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.

Zack Park (center) was voted Best Dad in Maricopa in a Facebook contest sponsored by InMaricopa and Maricopa Ace Hardware, winning a grill package. With him are his family, wife Kim and kids Taylor and Cooper, InMaricopa's Vincent Manfredi and Ace's Troy Ricci. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Zack Park came a bit late to fatherhood. In fact, he wasn’t much interested in it for the first 28 years of his life.

Now he has been voted the Best Dad in Maricopa, thanks to a serious online campaign by his 10-year-old son Cooper that was picked up by friends, family and colleagues across the globe. The contest ran on InMaricopa’s Facebook page and drew 25 nominations.

In the final days, Park was in a neck-and-neck, friendly battle with Matt Lincoln, ultimately garnering 344 “likes” to win a Traeger grill with a cover and wood pellets from Maricopa Ace Hardware.

“It’s awesome,” Park said. “I tried to keep [the nomination] on the down-low. ‘What are you people talking about?’”

Instead, his nomination was even Down Under, with likes coming from as far away as Australia. The Parks, it turns out, have a wide fanbase.

Zack and Kim Park have been married 11 years and are the parents of Cooper and 8-year-old Taylor.

“When I first met her, I never wanted kids,” Park said. “But after having these kids, I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

In nominating his dad, Cooper said, “He works all day in the hot sun and comes home and spends time with us. He makes sure we get to our sport events, tutoring, cheer and dance clubs on time and never misses a game. He is the best dad ever!”

“He works super-hard,” his daughter Taylor said.

“They keep us busy and keep us on our feet,” Park said. “I wouldn’t change it for anything,” he said again.

What they’re saying:

Stephen Joy He is a cool guy! Always there for his kids!

Casey Warner Zack is a pretty cool guy!

Stephanie Belanger Brown He’s an amazing dad!

Risa Shuman Zack’s got my vote for father of the year

Happy Father’s Day.

Matt Lincoln (far left) picks up his second-place prize from the Best Dad in Maricopa contest at Maricopa Ace Hardward. With him are (from left) daughter Talia, son Devin, son Nicholas, William Gonzalez and Troy Ricci of Ace, wife Yvette, son Matthew and son Jordan. Not pictured: Jeshuah Lincoln.

Among 25 outstanding nominees for Best Dad in Maricopa presented by Maricopa Ace Hardware, two ran away from the pack in online voting. Finishing in second place by just 16 “likes” on Facebook was Matt Lincoln.

The father of six, including two adopted children, holds down two full-time jobs, one in retail and one as the youth pastor over more than 100 kids at Church of Celebration. Lincoln said he was humbled by the support for his nomination, whch totaled 328 likes.

“It’s a blessing to even be considered for it,” he said. “That that many people actually voted and took the time to actually have an opinion about it is pretty amazing.”

Lincoln first became a father at the age of 19 when Matthew came into the world.

“It was life-changing,” Lincoln said. “I had to grow up really, really fast. I had to learn wisdom very, very quickly for survival. It’s probably the best thing that happened to me.”

He was nominated by wife Yvette and children Matthew, Jeshuah, Nicholas, Jordan, Devin and Talia.

“He leads, lives and loves wholeheartedly with the mindset of building up the next generation to succeed,” Yvette Lincoln said in her nomination. “He’s selfless, humble and he never gives up on anyone. He pushes through every battle.”

Matt Lincoln said his philosophy of fatherhood is “God first.”

“In order to be a great father, you have to learn from the creator of fatherhood, and that’s God,” he said. “So, I follow those principles, and that’s worked pretty well.”

Lincoln’s prize was an exterior paint project from Dun Edwards that included six 5-gallon buckets of paint, a 4-foot aluminum ladder, brushes, drop cloth, roller tray set and roller covers. The Lincoln family picked up their prize at Maricopa Ace Hardware on Friday. Yvette Lincoln said they recently received an HOA reminder that it was time to repaint the house.

Meet the winner

Engine 575 crew (from left) Anthony Stimac, Josh Eads, Capt. Chris Bolinger and Jimmy Herta with Zoe and Zolee Hicks. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Figuring they were old enough to comprehend the meaning, Maricopa mom Sherese Hicks brought her twin daughters to Maricopa Fire Station 575 on Saturday to have them meet the first responders who helped bring them into the world.

Zoe and Zolee, now 4, were born under extreme circumstances Feb. 27, 2013. Even before going into labor, Hicks knew the girls were not situated properly, and family members were telling her to prepare for a caesarian section delivery.

The girls did not wait around for that.

As Sherese was being driven by her uncle and aunt, it was clear she needed immediate help. The crew of Engine 575 met them at the Circle K at the corner of John Wayne Parkway and Smith-Enke Road, where firefighter/paramedic Josh Eads helped Hicks deliver the first twin. To his surprise, the girl came out feet-first.

After eight years on the job, it was Eads’ first baby delivery. His response was, “What is that?”

The baby was not only breech but also had the umbilical cord around her neck. Eads’ training had covered more typical birth scenarios, but he and the crew were able to sort out the situation safely and get Hicks ready for transport to the hospital.

The second baby was born – again feet first – en route to the Chandler Regional Medical Center.

“Typically, with a breech kid, we’re not going to deliver them in the field,” Eads said. “The idea is to give them that supportive care – IVs, fluids, medications if they need it – and then get them to the professional to do it.”

Eads said he was calm walking into the situation, both because of the consistent training the crew gets for emergencies and because of the naivete of never having the experience of delivering a baby. Hicks, who has three older children, was calm for a different reason.

“I wasn’t worried because I knew that it’s all part of God’s plan. I knew that it would be fine,” she said, including the firefighters in her faith. “They had to have been a part of God’s plan. For them not to ever have delivered a breech baby and [Eads] not to ever deliver a baby, it was like, ‘Oh, my goodness.’ It had to be.”

At the reunion Saturday, Zoe and Zolee hugged the members of the Engine 575 crew and received child-friendly goodies in return. The team on Engine 575 that night was Eads, Capt. Chris Bolinger, engineer Jimmy Huerta and firefighter Anthony Stimac.

“Any time there’s more than one baby, it’s a high-risk delivery. In this case the babies were born breech,” MFMD spokesman Brad Pitassi said. “We train for worst-case scenarios, and this was a worst-case scenario … with the best outcome we could possibly imagine.

“Paramedics that responded that day as well as paramedics on the ambulance, the EMTs that assisted – this was a team effort, and everybody performed just like they’re trained to do in responding to such emergencies.”

