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.

By bikeriderlondon

A special Highway Patrol detail Wednesday caught speeders and more on State Route 347.

According to Sgt. Steven Sekrecki, State Troopers made 88 traffic stops in eight hours and handed out 65 speeding tickets. The fastest speed recorded was 82 mph in a 55 mph.

There were six citations for failure to wear a seatbelt. Two vehicles were impounded because the driver was driving without a valid license. There were two arrests for possession of drug paraphernalia.

Sekrecki said there were also 11 citations issued for non-hazardous violations, such as not having proper registration and insurance.

The detailed involved three State Troopers and a sergeant with the Arizona Highway Patrol in Casa Grande and one officer from the Gila River Police Department.

Sekrecki said special details are conducted to reduce collisions and get impaired drivers off of the highway. Data resulting from the detail may be used to enhance enforcement efforts in the county.

Midday temperatures in the 90s didn’t halt the ’80s enthusiasm of participants in the annual Copa Color Run at Copper Sky on Saturday, though many took the abbreviated option. Hosted by the City of Maricopa, the 5K Run/Walk included games and contests with a 1980s theme.

Jose Valenzuela is accused of the June 2015 murders of Tina and Michael Careccia. PCSO photo

Gary Husk made his first appearance in Pinal Superior Court Thursday as special prosecutor in the state’s murder case against Jose Valenzuela of Maricopa.

Assigned by Navajo County after Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer recused his office from prosecution, Husk said he spent the last few weeks getting oriented to the death-penalty case. Volkmer, a former defense attorney, was already tied to Valenzuela’s case as guardian ad litum for Valenzuela’s son before he campaigned for county attorney. In November, Volkmer defeated Lando Voyles, who first brought the charges against Valenzuela two years ago.

Valenzuela is accused of murdering Michael and Tina Careccia on June 21, 2015, and burying their bodies in his yard on Papago Road. The trial date has been set for January 2018.

Asked by Judge Kevin White if the trial date was still realistic given the amount of homework on his plate, Husk said he was confident he would be prepared.

Husk said he has been in discussion with Public Defender James Mannato about the motions up to this point and is ready to begin interviews.

His first act in court, in fact, was to agree with a motion by Mannato to preserve all recordings made related to the case, despite the cost to the court.

Mannato said his intent in preserving the recordings was to have “an accurate set of facts even as it pertains to witness interviews” and decrease the chance of any argument with the court reporter.

Husk said because many of the witnesses are primarily Spanish-speakers, “it would be much more beneficial to have an interpreter and have it recorded” rather than the time-consuming task of transcribing the conversation.

Saying he had sympathy with the request, White expressed concern about the preservation costs. He said he would take the request under advisement and consult with other judges who may have presided over similar circumstances.

Mannato expressed impatience to move the case forward again, as it has been in “a condition of hiatus for several months.”

“While the trial date seems far away, it is coming quickly,” he said. “We really need to get going.”

A central part of the delay was Volkmer’s conflict of interest and the hunt for a special prosecutor.

Husk came to the case with his own baggage, a 2014 guilty plea to misdemeanor conspiracy that involved his work as a lobbyist for the Fiesta Bowl. He was sentenced to community service, restitution and probation.

Navajo County assigned Husk to the Valenzuela case and a homicide case out of Eloy for a flat fee of $160,000. That fee is paid by Pinal County.

The next status conference, which could include oral arguments on motions already filed, was set for April 17 at 3 p.m. Relatives of the Careccias have consistently been present for each hearing.

MFD personnel gather to work an accident scene on John Wayne Parkway. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A four-vehicle bumper-to-bumper crash on John Wayne Parkway backed up northbound traffic Friday afternoon as first responders worked the scene. City of Maricopa Fire/Medical and Maricopa Police Department personnel were on site quickly after the accident just south of the intersection with Edison Road to evaluate any injuries and move traffic out of the area.

MPD cited inattention by the driver of a big box truck as the cause of the domino-effect impact. That truck ran into the back of a pest-control pickup truck, which hit the back of an SUV, which in turn hit another SUV, which had stopped for a red light at the intersection. A 14-year-old in the front vehicle was transported to a hospital as a precaution for neck pains.

Some fluids were detected leaking from the pest-control vehicle but were determined to be unharmful to the public. MFMD personnel used soaking agents to clear those and other liquids left at the scene. The accident was cleared by 1:30 p.m.

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Taylor Belcher, a junior, has been effective on the mound and at bat this season. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Midway through their season, the Maricopa High School Rams have an even record of 6-6 on the baseball field and are gearing up for region play.

Outside of tournament competition, the Rams are 3-1. In those three victories, Maricopa put up double-digits against the opponents.

After jumping all over Glendale 12-2 on Monday, however, Maricopa dropped Wednesday’s cross-county game to Vista Grande, 5-0.

“We’ve been playing some good baseball,” head coach Andrew Pollak said. “Today obviously wasn’t one of those days, but we had four games last week where we did some really good things. We had a good game Monday night. Today’s just one of those days.”

The Rams have more than a week to practice for their next game, which is March 23 hosting Mesquite. After that, all but three of their games will be against 5A Metro region competition.

“Our team is really young. Before today they’d really been playing solid,” Pollak said.

That is a point of pride, but he is still looking for strong leadership to emerge on the team as competition gets intense over the next month. The Rams play all region teams twice. That includes McClintock, Ironwood, Raymond S. Kellis, Sunnyslope and Apollo.

“We’re in a good spot. We’ve got to take care of our region,” Pollak said.

In Monday’s route of Glendale, Maricopa scored three runs in the first inning. The Rams followed up with five in the fourth and four in the fifth to claim the game via the 10-run rule.

Sophomore Nico Bandin had two hits, drove in three runs and scored three. Senior Marcos Cano was 3-for-3 at the plate and picked up an RBI. Sophomore Devin Fiala and junior Taylor Belcher both had two RBIs. Senior Jackson Stensgard had the team’s only extra-base hit, a double.

Junior Tyler Belcher pitched four innings, striking out nine, for the victory. Only one of the two runs scored against him was earned.

In Wednesday’s loss at home to Vista Grande, the Rams could not get anything started offensively and had some defensive mistakes as well.  The Spartans clung to a 1-0 lead through four innings before breaking out with four more in the fifth.

The Rams managed just three hits, a double from sophomore Malachi Hogg and singles from Bandin and Stensgard.

Carter Paine pitched five innings, striking out four and walking five. Taylor Belcher pitched two innings.

Overall this season, Maricopa is batting .322. That is led by Paine’s .459 average through 12 games. Cano is hitting .400, and Taylor Belcher is batting .353. Bandin and sophomore Renzo Silva are at .324. Stensgard has played in only the last four games and is batting .462.

Paine has pitched 19 and a third innings and has a 2-2 record with an ERA of 4.34. He has struck out 19, given up 19 hits and walked 16. Tyler Belcher has thrown for 14 innings, giving up 11 runs for ERA of 5.50. He has struck out 17 and walked 11.

