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News and Notes from the Rodeo Trail, Feb. 21

WranglerNetwork.com will live stream exclusive video coverage of the PRCA’s La Fiesta de los Vaqueros Feb. 25-26 from Tucson. The broadcast will go on the air at 2 p.m. (MT) each day.

Students from schools around Pima County turned out Feb. 20 for the annual REACh (Rodeo Education and Children) day at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds. The kids learned about rodeo history, culture and techniques. Another round of classes was held Tuesday morning. The program, for students from kindergarten through eighth grade, has been offered to Tucson-area schools since 1995.

One of the most renowned rodeo photographers of all-time, Louise Serpa, who shot the Tucson Rodeo every year from 1963 until 2011, will be inducted into the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame on March 23. Serpa passed away in 2012.

Sheriff’s deputies have arrested a Cheney (Wash.) woman, Katie Rafter, for stealing thousands of dollars in donations that were supposed to go to family members of the three people who were killed in a Lake Coeur d’Alene boat crash last summer. Caitlin Breeze, and PRCA competitors Justin Honken and Justin Luhr, died when another boat crashed into their stationary boat at about 9:15 p.m. July 30 near Threemile Point. Rafter offered to hold a memorial rodeo to benefit the families of the victims. The rodeo community came together and donated $30,000 at the Oct. 8 Luhr and Honken Memorial Benefit, which was held at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds. Rafter deposited the money at Inland Northwest Bank and was supposed to split the money evenly with Luhr and Honken’s survivors, but the payments were slow in coming. Spokane County Sheriff’s detectives got involved, searched Rafter’s bank account, and found she had diverted $14,000 to herself so she could buy a tanning salon business in Cheney called Wildflower Boutique and Salon. The Honkens were going to use the money for a scholarship fund in Justin’s honor. Luhr’s widow has young children.

The Gerry Volunteer Fire Department has signed a contract with Painted Pony Championship Rodeo of Lake Luzerne, N.Y., as stock contractor and producer of their 73rd consecutive annual PRCA rodeo, scheduled for four performances, Aug. 2-5.

The Pendleton (Ore.) Round-Up and Happy Canyon Hall of Fame welcomed their newest board member, Carl Culham last week. Finishing up a 38-year career with the Federal government at the Forest Service in Pendleton, Culham extended his 12 years of volunteerism with the Pendleton Round-Up to serve on The Round-Up Association’s Board of Directors from 2008 to 2016.

The Pendleton Round-Up also recently elected new officers. Greg Ducheck will take the reins as president. Jack Remillard will step into the role as vice president, and June Mohrland and Steve Campbell will retain their positions as secretary and treasurer.

During a regular meeting of the Prairie Circuit Committee for the RAM Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, which is held in Duncan, Okla., the committee donated $6,000 to the non-profit organization Stephens County Youth Services (SCYS). Two representatives from SCYS, program director Barbra Davis and executive director Sara Orellana, attended the meeting to accept the check for their group. Committee members from the PRCA group included Joe Henderson, Sandy Bowden, Lisa Taylor and Tammy Bumpas. Davis said the donation will be used to normalize the lives of children at the shelter and the money will help with basic needs and to purchase extra items they may want. On a related note, the Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo volunteer committee presented a $2,000 check to the American Cancer Society in Duncan Feb. 14. Each year, the committee donates proceeds from the previous October’s rodeo to the Stephens County Youth Shelter and Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma, and for 2017, the group added the ACS to their donation list.

Workers are currently ripping out the wires that have powered the lights, cooling systems and kitchens in the grandstands of the Prescott (Ariz.) Rodeo Grounds for decades. At the same time, a separate project also is underway to replace the antiquated arena lights. In all, the city is putting nearly $1.5 million into the improvements – $266,142 for the arena lighting, and $1,224,346 for the grandstands electrical overhaul. Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo General Manager J.C. Trujillo said work got started on both projects Feb. 6. “For years, we’ve had old lighting,” Trujillo said. “We’ve been on a thin wire.” Although the arena lights have been adequate to illuminate the nighttime rodeo events, Trujillo said the new energy-efficient lights “will really light things up.” As a part of the arena-lighting project, the existing light poles will be shortened to be used for parking-lot lights, he said, noting that the rodeo previously had to use portable lights for the parking areas. Trujillo said the arena-lighting project should be complete by March, and the electrical work should be complete by May – prior to the start of the 2017 rodeo activities.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Ever since I was 3 years old, I had my mind made up I wanted to be a cowboy, and that’s what I’m following through with. Bull riding hopefully will pull me through and I will be a cowboy the rest of my life.

– Bull rider Trey Benton III, a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier who moved up to ninth in the Feb. 21 WEATHER GUARD® PRCA World Standings.

Courtesy of PRCA