Authors Articles byRaquel Hendrickson

Raquel Hendrickson

Raquel Hendrickson
1078 Articles 4 COMMENTS
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.

After a blistering week, more clear skies and slightly less hot temperatures are in store for Maricopa. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Temperatures in the low 100s and lots of sun are in this week’s forecast for Maricopa, according to the National Weather Service.

Today is sunny with a high near 105. The overnight low will be 67 with increasing winds up to 15 mph.

Tuesday is expected to be sunny with a high near 104. The nighttime low will be around 65.

Wednesday‘s forecast calls for sunny skies and high near 104. Overnight, the low will be round 67.

Thursday also has a sunny forecast with a high near 106. The night will have a low around 67.

Friday, too, anticipates clear skies with a high near 104 but with more breezes. The wind could gust up to 20 mph. The overnight low will be around 68.

That is expected to start a warm, sunny weekend with temps just above 100 with no precipitation yet in the forecast.

For an after-dark cool-down, Copper Sky Aquatic Center hosted the annual Dive-In Movie as part of the Movies under the Stars series of outdoor movies June 15. Families swam in the pools and played on the splash pad while watching Aquaman on the inflatable big screen.

Blackstones Entertainment hosted a Juneteenth celebration at Pacana Park June 15, an annual event celebrating the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation. The day included music, addresses, Maricopa-based vendors, a dunk tank and inflatable water slide. Traditionally celebrated sometime around June 19, it commemorates freedom of enslaved people in Confederate states during and after the Civil War. The proclamation was signed by President Lincoln in 1862 and ostensibly went into effect in 1863. Slaves in remote areas of Texas were the last to receive the announcement, in June 1865, two months after the end of the war, which became Juneteenth. (The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, outlawing slavery throughout the country, was ratified in December of that year.)

Best Dad in Maricopa winner Michael Sabo, with wife Jheymmy, daughter Belana and son Kenny, and presented a new grill by Maricopa Ace Hardware owner Mike Richey.

A resident of Maricopa since 2006, Michael Sabo was named Best Dad in Maricopa through an online poll at InMaricopa. The contest was sponsored by Ace Hardware to celebrate Father’s Day.

“It’s amazing,” Sabo said. “Very amazing.”

Sabo, a business analyst with two children, was nominated three times, and his wife Jheymmy reached out to every relative and friend she had across the country to urge them to vote. At stake was a Traeger grill with wood pellets, grill cover and Slot Dog.

“All of my co-workers were like, ‘You owe us a barbecue,’” Jheymmy said.

Sabo said they intend to grill up some carne asada Sunday, Father’s Day. He was one of 40 nominees who drew a combined 10,962 votes.

In nominating her husband, Jheymmy used many terms: “Supportive, determined, loyal, honest, role model, considerate, involved, grateful, strong family values, patient, easy-going.”

She said family has always been his top priority.

“His love and care for our wonderful children is unmeasurable,” she said. “I’m blessed to call him my husband and best friend.”

Tanya Dye also called him “an amazing man” in a separate nomination. “He has a way of conquering the mountains in life to obtain a master’s degree in finance, to teach his children the most important lesson is to never give up.”

The runner-up for Best Dad was local business owner Bo Johnson.

“He’s really good with the kids; it’s all about the kids all the time,” said wife Michelle.

Her nomination including a photo of her husband covering his daughter’s dance outfit with rhinestones.

“Most know him for Yogurt Jungle, but our kids know him as daddy and that title is even more rewarding for him,” she said.

“I was surprised at first, because we got so many votes right off the bat,” he said.

The second-place prize from Ace was a 240-piece Craftsman socket set and a 100-piece ratcheting screwdriver and bit set.

“Honestly, I’ll probably use this more than I would the grill,” Johnson said.

See all the wonderful nominees at InMaricopa.com/contests.

Best Dad Runner-Up Bo Johnson with wife Michelle, daughter Tessa, son Avery and Mike Richey.

Veterans and friends of Alex Beckley gathered to work at his home Saturday, two weeks after his death. Photos by Raquel Hendrickson

When Alex Beckley was killed in a single-vehicle crash on State Route 347 on May 31, he left behind a hole in the hearts of those who loved him.

Brenda Severs, also injured in the incident, was left to pull together the pieces. Uncertain what to do with the home they shared in the Lakes subdivision, she also saw a problem that added to her burden.

Alex had left behind a large hole in the backyard.

Severs said they had been planning to put in a pond as Alex settled into his new job at Compass Airlines, where he worked as a storage and material clerk under Bryan Moore. The freshly minted commander of American Legion Post 133, Moore rallied his fellow veterans and area businesses to lend a hand and get the yard back in shape.

Wildcat Landscaping of Maricopa donated the landscaping rock. Plants were donated by Leaf & Feather south of Maricopa. Pots and potting soil were donated by Home Depot in Chandler.

Moore put the word out to the American Legion and posted on the Maricopa Veterans Facebook page seeking volunteers, and more than a dozen veterans along with Compass employees and Rent-A-Vet showed up Saturday morning to shovel and rake.

Maricopa Veterans is a closed group on Facebook that was founded in 2018 with the intent of helping others, and it has grown to about 340 members.

“We’re really expanding. We’re really growing and we’re trying to do a lot of things,” Moore said.

They have helped an older veteran pack up and move to Washington. They have helped shape up the front yard of a Maricopa dad battling cancer. They have helped others move furniture.

The group’s motto is Semper Simul (Always Family). It is veterans helping veterans and the community at large. The group’s description states, “We are committed to continuing the spirit of service that was engrained in us from our time in the service.” Members must affirm they are veterans by answering membership questions before they are allowed into the group.

“When we have a veteran that’s in need, we jump in,” Moore said. “And that extends to their family.”

Investigators believe a blown tire caused the accident that took Beckley’s life.

Severs said she had been with Beckley six years, since they worked together at a JC Penney home store. Losing him has left her in a quandary over whether to stay or move.

“We’re still debating. We don’t know,” she said. “It’s hard because my two daughters, one is in Florida and one is in Vegas. So, then my work is in Ahwatukee, and driving back and forth, I’m a little bit skeptical about driving so far.”

With so much in her life up in the air, she’s found a rock of support among the veterans.

“Alex is no longer with us,” Moore said, “so now we’re going to try to take care of his family. That’s what we’re doing.”

Facebook.com/groups/MaricopaVeterans/

 

It’s not the first Maricopa subdivision to try to get out of an agreement with Orbitel Communications, but now Desert Passage Community Association is facing a lawsuit from the communications company.

Attorney Mark Holmgren called the evergreen clause “procedurally and substantively unconscionable.”

Orbitel attorneys filed a breach-of-contract complaint in Superior Court in May. They claim Desert Passage violated an agreement when it elected to terminate its cable service as of Dec. 21, 2018.

The suit seeks nearly $1 million in damages. The HOA’s attorneys, however, are challenging a common contract clause that has been a point of contention in community associations across the country.

Desert Passage (Smith Farms) is one of 11 homeowners associations in Maricopa that are “basic cable bulk-billed communities” through Orbitel. That agreement was for an initial seven years, starting in 2004, and renewed in 2011. Containing an “evergreen” clause, it renews automatically unless the HOA membership votes to terminate with a 60-day notice.

In an Oct. 18 letter notifying Orbitel of its pending termination of the agreement, Community Manager Debbie King stated, “The Board of Directors and the community per the contract have made this decision.”

King did not respond to a request for comment.

The details of the HOA decision were not defined until April, after letters were exchanged between Orbitel and Desert Passage and their respective attorneys. Desert Passage attorneys informed Orbitel a “duly noticed meeting” was held on an unspecified date prior to the Oct. 18 letter and the board obtained the required 67 percent vote against renewal.

In that April letter, attorney Mark Holmgren of Goodman Holmgren Law Group, representing the HOA, called the evergreen clause “procedurally and substantively unconscionable.”

Evergreen clauses are accepted in Arizona, but a handful of other states like California and Illinois have placed requirements of “conspicuousness” and renewal notification in their legislation. Courts have usually upheld the automatic-renewal clauses unless the language is ambiguous.

Orbitel received the initial notification of termination Oct. 18, more than 60 days before renewal was due to occur.

But the company wasn’t having it. The agreement with the HOA states the contract cannot be terminated until 67 percent of the homeowners in the association vote not to renew or extend the service. Orbitel claims there is no documentation to prove that happened.

