The Effects Of Sept. 11 On Small-Town America


The events of Sept. 11 have forever changed the world.

The terrorist attacks changed the way we look at air travel; the way we view our police officers, firefighters and medical personnel even the way we check our mail.

Living in a small town has not insulated Rim country residents from world events.

Here's how local leaders viewed the effects of terrorism on America.

Gordon Gartner
Police Chief, Payson Police Department

The impact of 9-11 may not be understood for several years.

Just a few months ago, the preferred mode of travel, for any type of long-distance, was flying. No so anymore. We are not only scanning people, we are patting them down. I think many people are living in fear. Travel will never be the same.

There is no doubt a greater appreciation for police officers and firefighters since 9-11. We have always known that our officers and firefighters are willing to place themselves in harms way in the service of their community.

In Payson we have felt a genuine gratitude being expressed by our community.

We continue to receive intelligence briefings from state and federal law enforcement agencies. Locally, we discuss how we may need to handle an evacuation or contaminated site. The individual police officer has been trained to be vigilant from the beginning of their shift to the end of their day. We now train them to look for anything that may be extraordinarily different, such as any weapons of mass destruction or any kind of behavior that may be indicative of a terrorist.

I believe the courts have given us the needed authority to do our job. The key is to be vigilant and protective, yet guarding against trampling over the Constitution.

We must never destroy our own freedom to protect ourselves. This thought seems simple, but when people are afraid they will go to great lengths to protect themselves and their families.

Many of us in the public safety field will have to guard against fomenting fear, yet at the same time encouraging our public to be alert to their surroundings and to report things that arouse their suspicions.

Martin DeMasi
Captain, Payson Fire Department

The events of Sept. 11 affected the fire service much as it did every other American the initial sense of shock and outrage, then grief for our fallen brothers and sisters, followed by an outpouring of compassion for those who were directly and indirectly affected. We all wanted to go to New York and Washington and help with the effort. Coupled with this is an uncertainty about the future and the realization of our vulnerability, even in a small town like Payson.

The subsequent anthrax incidents made us take a hard look at our hazardous materials training and capability. Part of our plans for dealing with a major or complicated hazardous materials incident included calling for help from state and larger fire departments in the Valley. With the sheer numbers of responses that were generated by suspicious incidents, those agencies informed us that we were essentially on our own.

We had to quickly adapt to train and equip ourselves to mitigate these types of incidents.

The fire department will continue to pursue more training to increase our capabilities to handle these types of incidents in the future.

The possibility of terrorism and the use of weapons of mass destruction, whatever form they may be, has been a concern for fire departments all over the country ... especially after the Oklahoma City bombing incident.

However, most of the concern was more academic than reality based. Sept. 11, and the events that followed, reminded us that terror could strike anywhere. We have pursued training and increased our awareness and vigilance regarding that subject as well.

What has become evident for firefighters is the need to recommit to the ideals of fire service: self-sacrifice, duty, and service to the public.

The members of the New York City Fire Department were confronted with an overwhelming situation and without hesitation or qualification, did what was expected of them and 343 of them paid the ultimate price.

Hopefully, these ideals will live on in all firefighters.

Countering the sadness is the continuing and outstanding support of the public. A renewed sense of community and patriotism has brought us closer to the people we serve.

Phil Gille
Principal, Payson High School

After a discussion with a few senior classes in social studies, I have found students are struggling just like many adults with understanding obligations, rights, governmental powers and individual freedoms. The students' reactions were somewhat mixed and measured with some students unaware of the changes in law and its ramifications.

The students readily understood the dangers of ethnic profiling. It was easier for them to understand ethnic profiling than it was to understand the importance of privacy and individual rights.

One student told of how terrified a relative of his was, and still is, after living through the 9-11 attacks in New York. Most students had the impression that students on the East coast felt the impact of 9-11 more than them because of their proximity to the tragedy.

Another student was concerned about our loss of civil liberties, as he had endured an extensive search at an airport. Many other students responded that we are still under attack and need to be cautious.

Students felt it was unfortunate it took 9-11 to bring out more patriotism, yet they are thankful for the increased patriotism. The one galvanizing effect is that students are taking the flag and pledge more seriously.

Most students share our nations concern that our pride was feeding our blindness to the dangers around us. If that continues, then the inexorability of our nemesis is assured. The students are pleased with our national response as individuals, with the flying our flags, and the showing our patriotism.

Overall they are pleased with our government's response to curb terrorism.

Barbara Brewer
Councilmember, Payson Town Council

Many of us were affected in and by Sept. 11 in disbelief that something so horrible could be happening to us here again since Pearl Harbor. The younger generations that didn't live in the previous times never experienced the cut backs, job losses and financial hurts, so they are now learning the importance of a rainy-day savings.

Businesses have experienced financial losses due to so many people losing income from their retirement savings and jobs.

The town has now realized much lower sales tax income and also cuts from revenues that we realize from our state. Because of this, we have had to ask our town departments to cut their budgets and then look at where they can cut again or postpone any projects until we recover financially.

We council members, for the first time, even are looking at developing a contingency budget with "what if" scenarios. The council is continuing to try to give our people the best protection, security and great lifestyle that we all appreciate here in Payson. I continue to be one of the proudest, most appreciative citizens of our great town and will continue doing my best to serve everyone to the best of my ability.

Ed Jim
Owner, Travel Network

The events of Sept. 11, 2001 had not only an immediate impact on people's lives, it continues to have a rippling effect both economically and emotionally. The travel industry was nearly devastated when terrorists used three commercial airlines as weapons of destruction.

Ed and Kim Jim, who own and operate Travel Network, have felt the repercussions of Sept. 11 and have diversified to keep their doors open.

Kim wears two hats, primarily selling real estate, however, will book vacations when the travel half of the office is short-handed. She said that domestic travel has picked up recently, however, people are choosing to drive and use Travel Network to book their rooms and tours.

"A lot of people want to go to southern California and Mexico," Ed said. "We are also booking package deals for Disneyland, Las Vegas and Sea World." These type of packages are not the big money makers for a small travel agency, however, Ed said once people get used to traveling again and are comfortable with it they will begin to plan and book the international vacations.

The use of the Internet to book vacations and travel also has added to the financial woes of all travel agencies, Ed said, adding that there are disadvantages to those with an Internet booking following Sept. 11.

"People who had purchased tickets over the Internet were being bumped for those with paper tickets," Ed said. "You are not getting an actual ticket over the Internet, just a confirmation number. The airlines had overbooked and were favoring the passengers with a paper ticket.

"If you choose to buy a ticket over the Internet and something goes wrong, who do you turn to?" Ed said. "The small savings is not worth the service you will receive from a travel agent."

Cruises, he said, are what is keeping his business afloat.

"A lot of people are booking the Alaska and Mexico cruises with departures from San Diego and Los Angeles," Ed said. "Some are flying to California, while others are driving. A four-day cruise out of either port to Ensenada (Mexico) can be booked for under a $1,000."

Ed said the events of Sept. 11 came as no surprise to him.

"I was surprised it took so long to happen here (United States)," Ed said. "Twenty years ago, everyone else in the world realized the dangers of these terrorists ... we have been sheltered."

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