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.

Empty tank in the wastewater expansion project during a tour at Global Water. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Global Water Resources showed off its not-yet-commissioned wastewater expansion project April 2, and it became an opportunity to update customers on how Maricopa’s primary water utility is trying to adapt to the city’s growth.

“The evidence is in the data, so for last year we did 4.4 percent meter connection count growth, which is the most we saw in any year since before the great recession, [since 2007]. The permit data suggests it’s actually going to accelerate. Last year, the City of Maricopa had the highest year-over-year permit growth rate of any submarket in metro Phoenix. They did about 60 percent more permits than they did in 2016, and in 2016 they did 60-70 percent better than they did in 2015. Obviously, permits are the leading indicator to new homes being built and our meters going in the ground.” – Ron Fleming, Global Water president

Global Water Maricopa Data:

  • 19,000 metered locations
  • 250 miles of water pipeline
  • 208 miles of gravity sewer pipeline
  • 2,000+ fire hydrants

The caveat is no water supply, especially in Arizona, is an unending resource. While Global Water says its tactics are saving money and conserving water, and a large portion of its relatively high base water rates are attributed to wastewater costs, fresh water has no guarantee in the distant future.

“It’s necessary to get as much from the local resources as possible, to stretch them as much as you can, before you have to go out and bring in other water supplies. Ultimately, that day will come, just like it will for anybody anywhere. It’s a mathematical equation about how much water exists and how much population or growth that water then meet the needs of. We have to think of ways we can supplement the aquifer. Because of the way we’re managing the aquifer here, doing the recyclable program and conservation program, we just have that inflection point a lot farther in the distance than a lot of communities are looking at.” – Fleming

The wastewater reclamation facility is expected to be commissioned at the beginning of May.

Water distribution center in Rancho Mirage. Photo by Mason Callejas

The growth in western Maricopa, mostly along John Wayne Parkway, has put a lot of sewage pressure on the sanitary lift station at Rancho El Dorado. The company built a new, modular lift station to divert half of that wastewater to a gravity trunk line at Smith-Enke and Porter roads, from which it is conveyed to the plant.

“The iFAS system is a different biological process than we’ve seen here, continuous nonstop flow, less equipment, less overall operations and equipment. It will allow us in the future to build smaller, incremental expansions here. At the facility there is no odor. If in the event that we have that situation, we get a major upset, we have significant odor-control systems that are in place. That was all required and permitted through ADEQ.” – Jason Thuneman, vice president of project management

Global Water Maricopa Data:

  • Rancho El Dorado lift station at 90 percent capacity
  • 50 percent of flows from RED lift station diverted to new facility
  • 5 year process to create expansion facility

As part of its three-year, $33 million project, Global Water also invested in a new well in Rancho Mirage. The well is intended to provide additional water into the system, especially when a major line break occurs, to lessen the impact of water fluctuations.

“Based on its location, it will provide a lot of benefits to the overall system. We haven’t been able to wholly commission and operate continuously that facility in the past, and that’s because there wasn’t enough groundwater supply coming into those tanks … to have it active all of the time. With this new well we’ll be able to do that, which significantly extends the water capacity for the overall city.” – Fleming

Global Water Maricopa Data:

  • New well is meant to provide 2,000 additional gallons per minute of “fresh” water, increasing raw water production 20 percent
  • In the past 24 months, Global Water has had three “major” line failures
  • 100 percent of fresh water in Global Water’s system is groundwater

Reclamation and recycling is a large part of the process, as any Maricopa resident can attest. Local lakes and water features are fed with nonpotable, reclaimed water. The system filters solids from the wastewater, resulting in biosolvents that are dried and, via an ADEQ permit, are sent to a local farmer, who uses it as fertilizer.

“All the waste that’s conveyed to the centralized reclamation facility we try to reuse … The only waste product is a single, 20-yard bin where solids are screened out at the beginning of the process.” – Fleming

Global Water Maricopa Data:

  • Goal is re-use 80 percent of Maricopa wastewater to reduce the demand on potable water
  • Purple pipe (reclaimed water) reduced the demand on the aquifer by about 30 percent.

This story appears in May issue of InMaricopa.


County Supervisor Anthony Smith (District 4) in his Maricopa office. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


In what will be a first for Maricopa, a State of the County Address is scheduled for May 17, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce.

What: State of the County
When: May 17, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Elements Event Center at Ak-Chin Circle
Who: Supervisor Anthony Smith
How much: Individuals $35; table of eight $280

District 4 Supervisor Anthony Smith of Maricopa will talk about what’s happened in the past year and what’s ahead for Pinal County. Smith said outgoing chamber executive Terri Crain approached him about providing the update as a chamber fundraiser.

Though Maricopa is the second-largest municipality in Pinal County, Smith acknowledged many of its residents know more about what is happening in Maricopa County.

“We’re going to identify what kind of services we bring here, where the county offices are at the library/health department/HUD,” Smith said. There is a fair county presence in Maricopa, but we’ll eventually need more. It’s just a matter of growth.”

Smith is bringing with him several elected and appointed county officials, from County Manager Greg Stanley to Sheriff Mark Lamb. In fact, he’s set aside two tables for county personnel.

“I’m going to emphasize teamwork between the county and the city,” Smith said.

Atop that list is the successful campaign for the regional transportation authority. Though it is still in court on a lawsuit from the Goldwater Institute (and probably will be for the summer, Smith predicted), it saw a variety of Maricopa entities and individuals come together in support.

The teamwork of the county and local flood control districts and the Army Corps of Engineers, he said, will be crucial to Maricopa’s ability to grow.

He will also talk about the growing job market, predicting Maricopa will provide 25 percent of the labor for new projects in the county. Maricopa, he said, has a well-educated work force, “and that’s an advantage when recruiting for jobs.”

Smith said Pinal was the first county to manage its way out of the recession and continues the highest rate of growth (14.5 percent compared to Maricopa County’s 12.5 percent).

In his forays into District 4, Smith also fields concerns and complaints the county needs to address. Those include emergency-response time in rural areas, illegal dumping and code compliance.

Overall, however, he thinks Pinal County is on strong footing.

“Our finances are very solid,” Smith said. “We have a decent reserve. We balance our budgets.”

This story appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Michelle Chance

After telling students and parents classes would resume Thursday, Maricopa Unified School District now says “lack of progress at the Legislature” will keep doors closed “until further notice.”

The Arizona Education Association announced before noon on Wednesday that it is “strongly opposed” to the K-12 Education Bill in the House and Senate.

“While this bill moves the needle, it still does not go far enough,” AEA President Joe Thomas said. “It does not restore the more than $1 billion taken from our students and it leaves out school support staff like counselors, bus drivers, librarians, and many more who are vital to the success of our students.”

After MUSD announced its re-opening, some district teachers chatted on social media about not coming into work.

MUSD apologized for the confusion.

“We will continue serving meals at our cafeterias for our students who depend on us for breakfast and lunch,” the official announcement stated. “Our top priority is student safety and we appreciate your understanding during this difficult time.”

Thomas said lawmakers brokered the education bill “behind closed doors as a partisan deal, without input from us. We were not able to change the minds of lawmakers, so the next step will be to change the faces of our lawmakers.”

