Volunteers Show Town’S Heart

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Someone else’s problem. Someone else’s tragedy. Someone else’s life. Easy enough to heave a little sigh of relief, when you hear some terrible news — like a 4-year-old boy going missing in the woods.

And in lots of places, lots of people shudder and shrug when they hear such news.

But here in Rim Country, folks do more than that.

So when word went out on Sunday that 4-year-old Travis Mitchell had disappeared into the forest while playing in a gully — lots of people dropped everything and showed up to help.

Dedicated rescuers looked for the boy through the night, without success.

So Monday morning, Heath Wacker and his airplane-owning buddy John Hughes, decided to scout the rough terrain in the air. They flew the area, noted the areas covered by the search teams and thought they saw a gap in the search string, down a rugged and inaccessible canyon. So they called a couple of friends with horses and suggested they search in the unlikely gap.

Without hesitation, Gary Chitwood, Beth and Wyman Kindall saddled up and headed out, spending hours working the thick brush shouting the boy’s name.

Then wonderfully, miraculously, blessedly, Travis hollered back.

The rescuers found the little boy sitting under a cedar tree, pincushioned with cactus thorns, dehydrated and bruised — insisting he wasn’t missing at all. Heck, he was right there.

So a parent’s nightmare had a happy ending.

The volunteers coaxed the boy onto the back of a horse, with the promise of a helicopter ride and got him safely out of the canyon.

So if anyone asks you why you live in Rim Country, now you know just how to answer.

It’s not the soul-stirring scenery.

It’s not the outdoor summers and the mild winters.

It’s not even the tumbling trout streams and the natural wonders.

It’s neighbors like Heath Wacker and John Hughes and Gary Chitwood and Beth Kindall and Wyman Kindall. It’s knowing that when you need help, they’ll all turn out — along with all those other folks who searched through the night without getting their name in the paper.

Because when you have a problem in Rim Country — it ain’t just your problem. Heck, we’re all in it together.

We’re not missing. We’re all right here.

Rodeo needs support

Cowboy up, Payson — it’s rodeo time again. If you’ve ever been to the rodeo — time to go back. And if you’ve never been — time to start a new tradition.

The Payson Pro-Rodeo Committee has done a wonderful job of coming from behind, to stage the 126th annual free-for-all of the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo.

The events intended to draw in the community start on Wednesday and go all the way through Sunday.

The rodeo effectively defines Payson in the tourist-oriented world on which our economy critically depends, providing precious touchstone to our identity as a western town with a rich history.

And if that’s not enough, the Payson Pro-Rodeo Committee also supports a host of worthy community organizations with any profits from the rodeo.

Now, once upon a time — we didn’t have to urge Rim Country denizens to head down to the rodeo — it was the natural social high point of the year for the cowboys who brought their herds down out of the mountains for the summer roundup.

But Payson is now more of a retirement and tourist town than a ranch town, so lots of residents don’t have a deep connection to the rodeo.

So we hope you’ll make that connection this year.

You can start off with the chamber mixer on Wednesday, follow up with the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association barrel racing on Thursday, raise money to fight breast cancer by wearing pink on Friday night, watch some of the toughest cowboys in America get the stuffing bucked out of them at the Saturday night performance dedicated to our veterans, and enjoy the family theme at the Sunday performance.

We all know that the rodeo had a rough ride this year, with lawsuits that ended happily enough — but created real headaches for this year’s rodeo planners.

Fortunately, everything fell together — thanks to the hard work of scores of volunteers who have devoted countless hours and years of devotion to the rodeo.

So saddle up — and come on down.

You’ll support your community — and have a great time to boot.

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