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Pinal County will place nine lots on the auction block on Wednesday, Aug. 9, at 10 a.m.  The auction will take place inside the Ironwood Conference Room at the 1891 Courthouse, 135 N. Pinal St., Florence.

Doors will open promptly at 9 a.m. for bidder registration.

Auction Procedures:

1.         Live auction will begin at approximately 10 a.m.; doors will open at 9 a.m. for registration.

2.         Registered bidders will be allowed to participate, registration will be done prior to the start of the auction. A form of valid identification will be required for bidder participation.

3.         Payment must be made on the day of the auction.

4.         Acceptable forms of payment are cash, certified check or verifiable line of credit.

5.         If payment is made by certified check the deed will be delivered after the check has cleared.

6.         Conveyance will be by quit claim deed;

7.         All properties sold as is with no warranty of any kind.

8.         A minimum bid will be established for each property based on 90% of appraised value.

9.         Pinal County Assessor’s Parcel Numbers 510-27-026 and 510-17-011C located within the Town of Maricopa are contiguous and will be sold and appraised as one property / approximately 1.9 Acres in total.

10.       Pinal County Assessor’s Parcel Numbers 404-16-210 and 404-16-211 located within the Town of Eloy are contiguous and will be sold and appraised as one property / approximately 1 acre in total.

11.       Questions should be directed to Bob Pate, Pinal County Public Works, Real Estate Manager. Robert.Pate@pinalcountyaz.gov or at 520-866-6981.

 

Parcels for Auction:

LOT #1 – Southwest corner of Arica Road (extended) and Peart Road, Casa Grande, AZ, APN # 511-35-015. Legal Description: The East half of the NE Quarter, NE Quarter of Section 21, Township 7S, Range 6E, GSRB&M. / 20 acres.   OPENING BID: $52,000

LOT #2 – West side of Fuqua Road south of Barnes Road, Stanfield, AZ, APN # 501-21-002. Legal Description: The  North half of the NE Quarter, SE Quarter of Section 12, Township 6S, Range 3E, GSRB&M. / 20 acres.  OPENING BID: $45,000

LOT #3A – North side of Edwards Avenue across from Maricopa High School, Maricopa, AZ  APN # 510-17-011C.  Legal Description: An irregular shaped parcel located in the SE Quarter of Section 21, Township 4S, Range 3E, GSRB&M. / 1.215 Acres  /  (Sold in combination with Docket item 3B). OPENING BID: $9,900 if sold as a combine / $7,500 as sold separately

LOT #3B – North side of Edwards Avenue across from Maricopa High School, Maricopa, AZ, APN # 510-27-026.   Legal Description: That part of the NE Quarter, NW Quarter, NE Quarter  Section 28, Township 4S, Range 3E, GSRB&M. / .66 Acres   /  (Sold in combination with Docket item 3A). OPENING BID: $9,900 if sold as a combine with 510-17-011C / $7,500 as sold separately  

LOT #4 – 11047 West Carousel Drive, Arizona City, AZ, APN # 407-12-873. Legal Description: LOT 873, ARIZONA CITY #12, recorded in Book 16 of Maps, Page 15. OPENING BID: $2,550                                                                

LOT # 5 – NW corner of West Plum Tree Drive & Pepper Tree Lane, Casa Grande, AZ, APN # 503-74-372.  Legal Description:  LOT 3, BLOCK 148, CASA GRANDE WEST UNIT # 5, recorded in Book 15 of Maps, Page 1. OPENING BID: $1,700

LOT # 6A – 4510 North Rillito Circle, Eloy, AZ, APN # 404-16-210.  Legal Description: LOT 25, BLOCK J, TOLTEC VALLEY #18, recorded in Book 12 of Maps, Page 60.  / (Sold in combination with Docket item 6B). OPENING BID: $900.00

LOT # 6B – 4500 North Rillito Circle, Eloy, AZ, APN # 404-16-211.  Legal Description: LOT 26, BLOCK J, TOLTEC VALLEY #18, recorded in Book 12 of Maps, Page 60.  / (Sold in combination with Docket item 6A). OPENING BID: $900.00

LOT # 7 – Located East from the terminus of East Shooting Star Drive, Gold Canyon, AZ, APN # 104-66-026D.  Legal Description: A portion of Section 8, Township 1S, Range 9E, GSRB&M. / 4 acres +/- irregular shaped parcel. OPENING BID: $50,850

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Submitted photo

Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino has been awarded second place in the Caesars Entertainment CodeGreen Challenge. This marks the third consecutive CodeGreen award for the casino.

CodeGreen was initiated by Caesars Entertainment in 2008 and is an organization-wide strategy to drive environmental awareness and engagement, as well as performance across the business. Each Caesars’ location creates a plan targeting the goals they wish to achieve throughout the year, which culminates during the month of April.

“We are so happy to have yet again placed in the Caesars Entertainment CodeGreen Challenge,” said April Stovall, surveillance and facilities manager and Harrah’s property CodeGreen leader. “The competition is always neck-and-neck, but I firmly believe that our efforts stood out. We had more than two-thirds of our 750 team members participate during the challenge in an effort to make Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino and the surrounding community the greenest of all.”

One of Harrah’s Ak-Chin’s big projects this year was to ensure that the planned demolition of its bingo hall didn’t create waste. In order to reach this goal, team members coordinated the donation of tables and chairs, recycling more than 51,000 pounds of items.

In addition to this project, Harrah’s put on a number of volunteer-driven programs to increase awareness of the importance of going green. On property CodeGreen initiatives included:

·         Hosting an environmentally conscious “Earth Hour” event where the casino  turned off non-essential exterior lights and invited the community out to learn more about light pollution

·         Coordinating an Adopt-a-Highway cleanup with  more than 40 volunteers participating

·         Collecting 3,503 pieces of clothing during its clothing drive, all of which they donated to local nonprofit, Against Abuse, Inc.