Feb. 22-25    Pinon-Huffman Tourney
Tempe                   W     4-3
Higley                    L     4-10
Dobson                  L     5-9
Apache Junction    W    11-7
March 2        Sierra Linda           W    10-2
March 3        Desert Edge           W    11-7
March 8-11   Boras Baseball Classic
Corona del Sol       L    0-5
Prescott                 L    3-14
Centennial            W    8-7
Arcadia                  L    2-5
March 13      Glendale               W    12-2
March 15      Vista Grande         L     0-5
March 23      Mesquite          4 p.m.    Home
March 24      Ironwood*        4 p.m.    Home
March 28      Kellis*              3:45       Away
March 30      Casa Grande    4 p.m.    Home
March 31      Kellis*             4 p.m.     Home
April 4          Sunnyslope*    4 p.m.    Home
April 6          Verrado            3:45      Away
April 7          Sunnyslope*    4 p.m.    Away
April 11        Apollo*            4 p.m.    Away
April 12        Ironwood*       3:45       Away
April 13        Apollo*            4 p.m.    Home
April 18        McClintock*        4 p.m.    Home
April 20        McClintock*        4 p.m.    Away
April 21        Williams Field    4 p.m.    Home

*5A Metro

Electrical District No. 3 is in the middle of a scheduled power outage in Rancho El Dorado to replace a switch.

General Foreman Evan McCullough said a switch failed last week, involving infrastructure in the north section of the subdivision. ED3 delayed repairs until today, during Spring Break, with more likelihood of families being out of town.

The work was also delayed an hour this morning when two ED3 employees called in sick and the company had to pull others out of safety training to cover the work.

McCullough said though ED3 set aside six hours for the outage, power could be back up by 2 p.m. or earlier.

An estimated 315 customers are affected.

Shawn Main. PCSO photo

A woman facing the death penalty in the death of a child now has her trial date set.

Shawn Main, 46, is accused of causing the death of Tiana Rosalie Capps, age 3, in 2015. On Monday, she appeared before Superior Court Judge Kevin White in her wheelchair and a maroon jail jumpsuit. White set her trial date to begin July 31, 2018. It could last up to 10 weeks.

The Pinal County Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty in the case.

Tiana was one of the four children of Tina Morse, who lived with Main and Maria Tiglao in a house on Ralston Road south of Maricopa. The children were primarily in the care of Main and Tiglao rather than their mother.

Nov. 19, 2015, Main called 911 to report a child in medical distress. Pinal County Sheriff’s Office deputies and paramedics met Main’s vehicle near Amarillo Valley Road and Century Road as she was attempting to drive the girl to the hospital. According to PCSO, Tiana died in the emergency room and doctors reported unexplained injuries to her head and body.

An autopsy by the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office showed Tiana died of “repeated blunt force trauma.”

Dec. 24, 2015, Main, Tiglao and Morse were all arrested.

In December 2016, Morse pled guilty to two counts of child abuse and was sentenced to two years in prison. Tiglao’s next hearing is set for April 24. She faces five counts of child abuse in the neglect of the children.

PCAO is trying to make a case that Tiana was in Main’s care when she was fatally injured and that the injuries were caused by Main.

Tiana’s three brothers were put into the custody of the Department of Child Safety.

Main’s trial is scheduled to last four weeks and another four weeks in the penalty phase if she is convicted, with two weeks of voir dire expected for jury selection and background.

Arthur Eric Magana and Gustavo Olivo are charged with murder. PCSO photos

Two Maricopa teens were successful Monday in getting a judge to order the state to retain a gun found in a murder case against them.

Gustavo Olivo and Arthur Eric Magana are accused of first-degree murder in the death of Wyatt Miller on Nov. 7. Miller, 20, died of multiple gunshot wounds while seated in his truck at his home on Cardinal Road south of Maricopa.

Olivo and Magana are also charged with armed robbery.

They were before Superior Court Judge Kevin White Monday for a pretrial hearing. They are represented by separate counsel.

The night of the incident, gunshots were reported to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office around 7:30 p.m. Miller was found shot to death in the Chevy truck. According to the early reports from PCSO, deputies followed footprints from the truck to a house on Oak Road, where they found Olivo, 17, and Magana, 16.

Investigators claimed Olivo and Magana were in the truck with Miller when they shot him, and then took some of his belongings and fled. The how and why of what happened in the truck is a point of argument between the prosecution and defense.

After the arrests of Olivo and Magana that night, the investigation of Miller’s truck uncovered a gun. Prosecutors have argued that weapon belonged to Miller’s father and was not used the night of the incident.

James Soslowsky, attorney for Magana, argued the weapon was within reach of the victim. He told Judge White the defense would like time to find a weapons expert or photograph the weapon before the state releases the gun from evidence.

White ordered the state to retain the gun for another 60 days. He also told both defense attorneys, “Time is of the essence,” as the case moves slowly toward trial.

Both Soslowsky and John Schaus, the attorney for Olivo, said it is likely the case will not go to trial until early 2018.

The next hearing for Olivo and Magana is April 17.

Murray Siegel

By Murray Siegel

The Maricopa school system (MUSD) is in the process of hiring 50 teachers to fill positions created by the passing of the override in November. Many of these teachers will be working in elementary classrooms.

This is the third in a series of columns about the preparation of elementary mathematics teachers. The first discussed the importance of the teaching of math during the elementary grades and included responses from two new MUSD teachers. The second article examined how Northern Arizona University prepares future elementary teachers to teach math from the point of view of two math-education faculty. This installment investigates how some future elementary teachers see their mathematics education.

Students were asked to write brief essays about their NAU math-education courses. One wrote, “I feel that many pre-service elementary teachers have a poor attitude about math because they often reflect on their poor experiences when they were learning math. My courses have taught me methods that will help those students who may struggle with certain concepts.”

Another student admitted, “As a student myself who has struggled significantly in mathematics, I can relate to these feelings of fear and lack of confidence. However, I have conquered the majority of those fears and I have developed a sense of confidence in my ability to do mathematics.”

Another student wrote, “I imagine it will still be difficult to teach to students. I think that because I was not fond of math when I was in school I have a preconceived notion that all students are going to hate math.”

These students are typical of many future elementary teachers in their lack of confidence in being able to teach math, and the university recognizes this challenge. Its content and methods courses do a significant job at helping students overcome their math-phobia.

A fourth student wrote, “At NAU, pre-service elementary teachers are given a multitude of resources that create a level of comfort and confidence in future educators.”

Another student echoed this sentiment when talking about the math methods course: “This class was the exact class we needed to boost our confidence and help prepare us for becoming teachers. This course has gotten me excited about becoming a math teacher.”

Dozens of student responses were received and the quotes included in this article are typical of the sentiment expressed by these future elementary teachers. Anyone who cares about the learning occurring in MUSD elementary schools should hope that many of the new teachers will have taken these classes.

Murray Siegel has a PhD in MathEd and 42 years of teaching experience. He and his wife Sharon are volunteer teachers of advanced math classes at Butterfield Elementary School.

This column appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

Leading Edge Academy will be hosting two Teacher Job Fairs this spring, one at their Gilbert campus for positions throughout the network and another at their Maricopa location focusing on hiring for that campus specifically.

The Leading Edge Job Fair will occur at the Gilbert campus, 717 N. Gilbert Road, on March 30 from 2-6 p.m., and the Maricopa Campus Job Fair, 18700 N. Porter Road, will occur on April 6 from 5-8 p.m.

• Leading Edge Academy has six campuses across the East Valley in Gilbert, East Mesa, San Tan, Queen Creek, Maricopa, and Online that serve grades K-12.

• Job seekers will have interviews with administrators at both job fair events and should bring a copy of their resume and IVP fingerprint clearance card.

• Open positions include elementary, secondary and Special Education teachers, para-professionals and interventionists

• Please schedule an interview appointment by calling the Leading Edge Academy network office at 480-633-0414 or by emailing

Both job fairs are great opportunities to speak with administrators and to learn about Leading Edge Academy K-12 opportunities throughout the publicly-funded charter school network.


VIPs gather for a reception dinner for the annual Pinal 40 Arizona Agricultural Experience. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Pinal 40, a philanthropic fraternity, hosted its welcome dinner for the annual Arizona Agricultural Experience at Elements Event Center at Ak-Chin Circle in Maricopa Tuesday. Pinal 40 supports youth and education through agribusiness-related scholarships and local charities.