“Orbitel responded with information indicating that, contrary to the terms in the agreement, the homeowners association had failed to obtain the approval of the Desert Passage residents for the cancellation of the agreement,” said John Schurz, president and general manager of Orbitel.

The company requested proof the HOA had taken a membership vote and met the required percentage to terminate. Claiming it received no response from Desert Passage, Orbitel then had its attorneys send another letter to the HOA in November. That letter also requested an updated count of “certificated residences” in the HOA.

Attorney Christopher Callahan of Fennemore Craig wrote that Orbitel’s billings for years had been based on 347 residences. “Orbitel has recently come to understand that there are presently more than 500 certified residences in Desert Passage, with more homes under construction,” he wrote to the HOA, meaning the HOA had been underbilled for years.

He also said the number of residences “is a matter within the exclusive knowledge of the Association,” which was why Orbitel was requesting the information.

However, in a March letter Holmgren stated the contract placed the burden of tracking the number of homes served and maintaining those records on Orbitel. Callahan said Orbitel did maintain the records of the 347 homes that it was billing but received no information on certificates of occupancy.

However, he said, Orbitel decided to do some calculations of its own. Those numbers showed 610 certificated residences, 22 homes under construction, eight lots being prepped for construction and 50 vacant lots.

Based on those numbers, he said, future monthly invoices would be for $11,840 instead of the $6,735 that had been billed.

It is not known what number of residences the HOA used for its calculation of 67 percent. In his sharply worded April letter to Callahan, Holmgren said “Orbitel has no right to review the ballots.”

While Holmgren said there is no longer a contract between Desert Passage and Orbitel, the HOA continued to pay Orbitel in January and February, and Orbitel continues to provide service.

The suit is seeking $6,735 for March, $11,840 each for April and May and then continued damages at that rate through what would have been the end of a renewed seven-year contract in 2025, plus attorneys’ fees. That comes to “at least” $970,888.

Holmgren laid out his dispute of Orbitel’s argument in the April letter. He claimed the language of the agreement indicated only one seven-year renewal, “not continued renewals,” and even cited KB Home as agreeing with his assessment.

“KB Home says the intent of the [agreement] was to allow Orbitel to recoup its investment in original infrastructure, and that the original term would have been sufficient,” Holmgren wrote.

He said any ambiguity in the contract was the fault of Orbitel.

And, Holmgren said, even if the agreement allowed for automatic renewals and even if the terms were not ambiguous, Desert Passage followed the correct procedures to terminate the contract.

Orbitel is part of the City of Maricopa’s origin story. The company was called in by developers in 2001 to help establish communication infrastructure ahead of thousands of homes. The company received a cable TV franchise in 2004, with those early contracts requiring Orbitel to have cable service in place before homes were built.

Later adding telephone and high-speed internet service, the company was acquired by MCG Capital Corporation in 2007. Schurz Communications acquired Orbitel in 2012.

Schurz, the general manager, speaks of Orbitel’s relationship with Desert Passage in the present tense.

“We are hopeful we can reach a speedy resolution to the matters at issue in the complaint,” Schurz said, “and we are committed to fulfilling our service obligations to the community residents and will continue to do so.”

Dustin Meyer (PCSO photo)

A 22-year-old man was booked on suspicion of aggravated assault after being accused of choking his girlfriend three times.

Maricopa Police were called to the home on West Cowpath Drive at around 1 a.m. Tuesday. There, a woman told officers Dustin Meyer had tried to strangle her after an argument.

Meyer stated he was attacked first and was trying to defend himself.

The woman told police they got into an argument after Meyer refused to leave the house. She said the argument ended up in her bedroom with Meyer pinning her down on the bed while putting both of his hands around her throat. She said he choked her three times and she could not breathe.

According to the report, she used a key to defend herself, “digging her key into multiple locations of Dustin’s body.”

The woman reported diminished hearing in her left ear and a headache. Police noted abrasions on Meyer.

Police took Meyer into custody on an anticipated charge of aggravated assault per domestic violence.

Modular buildings wait in the sun in the parking lot at Maricopa High School to be used as overflow classrooms in the coming school year. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

With the excessive heat advisory ending tonight, the weekend outlook for Maricopa still includes triple digits and lot and lots of sun, according to the National Weather Service.

Today is partly sunny and hot with an expected high of 113 and winds reaching 15 mph. Tonight will likely be mostly cloudy with gradual clearing and a low around 71. Winds could gust as high as 25 mph.

Friday is forecast to be sunny with a high near 105 and continued breezy conditions. The nighttime low will be around 69.

Saturday is expected to be sunny with a high near 104. The overnight low will be around 71.

Sunday is also likely to be sunny with a high near 105. The night temperature will drop to around 70.

The pattern will continue into next week with daily temps expected in the low 100s.

 

Mike Headrick gets cozy with a cactus in his front yard in Rancho El Dorado. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

“He’d always had a quickening of the heart when he crossed into Arizona and beheld the cactus country. This was as the desert should be, this was the desert of the

About the Saguaro
Size: Average 30 feet (largest cactus species in the United States)
Longevity: 150-200 years
Habitat: Sonoran Desert
Blooming period: May and June
–Desert Botanical Garden
The rules regarding saguaro and other protected native plants can be found at Agriculture.AZ.gov.
Permits can be obtained at the Phoenix Office of the Agricultural Department, 1688 W. Adams St., 602-542-3578.
Scott Schade can be reached at 520-628-6317 or sschade@azda.gov.

picture books, with the land unrolled to the farthest distant horizon hills, with saguaro standing sentinel in their strange chessboard pattern, towering supinely above the fans of ocotillo and brushy mesquite.” – Dorothy B. Hughes

 

When Michael Headrick purchased saguaro skeletons two years ago, he created a notarized note indicating where and from whom he had acquired them, “just to be sure.”

Arizona loves its cactus, especially its saguaro. So much so, there are protections built into state law.

Headrick, who has lived in Rancho El Dorado nine years, loves cactus, too, and has made them an integral part of his landscaping – and his interior decorating. People just passing by his property have called it “the cactus house” because of the forest of 15-foot cacti out front. They haven’t seen the inside.

Life after Death

Saguaro skeletons and pieces of skeletons are installed in his living room, lighted from within for dramatic effect.

“I like saguaro,” Headrick said. “It’s extremely hard wood, and it’s a big job to clean them up. They’ve got old dry stuff inside, and you’ve got to get that stuff out, drill a hole in the bottom so you can run your lights through. I put them in the driveway and I bleach them with Clorox. Then I leave them outside all day long and they turn real white. They look a lot better than they did before.”

An aficionado of stained glass, he then had an epiphany.

“I thought, ‘Why don’t I try to put a stained-glass window in one of these?’” he said. “It came out very nice.”

Cactus-as-art started with acquiring the skeletons in the first place. That happened when Headrick met a Mesa rancher willing to part ways with his saguaro wood.

“Wherever I live, I try to bring that into my house,” he said. “When I lived in Hawaii, I decorated with surfboards and things that had to do with the ocean. I couldn’t see living in Phoenix and decorating my house with Chicago stuff.”

Saguaro skeletons do not come with the legal requirements attached to live cactus. As long as permission is given by the landowner to access the property, whether private or federal, anyone can remove cactus wood. The state’s caution is that doing so could disturb habitat and interfere with soil fertility.

Laws of the Living

However, take a live cactus without proper authority and you may meet Scott Schade of the Office of Special Investigations.

It’s illegal to harm a saguaro, and moving one requires special paperwork. Schade said when people get in trouble acquiring a saguaro, it’s usually something basic. “Transporting it without a permit,” he said, is the top infraction.

A tag for a saguaro is $8. Tags for other protected plants cost $6. Investigators get called in for suspicious activity like trespassing, when movement tags are not obvious on protected plants being moved or when someone is trying to sell a wild saguaro without documentation. Legal ramifications depend on the “violation gravity factor,” according to the Arizona Administrative Code.

“It can be a fine, it can be jail time, it can be a civil penalty,” Schade said. “It depends on what’s going on.”

Landowners hauling a rotted saguaro to the landfill do not need a moving permit, he said.

If you want to raise your own, saguaros grow from seeds, not cuttings, and they grow slowly. A 10-year-old cactus may be less than two inches high, meaning they can be grown indoors for a very long time before needing a transfer.