·         Hosting a huge Earth Day celebration in partnership with the Ak-Chin Indian Community. This event included sharing a CodeGreen breakfast and educating people on all things green. The casino took first place in the booth display contest by drawing attendees in with its bicycle-powered slot machine.

 

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Maricopa Unified Schools will be participating in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. As part of this program, Maricopa Schools will offer healthy meals every school day. Breakfast is served at no cost to all students and lunch will cost $2.75 for K-5 and $3 for 6-12.

Qualifications for children to receive free or reduced-price meals include: belonging to a household whose income is at or below the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines, belonging to a household that receives public assistance, or if the child is homeless, migrant, runaway, foster, or participates in a Head Start or Even Start pre-kindergarten program.

Household size and income criteria are used to determine eligibility for free and reduced-price benefits if the household does not receive assistance or the children are not in the other categories mentioned above. Children can get free or reduced-price meals if the household’s gross income falls at or below the limits on the Federal Income Eligibility Guideline chart.

To apply for free or reduced-price meals, households can fill out the application and return it to the school cafeteria unless the household has already received notification that their children are approved for free meals this year. Application forms are being distributed to all households with a letter informing households of the availability of free and reduced-price meals for their children and what is required to complete on the application. Applications also are available at school office, school cafeteria, district office and school website.

Only one application is required for all children in the household and the information provided on the application will be used for the purpose of determining eligibility and verification of data. Applications may be verified at any time during the school year by the school or other program officials. An application for free or reduced-price benefits cannot be approved unless it contains complete eligibility information as indicated on the application and instructions. In the operation of child feeding programs, no child will be discriminated against because of race, sex, color, national origin, age, or disability.

Families can apply for benefits at any time. If a household member becomes unemployed or if the household size increases, the household should contact the school. Such changes may make the children of the household eligible for benefits if the household’s income falls at or below the Federal Guidelines. Contact Suzette Moe at any time to request an application.

Under the provisions of the free and reduced-price policy Suzette Moe will review applications and determine eligibility. Parents or guardians dissatisfied with the ruling of the official may wish to discuss the decision with the determining official on an informal basis. Parents wishing to make a formal appeal for a hearing on the decision may make a request either orally or in writing to Aron Rausch, District Office, 520-568-5100.

When known to determining official households will be notified of their children’s eligibility for free meals if they are members of households receiving assistance from the:

· Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
· Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR); or
· Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), if the State program meets Federal standards.

An application is not required for free meal benefits for Assistance Program participants and all of the children in the household are eligible for free meal benefits. If any children were not listed on the notice of eligibility, or if a household does not receive a notice of eligibility, the household should contact the school to have free meal benefits extended to them. Participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) may be eligible for free or reduced-price meals, but they will need to turn in an application including household size and total income.

When known to determining official, households will be notified by any child’s eligibility for free meals if the individual child is considered “Other Source Categorically Eligible”, because the child is categorized, as defined by law as:

· Foster
· Homeless
· Migrant
· Runaway
· Enrolled in an eligible Head Start, or
· Enrolled in an eligible pre-Kindergarten class

If any children were not listed on the notice of eligibility, the household should contact the school about their eligibility through the list above, or should submit an income application.

Households notified of their children’s eligibility must contact the school if the household choose to decline the free meal benefits.

Applications may be completed and submitted AFTER July 7. For more information, you may call Suzette Moe at 520-568-5100, ext. 1034, or email at smoe@musd20.org.

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Aidan Balt

Maricopa High School English teacher Aidan Balt has been chosen as a teacher fellow for the 2016-17 Arizona Hope Street Group Teacher Fellowship in order to provide leadership in education policy design and implementation.  

 The Arizona Hope Street Group Teacher Fellowship is a nonpartisan program that provides a group of diverse public school teachers – who are chosen through a rigorous selection process – with skills focused on peer and community relationship building, moderating peer focus groups and communication strategies.  Fellows’ competency development leads to meaningful opportunities for teachers to inform policy decisions.

Hope Street Group launched the program with great success in Kentucky in 2013, replicating it in Hawaii in 2014, and North Carolina and Tennessee in 2015. Arizona and Utah have both recently joined this work in 2017.  

 “I applied for this fellowship because I believe it will allow me the opportunity to create partnerships that impact my educational system on a local and state level,” Balt stated. “Education is only one piece of the puzzle, and Hope Street is using data, research, and intersectional fields to improve how we educate youth. I view myself in the same way; I am one small puzzle piece looking to have a bigger impact on the profession I love.”

 Balt joins 26 other Arizona teacher fellows and thousands of teachers across the state to better inform policy design and implementation. 

“Teacher engagement has the power to change everything,” Balt said. “Education is critical; it is the great equalizer. When teachers are engaged, they have the power to impact how far the reach of public education is and can be.”

 

Hope Street Group is a national organization that works to ensure every American will have access to tools and options leading to economic opportunity and prosperity. For more information, visit: www.hopestreetgroup.org

Speeding, impairment and lack of seat belt use remain leading fatality factors

Traffic fatalities on Arizona’s local roads and state highways climbed higher for the second straight year and driver behavior continues to be a leading factor in motor vehicle collisions, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation’s annual Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report.

In 2016, 962 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes, 65 more than the year before, representing a 7.3 percent increase. The number of collisions also went up, rising 8.6 percent to 126,845. The increases in motor vehicle crashes and fatalities in Arizona follow national trends.

The Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report is a compilation of traffic crash reports provided to ADOT by law enforcement agencies around the state. A glance at the report reveals how better decisions made by motorists can save lives. Seat belts, speeding and reckless driving, and impairment are among the leading factors in traffic fatalities:

  • Buckle up – 250 of those killed last year weren’t using a seat belt.
  • Pay attention and obey speed limits – Speeding too fast for conditions is the most common driver violation and rear end is the most common manner of collision.
  • Don’t drive impaired – Annually, impaired driving crashes account for about 4 percent of all collisions and one-third of fatal collisions. Crashes involving impairment related to alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription medication killed 406 people and injured 4,089 in 2016.

“Making travel safer begins before drivers turn the ignition,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “Too many people make the deadly decision to drive impaired, whether by alcohol, prescription pills or other drugs, and put all of us at risk. None of us should accept this selfish behavior and it’s everyone’s business to stop impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel.”

For the second year in a row, 406 people were killed in impaired driving-related collisions. However, alcohol-related fatalities decreased – falling from 329 people killed in 2015 to 307 in 2016 – while fatalities related to illegal drugs or prescription medication increased – rising from 77 in 2015 to 99 people killed in 2016.

“The gains made in reducing alcohol-related crashes and fatalities are steps in the right direction, but there is still much work to be done,” said Alberto Gutier, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “Driving impaired is a choice and people need to be aware that it’s a choice they don’t have to make – there are many other ways to get home safely.”

The highest annual number of motor vehicle crash fatalities in Arizona – 1,301 – occurred in 2006. While collisions and fatalities have risen in recent years, 2016 totals are below where they were a decade ago, despite having nearly one million more licensed drivers and registered vehicles traveling today on Arizona’s roadways than in 2007.

“Impaired drivers continue to take the lives of our love ones and it is time for the community to spread the message that impaired driving is unacceptable,” said Col. Frank Milstead, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety. “I call on every driver to call 911 if impaired driving is suspected. Friends and family members must make every effort to take the keys away from impaired individuals or to call 911 for help when intervening.”

Pedestrian-involved crashes and fatalities spiked in 2016. The number of pedestrians killed rose to 197 in 2016 from 163 the year before and crashes increased by 16 percent, from 1,408 in 2015 to 1,637 last year.

The number of motorcycle operators and passengers killed in traffic crashes went up in 2016 to 144 from 134 the year before.

Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, noted the decline in the number of fatalities involving people who weren’t using seat belts, which fell from 258 in 2015 to 250 last year.

“While we’re encouraged to see a decrease, one death is still too many,” said Dr. Christ. “Make sure everyone is buckled up every time, regardless of how far, fast or familiar your drive may be.”

Here are other figures from the 2016 Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report:

  • 574 fatal crashes occurred on other roadways, such as county roads or city streets, and 291 fatal crashes occurred on the state highway system.
  • 525 fatalities occurred in urban areas and 437 deaths occurred in rural areas.
  • Of all alcohol-related crashes, 78.8 percent occurred in urban areas and 21.2 percent in rural areas.
  • Among fatal crashes related to alcohol, 67 percent occurred in urban areas and 33 percent occurred in rural areas.
  • One person was killed in a motor vehicle crash every 9.11 hours.
  • Seven in 10 crashes occurred during daylight hours.
  • More crashes occurred in March than any other month with 11,391.
  • Friday was the peak day of the week for all crashes during 2016 with 22,133, while the most fatal crashes – 150 – occurred on Saturdays.

The ADOT 2016 Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report is available at azdot.gov/CrashFacts

ADOT, other public safety agencies and partner organizations work to promote safety on all roadways through the Arizona Strategic Highway Safety Plan, a framework for reducing motor vehicle crash fatalities and serious injuries. Emphasis areas addressed in the report include speeding and reckless driving, impaired driving, occupant protection, motorcycle safety and distracted driving.

Councilmember Henry Wade

The Arizona Commission of African American Affairs will hold a town hall discussion on Thursday, May 11, in Maricopa. The town hall, themed “Time for Action,” will be held at the Copper Sky, 44345 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., meeting room B.

The discussion will be 6-8 p.m. The meeting is free and public is encouraged to attend.

The town hall meetings are held throughout the state to gather information from African American citizens to understand the unique issues affecting their specific community.

“Our goal is to compile a report to the three branches of state government that can articulate the issues of concern of the citizens. As you well know, what is going on in Flagstaff is different than what happens in Sierra Vista,” said Cloves Campbell, executive director of the commission.

Maricopa City Councilman Henry Wade said, “The City of Maricopa is honored to host the Arizona’s Commission on African-American Affairs and Town Hall. We look forward to a very productive meeting and great community turnout.”

In addition to the town hall, an official meeting of the Arizona Commission of African American Affairs will be held at 2 p.m. in the Maricopa City Hall Executive Conference Room, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza. This meeting is also open to the public.

For more information about the Arizona Commission of African American Affairs call 602-542-5484 or visit the website azcaaa.az.gov.

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Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Employees at its Adopt-A-Highway Cleanup event. Submitted photo
For the fifth year in a row, Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino employees  participated in a local CodeGreen Adopt-A-Highway Cleanup event, which took place on Friday, April 21. The event had more than 40 volunteers that came out to clean up their community.
This CodeGreen event is one of the many ways Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino and its employees give back to the community during its CodeGreen Challenge month, an initiative established by Caesars Entertainment in 2008. CodeGreen is an organization-wide strategy to drive environmental awareness and engagement, as well as performance across the business.
“I am so proud of the turnout that we had at our Adopt-A-Highway Cleanup event,” said April Stovall, surveillance and facilities manager, Harrah’s property CodeGreen leader. “I’m especially pleased with the number of Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino employees we had there. The entire casino as a whole has been generating incredible participation numbers during this year’s CodeGreen Challenge. We have an amazing staff here who support Harrah’s brand and its initiatives by showing up at events like this one.”
In addition to the Adopt-A-Highway event, Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino has recently participate in Earth Hour, held both a plastic bag and clothing drive, hosted a paper shredding event and celebrated Earth Day at the casino on April 21.