Tuesday night’s keynote speaker was Steve Keim, general manager of the Arizona Cardinals. The Pennsylvania native spoke about finding success by having passion and humility. He also answered questions about the Cardinals’ prospects for the upcoming season.


Pinal 40 was launched in 2014 as a 501(c)(3) to create a pool of philanthropists in the county. Members join only by invitation and must each raise $5,000 per year for the youth programs supported by Pinal 40. Those include FFA, 4-H and The Boys & Girls Clubs. Last year, the group raised more than $200,000.

“We decided Pinal County down here really needs a lot of help because we have poor communities and so forth, and they need support to help the kids,” said Dennis Dugan, a founder of Pinal 40.

Colton Debold, president of the FFA chapter in Casa Grande, said his organization benefits from the support of the Pinal 40 sponsors not only through scholarships but also in help with their projects.

Learn more about the organization at

The Arizona Agricultural Experience, which lasts through March 9, includes tours of the T&K Red River Dairy, Maricopa Agriculture Center, Ak-Chin Farms, Ehrmann Dairy Yogurt Plant and Tractor4 Supply Distribution Center. The host hotel is Harrah’s Ak-Chin.

Howard Wuertz, a pioneer in drip irrigation, was given a lifetime achievement award, the first presented by the young organization.


By Steve Chestnut

Steve Chestnut
Steve Chestnut

The Maricopa Unified School District is well known in our community as an educational institution with six elementary schools, two middle schools and a high school. We are also one of the biggest businesses in Maricopa with a $41.5 million budget and 650 employees.

As a school district, our goal is to make sure each of our 6,700 students learns the knowledge and skills they need to meet rigorous academic standards, thereby making MUSD an A-rated school district. This is accomplished through daily lessons provided by teachers in every classroom. Effective classroom teaching is our “core business,” which means the key to our success is to hire and retain excellent teachers.

What makes a great teacher? Educational research says the following four characteristics are very important.

1. Knowledge. Good teachers have deep knowledge of the subjects they teach.

2. Organization with a purpose. Effective teachers provide a structure that enables all students to learn at high levels. This is more than just assigning homework and giving tests. Good teachers create high-quality lesson plans, provide clear expectations, insist students meet rigorous standards, etc. In other words, effective teachers know how to apply and teach their knowledge in a way students can understand and learn. We refer to this package of teacher skills as “effective instruction.”

3. Compassion. Excellent teachers maintain positive interpersonal relationships, particularly with students. There is an old expression that describes how important this is: “Students don’t care how much the teacher knows until they know how much the teacher cares.”

4. Professionalism. Great teachers reflect on their teaching, maintain accurate records, communicate with families, assist colleagues, contribute to school-wide events, seek feedback on their teaching, etc.

As the superintendent/chief executive officer of the school district, it is my responsibility to make sure we hire teachers with these four characteristics and we support their professional growth in these areas. Our recruitment and hiring process does a good job of identifying qualified applicants, and our professional development program assists teachers in learning new knowledge and applying that knowledge when working with students.

To improve interpersonal relationships with students we are training teachers at three schools on “Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports,” and we plan to include more teachers in that training next year.

The characteristics that make great teachers are similar to those that make great employees in other professions. And if you want to move your organization from a “B” to an “A,” make sure you are investing in the employees responsible for your “core business.”

Steve Chestnut, Ed.D., is the superintendent of Maricopa Unified School District.

This column appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

Tango Mango Salsa has a popular booth at Salsa Fest. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The 13th annual Salsa Festival is March 25 at Copper Sky Regional Park. It is perennially Maricopa’s most-attended event, drawing more than 10,000 people last year.

What: Salsa Fest
When: March 25, 2-8 p.m.
Where: Copper Sky Regional Park, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Blvd.
How much: Free entry; $1 salsa tasting kit; $5 Little Pepper Zone
2 p.m. — Gates open; Salsa turn-in for judging; DJ
2:40 p.m. — Piñata Bust
3 p.m. — Ballet Folklorico de Santa Maria
3:30 p.m. — Jiselle Diaz; Piñata Bust
4 p.m. — Danzarte Danza Folklorica
4:30 p.m. — Salsa dance lessons
5 p.m. — Chili pepper eating contest
5:30 p.m. — About Last Nite; Piñata Bust
6:30 p.m. — DJ
7 p.m. — About Last Nite
7:30 p.m. — Awards on the Main Stage

Though Salsa Fest brings in visitors from Casa Grande, Phoenix and Tempe, “it is definitely a local event,” Special Events Manager Niesha Whitman said.

She said the city is bringing back some events from past festivals, like an “informal” chili pepper eating contest and piñata bust.

Familiar elements of the festival include the Little Pepper Zone for kids, live entertainment and food vendors. The entire festival grounds will be fenced off to allow festival-goers to roam free with their beers rather than be confined to a “garden.” The fencing also allows city staff to get a more accurate attendance count, Whitman said.

Of course, the main draw is the salsa.

Salsa chefs participating in the lucrative contest serve up their best efforts, and the public gets to judge whose is best. Salsa-tasting kits are $1, and include the tortilla chips for sampling all of the salsas.

The People’s Choice Award is $1,000 for the winner. There are also first, second and third-place awards in each category of salsa, and the celebrity judges’ award.

Entertainment is headlined by the band About Last Nite. Local singer (and reigning Miss City of Maricopa Outstanding Teen) Jiselle Diaz will also perform, as will two folklorica traditional dance groups. You can also try your feet at a salsa dance lesson.

Maricopa Science City will again be part of the Salsa Fest with its interactive Science@Work exhibit. Science City is designed to show how science, technology, engineering arts and math play a role in the community.

Entry is free, but parking at Copper Sky is $5. There is free parking at area elementary schools with a free shuttle.

This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Sun Life Family Health Center hosted its second “For the Love of Chocolate” 3-mile run and 1-mile walk at Copper Sky on Saturday. The run had 81 participants, with the top finisher being Bob Marabella of Brigham City, Utah (19:10). Proceeds benefited the nonprofit health services provider. participants received medals and goodie bags of chocolate treats.

Marshall Trimble, Arizona's official state historian, will be one of the speaker's at Saturday's Morning of History at Maricopa City Hall. Submitted photo by Brendan Moore

During one of Marshall Trimble’s visits to Tombstone, a family came over to him and said, “The next gunfight isn’t for 45 minutes. What do people do in Tombstone when they’re not having gunfights?”

If You Go
What: A Morning of History
When: March 11, 9 a.m.-noon
Who: Maricopa Historical Society features Elaine F. Peters, director of Ak-Chin Indian Community’s Him-Dak EcoMuseum, Chaz Jackson, president of the Buffalo Soldiers of American Arizona Chapter, and Marshall Trimble, Arizona state historian
Where: Maricopa City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza
How Much: Free

That struck Trimble’s considerable funny bone.

It has inspired a comic riff on what people really did in Tombstone when they weren’t in a shootout and what visitors can do today. He uses facts and music and some tall tales as the moment strikes him during a performance.

Trimble is Arizona’s first, and so far only, official state historian.

Often called Arizona’s Will Rogers, he has performed around the state for decades. For the first time he is bringing his knowledge and humor to Maricopa.

Trimble is the keynote speaker at “A Morning of History,” presented by the Maricopa Historical Society, on March 11. The event is 9 a.m.-noon at Maricopa City Hall.

The morning will also include presentations by Elaine F. Peters, the director of the Ak-Chin Indian Community’s Him Dak EcoMuseum & Archives, and Chaz Jackson, president of the Buffalo Soldiers of American Arizona Chapter.

