Finding the room where YES the Arc was having its annual awards luncheon was easy — a person just had to follow the music.

Strains of “Mustang Sally” nearly bolted out of the room at the Hilton Sedona in the Village of Oak Creek on Dec. 11 as Less More and the In-betweens played for the luncheon attendees. The band, consisting of drums, keyboard, harmonica, tambourine and maracas, is part of the Arc Angel Performers who play, sing and dance not only for themselves but for audiences around the Verde Valley and Sedona.

YES-the-Arc-awards-12-18Following the band were the Rockin’ Roll Santa and Elves who danced to Bobby Darin’s “Splish Splash,” and the Arc Angel Choir sang, “Deck the Halls” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Everyone wore costumes in Christmas red and green, even red and white striped stockings, and elf hats. The girls wore felt skirts and the guys wore red suspenders.

“Everything they do at the Arc is special, and Jennifer [Schauffler-Vircsik] is such a wonderful guide for the performing group,” Cynthia Fox said. “They put their heart and soul into performing.”

Fox, former president of the Verde Valley Concert Association, said she is unaware of any other group that does as much for a community’s challenged residents as YES the Arc.

“Years ago these wonderful, talented people would have been put in an institution

and forgotten. At the Arc they learn, make crafts and perform. It’s amazing how much talent they have,” she said. The performers have occasionally opened for the association’s concerts.

YES the Arc began in 1974 as a school for developmentally challenged children. It expanded into serving adults in 1975, and in 1981 the children’s program became a part of the public school system.

YES the Arc offers programs and services that support and enhance client independence, self-esteem, mutual respect, value and dignity. It was founded on the belief that all people are capable of growth and learning. It is the goal of the Arc to provide training and opportunities that will maximize growth toward the greatest independence possible for each individual.

Ryan Cheek plays tambourine with the band. This is his first year coming to the Arc after moving from Tucson. His favorite thing to do is hang with the band members.

“We have a lot in common, and I have a gift for music,” Cheek said as he took a bite of cheesecake. “We worked hard since August but it was worth it.”

The annual luncheon celebrated YES the Arc’s 35th anniversary as well as recognizing individuals, businesses and organizations with special awards for their support. YES the Arc director and founder Penny Vigil announced the awards with the help of Vicki Jo Anderson, president of the board of directors.

“We, like everyone, have had to make cuts this year. Our staff came up and volunteered. They actually cut their own hours. That was very generous of them to help keep our programs going,” Vigil said. “You have to have a good team and I think we have a very good team.”

Receiving a special recognition plaque, a thank you and hearty handshake, which included many hugs, were Precious Stones Preschool, Bobbie Garcia with the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens, Verde Valley Habitat for Humanity, Reese’s Tire and Auto Center, Trophies Unlimited, Yavapai County facilities department, Dr. Juneau Stump and Michele Fuller.

Special awardees were Nancy James, YES the Arc’s Board of Directors secretary; David Gordon, a board member; Donald McCulloch, a client, and Amanda Hunnicutt, also a board member and client.

Employee awardees included Nidia Martinez, Michael Taylor, Jacquelyn Weber, Lisa Wilson and Robert Young.

Lu Stitt can be reached at  282-7795, ext. 122, or e-mail  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Despite the adage, there sometimes really is such a thing as a free ride.

Nonprofit organizations in Sedona can take advantage of an offer from Lon Walters at Coldwell Banker in West Sedona. He has a 16-foot moving truck he loans out to the nonprofits for only the cost of whatever gas they use.

“This community has been awfully good to us. This is a way to continue giving back,” Walters said.

lon-walters-truck-12-18Walters, through his business, bought the truck in 2005 with the intent to offer its use to the 501(c)(3) organizations in Sedona. Many have used it over the years such as the Sedona International Film Festival, the Humane Society of Sedona Paw Prints Thrift Shop, the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and the Boys & Girls Clubs for the Taste of Sedona. Soon the Marine Corps League will use the truck to pick up the Toys for Tots boxes so they can distribute them to children in the area in time for Christmas.

“The thrift shops connected to a nonprofit will call us when they have a big haul to do that won’t fit in somebody’s pickup,” Walters said.

B. Skielvig, executive director of the Humane Society of Sedona said the truck has come in very handy on several occasions especially when they received several items, including furniture, from an estate sale for the thrift store in the Village of Oak Creek.

“The truck was perfect because all we had was a pickup. We could make it in one trip instead of several,” Skielvig said.

According to Walters’ estimate, the Sedona area has approximately 100 nonprofit organizations that serve the community in some faction.

