County, College Find Common Ground

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At the end of a two-hour joint work session between Gila County Board of Supervisors and the Gila Community College Governing Board, all in attendance seemed ready to put any animosity behind them and work together for the future.

The County Board of Supervisors and the college board met, along with many other past and present Gila County notables, to discuss the goals and needs of the provisional college district.

Both boards plainly addressed the glaring divisions between college board members from Globe and Payson, regarding a disparity in funding.

"The needs of Southern Gila County have been met," said Larry Stephenson, college board member. "Northern Gila County is lacking some of those things."

The overall theme of the work session was a call for equality, unity and more fervor in meeting the needs of prospective and current students in Gila County.

"This is a community that is very hungry for higher education," said former college board chairman, Peter Kettner.

College board members seemed a bit more confident about working together and expressed identical views about wanting to create an environment that will maximize quality education.

"Our doors are open," said Michael Pastor, college board member. "We're here to provide education to students and their families."

Board members nodded in unison when vice-chair Bernadette Kniffin spoke of her goal to mend the division on the board -- one that may be interfering with the advancement of education in the county.

Payson Town Council member Su Connell challenged both boards to "bury the egos" and to "think, do and act."

Brent McEuen, vice president of Eastern Arizona College, suggested that diversities can be used as strengths.

"I'm encouraged by the passion of the boards," he said.

Because the meeting was billed as a work session, no actions were taken.

Gila County Board of Supervisors chairman Joe Sanchez suggested a follow-up meeting between the two boards in three months' time.

The board of supervisors will not meet for its regular Tuesday meeting on March 6. The college board will meet again March 16 for its monthly meeting.

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