The actions of the Gila County supervisors last week when asked to join Payson and Star Valley in forming a Separate Legal Entity highlights the complete ignorance two supervisors have about the Rim Country and their animosity toward the area, its residents and businesses.
Payson Mayor Kenny Evans went to the supervisors’ meeting to have them join the SLE. Anyone who lives in this area, and especially an elected official sworn to work for the people in the county, knows the SLE is critical to bringing a four-year college, probably Arizona State University, to Payson.
“I drove to Globe with a big stack of papers and got grilled for an hour on what our motives are. We do not want money. There’s no future obligation. We were just reaching across the gap that has existed between north and south (county),” Evans said at last week’s town council meeting.
Two of the supervisors, Shirley Dawson, whose district includes a large chunk of Star Valley and Mike Pastor, whose district also includes part of the Rim Country, acted like it was all new to them and questioned Evans about ASU coming to Payson.
The SLE requires no money from the county; it was a gesture of good faith by the mayor of the county’s largest town, Payson. But the mayor was met like he was the enemy. Evans came away from the meeting frustrated by the actions and questions of the Pastor and Dawson.
“With a residual value of the facilities at $500 or $600 million, we were offering the county a chance to be a one-third partner at no cost,” said Evans. “It seemed like a no-brainer to me. But not to a brain in the south end of the county I guess,” said Evans. “And I worked 48 hours trying to get calm enough to tone that down.”
The two supervisors professed support of Gila Community College, but had no clue about how the college would benefit from having a relationship with ASU and they were concerned with the 50-year length of the SLE. They refused to believe it would not cost them anything despite repeated assurance that no money was being sought from the county, and in fact the county would gain property taxes from parts of the project.
Only one of the commissioners seemed to grasp what the project and the SLE was all about.
“I don’t see a downside to take the next step. The liability appears nil,” Tommie Martin said. Martin understands the project and represents the Rim Country.
The issue is again on the agenda of today’s county supervisors’ meeting, let’s hope they come to their senses and let’s hope that Payson and Star Valley reject a “Johnny come lately” attempt by the county to join the SLE. They are not needed and if their attitude continues to be combative then the two towns really don’t need or want the county.
This is just another incident that reflects why the redistricting of the Gila Community College and county supervisor districts must reflect the growing population and property tax base of the northern part of the county.
The county needs elected officials that can see beyond their nose and represent the whole county, not just their favorite projects.
Getting involved and giving voice is half the battle
Responding to pleas from parents, Payson school board members are taking steps to support a gifted and talented program within the district.
A group of parents concerned about their children have come together to ask school board members for more challenging classes. School board members reacted to the request of these parents by instructing the district superintendent to develop and support a program that provides tougher classes.
We applaud the parents for coming to the board and seeking the program. At the Roundup we get complaints regularly about elected officials. Most of it goes like this — “Oh that (pick a local board or commission) they never do what we want them to do — they just ignore us.”
One of our first questions to these individuals is have you gone to a public meeting and made the case for what you want. The answer is almost always no.
Go see the administrators and managers — plead your case, educate them about your needs. You might be surprised at the reaction you will get. Town councils, county supervisors and school board members always like citizens to come and express themselves at meetings.
Elected officials need to hear from residents like these parents. These parents saw a problem; they organized and presented alternatives and ideas to the school board. These parents also raised money to help support the programs they wanted for their children.
In short, they got involved. Getting involved and letting elected officials know about a problem is sometimes more than half the battle in getting action.