The Roundup's annual Best of Payson competition recently determined the best places to shop, eat, drink and play, which is all well and good.
But in a small town, the selections can be limited in some categories. And that means a razor-thin line between best and worst.
If, for example, Marble Slab Creamery gets 100 votes for best ice cream and Dairy Queen gets 99, are they first and second or best and worst? To resolve such weighty matters, Around the Rim Country is proud to balance the ledger by presenting the Worst of Payson 2003:
First Place -- Beeline Highway on Friday or Sunday afternoons during the tourist season.
(Judge's comment: And those Valley people say WE don't drive so hot in THEIR neck of the desert.)
Second Place -- Tyler Parkway
(Judge's comment: We've said just about everything we can about the world's slowest parkway. Will a real town council stand up and end this 25 mph speed trap travesty?)
First Place -- The next one who stops you for "speeding" on Tyler Parkway.
Second Place -- Donny Garvin
(Judge's comment: We love this guy, but somebody has to end his monotonous eight-consecutive-year reign as Best Law Enforcement Officer.)
First Place -- McLane Road
(Judge's comment: The people's choice.)
Second Place -- Alpine Heights Drive
(Judge's comment: The editor's choice, and, yes, we do suck up to the editor on occasion. But we don't go all the way, or else Alpine Heights Drive would be in first place.)
Worst Traffic Signal
First Place -- Highway 260 and Nowhere
(Judge's comment: Ooops, we guess that's Highway 260 and South Tyler Parkway -- aka the road to nowhere.)
Second Place -- Highway 87 and Forest Drive
(Judge's comment: We don't know about you, but the offices of The Rim Review are so situated that we have to go through this signal about 70 times a day, and it's always the wrong color.)
First Place -- Payson School Board Meetings
(Judge's comment: If you want to punish yourself, get on over to a local school board meeting. I recently sat through one that lasted four (yawn, ho hum, Zzzzzzzzzzzz) tedious hours. Makes you appreciate former Payson Mayor Ray Schum's Marine drill sergeant meeting mentality.)
Second Place -- 25 mph speed limit on Tyler Parkway
(The only thing that moves as slow as a school board meeting is traffic on Tyler Parkway.)
Worst Country Song
First Place -- The one playing on the radio right now.
Second Place -- "Swingin'" by John Anderson.
Worst Radio Commercial
First Place -- The Payson Regional Medical Center spot where two small-town guys trip all over each other over yielding the right of way.
(Judge's comment: We suspect a fix because Bill Clark has been winning the public service award in this commercial for about as long as Donny Garvin has been Best Cop.)
Second Place -- Those Giant commercials that feature "random acts of violence" and breaking one's ankles with a hammer so you can sit on your "butt" instead of jogging with your wife.
Worst News Story to Cover
First Place -- Beaver Valley Fire Department
(Judge's comment: As a general rule, volunteer fire departments are bad news for reporters. The latest reincarnation in Beaver Valley has all the usual ingredients, or, more accurately, lack of ingredients -- no chairs, no heat, no facts.
Second Place -- Mayor Ken Murphy
(Judge's comment: It was the best of stories. It was the worst of stories -- if you know what we mean. We honestly like the man, which often makes doing our jobs as journalists uncomfortable)
First Place -- The bark beetle.
Second Place -- Tie between soccer moms, Main Street naysayers, Valley campers, and the West Nile mosquito.
Worst Faux Paux
First Place -- "I know where the water is." -- Mayoral candidate Jim White
Second Place -- "It's a lie and I can prove it." -- Mark Yampol, past owner of Manzanita Manor, on Ken Murphy's assertion that he wasn't fired as head of Manzanita Manor.
Worst Time to go Grocery Shopping
First Place -- Wednesday mornings when the sales start.
Second Place -- On weekends during the summer when the touristas are stocking up on chips, beer and hot dogs.
Worst Place to be When the Creek Rises
First Place -- The east side of Tonto Creek
Second Place -- Gila County offices in Globe when the people on the east side of Tonto Creek get ahold of you for not building them a crossing.