Trimble, 77, taught history at the high school level and then at Scottsdale Community College for 47 years. Though he retired in 2014, he is still in his SCC office most days, usually prepping for his next gig. Retirement did not mean he stopped doing what he loved: Sharing Arizona’s history.

Trimble calls the state “a land of anomalies and tamales.” The first white man in Arizona was a black man. And the Lost Dutchman was German, and he wasn’t lost.

When it comes to the Maricopa area, he said he has always been fascinated by the Butterfield overland stage trail.

“Old Maricopa was a very important place on that trail,” Trimble said. “It was a long, dry spell to get to Gila Bend.”

But don’t expect him to deliver a detailed lecture on Maricopa’s history.

“The only thing I’m leery of is going into somebody else’s neighborhood and trying to tell their story,” he said.

He has a wagon-load of trivia to share involving Grand Falls, the movie Oklahoma and “zany gunfights” and a lot of real-life characters. Though born in Mesa, he grew up in Ash Fork, a small town and frequent target of his humor.

“I like to entertain, to give them something to learn,” he said. “I started teaching at 21. I love to teach and I love to hear people say, ‘I didn’t know that.’”

Trimble is as anomalous as the state he calls home. His path to teaching history was as winding as a diamondback in a whirlpool.

Though he enrolled in Phoenix College, he played semi-pro baseball. Then he dropped out to join the U.S. Marines. He taught himself to play guitar and entertained his military buddies with Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash songs.

He went back to school, earning his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University in 1961. He coached some high school baseball. He took up with a local folk music group called the Gin Mill Three, traveling the country to keep entertaining.

He did some cowboying in Montana, where he picked up on a lot of details of western history he had never heard before.

“I said, ‘This stuff is fascinating. Why didn’t they teach this in school?’ Then I found out all our textbooks were written in New York or Boston or Philadelphia, places I’d never been to and probably would never go to.”

When he returned to Arizona and started teaching at Coronado High School, he wanted to bring the history of the West to life. That was no easy task in high school, especially during the Vietnam War.

“They needed something to relate to, to be entertained by. They weren’t exactly pro-American, and I’m a former Marine,” he said. “Not everything’s right, but we got a pretty great country here. I’d be afraid if I believed in reincarnation, I might come back born in Afghanistan or something.”

To show them how folk music can tell a country’s history, he brought in his guitar and sang some Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan songs. “So I had the hippies and I had the cowboys,” he said.

In 1972, Trimble created a course on western history for Scottsdale Community College, and 300 students signed up. “I never taught anything else again,” he said.

He wrote his first book, “Arizona: A Panoramic History of a Frontier State,” in 1977. During book-signing tours, he played his guitar and sang. That developed into an act. He has written 15 more books, and the act keeps going as long as people like their Arizona history delivered with a humorous twist.

Gov. Fife Symington appointed him official state historian in 1997.

“It was my duty to go wherever I was needed and tell the history of Arizona in my own way,” he said. “I’ve spent 20 years working without pay, but as a teacher I’m used to that sort of thing.”

This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Santa Cruz Elementary School held a Youth Symposium Thursday, with USA Track & Field Run Jump Throw stations, a career readiness workshop, Human Trafficking Forum for Parents and martial arts demonstration. Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., sponsored the event along with Families First CDC and Be Awesome Coalition. A similar program is planned for Maricopa Elementary School on March 9.

Principal Chris Lineberry with children and the book he co-authored. Submitted photo

Chris Lineberry had a heart attack when he was 35 years old. He was the principal of an elementary school in North Carolina at the time. The medical event changed his life as well as the lives of his students.

He took dramatic steps to get rid of unhealthy foods and increase physical activity and stress-coping mechanisms at the school. As students’ body-mass index decreased, academic achievement improved. It was named a School of Distinction.

Now a resident of Desert Cedars in Maricopa and the principal of Stanfield Elementary, Lineberry has written a book with like-minded educators aimed at improving student fitness.

The book, “Recess Was My Favorite Subject: Where Did It Go?,” is subtitled “Improving Academic Achievement and Addressing Childhood Obesity in Your Classroom by Integrating Best Health and Wellness Practices with Required Instructional Standards.”

With the advent of more rigorous, standardized tests, many school districts across the country decreased or eliminated recess and physical education classes to make room for more academics. Lineberry saw that as an ill-informed response that did more harm than good.

“There is a significant body of research that demonstrates the connection between physical activity and achievement,” Lineberry said.

His goal is to show teachers and administrators how to keep recess a regular part of the daily schedule without limiting academics or spending money. He is doing so by example at Stanfield.

“We are the first and only school in Arizona to ever win the Gold with Distinction award from the USDA,” he said. That is awarded for a high level of physical education and nutrition.

Kindergartners exercise while counting to 100 at Stanfield Elementary. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Kindergartners exercise while counting to 100 at Stanfield Elementary. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

In October, Stanfield Elementary was awarded a $100,000 fitness center from the National Foundation for Governor’s Fitness Councils. It was presented by Jake “Body by Jake” Stienfeld, the director of NFGFC, and is open to students and staff. Lineberry said the district may also provide access to the public next year.

In January the state Board of Education’s A-F Accountability Committee discussed adding points for PE/Health Education.

Melissa Sadorf, superintendent of Stanfield Elementary School District, spoke to the ad-hoc committee, telling them that as a former PE teacher, she found it imperative to address the whole child.

“Every student at Stanfield gets at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily,” she said. “Out-of-seat time is expected every hour in every classroom; oral hygiene, which is the No. 1 cause of student absences, is also addressed.

“Health and wellness are just as much a priority as student achievement and should be recognized as such for the districts that choose to take those opportunities on,” Sadorf said.

This week, the state House of Representatives gave preliminary approval to a requirement that elementary school students be given at least 50 minutes of “unstructured recess.”

Stanfield Elementary was awarded a $100,000 fitness center from the National Foundation for Governor's Fitness Councils. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Stanfield Elementary was awarded a $100,000 fitness center from the National Foundation for Governor’s Fitness Councils. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Lineberry and his co-authors are passionate about educating the “whole” child. William Shane Hesse is a lecturer for Arizona State University and was the state’s Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year in 2011. Lynn Miller is the principal of Sandra Day O’Connor High School. J. Allen Queen has been a professor at UNC-Charlotte for 25 years. Queen also owns the Writers Edge Press, which published “Recess Was My Favorite Subject.” All have doctorates in education.

“Most teachers got into teaching because they love kids, they love to interact with kids, and they want to help make their lives better,” Lineberry said. “Test scores are part of that. I’m not anti-test scores and I’m not anti-accountability. I am anti-accountability at the price of the health of our students and our future.

“The misconception is that we have to choose – either healthy kids, active kids, or highly-performing, academically-strong kids. We don’t have to choose. The two go together.”

He said the basic human need to be active, well-nourished and healthy is interrelated to the ability to problem-solve, read, do math and formulate a cognitive perspective.

The book leads educators to programs and lesson plans that work physical activity into the classroom. Lineberry said he does not schedule recess periods but leaves that to the teachers. He also encourages teachers to feel free to take the kids outdoors when they are getting squirmy and antsy.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the obesity rate for children age 2-19 years in the United States is 17 percent. The rate has seen a significant decline for ages 2-5 years, from 14 percent in 2004 to 9 percent in 2014, while other age groups showed little change. The percentage of American youth considered overweight is around 40 percent.

“The time has come for a paradigm shift,” Lineberry said. 

