Once more into the breach — dear friends. In short: Those political bullies down in Maricopa County are up to it again.
In this case, they’re lobbying the Arizona Department of Transportation to adopt a new five-year plan that spends all the highway money in the highway-stuffed Valley at the expense of struggling rural areas like Gila County.
ADOT has released three “scenarios,” two of which drop the widening of Highway 260 between Star Valley and Preacher Canyon from the five-year plan.
The $42 million project would complete the highway widening from Payson on up to the Mogollon Rim, which clogs with summer visitors every weekend. The bottleneck caused by the two-lane stretch not only causes long delays — it costs lives. On average, the sudden narrowing of the highway kills at least one motorist a month.
Payson, Star Valley and Gila County have all adopted staunch resolutions imploring ADOT to finish the job it started nearly 30 years ago. Gila County Supervisor Tommie Martin warns that if ADOT drops the Lion Springs project now, we may not see that deadly highway widened for another 30 years.
Fortunately, the public comment period on the three plans continues through Friday.
So we need you — badly. Go to the ADOT Web site at http://www.azdot.gov/mpd/Priority_Programming/Five_Year_Programs.asp. Look for the link to submit comments. You can either send an e-mail or print and mail the public comment form.
Jump on your computer and express your preference for Scenario B. Then buttonhole anyone you know to do the same.
Time to stand up.
Don’t let the bullies get away with it.
We’re about to bust. The Longhorns made it into the semifinal rounds of the state playoffs in four sports this year — and played like champions.
Sprinter Morgan Chilson came in first statewide in both the 100- and 200-meter runs, a remarkable accomplishment. Pitted against students from all over the state — many from much larger schools with far better-funded programs — she outran them all. Most impressively, she made huge strides in the course of the season — steadily improving her time, lifting herself up with a fierce determination and a winning grin. She made the whole state take note, standing in that topmost spot — all grin and muscle.
We’re equally proud of the other gusty teams that confounded expectation and came within sight of a state championship.
The Lady Longhorns amassed a remarkable record of 29 and 5, before falling to Winslow. The softball team worked their hearts out to win a state championship. Their loss on the brink of realizing that dream does not diminish them — for it was the team spirit, the courage and the persistence that made us so proud.
The Longhorn baseball team astonished everyone by knocking out the No. 1 seed, Show Low, in the tournament, after nearly everyone had written them off. They played with heart and a splendid disregard for the oddsmakers — winning with joy and just as important — losing with grace.
The Longhorn golf team finished close to the top statewide, playing with steady consistency against much larger schools.
Meanwhile, other track and field athletes made a brave run at a championship in half a dozen events, adding emphasis to Chilson’s remarkable run.
We know that losing when you’re so close to winning everything has to hurt. If these kids weren’t winners, they’d have never come so close. But we hope that you don’t let one evening overshadow the triumphs, growth and camaraderie of an amazing season.
No doubt, it’s great to be a Longhorn. And it’s also great to claim young people like you for our own.