Once again — emergency first responders saved Christmas.
At least, they came to the rescue of nearly 500 Rim Country children, with the latest fund-raising drive of the Public Safety Christmas for Kids.
All right. So it was actually the generous people who donated $18,000 to the effort, through events like Tamales for Toys, a golf tournament and Fourth of July food sales.
Rim Country first responders spearheaded the fund-raising effort — and shepherded hundreds of kids who might have had no presents at all down the toy aisles at Walmart to each pick $35 worth of gifts.
The Payson Fire Department, the Gila County
sheriff’s and attorney’s offices, the Northern Gila County Firefighters Association and the Department of Public Safety all pitched in for the annual effort.
Point being — the residents of Rim Country have once again demonstrated the meaning of love and community, led by the folks who have already done so much to protect us all.
Makes you proud to live here.
We got a little lift from reading reporter Suzanne Jacobson’s account of 6-year-old Eliza’s roll down the toy aisle — and her protest when her mother slipped in an endearment that “I’m not a baby.”
Perhaps not, dear heart.
But at least for the day, you are our baby — all of ours.
Signs of an early thaw
Whew. Made it through Christmas.
One week until the new year. Gotta hold on.
’Cause everything’s gonna be different next year — right?
We’ve hit bottom — and it wasn’t so bad, at least not in Rim Country.
Leastwise, that’s our story — and we’re sticking to it.
But it’s not entirely sunshine and vapors.
Granted, we’ve had some important businesses close.
Granted, sales tax receipts in Payson dropped sharply compared to last year.
Granted, the national picture remains worrisome.
But we’ve seen a few hopeful signs lately, like grass incongruously poking up through snow.
For instance, for every business that has shut down on Main Street this year — a new business has opened. That’s a break-even from a business point of view — pretty darn good in the current economy.
That means new business owners have voted for the Rim Country with their pocketbooks and invested half a million dollars in new businesses on Main Street, in spite of all the national hand wringing and panic stricken stock brokers.
So we can welcome to their new digs shops like Re-runs Resale Boutique and Hinshaw & Associates and Payson Physical Therapy.
And we know that sales tax receipts plunged in Payson during the front half of winter, but then, that just rolled the clock back about three years. In fact, this winter’s sales receipts so far would have been a great year except in contrast to the three-year boom that came before — which we now know was fueled in part by loaned money so easy to come by that it amounted to a giant, national Ponzi scam.
Even at that, sales tax receipts in Star Valley have held remarkably steady.
And we grieve for the residents whose houses have slipped into foreclosure, but we can’t help but notice that the 2.5 percent foreclosure rate among homes for sale in Rim Country is about one-tenth the rate of the Valley. We hope that means our recovery here will be quicker.
Admittedly, we stand in some danger of sounding like the optimist who fell off the top of a 20-story building who was heard to comment cheerfully as he fell past the 15th floor — “so far so good.”
Still, here’s hoping we’re closer to the bottom than to the middle of this whole nonsense.
After all — why have a new year if you can’t start fresh?