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

 

By Jason Plotke

The Maricopa City Council has thankfully and wisely approved plans for the APEX Motor Club.

It’s a country club for auto enthusiasts equipped with its own four-mile race course in a first-class facility outside of town at the northwest corner of Ralston Road and SR 238.  In doing so the council sided with the people of Maricopa and against lobbyists and lawyers funded by an unnamed client outside the community who wanted to kill the motor club.

A handful of thriving communities across America have their own facilities like APEX. Maricopa is in good company.

The APEX Motor Club will help advance Maricopa as a tourist destination. It will also create more than 400 construction jobs over five years in addition to 20 to 30 permanent jobs when completed.

The long-term benefits to the City of Maricopa are significant. The APEX Motor Club will bring more tourists to town filling up local stores and restaurants. It has been endorsed by business groups and those who care about Maricopa’s long-term prosperity.

For example, here’s what the Maricopa Economic Development Alliance had to say: “We are excited about the Apex Motor Club, as it will be the first significant economic development project to locate in Maricopa in recent years, bringing with it measurable benefits to the entire community. Apex Motor Club will establish a unique auto sports complex not just for the City of Maricopa, but for the entire metropolitan area, significantly increasing Maricopa’s profile and visibility to decision-makers from business and industry as well as attracting visitors to the community.”

In addition to contributing to Maricopa’s economic development, APEX’s presence will lead to numerous high-visibility social media and automotive publicity opportunities.

As a private motor sports club, it will be hard to notice. But the economic impact will be hard to ignore.

Opposition came from out-of-town lawyers and lobbyists who have been spending money on TV commercials and videos on Facebook bashing this project. It’s unfortunate that this group is spending so much time and money trying to undercut a project that benefits the city. What’s worse is that their lawyers and lobbyists refuse to say who they work for, or maybe more importantly who is paying them to do this costly work.

The good news is that the Maricopa City Council didn’t fall for it. They refused to be bullied by these out-of-towners more concerned with making a buck than making things better for the City of Maricopa. It’s insulting to think that these out-of-towners thought the City of Maricopa could be fooled by a smear campaign that was filled with hyperbole and devoid of facts. They tried to make our project sound like another Phoenix International Raceway when it’s just the opposite: A membership club for individuals, not events for the masses.

They thought wrong.

Thank you, Mayor Price and the Maricopa City Council, for standing up to these mysterious out-of-towners and standing for a project we will work very hard to make you proud.


Jason Plotke is the president and founder of Private Motor Sports Group.

 

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By Troy Baker

Page 35 of your April issue cemented my assumption that the City is being managed by a group of idiots.

The year-over-year number of housing permits issued for a community that highway infrastructure cannot support (and is currently unsafe) is astounding. And, what is going to happen when the road is resurfaced? It was a nightmare when it was resurfaced back around ’08, and is very close in need of resurface again.

One positive action – after several e-mails to ADOT, they have finally adjusted the lights at 347/Riggs in the AM, and rather than cause a 3-mile backup on northbound 347 and no backups on East-West Riggs, the northbound 347 backup is much better, and the East-West Riggs traffic is now left to “bear some pain.” PM traffic backup is still terrible. It’s no wonder patience runs thin.

I moved here in early 2002, and I clearly made a mistake in not selling my home prior to the housing crash.


Troy Baker is a resident of Maricopa.

 

MPD officers train for dangerous situations in a home set to be demolished in the Heritage District. The house was acquired by ADOT in preparation for construction of the overpass project. ADOT photo

While Lt. Mike Campbell hopes Maricopa Police Department officers never need to enter a home to remove a barricaded suspect, a partnership with the Arizona Department of Transportation has helped them prepare, just in case.

With ADOT preparing to build a bridge carrying State Route 347 over the Union Pacific Railroad, officers have been able to train twice in a house acquired on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. The home eventually will be demolished to make way for a new alignment of Plainview Street that will connect Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway to Honeycutt Road and SR 347.

Campbell said the partnership ensures that the department’s Special Response Team has the opportunity to train for potentially life-or-death situations. That included practicing how to enter a home with a dangerous suspect inside, breaking down doors and methodically working their way through the building.

“There are very few opportunities for us to train for these rare but dangerous situations,” Campbell said. “Every time our officers can experience the challenges that come with entering a building in a hostile situation means we can do a better job if this kind of situation arises. This makes our officers better at their jobs and it makes Maricopa a safer place for our residents.”

ADOT photo

ADOT’s training collaborations like the one that took place this month in Maricopa date back to construction of State Route 51 in the early 1990s.

Just last summer, ADOT-acquired properties along the route of the South Mountain Freeway were used to train fire and law enforcement officers from more than a dozen agencies. That included SWAT teams using homes to practice responding to hostage situations and the Phoenix Fire Department, which trained 48 ladder companies and scores of new recruits.

ADOT works side-by-side with emergency responders every day, said Brian Rockwell, ADOT assistant chief right of way agent.

“Police officers willingly put themselves in harm’s way to protect all of us in dangerous situations,” Rockwell said. “When we have the opportunity to help them train, as we did here, we’re not only happy to do that but we consider it part of our service to the community.”

