Hoping Two Visions Become Rim Realities

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Few things just happen. In business or in life, some kind of vision is needed. The vision can be inspired by something you see, hear, maybe by reading or through education. There needs to be some thought behind a vision and lots of hard work to turn that vision into reality.

Right now several Payson leaders, inspired by Payson Mayor Kenny Evans, have put forth a vision of what a college campus would be like in Payson. See the story in today’s paper.

There is another vision by a different group of leaders taking place in the Rim Country, one that projects Gila Community College as an independent school, out from under the weight of provisional status and away from Eastern Arizona College. Now EAC is probably a good school, it just weighs too much for GCC. It has different interests and outlooks.

GCC needs to find its way toward being its own school, with a board that makes decisions based on what’s best for Gila County, not what is in the best interest of Safford and EAC. Gila County, and especially the Rim Country, is a growing community and when the economy recovers, it will prosper. But it needs some basic tools. An independent GCC is one tool, another tool is bringing a four-year college to Payson — be it ASU or some other institution. Together they represent a strong push forward for the Rim Country.

Today Arizona State University is at the center of a large vision — the Legislature, even if it doesn’t quite know it yet, is dead center in the middle of the visions for GCC and an ASU campus in Payson.

There are a lot of people pinning their hopes on these visions.

If ASU in Payson becomes a reality, it will mean more jobs — good jobs — and that means more money can be spent at local businesses. For businesses it means growth, the ability to hire more people and provide more services in our community.

For residents it means a quicker housing recovery, a job, or perhaps a better job.

But we are getting too far out front of the project at this point to be thinking that way. As many of our stories and editorials have pointed out, we are not at the point where the inspiration has become a reality.

There is a complicated land sale with the U.S. Forest Service that must take place; there is a Legislature that must be convinced to allow ASU to spread its wings to Payson and offer a college education at half the cost a student would pay in the Valley.

The payout for Payson is still a long way out. Every time the vision seems to get a bit closer, some cautionary arm pulls it back just a little, to where the vision is still just part of a dream looking to break out and become just a little bit real.

For GCC to become independent, the community must strongly show its support. It cannot be a wishy-washy support — it needs to be head-over-heels support. It needs to be so strong that the Legislature believes it must pass the needed legislation.

As we think about the Thanksgiving that has just passed and the upcoming holiday season, we would be amiss if we are just a bit more hopeful that these visions, these dreams, will finally gain some solid ground and move closer to becoming a reality.

Projects this big, this revolutionary in their own way, take time — and we just have to have some patience with this ASU vision and keep dreaming that our Christmas wish for GCC will come true.

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