Desert Décor

Headrick educated himself on the such laws before adding saguaro remains to his décor, which is a collection of western and Native American art, handmade furnishings, antiques and do-dads. He has given old radios the same treatment as the cactus skeletons, replacing audio panels with stained glass. He even has charred wood from old Maricopa buildings.

“You could sit in here for an hour and not see everything,” he said.

Headrick, 65, came to Maricopa in a roundabout way. He grew up in Chicago and first discovered Arizona when he was 28. He said he lived off dividends from trading options as a silent partner for years. He was living the high life in Arizona, California and Hawaii until his partner was indicted in a Ponzi scheme, wiping out his income.

His whole life downsized. He went back to work and moved.

“Maricopa was the only place I could afford to have a pool,” he said. “I sold my house two weeks before the crash for very top dollar, and I bought this house for very bottom dollar.”

He eventually took a job working the ramps at Southwest Airlines, and then worked almost 30 years as a credit card fraud analyst for Bank of America, from which he retired four years ago. He has kept up his own art, which informs his style of exterior and interior design.

“It’s very western out back,” Headrick said of a backyard that includes an OK Corral and cholla skeletons.

He estimates he has 20 cacti in the front yard comprised of claret cup, apple cactus, Mexican fence pole and San Pedro cactus, making landscaping and propagation very low maintenance.

“When an arm starts protruding toward the driveway and it’s time to cut it off,” he said, “you just cut it off, lay it on the ground, let it sit for 24 hours, dig a hole about a foot deep, drop it in there, give it a little bit of water and leave it alone.”

He also has a front “hedge” made of 25 elephant ear plants he nurtured for four years before cutting into a hedge shape.


This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

Native Grill is at last (almost) ready to re-open.

After being closed for a “small” fire in January, Native Grill & Wings may re-open Friday.

Until this afternoon, the restaurant had a sign on the door stating it would re-open Thursday, but that is no longer the case.

Pat Kieny, franchise owner, said he plans to have the city inspector in the restaurant Thursday after final touches this week. That would allow for the June 14 opening to coincide with Father’s Day weekend.

However, he said, if the inspector is unable to come Thursday, the city does not work Fridays. That would delay inspection until Monday, and re-opening would not happen until Tuesday.

Most of the work has been in areas away from customers, Kieny said, so the restaurant will look almost exactly as it did before the fire.

“We have some new equipment, but nothing else has changed,” he said. “We have most of the same employees.”

The fire marshal’s report on the Jan. 12 fire did not determine a cause.

SimonMed is prepping offices in the Signal Health building.

La Quinta received a development review permit for its plans to build a hotel at Copper Sky as the City works to commercialize the property west of the park. As part of the project, the City decreased the amount of land it agreed to sell to Maricopa Auberge LLC near the southeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard by almost 5,000 square feet. The purchase price was $411,970, or about $5 per square foot.

Sacate Pellet Mill, 38743 W. Cowtown Road, received commercial permits for five new buildings. One is 1,584 square feet, another 3,479 square feet, a metal building to cover the boiler and air compressor is 616 square feet, and a metal hay canopy is 9,860 square feet. The fifth building is a 4,230-square-foot hay office. Sacate was also approved for a modular sales office.

A new church to be built at 19275 N. Gunsmoke Road received a commercial permit. Schifferer Built LLC is the contractor for what will be Mount Moriah Community AME Church. It is planned as a 2,096-square-foot building valued at $317,000. The project received a grading and drainage permit, too.

SimonMed was approved to make changes to Suite B in the new Signal Healthcare building at 44555 W. Edison Road in anticipation of a 4,539-square-foot office space for diagnostics. The City approved a comprehensive sign plan for Edison Place, 44500 W. Edison Road, including three illuminated wall signs for SimonMed.

Apex Motor Club, 22408 N. Ralston Road, opened the first phase of its track to its membership with a ribbon-cutting April 26. It continues construction on the lot, with plans for a clubhouse and garage condo.

The construction of Heritage Academy continues rapidly at 41004 W. Lucerian Lane in Glennwilde. It received commercial permits for a 13,525-square-foot gymnasium valued at $2.1 million and was approved for fire sprinklers in both its buildings.

Honeycutt Coffee reopened under new ownership May 15 after being closed since February. Tanya and Dave Powers have purchased the business at 44400 W. Honeycutt Road, Suite 107, selling coffee, smoothies, sandwiches, muffin tops and pastries.

Hope Women’s Center, 45978 W. McDavid Road, has a zoning permit and is working to renovate a house into a center for its services to women and children.

Pacific Dental Services received approval to make improvement at 41940 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy. near Walmart.


This item appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

Jonathan Pulver had a close call but worked hard to graduate with his classmates. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Sprinkled among the hundreds of Maricopa High School students who graduated May 23 were those who completed their coursework through the school’s Ram Academy.

This was the second full year for the credit-recovery program.

I worked and worked and worked.

“If it hadn’t been for Ram Academy, my son wouldn’t have graduated,” Ray Pulver said.

Students have various reasons for falling behind on their school credits. For Jonathan Pulver, 17, it was a matter of transfer. He had attended district and charter schools growing up and spent his freshman year and half of his sophomore year in homeschool. He enrolled in MHS mid-year, but the homeschool credits did not transfer.

His grade point average had been 3.5 as a sophomore and 3.0 as a junior, but his credits still trailed.

After his junior year, it became clear he was 13.5 credits behind his classmates, the equivalent of a year and a half, which seemed almost insurmountable at the time. When other options failed, his best chance of graduating with his friends appeared to be Ram Academy.

“I was not happy to be there,” Jonathan Pulver said. “Then I realized I could get through classes pretty quickly. I finished my first class in two weeks.”

“Jonathan completed not only his senior year at Ram Academy but also made up his freshman and sophomore year credits all in one year,” Ray Pulver said.

An Eagle scout who is the oldest of five Pulver children, he completed 24 classes through Ram Academy and three more through Brigham Young University Independent Studies. Without the BYU classes, he still would have been short of credits. He said he completed his final course the day before graduation.

It took a combined effort of teachers and parents to keep him motivated.

“I worked and worked and worked,” Jonathan said. “The teachers were great. They would tell me, ‘You can do it,’ and ‘Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it.’”

A typical day was spending 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. working on online classes at home and 2-8 p.m. on campus. When he lost focus and discipline, teachers and Assistant Principal Steve Ybarra were there to clamp down.

“I have great teachers at the Ram Academy who are seasoned, connect with students and care about them as individuals,” Ybarra said. “I have an assistant who treats the students as her own children, and we hold them accountable, we place them on contracts as needed but allow them to earn back any freedoms they have lost.”

Jonathan Pulver said there was some knowledge overlap from homeschool classes in biology and some math that aided his crusade. His mother Rachel helped at home, and his father helped with math classes after work.

Another chance to get on track is a motivating factor for many Ram Academy students.

“Some have left us, but many times they return to allow us to guide and help them get their high school diplomas,” Ybarra said.

Pulver found students got out of Ram Academy what they put into it.

“I like the teachers because if I respected them I would get respect back,” he said.

Superintendent Tracey Lopeman said the credit-recovery program is part of MUSD’s options “offering multiple paths to graduation” for those struggling in traditional school settings.

“The flexibility of Ram Academy offers non-traditional learners the options and support they need to earn their diplomas,” Lopeman said. “It is truly a second chance at a bright future, and I’m thrilled with the program’s success.”

For Pulver, who turns 18 in July, that diploma put him right back on track with his future. The grandson of a dentist, he said he intends to study dentistry at BYU-Idaho after serving a mission for his church.

“We thank Ram Academy for making it possible,” his father said.

 

Mount Moriah AME hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking Saturday morning for its planned church on Gunsmoke Road. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

After 12 years as a congregation and six years of accumulating a building fund, Mount Moriah Community African Methodist Episcopal Church broke ground for a sanctuary of its own Saturday morning.

Officially recognized as AME in 2007 under its founding pastor, the Rev. Sheriolyn Curry Lasley, the congregation has been meeting in the Maricopa Veterans Center since 2013 with the Rev. Arnold Jackson as pastor.

The opportunity to acquire a piece of land for a new church came about shortly after Mount Moriah started its building-fund campaign that same year. The property, however, appeared to be a weed patch in the middle of nowhere off Honeycutt Road.