Construction of the SR 347 bridge begins this fall. The two-year, $55 million project will carry traffic over the railroad tracks on a path just east of the current SR 347. It will alleviate congestion on a road that is expected to see traffic double to more than 60,000 vehicles a day by 2040 and save drivers the time of waiting for trains to cross the highway. The area now sees 40-60 trains a day, a number that is expected to reach 100 daily in the next 20 years.

ADOT photo

Submitted photo

Mosquitoes are associated with human diseases such as West Nile Virus and Zika Virus and they can breed in your own back yard. It is important not only that permanent residents maintain their yards to prevent mosquito breeding, but winter visitors can help stamp out this unruly pest.

Chris Reimus, who manages the Pinal County Vector Control Program, said, “Everyone, even our winter visitors, can chip in to help our community have a safe and healthy summer by preventing mosquito breeding on their property.”

To help prevent mosquito breeding in your yard:

• Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can lay their eggs.  Check for items outside the home that collect water, such as cans, bottles, jars, buckets, old tires, drums and other containers and get rid of them. Fill any holes where water may stand.

• Change water in flower vases, birdbaths, planters, troughs, and animal watering pans at least twice a week.

• If you are leaving your property for an extended period of time, put items that can hold standing water in a location where they will not fill with water during summer storms. Mosquitoes can breed in areas as small as a bottle cap.

• Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets, and move air conditioner drain hoses frequently to prevent standing water.

• If you have a swimming pool, keep it operational. If you must keep it out of use, make sure you remove the standing water, keep it chlorinated, or run the filter daily.

Even being outdoors for a few minutes can be long enough to get a mosquito bite. If you must go outside when mosquitoes may be present, day or night, take extra care to use insect repellent and wear protective clothing. When outdoors, use an EPA-registered and CDC recommended insect repellent. Pregnant women and those who may become pregnant should be especially careful to avoid mosquito bites.

This week, the Pinal County Public Health Services District (PCPHSD), Vector Control Program is beginning to conduct regular mosquito surveillance throughout the County. This surveillance data is used to help determine the risk of mosquito borne disease to Pinal County residents and visitors and it guides PCPHSD’s disease prevention efforts. Pinal County also investigates complaints related to disease causing mosquitoes, such as permanent standing water, green pools, or other reports of mosquito activity. If you would like information on mosquito prevention and control, or to file a complaint, visit the Pinal County Environmental Health Services webpage, or call 866-287-0209.

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Sen. Steve Smith

By Sen. Steve Smith

Now that the Arizona Legislature is well underway into the 2017 session, I wanted to give you an update on some of the bills I have authored this year and to give a little insight as to what they are and why I drafted them as several of them have gained significant attention.

Senate Bill (SB) 1209 – This bill will alter the formula on performance pay for teachers as to allow more of what happens in their classroom determine their bonus pay rather than relying more on the results of a single standardized test like how it is now.  I have communicated with literally hundreds of teachers in Arizona and this overwhelmingly has been the issue they have asked to fix, to judge them on the entirety of their year teaching not just off the results of the AZMerit test.

SB 1278– This bill would establish a pre-trial intervention program for drug offenders in order to rehabilitate them first instead of sending them to prison.  The offender would have the option to take something like Vivitrol (a medication that makes them incapable of feeling the effects of opiates) along with intensive rehabilitation to give them a second chance at life by allowing them to kick their habit and rehab instead of being incarcerated.  This would not only rehabilitate the offender to help them be a more productive member of society, but would in turn prevent overcrowding in our prisons which will reduce the cost to the state significantly.

SB1279– This would ensure that illegal aliens who are convicted of a felony serve jail time if their illegal status was a contributing factor to the crime (known as Grant’s Law after 21 year-old Grant Ronnebeck was murdered recently in Mesa by an illegal alien who had previously broken into a women’s home and allegedly held her hostage and sexually assaulted her repeatedly for over a week yet was only given probation and never served a day in jail).  Had this law been in effect, many believe Grant and others like him would be alive today.

SB1367– This bill deals with babies that survive an abortion (born alive) that says the Department of Health Services will instruct hospitals and clinics where abortions take place to have proper medical equipment to care for children who are born alive.  This is in response to some tragic cases in Arizona recently where babies survived an abortion but no medical attention was given and they died (in one case, the baby laid helpless for an 1 hour and 18 minutes until she died).   I have received bi-partisan support on this bill as this discussion is not dealing with pro-life vs. pro-abortion, rather this addresses when the baby is now outside of their mother with clear signs of life (moving, heartbeat, etc.).

In addition to these bills, I authored other legislation that removes current barriers to allow for increased economic development, a bill that would allow farmers and residents in our district to retain their groundwater credits that they may be losing soon, and legislation to reduce regulations in government agencies just to name a few.

I hope this update helps and as always, please contact me directly with any questions, if there is anything I can help with, or if you want to sign up for update emails I send regularly at 602-926-5685 or at stsmith@azleg.gov.

God bless!


Steve Smith is the state senator from District 11, which includes Maricopa.

 

 

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The overpass is tentatively scheduled to see the beginning of construction late this year.

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration

IF YOU GO

What: Informational Meeting about SR 347 Overpass
When: Wednesday, April 5, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. (Presentation will begin at 6 p.m.)
Where:  MUSD Board Room, 44150 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway
Who: The public is invited

(FHWA), invites you to attend a public information meeting about the State Route 347 at Union Pacific Railroad project. The purpose of this meeting is to provide information and gather community input in advance of construction.

ADOT, FHWA and the City of Maricopa completed a study to evaluate alternatives and identify improvements to access, capacity and traffic operations on SR 347 at the Union Pacific Railroad tracks through 2040. The study evaluated a future grade separation (bridge) to replace the existing at-grade intersection of SR 347 and the UPRR track.

