Authors Articles byRaquel Hendrickson

Raquel Hendrickson

Raquel Hendrickson
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Raquel, a.k.a. Rocky, is a sixth-generation Arizonan who spent her formative years in the Missouri Ozarks. After attending Temple University in Philadelphia, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and has been in the newspaper business since 1990. She has been a sports editor, general-assignment reporter, business editor, arts & entertainment editor, education reporter, government reporter and managing editor. After 16 years in the Verde Valley-Sedona, she moved to Maricopa in 2014. She loves the outdoors, the arts, great books and all kinds of animals.

Maricopa’s second Senior Info/Expo is set for Jan. 21 at City Hall.

If You Go
What: Senior Info/Expo
When: Jan. 21, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Where: Maricopa City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza
How Much: Free
Info:, 520-316-6817

“What we learned last year is that the people really appreciated it and wanted it to happen again,” said Arnold Jackson, the Age-Friendly Maricopa coordinator. “The attendees and the exhibitors gave it very high ratings.”

The inaugural expo focused on nonprofit vendors, but this year it is open to businesses as well.

Jackson said the expo is meant to provide resources to residents age 55 and over. It is also informational for caregivers.

Exhibits and workshops will include health and wellness, safety, business, end-of-life options, Medicare and legal services.

“They really liked the legal services aspect of it,” Jackson said.

Instead of having a keynote speaker, organizers are providing more time for the popular workshops.

City of Maricopa Fire and Medical will return to discuss home safety and resources. Arizona Hearing Center returns to offer hearing tests.

Attendees will hear from Maricopa Police Department and learn about Maricopa’s You Are Not Alone program. There will also be door prizes and surprises.

Maricopa is one of Arizona’s nine pilot sites for the implementation of a statewide initiative to create age-friendly communities. Jackson said the Senior Info/Expo is part of achieving that goal.

This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

Much of this week’s forecast calls for precipitation in Maricopa, according to the National Weather Service.

Today, there is a 10-percent chance of showers after 11 a.m. The day will be mostly sunny with a high near 62. Tonight, the low will be around 43 and the skies will be mostly clear.

Tuesday is expected to be sunny with a high near 65. The overnight low will be around 43.

Wednesday also is expected to be sunny. The high will be near 66. The night will be mostly clear with the low around 45.

Thursday, a 10-percent chance of rain creeps back into the forecast. The day is expected to be partly sunny with a high near 64. Overnight, the chance of rain increases to 20 percent, and the low will be around 46.

Friday, the chance of rain increases to 40 percent with a high near 59 and wind increasing to 15 mph. Overnight, there is a 50-percent chance of rain with a low around 46. The wind is expected from the southwest at 15-20 mph with gusts as high as 25 mph.

Saturday is also expected to be wet, with a 30 percent chance of showers. The day will be partly sunny with a high near 60. Winds will be 10-15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph. Overnight the chance of rain drops to 10 percent, with a low around 40. Winds are expected to calm to 5-10 mph.

Sunday‘s forecast, from this distance, calls for sunny skies and a high near 61.

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Supported by her family, AnnaMarie Knorr takes the oath. Photo by Mason Callejas

Incumbents AnnaMarie Knorr and Torri Anderson and newcomer Joshua Judd were sworn in as member of the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board before Wednesday’s meeting by Judge Lyle Riggs.

Kathryn Sinkevitch is accused of murdering ex-boyfriend Michael Agerter in Maricopa.

First-degree murder case against a Tempe woman is moving forward to a trial.

Kathryn Ann Sinkevitch is accused of murder in the death of Michael Agerter. A pretrial conference is set for Feb. 13.

Agerter was found shot to death in the garage of his Rancho El Dorado home on Dec. 16. Sinkevitch, 32, was arrested Dec. 22 by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Taskforce at a location in Avondale. She reportedly had a previous relationship with Agerter and had a child in common who was the center of a custody dispute.

A Pinal County grand jury indicted Sinkevitch on a first-degree murder charge on Dec. 28, citing homicide and domestic violence laws. The true bill states she acted “with premeditation, intending or knowing that her conduct would cause that death.”

Sinkevitch was arraigned before Judge Dwight Callahan on Jan. 6. She remains in Pinal County jail on a $1 million bond.

The pretrial conference is scheduled before Judge Kevin White in Superior Court.

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Tyra Williams (30) and Sydni Callis wait for the call after a Sunnyslope player takes tumbles out of bounds. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team has compiled a record of 14-3 with nine games left in the regular season. The Rams defeated Sunnyslope 68-40 Tuesday.

They are at the top of the 5A Metro region, tied with Apollo (11-5) at 2-0. With the exception of a game at Williams Field, the rest of the season is Metro competition for Maricopa. In the statewide 5A conference, Maricopa is ranked ninth.

In Tuesday’s game against the Vikings, the Rams ran off with a 25-7 run in the first quarter and were up 37-22 by halftime.

Senior Tyra Williams led the scoring with 22 points. Junior Sydni Callis had 17 points, and junior Natausha Hall 14.

Remaining Schedule
Raymond S. Kellis    Home    7 p.m.
McClintock                Away    7 p.m.
Ironwood                   Away    7 p.m.
Apollo                       Home    7 p.m.
Sunnyslope               Away    7 p.m.
Raymond S. Kellis    Away    7 p.m.
McClintock                Home    7 p.m.
Williams Field          Away    7 p.m.
Apollo                       Away    7 p.m.

See more photos at

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa High School girls’ soccer team have won three straight games to improve to 7-5-1 on the season.

The Rams defeated Sierra Linda Monday night, 4-1, in non-conference play.

Maricopa has played only one game against a section opponent so far. That was an exciting 2-1 win at Raymond S. Kellis (6-3-0) in December.  That has Maricopa at the top of the 5A Metro standings. Most of the rest of the season will be section contests, including Wednesday’s game at Ironwood.

The Rams’ next home game is Friday against 5A Metro rival Apollo (6-6-0). The game is at 6 p.m.

Outside of tournament play, the Rams are 4-3. Ranked 19th in 5A, Maricopa is in playoff contention.

See more photos at

Seatbelts and airbags were lifesavers in a frightening crash south of Maricopa in November. (Steve Franklin photo)

Nov. 21 could have been a tragic day for three families.

Instead it was the beginning of a long road to recovery and extended lives.

A Maricopa father credits two factors for that – the use of seatbelts and the professionalism of the first responders from Ak-Chin Fire Department.

That morning, a T-bone collision on State Route 347 and Papago Road sent five people, including two teens, to the hospital.

Steve Franklin, a single father, was working in Oklahoma that day when he received a call from an unknown number. He almost didn’t answer, but a “sixth sense or a parent-sense” told him to pick up. It was the Chandler Regional Medical Center telling him his son Clifford had been in a terrible accident and suffered serious injuries.

Clifford Franklin, a senior at Maricopa High School, had spent the night at the home of his friend Alex. In the early morning, Alex’s father was driving the boys to school in a 2010 Dodge sedan. He took Papago to SR 347. Alex was in the front passenger seat and Clifford in the back.

At the intersection, a stop sign was missed, and the car Clifford was riding in pulled into the path of a vehicle traveling north from Stanfield.