Jackson first saw it in the pouring rain when Gunsmoke Road was pure mud and the lot was a lake. He was not impressed.

“You can’t tell me you like this,” he told real estate consultant Judy Berry that day.

“I love it,” she responded.

Berry saw the tedious purchase process ahead but saw all the benefits of the property given Mount Moriah’s financial situation. “The church had extremely limited funds and little if any credit.”

Jackson still wasn’t sold on the 1.25 acres at 19275 N. Gunsmoke Road tucked between the Arizona Storage Company and what is now the campus of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church. But the unexpected was in store.

“They wanted $5,000 down, and we had $3,000 in the building fund at that time,” Jackson said. “An individual was here, and he didn’t know this was going on … and he said, ‘I just got a big commission check, and the Lord has led me to tithe $5,000 to present to your church.’”

Mount Moriah leased to own until it was able to purchase the lot, which included a mobile home. The building fund eventually accumulated $370,000. The church brought in Gilliam Architecture and Schifferer Built to start planning construction. That’s all part of the official history.

But founding member Barbara Hatcher said there’s more to the story. “What’s not in the history is that Mount Moriah’s congregation marched around this land, from Gunsmoke to Santi to White and Parker to Honeycutt and back to this property, all the while offering prayers of hope, prayers of promise, prayers of thanksgiving and prayers of praise.”

The congregation adopted as its building theme Psalm 127:1: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”

Dean Schifferer of Schifferer Built said he would like to see the Mount Moriah congregation hold another service at the site in a couple of months when the first slab is poured for the new building.

Paul Ulin presented the results of a public opinon survey on a possible bond election to the MUSD Governing Board Wednesday.

A survey conducted in April found  58 percent of contacted Maricopans indicated they would support a $75 million bond for Maricopa Unified School District.

The goal was at least 60 percent.

MUSD is mulling the option of asking voters for a bond to build a second high school. The state has determined Maricopa High School is over-capacity. The district has obtained mobile classrooms to alleviate part of the problem next school year.

A new high school, updates to safety and security at existing schools and new buses would all be part of the bond. The state’s School Facilities Board has already affirmed some money for construction and funding a land purchase.

Primary Consultants LLC was hired to complete the opinion poll, and calls were made April 24-30 to registered voters. Paul Ulan, founder of Primary Consultants, said 401 voters participated with a 5.5 percent margin of error.

When board member Patti Coutré questioned whether that was too small a sample on which to base a decision, Ulan said it was “a good snapshot of where we’re at.” Pollsters made more than 6,000 calls.

Ulan said pollsters gave voters “a pretty lengthy explanation of the bond” and explained what the tax impact would be before asking about support for a $75 million bond. That resulted in the 58-percent approval.

“You’d like to be at 60 percent,” Ulan said. “That’s sort of the magic number.”

Though not yet proposed, a $75 million bond would mean about $14 more per month in property taxes on an average home with a full assessed cash value of $117,000.

Respondents who answered no (31 percent) or unsure (11 percent) were subsequently asked if they would approve a bond of $50 million. That gained $15 percent approval from that group.

When those who still answered no or were unsure about $50 million were then asked if they would support what Ulan called “the bare minimum” $35 million bond, 17 percent said yes.

By the time the bottom number was reached, there was a total of 70 percent among all those polled in favor of a bond of some kind.

“Of course, that makes sense,” Ulan said. “Do you want to pay 10 bucks, eight bucks or five bucks?”

He said there is a core that will oppose any measure that increases their taxes: “I don’t care what it is, I don’t care what the need is, what the amount is, what the cost is, I’m a no.”

Ulan broke down numbers on the $75 million bond responses.

“You see 75 percent of your parents supporting the bond. You would expect that,” Ulan said. “You’d like that to be a little bit higher.”

Eleven of the respondents turned out to be MUSD employees, and 73 percent favored the bond.

Of those polled, 51 percent were men. Ulan said women are usually the majority. Sixty-four percent had lived in the district at least six years.

When respondents were asked their opinion of the current level of property tax, 58 percent said it is just about right, and 33 percent said it was too high. Ulan said the latter was “a little bit of a concern but not an alarming number.”

Of those polled, 154 were Republican, 133 were Democrat and 114 were independent or something else. Among the GOP, 50.6 percent were in favor. Among Democrats, support was 67.7 percent.

The gender gap, Ulan said, was a surprise, with men a little more in favor of the bond (59.7 percent) than women (56 percent). “Typically, women seem to be more supportive of school funding.”

Respondents also indicated the presence of an oversight committee for the bond funds would make them more supportive (60 percent). Knowledge of the Facilities Board’s intention to purchase land for a new high school made 50 percent more likely to support the bond.

“There isn’t a district in the state doesn’t that have capital needs,” Ulan said. “This isn’t Maricopa problem. This is a statewide problem. There aren’t a lot of districts in the state that are growing like you.”

After providing the additional information to voters who had already indicated support for a $76 million bond, that support fell from 58 percent to 55 percent.

“The challenge is, Maricopa is primarily a residential community,” Ulan said. “That means homeowners foot a disproportionate percentage of the tax increase when you’re looking to go out for bond and override elections.”

Ulan said historically bonds are easier to pass than overrides because voters understand the issues of capital projects like buildings and transportation.

For next budget cycle, the district’s estimated capital budget is $2.4 million, with $2.3 million in recommended projects. That leaves $167,034 in reserve.

Many blossoms have enjoyed cooler-than-usual temperatures, but Maricopa weather is heating up. Photo by Jim Headley

Last week was very cool for this time of year but that is all about to change and high will near 100 all week, according to the National Weather Service. No precipitation is expected this week.

Today will be sunny with a high near 87. Tonight will be mostly clear with a low around 58.

Wednesday will again be sunny with a high near 92. Wednesday night will be clear with a low around 62.

Thursday expect more sunshine with a high near 96. Thursday night will remain clear with a low around 64.

Friday is forecast to be sunny and hot, with a high near 99 and winds 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon.  Friday night may remain clear with a low around 64.

From this distance, Saturday looks to be a repeat of Friday with sunny skies and a high near 99. This weekend will be hot with highs near 100 and sunshine.

 

Construction workers have a cooler but windy week ahead at the Heritage Academy campus. Photo by Jim Headley

Rest easy, as Maricopa is in store for a cooler week, according to the National Weather Service. The week starts in the 70s and 80s. Temperatures will be rising towards the end the week, so enjoy the cool weather while it lasts.

Today will be mostly sunny but cool, with a high near 76 and winds around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Tonight will be mostly clear, with a low around 51.

Tuesday will have more sunny skies with a high near 83 and winds 15 to 25 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph. Tuesday night the sky will become partly cloudy with a low around 52.

Wednesday will return to mostly sunny with a high near 74. Wednesday night will be partly cloudy with a low around 50.

Thursday the sun will shine with a high near 83. Thursday night will remain mostly clear with a low around 55.

Friday will be warmer and sunny, with a high near 90. Friday night will remain mostly clear with a low around 57.

Expect highs into the 90s through the weekend and wind gusts up to 20 mph.

by -
Dayv Morgan

By Dayv Morgan

Dayv Morgan

When you are trying to sell your home in Maricopa, it may be frustrating to realize you are competing not only against other resale homes on the market but also many brand-new houses with all-new amenities. Here are some points to keep in mind while making your lived-in home shine among recent builds.

Price is always a top issue. Maricopans like a bargain. If your house, whatever its age, is priced correctly, it can compete against any home. Check out the price tags on new builds that are similar to your resale. The price per square foot of a new build is often higher than a resale.

You know your property. Beyond the disclosure statement required of resales, you know the quirks and the history. Since you bought your home, you learned whether the backyard needs more shade and whether your west-facing windows need treatment against direct sun. These are things buyers of new homes still have to learn – and pay for.

Don’t be emotionally attached to your house, because builders aren’t. Learn what builders are offering both in amenities and financing and get into a home-selling frame of mind.

Remember, most new homes don’t come with backyard landscaping, window coverings, washer/dryer or ceiling fans. If those are investments you’ve already made in your resale, your home will look more move-in-ready. That’s a big plus for a homebuyer without the resources to buy them.

Competing against brand-new homes with warranties, brand-new roofs and brand-new air conditioning should be the perfect incentive to make your resale look and perform its absolute best. Take your Realtor’s advice about decluttering, painting and upgrading very seriously. If anything is broken, fix it. If your home is critically dated, consider a remodel.