From left: Lynn Miller, Chris Lineberry, Jake Stienfeld, Gov. Doug Ducey and William S. Hesse. Submitted photo
From left: Lynn Miller, Chris Lineberry, Jake Stienfeld, Gov. Doug Ducey and William S. Hesse. Submitted photo

Copa Shorts Film Fest Executive Director and Volunteer Coordinator Gina D'Abella celebrate the launch of the new event at Elements Event Center. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

With 56 movies and a table read of four screenplays, the Copa Shorts Film Fest debuted during the weekend, drawing movie-makers and some fans to UltraStar Multi-tainment Center.

All films were 20 minutes or shorter, making for a quick and often quirky experience, with various skill levels on display.

For the filmmakers, it was an opportunity to network and compare notes.

“We wanted to go to festivals that were starting out,” said Emily Skyle, a news anchor-turned-filmmaker who brought the comedy Dear George. “We wanted an eclectic mix. When we first submitted here, we didn’t know how it would be received.”

It turned out Dear George was quite well received at other festivals, winning a top award in a Nevada festival, before it was screened in Maricopa. Skyle said she was pleased to see Copa Shorts was in a movie complex and “not in someone’s basement, though that’s respectable, too. But we knew it was going to get a beautiful viewing here.”

After shifting out of journalism and into improv comedy, she became a screenwriter. With Dear George, however, she did not feel she could trust another director with the quirkiness of the characters and the story. So she became director and producer as well.

Filming in Reno, Nevada, she had a $5,000 budget. An airplane was donated to them, a big way to stretch a small budget, and Reno allowed them to shut down streets for filming. She said she is proud the little film has achieved what it has while going up against films with budgets approaching $100,000.

Melanie Watts, a Maricopan whose daughter Izzy played the central character in Belly Flop, said she was amazed at what some filmmakers created on tiny budgets, even as low as $50.

“I know Izzy’s film was like $20,000,” she said. “They did it all on Kickstarter, and they had someone ‘give’ them the house, and maybe that was because they were doing it in L.A.”

Belly Flop was the judges’ pick for Best of Fest. Izzy Watts was 9 years old during filming and is now 13. She picked up the award for filmmakers Marc Gaudioso and Amy Ball. The Audience Choice Award went to the dark comedy A King’s Betrayal, about the brief life of a piñata.

“It went well. We had a goodly number of filmmakers show up, though I would have liked to have seen more people come,” festival co-director Shelley Gillespie said. “We had all of our screenplay finalists show up. We had one who forgot about the time zone change but he came in right when they were starting to read his screenplay.”

It was a rainy weekend for the festival, which turned some Maricopans into moviegoers while keeping some filmmakers from showing up.

“We had some people come in from L.A. in spite of the weather, and I was really surprised,” co-director Roger Gillespie said. “Of course, some couldn’t come because of the weather where they were. The ones that did come were very impressed.”

Councilmember Henry Wade and Police Chief Steve Stahl combined efforts to talk about human trafficking.

Maricopa City Councilmember Henry Wade combined his Councilmember on the Corner session with Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl’s monthly Coffee with the Chief on Feb. 11 to have an expanded talk about sex trafficking in Arizona. Maricopa teacher Linette Caroselli shared her experience when her 19-year-old daughter went missing and wound up being trafficked in the Phoenix area before finally escaping. Area anti-trafficking advocates also addressed the crowd at The Green Zone.

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Maricopa's 5-foot-4 guard Josh Johnson led the team's scoring with 27 points, including seven 3-pointers. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa Rams have been a bit cursed this season having the Apollo Hawks not only in their conference but also in their region.

Apollo was undefeated in 5A Metro competition and in conference play (24-3 overall). Two of those 10 region wins were against Maricopa, by scores of 90-63 and 74-52.

So after the Rams overcame a disintegration midway through the season by fighting their way into the state playoffs, it was their misfortune to be seeded 16th and bracketed against Apollo immediately. The resulting 90-66 loss to the Hawks in Round 1 was neither shocking nor shaming.

“They’re a good team and they did not have a letdown,” Maricopa coach Tony Fuller said.

Apollo’s senior point guards Dre Marin and Holland Woods put on a shooting clinic. Marin hit seven 3-pointers and scored 35 points. Woods score 27.

Junior Josh Johnson led the Rams with 27 points. He also nailed seven 3-pointers. Senior Terrell Johnson scored 18 points and brother Darrell Johnson 14.

Maricopa took the lead early and stayed close until the middle of the first quarter, when Apollo forced turnovers and started hitting nonstop from the field. The Rams trailed by nine points at the end of the quarter.

The second quarter was a disaster for the Rams, who were held to just nine points. The Hawks grew their lead to 47-29 at the half. Maricopa went on some scoring runs but could not get close to Apollo again.

Junior Cameron Sanders hit two buckets for Maricopa and Senior Roscoe Gray hit a 3-pointer to round out the scoring.

“It’s rough when they shoot the ball like that,” Fuller said. “I think the best team won, but I’m still proud of my team.”

The mood in the locker room was somber afterward, the coach said, “but I still see a sense of pride that I didn’t see when I first arrived.”

Many of the players exited red-eyed or in tears. That included Darrell Johnson, who said the team became much closer as friends as the season went on, and the final loss was frustrating.

“We played our hardest tonight and tried to get the job done,” he said.

“But you win some, you lose some.”

Twins Darrell and Terrell Johnson were newcomers to the Rams this year and were consistent top scorers and rebounders. They are among six seniors leaving the team and, at 6-foot-4, the only true height on the squad.

It was an up-and-down season for a team that started strong with two tournament victories but then lost key players to academic struggles. That contributed to a four-game slide late in the season.

With all of the missing players back, they were good enough to get into the top 24 and qualify for the play-in tournament. There, they upset 10th ranked Deer Valley in dramatic fashion to earn a spot in the playoffs.

Fuller said the Rams would have to be a lot sharper to beat a team like Apollo. And he is still concerned about the academic struggles of a lot of students with basketball skills who could not be on the team because they could not make the grades.

“We’ve got a long way to go in terms of what a real basketball program is about,” Fuller said. “The cultural dynamic has to change.”

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

Pinal County prosecutors have until March 7 to decide if they wish to seek the death penalty against a woman accused of murdering her ex-boyfriend in Maricopa.

Kathryn Sinkevitch appeared before Judge Kevin White in Superior Court Monday. The 32-year-old Tempe woman is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Maricopa resident Michael Agerter, 31. He was shot to death Dec. 16 in the garage of his rental home in Rancho El Dorado.

Family members of both were in the courtroom.  The Agerter family sat in the front row, straining to see as Sinkevitch was led into the busy well of the court. Wearing eyeglasses and a maroon jumpsuit, Sinkevitch appeared in jail shackles, her hair in braids.

During the hearing, prosecutor Sean Coll’s motion to take DNA evidence from Sinkevitch was granted. Prosecution and defense have also filed motions regarding access to the rental home and the logistics of getting permission from the person currently controlling the property.

Coll also said his office was still studying the possibility of seeking the death penalty.

Public defender James Mannato said his case was “still a little up in the air” over that.

“We do not want the wheels of capital punishment to go into motion,” he said.

Agerter’s family is circumspect about the idea.

“I don’t know if she did this. If she did do it, I want her to pay for what she did,” Agerter’s mother Leslie Agerter said in an interview last month. “I’m not looking for revenge. Hopefully, the law will come up with the right punishment.”

Sinkevitch and Agerter had a child together, a boy who was only a month old at the time of his father’s death.

The oldest of the four Agerter children, Michael came to Arizona six years ago from Ohio for a job but remained close with his siblings. Leslie Agerter described her son as “a caring, giving person.”

