Welcome to 2019 everyone.  Iím CAVE MANager Paul Lotsof.  I think that when a new year arrives it is only natural to reflect back on where weíve recently been and make some guesses about the year to come.

CAVE-FM is based in Benson which as long as anyone can remember has been a tiny dot on the map where very little ever happens. Like many small communities, young people donít particularly like Benson.   Forty years ago I interviewed some high school seniors and asked them what they were going to do when they graduated. They all agreed and answered my question with two words: ďLeave townĒ.  They then added, ďThereís nothing to do here.Ē   Iím very confident that if you interviewed todayís high school kids theyíd say exactly the same thing.  Benson continues to be  one of the slowest growing communities in Arizona.

For years Iíve been trying to play the role of an agitator who tries to get some action out of our community leaders to get some new business and jobs into Benson but itís been hopeless. Instead of taking any constructive action they just ignore me or accuse me of having a bad attitude.

Benson has had its share of con artists over the years and the latest con job is called the Villages of Vigneto.   A pair of companies called El Dorado say that they are about to build a massive housing project along Highway 90.   They say they will build and sell a thousand houses a year for 28 years until 28,000 houses have been built and sold.  Vigneto is to look like Northern Italy and the big selling points will be golf and grapes.     A few years ago Project Manager Mike Reinbold half seriously suggested that when heís done Tucson will be a suburb of Benson. When it comes to whoppers Reinbold is outclassed only by Burger King.

  El Dorado proposes  to finance a good chunk of their development by issuing municipal bonds and weíre now told that the bonds will total about a billion dollars.    Our city council is thrilled with all of this, and the newly elected council backs Vigneto totally.    They perceive building and selling a thousand houses a year as a fabulous concept and it is inconceivable that the houses wonít sell.   Equally unimaginable is that the bonds wonít sell. I donít know when the ten  taxing districts will begin to offer the bonds but I think that anyone who buys them  is a raving fool.

On the Cave web site we ask our listeners what they think of Vigneto.  Our listeners arenít nearly as naive as Bensonís  mayor and council are.  Most of you doubt that there is a market for all those houses and you doubt that El Dorado will be able to create such a market.   Most of you also doubt the integrity of the El Dorado leadership.

Meanwhile other groups of people worry about the water that 28,000 houses would consume and what effect it might have on the environment including the San Pedro River.  They also are concerned about  the effect on endangered plants and animals. During 2018 these groups  filed lawsuits demanding that the ecology be protected.    So even if Vigneto is actually built it could be seriously delayed or scaled down.

My belief is that Vigneto is little more than  a huge hoax perpetrated on a desperate little town that has terrible leadership.  Probably the worst part is that Benson will continue to stagnate while we put all of our economic development eggs in this one basket that will never bear much fruit while a gang of thieves walk away with millions.

So where does this leave me and CAVE-FM?    Early in 2018 the well respected Nielsen rating company determined that CAVE-FM has more listeners than any other radio station in Cochise County.     Iíve created a very unique music format and we play music that you wonít hear anywhere else.  We have live people on the air all day long instead of being a jukebox like the other stations.  Youíd think that our  large audience would mean that we would be raking in the cash but businesses in Cochise County donít seem to care about the size of our audience.  What few advertisers we have are very pleased with the response they are getting and they keep renewing their contracts.    But we just donít have enough advertisers to pay the bills.   Car dealers  are a major supplier of advertising for nearly  any radio station.   Benson used to have two new car dealerships but both were terribly mismanaged and went under.   Sierra Vista is now down to two.  Neither Lawley nor Sierra Toyota will talk to us.  No reasons given.   And finding sales people who can sell our advertising has proven to be nearly impossible.   Meanwhile nobody is getting any younger including me.

Iíve been beating my head against this wall for nearly 36 years. Iíd like to do something else with whatís left of  my life besides paying big operating costs with very little revenue to offset those costs.   My first wish would be to sell this station to someone who would build on what Iíve started.     My hope is that in 2019 I will find a buyer who appreciates what we are doing and who knows how to sell advertising, particularly in Sierra Vista. I consider Benson to be pretty hopeless.

To conclude this New Years message Iíd like to  thank those who have supported CAVE-FM over the years including our loyal employees.   About the only thing to add is that I hope 2019 will be a better year for all of us.

Iím CAVE MANager Paul Lotsof and the opinions youíve just heard are mine and not necessarily anyone elseís.   If youíd like a copy of this editorial or youíd like to express your opinions go to the CAVE Web Site and select Editorials.  Weíre at CAVEFM.com. CAVEFM.com.