You are the owner of this page.
A001 A001
Ben Shanahan, Arizona Daily Sun 

Flagstaff’s Walter Downs (24) is pushed to the ground by a Winslow defender Tuesday evening at Flagstaff High School.

Jake Bacon, Arizona Daily Sun 

Jonathan Joseph carries a completed food box to be collected by a needy family Monday afternoon at the Sunshine Rescue Mission. The mission prepared 200 food boxes for families based on the turkeys that they received from a turkey drive at Sechrist Elementary School last week. 

The ins and outs of Thanksgiving dining in Flagstaff

For Northern Arizonan families wishing to take the hassle out of one of the year’s most daunting meals – whether the cooking, dishes or both – numerous local establishments are offering dine-in and take-home options for traditional Thanksgiving dinners, cranberry sauce and all.

Dining in

The DoubleTree by Hilton Flagstaff hosts an annual Thanksgiving Champagne Brunch so popular that director of sales Jeff Theiss calls it a local fixture.

“It is tradition for many people to come here every year,” he said. “There are some families that have come here for 20 years.”

This year, the DoubleTree is expecting more than 500 attendees at its brunch, which will include a seafood selection as well as traditional entrees and desserts. To accommodate this unprecedented crowd, all of the hotel’s meeting rooms – a combined 6,000 square feet – will be used. The brunch will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the price has been dropped this year to $39.95 for adults, $34.95 for seniors and $13.95 for children ages 6-12. Children 5 and under eat free.

Unlike the DoubleTree’s well-known brunch, Williams’ Kicks on Route 66 is a newbie to Thanksgiving dining this year, but is looking to be a strong competitor for existing establishments.

The restaurant’s holiday buffet is priced at $25 for adults and $12 for children. Over 100 reservations have already been placed, but walk-ins are also welcome, said manager Michael Hernandez. Kicks on Route 66 will be serving free range, non-GMO turkeys right off the carving station, as well as other Thanksgiving staples, from 1 to 9 p.m.

“It’s going to be a nice place where you can come and enjoy some really good food with your family,” Hernandez said.

For a more cost-effective meal, both of the Flagstaff Sizzler locations will also offer their traditional Thanksgiving buffet for $14.99 for adults and $9.99 for children. According to its website, “Sizzler offers the perfect Thanksgiving feast, complete with a selection of wine and of course pumpkin pie for dessert.”

Walk-ins are welcome, but larger parties are asked to RSVP. The restaurant will have regular hours Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. for the Milton location and 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. for the Route 66 location.

Taking it home

With at least 24 hours’ notice, Bashas’ can prepare one of its four Thanksgiving take-home options, which are sold cold and require two to three hours of preparation. The Humphreys and Woodlands Village stores will open for pickups at 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., respectively, and both locations will close at 3 p.m.

Bashas’ is offering its Deluxe Traditional Turkey Dinner ($55.99), Deluxe Spiral Sliced Ham Dinner ($55.99), The Feast ($109.99) and Turkey Dinner for Two ($19.99). Meals can be picked up through Friday, Nov. 23.

Both Coco’s Bakery and Cracker Barrel Old Country Store will offer dine-in and take-home options this year.

Coco’s take-home option is new this year, but manager Jason Casados says they are the same beloved dinners from previous years.

“We don’t do the buffet,” Casados said. “We do the single meal that’s more affordable.”

Single meals are priced at $14.69 for adults and $7.99 for children ages 12 and under, while the two take-home dinner options – featuring either ham or turkey – feed four to six and are priced at $39.99. Apple, pumpkin or chocolate cream pies can be added to any meal for $7.99.

“We’re known for our pies, so come to Coco’s for some pumpkin pie,” Casados said.

Coco’s take-home dinners must be ordered at least 24 hours before pickup. The restaurant will be open during normal business hours Thanksgiving Day, 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Cracker Barrel will be serving its Thanksgiving “Turkey n’ Dressing” meal in-store from 11 a.m. to close, priced at $12.99 for adults and $7.99 for children. It is also offering two to-go options: a “Heat n’ Serve Holiday Family Meal,” which feeds 10, for $109.99 and a “Homestyle Turkey n’ Dressing Family Meal,” which feeds six, for $67.99. Guests are encouraged to order at least 24 hours in advance, either through the Cracker Barrel website or app. The Heat n’ Serve option requires up to two hours of at-home baking.