She said he started dating Sinkevitch about three years ago. Kathryn came with him to Ohio a couple of times to visit family.

The relationship was “up and down,” Leslie Agerter said. Though Mike talked about backing away, he hesitated because she didn’t have a job at the time and would suffer financially from a breakup, his mother said.

Leslie Agerter said the family was unaware of domestic violence allegations until the day after Mike had to get medical treatment. She said he called and told them some of Sinkevitch’s violent behavior. She said Mike had planned to leave, but then Sinkevitch found out she was pregnant.

Leslie Agerter called it a “toxic relationship” that forced her son to file for an order of protection against Sinkevitch.

She said that was also why he moved to Maricopa. After an allegation Sinkevitch stole his dog and was showing up at the Maricopa property, he asked his landlord for permission to install security cameras.

He also filed papers to seek custody of the child, whom he never met.

“He was being a man and wanting to take care of his son,” his mother said.

Dec. 16, he had just given a DNA sample in the custody case and was heading back home to Maricopa when he called his sister in Ohio. Instead, his mother answered the phone. They spoke briefly before Leslie handed the phone to her daughter.

Brother and sister talked all during his drive home. Meanwhile, Leslie left her daughter’s house to return to her own home a short drive away.  When she walked in the door, she discovered her daughter had been trying to reach her.

“She said they were still talking when he got to his house. She said she just heard a bang,” Leslie Agerter said. “And he wasn’t there anymore.”

Neighbors on Sagebrush Trail reported gunshots to law enforcement. From Ohio, Leslie Agerter was also trying to reach Maricopa Police to ask someone to go check on her son, not knowing they were already responding to the scene.

He was discovered deceased in the garage. His family saw the scene online from various media outlets before the appropriate person at Maricopa Police Department could officially inform her of what had transpired.

Footage from the surveillance camera at the side of the garage showed a school bus driving past the house before a figure entered camera range from across the street. It was apparently a female in a hoodie that obscured her identity.

The person left camera range by walking into the garage. A few moments later, the person left quickly, crossing the street and getting into a white caravan, which left the scene.

Sinkevitch was arrested Dec. 22 in Avondale by U.S. Marshals Fugitive Taskforce.

“If it was her, she didn’t need to go to extremes,” Leslie Agerter said. “They could have talked through this.”

Arizona Department of Child Safety took custody of the child and allowed family visits.

During Monday’s brief hearing, Leslie Agerter sat at the back of the gallery, child in arms, before the case was called. When Sinkevitch family members sat next to her, she said nothing but the bailiff had them move to the opposite side of the room.

The next pre-trial hearing is set for March 27 at 9 a.m.

Kjirsten Lemon and Lawrence Valdivia play mother and son in "You Can't Take It with You."

Maricopa High School Theatre Company again draws from classic comedy for its winter production.

The students will present “You Can’t Take It With You,” a 1936 play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. It became a 1938 film by Frank Capra starring James Stewart.

“It is a great, goofy, fun comedy. It’s got a lot of ensemble players,” said teacher Cynthia Calhoun. “We’ve been interested in it for a while and the rights were reserved because it was touring, and now the rights are open for amateur productions.”

Set during the Depression, the plot is a screwball Romeo-and-Juliet confection, with a very poor but happy-go-lucky girl named Alice falling in love with Anthony “Tony” Kirby Jr., the son of a wealthy, uptight family.

Crowded into a dilapidated old house, Alice’s three-generation family is eccentric, to say the least, and a stranger to paying income tax, but loving and open-minded. All their peculiarities are on display when the Kirby family comes to dinner. The evening ends in disaster, convincing Alice her family has destroyed her chance for happiness. But all is not really lost.

Senior Lawrence Valdivia plays Tony Kirby.

“I like the fact that he’s very in love with Alice,” he said. “It’s pretty funny, just the way I get to react to stuff.”

Tony’s stuffy mother is played by sophomore Kjirsten Lemon.

“I just like that I get to be this kind-of-mean character. I just hate everyone,” she said. “It’s just fun to try to do a different personality than I’ve played before.”

The cast also includes Alexia Esquivel as Alice, Antonio Gonzales as Mr. Kirby, Carlos O. Venegas as Martin “Grandpa” Vanderhof and Rachel Blakely as Penelope Sycamore among many others.

The production is Feb. 16-18 at 7 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday. Cost is $5. Performances will be in the cozy confines of the Black Box Theatre on the west side of the Performing Arts Center, which Calhoun said offers a more intimate relationship between performers and audience.

“It’s a larger cast for a winter show but you’ve got all sorts of kooky family members and all their little quirks. It’s really just a fun show. It’s got a fun message to it: Enjoy life while you’re in it and don’t worry about the stuff you accumulate. And have a good time.”

Also coming later this winter are student-directed plays “Wit” and “Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.”

This story appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

Maricopa actor Isabella "Izzy" Watts stars in Belly Flop, which will be shown during the Copa Shorts Film Fest.

Comedies, dramas, documentaries, animations, horror, sci-fi – a little bit of everything is the goal of a typical film festival. In short films, a little bit is the operative phrase.

Copa Shorts Film Fest
Feb. 17-19
Friday, VIP Party, 8 p.m.
Saturday, films, noon-10:30 p.m.
Sunday, noon-10 p.m.
UltraStar Multi-tainment Center

Purchase tickets on the website or at the box office.

The inaugural Copa Shorts Film Fest runs Feb. 17-19 at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center. All films are 20 minutes or less. The shortest is 2 minutes and 4 seconds.

Festival co-founder Shelley Gillespie said 56 films will be screened in seven blocks. Most blocks are about an hour and a half long. The festival will end with an eighth block of around eight films that are deemed the “Best of Fest.”

Besides the established judges, filmgoers also rate the films. Those votes will be totaled for the “Audience Award.”

There is a touch of Maricopa in the proceedings. The comedy Belly Flop stars local child actor Isabella “Izzy” Watts. Another is the brainchild by local filmmaker Joe Gruberman (see related story).

Three films were created by Ak-Chin students for the Native American block, and another three were made by Maricopa middle school students (see related story).

As newbies to launching a film festival, Gillespie and her husband Roger traveled around the state and country to take in other festivals and see how they ran. But they were still blindly throwing out the welcome mat to filmmakers and inviting them to send in their creations.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” Shelley Gillespie said. “We discovered people are big procrastinators.”

Many films came in the final days of the entry period. They pulled in films from Norway, Sweden, Australia, China, Canada and Germany. They even received films from Los Angeles.

The festival program cover was designed by Mai A. Tallwing of Maricopa
The festival program cover was designed by Mai A. Tallwing of Maricopa

The Gillespies chose ASU film students and local film buffs to help sort through the entries and score them. Those with the best overall ratings made it into the festival.

Copa Shorts Film Fest reached out to students, hosting workshops at Maricopa Unified School District and Central Arizona College.

“Our mission to educate and inform means we want people to talk about it, even the kids,” Shelley Gillespie said.

After every film block, there will be a Q&A session with some of the filmmakers.

Besides the films on screen, they requested screenplays. The four top screenplays will be given a table read with local actors at a session Sunday afternoon.

There will be workshops Saturday morning. One with Brent Michael Davids will discuss “Film Scoring for Filmmakers.” That is preceded by a workshop with Julia Swift, “Charging Your Creative Spark.” Both are free at Elements Event Center. Register at

Gillespie said it has been very challenging financially to get the festival off the ground. Copa Shorts Film Fest is a nonprofit.

Gruberman said he wanted to be involved to show support for Maricopa creativity. “The fact that it’s short films means it’s a little bit of everything and something for everybody to like,” he said. “I hope it gets a large turnout and is very well received.”