“I truly think teachers deserve a higher pay and that we students deserve a proper education – at least a better one than what we’re receiving,” Mariocopa High School senior Kenya Gay said. “Teachers really don’t get enough credit or recognition for what they do. The walkout is not really affecting me personally because I don’t do sports or extra stuff, but I do know that it’s troubling some students who – especially – have tests coming, but teachers have been accommodating by having meetings at Starbucks and stuff. I just hope the teachers get the pay raise and that we get the proper funding we deserve.”

Submitted photo

After more than two years of fund-raising, a memorial monument is about to be unveiled at the Maricopa Police Substation at Copper Sky.

The fallen officer memorial dedication is May 14 at 7 a.m. at 17985 N. Greythorn Drive. MPD and the Maricopa Police Foundation are inviting the community to attend.

The Foundation started selling memorial bricks in 2016 for $100-$350 to help fund the monument. The memorial area can hold up to 6,000 paver bricks.

The memorial bricks were introduced “to honor the memory of a lost friend, family or loved one or honor the career of an officer.”


May is a month of changes. In Maricopa, it’s the end of the school year and the beginning of summer. Here’s what you’ll find inside the May issue of InMaricopa.

Raquel Hendrickson

Professional Bowlers Association player Steven Black is coming back from a significant hiatus from the sport he loves to re-enter the summer tour. That means a lot of time on the road for him and his family, who already have been through a lot changes moving back to Arizona.

The Class of 2018 is heading out into the world. In this issue, we spotlight some of them entering a full array of studies, from science to dance. Also get a peek at the graduating classes from Maricopa High School and Sequoia Pathway Academy.

Also at MHS, the much-lauded drama teacher Cindi Calhoun had a most difficult decision to make when it was time to renew contracts. She spoke to InMaricopa about the change she is making in her professional life without completely leaving her kids behind.

Change has been very obvious in midtown Maricopa, as the state cleared off several long-standing buildings along John Wayne Parkway and Honeycutt Road ahead of the coming overpass. Our photos tell the story of the destruction before the construction.

Maricopa’s business community is always going through changes, which are noted in this issue. That includes the expansion of the wastewater treatment facility at Global Water Resources, which also offers a glimpse inside the company’s status.

In this issue, you’ll also learn about queen palms, the VFW poppies, assisted-living facilities and the importance of water in your weight loss program.

Ready for a change? Be the change, and keep reading.

Staff and scholars of Maricopa Elementary School celebrate their Lighthouse designation.

This year, Maricopa Elementary School became just the fourth “Leader in Me” Lighthouse School in the state. Wednesday, its students helped explain the significance to the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board.

 “To achieve this recognition, we needed to demonstrate the elements of and meet the Lighthouse criteria,” MES Principal Jennifer Robinson said.

Those criteria are core paradigms, leadership, academics, culture and measurable results. Core paradigms include potential, motivation, change and education.

The five-year process is a school transformation drawn from Franklin Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and other materials produced by the Covey organization.

The school’s mission statement combines all of the classes’ mission statements into a collection of important words. One class’s mission statement reads: “We will be proactive and responsible. We will do our best to work hard and pay attention. We will help each other achieve our goals. We will be leaders in all we do.”

Each student has a leadership binder to keep track of school, class and individual efforts. Some students target reading, others math or a behavior goal, and all can track their own progress.

“Motivation is important to me because not reacting and choosing kindness is important,” fifth grader Amanda Childers said. “If I track my progress, I will be successful and move onto sixth grade… I think education is important to me because it is the start to our own future.”

The program includes Wildly Important Goals, or WIGs. One of MES’s WIGs was to achieve Lighthouse status by May. The school reached that goal in February.

The school also achieved another WIG this year, having 80 percent of is scholars making expected growth in math and English language arts. It is close to meeting another WIG, having a daily attendance rate of 95 percent.

Progress is displayed prominently for the students to see how the school is doing.

Robinson said MES followed two Tempe schools (Kyrene) and one in Gilbert in receiving the designation. Since then, Luke Elementary in Glendale became the fifth Arizona school to achieve Lighthouse status.

“This year we were one of 25 schools in the world that [were] given this distinction,” she said. “There are 379 Lighthouse Schools in the world, and MES is one of them.”

Leader in Me recently updated to show 383 Lighthouse Schools worldwide and 3,307 schools in the process.

Maricopa Unified School District board members Joshua Judd, Patti Coutre, AnnaMarie Knorr and Torri Anderson approved a resolution supporting teachers' campaign for better funding in April.


As if putting a stamp on an energetic evening featuring scores of #RedForEd T-shirts, the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board expressed their support as the teaching staff prepared to join a statewide walkout to change education funding.

MUSD school closed Thursday and remain closed Friday.

Though not specifically expressing support of the work stoppage, the board cited “chronic underfunding” in approving a “Resolution Supporting Educators.”

“[W]e support our school employees as they make their demands known for legislative action to secure the necessary funding for meaningful pay raises and education funding,” the resolution states.

Before the meeting, teachers from MUSD and other local schools gathered at Copper Sky for a rally. They then created “thank you” cards to individuals and organizations that have expressed support.

Two of the four board members present at Wednesday’s regular meeting also wore red.

High school teacher Aidan Balt thanked the board for supporting teachers and student. Then she specifically thanking incoming superintendent Tracey Lopeman and the cabinet for communicating the walkout situation quickly to all families in English and Spanish.

“I’ve never been more proud to be a teacher and I’ve been more proud to work for MUSD,” she said.

Technology Integration Specialist Christine Dickinson thanked the classified staff of MUSD for their support, calling all of them educators.

“All together we have to do this as a united team,” she said. “This is not about teacher pay. If it was about teacher pay, this would have been resolved. This is about educators united, not teachers, educators. Together as a team we are educators.”

April 12, Gov. Doug Ducey proposed a 20-percent teacher pay raise by the fall of 2020, but state teachers voted to walkout instead, saying it did not do enough for support staff or per-pupil funding.

Supporting Ducey’s plan, Senate President Steve Yarbrough said the teachers were victimizing the students.

“While the schools close, the Legislature remains open, with leaders attempting to complete their task to bring the teachers significantly better pay,” Yarbrough said in a prepared statement. “We hear their frustration. Our hope is that the teachers who choose to walk out on their children will return to their classrooms, so that students can learn and complete their school year.”

Photo by Mason Callejas

A man initially accused of firing a weapon toward The Duke at Rancho El Dorado was cited and released Wednesday.

Identified as Arbray Beshear, he was taken into custody at his home in Desert Park Court when a neighbor complained he was shooting a gun from the back side of his house. Maricopa Police determined the weapon was a pellet rifle, according to MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado.

Beshear, described in his 70s, was cited with as-yet-unidentified misdemeanor charges and not booked after officers discussed the case with the Pinal County Attorney’s office, Alvarado said.

A neighbor called police Wednesday morning with a report of shots fired near the golf course and also alleged Beshear had made threats when told to stop shooting. MPD responded by blocking streets in the area of the incident until they made contact with Beshear and took him into custody.

The Rams infield, (rom left) Mason Williamson, Taylor Belcher, Tyler Belcher, Nico Bandin, Devin Fiala and Jose Leyva, gathers on the mound. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa High School’s varsity baseball team ended its season Friday with a 10-9 loss at Williams Field.

That left the Rams’ overall record at 11-16. They finished fourth in 5A Metro and were ranked 28th, four slots away from qualifying for the Arizona Interscholastic Association play-in.