Resale homes are usually in established neighborhoods in established subdivisions with established streets and utilities. That is a large knowledge base for new owners to draw from. Realtors, HOAs, neighbors and you should know the history of local problems and how they have been resolved. You may have a template for correcting similar issues in the future. New homes on new streets come with a lot of unknowns.

Competition is always a stiff proposition in Maricopa real estate, but there is no need to be disheartened by the large number of shiny, newly finished houses coming on the market. A quality product at a fair price will gain any homebuyers respect.

 

Dayv Morgan is a Maricopa Realtor and owner of HomeSmart Success.

480-251-4231
DayvMorgan@gmail.com


This column appears in the May column of InMaricopa.

Mobile Elementary School District Superintendent Kit Wood (center) with board members Delores Brown and Patricia Blair, who volunteer at the remote, rural school known for its small class sizes. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

“In the middle of nowhere” is the phrase often used to describe Mobile Elementary School District. Arizona Department of Education defines Mobile Elementary as “very small, rural.”

“We’re very small. We’re close-knit. We have high expectations, high standards that are well known.” Superintendent Kit Wood

The school has an enrollment of 29 students. Only six of those students live in district. It has three full-time teachers and two part-time teachers. The students-to-teacher ratio is 4.8: 1.

A K-8 school with no eighth graders currently enrolled, Mobile Elementary sits just north of State Route 238. Roughly 15 miles west of Maricopa and 28 miles east of Gila Bend, the school is not close to anything but its residents.

The school bears a Maricopa mailing address and the Maricopa telephone prefix of 568. Though annexed by the City of Goodyear 12 years ago in anticipation of a master-planned community that never happened, it is more than an hour’s drive from the municipality.

The biggest benefit of annexation has been having a Goodyear fire station directly across the street from the school, that street being 99th Avenue.

If House Bill 2139 becomes law, the elementary district might be consolidated with schools in Goodyear, a move it has been fighting for years. The reason? They like the tiny school exactly as it is, its small size considered an advantage for its students.

“Some of the benefits, of course, are the small class size, the personal relationship they can have with their teacher, the staff and all the students,” said Kit Wood, who has been superintendent 14 years.

Classes are divided in K-2, 3-5 and 6-8.

“Our kids don’t get lost in a classroom.” Board member Delores Brown

“They stay with the same teacher for a number of years,” Wood said. “The teacher doesn’t have to spend six to eight weeks getting to know that student’s academic level. They come in knowing their history and their family background.”

Apache Junction’s Rep. John Fillmore (R-District 16) sponsored HB 2139, which would force elementary districts and high school districts to consolidate by 2024. He points to the administrative costs of having separate districts near or overlapping each other’s boundaries.

“When people have said to me that schools need more money, I’ve always had the quick comeback they have enough money, and that what we need to do is have them spend it a little bit more wisely,” Fillmore told the Senate Appropriations Committee in April.

Most often, the smaller the school, the higher the percentage of administrative costs.

In financially auditing the district for fiscal year 2016, the Auditor General’s Office found Mobile School spending much more per pupil on administration compared to other small schools. Released in April 2018, the critical report included six recommendations, only one of which had been completely fulfilled by the time of a follow-up in December.

Total per pupil spending 2018
Mobile                 Peer                      State
$40,995               $18,597               $9,929

Auditors found that in 2016, Mobile Elementary, with its annual double-digit enrollment, had administration expenses of $17,178 per student compared to its peer group average of $2,987. The report found that was “partly because it served fewer students than peer districts, on average, and therefore, costs were spread across fewer students. However, the high costs were also the result of the District employing a full-time superintendent with a relatively high salary.”

Wood’s response was to outline a plan to phase out the superintendent position after the hiring and training of a head teacher/special education teacher.

The follow-up by Vicki Hanson, director of School Audits, indicated the crossover phase during fiscal year 2019 would “likely result in higher administrative costs” while both superintendent and head teacher are on staff.

Mobile Elementary students receive art instruction from artist Kristal Hoeh.

Mobile Elementary does not share boundaries with other schools. When its students reach high school age, or even middle school age, they can choose from various schools. Being in the city closest to Mobile despite being in another county, Maricopa schools receive some of the Mobile students. Others have gone to Mountain Pointe. Some have even attended Ira Hayes. Years ago, they were bused to Casa Grande.

The audit suggested the district pay tuition to a nearby district to educate its students. The school was called out for overpaying an hourly employee, misreporting the number of students transported and having poor oversight of its lease agreement, among other items. Implementation of changes are noted as being “in process.”

With a transient population, enrollment is now too low for the district to receive state funds (Wood estimated it would need an enrollment of 35-40 to qualify), so it relies primarily on property taxes. Enrollment is also too low for the school to be assigned a letter grade, because publicized test results could be almost matched to specific students.

However, for the second year, the school qualified for results-based funding. In FY2018, that amounted to an extra $8,100 (or $400 per student). Butterfield Elementary was the only MUSD school to do likewise.

“You don’t get that unless your students are performing well on the test,” Wood said. “So, although they can’t publish our results, we are doing well as far as the assessments.”

What’s not in the financial paperwork is the unincorporated area’s tendency to lean on the school as a center of the community. Board members feel the school and community are misunderstood.

“We’re not gun-toting hillbillies who live here,” board member Delores Brown said, adding several in the community have master’s degrees. She tutors students, touting those who have seen more success since transferring to the school, and is one of the school’s strongest volunteers.

Wood called board members the “most dedicated, committed board I’ve ever worked with.” Board President Patricia Blair has tutored younger students in the past and put her efforts into building up the district library.

“She has been, for all the years I’ve been here, a strong supporter of our library,” Wood said. “We have a really great library, especially for the size of school we are. She has organized that library, she has catalogued things. She is the heart and soul of that library.”

Blair said the wide variety of books ranges from pre-K to 12th grade.

“We’re very small. We’re close-knit,” Wood said. “We have high expectations, high standards that are well known, so we can address when things happen that are inappropriate or unacceptable, or they’re not meeting the expectations of general student behavior, take care of it quickly and then just go on.”

The superintendent said all its teachers are highly qualified with endorsements and certification in their areas. The teachers average 10-plus years of experience. Besides the three full-time classroom teachers, there are part-time teachers for art and physical education.

“We have a very lean staff. We all do multiple tasks and have multiple responsibilities,” Wood said. “We do not receive state funding. All of our funding comes from property taxes. And that’s always a challenge.”

Staffing is also difficult at the remote school. The challenge is to find someone of quality to come to Mobile and fit in, though teachers have been willing to drive long distances for the job. It is still looking for a music teacher.

Mobile’s biggest expense is staffing. It has a starting salary of $40,100. Its average teacher salary is $50,038. By comparison, the peer average is $50,510, and the state average is $48,951.

Besides the random financial audit, Mobile Elementary also undergoes the annual performance audit to which all district schools submit. The most recent report showed the administration costs were down to $12,155 per student. That is still well above the peer average of $3,064, which increased.

Mobile had only nine students per administrative position compared to 33 in peer schools and the state average of 66. The report showed no financial stresses. It was particularly low-stress in capital reserve (more than three years’ worth), operating reserve (17.2 percent and increasing), steadiness of school enrollment and meeting its budget.

A Rural Education Achievement grant gave the school the ability to purchase technology in the form of classroom and library computers. The grant is $15,000-$18,000 per year for the tech program.

There have been past efforts by Valley districts to consolidate Mobile Elementary, but the small school effectively gave them the raspberry. Until now, as Blair noted, a district did not have to be consolidated unless it wanted to.

HB2139, on the other hand, would force the issue, making independent districts a thing of the past.

“Over the past decades a variety of unification and consolidation efforts, committees and proposed legislation have been brought forward in the state of Arizona,” Wood said. “If this bill is successfully passed and signed into law, Mobile ESD would comply with the requirement for a feasibility study and then work with the Maricopa County Education Services Agency and others regarding study results and findings.

“We will await the results of this legislative session.”

But they aren’t happy about it.

“It just makes the other schools larger and classrooms bigger,” Blair said. “To me that’s not a good idea for the kids.”

“They don’t have the support because the teachers don’t have the time to give them the support,” Brown added.

“Our kids don’t get lost in a classroom.”


This story appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.

