Payson’s Tonto state park aid cited in USA Today article

[Source: Emily Bazer, USA Today] — In communities where budget cuts have shuttered public pools, closed parks and canceled Fourth of July fireworks, some residents and businesses are giving time and money to save their favorite summer activities…

Businesses, residents and the town of Payson, Ariz., are giving time and money to keep nearby Tonto Natural Bridge State Park open some weekends.  Each year, more than 80,000 people visit the park and spend as much as $3 million in the area, according to Arizona State Parks. The state agency shut it down in February to help close a budget gap, said assistant parks director Jay Ream. Businesses and the city have pledged to pay as much as $5,000 to reopen the park on weekends, from Memorial Day through at least June.  Residents will volunteer at the park to reduce the need for paid staff, said Mayor Kenny Evans.  “We’re seeing a renaissance of people taking personal responsibility for the communities they love,” he said. “I really see it as a silver lining.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]