Board Members Accused Of Focusing Too Much On Payson

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Gila County Supervisor Shirley Dawson lashed out at two college governing board members during Friday's Gila Community College governing board meeting.

Dawson was upset that board members Larry Stephenson and Don Crowley have repeatedly voiced their displeasure about the Payson campus allegedly being shortchanged in comparison to the funds received by the campus in Globe.

Dawson, during the public comment session, said she wanted to take the two governing board members to task.

"I just want to chastise the two gentlemen," she said. "You represent Gila Community College, not just Payson."

She said Crowley and Stephenson must stop the "criticism, criticism and criticism."

Dawson, speaking from the Globe campus, mentioned that the Payson campus was nicer and more modern. She said the furnace in the Globe meeting room, while she spoke, had just kicked on.

"We need this college campus," she said. "I bet your utility bills are lower than Globe's.

"Until I hear that a class is not being offered, I do not want to hear the criticism," Dawson added.

Stephenson took exception to Dawson's comments.

"Don and I were elected by Payson (residents). So, we look out for Payson," he said, adding that Globe is never forgotten in the process.

Crowley echoed Stephenson's comments, saying he had a lot of respect for the supervisor.

"The issue here is a lot more than utility bills," he said. "It is so disappointing. I am reminded of the elephant dancing in a chicken yard, saying, ‘It's every man for himself.'"

Crowley said Dawson does not get the whole picture of what is going on in Payson when it comes to what the two campuses are receiving financially.

According to information from Crowley, so far this fiscal year, Payson has spent 25 percent of its allocated budget, though the campus should be at 35 percent at this time.

Globe, on the other hand, has spent its entire allocation. The Globe campus was budgeted for 42 percent by this time and has spent 43 percent of the allocation.

"In this effort to save money it should not be on the backs of the people in this part of the county," Crowley said.

The governing board also discussed dual enrollment where students from Payson High School could take college classes while still being in high school.

The primary problem, Crowley said, is the absence of teachers who can teach these courses. He suggested the courses could be taught through interactive television, similar to the way governing board meetings are held between two campuses.

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