The announcement by the Tonto Apaches that a new casino complex will soon be a reality is good news for all the Rim country.
The new complex is another element that will help the community become a tourist destination rather than a way station where visitors can grab a burger and use the rest room en route to a campsite in the forest or somewhere else down the road.
As explained by Mazatzal Casino Chief Executive Officer Jim Gannarelli, the new complex will feature convention, meeting and banquet facilities for up to 500 with theater-style seating for 1,000. The Rim country can currently accommodate groups only half that size.
While the tribe is adding a 40-guestroom all-suites hotel, local hoteliers, and indeed all businesses, will almost certainly benefit from the additional traffic the complex will generate.
And then there are the new jobs that will be created by the expanded facility. In a town the size of Payson, the addition of 50 new jobs is significant.
Gannarelli pointed out that the tribe has made a special effort over the past several years to buy locally and use local contractors wherever possible. The tribe also has increased its charitable contributions during that time.
Best of all, the tribe has wisely decided to make the new casino complex a prototype incorporating the very latest water conservation technologies, including waterless urinals and low-flow toilets. Even the existing casino, which will become the new event center, will be retrofitted.
This community would be hard-pressed to rank any priorities higher than building our tourism base and becoming a community committed to water conservation. The tribe, through its new complex, is making a significant contribution in both areas.
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 after a group of Indians taught the Pilgrims to plant corn and catch fish. That harvest celebration came after a harsh winter when half of the 102 settlers died.
How appropriate that the announcement by the Tonto Apaches comes just in time to give extra meaning to the Rim country's Thanksgiving celebration.