Authors Articles byAdam Wolfe

Adam Wolfe

Adam Wolfe
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Adam was born in New Haven, Connecticut, but spent the majority of his young life in Lakeside, Arizona. After graduating from Blue Ridge High School, he earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He has been working in the field of journalism since 2010. Adam has worked in a wide range of fields including professional sports and international media relations. He has also been a breaking news reporter, sports columnist, government reporter and community reporter. He spent a year in Denver, Colorado before coming to Maricopa in 2015. In his spare time, he will often be found enjoying the great outdoors. If he isn’t hiking or fishing, he is likely hopelessly cheering on his Arizona sports teams. Adam was born in New Haven, Connecticut, but spent the majority of his young life in Lakeside, Arizona. After graduating from Blue Ridge High School, he earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He has been working in the field of journalism since 2010. Adam has worked in a wide range of fields including professional sports and international media relations. He has also been a breaking news reporter, sports columnist, government reporter and community reporter. He spent a year in Denver, Colorado before coming to Maricopa in 2015. In his spare time, he will often be found enjoying the great outdoors. If he isn’t hiking or fishing, he is likely hopelessly cheering on his Arizona sports teams. Adam was born in New Haven, Connecticut, but spent the majority of his young life in Lakeside, Arizona. After graduating from Blue Ridge High School, he earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He has been working in the field of journalism since 2010. Adam has worked in a wide range of fields including professional sports and international media relations. He has also been a breaking news reporter, sports columnist, government reporter and community reporter. He spent a year in Denver, Colorado before coming to Maricopa in 2015. In his spare time, he will often be found enjoying the great outdoors. If he isn’t hiking or fishing, he is likely hopelessly cheering on his Arizona sports teams.

Aron Rauch, president of Maricopa Rotary Club, stands at Rotary Park, which is next to Maricopa Unified School District. The city is debating whether to acquire the park. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Before Maricopa was a city, it had a park. Back when the Heritage District was not called the Heritage District but was just Maricopa, the local Rotary Club saw the unincorporated community’s need for safe recreation.

The club was only 2 years old in 1956 when it decided the community needed a pool. According to Patricia Brock’s “Reflections of a Desert Town,” Rotarians John Smith and Fred Enke donated 3.5 acres, and the club raised money and donated labor to construct the swimming pool in 1958.

The park included a lawn shaded by trees, a ramada with picnic tables and grills, a basketball court, volleyball pit and bathrooms.

For decades, the pool was the place to go in the summer.

But times changed in Maricopa. The community grew, eventually incorporating and building a city park called Pacana. When Copper Sky Regional Park and its aquatic center opened in 2014, Maricopa Rotary Club closed its swimming pool.

Now, the city maintains the lawn area while the Rotary Club manages the now-drained pool, locked restrooms, basketball court and ramada.

The Maricopa City Council is contemplating taking over Rotary Park to make sure the Heritage District continues to have a usable park.

The Council seems to favor taking ownership of park, but the debate over how much of the park to maintain remains a divisive issue.

“We would like to acquire at least the park and get the restrooms open,” Maricopa Community Services Directory Kristie Riester said. “Right now the bathrooms are secured and closed off and unavailable for people that are accessing the park to use.”

Rotary President Aron Rausch said he has doubts the property can legally be split between two owners, another issue to be studied by City Hall.

If the Council moves forward with the purchase of the park, the city would conduct a survey of the park. The cost of the survey is approximately $6,320 and another $7,300 is expected to go toward renovations of the restrooms.

Though the city has not done a study of the pool costs, City Manager Gregory Rose estimated repair costs and bringing up to code would exceed $500,000. Reister said her rough guess for renovating the existing structure was $1 million.

Don Pearce, who had helped maintain the pool since 1959, took issue with those figures. “It’s ridiculous what they’re talking about,” he said. “That pool was built better than any other pool anywhere. It’s structurally good. I can’t imagine what they’re gonna do to it that costs that much money. We don’t need gold fixtures in there.” See related story

“When I first moved here, we used that pool a lot,” City Councilmember Vincent Manfredi said. “Does Rotary have any intention to spend the million dollars to fix it? If they don’t, there is no point in not acquiring the whole (park) and just taking the pool out or repurposing it. Otherwise it’s just going to fall apart, become an eyesore or create a hazard.”

Ideas such as a community garden or playground equipment have been mentioned as an alternative if the pool is filled in.

“I think the issue here is if there is interest in having the city staff move forward and start these negotiations,” Mayor Christian Price said. “The long-term plan needs to be brought back before us so we can make the ultimate decision. If (the park is) going to come to us, then it needs to be of a new use. We have to have the right to change that in the future.”

Another issue surrounding the park is whether it will stay a park when the State Route 347 overpass is built.

One of the elements of the overpass is the redirection of traffic from Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway to Honeycutt Road. The Arizona Department of Transportation is working on an alternative that would expand an existing access road by Maricopa Unified School District and direct it through to the MCG Highway.

If ADOT sticks to that plan, the road would be directly adjacent to and even within the borders of Rotary Park. That could affect park operations.

If the park is no longer used as a park, the ownership rights are transferred back to the original title holder, Maricopa Community Services Company, because it was deeded to the Rotary Club as a park.

“I’m concerned about the clause that if it no longer serves as a park it reverts back to the granter,” Councilmember Peggy Chapados said. “We can’t guarantee what the future of that land will be. With the future of Maricopa-Casa Grande and the 347 and the changes in that area, we can’t guarantee what it will be.”

