Many former Payson students and athletes lost a good friend when 86-year-old Paul Westlake died last week.
Although he hadn't been active in schools and on youth sports scene the past several years, he had long been a huge contributor in the past.
For more than a decade, Paul worked with the local youth football league as a volunteer coach and advisor. Several of the players on Payson High School's 1998 state championship football team once played for Paul.
During the years he was involved with youth football and basketball, it wasn't unusual to see him load up his car with several youngsters and head to Flagstaff, Camp Verde or another town where a game was being played.
Although he was advancing in age, Paul appeared to be relentless in his quest to provide quality athletic experiences for youngsters.
He also was among the first to campaign for better community and school recreation facilities.
A talented man capable of scheming building designs, Paul frequently brought his architectural plans into the Roundup hoping to gain support for his ideas.
He played a role in the design of Wilson Dome and worked tirelessly to try and help secure a community activity center.
That activity center has not yet been built. When it is built, hopefully soon, town officials should consider naming it in honor of Paul.
When Paul wasn't coaching or drumming up help for better facilities, he was a volunteer teacher at local elementary schools.
As a former Motorola engineer, his teaching expertise was in math. He loved to take a few elementary schools and expose them to Pythagorean's Theorem, the Quadratic formula and geometric proofs.
Paul Westlake will be missed.
Stadium fund grows with tax credits
The big winner in the Credit for Kids tax program was the stadium building fund.
Of the more than $190,000 that was donated, $57,567 was earmarked for stadium improvements. That represents a 42.5 percent increase over what was donated in 2002.
Currently, the stadium fund hovers around the $87,000 mark. To build a new 1,500-seat stadium will require about $157,000.
Payson High School athletic director Dave Bradley is exploring a variety of options to acquire the remaining funds.
He's sincere about the project because he knows a new stadium would be a huge plus for both the school and town. It would provide a site where PHS and RCMS graduations could be held and there would be comfortable seating for all. Track and field spectators would have seat locations with bird's eye views of all events.
The added seating also would provide better seating at football games. Due to a lack of seating, many fans have had to stand throughout games or take their own folding chairs near Wilson Dome.
New seating would probably also attract more fans. And more spectators, means more money for the athletic budget.
"We use the football gate receipts for pay for a lot of our athletics and the rest of the year, so it's real important," Bradley said.
The installation of the state-of-the-art, all-weather track around the football field was a huge improvement.
But the job is not yet finished.
A major Rim country priority should be the installation of new bleachers on the home side of Longhorn field.