InMaricopa.com’s top 10 stories of 2013

By Kyle Daly

December 31, 2013 - 6:20 pm
Construction this summer of the 11,600-square-foot 99¢ Only Stores off Edison Road and John Wayne Parkway. Kyle Daly photo

Police activity and news about local businesses piqued the interest of most InMaricopa.com readers in 2013.

Articles about law enforcement investigations made up four of the 10 most read stories of the year. The opening of a 99 Cents Only Stores and the Dunkin’ Donuts inside Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino also grabbed readers’ attention. A story about the death of a former Pima Butte Elementary student made the top three.

Here’s a look at the list:

10. Dunkin’ Donuts to open at Harrah’s

Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino General Manager Robert Livingston told InMaricopa.com that management did consider Starbucks, but the strength of the menu offerings from Dunkin’ won the day. The doughnut outlet, which opened inside Harrah’s in December, acts as a complement to other dining options at the resort. This is the first Dunkin’ Donuts in the Maricopa area. It is open to the public – not just casino customers or hotel guests.

9. MPD detective arrested following FBI, PCSO investigation

A Maricopa Police Department detective was arrested in July on suspicion of fraudulent schemes, forgery, tampering with public records, attempted money laundering and theft. The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office and FBI investigated the activities of Jose Lizarraga. His case is still in court.

8. Maricopa first-grader dies in car crash

A local first grader died in September from injuries received in a vehicle crash just south of the city. Isaiah Espinoza, 6, attended Maricopa Elementary School. Investigators said Isaiah’s father, Jose Espinoza, was driving the vehicle on Ralston Road when he lost control. The vehicle flipped and rolled. The dad and son were not wearing seatbelts.

7. Car strikes fence, passenger killed

The passenger of a 2004 Ford Explorer was killed in April when the driver lost control and struck metal horse fencing that went through the windshield. The incident occurred in the Hidden Valley area.

6. and 5. Store’s grand opening deals include TVs for 99 cents; 99 Cents Only Stores to open in October

Wooden frames standing near Big O Tires and Aaron’s near John Wayne Parkway and Edison Road caught the attention of many commuters this summer. Under construction was an 11,600-square-foot 99 Cents Only Stores, which eventually opened in October. Flat-screen TVs were given to the first customers in line during the store’s opening for only 99 cents.

4. Costco berries could be spreading hepatitis A

In early summer, the Arizona Department of Health Services in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration investigated a multi-state outbreak of hepatitis A, a viral illness that attacks the liver. The illness was linked to the Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend of frozen berries sold at Costco. Pinal County’s director of public health advised people to throw away the product.

3. ‘Little Renaissance man’ passes away; community remembers baseball player, 12

The story about the passing of Tommy Fitzgerald, 12, a former Pima Butte Elementary student had more than 850 Facebook likes. Tommy died in August from a staph infection that entered his body from a knee wound he got while playing baseball – a sport he loved. Two students from Pima Butte eventually started a petition to have a baseball field named after Tommy. In December, the city council approved a statue to be placed in Pacana Park in honor of the boy.

2. Maricopa Properties shut down

The Arizona Department of Real Estate issued a cease and desist order in April directing the owner of the local real estate business Maricopa Properties to stop conducting business. An audit revealed faulty paperwork and a shortage of almost $280,000 in broker trust accounts.

1. Fatal motorcycle accident halts trains, traffic

In late February, a 71-year-old motorcyclist died when he struck a descending barricade arm at the train crossing on John Wayne Parkway. Traffic was restricted and trains were stopped while police investigated the incident.

For a look ahead to 2014, see Mayor Christian Price’s column in InMaricopa News when it hits mailboxes next week.

 

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