“They’re really struggling and this is one small way I can help,” he said, also stating that he does not intend to compete with U-Haul. “Knock on wood, the truck always runs.”

The Sedona International Film Festival, coming up in February, counts on the truck for the event to run smoothly.

“It’s a great service; otherwise we’d have to rent a truck to haul stuff,” festival executive director Pat Schweiss said.

Festival crew members pick the truck up three or four days before the festival and keep it until a day or two after.

“We keep it for about nine days and move tons of items in it. In this day and age and economy, every little bit helps us nonprofits,” Schweiss said.

While many nonprofits do use the truck, it tends to spend most of the time in the parking lot, and Walters would like to see that situation rectified.

“I’d sure like to see it used more,” he said.

Walters has an override on the insurance, but the organization using the truck covers the driver. All he asks is that the truck come back with a full tank and as clean as when it was picked up.

“If we find out there isn’t a need here, there are other places the truck could go, but I really want to keep it in the community,” he said.


Lu Stitt can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 122, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Beth Bartolini’s day is filled with children, although she has none of her own at home.

As Bartolini waited for the lighting of the Sedona Christmas tree in Uptown she talked about her path to work with children in the Camp Verde Unified School District, and adjusted her red wool scarf a little closer around her neck.

atrandom-12-11“We moved to Sedona 7½ years ago because we just wanted to live here,” Bartolini said about she and her husband, Jack. “I ended up getting a Ph.D. in school psychology at [Northern Arizona University].”

After graduation, Bartolini began some educational consulting work and soon received a call from the school district.

“It’s a perfect field for me. I get to work with little kids and get a lot of hugs. I get to consult with teachers, parents and the kids to make a difference, one child at a time,” she said.

When working with the children, Bartolini focuses on what keeps a child from being academically successful and comes up with a plan for everyone involved to help remove the blocks.

The Bartolinis do have a small one around the house in the form of Ripley, named after a character in the movie, “Alien,” who, like most cats, owns the house.

“Believe it or not, all 20 pounds of him,” she said.

Other than working with the children and singing soprano with the Canyon Singers — the reason she was at the tree lighting — Bartolini does a lot of gardening around her house. Lately, though it has become a battleground.

“Moles and gophers and rabbits and other creatures like to eat my plants. Right now, Jack and I just planted a tree and they’re digging around it, and I don’t want to lose that tree,” she said.

She has tried a lot of methods to get the animals to leave her plants alone, but with little success.

“I’m about ready to bring in some help,” she said.

Jack Bartolini told about another activity his wife became an expert in. She is a certified scuba instructor. On Sept. 11, 2001, Bartolini was instructing a class in the Bahamas when they received the word about the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.

“Some of the people panicked and wanted to call home. We were all shocked,” she said.

Bartolini still dives, but not as much because of the time involved working toward her degree.

Singing with the Canyon Singers is one of her favorite activities especially around the holidays when there are so many wonderful Christmas carols to enjoy. Bartolini’s favorite is “What Child Is This?”

“That’s my favorite, but I love any number of them,” she said.

Did you know that Arizona’s funding for its schools ranks 50th in the country?

If that statistic angers you, it should, according to a press release. So what does this mean to our community? The state school system is unable to provide the funding other states provide to their schools, which not only negatively affects property taxes, but also negatively affects the social climate within the community.

Every year, the Sedona-Oak Creek School District struggles with budget issues to provide our community with one of the best school systems in the state. This effort helps our community in many ways, and Sedona residents can help, even if they do not have any children in the school system, and it costs residents nothing.

Enroll in the Sedona Kids Tax Credit program, which is free and easy. By enrolling, you direct your tax dollars to our local school system.

This program funds Sedona schools for athletics, field trips, school tutoring, clubs extra-curricular activities and after school program for our students. If these students were not involved in these activities, where do you think they would be?

Last year, tax credit funds were indispensible in enhancing the learning experience at Arizona schools.

The Sedona Kids Tax Credit program allows taxpayers to take a dollar-for-dollar credit against their Arizona state income taxes for enrollments made to our local school system. This program is not a donation, but a tax credit.

For example, if a taxpayer owes $500 in Arizona state taxes and enrolls $200 in the Sedona Kids Tax Credit program, they would only have to pay $300 in state income tax. In essence, they are simply redirecting their tax payments directly to Sedona’s public schools. When preparing your taxes, all taxpayers have to do is complete Form 322 on their Arizona state tax return for the tax credit. The maximum credit allowed for this program is $200 for a single taxpayer, or $400 for a married couple.

There are other tax credit programs in the state such as Charitable Tax Credit — credit for the “working poor” — that one can enroll in also that

will not affect the amount of their enrollment into this program.

