County Leaders Make Rare Trip To Payson

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About 30 curious Rim country residents attended a rare meeting in the northern part of the county of the Gila County Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning.

With Gov. Jane Dee Hull in town to assess the Rim country's plans to deal with a potentially disastrous forest fire season, the board moved its regular meeting to Payson so the three members could attend the governor's briefing at Payson Town Hall. The supervisors met in the conference room at the Inn of Payson.

While the items on the agenda were routine in nature, the meeting attracted considerable local interest. Among those in attendance was Scott Flake, director of the Payson Regional Economic Development Corporation.

"We get a portion of our funding from the county," Flake said, "so I try to stay in contact with them. I go to their meetings occasionally when they're in Globe. I figured I better not pass up this opportunity, and I'd sure like to see them do this on a regular basis.

Also in attendance was Judy Buettner, who was just elected to the Payson Town Council.

"I went because I felt it was important to go and show support for them coming here to Payson," Buettner said. "Not a lot went on at the meeting, but I was interested in the discussion about expanding the Buckhead Mesa landfill onto Forest Service land."

The item Buettner referred to was a request to approve hiring a company to provide environmental consulting services to assess the impact of such a move. During the discussion, Dist. 1 Supervisor Ron Christensen, who was allowed to chair the meeting since it was in his district, emphasized that the Forest Service has been opposed to such actions in the past.

The board also approved a resolution opposing proposed modifications to the Arizona State Transportation Board. If the board is expanded as proposed, the county believes it will be unfairly weighted toward the urban areas of Phoenix and Tucson.

After the meeting, Joe Sanchez, supervisor for District 2, said he'd like to see more meetings held in Payson.

"It's beneficial both to the board and to the local residents," Sanchez said. "It's easier for the three of us to travel to Payson than it is for a lot of people to have to come to Globe."

Sanchez said he spent time while he was in the Rim country touring the county's Payson facilities.

"The sheriff was here and we looked at the jail at changes and improvements that need to be made at that facility," he said. "We also looked at the courthouse. We're looking at some changes there also. There's a possibility of remodeling, but I'd like to see an entirely new complex. We've really outgrown that facility. We especially need a place where a jury can deliberate."

Sanchez said he also had the opportunity to talk briefly with Flake.

"We talked about the challenges of economic development and growth," he said. "Those are great things to have, but they tax your infrastructure and resources. I know water is a special concern in the Payson area."

Sanchez, formerly mayor of Miami, was appointed to the board in July to replace Edward "Bunch" Guerrero, who died April 28.

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