A total of 10 alternatives were considered for the project, with three of the 10 alternatives recommended for further evaluation. A public hearing was held on Dec. 3, 2014. Through an extensive evaluation process in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Alternative H was identified as the Selected Alternative. The Final Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) were issued on March 18, 2015.

Alternative H was refined in early 2016 to identify further improvements to access, capacity, and traffic operations. The revisions to Alternative H and the associated impacts to businesses and residences were presented in a public information meeting held July 14, 2016. The revisions to Alternative H initiated the need for an EA Re-evaluation that was completed Dec. 6, 2016.

Final design has been ongoing and is scheduled to be completed summer 2017, with construction tentatively scheduled to begin in late 2017 and continue through late 2019.

The project team will be available to answer individual and property-specific questions at the public information meeting. Maps and displays will also be available for viewing. The meeting is in the board room of the district office of Maricopa Unified School District.

Prior to the public informational meeting, the project website at azdot.gov/347GS will be updated for your review.

For additional information, or to submit comments in writing, please contact ADOT Community Relations Project Manager Julian Avila by calling 602-320-7263, or emailing Javila@azdot.gov, or visit azdot.gov/347GS. If you have questions or comments, email projects@azdot.gov or call the ADOT Project Hotline at 855-712-8530.

Document summarizes comments from summer 2016 outreach

Over the past year, the Arizona Department of Transportation asked the public and agencies to share their ideas, comments and concerns about the Interstate 11 environmental study from Nogales to Wickenburg. A summary of comments is now available and will help ADOT select and evaluate corridor alternatives for further study.

The ultimate I-11 goal is to create a direct interstate link from Tucson and Phoenix metro areas to Las Vegas, Nevada.

Last summer, ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration held a 45-day scoping period as part of the National Environmental Policy Act process. ADOT received hundreds of comments from community members, tribal nations and agency representatives. The full Scoping Summary Report is now available in the Arizona section of i11study.com under the “Reports” tab.

1-11_scoping_map

Comments and other feedback on the I-11 studies from Maricopa officials came in the form of responses to letters of invitation from the Federal Highway Administration  to be involved and in-person conversations during public meetings.

Mayor Christian Price attended a June 8, 2016, ADOT meeting in Casa Grande, at which he emphasized the Pinal County I-11 Coalition. Communities involved have been considering possible route locations as I-11 passes through Pinal County, preferable south of Maricopa but in the city’s planning area.

City Manager Gregory Rose wrote that the I-11 corridor passing through Maricopa’s planning area “would be a tremendous benefit to our residents and property owners.”

Maricopa City Council passed a resolution Sept. 24, 2009, to support that alignment of I-11.

Ak-Chin Indian Community is also an active participant in the planning.

Scoping is an early and important step in the environmental review process. During scoping, the public and agencies have an opportunity to provide input, which helps determine the “scope” or range of issues to be addressed in the environmental document, also referred to as the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement.

During scoping, ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration hosted three agency meetings and six public meetings in seven locations throughout the corridor study area. Approximately 600 people attended the June 2016 meetings.

ADOT received comments from 74 agencies and tribal governments during the scoping period, and another 834 comments came in from the public. All comments received during the 45-day scoping period are included in the appendices of the Scoping Summary Report.

Agencies provided comments with similar themes about the proposed Interstate 11, including consideration of existing and proposed local and regional transportation plans; the need to study opportunities that foster economic development; and the importance of protecting environmentally sensitive resources. Some agencies stated that they prefer freeway alternatives that build upon and improve existing roadway infrastructure, while others said they favor building an entirely new interstate freeway.

The public had similar comments, along with many others. A majority of the public comments came through an online survey and comment form. Of those 657 responses, community members noted that a new freeway like Interstate 11 could address transportation concerns, such as relieving regional congestion, improving travel time and reliability, improving freight travel and reliability, and reducing bottlenecks on existing freeways. Survey results and other comments can be found within the Scoping Summary Report and on the I-11 blog:  i11study.com/Arizona/blog.asp.

All feedback received during the scoping process is being used by ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration as the two agencies identify potential Interstate 11 alternatives to be studied, impacts to be considered and evaluation methods to be used during the development of the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement.

In addition to the formal scoping period, ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration have spent a lot of time during the past year meeting and talking with the public, agencies, local and tribal governments, and partners about the ongoing Interstate 11 environmental study. Each discussion is an opportunity to hear what people have to say about the proposed interstate freeway that would run border-to-border throughout Arizona.

The next round of public involvement opportunities will take place in 2017, when ADOT presents a reasonable range of alternatives to be further studied. An evaluation of a “no-build” alternative, in which Interstate 11 would not be built, will also be considered.

For more information about the Interstate 11 environmental study and to subscribe for updates, visit i11study.com.

2017 Ak-Chin Tribal Council (from left) Councilmembers Delia Carlyle, Ann Antone, Chairman Robert Miguel, Vice Chairman Gabriel Lopez and Councilmember Alvin Antone. Submitted photo

The Ak-Chin Indian Community’s new tribal council was sworn in Tuesday.

Robert Miguel took the oath as chairman, and Gabriel Lopez was sworn in as vice chairman. Both will serve four-year terms. Councilmembers are Delia Carlyle, Ann Antone and Alvin Antone.

The Nov. 19 election was particularly historic because it was the first time Community members were able to vote for chairman and vice-chairman. A change to the constitution was adopted in July 2016 allowing for candidates to run for a specific office and for Community members to vote specifically for the chairman and vice chairman in addition to councilmembers.