This story appeared in the March issue of InMaricopa News.

Rotary Park was created to build a community pool, which was completed in 1958. The pool closed when Copper Sky Regional Park opened. Photo by Devin Carson
Rotary Park was created to build a community pool, which was completed in 1958. The pool closed when Copper Sky Regional Park opened. Photo by Devin Carson

Maricopa Police Foundation is raising money for Maricopa Police Department by selling memorial bricks to be placed at the new substation. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa Police Foundation is allowing residents to purchase and engrave memorial bricks “to honor the memory of a lost friend, family or loved one or honor the career of an officer.”

To honor past and present officers serving the Maricopa Police Department, the Foundation is going to construct a memorial monument outside the new substation at Copper Sky Regional Park. The monument is the most recent of the foundation’s many endeavors to raise money for the city’s police force.

“The Maricopa Police Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supplying the Maricopa Police Department with equipment the city can’t afford,” Maricopa Police Foundation Vice-President Steve Stroud said. “We get our money through fund-raisers and use it to purchase necessary equipment to keep the officers safe.”

The foundation is selling two kinds of bricks. Donors can purchase a 4-by-8-inch brick for $100 or a 9-by-9-inch brick for $350. The smaller brick allows for three lines of writing (up to 20 characters on each line), and the larger brick allows for six lines.

“We have the capabilities to put in 6,000 bricks,” Stroud said. “It could take years, but we’d like to have a foundation in place by Memorial Day Weekend.”

Contact
MPFInc.org
Steve Stroud
801-244-4339
MyBearEssentials@msn.com

This story appeared in the March issue of InMaricopa News.

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Now is the time of year for home-sellers to clean up their house and yard to attract buyers.

Spring is nearly here, and with it comes families looking for a new home.

Typically, this time of year is the start of a busy season for local real estate agents. With the housing market flooded with listings in January and February, this year’s spring is shaping up to follow suit.

To gain more insight, we asked a few local Realtors what we should expect to see in 2016.

How does the real estate market in Maricopa change in spring compared to winter months?

“The market in spring really starts to pick up. In January the market in Maricopa was flooded with 263 new listings, which is higher than any other month in the last year.  However, demand starts to increase in spring and many families start to write offers on homes now so that they can close and move over the summer. Generally this is one of the best times to list your home.” – Dayv Morgan, HomeSmart Success

“Over the last two years in Maricopa, there were more homes sold … April through June period than there was in (January through March), and I expect that trend to continue this year. People also anticipate the end of the school year as we approach the spring and that also translates into listings and sales, as well as rental closings.” – Jay Shaver, Maricopa Real Estate Company

“Springtime is a super time to buy or sell, and a time many people are thinking of making an address change. Mother Nature really puts on a show in Arizona in the springtime. So many people are out enjoying our beautiful days, they might just see your for-sale sign and decide to take a look.” – Terry Sperry, Coldwell Banker

What landscaping tips do you give sellers to help springtime curb appeal?

“Do some spring cleaning. Pack up what is not being used, wash your windows, clean your carpets, clean whatever needs to be cleaned and that goes for outside as well as inside. Cut off all dead branches and clean up leaves and weeds. Plant some fresh flowers even just in pots around your entrance and backyard.” – Pat Lairson, Maricopa Real Estate Company

“Keep your yard weed-free. An exterior that is not maintained not only has bad curb appeal, but also implies that the interior is not maintained. Weeds really start to pop up fast this time of year. I would spray the entire yard with a pre-emergent now, and it will last for several months and keep the yard looking good.” – Morgan

“Take this time to clean up your front and back yards to give your home that fresh, well-cared-for appearance when they first walk up to the front door. You have many colorful, flowery options for accent plants or pots to make your home pop. Not only will you attract more buyers, you are apt to get a higher price for your home.” – Sperry

This story appeared in the March issue of InMaricopa News.

The Arizona Rattlers will move their practice location to Copper Sky with the sponsorship of the Ak-Chin Indian Community. Submitted photo

Copper Sky Multigenerational Complex will host the Arizona Rattlers Arena Football team for spring workouts this month.

The practices are scheduled to start on March 8 and will be open to the public March 12-25 and last from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. daily.

A scrimmage is planned to coincide with the 12th annual Salsa Festival on March 19. The Rattlers are five-time Arena Bowl champions, and won three straight in 2012-14.

“I just want to make the point that this is going to be about the city and about the Ak-Chin Indian Community,” Rattlers head coach Kevin Guy said. “We’re going to put ourselves into the community for two and a half weeks, and I know our players are excited about it. Hopefully this is going to be the start of this year’s championship; it starts right here in Maricopa.”

Guy is also the team’s general manager.

The team will host a kids camp while in town, and from 4 to 5 p.m. on March 16 and 23 the community can participate in the “Read with a Rattler” event in which the team will be reading with children, signing autographs.

“This was made possible through our longstanding partnership with the Ak-Chin Indian Community,” Maricopa Mayor Christian Price said. “The Ak-Chin have so graciously donated to Copper Sky and are also major sponsors of the Arizona Rattlers and have now brought us all together for a wonderful partnership that will benefit both of our communities and the region as a whole.”

To accommodate the team, Copper Sky will close the weight room March 15, 17, 22 and 24 from 6:45 to 7:45 a.m. and 10:35 to 11:35 a.m.

Field 8, on the south side of the park, will become a practice field for the Rattlers.

“This is really about growth and about opportunity,” Rattlers President Chris Presson said. “We’re repurposing certain areas including Copper Sky (Multigenerational Complex), which we find to be a marvelous facility, and we want to bring value to your community.”

