Meet Don Murray – Activities Committee Chairman

Don MurryDon Murray was born in Hood River, Oregon and grew up in Portland. He graduated from the University of Portland in 1960 with a degree in Engineering Science. Don earned a position with RCA’s Computer Operations in Pennsauken, New Jersey.  During his three years in New Jersey, Don attended the University of Pennsylvania and received his M.S. in Electrical Engineering. He longed for the west and returned. He spent the next thirty-six years working for Motorola Semiconductors, thirty-one of which were in the Phoenix area.

Don spent three years in Geneva, Switzerland and two years in Austin, Texas.  After retiring from Motorola in 1998, he moved to Sedona for three years.  While in Sedona, he worked from his home for an engineering software company, Synopsis, which is located in Mountain View, California.  While Don was with Synopsis for only eighteen months, he was sent to Japan twelve times.

Don has three children, two daughters and a son (deceased)—and three grandchildren.  He and his partner, Sandy Hudgens, have been together for ten years.  In the winter they live in Sun Lakes. They have owned in the Village since 2006.

Don loves to travel. He spent a number of years traveling the U.S., Canada and Mexico in his motorhome.  In recent years, he and Sandy have enjoyed trips to Europe, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Alaska, Hawaii, and Mexico. He and Sandy are also avid sports fans and enjoy rooting for the local Arizona teams.

He helped form the Activities Committee and has been the chairman since its inception four years ago.  He is also a member of the newly-formed Advisory Committee which will help lead the community in the transition from a developer-controlled to owner-controlled HOA.  As part of that role, he is working to improve the resident/HOA Board relationship by advocating and supporting an improved communication process.

Wild Critters … The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Critter - BatCourtesy of Allen Sherpa

Having lived in the White Mountains more than twenty-five years, I’ve had the pleasure, and sometimes displeasure, of coming face-to-face with many of the area’s original residents. For many of those years, I lived in a house that fronted the undeveloped forest. An endless stream of furry, feathered and other animals visited our little pond visible from many parts of our house.

If you’re new to the mountains and forest, I offer some observations on what you may see in the neighborhood. Some are viewed as good. Some are perceived as villainous, dangerous and diabolical. Here is a partial list of the “good guys” and “bad guys” as commonly perceived.

Good Guys (or so they say)

Rabbits: These critters are cute and fuzzy. They jump and play. Peter Rabbit, Flopsy, Bugs Bunny, the Velveteen Rabbit, Roger Rabbit … the list goes on. And they’re all likeable bunnies. How could a bunny not be good? After all, this is the guy that colors eggs and hides them for the kids.Critter - Rabbit

Eagles (and their cousins): Don’t challenge the conventional wisdom on this one unless you want a tap on your door from the House Committee on Un-American Activities. The guy’s on our coins, our dollar bill, the tops of flagpoles, the Presidential Seal and pretty much everything else that says “Freedom”. These majestic birds even have their own fraternal order, the F.O.E.

Hummingbirds: Dainty and adorable, who could not love these little guys? You usually see them with a backdrop of colorful flowers. They only lack light flute and harp accompaniment. Hummingbirds are good.

Deer : They’re non-aggressive, elegant and fun to watch. Must be good guys.

Now the Bad Guys

Snakes: They slither. They always get a bad rap. Get bit by one of the rattlers and you’ll have to crawl down to the rodeo arena to get one of the wranglers to cut a couple of X’s on the wound, suck out the poison and spit a little tobacco into the wound to help it heal. Even the Bible villainizes snakes by calling them serpents. I’m surprised Noah didn’t make them ride along in a tethered lifeboat, but who am I to second guess Noah.

Critter - CoyoteCoyotes: They’re carnivores with sharp teeth. They won’t look you in the eye without looking hungry. Legend is replete with stories about Mr. Coyote who is cunning, sneaky and more intelligent than some of the season’s political candidates. Once in a blue moon, they will grab an edible pet and abscond with it.

Bats: They only come out at night – sort of like my sister-in-law, Babs Ferguson. That’s never a good sign. At least one bat has “vampire” in its name. That can’t be good. Lon Chaney turned into a bat in the old horror movies of the 1930’s. The only good bat is a baseball bat and then only when wielded by the home team.

Javelina: Save the women and children then run like hell. Everyone knows these pig relatives (which ironically are not related to pigs) charge anyone and everyone with the intent of goring them into next week.

Mountain Lions: Large, very big and sharp teeth for eating meat. The first time I came nose-to-nose with a mountain lion, I knew it was the end. Apparently, whimpering and dropping to my knees scared him away.

A plethora of other creatures are commonly found in the White Mountains. They include raccoon, skunk, elk, possum, bobcat, turkey, but in the interest of keeping things brief, I’ll defer judgment on these critters for now.