“I’m honored that the first time the Community was able to elect its chairman, they chose me,” Miguel said. “Together, the newly elected Tribal Council will work together to strengthen the Ak-Chin Indian Community resources including education, healthcare and continued economic endeavors.”

Miguel, who was the incumbent chairman, is passionate about Community growth and a growing infrastructure. Additionally, he is a strong believer in prioritizing education by providing a greater level of educational resources to adults and children.

Lopez, who previously served four terms on the council, has also played an active role in the Ak-Chin Indian Community,  having served on the Education Committee, Industrial Park Board, Livestock Association, Community Charter School Committee, Masik Tas Committee and Community Justice Complex Committee. Lopez is a strong proponent of upholding O’odham culture and traditions, and in turn keeping the O’odham language alive.

As a councilmember, Carlyle, who previously served two consecutive terms on the council, most recently as vice-chairman, is looking to expand the Community’s economic self-sufficiency. Additionally, she places great importance on the progressive teamwork on the council.

Ann Antone, who will be serving her second term with the council, had previously held several jobs in the Community, including positions with the Recreation and Education departments and at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino.  She is committed to important issues facing the Community such as greater revenue-generating projects, education, and economic development and further positioning the Community as one of the best tribal communities in North America.

While Miguel, Lopez, Carlyle and Ann Antone have all served previously on the council, Alvin Antone will be serving his first term. His focus will be on improving education, healthcare and farming, and he looks forward to continuing to grow the Community’s enterprises, while still maintaining the Ak-Chin Indian Community’s traditions and culture.

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Are you hitting the Arizona highways today? Stay up with the forecast.

The latest National Weather Service forecast for Arizona’s high country calls for between 6 and 12 inches of snow at elevations between 6,000 and 8,000 feet beginning late Saturday morning and continuing into Saturday evening. Windblown snow is expected to create hazardous driving conditions in areas.

For lower elevations, the latest forecast calls for rain and gusting wind during the same period.

ADOT has nearly 200 snowplows and 400 certified snowplow operators ready to clear highways around the state, but if snowfall is heavy and widespread it may take some time for them to reach every stretch.

You hold the keys to safety if your route may have snow and ice. These are just some of the winter-driving tips available at azdot.gov/KnowSnow.

•    Slow down: Adjust your speed to conditions.
•    Create space: Leave extra room between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Avoid sudden braking.
•    Give snowplows room: Slow down and stay at least four vehicle lengths behind a plow. Wait for a plow to pull over before passing, and remember: The safest place to be when there’s snow and ice on a road is behind a plow.
•    Leave prepared: Bring extra clothing and gloves, make sure your tank is half to three-quarters full at all times, keep your cellphone charged and pack extra drinking water, snacks and all necessary medications.
•    Pack an emergency kit: It should include blankets, a flashlight, an ice scraper, a small shovel, a container of sand or cat litter for traction and warning lights or reflectors.
•    Beware of black ice: Melting snow can turn into ice, especially at night. Ice tends to form on bridges first and can be difficult to see.
•    Consider waiting it out: Highways can close suddenly in severe weather due to accumulating snow and ice or due to crashes. If conditions warrant, delaying travel may be the safest decision.

Many of these tips apply to driving on wet roads as well, including waiting out threatening weather if need be. Here are some others:

•    Inspect windshield wipers and replace them if necessary.
•    Turn on headlights while driving.
•    Avoid areas where water is pooling in travel lanes.

Wherever your travels take you this holiday weekend, you can get the latest highway conditions by calling 511 or visiting the Arizona Traveler Information site, where traffic and weather cameras allow you to see current conditions around the state. ADOT’s Facebook and Twitter (@ArizonaDOT) accounts are excellent sources of information and interaction.

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A special session on Monday saw the Pinal County Board of Supervisors drop the primary property tax rate by 13 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

In the special session, the Supervisors adopted the rates for taxing districts in the county.  Unanimously approving all Pinal County taxing districts rates, the Board then addressed the current property tax rate set at $3.9999.  When adopting the Tentative Budget in June, the Supervisors had voted to drop it two cents to $3.9799.

At the time of the tentative budget hearing, the Supervisors were still unsure if the State of Arizona would further push to enact the One Percent Tax Cap Liability Shift passed by the legislature in 2015.

The One Percent Property Tax Cap Liability Shift was a method of limiting the state’s payment of an “Additional State Aid to Education” tax deduction when a property tax bill of a home goes over one percent of the cash value of that residence.  At one time, the state picked up that bill and sent the money to the local school districts.  Pinal County was due to pay nearly $1.7 million as ordered to by the Property Tax Oversight Commission.  Thanks to a lawsuit brought by Pima County, the state court reversed this cost shift and the state said it would not fight the ruling.

“The big question that faced the Board was the issue of the one percent tax cap liability shift,” said County Manager Greg Stanley.  “When the state said they wouldn’t fight the judge’s decision, the option for a larger tax cut was placed on the table.”

There were two options presented to the Board – a 10 cent cut to $3.8999 or a 13 cent cut to $3.8699.  The motion was made to cut the tax rate by 13 cents and unanimously adopted.

“When I signed on for the tax increase, I also stipulated that if we were able to get that money back then we would give that money back to the public,” stated Chairman Todd House.  “I’m glad we can give that money back to the people.”

District 1 Supervisor Pete Rios said he supports the 13 cent drop, but cautioned the Board: “One of the responsibilities of the Board, while trying to keep the tax rates as low as possible, is to be good stewards of the county.  I can’t think of too many departments in Pinal County that can’t use additional workers.  There are still a lot of needs out there in Pinal County.”

Vice-Chairman Anthony Smith said he understood Supervisor Rios’ concerns.