Bolinger said the crew looks forward to continuing the relationship with the family and watching the girls grow up.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 12043 hosted a Flag Day ceremony Wednesday morning, with help from Boy Scout Troop 993 at Maricopa Veterans Center. It was the 240th anniversary of the adoption of the U.S. flag, which has remained essentially the same (with notable additions as the country grew) since 1777, when the Second Continental Congress passed the flag resolution, “That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

Clear skies and high temperatures will be the norm for this week in Maricopa. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Monday’s relatively mild weather will lead into an increasingly hot week and an excessive heat watch this weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

Monday’s high is expected to reach only 93 while the day is sunny with breezes out of the west of 5-10 mph. The nighttime lows will be around 62.

Tuesday is forecast to warm up to 97 degrees and remain sunny with practically no wind. Overnight, the low will be around 65.

Wednesday’s forecast calls for a dramatic rise in temperature to a high of 105 and winds increasing to 10 mph in the afternoon. The low overnight will be around 69 and skies are expected to remain clear.

Thursday will be sunny and hot, with a high climbing to 110. The low will be around 73 degrees.

Friday is expected to be even hotter, with a predicted high of 112. The nighttime low will be around 75 degrees.

The weekend is forecast to be increasingly hot, with an NWS Excessive Heat Watch in place June 17-19. That indicates a significant increase in the potential for heat-related illness for those working or exercising outdoors or with adequate air conditioning.

NWS reminds residents to never leave children or pets unattended in vehicles, drink more water than usual and avoid alcohol, sugar and caffeine. Wear light-colored clothing and a wide-brimmed hat when outside.

Recognize the signs and symptoms of heat illness. Early symptoms include headache, thirst and muscle cramps. Serious symptoms include weakness, skin that is cool to the touch, fast but weak pulse, nausea, and fainting. Severe symptoms include hot and red dry skin, fast and strong pulse, sweating that has stopped, and unconsciousness. Untreated heat illness can lead to fatal heat stroke.

The corn is high and so are the temperatures and the haze this weekend in Maricopa. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

After toying with the “excessive heat” designation this week, the edge will come off the triple-digit temperatures only a little for the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. Afternoon breezy conditions and localized blowing dust are expected over the weekend and into early next week.

According to the Pinal County Air Quality Index, active children, adults and people with lung disease such as asthma should consider reducing outdoor activities.

Friday’s high temperature is forecast to be 107 with light breezes under sunny skies. Overnight, the low will reach 72 as winds pick up to 15 mph and gust as high as 20 mph.

Saturday, the high is expected to reach only 104 as the winds and clear skies continue. The nighttime low will be around 70.

Sunday’s sunny forecast calls for a high of 101, with winds increasing to 15-20 mph and gusting at 25 mph. Overnight, the low temperature is expected to be just 68 degrees.

That will lead to a Monday high of 94. Enjoy that while you can, as triple-digits return next week.

Craig Dourmashkin with his portrait of Bob Marley. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa artist Craig Dourmashkin has a celebration of color on the gallery walls at Maricopa Center for the Arts as the selected artist for June. He often works from black-and-white photographs so he is not distracted or biased by the colors in front of him, and then chooses his own palette of bright hues. Several of his latest works are portraits of late musicians, such as David Bowie and Bob Marley. Visit the gallery during MCE office hours at 20800 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite 108.

Loren Aragon

School for Advanced Research’s Indian Arts Research Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has chosen Maricopa clothing designer Loren Aragon for a fellowship this summer. Three fellowships are given annually to advance the work of mature and emerging Native artists. As the 2017 Ronald and Susan Dubin Fellow, Aragon will be in residence June 15-Aug. 15 and will present an evening lecture and studio tour.

A mechanical engineer by trade, Aragon uses couture fashion to capture ideas predominantly influenced by the pottery culture and traditional dress of his native Acoma Pueblo community. During his time at SAR, he plans to research and employ new, perhaps less practiced methods and techniques in textile design, jewelry and fashion design. Aragon plans to display his work in a capsule collection made up of four one-of-a-kind pieces highlighting textile design and ornamental metal work.

For more on Aragon and samples of his work, visit

This item appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

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Maricopan Bridger Kimball has file a political committee to run for a District 11 legislative seat. Photo by Tyler Loveall

Though the election is 17 months away, several Arizonans are lining up to run for the state Legislature, including a former Maricopa City Councilman.

Already, Bridger Kimball, a Republican, and Barry McCain, a Democrat, have filed political committees in preparation for campaigning for a House seat in 2018.

State Sen. Steve Smith’s announcement he will challenge Rep. Tom O’Halleran for his seat in the U.S. Congress was the harbinger of shifting within Legislative District 11, which includes Maricopa. The district’s current contingent is Smith in the state Senate, and Vince Leach and Mark Finchem in the state House. All are Republicans.

While Finchem, who lives in Oro Valley, has filed a committee to run for re-election, Leach has shifted his intentions to the state Senate. That leaves one representative seat wide open.

Leach said despite his work in the House, he is more familiar with the Senate side because his introduction to the Legislature came in 2009 when he worked with then-Sen. Al Melvin’s office to get an investment law changed.

Leach said he thinks it is important for the GOP to “retain and represent LD11 in a manner Steve brought to 11 and before that Sen. Melvin.” He said his party is actively “looking for and looking at” potential candidates to fill the House seat he would vacate. He said he has not yet spoken to Kimball.

Kimball was most recently a member of the Maricopa City Council, losing his bid for re-election in November. A former Marine, he owns Caswells Shooting Range in Mesa.

During the last legislative election, McCain ran as a write-in. He is a Navy veteran from Casa Grande.

Filing a political committee with the Secretary of State’s office is the first step to becoming a candidate. Official nomination forms cannot be filed until May 2.

Kimball did not return calls seeking comment.

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Pat Lairson

By Pat Lairson

There does not seem to be any slowdown in the Maricopa real estate market.

With school out, many families are now free to move in the upcoming summer months. Homes prepared to sell, meaning they are decluttered, clean, paint and landscaping in good condition and priced right, are moving very quickly.

If you are a seller, be prepared to see offers where the buyer asks you to pay some closing costs. It is common with the current lending grant program for buyers to also need some help with they’re closing costs. These offers usually are at or above list price, though.

Right now, the number of active listings and homes under contract is even-steven. We have about 280 homes available for sale and about 280 homes under contract, too. This should give you an idea of the pace we are in right now. Since January, 655 homes have closed in Maricopa.