Clifford’s last memory of the incident is Alex’s father saying, “Oh, crap.”

The couple in the northbound vehicle had no chance to stop and plowed into the passenger side where the teens were sitting.

“It was a hell of an impact,” Steve Franklin said.

Franklin knows this not from his son but from studying the remains of the car itself and the accounts of the first responders from ACFD.

“They were amazed any passengers were alive,” he said.

As it turned out, everyone was wearing a seatbelt, and airbags deployed properly.

Seatbelt use was a habit for Clifford since he was very young.

“You train them until it becomes a natural instinct,” Franklin said. “Obviously, he sees it’s been validated.”

But, he said, his son did not necessarily need the reminder. In recent years, Maricopa teens Clifford knew have died in traffic accidents when seatbelts were not fastened.

“We’ve seen enough of it,” Franklin said.

The shoulder belt Clifford clicked that morning was a lifesaver, according to the trauma doctor who spoke with Steve Franklin.

Franklin was also in awe of the ACFD crew, noting the difficult situation in the near darkness. Assessing five patients, most with serious injuries, the first responders also had to determine if ambulances or helicopters would be the best call.

They opted for ground transportation.

Clifford suffered a concussion, lacerated liver, lacerated right kidney, badly bruised right lung, fractured pelvic bone, facial lacerations and the fracture of a ligament tying the pelvis to the spine.

As he was placed into an ambulance, it was sunrise, which often coincides with a visit from the Amtrak train. That morning was no different. The ambulances were alerted to the hold-up at the tracks and took the long route down Farrell Road to go around and back to SR 347.

“Everything was going against them, and they survived,” Franklin said.

Since the crash, Clifford has gone through intense physical therapy to get back on his feet. Learning the rescue crew from Ak-Chin Fire Department was on duty Christmas Day, he and his father took treats to the first responders to say thank you.

Clifford Franklin went through weeks of therapy to be able to stand and visit the crew at Ak-Chin Fire Department. (Steve Franklin photo)
Clifford Franklin went through weeks of therapy to be able to stand and visit the crew at Ak-Chin Fire Department. (Steve Franklin photo)

Disc golf uses flying discs (Frisbees) instead of balls.

The fourth annual Maricopa Meadows Disc Golf Tournament is Jan. 21-22.

The tournament’s capacity of 135 players was filled in the first week of registration, according to tourney director Dave Feldberg. Eleven of those players are from Maricopa.

Outreach by Feldberg, a professional player, has brought in others from farther away than ever before, including Finland’s Seppo Paju, a champion on the European Tour.

“It seems like disc golf is really growing in Maricopa,” Feldberg said. “It’s kind of exciting.”

The tournament has a limited capacity because of the size of the 27-hole course in Maricopa Meadows. Disc golf, in general, plays only five players per hole.

They will play 54 holes over the two-day event. There are divisions for professional, intermediate and recreational for men, women and juniors. They are playing for prizes and cash.

The Maricopa Meadows Disc Golf Course starts on Honeycutt Avenue across from Maricopa Wells Middle School.

The quick response of players wishing to register for the tournament again has renewed Feldberg’s push to have a larger course established somewhere in the city.

“I’ve seen tournaments at larger courses draw 1,100 players,” he said. “Imagine the impact of that in Maricopa.”

This year, the tournament is incorporating a food drive for the Against Abuse women’s shelter in Maricopa.

Residents are welcome to come out and cheer on the players. The schedule has not yet been announced.


Honeycutt Coffee will host the first All-Maricopa Poetry Slam on Jan. 13. Photo by Anita McLeod

If you rhyme, if you rap, if you have strong opinions, if you have quiet insight, if you just have something to get off your chest, slam poetry might be for you.

After an introductory event hosted by slam master Bernard “The Klute” Schober and a tryout with a kids slam, the first All-Maricopa Poetry Slam is slated for Jan. 13 at Honeycutt Coffee.

That will lead to the Southwest Regional Slam, hosted by The Duke at Rancho El Dorado on Jan. 28.

“These are both first-ever events for Maricopa,” said Judith Zaimont, a Maricopa Arts Council director.

The All-Maricopa Slam is open to adults and high-school age poets. The slam will follow standard rules, with no props or costumes allowed. Judges will be chosen from the audience, and high and low scores will be thrown out. Content does not have to be G-rated.

Honeycutt Coffee will open at 5:30. Registration is at 6 p.m. Only the first 14 poets to sign up will perform. There will be three elimination rounds to get down to the top five poets. The top three will get slots in the Southwest Regional Slam while the other two “sorbet” poets will get to perform a poem at intermission.

The regional slam has cash prizes at stake. Participating poets must sign in at The Duke by 7 p.m. The regional slam, too, will be in three elimination rounds. Poets must register their intent to enter by Jan. 14 via the event Facebook page: Southwest Regional Slam (brought to you by “Got Arts? Maricopa). They must also send their intent notice to Schober at Names of competitors will be chosen Jan. 15 live on Facebook.

Zaimont said MAC sees the Southwest Regional Slam as an opportunity “for Maricopa to show its best face to the outside world.”

It will bring in poets from Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Tucson, Albuquerque and other areas.

The slams are part of MAC’s “Got Arts, Maricopa” ongoing expo.

If You Go
What:            All-Maricopa Poetry Slam                Southwest Regional Slam
When:           Jan. 13, 6:30 p.m.                               Jan. 28, 7 p.m.
Where:         Honeycutt Coffee                              The Duke at Rancho El Dorado
44400 W. Honeycutt Road, #109    42660 W. Rancho El Dorado Parkway
How much:   Free                                                     Free

This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

Bagpipers Dave Mundy and Terry Oldfield practice and offer each other tips. They perform individually and sometimes at the same event. Photo by Mason Callejas

Some shy musicians may play the guitar or the piccolo in private. But it is practically impossible to be a private bagpipe player.

That is why Terry Oldfield and Dave Mundy are quite certain they are the only bagpipers in Maricopa.

Their uniqueness is a change from their pre-retirement days when they performed with entire bands of pipers – Oldfield in Chicago and Mundy in Denver.

These days they turn heads whenever they show up at a Maricopa event, kilted, with drones set and chanter ready to go. The piercing sound of the pipes draws varied reactions, but Oldfield and Mundy have always had a strong affinity for the music.

“It’s an emotional response,” Oldfield said. “It stirs you.”

After a pause, he said, “It’s an instrument of war.”

In fact, Mundy is drawn to the deep history of the instrument in military action.

“It’s almost like you’re marching with the men in World War I, World War II or Korea,” Mundy said.

Oldfield, a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Navy and the finance officer and chaplain for American Legion Post 133, is often seen and heard at veteran events in Maricopa. Mundy, who is not a veteran, is asked to play at military and nonmilitary gatherings as well.

Over the years, they have both done their share of Celtic celebrations, from January’s traditional Robert Burns Suppers, to the “Irish times” events of March to a variety of highland games and Caledonian gatherings across the country. (A Burns Supper honors the Scottish bard’s birthday just weeks after so many closed out the old year by singing Burns’ enduring “Auld Lang Syne.”)

In those settings, anyone in a kilt fits right in. Frequently, they are required. Oldfield wears a MacMillan tartan. Mundy wears the Colorado state tartan.

