Only those with their heads plunged deep in the sand and outfitted with oversized blinders would not realize there is a growing under swell of grumbling about the school board’s decision last spring to not install Fieldturf artificial playing surfaces on the three high school sports fields.
The general consensus among the disenchanted is that the $3.4 million bond issue voters passed in 2006 specifically stated almost $2 million would go for the installation of artificial surfaces.
“That’s what we were told, that’s what we voted for and then it all changed,” said one taxpayer who asked not to be named. “The decision goes against our wishes.”
In March of 2009, the PUSD board voted to stretch the remaining $3.3 million to bond dollars to building repairs and not install turf.
The installation was billed at the time the bond was being touted to voters as a way to save money on watering bills and provide students and athletes with safe, all-weather activity surfaces similar to what now exist at Rumsey Park.
Rendering the situation even more deplorable is that the PHS football team practiced last fall on the Longhorn baseball diamond turning it into a hodgepodge of pits, holes and berms.
A quick walkover today reveals it is on the verge of being unfit for high school play and is certainly not a facility our players, fans and community can be proud of.
Had artificial surface been installed as originally agreed upon, both football and baseball would have had state-of-the-art playing and practicing facilities and would not have to infringe on one another.
PHS baseball coach Jerry Daniels must have lodged in the back of his mind the possibility his players, or visitors, could suffer injuries — most likely ankle or leg problems — competing on the roughshod field.
A similar problem existed decades ago on the rapidly deteriorating track at PHS, forcing coaches to cancel all home meets and compete only at away meets.
Fortunately, the Tonto Apache Tribe and others rose to the occasion to build the all-weather track facility that now exists at PHS.
Elks make final four
Anyone with enough moxie to have passed the Wechsler Intelligence Test for Children will not be betting against Estrella Foothills winning its third consecutive 3A boys state basketball championship.
But the overwhelming dominance of the Wolves doesn’t mean fans around the Rim Country and White Mountains aren’t excited about having the sixth-seeded Round Valley Elks reach the tournament’s Final Four.
RV will play at 4 p.m., Friday, Feb. 26 against No. 2 Safford. A win over the Bulldogs would send the Elks bugling into the finals against EF and its super star Corey Hawkins, a 6-foot-3-inch guard bound for Arizona State.
Payson had a shot at Estrella several years ago in the state finals, when Hawkins was a sophomore, but like most other foes, came up short.
In the 3A girls state tournament, No. 1 Safford will play No. 4 Winslow and No. 6 Snowflake takes on No. 2 Window Rock.
Winslow coaching legend Don Petronovich, Arizona’s most winning coach, has said he will retire at the end of the tournament, win or lose.
Spring break programs
The Payson Parks and Recreation department will have two different programs during spring break for Rim Country youngsters. Call (928) 474-5242, ext. 7 for details about what is being offered and when.
The registration fee is $30 per child.