If you have not driven around Maricopa’s various subdivisions in a while, you probably don’t realize how many empty lots are being completed. DR Horton is still building in Homestead in their gated community and in The Villages. They will begin in Glennwilde and Santa Rosa Springs soon. Fulton will be filling in the rest of the empty lots in Glennwilde this summer. LGI is now building in Rancho Mirage, and KB Home is still completing Desert Passage and parts of Homestead.

As you can see, there is a lot going on. If you are selling or buying in Maricopa, using an agent who lives and works in Maricopa is most important. Knowing the area and the market will help ensure an easier and more profitable transaction for you.

Pat Lairson
The Maricopa Real Estate Company

This column appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.


Locally, Derrick Warford is known as the defensive coordinator for Maricopa High School's football team. But he wants to spread physical and emotional wellness among all youth. Photo by William Lange

Born with a heart defect that caused him two heart attacks before his 36th birthday, Derrick Warford wants to spread wellness among the youth – physically, mentally and behaviorally.

What: AZEA Wellness Tour
When: June 24, 9 a.m-6 p.m.
Where: Ram Stadium, Maricopa High School, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.
How much: Event is free; 7-on-7 Passing Tournament $175 per team

A social services technician and one-time professional football player, Warford is an assistant football coach at Maricopa High School and heads AZ Elite Athletics Wellness Services (AZEA) to provide training and resources for school-age athletes.

“I’ve always been training athletes,” he said.

Wellness is usually top of mind for him personally. He has known since he was a child his condition would get chancy as he got older. He never let the issue keep him away from athletics or his mission to prepare kids for life.

This month, AZEA is hosting a “Wellness Tour” at Maricopa High School’s Ram Stadium. Warford said the expo is focused on mindfulness and wellness. Whether teen players come to him to find a way to use athletics to gain an education or a career or just physical discipline, he wants them to learn young the consequences of decisions they make.

The June 24 event is planned to have four major components. A “Wellness Fest” and community market will have community businesses, vendors, organizations and clubs along with artists and musicians providing resources. A “Youth Engagement Zone” is an active area with games, bounce houses, arts and crafts, raffles and special guests. The free Athletic Skills Camp is for boys and girls age 8-12 who want a try at circuit training, speed drills and a combine course.

Derrick Warford’s AZ Elite Athletics Wellness Services will host a wellness tour and 7-on-7 football passing tournament in Maricopa on June 24.

A main draw is a “Prove It” 7-on-7 football passing tournament and team combine, featuring varsity and junior varsity players from Maricopa and surrounding communities. Team entry is $175.

Warford said proceeds will benefit Be Awesome Youth Coalition, The Streets Don’t Love You Back, Maricopa Rams and Hope for Kids.

He likes to instill “the power of athletic thoughts” through constant repetition and self-awareness. When a student quits or rages or makes another bad decision, he walks them through the process of evaluating their own reaction.

“I say, ‘Ask yourself what was your trigger. What was that moment?’” he said.

A native of Macon, Georgia, Warford played football at Alabama State University. Undrafted after graduation, he signed as a free agent with the Tennessee Titans in 2006. A preseason knee injury hastened his departure from the pro ranks.

He moved to Arizona in 2008. Soured a bit on football, he worked with at-risk youth in his social services capacity. He started AZEA in 2009, building more relationships with youths and Valley coaches. Warford got married and moved to Maricopa the same year, 2014. When he heard MHS was looking for volunteers in its basketball program, he reached out, flirting with the idea of coaching the freshmen.

That position was already filled, however.

“But they knew about my football background, and [Athletic Director Mark] Cisterna caught me on a good day and asked me about the football team,” Warford said.

“He kind of fell into our laps,” said Rams head coach Chris McDonald, who brought him in as a defensive line coach.”

Warford said it didn’t take long for the football “bug” to take hold again. “The freshmen bought into me because of the NFL thing,” he said.

At the end of the year, McDonald sat him down and offered him the job of defensive coordinator.

“He’s very demanding but respectful,” McDonald said. “He’s really good with the kids.”

Warford and his wife Raven both deal with medical challenges, he with his heart and she with epilepsy. Never again wanting to have to drive himself to the hospital in the middle of a heart attack, he worked to lose weight and control his blood pressure. The goal-setting he preaches to the kids is still getting a workout in his own life.

This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

Courtesy Maricopa Historical Society

Photos of the same intersection in Maricopa nearly 20 years apart show the changes that have occurred since 1998. The 1998 photo, part of an aerial series, shows buildings that no longer exist at the intersection. In the 2017 photo by Jack Jackson, the pecan groves have turned into residential and commercial space. The area is now undergoing preparations for the construction of an overpass and will again appear dramatically different in a short amount of time.


Photo by Jack Jackson

This item appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

Beef straight from the ranch

Bass and Anna Aja are raising their three children - Basilio III, Perry and Andy. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

When Bass Aja married Anna Groseta in 2009, it was a binding of two ranching families with near iconic status among Arizona cattlemen. They were from farm people who went back generations, even to the Old World – the Ajas from Spain and the Grosetas from Croatia.

Both families started in mutton and then shifted to beef.

Now in the Maricopa area, Bass and Anna have turned into beef entrepreneurs, starting the 9F Cattle Company. The focus of the business is delivering fresh beef straight from the ranch.

“It’s a rich history for both of us,” Anna Aja said. “My grandpa was born in Middle Verde, and he and his father would, by wagon, take up meat and produce to the miners in Jerome. My grandmother was born and raised in Jerome and they’d meet up there when they would go and take meat and produce.”

That is a tradition that is being reimagined for the 21st century with the 9F Cattle Company. Direct-from-the-ranch beef sales is something Anna always wanted to try.

“There’s a lot of people I’ve seen try to sell direct, and they sell for a while and then they don’t. It either works or it doesn’t,” she said. “I thought, ‘What does it hurt? Might as well try it.’”

Cattle the Ajas raise on Groseta and Aja ranches are an Angus cross called Balancer and mostly grass-fed. They primarily use a butcher in Tucson connected to the University of Arizona food laboratory. The beef is dry-aged up to 21 days and then frozen for delivery. The Ajas also have beef on hand, renting commercial freezer space in Mesa.

“People want to know who’s raising their beef and who’s raising their food,” Anna said. “It’s not for everyone. The price point’s not for everyone, and that’s totally fine. Really I just want people to eat beef and enjoy it.”