They are also invited to play not-necessarily-Celtic events where a kilt draws stares – weddings, funerals, military and first-responder events, golf tournaments, church services, flag-raisings and, in Oldfield’s case, at least one bachelorette party.

They share war stories from piping competitions, pub crawls and parades. (“Horses don’t like bagpipes,” Mundy said.) Oldfield spoke of one parade in weather so miserable there were no attendees. The band had enough, took a right turn and marched into a pub.

Already playing guitar, banjo and mandolin, Oldfield took up the bagpipes in his 40s. His wife Bonnie encouraged him to pursue lessons, something he had always wanted to do. Through an acquaintance he met bagpipe teacher Scott McCawley, who was studying to be a priest at the time.

“It’s a process,” Oldfield said. “It was more than a year before I could play a tune on the bagpipes.”

Mundy’s story is similar. The son of an English father who became a naturalized American and a Canadian mother who did not, Mundy had a lot of exposure to pipe bands in Ottawa. When he was in his early 50s and a psychologist for drug and alcohol addiction, his significant other Judy found top-grade bagpiper Ben Holmes in the phone book and convinced Mundy to give it a try.

That training led to performances just about everywhere from a Denver Broncos game to a roller derby.

For both Oldfield and Mundy, the most unforgettable experience piping has brought them travel to Edinburgh, Scotland, with thousands of massed pipes and drums playing in thunderous unity.

“That’s a whole different ballgame,” Mundy said.

One of Mundy’s most memorable performances was a solo “concert” for an ill veteran of World War II who wanted to hear the pipes again before he died. Mundy played 45 minutes of Scottish airs.

Oldfield cautions prospective bagpipers to be patient and expect many months of lessons. Bagpipes have only nine notes, which calls for adapting and substituting in some music. Besides standards that are among his favorites like “Highland Cathedral” and “Amazing Grace” he will play an assortment of popular and patriotic tunes when appropriate.

Mundy has a fondness for “The Dark Isle” and what requesters were calling “that other Scottish song” until he figured out they were asking for “Scotland the Brave.”

While the first bagpipe instrument may have first appeared in the Middle East more than 2,000 years ago, Scotland perfected it and made it a symbol of national pride and even insurgence. As the Scots proverb goes, “Twelve highlanders and a bagpipe make a rebellion.”

Britain’s Highland regiments, dating to the 18th century, often brought bagpipers into war. They also often wore kilts, leading the Germans in WWI to call them “Ladies from Hell.”

WWI journalist Michael MacDonagh described the response to bagpipe music as “impressions, moods, feelings inherited from a wild untamed ancestry.”

American writer Loretta Chase described it as the “sound of death and torture and the agonies of a burning hell.”

Whatever it is, it is not subtle.

“There’s one level of sound. There’s no soft,” Mundy said.

This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

Robert Weyrauch (center) is the new president of the Maricopa Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His counselors are Sonny Randall (left) and Troy Duncan. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

For the first time in nine years, the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Maricopa has changed.

The Maricopa Stake, which presides over six wards (congregations) in Maricopa, one ward in Ajo, a Spanish-speaking branch in Maricopa and a branch in Gila Bend, was created in 2007. For the past nine years, the president of the stake has been Malin Lewis of Ajo, and his counselors have always been Eric Goettl and Rich Radford, both of Maricopa.

In December, Robert Weyrauch, 43, a computer programmer, was announced as the new president of the Maricopa Stake. He and his wife Stacie and their children live in the Butterfield Ward.

Weyrauch’s first counselor is Sonny Randall, and his second counselor is Troy Duncan.

Weyrauch said it was “overwhelming” to be the new president after such a long time. Like most priesthood leaders in the LDS church, they are unpaid, lay ministers.

Members were informed of a pending change in leadership three weeks prior to a Dec. 3-4 stake conference. At the time, not even Weyrauch knew who the new leaders would be.

Weyrauch said when he learned the Lewis presidency was being released, “I said, ‘I feel sorry for whoever has to follow the stake presidency.’ Those words are truer today than they’ve ever been.”

The names were presented to the membership by Elders Todd S. Larkin and J. Devn Cornish, general authorities in the LDS church.

“You are good people,” Cornish said. “You have good leaders.”

Weyrauch asked the conference congregation for their faith and prayers and for their understanding of the presidency’s imperfections.

“One thing I know we’re aligned on is our love for our savior, Jesus Christ,” said Randall, 40, an Intel functional area manager who attends the El Dorado Ward with his wife Kimberla and their family. A former bishop, he emphasized the sacrifice made by their spouses and children to allow them to fulfill their duties.

“What a tender mercy it is to know the Lord’s hand is in every detail, and half the time you don’t see it until it’s over,” said Duncan, 38, a local business owner. He and his wife Sandra live in the Hidden Valley Ward.

During the Dec. 4 meeting, Lewis, the owner of Malin Lewis Distributing, outlined the growth and accomplishments of the church during the stake’s first nine years.

Lewis called his time “a nine-year service project” and said members had witnessed many “tender mercies.”

Radford said Lewis had been like a father figure to him, “because I’ve never grown up.” Living in Maricopa, he said has been “a slice of heaven.”

Goettl praised the incoming presidency. “These are good men, and this is right,” he said.

This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

Top: Maricopa Multi Cultural Consortium officers are (from left) Al Brandenburg, Bob Marsh, Ted Yocum and Joan Koczar. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson. Bottom: An example of the type of building the group would like to build.

It is not always easy to find a place to meet, listen to speakers, put on a show or work on volunteer projects in Maricopa.

A consistently accessible and affordable venue for community activities has been in demand for years.

“I think it’s critically necessary,” retiree Ted Yocum said.

He is part of a group of Maricopans who formed a nonprofit a year ago to create a community center, calling it Maricopa Multi Cultural Consortium (MMCC). What followed was a string of discussions and visits to centers in various cities to snoop out possibilities.

With the pending demise of the Copa Center, which is in the path of the planned State Route 347 overpass, that conversation is louder than ever before.

The initial fund-raising goal is $250,000. Yocum, who is president of the MMCC board, said they arrived at that figure after shooting down low estimates and also reconfiguring their idea of what the center should look like.

MMCC started a GoFundMe account in December, but the project has complex issues.

“We do have severe challenges besides funding,” said Al Brandenburg, a founding director and board treasurer of MMCC.

That includes community interest, finding an entity to donate land that is not in the flood plain, hammering out a complete strategy and meeting the goals of the city’s General Plan.

Brandenburg said he is least worried about finding land.

“If we get the funding for the building, it will become much easier to turn around and say, ‘OK, we need land someplace.’ And somebody needs to donate it, whether it be the city or whether it be some of the businesses,” he said.

The plan is to start with one building as Phase 1. When funding comes in, two more wings or buildings could be added. Those would comprise a rehearsal/performance space and an exhibit space.

“We like to consider ourselves infrastructure,” said Bob Marsh, who is also an MMCC officer. He said the community center could fit in well with the new General Plan’s 2040 Vision in which neighborhoods are created as villages with a meeting venue at the center.

Most of the MMCC directors are also volunteer members of city boards and advisory committees and know the inner workings of the city budget. Yocum said he sympathizes with the city and its budget decisions.

