School Board Weighs Controversial Cupcakes

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Here’s the most irritating thing about kids.

They watch you — and notice everything.

What pressure. Now you know why Charles Barkley took pains to observe he was not a role model.

What do the little rug rats expect of us? We’re only human.

Still, you gotta admit — it was a pretty funny school board meeting.

Board member Richard Meyer had a perfectly logical idea: He wanted to adopt a new board policy prohibiting any sweets at school. It sounded reasonable since state and federal guidelines already ban hyper sweet foods and drinks from vending machines on campus.

After all, up to one-third of American kids are overweight — and activity levels are declining sharply. That opens kids up to all kinds of health problems down the road. School should teach proper nutrition, offer gym classes — and set the example.

So, Meyer tried to push the board to take the next step: Ban even the tradition of birthday cupcakes for those little in-class parties. No way.

Board member Barb Underwood demurred on the grounds her granddaughter would never forgive her. We totally understand: Granddaughters rule the world, no argument here.

Board member Viki Holmes offered the ever so slightly discouraging argument that cupcakes were the best thing about school for her.

So Meyer gave up his little crusade — noting that his wife disagreed with him anyhow.

Now, this would have been a sufficiently entertaining discussion — with grandma’s cupcakes, the nostalgic glow classroom cupcakes and the lonely crusade of a principled man.

But we just loved the punch line.

Turns out it was Barb’s birthday. Oh joy. Goody.

You guessed it: They brought out the cupcakes.

We sort of hoped Meyer would set his on fire and deliver a little speech on the calorie content of certain foods.

Alas, he ate his.

Ah, well. This role model stuff is complicated.

Just the important stuff

You can live in lots of places with more stuff.

Payson’s just a little mountain town where most folks who drive through come from busy places with shopping malls and sports stadiums and swimming pool complexes.

But we don’t have much, not really: An aging public pool open a couple months a year, couple of nice parks, one bowling alley, couple of restaurants, 16,000 people living quietly. So when the recession hit and the town laid off all the part-timers and cut the poor parks budget by a third, that looked bad.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the budget crisis. The people in parks and recreation started trying to figure out a way to save programs, despite the huge budget reduction. Next thing you know, Friends of Payson Parks and Recreation stepped up and offered to raise some money to keep the programs going.

And folks started dropping by town hall, asking if they could help out. Before you know it, the parks department had tripled its compliment of volunteers.

Even though the town council had to cut all the money for expanding the visionary trails system, a core group among the 70-some trails volunteers kept showing up to maintain the existing trails.

Six months later, the town has not had to cancel a single program due to the recreation department’s budget cuts. Moreover, Friends of Payson Parks and Recreation is already laying plans for its next round of fund-raising hoping to continue support for some of the few recreation programs that don’t now pay their own way with the fees they charge — mostly summer recreation programs for kids and the free summer concert series.

Bill Ensign, head of the Friends group, will release details of the fund-raising efforts as he gets them, although he’s kind of busy at the moment. See, he also volunteers one day every weekend to work at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, part of the contribution from Payson and from local volunteers that convinced the state to reopen the shuttered park for summer weekends.

Yep. You can easily find enough places with more stuff — swimming pools and high rises and video arcades and covered arenas and night clubs and water slides.

But we’ll guarantee one thing — you can’t find anyplace with better folks.

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