In addition, taxpayers are allowed to deduct the enrollment amount on their federal income tax return as an additional donation on Schedule A, if they itemize.

To take advantage of the credit, one must enroll by Thursday, Dec. 31. For more information on the tax credit program, visit the  Sedona Kids Tax Credit Web site or call 204-6800.

Our local schools need taxpayer support, and this is a great way to help Sedona at no cost. A better education for our children means a better future for our entire community.


No matter how long a person of Japanese origin lived in the United States or whether they were born here, after the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, they were rounded up and placed in internment camps.

Sedona resident Linda Yee’s parents and family were among the people looked upon with suspicion and fear. The camps were called relocation centers.

“At the time war broke out my grandparents were successful farmers and owned stores. My grandfather, Takeshi Ban, was a minister in Los Angeles. My grandfather, Henry Fujii, owned a farm in Nampa, Idaho,” Yee said. “Both had families and lived here more than 35 years.”

Yee will talk about the camps and her early days in Sedona at the Sedona Historical Museum on Wednesday, Dec. 9, at 9 a.m.

The FBI picked up all Japanese men who were leaders in the community, like Ban.

On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 posted on telephone poles. All persons of Japanese ancestry must report to various centers, especially along the Pacific coast. It listed what they could bring. Cameras were confiscated.

They were put in temporary housing at race tracks, fairgrounds or stables until the centers could be built.

Yee’s father, Paul Ban, along with his family were taken to Santa Anita race track and then to Manzanar Relocation Center in California where 10,000 people lived. Many camps were self-sustaining with hospitals, schools, stores and farming.

“In the meantime my grandfather in Idaho told my mother, ‘You take the baby and get out of there,’” Yee said. “That’s when we escaped Los Angeles.”

Fortunately Mary [Sumie Fujii] Hershall and her 9-month-old daughter took the last airplane they could get, thanks to some close Caucasian friends who flew with them.

“This happened very quickly. Mom didn’t have time to pack more than a diaper. We made the whole flight without milk for me until we arrived in Boise, Idaho,” Yee said.

Again Caucasian friends met them and took them to Fujii’s farm. He did not dare come to the airport, she said.

“They had a baby my age and gave me some of its milk,” Yee said. “Fortunately we never had to live in an internment camp but my father and other relatives did — for 3½ years.”

Hershall was worried about the people going to the camps partly because they had to leave so much behind. They also did not know what was going to happen to them.

“I didn’t think it was right but there was nothing I could do,” Hershall said. “I was lucky that we could get away.”

After release, many people returned to find their homes gone or sold. Others found neighbors had kept them up. Most had to start all over. Yee has studied the history of the camps and talked to people who lived there.

When her father was released he went to Idaho but farming was not his forte. He returned to Los Angeles. Yee and her mother stayed in Idaho.

“After not seeing each other for 3½ years things were different,” Yee said.

Yee’s mother taught school in Idaho from 1945 to 1948. Then they moved to Sedona after a mutual friend introduced Yee’s mother to Stan Hershall. They exchanged letters and he invited her for a visit. She came to Sedona, they fell in love and married, Yee said.

“Today we’re all Americans. Now what happened is our history. We talk about it to ensure we never do it again. Fear makes us do crazy things,” Yee said.

Modern conveniences make our easier, but they are a major contributor to the increase in child and teen obesity.

Pediatricians and those who work with children around the Verde Valley said they have seen an increase in the number of children who are overweight or obese.

According to the Child Trends Data Bank, in 2004, more than one in six adolescents between the age of 12 to 19 in the United States is overweight.

In 1980 only about 6.5 percent of children ages 6 to 11 were overweight. In 2004 the percentage was 18.8 percent.

For the 12-year-old through 19-year-old age group the percentages were 5 and 17.4 percent, respectively.

Children who are overweight or obese are at an increased risk of developing health problems, including Type 2 diabetes.

Not too many years ago Type 2 diabetes was considered an adult disease, but the incidence of children contracting the disease has skyrocketed in recent years, according to Caremark Health. Many consider the phenomenon a rising epidemic. The culprit in several studies is two-fold: An increasingly sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits.

“We’re seeing obesity as a big problem and the growth in childhood Type 2 diabetes is directly related,” Verde Valley Medical Center Dietician Megan Dastrup said. “Our lifestyle is different than it was 10 or 20 years ago.”

A Changing Lifestyle

The introduction of television, computers, hand-held electronic games and video games has kept children inside and inactive, she said. Children sit in front of televisions and watch commercial about food, which triggers the urge to eat.