He said MMCC does not intend to compete with the city or any other entity. The limits of existing city venues like Copper Sky and City Hall spurred the move to get residents and businesses in the driver’s seat for a community center.

Though the city is not involved in the MMCC process, planner Ryan Wozniak offered his outsider’s view. He said others might want to know the nonprofit’s “goals, objectives and strategies to making this project a success prior to donating.”

He provided the directors a list of questions most benefactors would want answered, such as “What is the plan for making this venture a sustained one?” and “Will the first phase include a way to generate funding for the following phases?”

For now, the wish list for the Phase 1 building includes:

•    Large meeting room
•    Classroom space/game rooms
•    Hospitality room
•    Information center
•    Storage
•    Parking
•    Prep kitchen
•    Wi-Fi

“This would be primarily for the things that other venues are incapable of being able to carry on,” Brandenburg said.

Though the concept for the community center was inspired by the lack of a senior center in Maricopa, Brandenburg said it was essential to broaden the mission.

“We know if we concentrate only on seniors, we’ll bomb and bomb quickly,” he said. “All we’re interested in is to have it up, have it available for everybody – the veterans, the arts council, whoever wants to use it – with us essentially running it initially.”

The vision is then to turn the center over to the city.

MMCC Mission Statement
This Consortium shall strive to provide a multi use venue to hold meetings, events, seminars, presentations, public addresses, and other similar activities consistent with the vision and direction of the Consortium, as well as to establish and maintain a site for conferences and meeting rooms, on land leased, owned or otherwise controlled by this Consortium.

This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

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Maricopa City Council members voted unanimously to increase their own salaries by 42 percent. The mayor’s salary was bumped 53 percent in the Nov. 21 meeting.

Since incorporation, the council compensation had been $12,000 except for two years during the recession, when they took a 38-percent cut.

Starting in January, the mayor will rise from $15,000 to $23,000 annually and the councilmembers will make $18,000. A cushion was left in the July-approved budget in case the compensation was increased.

Mayor Christian Price presented a study from the League of Arizona Cities & Towns listing compensation for elected officials. He argued he and council outworked other municipalities with higher salaries. He said he dedicates 50-60 hours a week to mayoral duties.

Councilmember Nancy Smith thought the $6,000 increase was too drastic but ultimately supported the final numbers. Though several councilmembers said it was uncomfortable to talk about their own value, no one spoke against a raise.

Mayor Christian Price: You can make an argument on any side. The argument has to be based on what do you think that you do and you accomplish and that you will expect of your future council that sit on the seat at some point.

Vice Mayor Marvin Brown: The city council of Maricopa has never had a pay raise. The $12,000 was a salary that has been paid since 2003.

Councilmember Henry Wade: Justifiable compensation is not where we are currently.

Councilmember Peggy Chapados: If we want to attract the caliber of people that continue to raise the bar for the city, we have to make the monetary compensation a big part of that.

Councilmember Nancy Smith: I think it’s time to make a significant difference between what the mayor makes and what city councilmembers make.

Councilmember Vincent Manfredi: We know for a fact it’s not a part-time job … It’s a lot of time that you invest.

Councilmember Bridger Kimball: I’m the only person up here voting on this that it’s not going to affect. I’m comfortable with the separation between mayor and council being $5,000. We all work very hard. I don’t think any of us ran for office for the money.

This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.


  1. 2 dead in Alterra standoff

Two men were shot to death March 19 in an Alterra neighborhood when a murder turned into a five-hour standoff and a suicide.


  1. Fifth-grade ‘kill list’ alarms Maricopa Legacy parents

A purported “kill list” found March 31 naming eight fifth graders at Legacy Traditional School upset parents in more ways than the obvious.


  1. 5 people were killed in three accidents within 1 week in SR 347

Two head-on crashes and one health-related traffic accident resulted in the death of five people in April.


  1. Missing woman found murdered

A Maricopa family’s fear that their missing daughter had met with foul play was sadly born out when Angela Russo’s body was discovered in Maricopa County May 25.


  1. Shooting death reported in Rancho El Dorado

Maricopa Police Department investigated the homicide of Michael Agerter, 31, shot in his garage in Rancho El Dorado Dec. 16.

Editor’s Choice of Top Stories
1. Election 2016 – If the presidential election was divisive (and it was), 2016 brought particularly bitter battles locally, from races for Pinal County sheriff and supervisor to seats on Maricopa City Council. Perhaps the biggest sea change brought about by the election was the victory of Maricopa Unified School District’s long-sought override.
2. A top-10 story for years, the progress toward building an overpass on John Wayne Parkway across the Union Pacific Railroad tracks was clear in 2016. Funding fell into place, design work advanced and ADOT put property owners on notice.
3. Maricopa saw the opening of storefronts Dickey’s Barbecue Pit and Big 5, along with several home-based business, and the announcements for Culver’s restaurant, APEX and Burger King.
4. While new businesses were opening or preparing to come to Maricopa, there was still frustration among residents over continued bare fields that will be Edison Pointe (for retail) south of Fry’s Marketplace and Estrella Gin Business Park (for industrial) at the west end of Edison Road. Both projects made important steps forward in 2016.
5. Permits for new houses sky-rocketed in the early summer after a slow climb out of the recession and jumped dramatically again at the end of the year.
Honorable mention: Maricopa loves to draw attention to itself in a positive way and did so again with a third straight (and final) win in Battle of the Burbs, an annual contest from radio station Mix 96.9.

  1. MPD, SWAT serve warrants at Heritage residences

Arizona State Troopers helped Maricopa Police Department serve search warrants on residences in the Heritage District in a coordinated raid Sept. 28.


  1. ‘Hit list’ at MHS not tied to bomb threat

A 15-year-old was in trouble at Maricopa High School for allegedly writing a “hit list” Sept. 21, a day after the school received a bomb threat.


  1. Naked man arrested after home break-in

A Maricopa man was arrested Sept. 18 after accusations he broke into a Maricopa Meadows home while naked and reportedly on spice.


  1. Murder charged in death of Maricopa woman

A Maricopa man has been charged with killing his wife, Olivia Cecelia Julian Figueroa, with a sword Dec. 12. Miguel Figueroa, 45, was booked on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated assault and misconduct involving a weapon.


  1. ADOT wants SR 347 overpass on fast-forward timeline

Among ADOT’s March 11 suggestions to move forward on a quicker timeline is the State Route 347 railroad overpass project in Maricopa.


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Maricopa Unified School District Administrative Office

Maricopa Unified School District was one of four Arizona school districts receiving national recognition for its advanced placement program.

MUSD was named to the College Board’s seventh annual Advanced Placement District Honor Roll. Other Arizona school districts are Vail, Tucson Unified and Diocese of Phoenix Catholic Schools.

“I am honored to congratulate these four Arizona school districts on their hard work to enhance student learning through their progressive Advanced Placement Programs,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas said in a statement. “This accomplishment highlights the dedication of both students and teachers in their efforts to reach the highest levels of academic achievement.”