Customers can buy 10 pounds of ground beef at $6 per pound or a 400-pound full beef with everything at $9 per pound. Delivery is free to customers in Maricopa or to anyone who orders 300 pounds or more. Anna said she would eventually like to sell direct to restaurants.

“If I can provide the connection for someone to know us and know our family and know where it was raised, whether it was south of Buckeye or in Cottonwood, and what it ate and the kind of life that it lived, I really enjoy that,” Anna said.

With parental support for the venture, Anna Aja set up a website and got the business moving last year when she was in the late stages of pregnancy with her third child. While on maternity leave, she took newborn Perry with her as she picked up beef orders in Tucson and drove them to customers.

Much of the marketing has been on social media because she has not had time to work farmer’s markets yet. So far, her time and resources for getting the word out have been limited, but she wants to build it beyond a home-based hobby.

“I do a lot of focused, targeted ads on Facebook, and then word-of-mouth,” she said. “We also targeted foodies and insta-blogger people and offered free beef and asked them, if they like it, to talk about it.”

One-on-one conversations have been very fruitful, as well.

She met Kristen Lee of Phoenix at a communal summer-table dinner.

“We started talking about our passion for food and how much I enjoy knowing where my food comes from,” Lee said.

After learning about the Ajas’ 9F beef, which sounded exactly like what she was looking for, Lee put in an order.

“Buying in bulk, it was more economical than I thought it would be,” she said. “I really enjoyed it. It has a much beefier flavor. It’s leaner. You can actually taste the meat.”

She said she likes knowing the cattle are humanely raised with no hormones or additives. She also likes helping out a small business.

Cortney Tyler was one of several gym-mates in Maricopa who became Anna Aja customers.

“I never bought meat directly from a rancher. We only had store-bought meat,” Tyler said. “My husband was saying, ‘This is going to be a waste of money.’ But it was amazing to taste the difference. The meat was really, really good.”

She praised every cut in the 10-15-pound variety pack, from ground beef to tenderloin.

“We’ll definitely be ordering again. I have a family of five, so it doesn’t last that long,” she said.

The Ajas also are a family of five. Bassie is 5, daughter Andy is 3 and Perry is 1. They are growing up rural like their parents did. The Ajas spent early May moving into their new home between Maricopa and Stanfield.

“I grew up helping on the ranch and showing in 4H and FFA,” Anna Aja said. “I had my own little flock of sheep and showed steers and enjoyed doing that as I grew up.”

Her parents, Andy and Mary Beth Groseta, own the W Dart Ranch in Yavapai County. Anna is a fourth-generation ranch girl and still has cattle on the W Dart.

Bass (Basilio) Aja’s great-grandparents came to the United States as sheepherders, working and saving to own their own ranches.

“So I grew up mostly in sheep and transitioned to ranches and cattle,” he said.

His mother’s family settled Perry Mesa, which bears their name. Bass grew up in Buckeye. The family ranch was south of Wickenburg and another ranch was near Joseph City.

Bass and Anna, both 32, first met at an Arizona Junior Livestock Association gathering during an Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association Convention when they were 15. That was little more than an introduction because they lived so far apart, but they discovered each other again while attending the University of Arizona. Her friend was his roommate, who reintroduced them.

After marrying, they lived in Wellton, near Yuma, where Bass ran a feed yard. Anna worked for the Arizona Beef Council. Now Bass runs the Pinal Feeding Company feed yard, and Anna works for the Arizona Cattlegrowers Association, at least until their oldest son Bass IV starts kindergarten next year.

Bass’ grandmother gave them the brand 9F that had belonged to her father. It stands for the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit as defined in the Bible, Galatians 5:22-23.

This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa. 

Jason Plotke at a February presentation of plans for APEX Motor Club.

A committee aiming to stop the construction of APEX Motor Club in Maricopa turned in more than twice the number of signatures needed for a referendum.

The Maricopa Citizens Protecting Tax Payers Political Action Committee was granted its request to file its 86 petitions Friday, when City Hall is usually closed. Its workers collected 1,133 signatures. For a referendum, it needed 491.

The Maricopa City Council approved a conditional use permit for APEX in April. At the meeting a couple of residents expressed concerns about the project while others spoke in favor. The referendum is an attempt to force the city’s approval to a public vote.

Robert Rebich, who is listed as chairman of the opposition committee with a Phoenix address, did not return phone calls.

Former attorney general Grant Woods has said he represents local opponents of the private racing complex, primarily complaining about potential noise and traffic. Woods’ clients and anti-APEX social media group Speed Kills Maricopa (which hasn’t posted since April 26) remain anonymous.

But Jason Plotke made no bones about who he thinks is behind the opposition, namely people connected to Attesa Motorsports Complex in Casa Grande.

Plotke is the president of Private Motor Sports, which is developing APEX on a Maricopa parcel on the northwest corner of State Route 238 and Ralston Road. Though he has no paperwork linking the names with the committee, he said there were previously-overheard threats that caused him to connect the dots.

Rebich, he said, is just the “henchman” for the Snell & Wilmer law firm, lobbyist Joe Villasenor and Attesa officials. Plotke said he had already heard from mutual acquaintances that Attesa was intent on stopping the APEX complex. Attesa also did not respond to inquiries.

Plotke also claimed petition circulators “lied” about the purpose of the anti-APEX referendum to get signatures by telling the public the referendum was in support of APEX.

Plotke said he does not see APEX as competition for Attesa.

“We’re just one small component of what they’re attempting to do,” he said. “And they need to look after their own project. They don’t have zoning yet.”

APEX is staying on its current schedule until the signatures are validated and a special election is possibly called.

Plotke said he is leaning on the “tremendous support” his company has received from residents and City Council and is working to create a facility that will be in Maricopa for a “long, long time.”

Statement by APEX Motor Sports Club Regarding Referendum Filing In Maricopa:

Led by controversial Phoenix lobbyist Joe Villasenor, the outsiders trying to slow our new automobile country club in Maricopa have sunk to a new low. Unable to find a single Maricopa resident to serve as Chairman or Treasurer of their campaign committee, Villasenor, likely on behalf of a similar project in Casa Grande, hired paid petition circulators to misrepresent and in some cases lie about Apex. 

They did so in order to try and force a public vote on the project. Apparently, they believe their own project [is] so insufficient that they cannot compete with ours. Whether Villasenor, Dan Erickson, Grant Woods and the law firm of Snell and Wilmer will continue their shameless, selfish ways and go to any lengths to challenge the City Council’s decision remains to be seen.

