Happy Ending For Campus Cliffhanger?

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The thrilling ASU campus cliffhanger continues to enthrall. So we hate to get our hopes up: It’s such a long fall.

Still, that happy ending glimmered this week, with the revelation that private donors and investors have now pledged $500 million to build a four-year college campus in Payson.

We hope that makes the deal too good for Arizona State University to pass up — despite its budget woes. But even if ASU sinks into a budget tar pit, the latest pledges provide enough money to strike a deal with some other university.

The pledges from investors with assets exceeding $24 billion puts the project back on solid footing, despite the tragic recent death of developer Nazy Hirani, who had accumulated some $20 million in commitments.

The new $500 million total compares to the $70 million committed previously.

And while devilish details remain outstanding, the visionary support of these investors and donors seems sure to convert this once improbable idea from a vision into a plan.

Of course, we wouldn’t mind if things would just calm down, so we can tear up and eat our popcorn — without suffering through any more nerve-wracking plot twists.

For instance, we hope voters will now swiftly approve the temporary, 1 cent increase in the sales tax, which will make the state’s budget crisis measurably less dire. Backers of an ASU campus here fear that a rejection of the sales tax boost will force ASU to make another $100 million in cuts and deny it the political and administrative focus necessary to carry through on the Payson plan.

That would be a foolish waste — for Arizona, for ASU and for Rim Country.

Clearly, Rim Country would reap enormous economic and cultural benefits from the establishment of a four-year college campus here. The Association of International Educators did a study suggesting that 1,000 students at Northern Arizona University interject some $26 million into the local economy.

Perhaps even more important, a college campus here would allow many Rim Country students who can’t afford to attend an out-of-town school to get their degrees, which will change the whole course of their lives.

Payson Mayor Kenny Evans has long been the spark plug for this once improbable, now “most probable” triumph. This week, a high-powered group of Rim Country residents with glittering resumes and heartening public spirit formed to help push this plan forward.

The beautiful maiden has freed herself from the railroad tracks.

The underestimated hero has reappeared in the nick of time. Don’t you just love a happy ending?

Don’t forget to remember ‘Mom’ this Sunday

Mother’s Day is this weekend — Sunday, May 9. Rim Country residents have all kinds of special events to celebrate the occasion: just check out the Almanac on page 3A. “Officially” Mother’s Day is an annual holiday that recognizes mothers, motherhood and maternal bonds in general, as well as the positive contributions they make to society.

The “celebration” has been commercialized for many years — since ancient times, if we are to believe some historians. These experts believe the day emerged from a custom of mother worship in ancient Greece, which kept a festival to Cybele, a great mother of Greek gods. This festival was held around the Vernal Equinox around Asia Minor and eventually in Rome itself from the Ides of March (March 15 to March 18). The ancient Romans also had another holiday, Matronalia, which was dedicated to Juno, though mothers were usually given gifts on this day.

Before its “official recognition,” Mother’s Day in the U.S. was mostly marked by women’s peace groups that started organizing in response to the carnage of the Civil War. In 1868, Ann Jarvis created a committee to establish a “Mother’s Friendship Day” whose purpose was “to reunite families that had been divided during the Civil War.” In New York City, Julia Ward Howe led a “Mother’s Day” anti-war observance June 2, 1872.

Frank E. Hering, president of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, made the first known public plea for “a national day to honor our mothers” in 1904. In its present form, Mother’s Day was established by Anna Marie Jarvis, following the death of her mother Ann Jarvis on May 9, 1905. On May 8, 1914, the U.S. Congress passed a law designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation, declaring the first national Mother’s Day.

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