The Rattlers will cap off training camp with Fan Fest on March 26 at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center, 16000 N. Maricopa Road, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Players, Sidewinders dancers and Rattlers mascot Stryker will be in attendance.

For more information on the Arizona Rattlers and their community initiatives, please visit azrattlers.com.

This story ran in the March issue of InMaricopa News.

Community Initiatives part of Rattlers Training Camp

• Players will visit the Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith Enke Road, Maricopa, on various days throughout camp, including March 16 and 23, for the “Read with a Rattler” campaign for local youth which includes autographs and photos.

• An exclusive 9th Man Member BBQ for 2016 season ticket holders will be held Sunday, March 13 at the Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club, 48456 W. Highway 238, Maricopa.

• On March 19, fans are invited to watch an intersquad scrimmage at Copper Sky Regional Park from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. followed by the Maricopa Salsa Festival. The Arizona Sidewinders dance team and Rattlers mascot, Stryker, will join the team for games and giveaways from 2-8 p.m.

• On March 26, the Rattlers will host their annual Fan Fest event at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center at Ak-Chin Circle, 16000 N. Maricopa Rd, on the Ak-Chin Circle Field, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  In addition to Fan Fest the team will also host a Kids Camp in conjunction with the City of Maricopa’s Community Services Department.

“Giving back to the community has always been an important part of the Rattlers organization,” said Rattlers team president Chris Presson. “Our owner, Ron Shurts, places a strong emphasis on supporting the community and we are excited to expand that relationship with the Ak-Chin Indian Community and the City of Maricopa.”

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The 2016 Maricopa High School boys’ and girls’ tennis teams want to build off of experience and skill each team has developed over the last few seasons.

For the girls, returning players will play a key role in leading the Rams to a victory. Junior Bailey Abel is anticipated to lead the team, but head coach Heather Abel expects the rest of the team to step up, too.

“I am excited for this season,” coach Abel said. “I think we have a great group of girls. We have a few returning players, and some new girls on the team.”

The girls’ team will face an uphill battle against a tough schedule that includes Arizona Interscholastic Association Division II playoff teams Ironwood Ridge High School (Tucson), Nogales High School, Salpointe Catholic High School (Tucson) and state runner-up Catalina Foothills High School (Tucson).

On the boys’ side, the Rams want to take advantage of a weaker schedule. They don’t have a single playoff team from 2015 scheduled, and seniors Frank Olvey, Tyler Getz and Drake Dutra will look to develop their skill throughout the season.

“My current MHS team consists of half juniors and half seniors,” head coach Paula Pavlosky said. “Though our team may be small, our energy level is strong. We hope to bring some great matches and wins for this great sport.”

The boys started the season Feb. 24 with a 6-3 victory over Casa Grande High School. Their match with Coolidge was postponed, but the Rams defeated Gilbert Classical Academy 5-4 on March 1.

The girls lost at Casa Grande, 7-2, and followed with a Feb. 29 loss at home to Buckeye, 9-0.

Girls’ Schedule

Photo by Devin Carson
Photo by Devin Carson

Feb. 24        4 p.m.    (A) Casa Grande                             L 2-7
Feb. 29        3:30 p.m. (H) Buckeye Union                     L 0-9
March 3    3:30 p.m. (H) Ironwood Ridge
March 16    3:30 p.m. (A) Salpointe Catholic
March 22    3:30 p.m. (H) Catalina Foothills
March 23     3:30 p.m. (A) Skyline
March 30    3:30 p.m. (H) Nogales
April 1        3:30 p.m. (A) Marana
April 6        3:30 p.m. (A) Vista Grande
April 7        3:30 p.m. (H) Canyon Del Oro
April 11        3:30 p.m. (A) Poston Butte
April 14        3:30 p.m. (A) at Casa Grande Union
April 15        3:30 p.m. (H) Mountain View Marana

Boys’ Schedule
Feb. 24        3:30 p.m. (H) Casa Grande Union                 W 6-3
Feb. 26        3:30 p.m. (H) Coolidge                                   Postponed
March 1    3:30 p.m. (H) Gilbert Classical Academy        W 5-4
March 3    3:30 p.m. (A) Tempe
March 4    3:30 p.m. (H) Veritas Prep
March 22    3:30 p .m. (A) Antelope Union
March 29    3:30 p.m. (H) Marana
March 30    3:30 p.m. (A) Coronado
April 1        3:30 p.m. (H) Sierra Linda
April 4        3:30 p.m. (A) Mountain View Marana
April 6        3:30 p.m. (H) Seton Catholic
April 11        3:30 p.m. (H) Poston Butte
April 13        4 p.m. (A) AZ College Prep
April 15        4 p.m. (A) Buckeye Union

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

More clouds and cooler temperatures are in store this weekend.

The weekend is expected to see an increase in clouds, and temperatures should drop from the high 80s through the mid 70s.

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures will start near 90 degrees before declining to the high 70s by Sunday. Clouds will increase throughout the weekend as well, and a storm is expected to reach Maricopa by Monday morning.

Friday’s forecast calls for sunny skies with a temperature high of 88 degrees. The wind should range between 5 and 10 mph, and the overnight temperature should drop to 51 degrees. Clouds are expected to move in overnight, but no moisture is expected.

The clouds are expected to stay in the area on Saturday, but temperatures are still expected to reach 86 degrees. The wind should remain between 5 and 10 mph, and clouds should continue to accumulate overnight. The overnight is projected to drop to 53 degrees.

