Payson has long enjoyed a reputation as a town that provides the finest possible growth opportunities for it's young people.
It's a stellar reputation shared by our neighbors in Show Low, Snowflake, Pinetop-Lakeside Eagar-Springerville and St. Johns.
In big city Arizona, a mystique exists about the small towns and their young people, mostly because the six communities have long produced victorious sports teams, children of character, award-winning bands and choruses and top-notch scholars.
It's an aura we all should be proud of.
The tiny towns also have reputation around the state of taking care of their own and providing for those in need.
Payson's enviable status is understandable.
We've seen the Mogollon Sporting Association step up to provide much needed dollars for athletic, academic and other extracurricular programs. We've watched in awe as taxpayers have doled out record numbers of contributions to Credit for Kids and we've seen a myriad of local civic organizations chip in with donations of time, money and manpower.
We've also seen countless men and women volunteer to coach youth sports teams, tutor in our school's classroom and teach Sunday school classes.
Valley area visitors who attended the Tim Van Horn Memorial Wrestling Tournament last week were awe-struck watching the number of volunteers who helped stage what turned into one of the finest athletic and social events in the state.
"Everything was first class and much of it was done by parents and others who only wanted to do their share to help out," Mesa resident Dave Jamison said. "It was all every impressive, I don't know that we could do this in the big schools."
The commitment that our townspeople have made to nurturing our youth renders recent opposition to building a YMCA in Payson tough to understand.
Simply put, a YMCA is not "just another something for our kids to do" as some have grudgingly complained.
As a community service organization, a Payson YMCA would represent another chance for our children to learn the skills and values necessary to becoming successful in life.
It's important to remember that more than one-half of all YMCA members are under 18 years of age and that local officials have said Payson programs would be ones not currently available.
Some soothsayers have complained a Payson YMCA would only be "a gym and a swimming pool" left to compete with others in town.
It would be much more than that.
A YMCA would offer young people a place to grow through leadership opportunities, solid personal relationships and challenging activities.
Most YMCAs offer opportunities to explore and prepare for higher education through mentoring, tutoring, high school and college visits and workshops.
YMCA middle school programs often focus on community service, employment readiness skills and academic support.
Some might argue those are the responsibilities of the public school system.
That is certainly true, but there will always be those students who require extra opportunities to be successful.
A Payson YMCA could be the boost those children need.
YMCAs around the country also host programs for single parents, adopted children and youths transitioning out of foster care, group homes or correctional placements.
Make no mistake about it, here is a huge need in the Rim Country for more of those types of program offerings.
Bringing a YMCA to Payson tax-free and at no financial burden to the town or county is a win-win situation for all concerned.
And by doing so, Payson will build on its reputation as a town committed to nurturing its most valuable resource -- its children.