Melodee and Patrick Breazeale. Submitted photo

 

When Patrick Breazeale Jr. of Homestead received his master’s degree from Grand Canyon University April 26, he was right behind his mother.

Melodee Breazeale, too, earned her Master of Science in the same field, psychology with an emphasis on industrial and organizational psychology. A resident of Rancho El Dorado, she works from home for Chase Bank while Patrick works for the State of Arizona.

Both Breazeales graduated summa cum laude.

“Needless to say, two heads are always better than one, and both of us helped each other when we might have got stuck on any one area or class,” Melodee Braezeale said. “There were some pretty funny events in some of the classes, so this will be a memory for both of us going forward.”

Melodee Breazeale has an associate’s degree in administration of justice. She and Patrick both have bachelor’s degrees in business management. Melodee received her bachelor’s degree from GCU in 2016, and Patrick did the same in 2017.

Melodee’s employer allotted her $7,500 per year toward tuition for her graduate program. That allowed her to take four classes a year. Though she started her master’s program ahead of Patrick, he was able to take more classes at a time to finish in the same graduating class with his mother.

“I am so proud of my son to carry on and get his master’s degree, and I am still pinching myself that I got through my classes with a 4.0,” she said.

On graduation day, she was teary-eyed walking across the stage to receive her degree.

“But I had to stop when I heard, ‘and her son… Patrick Breazeale Jr,’” she said. “I stopped walking, turned around, and I got to watch my son shake hands and get his degree. I could not have been more proud of my son at that time!”

After the event sank in, Patrick called his mother later, saying, “This is not very common, right?”

Melodee’s parents are Hal and Shyrlee Cole of Province.

Submitted photo

MES students perform for parents and guests at Leadership Day. Photos by Raquel Hendrickson

Young scholars at Maricopa Elementary School presented their annual, end-of-school-year Leadership Day on Friday, showing off what they’ve learned this year as a “Lighthouse School” that extols the virtues of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” The morning includes special guests, classroom tours and spotlights on Special Olympians, perfect attendance and the Walk of Fame.

Maria Alvarado has gone full circle at Maricopa Unified School District, attending MUSD schools since preschool and now coming back to teach second grade at Santa Rosa Elementary. Photo by Jim Headley

Maria Alvarado may be a new teacher, but she knows Maricopa Unified School District inside and out. She started preschool at MUSD and graduated from Maricopa High School in 2013.

“I think it’s a unique perspective going from a student in this school district to being a teacher,” she said. “It’s very different.”

She said as a student she didn’t understand what was happening behind the scenes at school, how much concern the teachers had for the students and “how everything works.”

Coming back, she said, it has been interesting being on the flipside of the coin, “to be the one responsible for my kiddoes.”

In her second-grade classroom at Santa Rosa Elementary, the motto has been “We learn from our mistakes.” That has even expanded to “We learn from each other’s mistakes” as they work together to learn the material.

Alvarado returned to MUSD after college for a semester of student teaching at Maricopa Elementary School at the end the 2017. When a full-time, real-deal teaching position opened in the middle of the school year, she landed the job. She replaced a second-grade teacher at Santa Rosa in January 2018.

“That was a toughie,” she recalled. “They had their own system going when I got there.”

Her dream was to teach fourth or fifth grade, so she was uncertain about taking on second grade, where some of the students did not yet know how to read or were limited in their ability. A year into her teaching career, she has determined her students should be able to read on their own by second semester if they were going to have any chance of success as third graders.

Photo by Jim Headley

“My second graders are on their own right now. First quarter, I’m done reading to them. That was a struggle when I took over half-year. So many of my kids were not there. Now that I’ve had them myself for a whole year, I feel more comfortable with where they are.

“One of my kiddoes came in with eight words. He still fluctuates, but he’s between 60 and 80 words a minute. That’s just a huge jump.”

“Ms. Alvarado’s sheer excitement about students reading is enough to make anyone believe in public education,” Superintendent Tracey Lopeman said. “She inspires students and peers alike to adopt a life-long love of learning.”

Alvarado was 3 when her parents, Salvador and Adriana, moved to the rural area south of Maricopa. In third grade, she was a student at Santa Rosa herself. Her long-range goal now is to become a principal.

“Her value is not just in her influence on her students,” Lopeman said. “Ms. Alvarado’s history with the district is unique; she’s homegrown MUSD. She has watched and been part of the evolution of this district since she was a child and is the bridge to maintaining the spirit of MUSD and moving us into the future.”

A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Alvarado had been planning to be a pediatrician since she was in middle school. Schoolteacher? Not on the list. There was no history of teachers in her immediate family, but she tutored in high school and understood at that time she liked teaching.

The mother of the student she was tutoring called her to thank her for the work she had been doing. “She was telling me, ‘Thank you so much. My son went from a D student to B’s.’ She was ecstatic. She was crying and really emotional. It was like a really good feeling.”

At NAU, Alvarado was taking classes toward becoming a pediatrician and was earning a 4.0 grade point average. She started tutoring a roommate majoring in chemistry and realized she was not only good at teaching but really enjoyed it.

Sharing her mixed feelings with her counselor, she was encouraged to enroll in a “Teaching Math and Science” course. That required creating lesson plans and learning how children learn. She was soon convinced she needed to change her major.

“I called my mom, and she was upset. She started talking about, ‘This is your dream. Think about how much more money you’re going to be making.’ She made me cry because she was being realistic.”

Then she called her father. “I was more scared of my dad. And my dad stayed quiet. And then he goes, ‘Yeah, I knew since you were little you were going to be a teacher.’”

Student teachers are not paid, so it was practicality that moved her to take the post with MUSD so she could live at home. To then be hired was a matter of getting “lucky twice,” she said.

Though her early study had been related to middle and high school students, she soon switched her interest to K-5.

“A lot of the concepts I was asked to understand as a middle schooler I was lacking on foundational skills that should have been taught in lower grades,” Alvarado said. “I felt like if I started at middle school with these kids, I wasn’t making the biggest difference and making sure they understood those foundational things.”

While still learning the best teaching practices herself, Alvarado said what happens in the classroom goes beyond books and computers.

“The hardest part is teaching them the things that technically we don’t go to school to learn, like confidence, how to be proud of your own self and your own work. That boosts you to keep trying.”

She tells of giving her students a question on a practice test that had most of her students choosing Part A and only four choosing Part B, the correct answer.

“And one of them wanted to move over. I said, ‘You need to be careful. Are you going to follow everybody or are you going to pick your answer because you know that’s what you think is right?’”

Alvarado said that is a dilemma for students even in upper grades, the need to “go with the flow” even when they know the facts.

Her students have fluctuated in number between 19 and 24. They have taught her it’s possible to be lively and energetic about anything, and there is plenty of movement going on in Ms. Alvarado’s classroom.

Her second graders also like to be empowered to create their own goals and ideas of how the class will reach those goals. As they prepared for the School City test, the students came up with methods to review.

“I’ve never been so proud of a person as I am proud of my kids,” she said. “Sometimes I feel I’m being too mean or holding them to too high of expectations, but, when I see it pay off over time, I know I’m not.”


This story appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.

by -
Photo by Jim Headley

The least expensive home sold in Maricopa from March 16 through April 15 was a cozy, two-bedroom, 17-year-old house in Rancho El Dorado. It went for $100 over its original asking price. It included a landscaped yard, new air conditioner and fresh paint.

  1. 43535 W. Colby Drive, Rancho El Dorado

Sold: March 29
Purchase price: $160,000
Square footage: 981
Price per square foot: $163.09
Days on market: 32
Builder: Shea Homes
Year built: 2002
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Community: Rancho El Dorado
Features: New carpet, upgraded kitchen cabinets, covered patio, landscaping with flagstone
Listing Agent: Eileen Shapiro, Long Realty Partners
Selling Agent: Karen Braaten, Judson Real Estate

  1. 45526 W. Windmill Drive, Maricopa Meadows ……………….. $167,900
  2. 46025 W. Windmill Drive, Maricopa Meadows ……………….. $169,000
  3. 42326 W. Farrell Road ……………………………………………………. $169,900
  4. 36134 W. Olivo St., Tortosa ……………………………………………. $169,900

    This item appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.

Senior Tylen Coleman was the first surprise for Maricopa High School at the state championships with a record-setting discus throw Saturday. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Two unexpected finishes put gold medals in the hands of two Maricopa High School athletes while a third won silver and bronze at the Arizona Interscholastic Association Division II Track & Field Championships Saturday in Mesa.

