Asu Campus Survives Another Cliffhanger

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Sometimes, the visionary effort to build a college campus in Payson has resembled a particularly hair-raising episode of “Survivor.”

Advocates have accomplished the bureaucratic equivalent of wading through swamps, climbing walls bristling with spikes, choking down worms and crawling through dark rooms writhing with snakes.

This week, they surmounted another potentially fatal complication by purchasing enough private land so the deal can go forward even if the Forest Service continues to drag its feet.

The agreement by investors to buy land for the first set of classrooms and dorms will also help lock in the private financing Payson Mayor Kenny Evans has so creatively negotiated. Of course, the deal remains shrouded in the same lack of crisp detail that has frustrated advocates and emboldened skeptics all along. Backers say they’re still negotiating with other landowners and so don’t want to release the full terms of the deal just yet. The private deal with the town’s blessing protects Payson taxpayers from any risk, but keeps the plan on track.

The land purchase caps one more cliffhanger, since the Forest Service’s maddening pace in selling land Congress declared excess a decade ago threatened to unravel the whole complex deal. The town has already offered the Forest Service other parcels that would serve its firefighting and other critical needs elsewhere. Still, the Forest Service continues to crawl through the largely meaningless bureaucratic hoops that remain.

The creative solution of the advocates for the college was to buy up enough private land to get started, while also locking in low interest rates for the promised money. That simplifies the remaining challenges considerably.

Now it all comes down to whether ASU can spare enough attention from its budgetary damage control to sign off on a smoking deal that points the way to a necessary future.

Certainly, ASU faces daunting financial challenges as the Legislature continues to mortgage the state’s future by imposing crippling cuts on the universities. The Legislature has cut state support per student in half in the past several years, forcing the three universities to lay off 11 percent of their work force and double tuition. Gov. Jan Brewer this week proposed an additional $180 million cut in an institution essential to the state’s economic recovery. The universities will have to make painful choices to deal with this latest round of reductions.

However, we hope the crisis will ultimately enhance the prospects for the Payson campus. After all, the state can educate a student for roughly half as much at such an undergraduate-centered campus as it can by adding students to the existing research-based campuses. We trust that logic will make the Payson campus irresistible, even in the midst of the crisis.

In the meantime, we can only admire the creativity and persistence of those who have brought the plans for a Payson campus so far — even if they have had to slither through the snakes of circumstance.

Curious caper of the TP thief

Some editorials that should never be written, are anyway. And let us confess at the outset that we know better. We really do. But we’re word people. We can’t help ourselves.

So, we must — at least briefly — address ourselves to the curious case of the bathroom caper at the Payson Public Library. (Pun-based remark deleted here).

It seems that someone has been sneaking into the library and stealing all the toilet paper. Astonished library workers stocked the restrooms every morning and by 10 a.m. every roll had gone missing. They restocked, only to have the TP bandit strike the next day — and the next — and the next. Mystified and frustrated — the library managers decided to keep a basket of toilet paper at the front desk, which they would hand out to abashed patrons as requested. (Pun-based remark deleted here).

This policy will apparently persist until they can retrofit lock boxes on the toilet paper dispensers — which will prevent wholesale roll theft. (Pun-based remark deleted here).

We cannot quite grasp the full import of this sad episode. Perhaps it says something about these tattered times. Perhaps it says something about the plight of we stubborn book readers in the modern world. Perhaps it says something about the decline of standards even among thieves. We can only hope that the library quickly installs the necessary toilet paper security precautions so that browsers may once more linger at their leisure without undue humiliation.

Moreover, we can hope that the purloiner of rolls may suffer some suitable Twilight Zone twist of poetic justice.

There: it’s written. We hope you appreciated our restraint.

(Completely inappropriate, pun-based clever punch line deleted here).

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