None of us should be surprised if they again try to waste Maricopa’s time and money seeking only to benefit themselves and deny the new business and tourism Apex will mean for the community.

Finally, we would like to thank the overwhelming support we have received in Maricopa, from Mayor Price to the City Council to our closest neighbors. We were excited about making the decision to invest in Maricopa. We are even more so after the tremendous reception.

Maricopa High School Theatre Company performed a scene from "Beauty & the Beast" at the ASU Gammage High School Musical Theater Awards June 3. Lillian Chitwood and Carlos O. Venegas were nominated for lead performances, and Venegas won for Outstanding Vocalist. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

It was as close as most Arizona high school students will get to the Tony Awards.

Maricopa High School students showed off just a bit of their production of “Beauty & the Beast” Saturday and walked away with two of the top honors at the ASU Gammage High School Musical Theater Awards.

The evening offered a revue of 19 of the top high school musical productions in the state this school year. Troupes performed a number or a medley of songs from their big musicals, which had been adjudicated by a panel comprised of teachers, ASU faculty and theater students.

Nikolas Mase, now an MHS graduate, played Lumiere in “Beauty & the Beast.” Out of 31 nominees, he received the award for Outstanding Supporting Performance – Male.

Nikolas Mase receives the award for Outstanding Supporting Performance. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said.

In a field of 46 nominees, Carlos O. Venegas was named Outstanding Vocalist for his performance as the Beast. Having to run to the stage from the back of the hall, he was in shock.

“I didn’t think I was going to get anything,” he said.

It was a unique experience for MHS students. It was the third year of the GHSMT awards but the first year Maricopa had participated.

“It was a lot of work, work, work, but we just had to make sure that we were in our places at the right time,” Mase said. “We took a tour of the Gammage to get us aware of where we were going to be running around.”

Director Cynthia Calhoun selected “Something There” for her students to perform from the show because it included most of those who had been nominated.

After having mixed with several of the other actors at other state competitions and hearing them talk about their musicals, Venegas said he liked being able to see the troupes “in action.” It was a learning experience for Calhoun as well.

“I get to see what other high schools are doing and learn from that,” Calhoun said. “I have validation that we’re on the right track, that what we’re doing is really good and we’re doing what we should be doing.”

Still in full makeup from his performance, Carlos O. Venegas receives the award for Outstanding Vocalist. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa High School’s other individual nominees:
Best Lead Male: Carlos O. Venegas
Best Lead Female: Lillian Chitwood
Outstanding Supporting Performance (Male): Jeron Hlebasko
Outstanding Supporting Performance (Female): Tyler Curtis, Brook Perona
Outstanding Vocalist: Tyler Curtis, Nikolas Mase
Outstanding Dancer: Stirling Luckey

Craig Davis' magic and juggling show is part of the entertainment for this year's Summer Reading Program. Submitted photo

Maricopa Public Library wants to reach new heights with its Summer Reading Program.

The annual event is off and running, with programming for ages 0 to 17. With each book participants read, they will be building skyscrapers. The theme this year is “Build a Better World.”

Library Manager Erik Surber said those who read 400 minutes during the program, which runs through July 14, will build the Empire State Building. Reading 800 minutes will build the Willis Tower (formerly Sears). And 1,200 minutes will equal Burj Khalifa.

Summer Reading Events
June 8 at 2 p.m. Mad Science Fire and Ice Show
June 5 at  10 a.m. Craig Davis Magic and Juggling Show
June 12 at 10 a.m. Chuck Field, Comedy Ventriloquist
June 14 at 5:30 p.m. Red Rohall T-Shirt Designs for Teens
June 15 at 2 p.m. Radical Reptiles
June 19 at 10 a.m. Fairytale Princesses
June 22 at 20 p.m. Step Up Clydesdale
June 26 at 10 a.m. Great Arizona Puppet Theatre
June 28 at 5:30 p.m. Anime for Teens
June 29 at 2 p.m. Jungle Jill Animal Encounters
July 8 at 9 a.m. Guided LEGO Build
July 10 at 10 a.m. Ronald McDonald
July 13 at 2 p.m. Magic with the Amazing Kaden

“They can choose whatever challenge they think they’re up to,” Surber said. “If they are completed by July 14, they can win prizes.”

Those include passes to UltraStar and Arizona State Parks.

He said if toddlers are read to or if children listen to audio books, it all counts. Older siblings reading to younger siblings counts for both.

“It’s something to do over the summer, and they learn to set goals and pace themselves,” Surber said.

The program also prevents the “summer slide” in learning so children don’t fall months behind during vacation. Last year, 1,500 participated.

The Summer Reading Program is not just about reading. It is chock-full of entertainment and hands-on fun.

Events in June include a fire-and-ice science show, a magic show, a ventriloquist, live animals, puppet theater, fairytale princesses and, for the teens, T-shirt designing and anime. A hallmark event coming in July is the Cactus Brick LEGO build to match the theme.

This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

Saturday will be a busy time for the Onyx dance troupe of Desert Sun Performing Arts. Submitted photo

Homemade dance hits the stage June 3 in the conclusion of “Got Arts, Maricopa.”

What: Young Choreographers Showcase
When: June 3, 3 p.m.
Where: Maricopa Performing Arts Center, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.
How Much: $5

What: Better When I’m Dancing DSPA Recital
When: June 3, 1 p.m. & 5:30 p.m.
Where: Maricopa Performing Arts Center, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.
How Much: $15-$20
Info:; 520-483-8915

Besides the established schedule of fine arts and performing arts events, Maricopa Arts Council’s arts expo introduced the city to poetry slams, studio crawls, a world music showcase, performing arts gala and a movie-shorts competition.

The concluding event is another Maricopa first: ONYX Young Choreographers Showcase.

Desert Sun Performing Arts director Ceylan Gentilella called it “something really cool.”

“Dancers in our contemporary company, young adults and teenagers will be choreographing their own dances,” she said. “It’s nice to see what they come up with, who’s got the eye for movement.”

Staged in between two performances of the 11th annual DSPA recital “Better When I’m Dancing,” the choreography challenge will be judged by the audience. People’s Choice awards go to first, second and third place, with prize money of $300, $150 and $50, respectively.

Gentilella said the event was originally conceived as an adult competition, but she was seeing something special among her ONYX troupe.

“We’ve got real talent,” she said.

Eddie Perry, part of the Maricopa High School Class of 2017, has already choreographed locally for Families First CDC. He is one of the nine choreographers presenting six dances.

“I love choreographing because it helps me with my teamwork and being able to communicate properly,” he explained in his pre-recital notes.