To be included on the honor roll, school districts were studied on three years of data, 2014-2016

Schools were judged on increased participation in and access to AP courses (at least 4 percent in large districts, 6 percent in medium districts and 11 percent in small districts), increased percentage of minority students scoring at least a 3 on an AP exam and increased percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher from 2014 to 2016.

The percentage of students who qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch is also considered.

MUSD Superintendent Steve Chestnut said the high school increased its AP offerings from 8 to 11. “I think that’s a new high for us,” he said.

In Maricopa, under-represented minority students – defined as “African-American, Hispanic/Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native” – are in the majority. Chestnut said the school has a white population of 36 percent. And 57 percent of students are considered low-income.

“We try to send more and more teachers to AP training,” Chestnut said.

As part of the district’s strategic plan, the district budgeted for the extra training and AP textbooks to provide more access to the advanced courses.

“We are pleased we scored well,” Chestnut said.

In AP exams, a score of 2 will allow high school credit but not college credit. A score of 3 or 4 provides college credit.

MUSD was among 433 districts in the United States and Canada to qualify for the honor roll.

Fulton Homes has purchased parcels in Glennwilde. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

After an eight-year hiatus, Fulton Homes is coming back to Maricopa.

Fulton plans to build 400 homes in the Glennwilde subdivision starting in 2017.

Dennis Webb, vice president of operations for the developer, said the new construction activity in the city and interest rates were important factors for the return.

“The pricing of homes has substantially improved,” he said.

Fulton Homes created Cobblestone Farms, where it constructed around 900 homes at the beginning of Maricopa’s establishment as a municipality. When the economy collapsed and the housing bubble burst, Fulton and most other developers left, at least temporarily.

Interest rates during the construction boom were around 7 percent. Now, that is around 4 percent and is expected to rise in 2017. Webb said that is a significant component.

He said the housing boom in Maricopa was an exciting time, and Fulton Homes was putting in many of the young city’s most expensive houses.

“We had a great product in Cobblestone,” Webb said. “I just drove through there again, and it still looks pretty good.”

Fulton Homes’ plans for Glennwilde are three products – small, medium and large.

Webb said the small home will be 35 feet wide with square footage between 1,500 and 2,300. In the medium range, the homes will be 1,700 to 3,400 square feet. The large homes will be 2,000 to 4,000 square feet.

Customer demands and tastes have changed in the past eight years, and Webb said the company is moving with the times.

“We listen to our customers and take into account what they want,” he said.

That means energy-efficient homes with lots of storage space, courtyards, large garages, great rooms and more bathrooms. Potential customers can visit the Fulton Homes Design Center in Tempe before they buy to examine what elements are most important to them.

Another important factor in Fulton Homes’ decision to take on parcels in Maricopa was the fact the lots were finished. Though the property had gone through a few owners in the past few years, the lots are shovel-ready.

Permits have not yet been pulled, but the company expects to start construction in the first quarter.

“We want to have the highest quality homes in Maricopa,” Webb said.

He said Fulton Homes had a good year in 2016 and expects 2017 to be even better.

“We think Maricopa we’ll be a good one for us,” he said.

Fulton joins Richmond American Homes in filling in the lots in Glennwilde.
Fulton joins Richmond American Homes in filling in the lots in Glennwilde.

Pinal County picked up nearly 1,000 jobs in November, dropping its unemployment rate to 4.9 percent. That is its lowest rate of 2016.

A year ago, that number was 6 percent.

According to numbers released Thursday by the Office of Economic Opportunity, the county went from being slightly above the state’s jobless rate in October to being slightly below it. The state rate is 5 percent, down from 5.9 a year ago.

The national unemployment rate is 4.6 percent.

Maricopa County has the lowest unemployment rate in Arizona at 4.1 percent. Yuma County has the highest at 16.7 percent.

Pinal County residents gained 500 jobs in private service-providing fields, 325 in trade, transportation and utilities (TTU), 150 in leisure and hospitality, 100 in government, 50 in educational and health services, 25 in information and 25 in unspecified other services.

Doug Walls, research administrator, said the state’s gain of 16,800 nonfarm jobs during the month was less than post-recession average. From 2010 to 2015 that monthly average has been over 28,000 jobs. It’s also below the 10-year average of 21,500 jobs.

Statewide, TTU was the sector with the biggest job growth during the month with 9,800 jobs.

Walls also pointed out the estimate of 28,000 jobs gained in October has since been revised down to 24,700.

Year-to-year, Arizona has seen 1.1 percent growth in jobs. The biggest growth has been in educational and health services.

Arizona’s total labor force in November was 3.25 million people in the job market, up from 3.16 million in November 2015.

Talks with Arizona Department of Corrections have resulted in the program The Streets Don't Love You Back being introduced in the state prison system. From left, ADOC legislative liaison Arthur Harding, board member Marc Montgomery, Mayor Christian Price, co-founders Lucinda and Rob Boyd, Sen. Steve Smith and ADOC Director Charles Ryan. Submitted photo

A Maricopa-based intervention program has been accepted into the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Rob and Lucinda Boyd started The Streets Don’t Love You Back in 2009 to redirect lives influenced by drugs, abuse, crime and gangs. Rob Boyd teaches the five-week course at the courthouse in Maricopa. There are also sessions in Phoenix.

For years, the Boyds have worked to spread the program across the country, having some success with self-study programs among prisoners. But a big goal has been to get the fully-realized course taught in a prison system.

After a Dec. 8 meeting with ADOC, that dream came true.

“We’re looking forward to a great 2017,” Rob Boyd said. “This is going to make Christmas very bright.”

State Sen. Steve Smith introduced the Boyds to ADOC Director Charles Ryan, who involved ADOC Program Director Karen Hellman in the conversation about starting an intervention program. Sen. Catherine Miranda has also been an active supporter of the program.

Smith said he is drawn to good ideas from people with passion, knowledge and know-how.

“The Boyds are highly passionate,” he said. “Rob’s lit the light.”

The Boyds with state Sen. Catherine Miranda. Submitted photo
The Boyds with state Sen. Catherine Miranda. Submitted photo

The Streets Don’t Love You Back is scheduled to begin in January at Eyman Prison in Florence. The idea is to have prison staff teach the course over six weeks to classes of 30 inmates. Rob Boyd said they will be “teaching our program the way we designed the program.”

That includes face-to-face discussions about substance abuse dependency, making decisions, anger management, conflict resolution, attitude, behaviors, problem solving, self-improvement, setting goals and identifying strengths and skills.

Lucinda Boyd, a registered nurse, wrote the program booklet, which students get to keep.

“We want to educate them while they’re young about how to set goals and give them a better chance of succeeding in life,” Lucinda Boyd said.

Even lifers, Rob Boyd said, can find positive personal development in the program.

He said the program is about letting everyone know they are valued, whatever their background and troubles.

The Boyds want to spread the program to each state prison in Arizona. A more local goal is to have The Streets Don’t Love You Back in every school in Maricopa. It is something Smith wants to see as well, and one of the reasons he has done what he can to get the program a stronger foothold in the state.

“It helps people from the smallest to the biggest,” Smith said. “Helping in the small way that I can help people like [the Boyds], might help put a little wind in their sails.”

Rob Boyd considers it a big service in his long-term effort to help others avoid the pitfalls he has known after coming out of the gang lifestyle himself. He credits Lucinda’s work on the program and her faith in his abilities with getting The Streets Don’t Love You Back to this major step.