Senior Tylen Riley-Coleman, who had already been on the medal stand earlier in the week with a fourth-place finish in shot put, pulled off a massive upset in the discus. His second-flight throw of 172-08 was more than 20 feet farther than his previous best of 150-09 and more than three inches farther than his closest competitor in the finals.

“I don’t know where that came from,” said Coleman, who had yelled in elation after hearing the measurement. “I’m just blessed.”

In the first round of competition Saturday, he had been more than thrilled with a throw of 163 feet, which came between two fouled attempts. But the second-round throw catapulted him to the top of the medal stand, an unfamiliar position for the football star.

“I don’t know what to do with myself,” he said.

Even in practice, he said, he had not gone beyond 150 feet with the discus. In fact, shot put has usually been his stronger event. Parker Bays of Ironwood Ridge had been a heavy favorite but finished third.

By scoring a personal best in the discus, Coleman set another school record. He also holds the MHS record in shot at 52-9.

At any other time, MHS senior Logan Taylor’s result in the hurdling events would not have been surprising, but Saturday was not like any other time.

Taylor, the school record-holder in both the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles, had finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in those events in last season’s state championships. His goal was gold this year.

That seemed to get scuttled this week when he opened a gash on his right knee that required 20 stitches. His family and head coach Corey Nelson left it to him to decide if he would compete in the state meet.

Taylor is known for challenging himself and did so again in the 110-meter hurdles, shouting out as he crossed the finish line in front. Main rival Jadon Pearson of Williams Field had crashed out midway through the event and did not finish.

“I wanted to run my best race,” Taylor said. “It was probably going to be the last one, so I wanted to make sure it was good. I’m really happy with how it turned out.”

It was also one of his better times, in 14.64, just off his best of 14.56.

The knee, however, did not hold up through his effort in the 300-meter hurdles. Though he leaped out to an early lead, he struggled down the stretch to finish sixth in 41.07 (his top time is 39.09). His father helped him off the ground at the finish line and to the trainer’s tent for treatment.

Meanwhile, MHS’s sprint master Jacob Cowing, who earned gold last year as part of the Rams 4×100-meter relay team, had his hands full with Trayvion White of Sahuaro. In the 100-meter dash finals Saturday, Cowing matched White stride for stride but finished second at 10.78 behind White’s 10.73.

In the 200-meter dash, White, Jacob Samford and Cowing all finished within a fraction of a second. White won in 21.65, while Cowing came third in 21.95. After picking up his medal, he had his right thigh wrapped in ice.

Overall, Maricopa’s boys’ team scored 27 points in the state meet, a top five finish.

The girls’ team did not score points but had two make a good showing Saturday. Senior Kayla Boich was 12th in the high jump finals at 5-00. Sophomore Shakira Gillespie finished 15th in the long jump at 15-10.5.

Antonio Gonzales, an MHS senior, leads "Fiddler on the Roof." Photos by Raquel Hendrickson

A hearty, energetic and often very touching rendition of “Fiddler on the Roof” opened Thursday at the Maricopa Performing Arts Center.

The latest production of the Maricopa High School Theatre Company hit all the big, showstopper expectations as well as the intimate notes of family, love and faith. The cast of over 100 was accompanied by an under-stage orchestra of student and adult musicians.

There’s solid story-telling, there’s singing, there’s dancing, there is a faux dream and a living nightmare. It’s a heck of a show.

“Fiddler” inherently lives or dies on the shoulders of whoever plays Tevye the dairyman, around whom everyone in the Russian village of Anatevka seems to revolve (literally at one point). In this case, senior Antonio Gonzales is at his best, carrying his scenes with authority and conveying the complexities of a simple man being tossed about by changes he cannot control.

He and Emma Schrader as Tevye’s wife Golde have some particularly strong sets together. They are a poor couple with five daughters, three of whom are of marriageable age and are portrayed by three of the company’s most accomplished actresses. All are excellent.

Aidyn Curtis as the oldest daughter Tzeitel must accept an arranged marriage to a much older but well-off Lazar Wolf (Douglas Moulton) or defy her father for a poor tailor she has loved since childhood (Brandon Korittky). Kjirsten Lemon as Hodel falls for a scholar with revolutionary ideas (Ricky Raffaele), which does not please Papa at all. Taryn Story as Chava commits the almost-irredeemable sin of marrying a Gentile (Derek Blakely), a break from faith and tradition that Tevye cannot bear.

Korittky as Motel the tailor rounds out four years as arguably the troupe’s most reliable character actor. He’s terrific here. Mary Brokenshire is a scene-stealer as Yente, as is Fallon Fruchey as long-dead Grandma Tzeitel.

The set is top-notch, effectively using small parts to convey larger scenes. The Fruma-Sarah entry with Astraya Ellison in the very funny dream sequence is a tour de force. The live orchestra was a good call on the part of director Alexandra Stahl. It was also transforming to have the actors choreographed into dancers by MHS dance teacher Alexandra Biggs.

Performances continue Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., plus a 2 p.m. Saturday matinee. Tickets can be purchased online or at the box office.

Jacob Harmon is the new business director for MUSD.

 

Maricopa Unified School District is receiving $22.3 million dollars plus 40 acres of land from the state’s School Facilities Board (SFB) for a second high school.

The status of the land is a question mark.

“We do not have it defined. We do not have it located,” Superintendent Tracey Lopeman told the governing board Wednesday. “We are in the process of securing our representation so that we can be properly represented when we go out and discuss purchase and donations.”

She estimated the proffered 40 acres might be appropriate for a “starter high school” that had been discussed during capital-improvement talks. The new high school is estimated to be 125,000 square feet. The original cost is $179.69 per square foot.

“When we make application for a building-renewal grant, there’s a process and policies,” Facilities Director Scott Fall-Leaf said, leading to a brief explanation of new SFB policies regarding roofing and HVAC. The latter includes a flow chart that MHS has not yet submitted to.

SFB funding, which Lopeman described as “statutorily eligible new construction, renovation and repair projects,” is familiar to MUSD.

Jacob Harmon, the district’s new business director, said past projects at MUSD funded by SFB amounted to more than $122 million. That includes about $2 million in land from 2001 to 2008 and $115.6 million for the construction of eight schools between 2001 and 2011.

Currently, the district has two projects being paid for by SFB.

Facilities Director Scott Fall-Leaf (left) and Business Director Jacob Harmon

Fall-Leaf said a sewer line is being repaired at Maricopa Elementary School. SFB is giving $47,630 to that project. At the high school is the more involved project of a submersible pump and water well repair. SFB awarded MUSD $530,600 for that project.

The district has noted the possible need for a second high school since at least 2008, when a developer tried to donate 60 acres to the cause just before the housing bubble burst and the Great Recession stopped all development. This year, with the current high school over capacity, “possible need” is now a certainty and wheels have been put in motion to build a second high school sooner rather than later. While the high school is being planned, MHS is putting in portable classrooms on the east side of campus.

School land between the baseball and softball lands is prepped for portable classrooms to be used next school year.

Sequoia Pathway varsity softball celebrates an undefeated season. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

After playing a perfect 14-0 season that wrapped Tuesday, the Sequoia Pathway varsity softball team is top seed in the Canyon Athletic Association Division 2 state tournament automatically in the final four.

At home Tuesday, the Pumas defeated South Ridge 22-2. This season, they outscored their opponents 239-26. Pathway played in the CAA’s Landmark Conference. CAA is primarily comprised of charter schools.

In the state tourney, the Pumas will play either Sequoia Charter or Imagine-Superstition on Friday at Salt River High School.

Last season, Sequoia Pathway was 7-6. The turnaround was driven by this year’s seniors, who were honored after Tuesday’s contest. They include Deserae Garcia, Alicia Lewis, Jasmin Nafarrate and Brenda Peck.

Garcia, a co-captain, led the team in hits with 23, runs scored (27) and doubles (nine) while batting .609.

“She is the leader on the field and in the batter’s box,” head coach Matt Gallagher said. “There is no one I want hitting in a clutch situation than Deserae Garcia.”

Nafarrate, who batted .407, has been a team captain for four years, the last three of which she has been catcher.

“There is something that is just awesome when your catcher can throw to second base from her knees,” Gallagher said. “Nobody runs on that.”