Cracker Barrel Vice President of Culinary Cammie Spillyards-Schaefer says Thanksgiving is the store’s busiest day of the year. An estimated 1.1 million slices of pie alone will be served throughout the country this year.

“Thanksgiving centers on the ideas of quality time and tradition, and through our meal offerings, we hope to take the legwork out of preparing a traditional holiday meal and give families more time to spend together,” Spillyards-Schaefer said.

Additionally, we have compiled a list of organizations that are giving away free thanksgiving meals to those in need. 

Man sentenced for aggravated assault while serving time for theft

In the past year, Mario Sessions, 38, has been sentenced to over 10 years for several different cases and crimes involving theft, shoplifting and now aggravated assault, but will only serve time for three and a half years because the sentences were ordered to run concurrently.

On Tuesday, Sessions was sentenced to three years and six months for aggravated assault stemming from an alleged burglary.

In April, Sessions was sentenced for two counts of felony shoplifting and theft of a credit card that took place throughout 2017. The three charges were the only remaining charges after others involving possession of drug paraphernalia were dropped during plea negotiations.

Sessions has six separate cases filed against him in Coconino County Superior Court, and multiple from Maricopa County. The list of groups that were involved in the original 2017 allegations include Safeway, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Walmart, Target, Mobil Gas Station and Circle K.

The six past felony convictions were referenced in his plea deal for Tuesday's case. Division three’s Judge Mark Moran called the felony history “extensive.”

The state prosecutor Nicholas Buzan called for an aggravated sentence due to his past felonies. An aggravated sentence in this case would have increased the length of Session’s sentencing to five years.

The aggravated assault charge originally was paired with third degree burglary, threatening and intimidation, marijuana and drug paraphernalia charges. These other charges were not included in the final conviction.

In the Tuesday sentencing hearing, Sessions explained that he had hopes to make amends with his children upon release.

“I know what I did was wrong,” Sessions said while admitting that he would accept the sentencing terms. He explained that he wanted to improve his relations with his children.

“I want to start my own business if I can,” Sessions said.

Session’s attorney Natalie Jones explained that since Sessions became involved with more serious drugs, his life has taken a spiral leading to his theft charges. Jones did not want to comment for this article on the sentencing.

Flagstaff housing sales dip after setting records earlier this year

After a record number of housing sales earlier this year, the market seems to have shifted substantially as the number of houses sold in town is down for the fourth consecutive month.

During the month of October, there were 109 houses sold, which is 11 percent fewer sales than October 2017, according to data gathered by Stephen Brighton of Century 21 Realty.

This drop comes after a similar reduction in September and the whole third quarter of this fiscal year. In September housing sales were down 38 percent, and sales were down 16 percent throughout the third quarter.

Brighton said a portion of this drop is simply seasonal. People generally prefer to move during the summer, when the weather is better and kids are not in school. Because of this, summer sees the most housing sales. Once school starts, most people are far less likely to move, preferring to hunker down and wait till the next year.

But perhaps more consequential than the weather, Brighton said, are interest rates, which have been increasing over the past few years. Higher interest rates mean costlier mortgages, which simply means it is more expensive to buy a house.

“Every time the interest rate goes up, it reduces the buyer’s purchasing power,” said Jessica Garard, a realtor with Re/Max Peak Properties. With the uncertainty caused by recent national politics, Garard said interest rates have been fluctuating quite a bit.

Fluctuating rates probably won’t cause someone moving to Flagstaff for a new job not to buy a house. But for those for whom buying a new house is not a necessity -- those buying second homes, for example -- the rates may make them hold off, Garard said.

Garard also pointed to the issue of housing inventory as another potential reason for the lack of sales, especially in the price range of under $400,000.

At the moment, there are only about 77 single family homes under that price, and Garard said at least 40 percent of those are likely still under construction.

This isn’t helped by the fact that because the winter is a slower season than the summer for the housing market, many realtors pull houses out of the market as to preserve their supply for the summer selling period.