“The season was a lot of fun. This is a great group of young men,” head coach Andrew Pollak. “I am really proud of our seniors. They put everything they had into this school, program and city.”

The Rams touted seven seniors this season, most of them starters.

Senior Carter Paine led the team in hitting with a .430 average. He also drove in 17 runs and stole 13 bases. On the mound, he was 4-4 in nine appearances with an earned run average of 5.37. He struck out 53 in 44.1 innings and gave up 50 hits.

Senior Steven Gonzales batted .424, second best on the team. He led in RBIs with 18 and hits with 36. He was 1-3 in 10 appearances on the mound and had a team-best 3.17 ERA. He struck out 29 and gave up 24 hits.

Senior Taylor Belcher hit .324 in 26 games. He totaled 23 hits, including two home runs and five doubles, and drove 15 runs. He pitched in eight games for a record of 1-2 with a save.

Senior Tyler Belcher was 3-4 on the mound with a 3.73 ERA. He struck out 43 and allowed 48 hits. Tyler batted .282, hitting six doubles.

Senior catcher Mason Williamson’s fielding percentage of .972 was fifth in 5A Metro and led Maricopa. He batted .255 with two doubles and 10 RBIs.

Playing in 10 games, senior Kevin McDill batted .375. In 4.2 innings pitched, he struck out four batters.

Though the team relied heavily on the upperclassmen, the season wasn’t all about the seniors.

Junior first baseman Jose Leyva batted .300 and hit a team-leading eight doubles. Nico Bandin, a junior second baseman, battled .269. Beside him at shortstop, junior Devin Fiala batted .241 and had six doubles and a triple.

“This is a great time to be a Maricopa Ram baseball player,” Pollak said. “Nowhere else is a 13-18-year- old going to play on a better field than Matt Huffman field right here in our great city.”

Pollak said the coaches are excited about the younger players, both those already playing varsity and those coming up from the junior varsity team, which posted a much-improved record of 8-8 this season.

“The kids are going to be coached the right way and learn things that go way beyond the playing field,” he said. “We do things that are so much more than the win and loss record. Our kids play the game with respect, they learn to play hard and make each other better people.

“The only thing we will ever guarantee is, when your child spends four years in this program, they are going to leave with a lifetime of memories and be a better person because of their time playing for Maricopa High School.”

Councilwoman Julia Gusse lodged an ethics complaint against Councilmember Vincent Manfredi, but withdrew it last week, according to city records.

A formal complaint of violating the city council’s Code of Ethics was withdrawn last week, two and a half weeks after being filed and nearly two months after the accusation was made.

The complaint, filed March 29 by Councilwoman Julia Gusse, accused Councilmember Vincent Manfredi of violating three sections of the code, which was adopted in 2013. The accusations stemmed from Manfredi’s social media posts that criticized a reporter with the Maricopa Monitor.

In her complaint, Gusse said Manfredi “used his official title to blast his personal opinion against Bethany Blundell calling her an unethical liar with little experience.”

Manfredi is a minority owner of InMaricopa.

Gusse called the exchange on his city council Facebook page “unbecoming” a councilmember. The post in February was in response to questions raised by residents based on an opinion piece written by Blundell accusing Manfredi of passing privileged information to InMaricopa reporters and trying to unduly influence upcoming candidate debates.

He is up for re-election this year.

Based on Manfredi’s response, portions of the Ethics Code Gusse cited were Article VIII, Sec. 2-131.a (highest standards of ethics); Article VIII, Sec. 2-133.c (professionalism and courtesy); and Article VIII, Sec. 2-133.h (communications).

City records show a month before filing the complaint, Gusse wrote Manfredi a Feb. 28 letter demanding a formal public apology.

“As much as you want to believe that this is YOUR opinion and only YOUR opinion, it is NOT,” she wrote. “You are using your title and your position to defame and demoralize this young female journalist that happened to write an opinion piece that you did not agree with.”

In his response that same day, Manfredi told Gusse, “after speaking with our attorney and the Mayor, I decided to issue a retraction and apology to Ms. Blundell for the words I used to describe her.”

Gusse went forward with the formal complaint, however, including the statement, “I have been judged by my peers for these same violations. Mr. Manfredi should be given the same opportunity to face this Council regarding this violation.”

She was referencing a 2014 incident during her previous term in office when she publicly questioned a former councilmember’s ethics and called him a bully. She received an official warning from the council afterward.

The city council’s discussion of the Manfredi matter was in closed session April 16.

April 17, Gusse wrote to interim City Manager Trisha Sorensen, “I believe Councilman Manfredi’s apology regarding his comments was sufficient. Please be advised that I requested an apology, one was delivered and do not request any further action from the City related to my Ethics Complaint and consider this matter resolved through the Ethics Code’s informal process.”

A statement from City Hall said the matter was resolved through an informal process and there will be no further action.

“As the subject of the complaint, I feel the Code of Ethics worked well and it was able to help Councilwoman Gusse and myself resolve the issue at its lower level,” Manfredi said.

“I am proud of my fellow councilmembers for resolving this issue,” said Mayor Christian Price. “This is a great example of councilmembers working together to achieve a resolution that best allows the City to move forward in a positive direction by following the provisions outlined in the city code. Checking in on ourselves to ensure we are maintaining the utmost standards of personal integrity, truthfulness, honesty and fairness is a good practice and makes us stronger as a body.”

Gusse did not respond to a request for comment. 

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Despite high winds,, the forecast sees mostly sunny days ahead. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A windy Thursday is expected to lead into a weekend of moderately warm temperatures in Maricopa, according to the National Weather Service.

Today, look for patchy blowing dust after 2 p.m. Otherwise, the day should be sunny with a high near 84 degrees F. The wind will be from the west at 20-30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph. A red-flag warning is in place from noon to 9 p.m. Overnight, the blowing dust will continue until 8 p.m. as the low drops to around 51.

Friday is forecast to be sunny with a high near 78 as winds lessen to 15-20 mph (gusts up to 30 mph). A red-flag warning is in place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The nighttime low will be around 49.

Saturday, the winds are expected to dissipate to 5-10 mph breezes as the high hits 82 under sunny skies. The night will also be clear with a low around 52.

Sunday looks to warm up to 92 for a high during a sunny day. The night will be partly cloudy with a low around 58.

The extended forecast sees mostly sunny days next week with temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s, with elevated winds possible Monday.

Antonio Gonzalez and Kjirsten Lemon star in "The Baker's Wife" for MHS Theatre Company. Photo by Mason Callejas


After years of staging musicals that have had their runs on Broadway and are ingrained in the musical-theater psyche, Maricopa High School Theatre Company is tackling a far less known show for its spring musical.

What: “The Baker’s Wife”
Who: MHS Theatre Company
When: April 19-21, 7 p.m., April 21, 2 p.m.
Where: Performing Arts Center, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.
How much: $7 adults; $5 students

“The Baker’s Wife” by Stephen Schwartz and Joseph Stein has a long history that includes a brief run on London’s West End but never a production on Broadway. Through regional and international productions, it was changed over the years and gained a cult following.

“I thought it was just going to be real cute,” said junior Antonio Gonzales, who plays Aimable the baker. “It’s not a very well-known show. Before we had actually started the process, I looked into it, and fell in love with it. It was a really good show.”

