First Friday Celebrates

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So why do you live in Rim Country?

Almost certainly, it’s not for the money. Even the good jobs here pay more elsewhere.

No doubt, the cool breezes, blaze of the Milky Way and sound of the East Verde play a role.

But if you’re like us — then it’s also a chance to be part of a community where people wave and chat and help out.

And if you want to celebrate that spirit of community that makes this place so special, you might make note that tonight marks the second anniversary of the state’s recognition of the First Friday event down on Main Street. The monthly event won the Arizona Main Street Award in 2008, the only ongoing event to win that recognition.

The merchants and residents smart enough and community-minded enough to head down to that historic district this evening will find the date celebrated in style.

Granted, Payson is still grappling with its plans to turn Main Street into a big tourist draw. The merchants there have lots of promising ideas — from the revived historical district to an ongoing effort to recruit new business. Clearly, Main Street has a vital role to play in the town’s future, but it will take a more focused and creative effort to realize that potential.

In the meantime, First Friday remains a wonderfully successful effort to plant the seeds of Main Street’s future.

Stores will be open and making special efforts all up and down Main Street tonight.

You can meet Rim Country artists at a reception at Down the Street Art Gallery, which features woodwork, functional utensils, ceramics, copper art, carved gourds, stained and fused glass, bronze sculpture and steel. Then you can check out the Artists of the Rim Gallery.

If you need a shot of energy in mid-meander, Re-Runs Resale Boutique will have anniversary cake and a chocolate fountain. Meanwhile, the Soroptimists will sell See’s Candies for that special Mother’s Day gift, and the Kiwanis will serve up their popular brats. Down at the end of the street near the shuttle bus stop, the Community Presbyterian Church will serve up cheese enchiladas as Colleen Brown and the Starlighters entertain diners.

Green Mountain Emporium will set up The Big Red KCMA Boombox outside by the cozy fire pit, or you can browse the treasures at Bootleg Alley Antiques, get educated on alternative energy at Green Scene Solar, check out how you turn a cool, century-old house into the Body Elegance Day Spa, and grab some bargains at the Senior Center Thrift Store, which will also offer refreshments and live music by Wayne Todd.

The Humane Society will also be on hand, on the eve of the long-awaited groundbreaking for the new shelter — funded by community donations.

So wander on by — visit with your neighbors. Savor what’s best about Rim Country.

Students show the way

You don’t have to eat brussels sprouts to be healthy. But let’s face it, it’s hard to exercise and eat well in the material world.

You get home from work, you’re tired. You want to watch television or pop dinner in the microwave, not cook dinner for a family of four and get sweaty on the treadmill.

But just like brussels sprouts, it’s good for you in the long run.

So that’s why we congratulate Payson High School’s Health Occupations Students of America for rolling up food pyramid posters, trucking them to Tonto Basin and spreading the word about health — because wellness is easy to take for granted until you get sick.

Just by taking a walk around our beautiful Green Valley Park, or taking advantage of the proximate Payson Area Trails System during these expanded daylight hours can drastically improve your health. Studies show a sharp reduction in health problems and a noticeable increase in life expectancy results from as little as half an hour a day of even something as easy as a vigorous walk.

On the other hand, it takes an awful lot of exercise to make up for bad eating habits.

The HOSA students found that you have to run 15 miles to burn off a bag of Cheetos. Here’s an easy answer to that problem — don’t eat a bag of Cheetos.

Our children learn from us. It’s important we give them good habits so they grow up fit.

Tuesday, we’ll profile Julia Randall Elementary School’s award-winning gym teacher, Donna Moore. She says gym is the most important class of the day because studying is futile if a brilliant young person dies at 25.

Social forces can coerce us into eating badly — as we confront the Hershey’s bars at the checkout and wander down the aisles of the supermarket filled with processed and preservative-laden food. Alas, the path of least resistance leads to obesity.

So we applaud the local Paysonites who are working to educate students about all the ways we can be healthier.

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