A Thanksgiving tradition I particularly enjoy is going around the dinner table before we feast to say what we are thankful for.

It only takes a few moments and there are always the standards — friends, family, health —  to rely on if you draw a blank.

Regardless of what a person says, the simple exercise draws our attention to the true spirit of the holiday.

Thanksgiving is a time to stop and realize what we are fortunate enough to have in our lives.

Each year may be different and sometimes what we were thankful for the year before is no longer part of our lives or we have new gifts to be thankful for.

I enjoy the reminder that even when I’m stressed about what feels like a million tasks that must be accomplished or I’m simply having a bad day, I’ve got a better life than I could have ever imagined, and for that I am very thankful.

Keeping with tradition, I asked each person in our newsroom what they are thankful for this year, and they found blessings in their lives to give thanks for.

“I am thankful for my girlfriend, Irma Cernica, and our baby boy that is set to be born sometime in February. We’ve decided to name him Admir Jeremiah Bergner, or A.J. Bergner.”

Brian Bergner Jr.

Sports Reporter

“I’m thankful for my furry family of Nike, Knox and Farrah because they make me smile every day, even if they only see me as a big old Pez dispenser.”

Constance Israel

Copy Editor

"I’m thankful for family, near and far, two- and four-legged. And for old friends who’ve aged along with me through good times and bad — careers, relationships, marriages, divorces, children, etc. —and now grandchildren and retirement.”

Jo Page


“I’m thankful to be close to my children who live in Camp Verde and, after a few years of soul-searching, finding myself in a community and job that I love.”

Tom Hood

Sedona Photojournalist

“I’m thankful for a healthy, loving family that supports me throughout the year. I’m also thankful for the support of all of our customers.”

Kyle Larson

Advertising Director

This year I am especially thankful for my new husband, Henry. If soulmates do in fact exist, I think I found mine. I’m also thankful for our wonderful life together and our furry, four-legged children, Zeke, Fletcher and Fiddler.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Trista Steers MacVittie

Managing Editor

The lines at area food banks appear longer as the holidays get under way while the supply on the shelves seems to dwindle.

This year, like last, local charities that work to make a difference in the lives of those down on their luck — especially during the holidays — are experiencing their own hardship.

The number of people who need assistance continues to grow leaving many Arizonans and Verde Valley residents without jobs or money to pay for necessities. These people are then added to the number of individuals and families already seeking assistance.

Add winter and holiday needs to the equation — gifts for the children, heat for the home, food for traditional meals — and Sedona and Verde Valley charities find themselves scrambling to meet the demand placed upon them, which is no easy task.

While nonprofits saw a dip in contributions across the country, the good news is giving turned the corner and is again on the rise.

According to Giving USA’s 2010 numbers, an annual report on philanthropy by The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, individuals, corporations and foundations gave approximately $290.89 billion in 2010, more than $10 billion more than in 2009. In 2009, an estimated $280.30 billion went to nonprofits and charities.

The majority of charitable contributions continue to come from individuals. Despite hard economic times, individual giving rose by 2.7 percent making up $211.77 billion of the total donated in 2010.

Numbers from 2010 show the first increase since the recession. From 2007 to 2009, charitable giving dropped by 13 percent across the country.

While donation numbers are up, so is the need as the effects of unnemployment, the mortgage crisis and other financial plagues continue to ripple across the country.

People can feel overwhelmed thinking about giving to charity when they themselves have made cutbacks in their spending, but it’s important to remember someone out there can’t afford to put food on the table for their children, and a contribution — even if it’s small — can make a difference.

A couple of cans of vegetables will help feed someone who is hungry. A monetary donation will assist in paying for a humane society to keep animals alive long enough to be adopted.

If you can’t bring yourself to pick just one group, the Sedona Community Foundation is an option. The foundation, an affiliate of the Arizona Community Foundation, collects donations and distributes them to local nonprofits.

Whether its a toy for the Toys for Tots drive, food for a food bank or a check for the community foundation, give the gift of charity this holiday season regardless of the size of the package.

Childhood and adolescence can be a tough time for a person socially, mentally and physically.

Add to the equation a weight problem, and the battle becomes even tougher.

On Saturday, Nov. 19, Sedona and Verde Valley residents will gather in Cottonwood to take a stand against childhood obesity by setting a good example for area youth.

Runners and walkers from all communities will participate in Fit Kids 5K Fun Run and 10K Autumn Dash, the second consecutive event.