Set in provincial France, the story opens when a baker finally arrives in a squabbling village long without a bread baker. While welcoming the baker, gossipy villagers take note of his much-younger wife Genevieve. A handsome, young man pursues Genevieve, who resists his advances – for a while.

“She’s challenging, because she does something that I personally would not ever do,” said junior Kjirsten Lemon, who plays Genevieve. “I have to play her like to me that’s what’s right.”

The humble baker’s humble response to what befalls him is censure to the villagers, who take another look at their own relationships.

“It’s a sweet story,” said teacher Cynthia Calhoun, who is directing the musical, apparently her last for MHS. She has submitted her resignation effective at the end of the school year.

Teacher Cynthia Calhoun directs the students through a rehearsal. Hers is among staff resignations that go before the MUSD Governing Board this week. Photo by Mason Callejas

Calhoun said though the show is not well-known, its creators are. Schwartz wrote a collection of hits, from “Pippin” to “Wicked,” and Stein is revered in theater circles for “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“When you listen to the first song, Chanson, it’s so beautiful, especially with Britney [Montgomery] singing it,” Lemon said. “Right when I heard that song, I thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be a great musical.’”


Cast List
Aimable … Antonio Gonzales
Genevieve … Kjirsten Lemon
Denise … Britney Montgomery
Claude … Carlos Aguilar
Martine (teacher) … Stirling Luckey
Therese … Aidyn Curtis
Pierre … Jae Luna
Doumergue … Genevieve Burno
Antoine … Kobe Hinton
Barnaby … Logan Spaulding
Hortense … Taryn Story
le Cure (Priest) … Douglas Moulton
Marquis … Collin Martin
Dominique … Brandon Korittky
Philippe … Emma Schrader
Inez … Ivie Keene
Simone … Chaienne Zoller
Nicole … Alexia Esquivel

The Villagers … Emmeline Boothe, Mary Brokenshire, Keara Burke, Aleyna Call, Isabella Chitwood, Zephanie Coleman, Morgan Cutrara, Astraya Ellyson, Autumn Fausz, Fallon Fruchey, Angelina George, Katie Gilmore, Emily Goncalves, Wynter Grissom, Hailey Gross, Tamara Hanania, Katie Hanks, Azeri Hanson, Makayla Horn, Scotland JanFrancisco, Princess Jimenez, Ashlyn Kelley, Rachel Knight, Dakota Larson, Haley Lemon, Isabelle Lopez, Aubrey Maas, Kylie Nolan, Michael O’Dell, Andrea Ortiz, Caterina Rizzi, Chloe Seekings, Heidi Smith, Katelyn Stroschein, Francis Trast, Alex-Ann Velasco

This story appears in the April edition of InMaricopa.

The HVS study found Hilton’s Homewood A photo from the study shows Suites in Chandler to be a primary competitor for hotel traffic in Maricopa.

When the City of Maricopa last completed a hotel feasibility study, it was 2014 and Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino had not announced its hotel expansion.

Maricopa Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart said while that expansion has no effect on whether Maricopa can sustain a hotel, “as we began to talk to hoteliers and developers, they wanted to know how it would affect the feasibility of the project.”

Those requests turned into a new feasibility study, released in March, by HVS Consulting & Valuation.

The study specifically looked at the viability of a hotel proposed somewhere along State Route 347. Possible sites include acreage at the Copper Sky complex, property that is owned by the city and intended for hotel and retail establishments.

Harrah’s Ak-Chin is adding more than 200 rooms during its casino remodeling. Within Maricopa, there are no other lodging accommodations. Aside from the casino, a new hotel’s main competitors would be in Chandler.

“The new report by HVS states the community can sustain a 100-room, extended-stay, upper midscale hotel,” Airheart said.

According to the report, “heavy consideration” was given to Home2 Suites by Hilton, Staybridge Suites and TownePlace Suites by Marriott brands, though “a specific franchise affiliation and/or brand has yet to be finalized.”

The study also had the caveat that if a hotel were built outside the SR 347 corridor, it could alter the feasibility of the project.

HVS used the model of a 70 percent occupancy level and a base-year rate of $103 in making comparisons with current hotels in the surrounding area.

“The conclusion of this analysis indicates that an equity investor contributing $3,471,000 (roughly 30 percent of the $11,600,000 development cost) could expect to receive a 20.3 percent internal rate of return over a 10-year holding period,” the report stated. That is considered an above-average return.

Major demand generators for a hotel are listed as the Volkswagen proving grounds, Nissan testing center, Apex Motor Club, U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center and Amtrak. Last year, VW alone needed an estimated 12,000 room nights, according to the report, accommodations that had to be made outside Maricopa.

This story appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

Woo Kim of WRT Designs talks to Maricopans about the future of the city center around City Hall. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa’s general plan describes a development pattern of mixed-use core areas called Village Centers.

They were an important component in the creation of the city’s 2040 Vision. As delineated by the general plan, “Village Centers are higher intensity locations within a distinct geographic area along transit corridors and are a cluster of community-oriented neighborhood character areas with local commercial, office and mixed-use spaces. These centers should contain public gathering spaces with civic uses, such as schools, libraries and parks and have a distinct identity and village theme.”

Now, the City of Maricopa has put itself first on the list of planning such a village center. Despite the major obstacle of being in a flood plain, the 140 acres of city-owned property around the City Hall complex are targeted as a new city center.

City planner Ryan Wozniak said Maricopa does not have a destination location, a place that lets a visitor know, “I’ve arrived.” The village center concept is meant to create that sense of place.

In March, the city reached out to stakeholders to solicit feedback on ideas that might suit a Maricopa city center. The ideas were drawn from other communities in Arizona and around the country. Zoning Administrator Kazi Haque said the city would like to create a centralized corridor down Bowlin Road from City Hall to Central Arizona College and Banner and Walmart.

“I like the walkable space next to the college, and placing the retail next to the college is very good as well,” said Eli Pollard, a college student who plans to move to Maricopa. “I personally like to walk to areas that have parks and stuff, so I’d be inclined to go to the retail area, get a cup of coffee and then go and sit in the city center for a while. And I think the other college students would also be inclined to do that.”

Melissa Bailey, a resident, agreed. “I really like the idea of the mixed use, walkable, bikeable, arts and culture accessible, an amphitheater… just younger by like 30 years.”

Residents rate ideas for a city center. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Woo Kim, senior associate with WRT Design, walked residents through some of the case studies and incorporated their ideas as well. That included a library, senior center and community center around the City Hall plaza.

“There are some parking implications, but it’s manageable,” Kim said.

Communities used as case studies were Abacoa, Florida, Verrado in Buckeye, Stapleton in Denver, Colorado, Chandler Park in Chandler, The Glen in Glenview, Illinois, and High Street in Phoenix. Stapleton, the redevelopment of the former Denver airport, was an example of varied housing.

“One thing Stapleton does really well is mix the traditional and the modern, contemporary architecture,” Kim said.

A diverse group, from college students to millennials to seniors, the stakeholders agreed on several concepts for a city center. Primary among those ideas were the mix of retail and civic uses and multifamily housing like townhomes.

“I don’t want this to be a retirement community. It’s so much bigger than that,” said Joshua Logan, who moved to Maricopa in 2007. “It can incorporate all those great assets, but it needs to have [high income and low income] to grow, to be exactly what it was meant to be. I have a long time before retirement. I want to see my values go up.”