“We never were the kind of people to give up on anything,” he said.

Photo by Mason Callejas

Ak-Chin Indian Community’s Masik Tas included a parade Dec. 10 down Farrell Road.

Miguel Figueroa Sr. (PCSO photo)

A Maricopa man has been charged with killing his wife, Olivia Cecelia Julian Figueroa, with a sword.

Miguel Figueroa, 45, was arrested Saturday night. He was booked on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated assault and misconduct involving a weapon.

Residents of Maricopa Meadows first reported screaming to the Maricopa Police Department just after 6:30 p.m. One caller said a woman was in the bed of a Dodge pickup calling for help. MPD was unable to find the truck.

At 7:21 p.m., MPD received a call from Figueroa’s son, who said his father had assaulted him and pointed a gun at his mother while they were sitting in the pickup truck. At around 8 p.m., Figueroa’s daughter told MPD her father called her and told her he had killed their mother Olivia and left her in the desert.

Police located Figueroa at a residence near Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and John Wayne Parkway. According to the report, he was standing outside the residence “with a sword in hand and his clothing covered in blood.”

Police reported Figueroa was shouting “kill me, kill me” and “I killed her in the desert.” After he dropped the sword, he was taken into custody. According to the report, Figueroa allegedly told his mother he had killed Olivia by stabbing her multiple times.

The Dodge truck was found in a desert area near Garvey Avenue and Roosevelt Avenue. The body of Olivia Figueroa, 43, was then found more than 100 feet away with multiple wounds to the chest and arms.

The incident is being investigated by the MPD Criminal Investigation Unit. The cause of death will be determined by the Pinal County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Figueroa’s bond is set at $750,000 on the assault charge. He has arraignment hearings set for Dec. 15 and Dec. 20. He had previous arrests in Pinal County on charges of possessing drug paraphernalia, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and aggravated robbery.

According to court records, the couple married in 2000.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to those that are affected by this tragic event which led to the loss of their loved one,” MPD Chief Steve Stahl said. “Domestic violence is a continuing cause for concern within the City of Maricopa as well as throughout the country which will take everyone’s awareness and assistance to eliminate. The Maricopa Police Department continues to provide training, resources and partnerships to our officers and Victims Assistance personal in the on-going effort to end domestic violence crimes and break the cycle of violence.  I commend the first responding officers in their courage and restraint while taking Mr. Figueroa into custody without further loss of life.”

A woman has died after being stabbed in what is suspected to be a domestic violence incident in Maricopa.

The woman’s husband is in the custody of Maricopa Police Department for questioning. Neither has been publicly identified as the investigation continues of a “suspicious death.”

According to Officer Daniel Rauch, several 911 calls came into MPD around 6:30 p.m. Saturday primarily from Maricopa Meadows.

Neighbors reported hearing screaming and seeing a man striking a woman repeatedly. Rauch said the woman reportedly was stabbed with a knife or a sharp object. More information is expected Monday.

Maricopa Dusters baseball club is hosting a baseball camp for all boys and girls 8 to 14 on Dec. 28 and 29.

Are you looking for something for your son or daughter to do over holiday break? Join Maricopa Dusters head coach Marty McDonald and his staff for a baseball camp Dec. 28-29.

This camp is for any type of baseball player regardless of experience. Camp is open to boys and girls age 8 to 14.

“We are looking for boys and girls who love baseball,” McDonald said. “If you’re a club kid, great. If you’re just starting baseball, great. We are putting together a camp focusing on the fundamentals that every baseball player needs regardless of level. We’ll focus on hitting, fielding, base running, pitching, catching, mental approach and a lot more. If your son or daughter is willing to learn, keep an open mind, try new skills, then this is the perfect camp for them.”

The cost of the camp is $30 per player and it includes a camp T-shirt.

The Maricopa Dusters are a club baseball team that plays 11U baseball. The Dusters are currently ranked No. 1 among 11uAA teams in Arizona and ranked 13th in the United States. The Dusters placed fifth in the USSSA World Series last summer and have won numerous tournaments, seven rings, three medals and other prizes. This camp will feature additional guest instructors which will be named as we get closer to camp time.

The camp will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day on Dec. 28 and Dec. 29. All players will receive a free T-shirt and expert baseball instruction while using the fields at Copper Sky Park in Maricopa.

Guest coaches include Andrew Pollak, head baseball coach at Maricopa High School; Justin Hesse, nine-year Arizona coaching veteran on the club and high school scene; Jason Love, former AAU all star, college player and former professional player. Additional names will be announced.

Camp registration will be completed online with player check-in from 8:30 to 9:45 a.m. Camp starts promptly at 10 a.m. both days.

All campers need to bring their own glove, bat, cleats, warm attire, water bottle and gear bag.

Contact Marty McDonald with questions at 480-236-6394 or book online using Event Brite.

Registration URL:

Dusters Camp Info:


Are sweet potatoes really healthier that white potatoes?

By Aaron Gilbert

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange
Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

White v. sweet potato: A nutritional debate fueled by misinformation, baseless claims and carbohydrate fears. Here’s what the evidence says — and why they both deserve a place in your diet during the holidays and beyond.

Both white and sweet potatoes, when eaten as part of a balanced and intentional diet, provide a fantastic array of nutrients while contributing to the fullness and deliciousness of any meal.

Which are really healthier?
Claim 1: Sweet Potatoes are the “superfood.”
If all you want is Vitamin A, then sure, sweet potatoes get the win. But when you pit them against white potatoes for overall nutrition value, it’s a virtual tie.

Claim 2: Avoid potatoes because of the glycemic load.
Worried potatoes will make your blood sugar and appetite spike? Both potatoes and sweet potatoes fall in the middle to high range on the glycemic load scale. Total carbohydrates and calorie intake has a bigger impact on important health markers. Plus, glycemic load is generally irrelevant to health and leanness because your blood sugar’s response to food varies.

Claim 3: Avoid all potatoes because of carbs.
Think the carbs will cause weight gain? Actually, the carbs in potatoes and sweet potatoes are mostly starch and fiber, which help you stay healthy and lean. Potatoes contain beneficial starch, which, like fiber, doesn’t digest at all. Resistant starch and fiber get fermented in the gut, producing short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acids may keep you fuller longer, act as fuel for healthy gut bacteria, prevent absorption of toxins, decrease inflammation and decrease risk of colon cancer.

How to eat potatoes and sweet potatoes
Potatoes get a bad rap because they’re often used in high-calorie dishes. In reality, there’s a range of ways in which potatoes and sweet potatoes fit into a healthy diet. Eat more often: Boiled, roasted, baked, olive oil and herbs, topped with salt. Eat less often: Mashed with cream and butter, loaded, fried, chips.

How much to eat
Start with 1 to 2 cupped handfuls of your choice of white or sweet potatoes per meal. Then, adjust portion sizes up or down based on Individual goals such as fat loss or fuel for athletics performance, body size (smaller people need less), individual carb needs (higher for active, lean people) and individual preferences.

