Loyal Friends Need Help

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Our best and oldest friends are suffering in these hard times. Specifically, the Humane Society of Central Arizona has 50 percent more abandoned dogs and cats than usual crowded into its shelter just off Payson’s Main Street.

About 70 dogs and 79 cats are crowded into kennels and cages, waiting for someone to adopt them.

Officials at the humane society say that they’ve seen a surge in the number of suffering owners forced to turn their pets over in hopes they’ll find a good home. The trend reflects the stubbornly high unemployment, a year into a joyless recovery that has done more for hedge fund managers than the working folks of Rim Country.

Many people facing the agonizing necessity of a move to find work have brought their furry family members down to the humane society. Sometimes, they simply can’t afford to feed their shaggy friends.

We hope that if you can possibly add a dog or cat to the family, you’ll consider making a trip down to the shelter at 812 S. McLane Road, open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. Save a life and open a space for another abandoned animal.

Do it out of compassion — and you’ll live longer.

The federal Centers for Disease Control reports that on average, pets lower the blood pressure and cholesterol levels of their owners — measurably lowering the risk of a heart attack. Moreover, pet owners who do have a heart attack are more likely to survive. Studies also suggest that pets reduce the odds their owners will suffer from depression — especially elderly owners.

One recent study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology even discovered that children raised with pets are significantly less likely to develop allergies and asthma — especially to animal hair.

Meanwhile, Alzheimer’s patients suffer from less anxiety if there’s a pet in the home, according to a study by researchers from the University of California at Davis.

Other studies show that people with dogs to walk get significantly more exercise, which improves all sorts of health statistics.

And just as this warm-hearted community has rallied around neighbors struggling through hard times, we hope you will come to the aid of our oldest friends as well.

So give the humane society a call, (928) 474-5590. We hear they’ve got a dog looking for a home that can turn a somersault in mid air — and cats that’ll lower your blood pressure every time you pet them.

Educational alliance board faces campus key trade-offs

The complicated financial structure needed to build a college campus in Payson without risk to local taxpayers has finally begun to take public shape. The Payson Town Council last week took the key step in forming a Separate Legal Entity (SLE) with an independent governing board to run what is now being called the Rim Country Educational Alliance.

Many observers were surprised no elected officials will serve on the governing board that will own the campus and oversee the $500 million project. Instead, the Payson and Star Valley councils will appoint the six board members, whose deliberations will shape the economic history of the region for decades to come.

The council last week appointed former councilor Mike Vogel and distinguished marketing expert Mary Kastner to the first two slots on the board. Star Valley will soon follow suit. Those four board members will then recommend to the respective councils candidates to fill the final two slots on the educational alliance board.

That volunteer board faces a daunting task if the visionary plans for the Payson campus finally make the great leap from dream to reality between now and the projected December groundbreaking.

The decision to avoid potential conflicts of interest by keeping council members off the board offers inevitable trade-offs. On the one hand, putting council members on that board would have ensured accountability and compatibility. On the other hand, having council members sign agreements with themselves would create vexing legal complications.

If all goes as planned, Payson’s approach will produce a high-tech, green-energy campus that will serve as a model for communities nationwide. Hopefully, the creation of this independent, unelected board will turn out to be another such brilliant improvisation.

That’s why the selection of the initial board remains vital to the whole project. Kastner and Vogel seem to be a good start, since they will bring to their deliberations deep knowledge of business and politics.

Fortunately, the current agreement requires the alliance to get the Payson council’s approval of a master plan, which will ensure the campus enhances rather than conflicts with the town’s long-term plans. Moreover, backers have agreed to contract for police and fire services, which will minimize any impacts on existing taxpayers.

This latest glimpse of the long-secret details of the plan offer intriguing evidence of the deep complexity and dogged persistence the dream has entailed.

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