Jenny, and their children Dallas, 7, Kiera, 2, and Kaitlyn, 3 weeks.

“Playing music is one of my greatest joys,” Stitt said.

Stitt has played flute with the Cottonwood Community Band since 1996. The 40-piece band practices weekly and plays four or five times a year, mainly on the patriotic holidays.

Stitt started playing flute in her freshman year of high school. After moving to Arizona, she played with the Mesa Community Band for 20 years.

Stitt came from a musical family. Her father primarily played trumpet by ear and wonderful piano, and he had a baritone voice honed as a drill sergeant in World War II. When he met his future wife, she was singing with the United Service Organization.

Stitt’s father was also a basketball referee and baseball umpire who gave Stitt her love of baseball.

“He used to say I was his only son,” Stitt said. “I was the adventurous one. I used to go into the woods with him, climb trees, fish with him.”

A “domestic at heart,” Stitt said she enjoys knitting and sewing, and creating handmade gifts and has recently taken up spinning her own yarn. She said she has a lot of fun on the dance floor and enjoys exploring and experimenting in the kitchen. She is also a Living History reenactor at Fort Verde State Historic Park in Camp Verde.

“I am a doer of many things but a master of none,” Stitt said

Several Sedona youth decided not to wile away their summer and enrolled in a theater workshop.

Only a few days after the class started, the youth, mostly teenagers, performed what they wrote, staged and rehearsed for the public. They also performed some impromptu skits, acting in the moment.

Sedona resident Elijah Torok performs an impromptu skit during a performance of a teen theater group Saturday, July 24. The teens in the workshop presented rehearsed skits along with improv scenes during the performance, which ended a nine-day workshop taught by Shondra Jepperson and Dev Ross.“They did this in just nine days,” instructor Shondra Jepperson said. “It’s an intensive workshop, and these kids are good.”

This is the third year instructors Jepperson and Dev Ross have taught the teen theater workshop, which has been well attended with more than 12 students each summer.

“It’s always been very successful. Dev has a lot of expertise in teaching youth in acting, voice and production,” Jepperson said as Ross worked with the youth, moving them around to create a better stage presence.

Jepperson and Ross are actively involved in the entertainment scene around Sedona and the Verde Valley. They are also teachers, currently working in their fields.

“We facilitate what they put together,” Ross said. “It allows them to individualize and come up with what they think is OK. We annihilate the word, ‘No.’ Nothing is dumb. Every offering is a gift and there are no mistakes, just opportunities to learn.”

The class participants, boys and girls ages 12 through 18, created their own skit, dialog and blocking. Jepperson and Ross gave tips from time to time during the July 23 rehearsal.

Half of the performance Saturday, July 24, was improvisational, and the other half was made up of rehearsed skits. Proceeds from donations went to the Sedona Public Library, where the workshop was conducted.

Ataiyo ViFora, left, and Lydia Mosley act out an impromptu sketch during a performance of a teen theater group Saturday, July 24. The teens in the workshop presented rehearsed skits along with improv scenes during the performance, which ended a nine-day workshop taught by Shondra Jepperson and Dev Ross.For Miriam Mosley, 15, a home-schooled student, the teen theater workshop is fitting right in with her dreams.

“After I wanted to be a ballerina and then a princess, I wanted to act,” Mosely said. “I love this and how they’re showing us how to come up with things on the spot. I definitely want to do this in college.”

The only thing Mosely has not settled on is whether she likes the stage or the screen more.

“This is for the stage, so I’ll see how it goes,” she said and grinned her best stage smile. “When I find a program like this, I join it.”

Ataiyo Viafora will be a freshman at Sedona Red Rock High School in the fall. He’s been acting for several years, including with the Missoula Children’s Theater. His most recent role this year was that of the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz.”

“Acting is a great way to be different than your actual self. There are a bunch of different possibilities. It’s better than playing video games because you’re actually doing it,” Viafora said.

Jepperson and Ross said they will definitely conduct another workshop next summer. 

“We love working with the kids,” Jepperson said.

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Sedona United States Mixed Rain and Snow, 37 °F
Current Conditions
Sunrise: 7:4 am   |   Sunset: 6:17 pm
50%     29.0 mph     28.412 bar
Fri Low: 20 °F High: 36 °F
Sat Low: 14 °F High: 36 °F
Sun Low: 14 °F High: 43 °F
Mon Low: 19 °F High: 48 °F
Tue Low: 25 °F High: 43 °F
Wed Low: 24 °F High: 38 °F
Thu Low: 20 °F High: 43 °F
Fri Low: 23 °F High: 45 °F
Sat Low: 26 °F High: 46 °F
Sun Low: 27 °F High: 51 °F