Benefits of eating potatoes and sweet potatoes
•    Helps you feel psychologically satisfied and physically satiated
•    Ensures that your diet has “carb variety” and keeps colorful food on your plate
•    Gives you steady, slow-burn energy
•    Helps you get beyond “good foods” vs. “bad foods”
•    Helps you achieve health and fitness goals

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, is the owner of Longevity Athletics.


This column appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

Matt Jensen of The Boyer Company shares the latest information on the Estrella Gin Business Park.

It is an understatement to say the development of Estrella Gin Business Park has been a long process full of the unexpected.

A series of delays just to build an access road has been part of the frustration. Equally exasperating has been the slow process of finding appropriate tenants.

“The location is great. It’s a clean slate to work with,” said Matt Jensen, a partner in The Boyer Company, a development company that contracted with the City of Maricopa to find businesses for the location. “There is incredible community interest in it.”

An Oct. 27 open house for Estrella Gin Business Park drew dozens of Maricopans to City Hall to hear the latest.

“It was a great turnout. We’ve still got to get people to commit,” Jensen said.

Boyer’s agreement with the city has a pre-leasing threshold of 60-percent to be met before construction. But that number could be flexible.

“It depends on the type of tenants we get,” Jensen said. “If they are good-quality, established companies, we would feel more comfortable starting earlier with maybe 50 percent.”

Beyond delays in the construction of the Edison Road extension (its connection to State Route 238 has been postponed until January), The Boyer Company faces other challenges with the 52-acre property.

“The challenge is who to market to,” Jensen said. “Obviously, you want to reach out to the businesses in Maricopa, but the majority of them are retail-based. That’s not our intent. And I don’t know if it’s realistic to expect an established company to pull out of Chandler and move here.”

The Boyer Company is a Salt Lake City-based, family-owned business. It has worked on projects in Arizona for 20 years. The company signed onto the project in 2012 when there was no road, no water and no zoning. The objective for Estrella Gin was to “offer a first-class project that is price-competitive.”


The base lease rate is 74 to 79 cents per square foot per month. That is $8.80 to $9.40 per square foot a year, “so it’s cheaper than what we talked to you about,” Jensen told the gathering of business owners and elected officials at the open house.

The previous cited number was over $11 per square foot annually. That led to one long-time prospect, Shipfr8, to take its business elsewhere. Though maintaining an office in Maricopa, owner Peter Cockle said he is moving the “heavy” side of his transportation logistics business into a warehouse in Casa Grande.

At Estrella Gin, additional rent (insurance, maintenance, etc.) excluding electricity is 13 to 17 cents per square foot per month, which is $1.56 to $2.04 annually. The tenant allowance is $12 per square foot.

“I do feel like it’s competitive,” Jensen said. “There aren’t any newer buildings in Maricopa. Chandler and Gilbert, I would argue, are not comparable either.”

According to the commercial listings site, available industrial properties in Chandler have a base lease rate ranging from $6 per square foot annually (with smallest space more than 14,000 square feet) up to $16.80, which is flex space at Red Rock Business Plaza. In Gilbert, the price range is from $6.60 to $15.50. In Tempe, it is $6.24 to $15.50.

“I think it’s important, too, that we provide space in Maricopa that Maricopa businesses can afford,” said Beth Mundell, owner of Fyrestorm Cheer & Tumbling, who attended the open house. “I think it’s all well and good to bring in Chandler businesses or Tempe, but I would also like my business not to have to relocate to the Valley to be able to afford to continue running.”

Mundell rents business space at Ak-Chin’s Santa Cruz Commerce Center, “because that’s the only affordable space in Maricopa.”

She said the rent prices in the city are chasing out Maricopa’s own businesses.

Finding Tenants

Estrella Gin Business Park is conceived to be “flex space.” That is aimed at substantial, industrial or mechanic-based companies, plumbing and electrical installers or start-up dotcoms. Office space is in front with garage doors in back.

The first building is planned to be 36,000 square feet built to suit. When the shell is constructed to needs of the business, the tenant is responsible for adding walls and the location of restrooms within its space.

Utilities are connecting to the property along the Edison Road extension.

Jensen said eight to 10 companies have “expressed interest,” and a couple of those are deemed substantial, stable companies. No one has signed.

Local businesses, he said, are only interested in short-term lease agreements, however. That does not fit the business park model.

“We are hoping to get five to seven if not 10 years,” he said.

On the current timeline, The Boyer Company is trying to get pre-leasing agreements in place before February. Construction would be February through July. Tenants would move in September through December.

Even with construction delayed on the SR 238 intersection, the Edison Road extension is still expected to be finished by February or March.

This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.


Alterra resident Jaime Hernandez owns the home-based, small business Hernandez’s Painting, which also employs his wife Maria.

Jaime Hernandez worked construction for 11 years.

Jaime Hernandez
Age: 43
Hometown: Irapuato, Mexico
Lives in: Alterra
Business: Hernandez’s Painting
Open since: 2014
Employees: 2
Family: Wife Maria, 2 sons, 2 daughters
Hobbies: Sports (coaches soccer for city)
First Job: Counting animals at a stockyard
Challenge: Reaching potential clients

In fact, it is what brought him to Maricopa.

“When we were in construction, we lived in Phoenix,” Hernandez said. “All the construction was down here in Maricopa. There were not very many people.”

He and his wife Maria rented a home in Rancho El Dorado as he worked on new builds. When the economy collapsed on top of the construction industry, Hernandez did what he could to keep working. That included painting for his landlord.

Before long, painting houses became his profession. Then, more than a year and a half ago, he started his own business – Hernandez’s Painting.

As a home-based business, his time is his own. He said that makes it the best job he’s had.

“I have more time with the family,” Hernandez said.

It also gives him time to share his love of soccer with the community. He has coached four seasons of city programs.

The challenge has been to find the most economical way to reach new customers as the city begins to grow again. He recently created a business Facebook page, Maricopa Hernandez’s Painting, to build referrals in the local market.

It’s all a process, but he said his family feels blessed to be part of Maricopa.

This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Central Arizona College’s Handbell Choir, led by Diane Rubio, performed Christmas favorites at the Maricopa campus Sunday. Rubio and the ringers took questions from the audience about their skills and the bells. The ringers class meets Mondays at the Signal Peak campus from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and is open to CAC students and Pinal County residents.

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

For two nights, Maricopa High School Dance Department drew a full house at the Performing Arts Center for its winter recital, “Disney Royalty.” The performance included members of Desert Sumn Performing Arts’ Onyx Contemporary Dance company and MHS Winter Guard.

Lucinda and Rob Boyd of The Streets Don't Love You "Back intervention program host an annual toy drive.

For Rob and Lucinda Boyd, the run up to Christmas this year has been particularly hectic.

Their nonprofit The Streets Don’t Love You Back (TSDLYB) is in the middle of its annual Christmas toy drive.  The program is also in talks to take a big step forward in its effort to keep younth away from gangs, drugs and crime.

The toy drive is in its eighth year. TSDLYB is accepting toys through Dec. 20.

“The first year we did it out here, I think we had eight kids; two or three different families,” Lucinda Boyd said. “We went to each house with our Santa sack. That’s how we did it the first couple of years. We couldn’t do that anymore.”

She estimates last year’s drive served 100 kids.