Participants tagged their favorite design elements in green areas, mixed-use retail areas and buildings. College student Taylor Buchanan said she wanted to be part of the process, “to be a part of the community and to help decide what we can do to make it better to bring other people into the community.”

Eli Pollard and Taylor Buchanan look at design concepts. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

In his last meeting as a Planning & Zoning commissioner, Bryon Joyce reminded city staff the ultimate discussion in bringing people to certain areas of the city is business. Joyce is reluctantly leaving Maricopa as his job moves farther north.

“As of right now, I’m not seeing a centerpiece to draw people there,” he said of the village center concept. “There’s no major, well-paying employer. There have to be companies that are going to locate here.”

Another area of Maricopa already identified for Village Center planning is the Heritage District and the Redevelopment Area within it. 

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

This story appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.


The Sequoia Pathway Site Council will be hosting its second annual golf fundraising event (“The Big Drive for Education”) on April 28 at The Duke at Rancho El Dorado. The purpose of the fundraiser is to improve technology capabilities to meet new demands and standards for ‘high stakes’ testing such as AZ Merit as well as other programs to supplement lessons in the classroom and prepare 21st century students in the workplace, higher education, and in the community. Additionally, it will assist teachers in participating in professional development programs that will enhance their effectiveness in the classroom.

While one area of revenue for the event is golfer/team registrations, others include raffles for prizes, silent auction items, contests, and sponsorships. Maricopa is fortunate enough to encompass individuals from many sectors of the local businesses and organizations that can make this event a success. Sponsorships in the form of tee box advertising, donations of goods or services, and promotion of the event through social media and traditional business venues offer the best potential to meet the goals of the tourney. Moreover, they increase the enjoyment of the participants, promote our local businesses, and increase awareness of the great things our entire community continues to accomplish. Last year, the event received numerous in-kind donations as well such as gift certificates to local restaurants, golf courses, resort packages, a helicopter tour and sports memorabilia items. This year, Site Council has already donated a new 55-inch TV as a raffle item.

This scramble tourney event is open to the public, but spots are limited. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m. with a shotgun start at 7:30 a.m. The entry fee is $100/person and includes range balls, a golf cart, a full lunch, and more. Feel free to share these opportunities with those in your network of friends and colleagues. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Mr. Alberto Holguin ( and Mrs. Kelly Anderson (, our tourney directors.  

Dorothy Charles in her former ranger hat. Photo by Mason Callejas

When Dorothy Shally Charles started working for the National Park Service, singing was a job requirement.

What: The History of Scotty’s Castle, Death Valley
Who: Dorothy Charles and the Maricopa Historical Society
When: April 2, 5:30 p.m.”
Where: Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road
How much: Free

“I told my boss I couldn’t sing. He said, ‘No, that’s what we do.’”

Still in college, Charles was a seasonal naturalist at Grand Canyon National Park in 1965. The naturalists told visitors what was going on, sang them campfire-style songs and then presented nature programs. Being a rookie, Charles was already petrified without suddenly learning she had to lead some songs, but she did it through the summer.

That job requirement, along with the dresses, low-heeled pumps and nylons necessary for female staff, eventually went away during Charles’ 25-year career. Besides Grand Canyon, her work took her to Badlands National Monument (which later became a national park) in South Dakota and Death Valley National Monument in California.

Her time specifically at Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley culminated in co-writing a book about the historic hacienda. April 2, she is scheduled to talk about Scotty’s Castle in a presentation to the Maricopa Historical Society.

Dorothy and her husband Kent Charles have lived in Tortosa since 2011. About a year after her introduction to the city, Dorothy Charles became an important part of the society’s archival work.

“I’d work with Dorothy on any project and know that it would be well organized and a project well worth doing,” said Joan Garrett, who has been a cohort in making sure the historical society’s assets are managed correctly for future generations.

Growing up the San Francisco Bay area, Charles credits her mother with her love of the outdoors. The family commonly did a lot of hiking and camping and spent summers with grandparents in the Sierras. When her father had his annual two weeks’ vacation from New York Life Insurance Company, he would drive up to meet them and take them camping at even higher elevations.

Dorothy Charles (second row, third from right) with Grand Canyon staff in the late 1960s. Submitted photo

Dorothy’s first job was clerical work as a teenager for New York Life. While attending Humboldt State College (later university) majoring in outdoor resources, she started working summers at Grand Canyon, despite being uncomfortable with heights.

“When nobody was around I’d hang onto the rails,” she said.

Her work involved “point duty,” during which rangers were placed at locations along the rim where visitors typically parked. They would explain what they were seeing, direct them where they needed to go, pick up trash, butts and diapers and even have some latrine duty.

Charles was giving a presentation at Grand Canyon Village in 1969 when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.

“I had them bring me a radio, and the moon was coming up behind me, and we talked about this man walking up there on the moon,” she said. “I’ll always remember where I was then. It was sort of anticlimactic saying, ‘Well, now we have some nature walks you can go on.’”

In her early years at the canyon, she spent the winter months working at Death Valley National Monument. Her title was park technician.

National Geographic published a lengthy feature on Death Valley in its January 1970 issue. Dorothy can be seen in two of David Hiser’s photographs – one in her skirt and flats directing hikers in Mosaic Canyon and one bundled up and hiking through snow on Telescope Peak.

Her work in Death Valley included research and fact-checking to give visitors a true history of Scotty’s Castle. In 1973, she and maintenance leader William Bolton wrote the 40-page book “Scotty’s Castle,” published by Flying Spur Press.

The “castle,” which was under construction 1922-1931 and never quite finished, averaged 100,000 visitors a year before a devastating flood in 2015. It is not expected to reopen until 2020, so the closest most can get to understanding the unique hacienda is through books like “Scotty’s Castle.”

“We tried to not only make it fun but to tell the true story of Scotty’s Castle,” Charles said. “He had stuff brought over from Germany and Italy, Majorcan rugs throughout the castle made special for it.”

In his introduction, former Superintendent Robert J. Murphy said Dorothy “researched facts pertinent to the text or guide script; checked on paintings and other historical items in the Castle; interviewed former workers and visitors who know [Albert] Johnson and Scotty [Walter Scott], or knew of events at the Castle when they were living there. She also assisted in identifying and preparing items for shipment that were in need of restoration, as well as finding qualified specialists for the purpose of cleaning and repairing delicate Castle furnishings.”

That job description would come to sound very familiar to members of the Maricopa Historical Society 40 years later.

Dorothy’s career path changed when she met a new procurement clerk named Kent Charles in Death Valley during a “long, hot summer.” She married Kent in 1975 after she completed ranger school. She continued working with NPS part-time until they followed Kent’s career to Seattle for a year and then to Denver for 31 years.

She said her years at Scotty’s Castle peaked her interest in history. When the Charleses moved to Maricopa, she decided joining the historical society was the best way to get to know the background of the area.

At the time, Mary Lou Smith needed help putting together historical displays in the library. Dorothy Charles put her past organizational and display knowledge to use and was soon the MHS archivist, working closely with Judi Shirk and Joan Garrett, who calls Dorothy “absolutely one of the most organized people I have ever known.”

They gather, list, tag and organize items donated or acquired by the historical society.