Upon closer scrutiny, we may discover we’ve put some of these guys in the wrong category. Consider the following:

The huggable bunny rabbit? These little thumpers eat anything and everything I plant. Do you believe for one minute that Mrs. McGregor looked at Peter Cottontail or Benjamin Bunny as a “good guy”? Get real; they dedicated their lives to destroying Mrs. McGregor’s garden. Furthermore, those colored eggs left around by the Easter Bunny rot and stink. They draw other undesirables (like little kids) into the neighborhood.

Now, let’s take it a step further for those in the White Mountains. If you’re still thinking coyotes are in the “bad guy” category, think about this. What do they eat? That’s right – bunnies. They might munch on roadrunners, but apparently they can’t catch them. It’s been my experience in the White Mountains that a pack of coyotes makes a big circuit on a fairly regular basis. They appear for a few days in an area, hunt rabbits until the pickings get slim and then move on to the next area. They show up again in about six weeks, a period of time long enough for the bunnies to do what they do best, i.e., reproduce. It’s feast time again. This cycle goes on month after month, year after year, and century after century.

If you want coyotes in your yard on a regular basis, encourage the bunnies. Now how wonderful is Mr. Cottontail?

Shall we look closer at Wiley Coyote? Is he really all that bad? If nothing else, he keeps the rabbit population under control. He still has sharp teeth, probably fleas and clearly a bad attitude. He’s related to Fido, but there are no reports of coyotes bringing in the morning paper. I’ve seen thousands of coyotes in my lifetime, but I don’t recall ever seeing one wagging his tail as I approached him. He does perform other services.  He eats more than bunnies; he’ll happily chase down and eat mice, rats and a variety of other critters we prefer to not have around. Incidents of coyotes going after pets have been reported, but they are very rare. No doubt, more pets are killed by cars than by coyotes.

The bottom line is that coyotes are intelligent, albeit irascible, fellows who have been here since long before we arrived. They’re part and parcel to the White Mountains. They do a job. They help maintain the balance of nature and for that, we owe them our thanks. Frank Lloyd Wright once asked, “Which is the most important leg on a three-legged stool?” Think about it. Without coyotes in the mix, nature’s balance in the White Mountains would go spinning wildly out of kilter. Call them “good guys” or call them “bad guys”, but be glad they’re here.

Critter - JavalinaJavelina: These guys are quite common in Arizona. They are wild animals, but can become “almost” tame. However, both I and the Arizona Department of Game and Fish strongly discourage you from attempting to do this. Let them be wild. Both you and javelina will be happier.

They have been given a bit of a bad name without cause. There are those who say they charge humans with the intent of doing bodily harm. Like any other animal, they will defend themselves if threatened, however, the “charges” many people report aren’t really charges. Javelina have very poor eyesight and when scared, they’ll run in any direction. Their first choice is the forward direction. If you happen to be standing in that direction, you’ll be certain you’re being charged. There are reports that javelina are slightly more inclined to attack a dog, presumably because they feel more threatened by dogs. I remember one incident where a visually challenged javelina confronted a wooden hobby-horse type critter I had in my yard, but the hobby-horse survived unscathed.

In my book, javelina are good guys until they start digging up my newly planted flower beds. Just remember … they are wild animals. Treat them that way.

Critter - RattlerSnakes … Are they really the bad guys? Over the years, I’ve had many rattlesnakes around (and in) our house. I’m not suggesting this is a good thing, but frankly, it’s not as bad as some people think. Whenever we’d find one, I’d catch him and haul him off well into the woods in a non-populated area. If the truth be known, rattlesnakes are not aggressive animals. They don’t spend their lives looking for someone to bite. When confronted, they usually strike only as a last resort. If you leave them alone, they’ll afford you the same courtesy. Nonetheless, to avoid misunderstandings, it’s probably best that you and rattlesnakes don’t spend a lot of time together. If you get one, have him removed.

There are other snakes that are actually excellent neighbors. The common gopher snake (also known as the bull snake) is a fabulous garden sentry. These snakes eat mice and other garden pests. They are non-aggressive and frequently become somewhat tame and accustomed to being handled. My daughter kept a six-footer as a pet for years.

They also have a hellava sense of humor, although they’re not trying to be funny. They are commonly mistaken for rattlesnakes because of their diamond-like color patterns. When threatened, they’ll do everything they can to mimic a rattlesnake. They assume the classic “S” shape of a threatened rattlesnake and actually shake their tail just like the rattler. The only problem is they don’t have rattles. I always have to laugh when one of these poor guys is trying to look tough by shaking his pointy, rattle-less tail. This rattlesnake imitation seems to work for them, at least until they try it with someone that doesn’t like snakes and happens to be carrying a shovel.

Nonetheless, gopher snakes belong in the “good guy” category. If you’ve got one in your garden, consider yourself lucky.

Bats: None of our wild critters get maligned more than the common bat. The bat has clearly been given a bad rap. Obviously, their P.R. people haven’t been doing a good job over the years. But here’s the reality.

