Bequest Boosts College Project


Inspired by news that the land sale for a university in Payson is moving forward, a couple this week pledged a portion of their estate to benefit the effort.

Even before the first-ever bequest to the Rim Country Educational Foundation (RCEF), college backers had raised $175,000 to cover initial pre-development costs and provide scholarships.

Foundation spokesperson Laura Ann Bartlett said the latest donation will be in the “six figures,” perhaps as much as $500,000.

Representatives of the Rim Country Educational Alliance spent last week working out the details of the bid to buy 260 acres from the U.S. Forest Service for the 6,000-student campus and various spin-off enterprises — like the dorms, a research park and a conference hotel.

The Forest Service has approved the direct sale of the land to the Alliance. Tonto National Forest Supervisor Neil Bosworth can now sign off on the environmental assessment, as soon as the SLE and the Forest Service work out the details of the effort to study and preserve at least one archaeological site. The Alliance has offered to put up a $500,000 bond to guarantee preservation of the site to allow the land sale to go forward.

Meanwhile, RCEF, a group that formed to support the effort, last week announced its first testamentary gift, which is a donation included in the terms of a will or from a trust.

“Last week’s announcement regarding the direct sale of the Forest Service property motivated this couple to finalize a bequest they had been considering,” commented RCEF treasurer Richard Johnson. “They wanted to be sure that a portion of their estate specifically benefited Payson and the Rim Country. They felt that RCEF and its mission to further educational opportunities for Rim Country was the best avenue to fulfill their wish.”

Since 2012, RCEF has raised more than $175,000 to cover pre-development. The Foundation will cover ongoing costs, noted Johnson.

“The process is moving forward, but we don’t have the deed to the property just yet.”

The Foundation has said that it hopes developers and investors will reimburse the Foundation for the pre-development costs. The Foundation hopes to then use that money for things like student scholarships

“Trusts, wills, and end-of-life planning present an opportune time to assess charitable giving,” commented fund-raising committee co-chair Janet Vidnovic.

“Many times, people don’t address their wishes clearly. They also don’t think about how valuable a gift can be in the future. This couple’s gift will allow the Foundation to continue to benefit Rim Country youth for many years to come.”

Once the land acquisition process is complete, RCEF will focus on scholarship programs for Rim Country youth.

Mogollon Health Alliance, the umbrella charitable organization for RCEF, recently awarded $20,000 in scholarships to Payson students.

“I am truly grateful and amazed by efforts of the many talented and dedicated people in Payson who worked so hard to make this happen,” said Payson Mayor Kenny Evans.

“The community has a renewed excitement about the future that is contagious and invigorating!”

Under the umbrella of Mogollon Health Alliance, Rim Country Educational Foundation qualifies as a 501c(3) tax-exempt organization. You can make tax-deductible donations via check, cash, PayPal, or credit card. The Foundation’s address is 308 Aero Drive, Payson, AZ 85541. Or donate through the Foundation’s Web site at or on Facebook at PaysonU.


Pat Randall 3 years, 6 months ago

I would like to know where all this money is being held, in a bank, escrow account or where? I could say I am donating a million dollars but until it is in an account somewhere out of my control I have given nothing like all the other donors so far as I can see. Show me the account. The information has been changed so many times, I have doubts about even $1.00 being donated or invested or whatever you want to call it.


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.