A healthy body weight is the foundation for nearly every other aspect of a person’s life, particularly a child or teen.

Physically, being overweight causes health problems in all areas of the body from diabetes to stress on the heart and other major organs.

Often children who are overweight have less energy and drive to begin any sort of exercise routine further perpetuating the problem.

Mentally, extra weight can affect children’s self-confidence causing them to make poor friend choices, struggle in school or make other risky decisions.

The physical and mental aspects of obesity combine to further affect a child or teen’s health socially. They may isolate themselves from others or resist forming strong bonds with family or peers.

Fit Kids of Arizona isn’t willing to accept this lifestyle for any of the area’s children or teens, and it is dedicated to fighting childhood obesity.

The fun run serves as an awareness campaign as well as a fundraiser for the organization’s programs.

An affiliate of the Verde Valley Medical Center, Fit Kids is some children and teens’ last hope at taking control of their lives.

The goal of the race and other promotional events is to intercept at-risk youth before they get to the stage where Fit Kids is needed.

Saturday’s race is meant to be a fun run encouraging people of all ages to get outside and move their bodies. People can walk or run, and there is no time limit.

Participants and spectators will also enjoy a festive atmosphere at Riverfront Park following the races where health information will be readily available.

The 10K starts at 9 a.m., and the 5K follows at 9:15 a.m. Runners and walkers can sign up prior to the race at virtualroster.com or the day of from 7 to 8:30 a.m.

Proceeds from race dues go to keep kids fit, so lace up your running shoes and head to Cottonwood for a fun Saturday morning jog through Dead Horse Ranch State Park.

Sedona residents spoke again, and they said the same thing: They do not want the city of Sedona to take ownership of State Route 89A in West Sedona.

Results for Proposition 410 from the Tuesday, Nov. 8, special election showed residents overwhelmingly rejected the Sedona City Council’s decision earlier this year to take ownership of the roadway.

According to Yavapai County elections results, 2,981, or 70 percent, of those who cast ballots voted against the city further considering ownership. Only 1,248 residents, or 30 percent, said the city should own a state highway.

I guess now we know what the “true majority” wants.

A conclusion to the question revealed itself in February, but some Sedona City Council members chose to ignore the survey they themselves commissioned and paid for. A professional study told us then only 30 percent of residents agreed with taking ownership.

Vice Mayor Cliff Hamilton, Councilwoman Barbara Litrell, and Councilmen Dennis Rayner and Mike Ward ignored the people and voted for themselves and their friends. Mayor Rob Adams, and Councilmen Mark DiNunzio and Dan McIlroy did as they promised and listened to the people voting against ownership.

Hamilton, Litrell, Rayner and Ward’s decision to ignore the survey resulted in grave consequences.

The State Route 89A referendum election further divided an already divisive community by pitting neighbor against neighbor, and, in may cases, the gloves came off.

An opinion on the issue could provoke hate mail, threats to boycott businesses, personal attacks or angry visits from the other side. We saw the lowest of the low as people fought tooth and nail to push their agendas at all costs.

Aside from the petty fighting, council’s vote cost the city and residents tens of thousands of dollars in county election fees and campaign contributions.

The city paid Yavapai County $24,600.32 to conduct the election.

We are still waiting for final campaign contribution numbers to be reported, but thus far we know the money spent by both camps trumps the city’s cost. For a breakdown on how much each group spent from June 1 to Oct. 19 and who were the biggest contributors, see Patrick Whitehurst’s story on Page 3A.

Time is also money, and months were wasted. If council’s vote at the end of February had reflected what the survey, and eventually election, told us, residents wouldn’t have spent the last eight months at each other’s throats.

Hamilton, Litrell, Rayner and Ward should be ashamed of themselves.

The results from Proposition 411 show residents don’t trust council to do the job members are elected to do — listen to the majority. Voters approved a measure with 3,226 votes, or 77 percent, requiring their approval to finalize any future route transfers negotiated by council. Only 953, or 23 percent, voted against it.

Future councils can thank Hamilton, Litrell, Rayner and Ward for the red tape.

If this all-out war between residents taught us anything, it’s that we must be careful who we believe when the next election season rolls around. It’s often difficult to discern who is genuine when candidates claim they will vote based on the majority opinion until they are called upon to do so.

Well, now we know who stuck true to their word and who blatantly denied the facts to push personal agendas. It appears a few council members are out of touch with Sedona residents.