Dances in performance are also choreographed by Riley Bell and Erin Hildick, Allison and Madison Tucker, Giselle Sanchez and Crystabel Sanchez, Samantha Perry and Katie Sherrod.


ONYX Young Choreographer’s Showcase
Choreographers: Riley Bell and Erin Hildick
Dance: Escalate
Song: Escalate
Artist: Tsar B

Choreographers: Allison Tucker and Madison Tucker
Dance: We Get What We Deserve
Song: Way Down We Go
Artist: Kaleo

Choreographers: Giselle Sanchez and Crystabel Sanchez
Name of dance: Love on the Brain
Song: Love on the Brain
Artist: Rihanna

Choreographer: Eddie Perry
Dance Name: Monster
Song: Joy/Monster/Forget You/You Don’t Know My Name SMLE Remix
Artists: Nicki Minaj, Missy Elliot, Ceelo Green, Alicia Keys

Choreographer: Samantha Perry
Dance Name: Water Guns
Song: Water Guns
Artist: Todrick Hall

Choreographer: Katie Sherrod
Dance Name: Wicked Game
Song: Wicked Game (Live)
Artist: James Vincent McMorrow

Choreographers: Riley Bell and Erin Hildick
Dance Name: Chandelier
Song: Chandelier (Piano Version)
Artist: Sia

This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa veterans and the police department combined efforts Monday morning to mark Memorial Day and pay tribute to military personnel and police officers who have died in the line of duty. VFW Commander Denis Sommerfield, MPD Chief Steve Stahl and Maricopa High School AFJROTC instructor Lt. Col. Allen Kirksey were speakers between the raising of the flag and laying of the wreaths. The JROTC and MPD Explorers participated in the ceremony at the police substation at Copper Sky. Blue Star Mom Vero Sanchez, whose son is in the Air Force, brought a photo of her late brother-in-law Staff Sgt. Michael Sanchez, who died 17 years ago.

ADOT workers block SR 238 from eastbound traffic after a fatal crash Thursday morning. Photo by Michelle Chance

An accident between a vehicle and a bicycle has left one person dead this morning.

The incident occurred around 4:30 a.m. on State Route 238 about a mile west of SR 347 at Green Road near Ak-Chin Southern Dunes.

According to Maricopa Police Department spokesman Ricardo Alvarado, a 47-year-old man was dead at the scene. The driver of the vehicle had called emergency services and reported striking something on the road. The driver and cyclist were both traveling west on the highway.

The driver was taken to MPD for further questioning. Alvarado said impairment has not been ruled out. A blood sample was taken and sent to the lab for analysis.

Traffic has been stopped in both directions between Edison Road (Loma) and Ralston Road. Detours have been set up. Arizona Department of Transportation is asking drivers to allow for extra time and use extra caution in the area.

MPD is still trying to notify next of kin.

Resolute Performance Contracting employees dismantle the park-and-ride shelters at John Wayne Parkway and Garvey Avenue. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Parking shelters are losing their home next to John Wayne Parkway but may eventually rise again at City Hall.

It is the effect of construction of an overpass. 

The park-and-ride property next to the former F.O.R. Maricopa food bank building was purchased by Arizona Department of Transportation from the City of Maricopa. It is in the path of the overpass, which is designed to take State Route 347 over the Union Pacific tracks from Hathaway Avenue to Desert Cedars Drive.

As part of the city’s transaction with ADOT, Public Works Director Bill Fay said the parking shelters are considered personal property that must be bought or relocated.

Because of the relatively fast pace ADOT has set for itself, it does not have time to relocate the shelters, which would require a design plan by ADOT. Instead, temporary storage at Wilson and Madison avenues awaits.

“For now, they will store them in the [old City Hall] lot,” Fay said. “The intent is to install them at City Hall.”

Another option for ADOT is installing the shelters at Copper Sky. Fay said the problem with that idea is most of the parking is arced, and the shelters are not. That makes the City Hall lot the most likely new home for the structures, when ADOT has time to reconstruct them.

Tuesday, workers with Resolute Performance Contracting, contracted by ADOT, took the parking shelters apart piece by piece.

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Arizona American Institute for Self-Defense Arts, better known as Karate Charlie’s, presented its annual karate demonstration May 20 at Maricopa Performing Arts Center. There were three sessions of different age groups.

Veterans of Foreign Wars members visit with eighth graders at DWMS. Submitted photo

Four gentlemen from the Maricopa chapter of the VFW Post 12043 visited Desert Wind Middle School in Shannon Hull’s and Jennifer Szoltysik’s classrooms on May 10.

Army veteran Mike Kemery, Navy veteran Clarence ‘Golde’ Golden, Navy vet Charlie Kemp and Army vet Richard Hall spent two hours with the students telling about their time serving during the Vietnam War, their personal stories, a bit of history and how they are doing today.

The students asked a lot of questions, mostly concerning their personal lives and how they were treated in Vietnam as well as when they got home. 

“My students care the most about the treatment of these brave men upon their arrival back in the states, Blended Learning instructor Shannon Hull said. “My kids can’t comprehend how they could be treated any way other than with love and respect…this solidifies for my students how important it is to honor our armed forces, the flag and the country as a whole.”

When asked any final thoughts, Golden reiterated to the students, “You wouldn’t have the freedoms today without the men and women who fought it.” And Hall ended with this thought: “Cherish what you have right here in this classroom; it is a privilege that you all (students) get this type of education. Many children around the world have nothing.”

The eighth-grade students have had other visitors sharing their experiences with war. Air Force vet Steve Hull talked about his time serving during the Cold War, guarding the Titan Missile and the SR-71. 

Response from DWMS students Erin and Brian P.: “It is important that we learned about the history, and listening to them talking about it is a good way to learn about it. Not just reading from books, but getting behind the scenes and knowing what actually happened is important for us. They kind of gave us their perspective of war, not someone telling us when they weren’t really there. They told us what they saw and heard because they went through it and know it…it’s not like the stuff we find on the Internet.”

This is the third year members of the Maricopa VFW have visited Hull’s classroom, and the students are invested in these men, asking about them throughout the school year wondering when they will come back for another talk. 

“I am grateful that these guys take time out of their day to visit with my students, and I am most grateful that my students care so much about them and their stories,” Hull said. “The respect and love that my students show to these men makes me a very proud teacher.” 

Submitted photo

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State Sen. Steve Smith

Maricopa resident Steve Smith is running for Congress.

