Plaque-Happiest Place On Earth



At a recent meeting of the Payson Town Council, the agenda was heavily laden with what the town calls "Ceremonial; Announcements; Presentations; Introductions."

If I were an agenda maker, I would simply call this section "Boring Stuff" because it amounts to little more than a chance for some cause or group to advertise itself through a self-written (I suspect) proclamation, for a new town employee to be introduced and tell us all how happy he or she is to be here in the cool pines instead of the heat of the Valley and how much he or she looks forward to working with all the wonderful people in this town, or for an old town employee to receive yet another plaque.

Only the occasional presentation of an informational nature makes this portion of the meeting remotely tolerable, including one at this particular meeting on the Rim country's growing noxious weed problem.

And since each council meeting is unique and special, you can expect the "Ceremonial; Announcements; Presentations; Introductions" section to be overbearing in a different way each time. One meeting its the proclamations that are too many and too long; the next meeting it's the introduction of town employees.

This particular recent meeting was heavy with plaque presentations. Not the kind we get on our teeth, but the kind you hang on your wall to show people how important you are.

Town Clerk Silvia Smith received a plaque for achieving the designation of Master Municipal Clerk. Then Deputy Town Clerk Gaye Stidham received a plaque in recognition of her acceptance into the IIMC Master Municipal Clerk Academy.

Then Chief Financial Officer Glenn Smith was presented with the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award plaque. Then, just when you think you have these plaque presentations all figured out, they throw you a curve ball.

Glenn gets up to accept his plaque from the mayor and turns around and presents a plaque back to her. A new game called you scratch my plaque and I'll scratch yours, you think?

Now, I'm sure that Silvia Smith is a bang-up town clerk who richly deserves to be a Master Municipal Clerk. And I'm sure that Gaye Stidham will serve most honorably as a member of the Master Municipal Clerk Academy.

And I don't doubt that Glenn Smith is an extraordinary budget dude. And we can only marvel at his graciousness and good taste in reciprocating by giving the town a plaque of its own.

But for gosh sakes people, you only go around once on this planet (unless you believe in reincarnation, in which case I went to come back as a six-figure town employee with a wall full of plaques). Life is too short to make a captive audience watch you get your latest plaques.

I am also concerned for the world's largest stand of ponderosa pines. You can say what you want about the damage done by bark beetles, but at the rate the Payson Town Council gives and receives plaques, how long before there will be nary a tree left standing.

In fact, I have to believe that it is something in our genes related to our lumbering heritage that gives us this uncontrollable urge to cut down trees and make plaques out of them.

The town gives and receives so many plaques that the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce ought to change our official slogan from Arizona's Rim Country to the Plaque Capital of North America.

Or better yet, why reinvent the wheel when you can steal. Let's just adapt the world-famous slogan for Disneyland. Henceforth I propose we call Payson the Plaque-Happiest Place on Earth.

But I really doubt this little column will change anything. I really doubt a town staffer is going to look in the mirror and say, "I don't really need any more plaques, so I am not going to play this game anymore.

So if you can't beat them, join them. Here are some plaques I am pleased to present:

  • To ADOT, a plaque commemorating the Roundabout as the Rim Country's Dumbest Idea for 2005.
  • To the powers that be in southern Gila County, a plaque designating this the Most Gerrymandered County in the Western Hemisphere.
  • To Bob Ashford, chairman of the Gila Community College Board, a plaque designating him the recipient of the Bonnie and Clyde award for Biggest Heist of the Year.
  • To the Town of Payson, a special plaque for Equal Treatment of All, awarded because people of all political persuasions, from fundamentalist Christian preacher Dan Green to all-around-nice-guy cop Donny Garvin, are kicked out of Rumsey Park without regard to race, color, creed, or sexual orientation. But I do want to know what the town has against people whose initials are DG.

In conclusion, the noxious weeds presentation at the council meeting about the encroachment of killer weeds into the Rim Country was not only informative -- it was downright scarey.

But not nearly as scarey as this town's noxious plaque problem.

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