“A lot of them don’t even realize how much they’re actually eating and just sitting around,” Dastrup said, who also conducts VVMC’s Fit Kids program. The program works with overweight youth on an individual basis to help them become healthier through education and exercise.

Dr. Wendy Tucille said she has seen the trend at her Red Rock Pediatrics office in Cottonwood.

“I haven’t seen much increase in children with diabetes but I have seen an increase in pre-diabetes and obesity, which is a contributing factor,” Tucille said.

In the Sedona area pediatric nurse practitioner Hope Geller said the trend keeps increasing and agrees the more sedentary lifestyle children lead today needs to be turned around.

“What happens to these obese kids — I think the statistics are about one-third of overweight kids are obese — they are not only at risk for diabetes but for cholesterol problems, cardiovascular problems and many other diseases,” Geller said.

Obesity is a set-up for disaster and must be addressed, she said.

The United States, unfortunately, has a culture that exacerbates the problem with fast foods that are high in fats, sugar and calories, and are readily available — quite often right in the family kitchen.

Wealth Brings Girth?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the United States leads the world in the percentage of overweight and obese children and adults.

Geller said first and foremost parents need to get their children outside into the fresh air and sunshine for exercise, especially since many schools have phased out physical education.

“Physical activity is a big help. You don’t have to go out to run for 60 minutes but get them involved in sports like soccer, baseball, tennis, martial arts or swimming. They have fun while they exercise,” Geller said.

A healthy diet also is not difficult. A key is to buy whole, fresh foods and avoid processed foods and those with added sugar. Even apple juice, a staple most families have, in most cases has added sugar. Eating an apple provides something to chew, fiber and less sugar than a glass of apple juice.

Portions have gotten out of hand, Dastrup said. A serving of soda, for example, used to be seven or eight ounces. Today one can get a 64-ounce soda, with all of the attendant sugar.

Diabetes Prevention

Many fast food restaurants are beginning to offer more healthy choices. However the mainstay is still burger and fries, and supersized.

“Not all overweight or obese children have diabetes, but if they don’t make changes they are headed in that direction,” diabetes educator for VVMC Mary May said. She teaches two classes for adults on living well with diabetes and a diabetes prevention class.

Parents who are concerned about their overweight child can watch for signs such as frequent headaches, blurred vision, frequent urination, increased appetite, weight loss or extreme thirst. If suspicious, call a pediatrician.

The steps to help prevent one’s child from developing Type 2 diabetes are basic: Eat a balanced diet, avoid sugary junk foods and soda, and get lots of exercise.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. For more information visit the National diabetes Education Program at

He doesn’t paint, sculpt or create tangible art, but Christopher Lane received the 2009 Sedona Mayor’s Arts Award.

The second annual awards ceremony presented by the city of Sedona Arts and Culture Commission on Thursday,

Nov. 12, presented awards in four categories: Individual, Organization or Business, Education and Lifetime Achievement.

mayors-art-awards-11-18“The awards are from all citizens with the mayor representing us. We received nominations for some extraordinary candidates,” Commission Chairwoman Linda Pallas said. “The awards are for enhancing, promoting and advocating for the arts over time.”

While admitting he himself possesses little artistic talent, Mayor Rob Adams said Sedona is a city animated by its artists and thanked those in attendance for all they bring to the city.

“We all have an artist in us,” Adams said, while announcing a poet would be honored with the Sedona Mayor’s Arts Award for an individual.

Lane is the poet Adams referred to. He not only writes and reads poetry, he brings it to several diverse audiences through his many programs and projects throughout Sedona and the Verde Valley.

“Christopher Lane has put Sedona on the map of poetry. He has lifted the spoken word to a new level,” Commissioner Mei Wei Wong said before she helped Steve Douglas present Lane with the award which included a piece of artwork made specifically for the occasion by Joanne Hiscox called “Each New Day.”

Among Lane’s program creations is Young Voices Be Heard and Poetry Out Loud at Sedona Red Rock High School. He also reads familiar poetry to Alzheimer’s patients.

“It helps spark memories for them,” Lane said. He talks with his hands and face as well as his voice. He also works all over the state in memory care for retirement complexes.

Lane teaches youth through poetry to show them “how they can use their voice,” he said. “You can create art in words with poetry.”

He followed his acceptance speech with a humorous poem he wrote about Sedona which brought the audience to laughter many times.

The Organization or Business Award went to the Goldenstein Gallery owned by Linda Goldenstein, who grew up in Camp Verde. She started in the arts when she operated a high-end furniture company in Santa Fe, N.M., then opened her own business there. One day she helped a friend with her gallery and saw how much the people loved the art for just what it was.

