Authors Articles byMichelle Chance

Michelle Chance

423 Articles 0 COMMENTS

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Memorial Day Ceremony in Maricopa is making adjustments, both in venue and in tribute.

The annual event is usually held at the Veterans Center on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. However, this year the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 12043 will partner with the Maricopa Police Department to host the commemoration at the Copper Sky Police Substation at 17985 N. Greythorn Drive.

The reason?

The event will not only honor soldiers who lost their lives in active military service, but it will also recognize the lives of fallen first responders.

As tradition goes, leaders of the VFW and American Legion Post 133 will perform a wreath-laying ceremony for veterans. New this year will be an additional wreath laid by Maricopa Police Department’s Chief Steve Stahl, which will commemorate peace officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

VFW Past Commander Mike Kemery said it was natural to combine the tribute because “we are basically brothers in arms,” he said of veterans and first responders.

Kemery said the ceremony will be brief and an ideal way for residents to begin the holiday morning.

“It’s maybe a half-hour out of their day and then they can go barbecue, swim in the pool, go to the lake or do whatever they want,” Kemery said. “But at least pay their respects first because these are dangerous times.”

The event will begin at 9 a.m. with a flag raising ceremony. Various speakers, the Maricopa High School Air Force JrROTC Color Guard and the MPD Explorers will also participate in the event.

Additionally, a static display of military vehicles will be on site for community members to view during the ceremony.

Kemery said resident attendance not only pays tribute to those who lost their lives, but also to those who love them.

“It’s a show of support and a show of respect to those who have lost their loved ones,” he said. 

by -
For the fourth year in a row, Maricopa received the Playful City designation.

Maricopa, which boasts 76 parks and recreational areas, received the title as a 2017 Playful City USA for the fourth consecutive year by KaBoom!, a national nonprofit organization.

“Playfulness is good for the body and the mind,” said Daniel Gallegos, Copper Sky recreation manager.

The designation is also good for the city, he said, because it serves as confirmation that recreation staff is accomplishing its goals.

“We want to be able to meet those needs of the community and this is an affirmation of us doing what we need to do,” Gallegos said.

But the program is about more than just the amount of recreational space a city offers its residents.

According to the nonprofit’s website, other criteria must be met through an application process. If qualified, the program honors “cities and towns that ensure that kids in their communities, particularly kids from low-income families, get the balanced and active play they need to survive.”

During the application process, Gallegos and his team were ready to prove Maricopa is still playful – and recreationally responsible.

A couple of examples used in this year’s Playful City USA submission:

·         With help from a $17,500 Ak-Chin grant, the city implemented an afterschool recreational program called Maricopa in Motion in 2016. Staff from Copper Sky meets with students from four MUSD elementary schools — many of these children’s daily amount of physical activity is limited, according to the city website.

·         Additionally, to ensure everyone has access to fitness activity, Gallegos explained, the city offers scholarships to those who cannot afford specific afterschool, camping and other recreational programs at Copper Sky.

Although promoting healthy lifestyles is one feature of the program, Gallegos said physical activity in general helps bond the community.

“The social aspect of recreation and parks is huge on how our communities grow and become better because we are more connected,” he said.

Maricopa is one of 17 Arizona cities to receive the Playful City USA designation this year. 

Photo by William Lange

The Class of 2017 will soon complete their high school journey this week as they walk across the stage, receive their diplomas and turn their tassels. Seniors from Maricopa High School graduate Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Sequoia Pathway Academy graduates will attend commencement the Friday at 7 p.m.

Maricopa High School Commencement Preview:

MHS Seniors will first hear an address from Principal Renita Myers, before Mayor Christian Price and Ak-Chin Chairman Robert Miguel speak to the crowd.

Student Body President Lillian Chitwood will act as master of ceremonies and perform a brief welcoming speech to her fellow seniors.

Following Chitwood will be speeches from Salutatorian Rachel Blakely and Co-Valedictorians John Blodgett and Alfred Abraham.

Lt. Col. Allen Kirksey and Master Sgt. Dishon Gregory will lead military honors.

A moment of silence will be held for students Luis Garcia and Logan Jones. Garcia was killed in a car accident on Interstate 10 in 2015. Jones died in April after health complications with the influenza B virus. The commemoration will be led by Alicia Garcia.

Retiring Guidance Counselor Larry Veltrie will introduce exchange students, and then the MUSD Governing Board and administration will present graduates with diplomas.

Sequoia Pathway Academy HS Graduation Preview:

Principal Nathan Lamma will welcome seniors and their families Friday evening before a series of honors are introduced by Dean of Students Justin Price, Central Arizona College and the Dorrance Scholarship.

Pathway will hear from Valedictorian Hailey Cantrell, and afterward, Lamma will return to the stage for his final address to seniors.

The commencement nears the end when school administrators present the students with diplomas, but their future is just beginning as Lamma will officially announce the Class of 2017 as high school graduates.