By the end of June, for example, the number of houses for sale in Flagstaff reached its height at 640 on the market. However, the number has come down since then to 605 at the end of September, according to Century 21 Realty's website.

This is still well above the lowest point this year, when there were only 395 houses on the market in January.

But that low number of houses on the market earlier this year didn’t stop a record-breaking number of housing sales for the first quarter of the fiscal year, which is normally the slowest time for the housing market.

This may have been in part due to a dryer winter and concern on the part of buyers that prices would go up as the year went on.

All the while, the median sale price for a house in October set a new record for the month at $390,000. This October record was previously set in 2006, when the median sale price was $387,000, according to Brighton.

Trump says no new Saudi punishment for Khashoggi murder

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Tuesday he would not further punish Saudi Arabia for the murder of U.S.-based columnist Jamal Khashoggi — making clear in an exclamation-filled statement that the benefits of good relations with the kingdom outweigh the possibility its crown prince ordered the killing.

The president condemned the brutal slaying of Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul as a "horrible crime ... that our country does not condone." But he rejected calls by many in Congress, including members of his own party, for a tougher response, and also dismissed reports from U.S. intelligence agencies that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman must have at least known about such an audacious and intricate plot.

"It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event," the president said. "Maybe he did and maybe he didn't!"

In many ways, the statement captured Trump's view of the world and foreign policy, grounded in economic necessity. It began with the words "America First!" followed by "The world is a very dangerous place!"

It came after weeks of debate over whether the president would or should come down hard on the Saudis and the crown prince in response to the killing of the Saudi columnist for The Washington Post who had criticized the royal family.

The U.S. earlier sanctioned 17 Saudi officials suspected of being responsible for or complicit in the Oct. 2 killing, but members of Congress called for harsher actions, including canceling arms sales.

Trump said "foolishly canceling these contracts" worth billions of dollars would only benefit Russia and China, which would be next in line to supply the weapons. Critics denounced Trump's statement saying he ignored human rights and granted Saudi Arabia a pass for economic reasons.

Asked by a reporter if he was saying that human rights are too expensive to fight for, he responded, "No, I'm not saying that at all." But then he switched the subject to the "terrorist nation" of Iran rather than any actions by Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. needs a "counterbalance" to Iran, "and Israel needs help, too," he said. "If we abandon Saudi Arabia, it would be a terrible mistake."

The mistake was Trump's, said Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, contending the administration has "blinders on" in comparing Iran and Saudi Arabia.

"It's a sign of weakness not to stand up to Saudi Arabia," Paul said in an interview. "Sometimes when you have two evils, maybe you don't support either side."

Republican Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator who is close to Trump, also disagreed with the president's statement, saying America must not lose its "moral voice" on the international stage.

"It is not in our national security interests to look the other way when it comes to the brutal murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi," Graham said.

Likewise, Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said that to suggest that U.S. silence can be bought with arms sales "undermines respect for the office of the presidency, the credibility of our intelligence community and America's standing as a champion of human rights."

Trump's statement, issued just before he pardoned the Thanksgiving turkey at the White House and left for the long holiday weekend in Florida, underscored his world view of putting U.S. interests — both financial and geopolitical — above all else.

He told reporters on the South Lawn that oil prices would "skyrocket" if the U.S. broke with the Saudis, and he was not going to "destroy" the world's economy by being "foolish with Saudi Arabia."

Asked about any personal financial involvement, he said, "Saudi Arabia has nothing to do with me. What does have to do with me is putting America first."

Trump said that King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed both "vigorously deny" any knowledge of the planning or execution of the killing. He also said the CIA has not made a conclusive determination about whether the crown prince ordered it.

A U.S. official familiar with the case said last week that intelligence officials concluded that the crown prince, the kingdom's de facto leader, ordered the killing. Others familiar with the case, however, cautioned that while it's likely the crown prince had a role there continue to be questions about the degree.

Saudi prosecutors say a 15-man team sent to Istanbul exceeded its authority when the lead negotiator in the team decided to kill Khashoggi for refusing orders to return. The Saudis say the agents dismembered his body, which has not been found.

Late last week, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation that calls for suspending weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, for sanctions on people who block humanitarian access in Yemen or support the Houthi rebels, and mandatory sanctions on those responsible for Khashoggi's death.