Sunday is expected to be cloudy with a sharp temperature drop to 79 degrees. Winds are expected to heavily increase to 20 mph, but gusts could reach as high as 30 degrees. The clouds should remain through the night, and the overnight low is expected to be 46 degrees.

Monday is expected to see stormy conditions. According to the NWS, there is a 20 to 40 percent chance of rain throughout the day and evening, and temperatures should stay below 70 degrees.

The storm should continue into Tuesday but blow out by Wednesday. Temperatures are expected to climb back into the mid 70s by the middle of the week, but more information will be available as the weekend comes to a close.

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Paul Jepson is sent off with flair by Councilmember Peg Chapados. Submitted photo

In an otherwise brief meeting, the Maricopa City Council took time to honor Intergovernmental Affairs Director Paul Jepson as he prepares to leave Maricopa to become the city manager of Globe.

Jepson has been a part of the Maricopa city staff for a decade. He was one of the first employees hired by the city, and he has played an integral role in gathering funding for the overpass on State Route 347.

“I applied for a management assistant job through the college, and I was hired as employee No. 13,” Jepson says. “Initially, it was ‘Hey, we’re brand new and working out of trailers. You have a master’s degree and are a teacher so you know about education.’ I also happen to be [knowledgeable] in educational technology, so I was able to help with the webpage as well. That’s probably why I was hired. I was able to fill three hats, and I was willing to do it.”

See our feature on Paul Jepson.

Former mayors Edward Farrell and Anthony Smith came to pay homage to Jepson, and council member Peggy Chapados was overcome with emotion as she presented Jepson with gifts to help him in his new position.

“I had a really good time today reminiscing and thinking about stories about Paul,” Farrell said. “He’s raised his children while working in the city of Maricopa. He’s a very hard worker and when I think of Paul there’s one word that comes to mind; relationships. This man is all about relationships. He’ll serve the city of Globe well as he has the city of Maricopa.”

During their brief agenda, the council unanimously approved a three-year contract with Wells Fargo Bank for banking and depository services and heard a presentation from Jepson on updates from the 2016 Arizona Legislative session. The council also approved a transfer of $12, 672 from the city’s contingency fund to the Maricopa Fire Department for professional and occupational services, but the vote was split 5-1.

“My main concern was taking action with contingency funds for things that have already been expended without that type of consideration,” council member Nancy Smith said. “Granted, it’s just $12,000, but it was a matter of principle for me.”

The council will reconvene on March 15 at 7 p.m.

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This year's senior Rams are (from left) Kevin Borboa, Tyler Rapp, Chad Nachtweh, Ivan Herrera and Christian Garcia. The late Nate Ford would have been a senior player and is listed on the roster as captain. Photo by William Lange

The Maricopa High School baseball team hopes to honor Nate Ford with their play on the field and their actions off it.

Ford, an MHS football and baseball player, was killed in an August traffic accident. His death served as a rallying cry for the football team, which went 7-3, and the community as a whole.

The MHS baseball team will look to similarly honor Ford as they take the field this season. His mother Jennifer has called baseball his first love. The players hope to keep Ford’s memory alive by showcasing the incredible work ethic he brought to every practice, and to be successful both on and off the field.

“Nate had the most heart and was the hardest-working player I have ever been around,” head coach Andrew Pollak said. “Our players have one responsibility and that is to continue to let people see the qualities Nate displayed on the baseball field and in the community.”

The Rams will look to an experienced group of five seniors to provide leadership and support for a team that features four sophomores and three freshmen.

“Our seniors this season are Ivan Herrera, who was a Division II First Team All-Academic winner last season, Tyler Rapp, who is a four-year varsity starter, Chad Nachtweh, who has improved tremendously and plays a very good first base, Kevin Borboa who covers a lot of ground in centerfield and will see a lot of innings on the mound, and newcomer Christian Garcia, who is a catcher in his first season as a Maricopa Ram,” Pollak said.

The MHS baseball team is honoring former teammate Nate Ford, who would have been a senior this season. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
The MHS baseball team is honoring former teammate Nate Ford, who would have been a senior this season. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa plays in Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Division III, down a division from last year.

The drop in divisions will not translate to an easier schedule for the Rams. Maricopa is scheduled to face seven playoff teams from 2015, including Division III state runner-up Walden Grove High School (Sahuarita) and Division III semi-finalists Fountain Hills High School and Scottsdale Christian Academy.

“The one common theme that we have talked about as a team is how we are playing for a bigger purpose this season,” Pollack said. “Our goal as a team is to make sure every day our actions are making Nate Ford proud.”

The Rams have started the season with a 3-2 record.

This story appeared in the March issue of InMaricopa News.

Schedule
Feb. 24        Pinon-Huffman Invitational/Higley    W 10-7
Feb. 25        Pinon-Huffman Invitational/Dobson    L 4-8
Feb. 26        Pinon-Huffman Invitational/Williams Field    L 2-15
Feb. 27        Pinon-Huffman Invitational/Poston Butte    W 15-11
March 1    Fairfax                    W 3-2
March 3    vs. Seton Catholic (4 p.m.)
March 8    vs. Marco de Niza (4 p.m.)
March 9    @ Youngker (6 p.m.)
March 12-17    @ Bob Everett Invite (TBA)
March 22    @ Walden Grove (3:45 p.m.)
March 23    vs. North (4 p.m.)
March 24    vs. Vista Grande (6 p.m.)
March 29    vs. Estrella Foothills (4 p.m.)
March 31    vs. Sahuarita (4 p.m.)
April 1        @ Mountain View Marana (4 p.m.)
April 5         vs. Poston Butte (4 p.m.)
April 7        @ Fountain Hills (4 p.m.)
April 13        vs. Scottsdale Christian (4 p.m.)
April 15        vs. Casa Grande @ Salt River Field (6 p.m.)
April 20        @ Sierra Linda (3:45 p.m.)
April 22        vs. Tempe (6 p.m.)
April 25        @ McClintock (4 p.m.)
April 27        @ Combs (3:45 p.m.)

