Rock Building Meeting Produces No Solution

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A lack of consensus, as to who could occupy the rock building at Julia Randall Elementary School, marked a meeting between the Town of Payson, the Northern Gila County Historical Society and representatives of the Cowboy Hall of Fame board.

The historical society wants to use the building as a cowboy heritage museum, the Cowboy Hall of Fame wants to use it for the history of the cowboy both past and present, and the Town of Payson just wants to know who wants to do what with the building.

Payson Mayor Bob Edwards said he felt the group needed to accomplish some preliminary items before they could present a proposal to the school board.

"One, I think you need to heal the rifts between your two groups, two, you need to have an open discussion with the school board to determine if you can even do this, and three, you need to draw up a comprehensive business plan to submit to the board to show you have a plan of action for its use and the finances to do what you propose," Edwards said.

Tim Ehrhardt and Jayne Peace Pyle, representing The Cowboy Hall of Fame, said they would not be willing to share the building with the historical society, because of the valuable artifacts typically on display in Cowboy Hall of Fame museums.

Pyle said that if the historical society wanted the building, the Cowboy Hall of Fame would not stand in its way or submit their own proposal to the school board.

Diana Sexton, speaking as a member of the historical society, said the society wants to have use of the building, regardless of the hall of fame's involvement.

Sexton asked if the town would be willing to join forces with the historical society in its efforts to secure the use of the building.

Edwards answered that if it was financial support or contributions the society was asking for, the answer would probably be no.

He said the town would be more than willing to offer moral support or advice in the society's endeavors, but monetary support was unlikely.

He said one of the key elements to any proposal would be showing that whatever the use of the building, it would be self-sustaining and not a burden to the town, taxpayers or the school.

"The town's interest would lie in a museum actually bringing people to Payson, if it brings dollars, then it would probably be a good investment," he said.

He said the town might be willing to invest some money, like the bed tax collected from local hotels and motels, for promotional programs for a cowboy museum.

No decisions were made at the meeting, other than determining that it would not be possible for the Historical Society and The Cowboy Hall of Fame to be co-occupants of the building, and that financial support from the Town of Payson would likely not be forthcoming.

The meeting took place Monday at 11 a.m. at the library.

The Payson Unified School District Board called for proposals to be submitted to the board by Oct. 15 of this year.

In attendance at the meeting, representing the Town of Payson were Edwards, Debi Galbraith, interim town manager, LaRon Garrett, town engineer and Buzz Walker, superintendent of the Payson water department.

Judy Baker, Shawna Zale and Sexton represented the historical society, and Peace Pyle and Ehrhardt represented the Cowboy Hall of Fame.

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