As an occasional visitor to Payson over the last 20 years, I am impressed with the fast pace and yet the quality of the growth Payson has accomplished. Each visit I've made seemed to have a new surprise waiting -- an expanded airport, new schools, new stores and shopping centers, a new hospital and most recently, your new police headquarters.
But driving by the new police and (Town) Hall complex, I couldn't help but feel an emptiness that one very important element is missing.
In 1979, a young man moved to Payson and the first summer he was here he volunteered as a reserve officer when the whole police force had just three men. Within a few months, he was hired as Chief of Police and he set out with enthusiasm to create the kind of department a growing Payson would need.
In 1981, he completed training and graduated from the FBI academy, bringing a new standard of professionalism to the department. In his spare time, he served as the assistant town manager and, if I'm not mistaken, was a major force behind the vision that spawned the controlled growth that makes Payson the postcard community it is today.
Not every modern town has a true hero, but Payson does, and before Sept. 11, 2002, marks the 10th anniversary of his tragic death in the line of duty, I believe a prominent and permanent monument should be erected in his honor. Perhaps the (Town) Hall-police department complex would be a good location for it.
In the final assessment, the richness of a community isn't its buildings and roads and movie theaters. It's its history, its heritage and its heart. The townspeople of Payson have a chance to show their heart and their appreciation for one man's ultimate sacrifice with a lasting memorial to Dave Wilson. I hope someone in town will see that it happens.
Seal Beach, Calif.