County, College Must Strike The Right Balance

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The cliffhanger continues. The Gila County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved the transfer of some 33 acres of land to Gila Community College.

Well and good: The action brings to a happy ending a complicated transaction that finally leaves the community college one step closer to gaining control over its future.

Of course, GCC and the county must settle a few, vital final points — like how soon the county will cut off the $300,000 annual subsidy it has provided to cover the cost of maintaining the buildings on the existing, five-acre campus.

County administrators say they’ll leave the subsidy in place this year — but will negotiate terms for next year. Well and good.

But — and there’s always a “but” when GCC’s involved — the county left unsettled the much more urgent question of the sale of the adjoining 22 acres for the first phase of a university campus here.

The GCC board asked the county to impose conditions on the land sale. For starters, GCC wants to make sure the Rim Country Educational Alliance doesn’t put its planned research park right next door to the community college. Second, GCC wants the county to insist the Alliance shift its plans to the east, buying only 15 acres. Finally, GCC wants yet another independent appraisal.

We hope the county will not take those conditions too literally — as it would harm the crucial effort to build a university here, to the great detriment of the taxpayers who have long footed the bill for GCC.

We understand the GCC board’s desire to make sure that the non-educational facilities the Alliance plans don’t end up right next door to the classrooms GCC plans to eventually build on its 33 acres. No problem, the Alliance can attach a site plan showing its planned campus adjacent to the GCC property, with the other uses farther east. Problem solved.

We hope that the county will let the other conditions slide. We see no point in delaying the sale with another appraisal. Moreover, we see no point in limiting the sale to 15 acres, which would only force the Alliance to once more upend its plans, now reaching a critical stage. If the county sells the Alliance the 10 acres it really needs directly across from the planned second phase of the campus on Forest Service land, GCC would be left with a useless chunk of land on the far side of the neighboring campus. Better to sell that land to the Alliance, where it can fit into the larger plan.

But we’re confident that the Alliance, GCC and the county will strike the right balance — and serve the interests of the taxpayers who support them all.

Thoughts from the publisher

On Tuesday a Roundup front-page story highlighted a new problem — children, and probably some adults, are smoking a synthetic drug called Potpourri.

Spice, another synthetic drug, which is closely related to Potpourri, was recently outlawed in Arizona. Industry chemists just changed a couple of chemicals, which allowed the synthetic drug to come back on the market, dangerous as ever.

Check it out yourself. Google “smoking Potpourri” and read story after story on just how dangerous this “legal” drug can be.

These same stories describe the effects of using these synthetic drugs — terrifying hallucinations, panic attacks and rapid heartbeat and seizures, you will also find companies selling the product ... here is an excerpt from one:

People are raving about the new Herbal Potpourri.

“Truly amazing potpourri known for our consistent quality. The same great quality today as 6 months ago! Wicked X herbal blend with 10 different aromas and 2 different herbal potencies … X and Triple XXX. Finally a quality herbal potpourri that is absolutely the real high potency aroma you are looking for. The best part is it is legal herbal potpourri that you can burn. If you want the best herbal potpourri for an uncompromised laid back experience you will want to by Wicked X Herbal Blend.”

What is amazing is that one doesn’t need to go to the Web to find this product. According to Payson Police, it is available right here in Payson at such places as the One Stop Convenience Store, Wear This and Smoke Shop, Payson Marketplace and, in Pine, at the Taylor Gas Station. Payson Police are urging parents to be on watch for this newest “legal” substance sprayed with enough chemicals to kill a horse. In fact, according to Chief Don Engler, One Stop was burglarized recently and the only thing taken was the display of Potpourri.

Now, I understand that tobacco, alcohol and other vices are hazardous to ones health. I also understand that this new “marijuana,” that can be made to smell like bubblegum and other flavors, is designed and marketed for kids. It is ridiculous that these synthetic drugs are sold legally to children in some of our convenience stores.

You old fogie, some of you may be thinking. Or, my kid will never do that. Well, you may be right on the old part, but please, don’t hide your head in the sand with denial like I did … until I had to carry my handsome, smart, athletic, high school son into rehab.

– John Naughton, publisher

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