After the 9/11 attacks, Goldenstein returned to the Verde Valley and soon opened her gallery in Uptown.

“Sedona inspires me,” Goldenstein said.

Mary Pope, vice chairwoman for the commission, said Goldenstein Gallery has supported and contributed to art in many forms through numerous performances and events.

“The gallery draws collectors, celebrities and art aficionados from around the world,” Pope said. “It has set an example for the entire Sedona art family.”

Goldenstein said the gallery is a vision inspired and made possible through many people especially the staff and the many artists who show their work.

“Teamwork makes the dream work. I love the arts. You never know what’s going to happen or who is going to walk in the door,” she said.

The Sedona Arts Festival has been a significant part of arts happenings in Sedona for many years. It has evolved into becoming one of the finest arts events in the world, according to Commissioners Pat Reed and Rod Abbott who presented the Education Award to the festival.

Its mission is to increase awareness and exposure to the arts while enhancing a sense of community. The festival contributes to art programs and scholarships in Greater Sedona. It draws more than 150 artists and craftspersons from around the world. The next annual festival is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 9 and 10.

“The fall festival brings in hundreds of artists and thousands of visitors from around the world. It provides educational experiences for young people like the KidZone. It allows kids to explore arts in a safe, fun environment,” Reed said.

The festival has contributed approximately $245,000 for arts programs and scholarships since its inception in 1989, Abbott said.

“They are committed to artists of all ages,” he said.

No nominations were received for the Lifetime Achievement award.

The commission also presented the document “The Culture of Sedona” which was more than five years in the making, gathering information from a wide range of sources to define the culture of Sedona. The document was approved and adopted by the commission, Dec. 4, 2008, and by the Sedona City Council, Oct. 27.


Lu Stitt can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 122, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Sedona and Cottonwood will seem closer once the new Verde Lynx Transit system starts its regular service between the two communities Monday, Nov. 9.

The number of miles will not decrease, but the number of commuter trips north and south on State Route 89A will increase.

The eight trips a day will offer commuters a variety of times to make the trip and leave the car at home, according to Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority Operations Senior Manager Jim Wagner.

“The thought out there is we need to offer more frequency to and from Sedona and Cottonwood. We have the RoadRunner shuttle, but we wanted to increase trips. Thanks to some stimulus money we can bring people the Verde Lynx connection service,” Wagner said.

The Verde Lynx will link Sedona’s RoadRunner system with Cottonwood Area Transit. The first Lynx bus of the day will leave Cottonwood’s Garrison Park at 6 a.m. The first of several stops in Sedona begins at Upper Red Rock Loop Road and ends at Poco Diablo Resort.

The last return trip of the day leaves Poco Diablo at 6:15 p.m. The cost will be $2 each way, or $4 for the round-trip. However, 20-ride passes and monthly passes are available.

“This service will provide transportation for people who live in Cottonwood and work in Sedona and vice versa. It will also be great for people who want to shop in Sedona, visit or eat out without having to drive,” Shirley Scott, CAT system director, said.

Riders to Cottonwood will be able to also connect with Verde Villages and parts of Clarkdale via the CAT system.

“If the driver knows a person is going to a certain place, they’ll radio ahead to match up with that Cottonwood line so the person doesn’t have to wait very long,” Wagner said.

Verde Lynx is the product of both the Cottonwood and Sedona transportation commissions’ request to provide public transit.

“With the Lynx a person can arrive in Sedona around

7:30 a.m. and leave around 5:30 p.m. So you can have an 8 to 5 job, and walk or bike to where you work,” Wagner said. “The buses will have bicycle racks on the front.”

The four buses can hold 25 people with two tie-down areas for wheelchairs. They have a low floor with a ramp so

they are Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant. Each is 28-feet long and air conditioned with a 42-inch wide electric door.

The buses were driven from the factory in Goshen, Ind., and expected to arrive in the Verde Valley Thursday or Friday, Nov. 5 or Nov. 6, according to Wagner.

“We’re excited and hope to eventually expand to include all of the Verde Valley communities. So far, we have nothing in the Village of Oak Creek or the Camp Verde area,” he said. “Hooking up with Camp Verde, Rimrock and Lake Montezuma is on our five-year plan.”

The Verde Lynx is part of a larger plan to link Northern Arizona communities. Eventually the plan is to link with Flagstaff and Northern Arizona University.

“Right now we’re concentrating on getting the Lynx up and running,” Wagner said. “We’re seeing more people use our public transportation. The Lynx makes for great intercity connection,” Wagner said.

Call 282-0938, for more information.

Lu Stitt can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 122, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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