“The listing of these items has been tedious but with the three of us working together and using Dorothy’s organized listings, it’s also been educational for us,” Garrett said. “We are pleased that the items that people have entrusted to us are now carefully listed and we know exactly where they are and all the information we have concerning each one.  She never seems to tire and, with a little banter back and forth, the hours have flown by and we’ve accomplished more and more each week.”

Charles said her past work with NPS has helped her prepare information from the historical society, research and manage the collection.

“My background has helped with adapting to the desert and adapting to the things that need to be done with the historical society, which is also newer, so we were starting at the bottom,” she said. “So, I guess I like the challenge.”

This story appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

Death Valley. Submitted photo

Four years after its debut, Maricopa Music Festival returns on April 7.

What: Maricopa Music Festival
When: April 7, 1-10 p.m.
Where: Copper Sky Regional Park, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
How much: $20/adults; free to children under 12 and military veterans

The event, scheduled from 1 to 10 p.m. (and maybe beyond) at Copper Sky Regional Park, spotlights indie music, which itself stretches genres. Founder Chrystal Allen-O’Jon said more than 20 music acts are scheduled as well as other entertainment.

From pop and hip hop to reggae and a Jimi Hendrix tribute, performers are expected to bring the diversity to a concert organizers want to make an annual event.

“There will be two stages with three screens and a smoke machine,” she said. “Presentation is super important.”

The acts will have a distinct local flavor. Many are from Arizona with others coming from California, Florida and even one from Sweden. Allen-O’Jon said the musicians have been vetted to ensure quality.

As the music is playing, there will be an art walk, science walk, a glow-in-the-dark face painting contest, festival-wear contest, food and product vendors and a beer garden.

“Things will be going on all the time,” Allen-O’Jon said. “We would like to build it to be more like Coachella,” referring to a music-and-arts festival in California. She would like to draw around 1,500 music lovers.

The previous event four years ago was free, with organizers and sponsors footing the substantial bill. This time, there will be an admission fee.

At the gate, attendees pay $20, or they can purchase in advance for $15 from EventBrite. VIP tickets, which include dinner, are $45 in advance and $50 at the gate. Children under 12 and military veterans get in free. The first 20 low-riders who register their cars get two free tickets.

Charging stations will be available for electronic devices. Maricopa Police Department and private security are scheduled to be on site to maintain a safe atmosphere, Allen-O’Jon said.

For those wishing to indulge in True Grit Tavern’s beer garden, organizers have a Lyft code for a safe ride home. They have also partnered with a hotel for discount prices.

“We’re going to be honoring Bikers Against Child Abuse,” Allen-O’Jon said. “They’ll be our honored guests, and all the bikers can attend free.”


Scheduled Performers at Maricopa Music Festival

Jimi Hendrix Review By Derrick Cummings
Lighthouse Band AZ
The Sink or Swim Band
Somewhat Damaged
Pachamama LA
John Kelley
Eric Seats & The 333’s
Born Divine
Xavier Keyz
Young Energy
Taylor McLeod
Ida Divine
Elizabeth Pope
Tanta T
Posterwall Band
The PA System
Dance Glam
A-Mac & The Height
Maricopa Brothers Taekwondo

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Ross is intended for Suite 200 in the Edison Point shopping plaza.

Despite predictions a major clothing retailer would open this spring in Edison Pointe, an opening date is projected for a little later.

According to its corporate office, Ross Dress for Less is planning to open its Maricopa store July 21. It is one of four business to operate from the largest building in the Edison Pointe plaza.

Already open are the Goodwill store and Planet Fitness. The Dollar Tree is set to move into the 9,920-square-foot space abutting Fry’s Marketplace.

Brakes Plus has applied for a development review permit, according to city records. It is planned to occupy an area in the south section of Edison Pointe where there has been no construction.

IHOP has filed for a pre-application conference with the city to scope out the possibility of coming to Edison Pointe, as well.

With a stand-alone building currently under construction, Burger King is estimated to have an opening in June.

Estimated opening dates have not been given for the three business to occupy the building closest to John Wayne Parkway. Dunkin Donuts received a commercial tenant improvement permit for its 1,811-square-foot space that includes a drive-thru. WingStop and a nail salon are also planned for the building.

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Another long-standing structure in the Heritage District went down Thursday morning. The former Pinal County Sheriff’s Office substation that most recently served as the F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank was turned into scrap while subcontractor Breinholt Construction also scooped up the pavement of the parking lot. Former fire department administration buildings in the same lot are next on the list as the Arizona Department of Transportation prepares for Ames Construction to begin work on a new overpass across the railroad bridge. Earlier this week, Spoon’s diner, the Copa Center and other structures were demolished.

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Tracey Lopeman , Ed.D.., fields questions during a public forum with the three final candidates for MUSD superintendent. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Tracey Lopeman stood in front of Walmart to meet Maricopans in an effort to get to know the community when she was a candidate to be the next superintendent of Maricopa Unified School District.

Monday night, she became the last person standing after the governing board voted unanimously to begin contract negotiations with the long-time administrator from Alhambra Elementary School District. The evening started with a 90-minute forum for community members, teachers and students to get to know the three finalists.

“The more I came to Maricopa, the more I just loved it,” said Lopeman, adding she had little familiarity with the community before she applied for the job.

This is her 28th year in education, starting as a junior high teacher. She is now assistant superintendent for strategic planning, implementation and accountability at Alhambra.

“That’s a big title; it’s a big job. It means I get to get into everybody’s business,” she said.

MUSD Board President AnnaMarie Knorr said Lopeman has the “energy and enthusiasm” the board was looking for, adding all three finalists were highly qualified.

Heather Cruz of Litchfield and Cort Monroe of Queen Creek were also up for the job. The district culled the finalists from 30 applications.

Previous superintendent Steve Chestnut left for a post in the Scottsdale Unified School District.

Moderated by Karen Gasket of the Arizona School Board Association, the three finalists were asked wide-ranging questions from dealing with growth, safety and parental involvement.

Lopeman said she appreciated the board’s efforts in transparency in having a public forum that allowed community members to get to know the candidates. She said a key to strengthening community and parental relations with the district would be to have more such forums, “and ask you the open-ended questions, ‘What are your hopes and dreams for the kids here in Maricopa?’

“I know for me it’s that every one of them graduates from high school ready to innovate, create and be successful.”

Lopeman said she sees the next big challenge for MUSD as growth. A recent study projected the K-12 student population to grow from 6,729 to 11,587 in 10 years. 

The former Copa Center on Honeycutt Road is among buildings slated for demolition this month. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Demolition is scheduled next week on Heritage District buildings in the path of the coming overpass.

“Right now we are scheduled to begin demolition on the homes we acquired along Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway starting Monday, March 26,” said Tom Herrmann, spokesman for Arizona Department of Transportation.

Maricopa Public Works Director Bill Fay confirmed the Copa Center on Honeycutt Road is listed on the first group of buildings to be razed. The former Spoons diner on MCG Highway is also on the early schedule.

Fay said most of the demolitions are being done by subcontractors. An exception is the former administration building of the fire/medical department, trailers that may be hauled away.

Herrmann said there will also be lane restriction on MCG Highway and Honeycutt Road starting Monday. Utility work is scheduled next week, and more demolitions are slated the first half of April.