An invitation-only VIP party kicks off the festival Friday night at 8 p.m. at Elements Event Center, where award-winning Celtic/Native American musician Arvel Bird will perform.

Saturday, the films start rolling at noon.

This story appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

160 Characters
The Addiction
Art of Circus
Belly Flop
The Bus Trip
Care for Me
Chateau Sauvignon: Terroir
Close Encounter with an Alien
Dear George
Dr. Elevator
Driver’s Ed
The Fault
A Fire in All of Us
Focus (honorable mention)
Flight Fright
Four-Day Weekend
The Gift
Heather’s Painting
I Hate the Color Red
In the Hands of God
Iroquois Creation Story
Kanu Belong Keram
A King’s Betrayal
Lego Animation
A Light On
The Lockdown
Maria Fernanda in Time
The Matchstick House
Mother Tongue
Non-Smoking Section
Once Upon a Time in Space
Piper in the Woods
Proverbial Luck
Quiet on the Set
Run Cat Run
Stuck in Time
Student Class President
The Tenor
The Thunderbird Over the Whale
To Bee or Not to Bee
Tobi & Matt
Tom the Knife Salesman
True Colours
Uncle Albert
West Side Swordy
The Wild Wonderous West

Screenplays for Table Reeds
Hell to Pay: Legend of Robert Johnson
Holding Hands
Kitsune Mask

Joe Gruberman (submitted photo)

Province resident Joe Gruberman is among a handful of Maricopans whose work will be on the silver screen for the Copa Short Film Festival.

Copa Shorts Film Fest
Feb. 17-19
Friday, VIP Party, 8 p.m.
Saturday, films, noon-10:30 p.m.
Sunday, noon-10 p.m.
UltraStar Multi-tainment Center

Gruberman’s film Tobi & Matt will be among the films screened for the grownups at the 8:30 p.m. block on Feb. 18 at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center. He was also a technical advisor and script supervisor for Flight Fright, which screens that afternoon.

Tobi & Matt came about in a sideways manner.

“I had some friends who wanted to make a movie,” Gruberman said. “The partnership dissolved for whatever reason, but in the interim I wrote the script – in an hour or so.”

He decided to make the film himself through his own Bronck’s Park Productions.

In the 10-minute film, an older woman, played by Judith Eisenberg, is grieving the loss of her husband on the one-year anniversary of his death.

“Her friend, seeing she’s very, very sad after a year, takes her out to a bar,” Gruberman said. “She ends up taking a guy home. The movie begins with her waking up with this strange guy.”

Gruberman said he was inspired to write the script so quickly by a couple of ideas – how seniors cope with things and “older people have sexual lives, too.”

Gruberman retired at the age of 48 and has lived in Province for 11 years.

“I wanted to write something for older people about how we older people relate to the world,” he said.

Fright Flight is completely different, sending up a famed “The Twilight Zone” episode starring William Shatner, “Nightmare at 20,000 feet.”

Gruberman helped his friend Jim Politano with the upfront technicals of getting the film together and then tightened the script and made sure everything was filmed.

“We threw in some twists people might not be expecting,” he said.

Gruberman said he wanted to participate in the Copa Shorts Film Fest to show support for a local event.

This story appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

MWMS students Kaden Rogers, Thomas Abel, Joseph Abel, Joshua Kulinowski, Rylee Tarcola, Emilee Thompson, Nico McKinley, Ashton Owen and Adam Houser created films for Copa Shorts Film Fest. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Language arts isn’t all about parsing sentences, and science isn’t all about the periodic table. For some Maricopa middle schoolers, language and science came together to become filmmaking.

Copa Shorts Film Fest
Feb. 17-19
Friday, VIP Party, 8 p.m.
Saturday, films, noon-10:30 p.m.
Sunday, noon-10 p.m.
UltraStar Multi-tainment Center

In the case of three teams of student filmmakers, their movies surpassed their classmates just enough to be chosen for the student section of Copa Shorts Film Fest.

Four classes of 20+1 Blended Learning students at Maricopa Wells and Desert Wind middle schools completed 12 films and screenplays. Those chosen for the film festival were The Fault, The Wild Wonderous West and The Lockdown.

Because the middle schoolers are young and rookies at filmmaking, the three films will be shown as non-competitive ahead of the competitive entries in the Student Competition block on Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center.

Maricopa Wells Middle School teacher Robyn Rice said the filmmaking exercise achieved specific goals in language arts and “actually falls under the science standards.”

For the students, it was fun, team-building and challenging. Teams worked as directors, editors, cinematographers, actors and writers. They had to create storyboards before they hashed out the script. The process brought about big changes from conception to finished product.

Emilee Thompson, who edited The Wild Wonderous West, said one of the early ideas was something called “Juan and the Zombie Apocalypse.”

Instead, they created a western about a sheriff.

“We really learned a lot about what to do,” Emilee said.

“We learned what not to do,” said Kaden Rogers, co-director of The Fault.

He said their idea was always a disaster movie, with team members Thomas Abel, Joseph Abel and Rylee Tarcola trapped in a precarious situation.

“The goal is for them to survive as long as possible without food or anything,” said Joshua Kulinowski, the other co-director.

But there were difficulties attached to middle school filmmakers destroying New York City.

“We said, ‘Why don’t we stick to something we can actually film,” Rylee said.

That became an earthquake in Maricopa. They used cell phones for filming, a skateboard as a dolly and some animation provided by Joseph Abel.

Adam Houser, who directed The Wild Wonderous West, said he used his mother’s camera and a tripod to capture the story with Nico McKinley and Ashton Owen.

Rice said the knowledge gained in putting a film together had great value for the students outside the curriculum. The process involved problem-solving and collaboration.

The students attended a filmmaking workshop in September through Copa Shorts Film Fest. At the time, only a couple had thought about making movies. Now, after their own filmmaking experiences, most want to do it again.

And don’t worry. “Juan” may meet his “Zombie Apocalypse” in the future. The middle schoolers are coming up with ideas for next year.

This story appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.


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Pat Lairson

By Pat Lairson

Historically in real estate, the beginning of the year starts out slow with a steady pace of listings coming on the market by mid January and increasing as the new year gets started. That is not the case this year.

2017 has started with a bang, with not much of a holiday slowdown, and many new homes coming on the market from the start of the year. Our inventory is actually still low even though many new listings are coming on daily. We currently have 292 single family dwellings available for sale in an HOA subdivision in Maricopa. Out of this number, 59 of these homes are for sale in Province, the 55+ subdivision. This leaves just 233 non-age-restricted homes available for sale.

From Dec. 15 to Jan. 15, 140 homes closed escrow. The previous year for the same time period there were 99 homes sold. This represents about a 40 percent increase in sales from the previous year. So not only are more listings coming on the market, but more sales are occurring, too.

One of the factors fueling the increase in sales is the Pathway to Purchase Program (P2P). This is one of two no-down-payment assistance programs available for Maricopa. Funding for this program is provided by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

P2P had a $48 million commitment of grant monies available to 17 Arizona cities. Right now, the allocated funds are expected to be depleted by late February or early March. There is a chance these funds may be replenished but we won’t know until the end date gets closer.

One thing is for certain, the real estate market in Maricopa is on the rise. Even though interest rates have increased slightly, consumer confidence is high. If you have been thinking about selling your home, it very well could be a perfect time.

Pat Lairson, Realtor

This column appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

A large portion of Maricopa's businesses are home-based, like Hernandez Painting and Amberlynn’s Sweet Treats, and the reasons vary.

If Maricopa seems to have a lot of home-based business, well, it does.

More than 370, in fact.

