Town Visionaries Champs Already

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So, let’s say you’re scripting a movie about a team of lovable misfits that against all odds made it into the Super Bowl. No one gave them the smallest chance. But they played with such heart and courage that they’re on the very brink of winning it all.

What would you say at the halftime break?

What took you slobs so long?

Shouldn’t we have sky boxes by now?

If you don’t win this — you’re just a bunch of bums.

Likewise, the once wildly implausible plan to build a four-year college in Payson stands closer to reality right now than at any moment in the past two, unlikely years.

So first up — win, lose or draw — great job, guys, and thanks to the visionary town leaders who have brought us so far — especially Payson Mayor Kenny Evans.

The first time he described the vision of a forested, four-year college on 300 acres of Forest Service land at the edge of town, it sounded like a politician’s pipe dream. Sure, Kenny. That would be nice. Think big. That’s cute.

But the determined community servants who have worked ceaselessly to make this outlandish idea a reality now have their prize almost within reach. Backers have lined up $100 million in donations and $450 million in financing — enough to build a campus even if the Legislature does something incomprehensibly foolish to prevent a deal with ASU. Moreover, the strange musings and indecipherable priorities of the Forest Service could also muck things up, by strewing the path to sale of the site with bureaucratic stumbling blocks.

Make no mistake: The region’s future is bound up with glittering prospect of a campus for 1,000 to 6,000 students that would provide a precious prototype for an affordable college degree. It matters deeply to Rim Country — since it would broaden a tourist-dominated economy. So we will continue to hope that all those dreams come true.

But right now — before we go out into the glare of the lights for that make-or-break second half — we want to say one thing to those who have brought us so far: You’re champions already. You have served us all, with nothing to gain for yourselves.

And if our beloved readers all want to do something special for the mayor — here’s a thought. Don’t call. Just send him a check for the Boy Scouts or the Food Bank or something.

Then you’d best get back to your seats: It’s gonna be a heck of a second half.

A few do the work, we all reap benefits

Life’s not fair. We accept this. Still, seems like we can at least point out that we noticed — for what that’s worth. To be specific, it doesn’t seem altogether fair that we all rely on intense and selfless efforts of a handful of people to build communities we’d want to live in. We can think of all kinds of examples — but for the moment we’ll signal out the Tonto Watershed Improvement Group.

A relative handful of people have been working diligently for the past year to figure out what to do about the alarming number of leaking septic systems that sometimes cause an unhealthy buildup of nitrates and bacteria in Tonto and Christopher creeks.

The high flows this year have mostly covered up the problem, but last summer bacteria levels hit unhealthy levels for more than a month.

The Tonto Watershed Improvement Group recently landed a $72,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Quality to buy testing kits, train volunteers and start the long, difficult job of educating the public. People who have bought homes and cabins along those precious creeks have a moral obligation to protect the places they treasure. Many live in homes and cabins with 50-year-old septic systems, which have inevitably begun to leak into the water table — sometimes polluting the creek.

Ultimately, the property owners must create a wastewater treatment district and find a way to permanently protect those creeks — on which depend both their home values and the region’s tourist-centered economy. Centralized sewage treatment may seem expensive at first flush — but it’s cheaper than either ruining the creek or the installation of $20,000 or $40,000 septic systems that meet modern standards.

Fortunately, the watershed improvement group had taken the first vital steps, with crucial help from ADEQ.

And we know: It’s not fair. The folks doing all the work will probably also get all the guff from their neighbors, who would rather remain in denial about what they’re doing to the creek.

But for what it’s worth, guys — we just wanted to say that we’ve noticed.

So, now, enough of a break: Better get back to work. We’re all counting on you — whether we know it or not.

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