Last week, the Sedona Fire District said a fond farewell to one of the Verde Valley’s longest public servants, Fire Marshal Gary Johnson.

Readers may know Johnson from his regular quotes in our news stories and from his occasional headshot we would run alongside them.

Johnson was so much more than a public information officer. He went out of his way to help our staff get some of the amazing photography of wildfires, house fires, rescues and car accident extrications that we’ve been able to publish for our readers.

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Wednesday, Jan. 4, we received word that the Steering Committee of the Coalition for Permanent Protection of the National Forest in the Sedona Verde Valley Red Rock Area — yes, the SCCPPNFSVVRRA’s group’s name is 20 words long — “submitted their [its] proposal for designation” of the Sedona Verde Valley Red Rock National Monument to office of the president.

“Their” is the operative word because it is not supported by an overwhelming majority of residents. The proposal  was rejected in a 6-1 vote by the Sedona City Council and no other elected body in the Verde Valley would even discuss it.

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After the early December cold snap turned much of the city’s commercial areas into ghost towns, the typical pre-Christmas shopping rush brought customers and diners to local shops and restaurants.

While the increase in visitors means our businesses stay open, ensuring that many residents stay employed, commensurate with the influx of pedestrians are the vehicles that brought them, clogging our roads.

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Next Monday is Christmas, the celebration of the birth of a poor Jewish carpenter’s son in the backwater Hebrew town of Bēt Lehem just over 2,000 years ago.

The early church placed the date of the nativity on the 14th of the month Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, which falls in March or April of the modern Gregorian calendar, depending on the year. Various churches throughout the empire used different dates coordinating with local festivals.

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In July, I posted a news story to my personal Facebook page and shared it on local bulletin boards. The article titled “Scientists say giant asteroid could hit earth next week, causing mass devastation” came with a graphic of an object in orbit and the opening two paragraphs about the doom-bringing asteroid 2016-Fl.

However, about by the third paragraph, author Elizabeth Bromstein acknowledged the headline was false, but that the real subject of the article was a study by computer scientists at Columbia University and the French National Institute that revealed about 59 percent of news stories shared on social media are never clicked on and read. In the last paragraph of the story, Bromstein asked readers to not to give away her trick, but instead comment using a color.

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The launching of a manned rocket into space is the epitome of our species, viewed with awe, wonder and pride. It is the cumulation of 4,000 years of mathematics and metallurgy, physics and faith as we lob a metal box to sail the skies alongside the Chariot of Helios and safely return the passenger back to Earth.

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