“That’s why we got an enrollment form for this year, because we have so many families and we hadn’t really kept up with the numbers. We’re getting big, and I like to keep up with stuff.”

They also want to be choosy and support those children and families “who really do need help.”

TSDLYB is partnering with Community of Hope Church and the Maricopa Post Office. The post office is the main drop-off point for the toy drive. A bin is designated Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

“Sharon [Kiszczak] is the postmaster, and she’s the one made it happen,” Rob Boyd said. “We’d just like to send love to Sharon and her whole staff.”

The toy drive is a mentoring program for TSDLYB, which is a mentoring program itself for pre-teens through adults. TSDLYB also works with Live Pure Kids and IDEA Sports/Youth Organization in Phoenix.
For the past year, it has been teaching a six-week intervention program at the Maricopa court facility and at a Boys & Girls Club and a church in Phoenix.

“Last year, we introduced the program to Mayor [Christian] Price,” Rob Boyd said. “Two weeks later, he called a major meeting of Chief [Steve] Stahl, Judge [Lyle] Riggs and my wife and a couple of other people. From that point, they implemented it in the courthouse September 2015.”

Price said he is always drawn to programs that are trying to do something good in the community.

“A lot has sprung from it, and I know they want to do a lot more,” the mayor said.

So the mayor was on hand in October when the Boyds had a chance to introduce the program to the state’s top prison official.

“Sen. Steve Smith introduced us to Director [Charles] Ryan of Arizona Corrections, and we were at the state capitol with him, Mayor Price and Sen. Catherine Miranda,” Rob Boyd said. “Now we are in the process to talk about how we’re going to implement The Streets Don’t Love You Back lifeskills intervention program into the prison system.”

Dec. 8, the Boyds have a meeting with the director of the re-entry education program from Arizona Department of Corrections. At that meeting, they will discuss ways to start TSDLYB within the prison system.

The program is already in 150 federal and state prisons across the country, but not in its full form. Inmates complete the course on their own and send completed booklets back for the Boyds’ signature of completion.

In its ideal form as presented at the courthouse in Maricopa, there is an instructor and face-to-face discussions about the material. It is still difficult to get individuals to be involved in the free program, Lucinda Boyd said. Many of those who have graduated from the program continue to stay in contact with Rob to share ongoing challenges and get support.

The main problems that crop up among Maricopa youth, Rob Boyd said, are rebellion, talking back to parents and sneaking out at night.

“I don’t see a lot of young people that join our program come at us with drugs or things like that so far,” he said.

Besides giving a hand up to those in a criminal lifestyle or on the edge of it or simply acting out with anger issues, the Boyds seek opportunities to work with law enforcement to improve police training in a way that builds strong community trust.

This autumn they’ve also walked through police-training simulations at VirTra in Tempe. That visit also came at the behest of Smith as the state Legislature mulls funding more law enforcement training.

“If we could have all of our officers go through that – because some of them are so new and they’re out at these scenes and they’ve never had that experience – it’s almost like real-life experience,” Lucinda Boyd said.

The softer side of TSDLYB’s community efforts is the toy drive. Besides the post office, 10 Maricopa businesses and COH have agreed to be drop-off locations, as have three businesses in the Valley. Monetary donations to the Christmas toy drive may also be made online or through the mail.

TSDLYB Christmas Toy Drive Drop-off Donation Sites
Maricopa Arizona Post Office, 44920 W. Hathaway Ave.
The Cut Barbershop, 19395 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite3
State Farm, 41620 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy., Suite 105
Jack in the Box, 20975 N. John Wayne Parkway
Nails 4U, 20046 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite 106
K’Bella Salon & Day Spa, 20800 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite 101
Water & Ice, 20928 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite C-7
True Grit Tavern, 20800 N. John Wayne Parkway
Maricopa Renovations, 44400 W. Honeycutt Road, Suite 110
Great Western Bank, 19750 N. John Wayne Parkway
American Family Insurance, 21300 N. John Wayne Parkway Suite, 110B
Community of Hope Church, 45295 W. Honeycutt Ave.

Elsewhere in Arizona
C.U. Look’n Ink, 594 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler
Central Dental, 9315 N. Central Ave., Phoenix
Peoples Mortgage Company, 13845 N. Northsight Blvd., Suite 105, Scottsdale

TSDLYB Christmas Drive, P.O. Box 1093, Maricopa AZ 85139

This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

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Sierra Wright with her father Tyler Wright

In today’s age of Amazon and Wattpad, it’s easier than ever for fledgling writers to get their work printed and in front of readers.

A Maricopa teen has used the formats to begin a series of teen novels. It wasn’t just the love of writing and the opportunity provided by the publishing platforms that drove her.

She wanted to write her way through a trauma. Writing her novel “I’ll See You Around” helped her do that.

“It was a way for me to cope,” said Sierra Wright, 17, a student at Sequoia Pathway Academy. “To get that out of my head I had to write it down.”

Sierra was friends with Nate Ford, who died more than a year ago in a traffic accident. Sierra attended early-morning Seminary class with Nate through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She had spoken with him the morning of the crash that took his life.

Though she never saw the accident scene, Sierra said horrible images kept coming into her mind.

Nate’s passing is mentioned in “I’ll See You Around” as a flashback for the main character, a college student trying to get over a difficult past while falling in love.Youth---Sierra-Wright

Sierra said she will donate the first $500 she earns through sales of “I’ll See You Around” to the Rocking 4D Foundation, which was established in Nate’s memory.

“He was very kind and loving,” Sierra said. “I never saw him without a smile on his face.”

The 84-page novella sells for $6.99.

The fact she was writing a novel surprised her parents, Tyler and Melissa Wright.

“It blows my mind,” Tyler Wright said. “I said, ‘You’re writing a book?’ To go from not liking to read to being an author, that was amazing.”

Sierra has a learning disability tied to her premature birth. Reading was initially an unhappy exercise, but Lara Price, who teaches at Sequoia Pathway turned that around.

Her teaching style connected with Sierra. Now she loves to read and has a particular love of writing. She got hooked on Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson” teen novels and Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” trilogy.

Friends helped edit “I’ll See You Around,” and Sierra’s cousins Jack Looney and Sydney Irving agreed to be models for the cover. She has already started Book 2 in the planned four-book series.

“I’m hoping the next one will be a little bit longer,” Sierra said.

This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

Here are the answers to the Holiday Crossword in the December issue of InMaricopa. Note: A portion of the puzzle was cut off, removing the first block of 22 Across and all of 22 Down. Our apologies.

Crossword Answers

Across                    Down
3 Home                 1 Yule
5 Angel                 2 Manger
6 Wise                   3 Holly
10 Naughty           4 Gift
11 Stewart            7 Nativity
12 Santa                8 Hanukkah
14 Lights               9 Reindeer
15 Menorah         13 Drummer
21 Maccabees     16 Torme
22 Merry Copa     17 Tannenbaum
23 Dreidel            18 North Pole
24 Silent Night    19 Cookies
25 Joy                    20 Candy Cane
26 Wenceslas      22 Mistletoe
27 Eggnog           25 Joseph
30 Shepherd       27 Elf
31 Bethlehem    28 Chorus
32 Mary                29 Berlin
33 Star                  30 Swans