The Mogollon Sporting Association has long been the savior of under-funded youth programs in the Rim country.
When usual coffers run dry, whether it's in school district or youth league programs, coaches and administrators are sent scurrying to MSA officials hoping to find the funds necessary to keep programs afloat.
Through the years, MSA has donated well over $100,000 to sports, drama and music programs. The organization has also almost equaled that amount in donations to wildlife enhancement projects in the Rim country.
Among MSA's funded projects are controlled burns, construction of water guzzlers, seeding projects, habitat improvements and sponsorship of the annual spring fishing derby.
The good deeds are all part of the MSA's mission statement that reads, "to enhance wildlife, environment, education and our economy in the Mogollon Rim country by supporting local, quality game management and our local businesses."
The money to fund MSA's ambitious list of benefits is derived mostly from the organization's annual dinner, auction and banquet.
The festive event is one of the most eagerly anticipated in Payson.
Recently, the MSA governing board set the date for this year's banquet as May 6 at the Mazatzal Casino.
A no-host cocktail hour will begin at 5 p.m., followed by dinner and door prizes at 6 p.m. and the auction at 7 p.m.
The list of items to be raffled, auctioned or sold is staggering and traditionally includes about every hunting, fishing or camping item imaginable.
Soon, MSA members will be circulating around town selling benefit tickets for $50 per person. In the past, the banquet limit of 230 tickets sells out quickly.
Call 472-9794 for more information about MSA or the banquet.
A group of local athletes traveled last week to Apache Junction High School to compete in the Grand Canyon State Winter Games.
Three of the youngsters came away as wrestling medal winners. In the Cadet (15-16 years) age division, Zack Lee (132 pounds) was first and Larry Williams (112) and Clint Cork (94.5) third.
Among the School Boy participants (12-13 years), Nathan Lee finished second in the 135-pound division.
Payson High School alumni Preston Mercer and Clifford Pirch hooked up last weekend to finish sixth in the AllStar Bass Team Invitational held at Apache Lake.
The two former Longhorn athletic standouts weighed in 11.24 pounds of bass and pocketed $800 in prize money.
The winners of the tournament, Bob Hayo of Fountain Hills and Tom Loughran of Phoenix, raked in over $4,000 for their first-place finish. The pair weighed-in a six-bass limit totaling 18.44 pounds. They also caught the tournament's second-largest bass, a 6.90-pound largemouth.
The biggest catch, a 7.63-pound largemouth caught by Ben McKim of Peoria and Jon Fonville of Casa Grande, was worth $900 in prize money.