Lewis batted .545, scored 16 and drove in 16 while playing a steady first base.

The Pumas had only two close games this season. One was an 8-6 win at Desert Heights; the other a 3-1 win over Imagine-Superstition.

Crews start construction of pickleball courts at Copper Sky. Photo by Jim Headley

Almost a year ago, pickleball aficionados in Maricopa learned they would at last realize their dream of having dedicated courts for their sport.

The City of Maricopa set aside more than $400,000 for six pickleball courts. This week, crews began construction next to the skate park at Copper Sky.

Ironically, Rocky Myers, the face of the drive for more pickleball, was not in town when the announcement was made in May. It took him and his fellow players by surprise.

“I was flabbergasted,” he said. “You could have picked me up off the pavement.”

No Pollyanna, however, he’s keeping his expectations grounded. He has been keeping a watchful eye on the process as the City prepares to follow through on the promise of the budget.

The plans are not everything he would like to see, like the ability to host state-level tournaments.

“I’m real excited to get the courts, but it’s disappointing,” he said. “We need at least 10 courts for a tournament.”

As planned, there is room for only six courts between the skate park and the tennis courts. Each court has a 44-by-20 feet playing area inside a fenced area of 64-by-34 feet, “to execute all possible shots” including around the post, Myers said.

He started his campaign for pickleball courts three years ago as the popularity of the sport become more apparent. Up to this point, the city tried to accommodate players by restriping basketball/volleyball courts inside the multigenerational complex and allowing players to use tennis courts, which Myers said was not ideal because of the different net dimensions.

The plans include a 10-foot-wide, covered walkway between courts to create shade for benches and a place to rest. The perimeter is expected to be an eight-foot chain link fence.

Maricopa artists invited to participate

The inaugural Art for the Heart Festival is set for May 4 on the Great Lawn at Copper Sky.

If You Go
What
: Art for the Heart Festival
When: May 4, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: Copper Sky Regional Park, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
How much: Free to attend; $60 to exhibit
Info: 520-568-8100, ext. 4136 

Hoping to fill the void left by the dissolution of Art on the Veranda and Maricopa Arts Festival, a Maricopa High School program is coordinating the community art show. Graphic Design teacher Maria Pour said they want to have as many Maricopa artists as possible participating.

The coordination is in the hands of SkillsUSA students. That program mandates they be involved in creating and running a project that benefits a nonprofit, and the usual approach is to host a clothing drive or a food drive.

“But we wanted something that relates to us, to graphics and art,” Pour said.

So, the young organizers are putting their skills to use in ways that have “real-world application,” she said. Art for the Heart invites artists from all media to display and sell their works at the festival. Pour said 75 percent of proceeds will go to the American Heart Association, the rest to cover overhead.

A 10-by-10-foot booth space is $60, and artists can bring their own tables. Painting, photography, drawing, sculpture, textiles and more are welcome from artists of all ages.

MHS had participated in Art on the Veranda, and Pour understood the challenges involved hosting a community art event. She has 15 students helping to staff Art for the Heart, from creating the plan to designing the logo or handing out water.

The additional challenge is participation, both by artists and art-lovers. Previous organizers have provided her with names of area artists, and she also seeks to reach out to Ak-Chin and Gila River artists.

Arizona Educational Foundation awarded Pima Butte Elementary with an A+ School of Excellence recognition.

 

Pima Butte Elementary received the prestigious A+ School of Excellence Award from the Arizona Educational Foundation.

It was one of just 52 schools statewide recognized this year and the only school in Pinal County. The award is in place for three and a half years. Earning the distinction, which has been around since the 1980s, was no easy task.

During a meeting of the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board, Principal Randy Lazar held up the 33-page application comprised of 53 questions requiring answers of 600 to 1,500 words each. It was completed over four months by staff and parent volunteers.

“It was a long, drawn-out process,” he said. “Not just a one-time thing. It was like preparing for the Boston Marathon.”

Superintendent Tracey Lopeman said the school was evaluated on student focus and support, active teaching and learning, climate, parent involvement, community building and leadership. The award, she said, spotlights successes “happening at Pima Butte every single day.”

Pima Butte Elementary is also an A-rated school by the Arizona Department of Education.

Lazar credited the hard work of his staff, pointing out many of the teachers had been with the school 10 or 12 years.

“For a school to remain successful, you need a consistent staff, and that’s what Pima Butte has had over the years,” he said. “Not only a consistent staff, a dedicated staff.”

He said many of his teachers were at school before and after classes, on weekends, during breaks and during the summer.

“All of their hard work has led to this award this evening,” he said.

Principal Randy Lazar

Playing sisters in “Fiddler on the Roof” are (from left) Hannah Panter, Taryn Story, Aidyn Curtis, Kiki Lemon and Alexia Esquivel. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

IF YOU GO
What: “Fiddler on the Roof”
Who: MHS Theatre Company
When: April 25-26, 7 p.m., April 27, 2 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Where: MHS Performing Arts Center auditorium, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.
How much: $10/general admission; $7/staff & students
Info: Purchase tickets online

The big spring musical this year for Maricopa High School Theatre Company is a big Broadway show.

“Fiddler on the Roof” is April 25-27 at 7 p.m. plus a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.

This production will have music performed live by MHS orchestra members and teachers. While teacher Alexandra Stahl directs the play, MHS music director Ivan Pour conducts the music.

Stahl said she’s wanted to direct the musical since she was 18. “It’s beautiful, and it has good themes,” she said. “It’s a beast of a show.”

One of the longest-running shows in Broadway history, “Fiddler” is memorably scored by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick with a book by Joseph Stein. Among the well-known tunes are the title song, “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “Tradition,” “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Sunrise, Sunset.”

In the story set in 1905 Russia, a poor, Jewish couple Tevye (played by Antonio Gonzales) and Golde (Emma Schrader) are struggling to get by while their daughters are coming of age to marry. Yente the matchmaker (Mary Brokenshire) sets up the oldest daughter Tzeitel (Aidyn Curtis) to marry the wealthy but old butcher Lazar Wolf (Douglas Moulton). Tevya agrees to this, not knowing Tzeitel is in love with childhood friend Motel (Brandon Korittky).

Other cast members:
Hannah Panter – Bielke
Alexia Esquivel – Shprintze
Chance Batton – Mordcha
Kade Cruse – RabbiSimon Ty – Mendel
Ashton Chrosniak – Avram
Julie Goodrum – Nachum
Fallon Fruchey – Grandma Tzeitel
Astraya Ellison – Fruma-Sarah
Miles Starks – constable
Zephanie Colppeman – Shaindel
Alex-Ann Velasco – the fiddler
Alex Hurley – Sasha
Joey Russoniello – Yussel

Ensemble:
Tyler Hanks, Kasey Cowert, Aleyna Call, Brenna Fitzpatrick, Ash Porras, Eonna Mooney, Zariah Marsh, Lindsey Coms, Olivia Kurpaska, Mia Gross, Destiny Shane, Emme Borthe, Katie Hanks, Scotland JanFrancisco, Morgan Cutrara, Gracee Clark, Emma Carr, John Jackson, Alex Haywood, Haley Raffaele, Nick Perez, Faith Ayala, Princess Jimenez

Meanwhile, second daughter Hodel (Kjirsten Lemon) is falling for Bolshevik tutor Perchik (Ricky Rafaele), and third daughter Chava (Taryn Story) has befriended gentile Fyedka (Derek Blakely). The breaks from traditional behavior cause tumult in the family. Meanwhile, the Russian authorities are pushing to drive out all the Jews.

The cast is peopled with several young performers who have qualified for the International Thespian Society National Competition and are familiar talents from previous productions. Learn more about them here.

Antonio Gonzales plays Tevye the dairyman in “Fiddler.” Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

“It just inspires me,” Stahl said, “because I think of it as in today. There’s the whole theme of Tevye disowning his daughter, and I think of parents today who have gay kids. So, it breaks my heart, but it’s definitely a very real thing that happens in society today.”

Many of the cast members had at least heard of “Fiddler,” and Stahl did not have trouble selling them on the production.

“There’s a lot of really good roles,” she said.

Community members, too, have told her they are champing at the bit to come see the show, “so I’m hoping we do it justice.”

Tickets can be purchased at the box office the day of show or purchased online here.

Seniors Brandon Korittky and Aidyn Curtis rehearse for “Fiddler on the Roof.” Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

 


This story appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.