Here’s why there’s hope for us.
And maybe dogs. And cats, too.
Consider the heartening case of Ruth, her three dogs, three cats, one fish and a truck full of Payson firefighters and police officers.
Ruth had just settled in for a nice evening of Scrabble on her computer, when she glanced out the window and saw the smoke and flames outside her doublewide mobile home.
Alert neighbors had already called the fire department — thank goodness for alert neighbors. Firefighters arrived moments later. Thank goodness for quick firemen.
They found Ruth still in the smoke-filled mobile home with flames licking against the wall searching desperately for her six pets (plus the fish, we must not forget the fish).
The pets had hidden themselves from all the strangeness in various nooks and crannies. And firefighters found they could not get Ruth to leave her about-to-go-up-in-a-whoosh home.
What’s with pet owners, anyhow?
So they had to just insist she come sit in the back of the nice, locked police car — so she wouldn’t run right into the flames to save her pets.
All right. So far, we kind of get it. She loved those dogs, loved those cats. People are like that — foolishly prone to irrational affection and self sacrifice for those they love.
Those firefighters — who had never actually so much as met either dogs nor cats (we must not forget the fish, oh best beloved), went right back into that building once Ruth was safely locked up in the cruiser.
They searched that mobile home with a thermal imager as their buddies sprayed water on the flames licking up against the walls. They stayed amidst the smoke and heat until they found those three dogs, three cats (and one fish), each and every one.
What’s with firefighters, anyhow?
Such an odd species we are — to fall in love with dogs and cats and fish. Such an odd species, to brave the flames even for someone else’s dog. Kind of gives you hope, you know?
So the Best Western Payson Inn, bless their little innkeepers’ hearts, waived their rules and put up Ruth, the three dogs, the three cats and the one fish.
And one postscript: Minny, the long-haired Burmese got to meowing to Patrick, an orange tabby, about those rude firefighters — who accidentally sprayed her in the course of saving her fluffy white butt. So when Ruth took the dogs for a walk, Minny and Patrick ran off. Now Ruth is searching for them — hoping they’ll make their way to back to their burned out home and be found by one of those nice neighbors or police officers.
What is it with cats, anyhow?
Hopeful economic signs
We were heartened by the second monthly release of Payson’s budget update — jammed with 24 pages of statistics. The report now offers a model for financial tracking and the fine art of keeping the council in the loop.
The figures detailed the continued toll of the national recession, with local sales tax receipts down 8 percent from last year, coupled with the dramatic decline in new construction.
On the other hand, the figures also offered some glints of light.
While an 8 percent decline is a heavy blow for local businesses, it’s not as bad as the 11 percent decline in the state shared sales tax — collected statewide and distributed on a per capita basis.
Moreover, the town council’s early on embrace of painful budget cuts and the town staff’s diligent and creative embrace of those cuts has turned a likely $700,000 deficit into a potential $300,000 surplus. The cuts saved the town $225,000 in February alone.
So we were feeling awfully good about town government in the midst of hard times, as we sat sipping a latté and munching a brownie in our favorite coffeehouse.
Then we happened to notice a table of eight folks finishing a morning meeting in that nice, cozy, struggling local business — with just two cups of coffee between them.
Hey, guys. Eight percent isn’t 11 percent, but it’s still a decline. So, get today’s paper, settle in, buy a cup of coffee (the brownies are good), spend some money — at the coffeehouse, at the hardware store, down on Main Street.
Buy local, dude.
We’ll get through this yet.