Live & Learn

Payson's a perfect place to put down roots

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It's never easy to pull up your roots in a community and move away. But it's even harder sometimes to put down new ones. When I decided to follow my son and his family to Arizona two and a half years ago, it meant leaving 20 years' worth of friends and familiar places.

I knew the drill. I'd moved many times before. You get moved in, fix up your house, poke around the shops a little, say hi to the neighbors. Then you join a couple of organizations. One thing was different: I had just retired, and didn't have the automatic culture of the workplace to rely on anymore. So I was a little worried.

I met most of my neighbors as they walked their dogs past my house while I groomed my gravel in the front yard those first few weeks. They were unabashedly open to making new friends. In fact, Paysonites in general were about the friendliest people I'd ever met.

I joined a couple of clubs. Then I took settling in to another level: I had a huge yard sale. That breaks the ice like nothing else. There's something almost intimate about watching strangers cart off your stuff. How can they remain strangers when they are going to be sitting on your old chair or barbecuing burgers on your old grill? And, as I hauled off the remaining junk unwanted by even the most addicted yard-sale shopper, I knew I had bonded with my new community. My old stuff would be putting down roots in the landfill.

The next level came about because I needed extra money to support my gardening habit. I started writing a column for the local newspaper. You really get to know a town when you work for the newspaper, even as a free-lancer.

In February, I casually threw out the suggestion via this column that Payson should have a dog park. A very energetic group of dog lovers, who had been barking up the same tree, took me seriously. PAWS in the Park was born.

The past four months have been the roller-coaster ride of my life, and the thrills have just begun. On June 14, the Payson Town Council approved our proposal to establish a dog park in Rumsey Park. It was the culmination of many hours of hard work by a group of talented, determined, knowledgeable, fun-loving members of this community who came together with a common purpose.

A tight bond has formed around our desire to have a place in the park to enjoy the company of other dog owners while our pets exercise and play. It's been a daily revelation as people in our midst have come forward with just the right talent or business background needed for each task. Next comes the challenge of raising funds to pay for the infrastructure.

The process of making the dog park a reality has opened my eyes to the important work of the councilmembers and the mayor people who care about the community so much that they are willing to take on the headaches and often conflicting demands that go with running a town government. I have a new respect for the town manager, parks and recreation director, engineer, public works director and the park advisory board who patiently informed, advised and challenged us at times in our quest.

I came to appreciate anew the power of the media KMOG and the Roundup as they provide forums for public opinion. I see more clearly the vital role each citizen plays in shaping the quality of life in our town oppositional voices as well as supportive ones. It takes everyone to sort it all out and come up with solutions.

I'm proud to call Payson my town. I don't know anyplace I'd rather put down my roots.

Contact Vivian Taylor at 474-1386 or online at viv@cybertrails.com.

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