Carter Paine pitches during the Matt Huffman Invitational. Photo by Devin Carson
Carter Paine pitches during the Matt Huffman Invitational. Photo by Devin Carson

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Some of the team leaders for this season's Maricopa High School track and field. Meet them individually in gallery below. Photo by William Lange

The Maricopa High School track and field team is looking for a successful 2016 campaign.

“Our goals for this season will be developing the young talent we have from last year, and this year while trying to get the few older kids to excel in their events,” head coach Sheldon Hutchinson said. “We are looking to score in the top five at the divisional meet and take our top athletes to the state meet and place in the top five individually.”

This year’s track team will be much larger than previous seasons. Despite having just 12 girls and 11 boys returning from 2015, the 2016 team will feature 59 girls and 73 boys.

“Last year we did very well considering our smaller numbers, but we had seven four-year veterans on the team that were able to help with our boys’ team placing in the top three at the divisional meet,” Hutchinson said. “This year we are very young all around. Both girls’ and boys’ teams have a large number of freshmen. Even our seniors are young as well with the exception of one four-year senior. The rest are two- or three-year track athletes.”

On the girls’ side, senior Jada Wright is expected to lead the team in the 800- and 1600-meter runs. Junior Amanda Maciel should have an impact in the distance categories as well. Senior Mysia Hudson and junior Leilena Young are expected to shine in the field events.

Outside of the upper-class leadership, freshmen Shannon Coutre and Alayja Reynolds will look to make a name for themselves on the track. Coutre will run the 400-meter dash and 800-meter run, while Reynolds focuses on the sprints.

On the boys’ side of the track, experienced sophomores Sam Coles and Jesse Gaines want to build off of a successful cross country season and shine in the distance runs.

Senior Michael Herbig and junior Dakota Halverson will look to make an impact in the throwing events, and senior Aaron Owens must fill a huge gap left by 2015 graduates Kenny Gay and William Blocker in the hurdling department.

“Despite our youth, I think we will have a very strong season,” Hutchinson said.

The Rams are in action for their first of two home meets this season on Wednesday afternoon.

Schedule
March 2    (H) Vista Grande, Apache Junction                        4 p.m.
March 5    @ Rattler Booster Invitational                              9:30 a.m.
March 16    @ Casa Grande                                                      3:30 p.m.
March 18-19    @Nike Chandler Rotary Invitational            TBA
March 23    @ Notre Dame                                                      3 p.m.
March 26    @ Becky Mathews Invitational/Desert Vista    TBA
March 30    @ Arcadia                                                                3:30 p.m.
April 2        @ Red Rock Invitational/Sedona                         10 a.m.
April 8        (H) Maricopa Twilight (senior night)                     4 p.m.
April 13    @ Apache Junction                                                   3:30 p.m.
April 15    @ HoHoKam Invitational/Westwood                    10 a.m.
April 22    @ SW Valley Championships/Queen Creek        TBA
April 27    @ Desert Vista Last Chance                                    TBA
May 4        @ State Championships                                         TBA
May 7        @ State Championships                                         TBA

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Maricopa High School softball team 2016. Photo by William Lange

The Maricopa High School softball team hopes to have a strong performance with a senior-heavy roster in the 2016 season.

“We’re really hoping to make the playoffs this year,” head coach Brandi Howell said. “We have 11 seniors this season, so their experience should help. We’re really looking to make a mark.”

The Rams look to be balanced on both offense and defense. With so many veterans, the Rams will have plenty of firepower in both hitting and pitching aspects of the game.

“Hitting-wise, I think we should be strong,” Howell said. “I also think Amber Cramer will have a great year pitching.”

Maricopa will be dropping to Arizona Interscholastic Association Division III for the 2016 season. The Rams will also only play three returning playoff teams from 2015. The girls expect their experience at the higher levels of competition to help carry them through a moderate schedule.

“We’re looking to perform consistently throughout the year,” Howell said. “We have moved down a division this year. We will be moving back up next year, so we want to make a name for ourselves this season.”

To open the season, the girls finished second in the Agua Fria Tournament. Their overall record is 3-4. Friday and Saturday, the Rams host the annual Kristen Diehl Tournament.

Schedule
Feb. 22        Agua Fria Tourney/Agua Fria            W 8-2
Feb. 24        Agua Fria Tourney/Florence             L 1-7
Feb. 24        Agua Fria Tourney/Youngkers           L 2-5
Feb. 26        Agua Fria Tourney/Agua Fria            W 6-3
Feb. 27        Agua Fria Tourney/Buckeye             W 8-3
Feb. 27        Agua Fria Championship/AF             L 4-10
March 1       @ Seton Catholic                               L 1-7
March 4-5    (H) Kristen Diehl Tournament
March 16      v. Marcos de Niza                              4 p.m.
March 18      v. Youngker                                        3:45 p.m.
March 22      v. Coolidge                                         3:45 p.m.
March 23      v. Betty Fairfax                                  3:45 p.m.
March 24      v. Casa Grande                                   4 p.m.
March 29     @ Estrella Foothills                         6 p.m.
March 31     @ North                                              3:45 p.m.
April 5          @ Poston Butte                                 7 p.m.
April 8           v. Fountain Hills                                3:45 p.m.
April 13        @ Veritas Prep                                   3:45 p.m.
April 15        @ Saguaro                                         3:45 p.m.
April 19        v. Apache Junction                            3:45 p.m.
April 20        @ Vista Grande                                 4 p.m.
April 22        @Tempe                                            3:45 p.m.
April 26        v. Higley                                              3:45 p.m.
April 27        @ Sahuarita                                       4 p.m.

