Sporting Group Has Grant Money Available For Rim Country Uses

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A scenario is unfolding in the ranks of the Mogollon Sporting Association that members have never before faced.

It centers on not receiving enough grant requests to allocate the money MSA earned at its annual fund-raising banquet held May 3 at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino.

"This is very unusual, we've always had more requests than we could fill," said MSA co-founder Ted Pettet.

Since the inception of the MSA 16 years ago, coaches, youth leaders and others have deluged the local organization with purchase requests.

MSA leaders responded by allocating funds for such projects as high school sports tournaments, building wildlife guzzlers, reseeding forest burn areas, purchasing uniforms for youth teams and musical instruments for school bands, and upgrading the stage and lighting system for the high school drama club.

Years ago, MSA purchased metal detectors for use by Arizona Game and Fish Department officers when investigating poaching and other criminal acts.

Only last fall, MSA co-founder Gary Barcom helped a national organization called Hunt of a Lifetime provide an archery elk hunt for a 17-year-old Denver boy suffering from a life-threatening disease.

In 2004, the MSA gave the town parks and recreation department $2,800 as a matching grant that was used to purchase and erect the bleachers on the north side of the new multipurpose field at Rumsey Park.

Several years ago, a daylong joint effort of Arizona Game and Fish, the U.S. Forest Service, the MSA and 10 Payson High School wrestlers, renovated a pristine area near Black Canyon Lake.

Those accomplishments represent only a small fraction of what MSA had done for the community.

But, the question now on MSA members' minds is, why have requests dropped off just when it seemed many had become dependent on the association's donations?

"We don't know, we just know it happened," Pettet said.

Pettet and other MSA members won't say just how much is available but it is out there for anyone with a need. But to receive the money, the request must fit the mission statement adopted by the MSA founders.

It reads, "to enhance wildlife, environment, education and our economy in the Mogollon Rim Country by supporting local quality game management and our local business."

Which means, the money must be used to support Payson schools, local youth programs and outdoor conservation projects.

The money must also be spent so that it benefits the local economy and Payson businessmen and women.

To submit a request for a donation, call Jack or Sandee Koon at (928) 474-1662.

The MSA's deeds have drawn the organization accolades from around Arizona.

In 2006, the Arizona Game and Fish Department bestowed the MSA with statewide recognition as the Conservation Organization of the Year.

In August 2005, at the Scottsdale Resort and Conference Center, the MSA was inducted into the Outdoor Hall of Fame.

According to Steve Hirsch, president of the Wildlife for Tomorrow Foundation that sponsors the Arizona Hall of Fame, MSA was chosen because of the contributions the organization makes in the Rim Country.

"The Mogollon Sporting Association is a perfect example of how a group of dedicated individuals can have a very positive effect on wildlife and people as well," Hirsch said.

"Their program to utilize youth volunteer labor not only gets the job done, but also instills an appreciation for the great outdoors in these young people."

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