According to the city’s Economic Development Department, 30 percent of Maricopa’s businesses are run out of a home.

On a national perspective, that is not much. Numbers from the Small Business Administration show 52 percent of small businesses in the United States are home-based. The SBA considers any business with fewer than 500 employees to be “small,” which takes in the vast majority of companies in Maricopa.

Dorothy Wolden, an economic development specialist with the city, said Maricopa keeps an even hand for all new businesses. Whether they are home-based or in a commercial storefront, a business license is $50. And no special restrictions are in place for businesses in residential areas, “as long as no neighbors are complaining,” she said.

“There are a lot of challenges to starting a business,” Wolden said. “We don’t want to be one of them.”

For Amber Owens of Amberlynn’s Sweet Treats, working with the city to get set up for business in her home was a positive experience. “Oh, it was very easy,” she said. “The woman at City Hall was so helpful and answered all my questions. She would call me back within an hour.”

Questions to Answer Before You Open a Home-Based Business
* What licenses and permits do I need?
* What kind of business structure will I be – sole proprietorship, limited liability company, etc.?
* What are the tax deductions for home office space?
* Will I need to make physical changes to my home or property?
* What are the homeowners’ association restrictions?
* How do I separate home expenses from business expenses?
* Do I need to file a state or federal trademark?
* Will my business be subject to a transaction privilege tax?
* What are my plans for accommodating more employees as my business grows?
* How much money must I make to be a success?

For all that, owners of a home-based start-up are encouraged to study the zoning regulations to make sure their type of business does not conflict with the local code regarding noise, dust or parking. Also of vital importance are regulations and restrictions from homeowners’ associations.

Maricopa wants the reputation of encouraging entrepreneurship. While city leaders are actively engaged in finding big employers to move to Maricopa, the current reality is most businesses are service-based.

Many home-based businesses are so-called “mom-and-pop” operations run by a married couple. Landscapers, plumbers, bakers, CPAs, financial advisers, home cleaners, personal consultants, painters and craftsmen all call Maricopa home and call home their office.

According to the SBA, the industries in which businesses are most likely to be home-based are information, construction, and professional, scientific and technical services. Sixty percent of all firms without paid employees are home-based.

Worden said the Maricopa trend is more women than men operating home-based businesses.

She said the top reason new business owners start at home instead of trying a storefront is the low overhead. But that’s just the start.

“They want more flexibility with their families and they’re wanting to create a lifestyle of their own,” Wolden said.

Jaime Hernandez of Hernandez Painting said being home-based puts him in control of his own hours.

“I have time to coach soccer teams when I want,” he said. “And I have more time with the family.”

For some entrepreneurs, a home-based business is a stepping stone to a storefront.

Owens’ long-range goal is a storefront bakery. However, business has built so steadily since she opened in her home three years ago that she is perfectly satisfied for the time being.

Amberlynn’s was a side business to help pay for books while she was studying at Central Arizona College. Keeping it at home relieves her of paying another mortgage and is extra income with her full-time job.

A common theme among home-based business owners is the desire to get out of a corporate mindset, especially to get away from employers running companies in ways that were contrary to their own ideas.

But Wolden cautioned: “There is a difference between someone who just wants to be their own boss and really wanting to be a business owner.”

SBA likes to point out Apple and Ford Motor Company started as home-based businesses. They grew not because one person liked to call the shots but because they wanted to be the best business possible and stay ahead of the competition.

One of the pitfalls of running a business from a home is the likelihood of being isolated from other businesses in the community. The importance of networking and staying keyed into local trends cannot be overvalued.

Just ask the folks at Apple and Ford.

This story appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

Companies filing for new business licenses Dec. 16-Jan. 15:

Commercial: Postmaster Depot, Super Smiles for Kids

Home-based: D.E.N. Services, Stormwind’s Creations, Sunshine Home Cleaning

Out of Town: Ayala Pool Plumbing, Food Trailer, ISEC, JC Signs, John Gorraiz Electrical

This information appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

Aliberto's Mexican Food was among four eateries to corrected issues last month to get satisfactory marks from the county inspector. Photo by William Lange

Of 23 eateries inspected in Maricopa from Dec. 16 to Jan. 15, all received marks of “Excellent” except four. Those four fixed violations on the spot for “Satisfactory” marks.

At Aliberto’s Mexican Restaurant, a cook was observed rolling a burrito with bare hands, items in the prep table were over the required cold-holding temperature of 41 degrees, and there were no date markings on several items in a walk-in refrigerator.

Helen’s Kitchen had a plate of raw, uncovered chicken on top of an uncovered container of beef patties, and some food in the fridge had no date markings.

Maricopa High School had hot dogs being thawed improperly and improper cold-holding for milk containers.

True Grit Tavern had sauce spilled in the walk-in refrigerator, bread next to a puddle of chicken blood, macaroni and cheese at 65 degrees instead of the required hot-holding temperature of 135, unlabeled food items in the fridge, items past their date marking still in the fridge and condensation build-up on containers in freezer.

Excellent [No violations found]
Bashas’ – Bakery
Bashas’ – Deli
Bashas’ – Starbuck’s
Carl’s Jr.
Children’s Learning Adventure Childcare Centers
Chipotle Mexican Grill
The Duke at Rancho El Dorado
Fry’s Marketplace
Fry’s Marketplace – Bakery
Fry’s Marketplace – Starbuck’s
Fry’s Marketplace – Sushi
Honeycutt Coffee
Maricopa Head Start
Penascos Mexican Restaurant
Wal-Mart – Bakery
Wal-Mart – Deli
Yogurt Jungle

Satisfactory [Violations corrected during inspection]
Aliberto’s Mexican Food
True Grit Tavern
Helen’s Kitchen
Maricopa High School

Needs Improvement [Critical items noted during inspection cannot be corrected immediately, requiring follow-up inspection]

Unacceptable [Gross, unsanitary conditions necessitating the discontinuation of operation]

This article appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

File photo

What is perennially Maricopa’s most fancy-schmancy party is toning down a little this year, but that won’t change its purpose.

The 12th annual Against Abuse Seeds of Change Gala is set for Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. The theme this year is “Boots and Bling,” and the location will be the Province Town Hall, 20942 Province Parkway.

Sponsors explain why Against Abuse is so important to them: 

At what has usually been a formal dinner-and-dancing dress-up event, dancing means line dancing and dinner means barbecue. There will also be whiskey tasting and cigars in the Saloon for VIP-ticket holders.

Organizer Torri Anderson described this year’s event as “cowboy casual.” Attendees can feel free to dress up as much as they please but are also welcome to sport cowboy hats and boots.

The gala is presented by Meritage Homes. The event benefits Against Abuse Inc.’s domestic violence shelter in Maricopa.

A standard “cowboy” ticket is $50. A VIP ticket with reserved seating is $75.

“All of the money goes to the shelter,” Anderson said.

The shelter provides temporarily housing to women and children escaping abusive situations. It was completed last year. The Seeds of Change gala was initiated more than a decade ago to build the shelter. But that was just the beginning.

“The real work begins after it’s built,” Anderson said.

Funding goes to operation, maintenance and supplies.

This year’s gala will not have a live auction, but the silent auction will continue. Anderson said it will be paper only and not involve cell phones.

Among the auction items will be jewelry from Kendra Scott, a big supporter of domestic violence awareness. It opened a Chandler store in December. A Jewelry Cocktail Party is set for Feb. 11, 4-6 p.m., and also benefits the shelter.

Against Abuse Inc. is a private nonprofit established in Pinal County in 1981.

Boots and Bling gets started with music by About Last Night. Line dancing (with lessons) will be at 6 p.m.

This story appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.