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Flagstaff introduces vouchers for panhandlers

Richard Russler, 77, stands on a corner in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2014 asking passers-by for financial help. The Flagstaff Police Department has introduced a voucher program to discourage people from giving cash to panhandlers. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca)

Ever since a federal judge in Arizona ruled that a law criminalizing panhandling in public places is unconstitutional, Flagstaff police say the mountain city has been saturated with people turning to begging as their main source of income. Authorities are hoping a new program announced this week will help people with genuine needs and push out panhandlers who rely on charity to pay for substance-abuse problems.

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The Lakes Mary

Lake Mary, March 1905

Lake Mary, a man-made body of water, was created less than a year after a dam was built in a shallow valley south of Flagstaff. Remnants of a temporary sawmill and living quarters can be seen in this March 1905 photograph of the lake, which measured half a mile wide, 6 miles long and 28 feet deep.

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Modern Flagstaff

Downtown Flagstaff is pictured in 2009 with the historic Hotel Monte Vista, built in 1926, keeping the growing city connected to its past.

Baby-boomers finishing their education and starting families sought the small-town feel of Flagstaff in the 1970s and 1980s. Well-paying jobs were scarce; so many PhD’s served drinks and waited on tables until they could find suitable employment. One of the best places to find a career was with the W.L. Gore Company that opened its Flagstaff plant in 1967.

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