Trista Steers MacVittie

Managing Editor

While the news never sleeps, takes a holiday or goes on vacation, those who bring it to you do.

Larson Newspapers will give its busy employees a day off to celebrate Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 24, which means we’ll be working double-time beforehand to make that possible.

As the pace in our newsroom pushes full-steam ahead, we ask the public to do its best to keep up with us.

We’ve moved our display advertising, press release and column deadlines up to make sure we get your advertisement or news item before we are ready to put the paper together.

Thanksgiving represents our longest stretch of early deadlines extending throughout an entire week and affecting nearly every person who contributes to the newspaper.

Early deadlines go into effect Wednesday, Nov. 16, and affect the Wednesday, Nov. 23, editions of the Sedona Red Rock News, The Camp Verde Journal, Cottonwood Journal Extra, and the Friday, Nov. 25, edition of The Scene and the Sedona Red Rock News.

Our altered deadlines for Thanksgiving are:

For the Wednesday, Nov. 23, Sedona Red Rock News, The Camp Verde Journal and Cottonwood Journal Extra

  • Display advertisements due by 1 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 17

  • Classified advertisements due by 3 p.m., Friday, Nov. 18

  • News items — press releases, columns and letters to the editor — due by 8 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 16

For the Friday, Nov. 25, edition of The Scene


  • Display advertisements due by 1 p.m., Friday, Nov. 18
  • News items due by 5 p.m., Friday, Nov. 18


For the Friday, Nov. 25, edition of the Sedona Red Rock News


  • Display advertisements due by 1 p.m., Monday, Nov. 21
  • Classified advertisements due by 3 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 22
  • News items due by Monday, Nov. 21, at 8 a.m.


Our offices in Camp Verde, Sedona and Cottonwood will be closed all day Thursday, Nov. 24, and reopen Friday, Nov. 25.

Deadlines return to normal as of Nov. 25.

As is always true with submissions, anything received after our deadlines will likely not appear in the newspaper.

Around a holiday more than ever it’s important to get your advertisements, columns, press releases and letters to the editor in early so they have a better chance of making it into print.

We thank you for your cooperation and wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

If you have any questions regarding editorial material, call or email me at 282-7795, ext. 124, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For questions about advertising, call or email Kyle Larson at 282-7795, ext. 114, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or contact your sales representative.

Only four days remain for Sedona residents to cast their ballots in the Tuesday, Nov. 8, special election.

We strongly encourage voters to vote “no” on Proposition 410 and “yes” on Proposition 411.

We clearly stated the position of Larson Newspapers in two past editorials.

Starting with Proposition 410, a “no” vote indicates the city of Sedona should not attempt to renegotiate a deal with the Arizona Department of Transportation to take ownership of State Route 89A in West Sedona.

The city simply cannot afford to take on an unpredictable expense, especially after some Sedona City Council members approved over $2 million for wetlands at the Sedona wastewater treatment plant and suggested taxing residents to pay for storm drainage improvements.

As our readers saw on Wednesday, Nov. 2, in the guest perspective “Resident fed up and looking for a little help,” by Chris Gruneberg, residents in flood zones are becoming desperate and are at the mercy of the city. However, some residents and council members feel its more important to own a roadway than it is to protect residents’ health, safety and welfare.

Then add to the city’s bonded debt amounts already committed to or needed for infrastructure projects, and owning a state highway becomes even more ridiculous. According to an email from the city of Sedona dated Oct. 25, the total amount of bonded debt the city had on that date was $59,930,000, only $70,000 short of $60 million.

The idea Sedona can do as it pleases if it takes ownership of the road is also a lie if the city is interested in protecting itself from liability in the event of an accident.

City Manager Tim Ernster knows the city has obligations. He wrote in our newspaper Dec. 22 the city should install the minimum safety improvements recommended by CivTech. These include, again for the record: continuous medians from Soldier Pass Road to Mountain Shadows and Rodeo Road to Andante Drive; pedestrian barriers throughout the length of the medians; enhanced pedestrian crossings; median refuge areas for pedestrians; a traffic signal at Andante and marked bicycle lanes.

That doesn’t sound to us like the city will be able to do whatever it wants, and those are not a menu of options, they’re the minimum requirements collectively.

A city that ignores the warnings of ADOT and fails to implement minimum safety improvements recommended by an engineering firm of its choice won’t have much of a case the next time someone loses his or her life on the roadway.

When it comes to Proposition 411, we recommend a “yes” vote.