The former Spoons eatery is also in the path of the overpass.

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Millar Airport and Vietnam Aviation Veterans of Arizona Museum again played host to an annual Spring Break Extravaganza car show and fly-in March 17. The car show, a competition for cash prizes, featured an array of vehicles from midget cars and Thunderbirds to motorcycles and trucks.  Meanwhile pilots landed myriad aircraft, ranging from historical to experimental. The big band Swing Memories provided live music, and there was a tractor-driven hayride and halftrack carrying visitors around the field. The event benefited the Shriners.

Maricopa teacher Marjorie Stout at the memorial of Vittorio Emmanuel II in Rome, with her class of second graders. Submitted photo

A Maricopa teacher scored a trip to Italy for spring break, and she didn’t leave her class behind.

Marjorie Stout teaches second grade at Saddleback Elementary School. When her husband told her he was taking her to Italy, she was thrilled, and so was her class. They wanted to go, too, of course. Even after an online virtual tour of Rome, they were still “bummed” they couldn’t go, Stout said.

So, Stout, who has been teaching for 17 years, had a class photo printed on a shirt and on a vinyl poster. As she goes around Rome, she has a photo taken of herself with the class photo at various Italian landmarks. She then shares many of the photos with the class on Class Dojo.

“When I told this idea to my class, they went crazy with excitement,” she said. “So here I am, still in Rome carrying a huge poster wherever I go.”

The Stouts are in Rome for six days.

In the first two days, they (and the virtual class) have visited the Colosseum, Memorial of Vittorio Emmanuel II, The Pantheon, The Vatican (“We saw the Pope too!!!”), Sistine Chapel, The Trevi Fountain, “too many churches to mention,” The Spanish Steps, Piazza Barbini and Piazza Nova.

See more of this special trip in the April issue of InMaricopa.

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Maricopa City Hall and MPD are surrounded by undeveloped acres off White & Parker Road. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa is envisioning a new “city center,” and officials want resident feedback.

A design charrette and community workshop are set for March 15 from 4 to 7 p.m. at City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza. City Hall is the centerpiece of the vision for a city center.

Civic Center Plaza, which includes City Hall and Maricopa Police Department, is an island surrounded by more than 120 acres of undeveloped land owned by the City. When first built, the plaza was meant to be the center of the city with a variety of businesses coming in around it as the population shifted eastward.

The charrette is the first step in designing a vision for that city center.

“There is good synergy, with the college and Banner and Walmart in the area,” said Kazi Haque, city zoning administrator.

Haque said the vision has always been for a mixed-use area, with government, retail, community and housing components. A variety of options and architecture ideas will be on display during the interactive workshop.

“There will be a consultant there to talk about the methodology,” Haque said. “The purpose is to introduce the process and get feedback.”

The recession and floodplain designation halted development in the area. While housing development has returned in good form (nearly 100 home permits a month), the floodplain remains an issue. A large portion of the property is in the Santa Cruz wash.

Haque said that is a future problem to be solved as city officials continue discussions with adjacent property owners and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

For more information about the workshop, contact Haque at or 520-316-6985.

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Salsa Festival is March 24 from 2 to 8 p.m. at Copper Sky Regional Park.


Do you like your salsa hot or mild? Or just interesting?

A little of everything is expected at Maricopa’s 13th annual Salsa Festival. The city’s biggest event is set for March 24 from 2 to 8 p.m. at Copper Sky Regional Park.

It is a time of salsa tasting, game playing, hot-pepper eating, piñata busting, salsa dancing, music listening and, yes, beer drinking.

City events manager Niesha Whitman said more than 30 vendors have signed up.

As for the salsa, contestants can enter one category for free and others for $5. The three categories are hot, mild and unusual. Chefs will compete for cash prizes up to $1,000.

Each category win is $500 while second place is $150 and third is $50. The celebrity Judge’s Choice earns $250. The overall best, based on public voting, wins the coveted $1,000.

To try the salsas and vote, attendees purchase a $1 box with corn chips and room to place plastic cups of the competing salsa they can get.

Attendees who want to win a hundred bucks the hard way can enter the Chili Pepper Eating Contest. Contestants must work their way through a series of progressively hot peppers to take the title.

As usual there will be live mariachi music and performances by community groups.

Besides the Lil’ Pepper Zone with inflatables, Whitman said Artisan Signs is providing a craft area with sand painting, coloring, piñatas, face painting and more.

Admission to Salsa Fest is free. There is a $5 charge for Lil’ Pepper Zone wristbands. Parking at Copper Sky will also be $5, but there will be free park-and-ride areas at six schools and Maricopa Ace Hardware, with a shuttle service running from 2 to 8:30 p.m.

This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Photo of Pierre and Daniel Deck courtesy of Maricopa Historical Society

By Patricia Brock and the Maricopa Historical Society


Mobile is a small community located about 15 miles west of Maricopa on State Route 238 (Mobile Road), and north of what was the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks. It is in Maricopa County and bordered by two majestic mountain ranges – the Estrella Mountains to the east and the Maricopa Mountain Range to the west.

In the 1800s, this little settlement was named Mobile when the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks were laid across southern Arizona and a siding and section house were created to provide water for steam engines.

Today, not much remains to indicate that at one time Mobile might have developed into a thriving town. In 1988, it was the proposed site for the Superconducting Super Collider and considered by the ENSCO Hazardous Waste Facility, but neither of these projects took root. However, against the wishes of many of its residents, the Butterfield Station Waste Management Facility did locate at Mobile.


First Homestead

Edison Lung, a white man who first carved out a life in Mobile, homesteaded the area around 1921 and continued to live there for the rest of his life. Lung worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad pumping water for the steam engines. When the railroad transferred him to Yuma, he absolutely refused to go, quit his job and laid down stakes at Mobile catering to railroad personnel and travelers.

Records show Lung filed an application to enlarge his homestead in 1922 and received a title to that land in 1925. His homestead consisted of a frame and stucco house, a store located downstairs and a post office with sleeping quarters on the second floor. The homestead had a gas station, a cow barn, a chicken coup and a storeroom. His wife ran the post office and made a living by providing services to travelers and railroad employees.

Edison Lung raised cattle, hogs and chicken on his homestead. Around 1935, he decided to modernize the property and bought a Delco electric generator that provided the family with lighting and the use of a few appliances. Records also show he and his family motored to Maricopa to dances at the Maricopa Hotel and to other recreational events throughout the 1930s.


An African American Community

During the late 1920s and early ‘30s, Mobile became an African American settlement as people began to homestead the land. According to Mark Swanson (An Archaeological Investigation of the Historic Black Settlement at Mobile, Arizona), the population in the 1930s was between 100 and 150 and consisted of mainly black settlers. Most of these early settlers did not work for the railroad but came from Oklahoma or Texas by way of Phoenix.

The first of the successful African American homesteaders were Lee Elliot Williams (homestead awarded in 1933); Richard Cobb Williams (homestead awarded in 1933); Homer Abraham Williams (homestead awarded in 1933); and Willis Thomas, Hezekiah McGriff, Eli Weddington, James Manor, and the Israel Nelson families.



The first school in Mobile contained grades 1-8 and consisted of two railroad cars placed end to end. White children went to school in one car and black children went to school in the other car. Later, the white children were transferred to a wood frame schoolhouse that was moved from Rainbow Valley (1936-37) and placed near the home of Edison Lung. It continued to educate these children up to the 1960s.