Smith is currently the state senator for District 11. A strong supporter of President Trump’s policies, he wants to turn Congressional District 1 back to the Republicans. He announced his campaign Monday morning.

CD1 covers nearly 60,000 square miles and ranges from Eloy to the Utah border. It is politically a tossup. Democrat Tom O’Halleran of Sedona won the congressional seat easily in the November election, but the district went to Trump 48 percent to 47 percent over Hillary Clinton.

“It is diverse but it is a microcosm of the district I’ve always served,” Smith said.

It is a rural district representing ranchers, farmers, Native American strongholds, colleges and miners, he said.

Smith was first elected to the Legislature as a representative in 2010. He has championed conservative issues, from government debt to border security and job growth. He said the issues will be the same in his congressional campaign.

“We have to bring jobs to our district,” he said. “We have to get spending under control.”

He also said there needs to be more personal morality and responsibility in Washington while the country continues an “American first” policy put forth by the Administration.

“The President’s doing a great job,” Smith said.

The election is in November 2018. Smith said he will fill out his term, which ends that December, and find the balance between campaigning and serving in the state senate.

He is already touting endorsements from Republican congressmen Trent Franks and Andy Biggs.

Smith and his wife Jamie have five children.

Rob and Lucinda Boyd

Jay & the Americans, a vehicle swap meet and a karate demonstration are among the many events happening this week in Maricopa. Below, Rob and Lucinda Boyd talk about the latest session of The Streets Don’t Love You Back Life Skills Intervention Program. For details on these and other events, or to add your own, visit


Grief Chat is at 11 a.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.

Color Me Calm is at 12:30 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.

The Streets Don’t Love You Back Life Skills Intervention Program starts a six-week session at 4 p.m. at Maricopa/Stanfield Justice Court, 19955 N Wilson Ave.

Youth Council Special Meeting on BMX is at 6 p.m. at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, Multipurpose Room A, 45345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave.


Coffee with Friends of the Maricopa Library is at 1:30 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.

Maricopa Police Explorer Post Meeting is at 5 p.m. at Maricopa High School, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.

Celebrate Recovery Coffee & Karaoke is at 5 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave.

City Council Work Session is at 6 p.m. at Maricopa City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza.

City Council Regular Session is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza.


Harrah’s Club 777 Toastmasters meet at 3 p.m. at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 Maricopa Road.

Library Teen Advisory Council meets at 5:30 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.


Lapsit for ages 0-12 is at 9 a.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.

Movers & Shakers for ages 1-2 is at 9:30 a.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.

Li’l Explorers for ages 2-3 is at 10 a.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Ak-Chin Social Services, 48227 W. Farrell Road.


Maricopa Auto Fair – Swap Meet for Vehicles – is noon-4 p.m. in the UltraStar Parking Lot, 16000 N. Maricopa Road.

Strength & Hope Al-Anon Meeting is at 7 p.m. at Community of Hope Church, 45295 W. Honeycutt Ave.

Jay & The Americans perform free in The Lounge at 8 p.m. at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 Maricopa Road.


Maricopa Auto Fair – Swap Meet for Vehicles – is 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the UltraStar Parking Lot, 16000 N. Maricopa Road.

Court Day is 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at Maricopa/Stanfield Justice Court, 19955 N Wilson Ave.

Karate Charlie Demo is at 2 p.m. at Maricopa Performing Arts Center, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.

Movies under the Stars is at sundown at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center, 16000 Maricopa Road.


Maricopa Auto Fair – Swap Meet for Vehicles – is 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the UltraStar Parking Lot, 16000 N. Maricopa Road.

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave.

Cheryl Ortiz

Cheryl Ortiz has come through a difficult year and emerged as a strong single mother of three and a mother-figure to hundreds. Now she can officially claim the title of “Best Mom in Maricopa.”

The mother of Caleb, age 11, Adelina, 8, and Elijah, 4, Ortiz is a first-grade teacher at Legacy Traditional School. She estimates she has taught more than 300 students in her 11 years on the job, the last four at Legacy. The mother of one of those former students has become a close friend, Barbie Samsel, who nominated Ortiz for InMaricopa’s “Best Mom” contest on its Facebook page.

She has been through so much and her faith in God has never wavered, and her love for her children knows no bounds,” Samsel said. “She has such a kind and giving heart not only to her own children but also to the children she cares for everyday in her first-grade classroom.”

Ortiz said she was “totally blown away” when her nomination received the most Facebook “likes” of 19 nominees.

“I feel undeserving and so humble,” she said. “There are a million and one wonderful mothers in Maricopa.”

A serious domestic violence situation upended the lives of the Ortiz family this year. She said they were instantly embraced by Against Abuse. The community also encircled them, reaching out to help in often anonymous ways as she helped her children adjust to a “new normal.” The children were “adopted” for Christmas, and cards with cash were left to help through the holidays and beyond.

The community support was clear in the nomination post as parent after parent called her “amazing.”

“She’s super nice and caring,” her son Caleb added.

Cheryl Ortiz with her children Adelina, Elijah and Caleb accepts prizes as Maricopa’s “Best Mom” as voted by Facebook readers. Photo by Mason Callejas

As “Best Mom in Maricopa,” her prizes include a flower bouquet, a Mother’s Day brunch with the family at Arroyo Grille at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes, a $50 gift card from Ace Hardware and a month of free training at Longevity Athletics.

See all of the terrific nominees at

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

Now, get prepared for our Best Dad in Maricopa contest coming up in June.


A small sampling of what friends had to say about Cheryl Ortiz:

Cheryl is truly an inspirational person inside and out!! – Shawna Hainey Bennett

Her children are amazing and resilient because she has taught them valuable skills and has taught them to love! – Cindy M. Jones

You would never know she has been through so much because she is the sweetest person. We love her! – Kristina Beauchemin

She’s truly a caring, compassionate woman with the patience of a saint. Always smiling, always watching out for the kids, always seeing a child’s inner worth. – Sharon Elsberry

She is a fighter, she is a beacon of hope, she is a light for God, she is a teacher, a mother, a friend and all around she reminds everyone around her to strive to become their best version of themselves. – Jen Nebeker

MPD Chief Steve Stahl

Local law enforcement offered advice to the community Saturday on remaining safe and secure as summertime approaches in Arizona.

Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl along with MPD Detective Daniel Rauch engaged members of the community on a variety of topics at the Copper Sky Police Substation, most aimed at preparing residents for summer time in the valley.

