Dream Lives On In Community College

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The dream lives. The future’s bright. And our hats are off. Wednesday night, 12 proud Payson residents received their diplomas from Gila Community College. All told, 61 people have earned a degree this year from the community college — a record. Another 17 earned professional certificates.

It’s hard not be inspired and optimistic about this country — sitting in a classroom at Gila Community College, or watching the graduates walk.

And that’s not just because of the huge economic impact of a college education. Studies suggest that getting a college degree adds about $600,000 to a citizen’s lifetime earnings. As a result, taxpayers realize a return of $5 for every $1 they spend on higher education, according to one national study.

Another study found that community college graduates earn 30 percent more than high school graduates, which means that taxpayers get a 16-percent rate of return from their investment in higher education.

This nation remains unique in all the world in its commitment to higher education. Of course, any advanced nation must support universities to educate its intellectual elite. But the United States remains unique in offering a higher education to anyone willing to put in the work. Perhaps that explains why less than 5 percent of the world’s population produces more than 22 percent of the world’s wealth.

But the graduates of community colleges deserve special recognition.

Often, they’re first-generation college students. That represents a tremendous leap of faith — backed by enormous will and hard work. It also represents a brave gift to the future, for this week’s graduates have dramatically increased the odds their own children will also complete college.

We know these students — we’ve seen them struggle and dare and fall and rise up. Many got sidetracked out of high school, struggled with their lives, seized their opportunities — and went back to school, often juggling jobs and families and indifference and skepticism. Many have overcome formidable hardships, which makes their accomplishment here all the more impressive.

Granted, in these hard times they may still struggle to find that fulfilling job and a path through the brambles to their career.

But Wednesday marked a brave turning point in their lives — and in the life of this nation.

Congratulations. You have lifted us up and proven once more that the American dream lives on. Your future is bright. And our hats are off.

Disclose terms of rodeo deal

Lawyers. Cowboys. Who’s your role model? So, after enough plot turns to enliven a Saturday matinee cliffhanger — the Pro Rodeo Committee has successfully defended its right to the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo.

Time for a barn dance and a full-out bull ride — send in the (rodeo) clowns.

But first, we hope both sides in this unfortunate little dust up will agree to fully disclose the terms of the agreement that convinced the Rodeo Preservation Alliance to drop its lawsuit claiming that the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce breached its contract with the Alliance in selling the rodeo to the Committee for $20,000.

All sorts of rumors and speculation have been floating around town — and the assorted lawyers involved have been making strenuous efforts to shut everybody up.

But that’s like counterfeit money — where the bad money drives out the good. Same thing holds with rumors.

Truth is, the community must now rally behind the 120 volunteers of the Pro Rodeo Committee, who want to return the Payson Rodeo to its glory days as the best small-town rodeo in the country.

It’ll be a lot easier to enlist that support if people know precisely what actually took place — that includes the Committee’s volunteers, the members of the Chamber and all the residents whose support for the rodeo is so vital.

Rumor has it some money changed hands, how much is anyone’s guess. Now, last we heard — cowboys were still straight shooters: tell it like it is. When that bull sends you flying, then stomps you flat — you just get up and tip your hat to the ladies. Own up to your mistakes. Don’t whine. Get back on the bull.

Lawyers. Well, that’s a different matter. They’d sue the bull, have him castrated, then make him sign a confidentiality agreement and issue a statement about how happy he was that all those nice lawyers simplified his social life.

Lawyers.

Cowboys.

Who’s your role model?

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