Funny Numbers

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Let us get this straight.

Lots of people have spent years working on a plan to make Main Street more pedestrian friendly — so it can serve as a busy street front for tourists and residents.

But then the economy tanks and so the council two weeks ago came within a caddis fly flutter of giving back a $300,000 federal grant for lack of the local match —after already having spent $54,000 on a master plan.

How much does the town need to keep the grant?

About $160,000. No. No. Wait.

Make that $17,000. No. No. Wait.

Make that nothing. No. No. Wait.

Make that $17,000 and maybe $40,000, in case we have to move a water line or something. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Time out. What the heck’s going on here?

Mind you — we think the council did the right thing on Tuesday, when it voted to put the grant in the upcoming budget, along with $17,000 needed (probably, maybe, who knows?) to provide the local match. The situation remains murky — best to play for time.

Certainly Main Street deserves a little creative juggling and even some judicious risk taking — despite the town’s bleak budget picture.

It’s staggering how much effort and money has already been squandered on vague and sometimes unrealistic fitful plans.

Truth is, Main Street should serve as a retail and activity focal point for the whole town, and this terrible downturn has certainly underscored the need to tend to the town’s economic prospects in every decision made.

And we’re deeply grateful to the Rev. Charles Proudfoot, who has lavished hundreds of hours on the redevelopment district — which was why he turned up options that could reduce the town’s cost to zero.

Even so, we’re flummoxed by the wild spatter of numbers and calculations and possibilities at the tail end of a process under way for years.

How could the number go from $160,000 to zero in a week or two? Why was the council presented with numbers that popped out of little holes like so many prairie dogs?

So we do agree with the council’s decision to grab a stick and keep whacking away at the numbers, in hopes they’ll turn out to be soft and furry in the end.

We just wish we didn’t have this dizzy, queasy feeling every time another cross-eyed prairie dog pops out of its little spreadsheet.

Remember the optimism and hope of graduation

Payson High School’s Class of 2009 buoyantly thrust their caps into the air Thursday night — the graduation ceremony gave everyone inside the sweltering room a chance to recall that same exuberance.

Speeches bled optimism. Smiles belied hope. Even during a historically horrible economy, Payson’s newest adults will bravely trudge on.

Principal Roy Sandoval talked about the strength that comes from adversity. Prosperity brings strength, he said. Trouble brings unbreakability.

We remember the sweet idealism that school incubates and the real world disintegrates. Once upon a time, we knew we could change the world and nobody could stop us. We had grand ideas and the brashness to try. Older people always said that feeling would fade, and we defiantly shook our heads.

And then attitudes slowly changed. You forgot the big picture, and your dreams, because real life doesn’t allow for wandering campuses with a contemplative head.

Life demands doing things you don’t want to do because you’re paid to do them. Sometimes decorum outweighs personal imperative.

But, you find something to do that you enjoy, and take the good with the bad.

Once you graduate high school, there are no hall passes or doctor’s notes. But, hey, there’s no detention either.

It’s one arduous step at a time. Building a life takes great effort, much tenacity and fearlessness. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.

We wish Payson’s Class of 2009 the best of luck. But most of all we wish them the strength to live their bliss.

There will be sacrifices and mistakes. It will take longer than you’d like.

But the struggle is beautiful. That’s life. And if you can keep your idealism and your self in the face of the box life tries to stuff you in — that’s true success.

Don’t forget this sweet moment because those times in life that compel people to look up inspiring quotes are few and far between.

For all the adults whose hearts were exposed to the bountiful possibilities on Thursday night, we wish you success in that same beautiful struggle.

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