Unseasonably high temperatures will continue into March as weekly highs are expected to reach into the high 80s.

According to the National Weather Service, the average temperature for the week will be near 88 degrees. The wind should gust between 5 and 10 mph, and nightly lows should dip to the high 40s.

Tuesday’s forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with a high near 87 degrees. The wind is expected to gust near 5 mph throughout the afternoon before increasing to 10 mph overnight. Clouds may move into the area throughout the night, but no moisture is expected. The overnight low is projected to drop to 49 degrees.

Wednesday should see sunny skies with a slight increase in temperature to 88 degrees. The wind should gust near 10 mph throughout the day before calming to 5 mph overnight. Temperatures are projected to dip to 49 degrees overnight.

Thursday should be the warmest day of the week. The forecast calls for sunny skies with a high near 89 degrees. The wind should gust near 5 mph throughout the day, and the overnight low is projected to dip to 49 degrees. Clouds may move in overnight, but no moisture is expected.

A slight cooling trend is projected to come into the area over the weekend. Friday’s forecast calls for sunny skies with a high near 87 degrees, but temperatures should dip to 85 degrees on Saturday and 84 degrees on Sunday. Clouds are expected to increase, but no moisture is expected.

More information will be available as the work week comes to a close.

Visitors check out the tractors at the USDA Agricultural Research Center in Maricopa. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Hundreds of Maricopa residents came out to an agricultural research center in Maricopa to take tractor rides, see cutting edge technology in action and compete in a cricket spitting contest. The event was part of the Arizona SciTech Festival showcased various aspects of the research center.

The University of Arizona and the U.S. Department of Agriculture hosted “Farm Science Day” at the USDA Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center Saturday afternoon.

“This is a collaborative event between the University of Arizona and the U.S. Department of Agriculture here in Maricopa,” USDA Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center Director Steve Naranjo said. “We have a number of really fun events going on and we have all sorts of things related to insects, plants and irrigation as well.”

The event featured tractor rides, face painting, balloon animals and a live band. Participants learned about the science behind the items they eat on a daily basis as well as plant and take home their own cotton plant.

“This is to learn about what we do in agriculture,” Naranjo said. “Agriculture is very important. This is where all your food comes from. It doesn’t come from the grocery store, it comes from farmers working the ground and planting crops.”

 

Dozens of people of all ages toured the California Zephyr train car during Saturday's Maricopa Historical Society seminar. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa Historical Society hosted a forum, “Maricopa: A Town on the Move,” Saturday morning at City Hall to educate residents on how the construction of train tracks across the nation have helped shape the city’s past, present and future.

Maricopa has known three locations and four names largely because of the city’s railway system. Maricopa Wells became Maricopaville when the tracks were placed eight miles south of town, and that eventually became Maricopa Junction when a track to run goods from Phoenix and Tempe was added in the 1880s.

In 1935, largely due to flooding issues, all but one track was removed from the city and it became known as Maricopa.

“I’ve been involved with a lot of history with the railroads,” Historical Society Vice President Denton Hoeh said. “What I’ve found is that whenever you start looking at railroad history it starts to get very dynamic. It’s not straight-forward at all.”

Event attendees heard from various presenters on how the railroad not only helped shape Maricopa, but Arizona and the United States as well.

Some railways built in the 1870s are still in use today. The “Sunset Limited” railway that runs from Los Angeles to Miami has passed through Maricopa for over a century and still remains one of the most used sections of track in the nation.

“One of the things I learned very quickly moving from western New York to Arizona is that you meet people from just about everywhere else,” Maricopa City Council member Peggy Chapados said. “I think I was here several years before I could count on both hands the number of people I met that were actually from Arizona.”

The Historical Society event continued into the afternoon as well when they held an open house for residents to view the California Zephyr train car at the Maricopa Amtrak Station.

The Maricopa Agricultural Center showcased their “Desert Ag-Venture Program” for winter visitors from around North America Thursday afternoon.

Each year, visitors come to Maricopa from colder regions of the U.S. and Canada. Many of these visitors have farming backgrounds or an interest in agriculture, so the MAC Farm opens their doors to allow these guests a chance to see how crops and farming are grown in Arizona.

“We have winter visitors come from all over the western states and Canada to come to the MAC Farm for about half a day to learn about how we do farming in Arizona and how we do agriculture in Arizona,” MAC Farm youth development extension agent Victor Jimenez said. “[Not all] come from farming backgrounds, but they’re very interested in Arizona and how we do agriculture.”

Tour participants were able to hear from field experts on growing cotton and local farming while also learning about the bugs that are native to the area, seeing old and modern tractors and enjoying a hot lunch with the MAC Farm staff.

“There’s a whole variety of things we covered while they were here,” Jimenez said. “They love it because a lot come from farming backgrounds.”

Participants traveled to the farm from as close as Yuma to as far as Alaska.