The black residents of Mobile built a small schoolhouse, Nelson Elementary School, for their children. When the community started to grow and needed a bigger school, the government built a much larger one in the same location. After eighth grade graduation, children were bused to Percy L. Julian or South Mountain High School.


Growing up in Mobile

In an oral history interview with the Deck brothers, Pierre and Daniel, and their lifelong friend Fezel Adams, Pierre Deck recalled what it was like growing up in Mobile: One thing about Mobile, I don’t care who you were, you were family. If you needed something, you got it. I don’t care how it came to you, you got it, you didn’t have to pay it back. It was just one big family.”

Pierre Deck said, “I watched my grandfather come from nothing to having something … to be proud of who you are. You just do the right thing and that’s how I was raised. In Mobile everybody stood out.”

Daniel Deck said, “Nobody had running water or electricity. They hauled the water. No electricity, dirt floors, no windows, a potbellied stove you stuck wood into. My grandma and grandpa, they worked pretty hard. When sand was dumped out there, snakes would just lay down and sleep. You had to walk out to the outhouse; you didn’t have a bathroom. If you encountered a snake, you would just jump it or go around. There was not an animal around that the snake would back up from! You live here and they live over there. You had to look under the covers and under the bed and everywhere. You might get out of bed and they would be sleeping right next to you.”

Today, Mobile has a population of less than 100 people who are mostly white. Besides the Butterfield Waste Management Facility, there is a private airport, Lufthansa, located to its north that is used for training pilots.

This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


Pinal Partnership hosted its February breakfast at Elements Event Center with the focus on the housing market in Pinal County. Jeremy Ramsdale of Ashton Woods and Jeff Gunderson of Lennar comprised a panel discussing the home-building and home-buying outlook. Some points to ponder:

  • There is an overall good outlook for housing in Pinal County.
  • Both Ashton Woods and Lennar are very active in San Tan Valley. Maricopa is “not quite as active” as STV but more typical of a steady growth in home-building.
  • “We think the future is bright for Maricopa,” Ramsdale said. “I think it’s going to be an attractive location.”
  • Developers see Maricopa has a wonderful quality of life but has “some challenges” with traffic.
  • Maricopa needs a new sign policy allowing builder signs to direct traffic to developments off the main road. Ramsdale said the current kiosks are hard to read, so newcomers on John Wayne Parkway have trouble finding Sorrento, where Ashton Woods operates as Starlight Homes.
  • Lennar has taken “a couple of looks” at Maricopa, Gunderson said, but the market “hasn’t matured enough” for the company to come to town.
  • All existing home sites are being absorbed. When all are absorbed, the prices will go up.
  • Good things will happen south of the railroad tracks when the overpass is completed.
  • Finding labor for home-building continues to be a big challenge. Many workers were lost to the recession and SB1070, a sweeping, anti-illegal immigration law. A program was even started in the penal system to train inmates in building trades, with “fantastic response.”
  • Home-builders are advertising all across the country to get skilled labor to move to Arizona.
  • Gunderson said more young people need to be encouraged to go to a trade school rather than college to fill a need in the market and “make more money.”
  • Pinal County is finally seeing entry-level homebuyers coming into the market.
Homestead construction

This article appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

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Dayv Morgan


By Dayv Morgan

This is the perfect time of year to get out and get active before the summer heat wave hits Maricopa — and you don’t have to go far to do it.

It’s likely your neighborhood has great amenities waiting to be discovered.

Buyers often ask me to tell them which communities have the best amenities. It’s no surprise that Province would top the list in almost any survey. But for families with children, or those who want to be active but not in an “active adult” subdivision, there are 17 other wonderful communities to consider.

Throughout all these neighborhoods are multiple parks and playgrounds. There are four subdivisions that also include community pools: Glennwilde, The Villages, Cobblestone and Desert Passage. Outside the swimming season, and for those without the option of a pool, there are plenty of other activities to choose from.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Maricopa Meadows features a 27-hole frisbee golf course, a basketball court, an exercise course along walking trails, a huge waterfall and lake surrounded with benches.

Tortosa also offers a frisbee golf course, nine holes with printable scorecards and a course map on the neighborhood’s HOA website.

Homestead is ideal for athletes as it offers 10 basketball hoops, a full-size soccer field with two goals, and a sand volleyball court. There’s also a large lake with benches for those who prefer a relaxing walk with views.

Desert Passage is also perfect for family-fitness enthusiasts. This neighborhood has a full-size soccer field with two goals, a sand volleyball court and two basketball hoops. It also has a baseball field with a backstop, sand infield and benches for each team.

Cobblestone has a variety of outdoor activities for its residents, including eight horseshoe pits, four basketball hoops, a full-sized soccer field with two goals and a baseball backstop. It also features a large lake with five fountains.

Sorrento has a family-friendly splash pad and two tennis courts.

Keep in mind that many of the neighborhood parks have signs posted indicating they are for use by residents and their guests only. So, if you’d like to use amenities in another neighborhood, consider growing your social circle outside your subdivision.


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

This column appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

Maricopa’s Principals: Part 1

Murray Siegel

By Murray Siegel

Who is the most important person in a school building? A previous column stated the answer is the school’s principal. He or she influences the learning environment for students and creates an atmosphere where teachers and staff will excel.

Maricopa is fortunate to have a number of excellent principals, yet few citizens know much about the people who occupy the seats of power in our schools. Over the next few months, this column will highlight the principals of Maricopa schools.

Dr. Jennifer Robinson is the principal at Maricopa Elementary, where her credo includes focusing on high expectations for teaching and learning. She grew up in Buffalo, New York, and has degrees from SUNY Cortland, SUNY Buffalo and ASU. Her 25 years’ experience in education include being a classroom teacher, various academic coaching positions and six years as principal at MES.

When asked about a major accomplishment this year, she points to MES being in the Leader in Me Lighthouse process. Currently, three schools in the state hold this status. Looking forward to the 2018-19 year, she anticipates continued growth for her teachers who are working to achieve National Board certification.

Randy Lazar, principal at Pima Butte ES, grew up in a rural area near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and has lived in Arizona 35 years. His undergraduate and master’s degrees were received at ASU, and he is in his 31st year in education. Prior to the five years he has been principal at Pima Butte, he was a special education teacher, education program specialist and special education director.

He points to the implementation of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports program as a major accomplishment this school year. He looks forward to the introduction of a new language arts curriculum next year. According to his belief system, education opens many doors and, as a principal, his function is to maximize the education provided at his school.

Janel Hildick is in her seventh year as principal at Butterfield ES. She grew up in Toms River, New Jersey, and received her BA at Georgian Court University. Her master’s in education was obtained at ASU, and she has 25 years in education. Prior to Butterfield, she was an elementary and bilingual teacher, as well as a high school Spanish instructor. She points with pride to the fact BES received a Results Based Award from the state this year.

She eagerly anticipates the new language arts curriculum as it is implemented next year. Hildick believes all students are capable of high achievement, regardless of their background; high expectations equal high results.

Coming in April, learn about more Maricopa elementary principals. MUSD secondary and charter school principals will be spotlighted later. Murray Siegel has a PhD in MathEd and 42 years of teaching experience.

This column appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.