Changing Of The Guard

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It is hard to miss that Payson has a new mayor and council and with that comes many changes, not only in the way town government will function, but also in the philosophy of how it will do business.

The changes are coming fast. The YMCA project, which appeared to be treading water at the best, and sinking at worst, is back on the table for a full discussion. Mayor Kenny Evans has said everything about the project is now up for discussion and he is hoping an open council workshop Thursday, from 3 to 5 p.m., will help decide what to do. The previous council held a closed-door session on the YMCA and as a result the project was sent off in a completely new direction on a different site.

In principle, the deal had a lot to recommend it. YMCAs have provided towns all across the country with viable recreational alternatives. They have benefited young and old alike with a wide variety of programs. You don't have to join the YMCA or pay for what you don't want to take part in. For those that want to join the YMCA, family memberships cost about $50 a month. The town is not being asked put up any, now hard to find, taxpayer money, just provide some land.

Still, the details of the cost sharing arrangement will determine whether the proposed facility is worth the cost for town residents. Clearly, one of the questions for the town and its residents is will a YMCA sufficiently benefit the community. If that answer is yes, then we need to decide on the best site.

Should the town council decide the YMCA is good for the community, it will have to carefully determine where to put it. Rumsey Park is a popular place. During most weekends and some weekdays, residents and visitors use nearly every square inch of that beautiful wooded park. There are always events unfolding, from flyball to softball games to family reunions. From the ball fields, to the pool, to the walking and bike trails, Rumsey is one busy place.

The location of a YMCA must not compromise current park uses. Care must be given to any placement of the Y within Rumsey Park. The town must not sacrifice already well-used land.

Obviously, Payson and the YMCA have a lot to talk about -- and Thursday sounds like an opportunity to get these issues out in the open. One way or the other, it's time to make some decisions and move forward. The project has lingered in limbo for years now -- which isn't fair to the YMCA and makes a hash of the town's effort to plan its recreational future.

So we applaud the decision to air the issue, get feedback from the new council -- and finally make a decision one way or the other.

Tribute Wall coming Thursday

An 80 percent replica of the Vietnam War Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. will be in Payson at Green Valley Park beginning Thursday. This is the second time the Tribute Wall has come to Payson, which is perhaps a measure of the sense of patriotism and history that typifies this town.

Organizers are expecting some 15,000 to 20,000 people to tour the wall, most coming on Saturday and Sunday. Late Thursday and Friday might be a good time for Rim Country residents to take a peek at the wall.

We hope that all our readers will take advantage of the opportunity to line Main Street on Thursday morning at 9 a.m. and wave a flag at the arrival of the truck carrying the wall replica, accompanied by perhaps 1,000 motorcycle riders -- many of them Vietnam vets. We hope many more will show up at the memorial services on Saturday morning in Rumsey Park, where they will set up the wall near the existing war memorial. The traveling exhibit will include displays honoring the veterans who paid the ultimate price in each of the nation's wars. Speeches, color guards, bag pipes, a band and a flyover by four F-16s will make it an impressive ceremony.

The Roundup has been running a series of articles on the experiences of veterans and their families in that bloody, wrenching, interminable, desperately unpopular war. They each did their duty and ran their great risks for their fellow citizens and then came home to protest and dismay. So many of them hid their uniforms away and did not talk about their service -- even to friends and family.

Each of the veterans we have talked to in preparation for the arrival of the wall has said that it felt good, finally, to be asked about the war -- to have their service honored.

And that's why we hope our readers will turn out. The veterans will be there, of course. And they'll be noticing whether the rest of us show up. We blew it that last time -- confusing the war with the warriors.

So this weekend we have another chance -- to say finally -- welcome home.

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