The MAC Farm has  more educational opportunities during the U.S. Department of Agriculture Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center’s “Farm Science Day” on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Rotary Students of the Month were John Blodgett, Bailey Petty, Odessa Galvan Fuentes, Sage Horsley and Britney Daniels. Photo by Devin Carson

The Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board honored the January Maricopa Rotary Club Students of the Month as well as the participants in the 2016 Future City competition.

The Future City students were separated by school and brought up one by one to receive recognition in front of the board and their parents.

The board also heard a presentation from Pima Butte Elementary School on their academic focus and what challenges they face in achieving their goals of maintaining an “A” rating.

“We would like to do more extracurricular activities after school,” Principal Randy Lazar said. “In fact, that was a big discussion during our academic focus meetings. We ended up doing this school day activity, but we would still like to add extracurricular activities.”

Pima Butte staff and students showcased their progression in science, technology and art.

Sixth grade students have been tutoring third grade students to help with science comprehension, and the success was shown when 84 projects were entered into the school’s science fair this year. The school has also added dance lessons to expand its art program and use Chromebook laptops to help keep students involved in the classroom.

Pima Butte Principal Randy Lazar. Photo by Devin Carson
Pima Butte Principal Randy Lazar. Photo by Devin Carson

The board also heard a presentation from Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Inc. to authorize the issuance and sale of refunding bonds of the district. In 2006, MUSD passed a $56 million bond to assist in the construction of facilities. The district will continue to pay off the bonds for 10 more years, but the potential refunding of district bonds could result in significant savings of approximately $2 million, or 6.3 percent of the refunded principal amount, for district taxpayers.

“Any time we can save money for the district and our stakeholders can save money on their tax bills seems like a win-win situation,” MUSD Governing Board President Patti Coutre said.

The Governing Board will reconvene on March 9 at 6:30 p.m.

The temperature dipped below 80 degrees for the first time in two weeks, but the weekend is expected to see winter temperatures reach back to the mid 80s.

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures should stay near 85 degrees all weekend. The wind is expected to gust between 5 to 10 mph, and overall air quality should remain in good condition.

Friday’s forecast calls for sunny skies with a high of 85 degrees. The wind should average 5 mph throughout most of the day, but occasional gusts could reach up to 10 mph. The skies should stay clear overnight, and the low is projected to dip to 46 degrees.

Saturday is projected to be partly cloudy with a high near 85 degrees. The wind should be calm throughout the day at 5 mph, and the overnight low is expected to drop to 46 degrees. The clouds are expected to clear out of the area overnight.

Sunday is expected to be sunny with a high of 85 degrees. The wind is once again expected to be calm near 5 mph, and the overnight low should drop to 48 degrees. Clouds are expected to move in overnight, but no moisture is expected.

Temperatures are expected to drop in the coming week, but more information will be available as the weekend comes to a close.

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Senior Raegene Womack tries to get through Seton Catholic in the state quarterfinal game. Photo by William Lange

There will be no state repeat as defending champion Maricopa High School girls’ basketball lost 57-40 against the tournament’s No. 1 seed Seton Catholic High School Tuesday night.

The Rams beat the Sentinels to claim last year’s state title, but Seton Catholic showed tremendous skill and resiliency in this year’s tournament.

The Rams finished with a 23-7 record overall and ranked eighth in Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Division II Girls’ Basketball Power Rankings.

“It was great to coach this group of girls and to be affiliated with Maricopa basketball for the last two years,” head coach Melvin Mitchell said. “I believe we had a great overall season with the tough competition that we played. Obviously, we would’ve hoped to have a win tonight, but it just didn’t go our way.”

Maricopa struggled to make shots in the first half and fell into an early 22-point deficit by halftime.

The Rams rallied in the second half to pull within 12 before the fourth quarter, but the Sentinels simply had too many weapons and held on for the victory.

Junior Tyra Williams. Photo by William Lange
Junior Tyra Williams. Photo by William Lange

“Seton, they do a great job of adjusting,” Mitchell said. “In all honesty, I think they’re just one of the best halftime adjusting teams that I’ve seen or that I’ve coached against. So they made a great job of adjusting to what we were doing on offense and made a couple stops.”

Maricopa will lose seven players, including three starters, to graduation in May. The class of 2016 will leave Maricopa as one of the most successful groups of girls in the school’s basketball history.

“It was really emotional, and the girls wanted to win,” Mitchell said. “You just let them know they had a great season, which they did, and talk to each and every individual girl and let them know how much you love and appreciate them.”

Seton Catholic will take on Mesa High School in the AIA State Semi-finals Saturday Night at Gila River Arena in Glendale.

See more photos at InMaricopa.com/Photos.

Maricopa Rams practice before the start of the baseball season. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa High School baseball team will begin the 2016 season by co-hosting the annual Tomás Piñon/Matt Huffman Invitational from Wednesday through Saturday.

The invitational is an annual event in honor of former Maricopa baseball player Matt Huffman, who lost his life while running in January 2002. Huffman was an MHS senior with plans to attend Indiana State University on both an academic and athletic scholarship when he passed away. The MHS baseball field was renamed Matt Huffman Field in 2010.

“The tournament this weekend is about representing a great Maricopa Ram,” head coach Andrew Pollack said. “I can only hope the Huffman family is proud of the way our boys play the game of baseball, the pride our program takes in keeping Matt Huffman field in spectacular shape and the responsibility and expectations that come with being a Maricopa Ram baseball player.”

Maricopa’s baseball team and grounds crew takes such good care of Matt Huffman Field that in October 2015 the American Baseball Coaches Association awarded MHS the National Field Maintenance Award for the High School Division.