During a presentation named “Safe Guarding your Property and Yourself During Summer,” Rauch reminded residents to continue to use common sense approaches to protect themselves in everyday life such as locking car doors, hiding valuables and reporting suspicious activity.

Rauch’s advice, however, went beyond the typical precautions and offered seasonally important advice such as staying hydrated, planning outdoor activities in such a way that others are aware of your location and always bringing a cell phone.

With the heat comes the will to cool off, he said, thus residents should also be alert and cautious when children or people with special needs are in or near pools or large bodies of water.

With school soon to be out of session, Rauch reminded residents to remain vigilant but to also remember school-aged children will be out and about and that not everything they do should be considered criminally suspicious.

Rauch also advised homeowners who may be going away on vacation or who relocate seasonally to install security lights and maybe even consider planting thorny bushes and plants under windows to make it more difficult to access.

The idea, he said, is to “make yourself less attractive” to would-be thieves.

MPD also emphasized its security camera registration system, which would allow them to know exactly where security cameras may exist so they can utilize the footage to help solve crimes. If more residents registered their cameras, Stahl said, MPD wouldn’t have to waste time and resources going door to door asking if nearby residents had surveillance footage of crimes.

Another topic of conversation was the recently passed “Good Samaritan” law, which in will allow Arizonans more freedom to act in the event they find an animal or person locked in a hot vehicle.

The law dictates citizens may break into a vehicle so long as it is “justified” and the acting individual can reasonably explain why they did it. The law also says that person must make a reasonable attempt to find and notify the owner of the vehicle. To that, Stahl said its best to “use caution all the time.”

“I wouldn’t want it to be the first reaction,” Stahl said. “First, call 911.”

Student art on display. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa Unified School District’s Native American Education Program hosted an art expo featuring student artwork, San Carlos artist Douglas Miles of Apache Skateboards giving a mural-painting demo and Maricopa basket weaver Lynnaya Joe showing the tools of her Navajo trade. See gallery below to follow progression of the mural, which was on paper taped to a wall as the sun went down Thursday evening.

A special detail from the Department of Public Safety made 112 traffic stops on State Route 347 Wednesday morning.

Of those, 90 resulted in speeding citations, according to Sgt. Steven Sekrecki. Two people were cited for not having children in car seats, and four others were cited for “non-hazardous” violations such as insurance or registration issues.

The detail involved four state troopers, two officers from Gila River Police Department and one Maricopa police officer.

Sekrecki said DPS warns people ahead of conducting these details because the goal is slowing down traffic, rather than ticketing drivers.

“It allows those people who might normally speed let themselves know to slow down,” Sekrecki said. “And we let people know so there’s not a big surprise when they see us out there en masse.”

Wednesday’s detail was in operation from 7 a.m. to noon.

"Secret Life of Pets" shows at Movies Under the Stars May 20 outside at UltraStar. (Universal Pictures)

After getting started with a scheduling conflict that resulted in two separate screenings of different movies, Maricopa’s Movies Under the Stars is back on schedule for May and June.

The April debut of the series hit a snag when UltraStar Multi-tainment Center, which was originally scheduled to host the outdoors movie experience, was booked for another event on April 22. But it became double the fun for movie-lovers.

Copper Sky Regional Park, partnering with UltraStar for the series, opted to host the screening of “Moana” April 22. UltraStar then hosted the outdoors viewing of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” on April 24.

The series resumes May 20 at UltraStar with “The Secret Life of Pets.” June 3, also at UltraStar, is “Sing.” June 17, the series ends by returning to Copper Sky, this time in the Aquatic Center for a pool party and a screening of “The LEGO Batman Movie.”

Maricopa Special Events Manager Niesha Whitman said residents were invited to vote on which movies they would see this year. Votes were cast by 115 people.

Movies Under the Stars starts around 6:30 p.m. It is free. At Copper Sky there will be vendors, and families may also bring in snacks. However, at UltraStar outside food and drink is not permitted.

This item appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.

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Kent Volkmer (left) defeated fellow Republican Lando Voyles in last year's race for Pinal County Attorney.

An attorney for former Sheriff Paul Babeu and former Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles threatened current County Attorney Kent Volkmer with “legal remedies” if he doesn’t apologize for statements he has made about the previous handling of RICO funds.

Volkmer brought in the Auditor General’s office to look at the records, which had been controversial both in the acquiring and the dispensing of the funds. The FBI has also investigated the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.

Volkmer said his public statements on the matter were always guarded with the term “if.”

“We said ‘if they did these things,’ or ‘if they did that,’” Volkmer said. He added, “The public trust deserved an investigation.”

Monday, Marcus A. Kelly of the Scottsdale firm of Goldman & Zwillinger sent to Volkmer’s office what Kelly titled a “defamation letter” but Volkmer’s staff is calling an “anger letter.” It requests an apology and retraction.

“I don’t know what statement they want me to apologize for,” Volkmer said.

The letter does not specify quotes by Volkmer but claimed he accused Voyles, Babeu and former PCAO chief of staff Dwight Fujimoto of criminal activity.

“The statements are demonstrably false and made with malice,” Kelly declared in the letter to Volkmer.

He also claimed Volkmer did not do his homework on the history of RICO in the county before calling in investigators.

Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act of 1970 allows law enforcement agencies to claim the property of organized-crime suspects as forfeiture. They can sell or keep those items, with the funds used to support law-enforcement efforts. The funds may also be distributed to community organizations with goals of law enforcement, gang prevention or intervention.

That was left wide open to interpretation, and controversy followed. In 2015, American Civil Liberties Union brought suit on behalf of a San Tan Valley resident who was not involved in a crime committed by her son but had her pickup seized as forfeiture. Last year, a Pima County deputy chief was in court on seven counts of misuse of RICO funds.

When Volkmer came into office this year, he put a hold on the RICO Community Outreach Fund that Voyles started. That program accepted proposals from county organizations to use the funds as long as they were used to “support gang prevention and/or substance abuse education and prevention.”

Despite the process involving a committee and annual audits, residents were still suspicious of politics in the process, and especially of the close ties between PCSO and favorite recipient Arizona Public Safety Foundation. It became a heated part of the election.

Volkmer said because the county’s RICO program is a “very formalized process,” most assets are handled properly. But he said there are a “handful of outliers,” like the San Tan Valley case, that deserve investigation.

At the moment, he said, there are no funds in the county RICO account. If the program is restarted and the funds are there, they will be used “to support our office and make us better prosecutors,” Volkmer said. RICO funds will be set aside for the county before the community programs.