“I have appreciation of what we have done in the past few years as for as restoring the fiscal health back to the county,” the Vice-Chairman said.  “I recognize the 13 cent reduction as taxpayer dollars and giving back that money to them we put in a reserve fund in case we needed it.  Our leadership should be able to manage on a slim and adequate budget that is designed to provide services across the entire county.”

Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino employees with Adrianna Erickson, program coordinator at Girls on the Run –Maricopa County & Pinal County, Keith McGlaughlin, president of United Way of Pinal County and Mannie Bowler, executive director of United Way of Pinal County. Submitted photo

Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino donated $1,000 to the United Way of Pinal County, $1,000 to Girls on the Run – Maricopa County and Pinal County and $1,000 to the Ocular Melanoma Foundation from a portion of the proceeds raised from the 5K Poker Run, held in April.

“We are so grateful to Harrah’s Ak Chin Casino for their generous support,” said Meagan Kukowski, executive director for Girls on the Run – Maricopa County and Pinal County. “This donation will enable us to educate and empower more girls in need, teaching them to be the authors of their own stories and inspiring them to activate their limitless potential.”

The 5K Poker Run was organized by Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino and included a 5K run, poolside poker promotion and a pool party with live entertainment, free food and drinks.

“The leadership in these nonprofit organizations are doing wonderful work in the community and all of the Harrah’s employees couldn’t be happier to be involved,” said Michael Kintner, director of marketing and operations for Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino. “Being able to donate to these nonprofit organizations was the ideal way for us to get involved with the local community and support worthy causes.”

Crashes also increased, annual ADOT summary shows

Motor vehicle crashes on local roads and highways across the state claimed the lives of 895 people in 2015. That is 121 more than the year before, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation’s annual Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report.

The statistical report summing up data provided by law enforcement agencies provides some sobering information about motor vehicle crashes last year, including the 15.6 percent increase in fatalities, compared to 774 deaths that occurred in 2014. The highest annual number of motor vehicle crash fatalities in Arizona – 1,301 – occurred in 2006.

Report highlights:

• 313 of those killed last year weren’t using a seat belt, child safety device or helmet, which represents a 17.7 percent increase from 2014.
• 300 of those killed were involved in crashes related to exceeding the speed limit or driving too fast for conditions, a 25.5 percent increase from 2014.
• 295 of those killed were involved in alcohol-related crashes, a 9.7 percent increase from 2014.

“One death will always be too many, and there are things all drivers can do to reduce the number of crash deaths, starting with buckling up, obeying speed limits and reducing speed when conditions warrant,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said.

“When you are behind the wheel, job No. 1 is driving – not looking at your phone, not reading, not personal grooming, not anything that takes your attention away from the road. It is dangerous and disrespectful for everyone sharing the road with you. Just drive,” Halikowski said.

Total crashes in the state rose to 116,609 in 2015 from 109,664 the year before. Total injuries rose as well, with 53,554 in 2015 compared to 50,988 in 2014.

After falling every year since 2011, alcohol-related crashes rose slightly to 4,941 in 2015 from 4,906 the year before, while the number of people killed in alcohol-related crashes rose to 295 last year from 269 in 2014. According to the Crash Facts report, 16.2 percent of drivers in fatal crashes last year had been drinking, while 4.8 percent of drivers in fatal crashes appeared to be under the influence of drugs.

“It’s tragic and frustrating to see increases in fatalities involving impaired driving,” said Alberto Gutier, director of the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “We’ll never stop efforts to get people to do the right thing, including arranging for a designated driver. And we’ll fully back law enforcement and their dedication to getting impaired drivers off the road.”

Speed and aggressive driving remained key factors contributing to crashes, with 17 percent of drivers in fatal crashes going too fast for conditions or exceeding the speed limit. The report also shows 38 percent of motorcycle operators involved in fatal crashes were going too fast for conditions or exceeding the speed limit.

“Without a doubt, the number of crash fatalities would be dramatically reduced if more drivers would slow down and obey speed limits,” said Col. Frank Milstead, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety. “Our troopers are focused on stopping aggressive speeders. Changing bad driving behaviors is a key to highway safety.”

Motorcycle fatalities in Arizona rose to 134 in 2015 from 128 the year before. Twenty-nine bicyclists died in crashes during 2015, the same number as the year before, though the number of crashes involving bicycles fell to 1,434 last year from 1,744 in 2014.

Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, also noted the increase in the number of fatalities involving people who weren’t using seat belts or other safety devices, which rose from 266 in 2014 to 313 last year.

“Accidents happen when we least expect it,” she said. “These numbers show how important it is to make sure you and all your passengers are buckled in properly to reduce the risk of serious injury or worse.”

The number of pedestrians killed in crashes rose to 161 in 2015 from 155 the year before, though crashes involving pedestrians declined to 1,399 from 1,565 in 2014.

Here are other figures from the 2015 Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report:
•         One person was killed in a motor vehicle crash every 9.79 hours.
•         471 fatalities occurred in urban areas and 424 deaths occurred in rural areas.
•         Of all alcohol-related crashes, 77.9 percent occurred in urban areas and 22.1 percent in rural areas.
•         Among fatal crashes related to alcohol, 56.4 percent occurred in urban areas and 43.6 occurred in rural areas.
•         Nearly three-quarters of all crashes occurred during daylight hours.
•         Friday was the peak day of the week for all crashes during 2015 with 19,971, while the most fatal crashes – 154 – occurred on Saturdays.
•         Thanksgiving was the deadliest holiday weekend last year, with 16 motor-vehicle fatalities.
•         Motor vehicle crashes resulted in $3.82 billion in economic losses for Arizona last year.

The ADOT 2015 Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report is available at azdot.gov/CrashFacts.