I’m CAVE MANager Paul Lotsof.   As many of you know there is a questionnaire on the CAVE web site and we ask our listeners what they think about certain issues.   One young man from Benson expressed his opinion of the town where he lives and I’d like to read what he wrote:

“I hate everything in Benson. I hate the cops, Walmart, the restaurants, the schools, the newspaper and your radio station. As soon as I get a job out of the area I am leaving and will never return even though I have friends and family here. If you were smart you would leave Benson too. Take your radio station to Tucson or Phoenix or even Los Angeles where you can make some real big money. I hope Benson, St. David, Pomerene, J-6 and the whole area becomes one big ghost town. There should have never been a town here.”

Those are some strong words from a young man whose views are likely very typical of what Benson high school students think of their community.   And this is nothing new.   It was way back in about 1978 that I did a community survey of Benson and spoke to the graduating seniors at the high school.   I asked them what they planned to do when they graduated and they all had a two word answer: “Leave town”.    I asked them why they were so anxious to get out of Benson and a typical answer was, “There’s nothing to do here”.  Or “Benson is for old fogies”.

After being told by many students that there’s nothing to do in Benson I decided to sound out the older generation and see what they thought.   I found a business owner in Saint David and asked him to comment on the complaint that there’s nothing to do in the Benson area.   The business owner told me that the complaint was nonsense as there’s plenty to do in Benson.  I asked him to cite an example.   He told me that there are countless rabbits out in the wilderness and that the young people could visit the rangelands and shoot the rabbits.   That would be something for them to do.  Amazingly he was dead serious.    I felt like asking him why the rabbits deserved to be shot or how the young humans might benefit from killing them.  But far more important, our business owner had completely missed the point that there was nothing to do in Benson.

When young people complain that there’s nothing to do in Benson they aren’t talking about sports or playing games.   What they really mean is that they want to be able to get some good paying jobs, maybe start a family and enjoy some of the nicer things that this world has to offer.  But all they can hope to find in Benson is a minimum wage job flipping hamburgers or stocking the shelves at a retail store.   The only jobs in Benson that pay good money go to people who are skilled in the generation or distribution of electric power or health care jobs at the hospital.   Accordingly, if you go to Tucson you will find plenty of young people from Benson who have moved to the big town in search of a better way of life.

But where does that leave Benson?   What Benson has is the classic case of a bucket with a hole in the bottom.   The kids graduate from the high school and leave town, making it nearly impossible for Benson to grow.  In fact, in recent years Benson has actually been  losing population.   We can’t bring in enough old folks to equal the number of young people who leave.

The solution is to have an aggressive community effort to attract some new employers into the Benson area but our city government places no priority on such an objective.   That might be because our city council is comprised of nothing but old folks.  Our youngest council member is about 55 years old and the oldest councilman is 77.  Most of  the council members are retired.   To make matters worse, these elderly community leaders are easily taken in by con artists and all of them believe that the Villages of Vigneto are going to employ hundreds of people when the construction starts.    I, for one, think that Vigneto is a hoax and a far cry from the economic boon that our community leaders think it is.   And even if the villages are built they are intended as a retirement community.   Benson’s median age is presently 52 and all a massive retirement community can do is boost that number even higher and make this even more a town for old fogies.

So what can Benson’s young people do if they want change?   First, they can register to vote as soon as they turn eighteen.  Then they can demand change and replace the old folks on the city council with people who are willing to back and fund an economic development effort that will make Benson attractive to people of all ages.   If the youth continue to leave town they will take their votes with them and we will be stuck with more of the same for many years to come.

There are probably some older Benson citizens who care about the younger generation.   They too can demand an end to the waste and giveaways that have been the order of the day at City Hall and that the money saved be  spent  on improving the local economy.

I’m CAVE MANager Paul Lotsof and the opinions you’ve just heard are mine and not necessarily anyone else’s.   If you’d like a copy of this editorial or you’d like to express your opinions go to the CAVE Web Site and select “Editorials”.   We’re at CAVE FM.com.  That’s CAVE FM.com