The proposition does not stop council from negotiating transfers of state highway property. The proposition only states the voters get the choice of whether or not to accept a transfer negotiated by the City Council.

In fact, any agreement would have to be negotiated prior to voter approval or voters wouldn’t know what their options were.

The only power taken away from council is the ability to sign and enter into the agreement without voter approval.

Elected officials nationally and locally demonstrate time and again they will only listen to the people if they absolutely have to. Our own council ignored its own survey, which the city paid for, that reported residents did not want to take ownership of the highway. Forcing future route transfers to go before the voters is the only way to ensure the will of the people will be carried out.

Since we published our position, opponents of our views attacked our opinions telling us and others in the community they are not right.

The beauty of an opinion is there isn’t a right or wrong answer, and some seem to be confused by the difference between an opinion and a fact. Rather than presenting our opinions as if they’re facts, we instead make it clear, by publishing editorials on the Opinion page, that these are indeed our opinions.

Facts can be found, however, within our opinions, such as the accurate amount of city debt and the minimum safety improvements that must be made to avoid future liability.

Passion runs deep in Sedona.

Residents pick a cause and devote what sometimes seems to be their entire existence to advancing their interests.

Sedona passion also often creates conflict and can degrade the fabric of the community.

We all get caught up in it to some extent. We try to listen to both sides and navigate the onslaught of information — some of which is actual fact and most of which is opinion.

In this flood of championing causes, some of the small and much more important things in life can be lost.

While printing election story after election story, and Sedona Fire District story after Sedona Fire District story, I’m always happy to place a photograph or story in the newspaper illustrating a positive aspect of the community.

Photographer Tom Hood’s pictures from the Halloween party at Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation Kachina Point on Thursday, Oct. 27, on Page 4B in today’s edition of the Sedona Red Rock News are a perfect example of a community’s framework.

Young children dressed in costumes visited residents of the retirement home to trick-or-treat bringing together two of Sedona’s distant generations.

Smiles are visible on the faces of the young and old alike as they enjoy each other’s company.

One of the most beautiful elements of the picture is its depiction of two generations not concerned with any of the issues consuming the majority of the area’s population.

They aren’t worried about taxes, highway ownership or who serves on which board and what his or her political affiliation may be.

Instead, their passion is directed at human interaction and creating happiness in others. The children bring joy to the seniors by simply dressing up and showing up to spend time with them. The seniors make the children happy by admiring their costumes and expressing genuine interest in what they have to say.

I think we could all take a lesson from the attendees of the Kachina Point Halloween party. Regardless of our age, history, beliefs or ideals, we can all find ways to make someone else’s life a little bit better.

As the holiday season rapidly approaches, it’s time to lay down our swords, even if just for a few moments, and remember what it means to be part of a community.

We can expect to see goblins, ghouls and skeletons, fairies, princesses and mermaids, and characters from “Transformers,” “Real Steel” and “Smurfs” swarming Uptown on Monday, Oct. 31.

Some will be miniature versions but some will be life-size. In fact, one Bumble Bee may be your accountant, child’s teacher or personal trainer.

That’s the beauty of Halloween.

We dress up and become something different for a night, and a person doesn’t have to be young to fully embrace the holiday.

It’s a time to let the creative child trapped inside return to the surface, if you’re brave enough to release your inner kid.

While I haven’t yet figured out what I will be this Halloween, I know I won’t be caught without a costume when the sun goes down.

I’m never anything scary. In fact, I think the closest I’ve come to scary is a witch, and even when I’m dressed in all black with a pointy hat people say, “Oh, you’re Samantha from ‘Bewitched,’ the good witch.”

My choice of costume most likely reflects my avoidance of all things scary.

I don’t visit haunted houses. Halloween decorations on people’s lawns are enough to catch me off guard while jogging in the neighborhood this time of year.

I don’t watch horror movies. I’m pretty sure watching a commercial for a new horror flick gave me a nightmare the other night.

So, as I evaluate past costume choices in my quest for something new this year, the list is of no surprise to me or those who know me.

I started as honey bee — the actual creature, moved to a clown — some may think that’s scary but that was not my intention — and I’ve been spotted as Rainbow Bright. I’ve been a mouse, fairy, rabbit, princess, ballerina, duckling, Snow White and Cat Woman.

While I’ve never been a fortune teller, I don’t see Freddy Krueger, Frankenstein or a zombie in my future.

Have a safe and happy Halloween.

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