It's not easy being the Payson Humane Society these days. The shelter for homeless animals is fast becoming homeless itself after a group of Mazatzal Mountain Air Park subdivision residents hired a lawyer to keep the town from selling them property in the Sky Park industrial complex. You have to wonder what kinds of businesses would be acceptable to these people -- maybe a mattress testing operation or a funeral home.
Then there's the whole brouhaha over the two shelter dogs who were with PHS volunteer Grant Kuenzli when a Valley hiker shot and killed him. Despite the fact that neither Kuenzli nor the dogs touched him, the hiker claimed "self defense," and, for good measure, blamed the Payson Humane Society for allowing Kuenzli to take the dogs to his campsite for a little R and R.
In the grand tradition of Valinda Jo Elliott, who set off the Chediski Fire with her trusty Bic, the hiker, one Harold Fish, has given new meaning to "a walk in the woods." I only hope I never encounter an armed Valley hiker when I'm out in the forest with my dogs.
But amidst all this bad news, one thing that has gone well for the Payson Humane Society recently is its Petco connection. In case you missed it, our shelter hooked up with the brand new Petco store in the Four Peaks Shopping Center on Shea Boulevard near Highway 87. Two Saturdays a month the PHS takes a group of dogs and cats down to the store and holds an adoption event.
During the store's grand opening in April, 11 dogs and one cat were adopted, many to well-off Fountain Hills residents. While things have "tailed" off a bit since, the Petco Connection is still placing a lot of Payson's strays and outcasts.
Besides Petco's generosity, the Four Peaks Shopping Center has the additional attraction of being about as close to Payson as a big city shopping experience gets. Besides Petco, Four Peaks already includes Target, Ross, Famous Footwear, Pier 1, Walgreens, Hollywood Video, Streets of New York Pizza and more, with additional stores and eateries scheduled to open in the near future.
We can see Four Peaks becoming a veritable Mecca for Payson shoppers, and we think the shopping center's marketing folks can hasten the day by making the place a little more Payson-friendly. Here are some sure-fire ways to do that:
- Open a southern branch of the Beeline Cafe: Mention Payson, and the first thought that pops into the heads of many locals and out-of-towners alike is the Rim country's most popular greasy spoon. Who wouldn't drive to Four Peaks to shop knowing that a big plate of Beeline biscuits and gravy awaits your arrival?
- Deck out store employees in Payson Concrete & Materials caps: Nothing says Payson like those familiar green, gold and white caps worn by 87 percent of the local population. Just watch folks reach for their wallets when they can give their greenbacks to cashiers sporting that familiar green headgear.
- Play country and western music over the public address system: None of that elevator stuff for us Payson Okies. And just for authenticity, play a recording of the sawmill whistle blowing every 15 minutes.
- Put sound level meters on all the shopping carts: We just love to see how much noise the guy next to us is making, and we've gotten pretty sophisticated when it comes to the highs and lows of decibel readings. Imagine what a draw it would be if Rimaroos could read each other's sound levels in the Valley the same as we do up here. Who needs video games?
- Give badges to Fountain Hills city council members and strategically position them around the shopping center parking lot: When a councilor jumps out at you badge bared and makes a critical observation about your driving, you're guaranteed to get a warm, hometown feeling.
- Withhold water: Visiting the land of milk, honey and water is a culture shock to most of us, so the restaurants at Four Peaks should make us crawl on our hands and knees for a glass of water. And for a really cool touch, rig the shopping center's drinking fountains so they spew sand when you push the button.
- Blow juniper pollen through the ductwork: Our air is hundreds of times cleaner than the Valley's, but I'll bet they can't match our juniper pollen season.
- Plant dead pines in the parking lot: Can we give the Four Peaks folks a smoking deal on some dead ponderosas, and won't that make it look just like home?