Bats DO NOT attack humans. They are extremely beneficial to humans, especially in the White Mountains. They assist in the pollination of some plants. Bat “guano” is one of the best fertilizers on the planet. But if for no other reason, you should welcome bats to the neighbor because THEY CAN EAT APPROXIMATELY A THOUSAND INSECTS PER HOUR! The majority of these insects are mosquitoes. If the bats weren’t mosquito munching by the tens of thousands, the mosquitoes would be in search of you.

Here’s what the Arizona Game and Fish website says …

Bats should never be allowed to remain in human living areas. However, bats roosting on the porch, in the yard, or in a bat house are far more beneficial than harmful, and the small amount of guano can be cleaned up or used as fertilizer, in exchange for the reduction in flying insects and mosquitoes.

 It all boils down to this. Residents of the White Mountains enjoy so much of nature’s bounty, they’re the envy of millions of other people not so fortunate. The creatures of the forest have lived together for eons. Embrace the wonderful world you’ve got right in front of your eyes. Whether it be bunnies, birds or bats, they’re all good.

Welcome Home

Mountain Spring
Mountain Springtime

Happy spring to our seasonal and full-time residents. It’s that time of year for sweeping out the dust and cobwebs, starting new projects and becoming reacquainted with springtime in the mountains and at the Village. Here are a few friendly reminders as you head into the season.

Roll-off dumpsters for lot debris will be at the clubhouse parking lot beginning in April and running through the end of June. In the meantime, store bags of lot debris on your lot until the roll-offs arrive. Please do not put bags in or near the general dumpsters which are for household trash only.

As you begin ARC projects and/or spring clean-up projects involving contractors, be sure to let them know they are responsible for removing from the subdivision any waste materials or lot debris they generate.

If you return to your home and have no water, check for broken pipes/water lines. They are usually the culprit. If water lines are not properly winterized/protected for freezing winter temps, water remaining in the lines is subject to freezing and breaking the lines. Sometimes broken shut-off valves can be a problem as well. Broken lines and shut-off valves on lots are the responsibility of lot owners, not the HOA. If you use a plumber/contractor to assist with such repairs, let them know prior to their visit that they will require a clamping tool to clamp off lines during repairs since lots are not individually metered.

Keep the general dumpster lids closed to keep out birds and bears. You’d be amazed at what a mess the crows alone can make when they have access to the trash. Do not feed the wildlife. When bears are in the area, make your presence known (noise – bang pots/pans, etc.) to discourage them from sticking around. Call the Arizona Game & Fish department if you see repeated activity by a certain bear in the subdivision. If you have a skunk problem on your lot, call an exterminator for solutions. Clean up after your dogs and keep them on a leash.

Thanks for being a good neighbor and taking care of your community!

Meet Ray Hedlund – Advisory Committee Chairman

Ray was born in Sioux City, Iowa. His family moved to Martinez, California when Ray was very young.

Ray’s college days coincided with a very exciting business climate in California. As a young college student Ray worked for Rodolfo Jacuzzi (Jacuzzi Hot Tubs) at his personal startup company, International Manufacturing Company. Mr. Jacuzzi mentored Ray by introducing him to a wide range of business contacts that have served him well.  Ray credits Mr. Jacuzzi for starting his professional career as a serial entrepreneur, product inventor, and later a professional sales manager.

Ray Hedlund
Ray Hedlund – Sacramento Bee

Ray has been involved with developing or selling in one way or another for his entire working career. Some of his projects were water filters, pumps, pool lights, custom automobile wheels, cardboard boxes, paper products, adjustable air beds, water beds, dog toys and electronic pet products. Ray enjoyed his fifteen minutes of fame in 2000 when the Sacramento Bee published a story about his company, Concord Dog Toys.

Ray has worked for some great companies, large and small; International, Classic, Crown Zellerbach, Crestline, Air Creations, Kelsey Hays, and Radio Systems.  He started, operated and sold his own company.  Ray is the inventor of record of over fifty-seven copyrights and six mechanical patents and has won awards from Ford and SEMA for unique designs or innovations.

Ray is currently employed as a Sales Manager for Radio Systems, a leading marketer of many brands of Pet Products. Radio Systems  supplies most major pet retailers in the USA;  Petsen$e,  Petco,  Home Depot, Lowes, Tractor Supply, CAL Ranch , Ace Hardware and many others.

Ray and his wife, Linda, enjoy “gentleman” camping and were members of Calaveras Timber Trails (CTTA) in California for twenty-eight years. The Hedlund’s participated in the HOA that governs the now 50 year old park with its 500 lots.

Ray and Linda moved to Arizona ten years ago and began searching for the trees they missed in their old park in California. They discovered White Mountain Vacation Village four years ago and started to develop their property three years ago. Ray and Linda love their new home in the Village and have planted more trees and only wish some could be Redwoods!

Ray became the Chair of the Advisory Committee at the 2015 Annual meeting. With similar experience at Timber Trails as it underwent the transfer from developer to bank to HOA control, Ray has proven to be very capable.

He has another great strength. His middle name comes from a descendent on his mother’s side of the family; John Muir, the naturalist who petitioned Congress for the National Park bill. His hard work resulted in both the Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. We couldn’t be in better hands.