“This is a big deal,” Maricopa Unified School District superintendent Steve Chestnut said. “Every year the American Baseball Coaches Association names one high school field in the nation and one college field in the nation as the best. We’re proud of the fact that the Maricopa High School baseball field has been named the best in the nation for 2015-16.”
pre-baseball2
The invitational tourney will feature Higley High School (Gilbert), Williams Field High School (Gilbert), Poston Butte High School (San Tan Valley), Dobson High School (Mesa) and co-host Casa Grande Union High School. Tomás Piñon was the athletic director at CGHS.

The Rams’ first game in the tournament will be on Wednesday at 6 p.m. against Higley. Maricopa will then play Dobson on Thursday at 6 p.m. and Williams Field on Friday at 6 p.m. before concluding the tournament on Saturday against Poston Butte at 12:30 p.m.

Mild winter days continue in Maricopa, though cooler than last week. Photo by Adam Wolfe

After weeks of record heat, the temperatures are expected to cool down into the 70s throughout the middle of the week.

According to the National Weather Service, the week should start with high winds near 30 mph and temperatures in the mid 80s. By Tuesday however, temperatures should drop to the mid 70s before returning to the low 80s by the weekend.

Monday’s forecast calls for sunny skies with a high near 83 degrees. The wind should increase to nearly 30 mph in the afternoon and evening. The strong winds are expected to last throughout the night, and the overnight low should drop to 50 degrees.

The strong winds should calm to 5 mph by Tuesday morning, and the forecast calls for sunny skies with a high near 75 degrees. The skies should stay clear throughout the evening, and the overnight low is expected to be 46 degrees.

Wednesday should stay mostly sunny with temperatures reaching 76 degrees. The wind is expected to increase to 10 mph throughout the day, but gusts should calm to 5 mph overnight. The projected low is 42 degrees.

Thursday is projected to see a spike back into the low 80s with temperatures reaching up to 82 degrees. The winds should remain calm near 5 mph, and the overnight low is expected to dip to 45 degrees.

Friday should see a slight increase to 83 degrees, but the weather should drop to 81 degrees on Saturday and 80 degrees on Sunday.

More information will be available as the weekend comes to a close.

Library patrons admired a quilt display at a special event today. Photo by Adam Wolfe

The Maricopa Public Library hosted the “Between the Covers Quilt and Nostalgia Show” Saturday night as part of its Winter Reading Club theme.

“The library has never done anything like this before,” Maricopa Public Library manager Erik Surber said. “Quilts connect us to the past and keep older traditions alive, which I think is important.”

The event showcased dozens of quilts and allowed the library to host its first after-hours adult event. The quilts were provided by Maricopa Divas and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Quilts, and the after-hours show featured Jan Sandwich in a rare appearance as herself for “The Jan Sandwich Nostalgia Show.”

“I’ve been here before as Mother Goose and Wendy Witch at Halloween, but I’m so happy to be here tonight as myself,” Sandwich said.

Jan Sandwich performed a Nostalgia Show. Photo by Adam Wolfe
Jan Sandwich performed a Nostalgia Show. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Photo by Adam Wolfe

Hundreds of participants came out to Copper Sky Regional Park Saturday afternoon to compete in the second annual Copa Color Fun Run.

For this year’s Color Run, the city added a beer garden and food trucks to provide participants with an afternoon of fun, food and entertainment.

“It’s going exceptionally well,” Maricopa Special Events and Marketing Manager Niesha Whitman said. “We had a very good turnout. We have business vendors out here, we have food trucks out here serving people, we have a photographer on site and we have a DJ entertaining the crowd. So we have a lot to do for everyone.”

Throughout the race, runners are doused with vibrant colors. Dozens of spectators lined the course to cheer on the runners, and hundreds of families took advantage of the bounce houses and various festivities for children and adults.

“It’s another avenue for people to do on a Saturday afternoon,” Whitman said. “It’s just something to get the community out, and we’re really encouraging everyone to go out to (Harrah’s) Ak-Chin and check out the Salt N Pepa concert this evening.”

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Junior Tyra Williams (30) stretches for a layup against Cienega Friday night. Photo by Devin Carson

 

The Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team punched their ticket to the Arizona Interscholastic Association Division II Girls’ State Basketball Tournament quarterfinals with a win over Cienega High School Friday night.

The Rams came out cold in Friday’s game but used a highly productive second half to run away with a 59-39 victory.

“I can think back to myself being a player and having that last playoff game,” head coach Melvin Mitchell said. “I still have regrets from that moment and I don’t want these guys to have any of those regrets. So I just tried to reiterate the fact that we have seven seniors and they need to go out there and lay it all on the line for us.”

Maricopa utilized a constant rotation of players to keep everyone fresh, and the payoff was evident as the Rams’ endurance didn’t dissipate down the stretch. As the game reached the fourth quarter, Maricopa was able to use pressure defense and fast breaks to exploit holes Cienega.

“I think early on in the season it was our Achilles heel that we didn’t have the bench we have now,” Mitchell said. “Just getting some of those guys involved and keeping them active and making sure everyone is fresh is part of the game plan. It’s vital to have those guys come in.”

Like most games throughout the season, Maricopa entered Friday’s matchup undersized. However, for the players, this was nothing new.

“We’re used to being undersized,” senior forward Raegene Womack said. “We’re not a big team. We just work with it.”

In fact, 5-foot-6 senior Danae Ruiz led all scorers with 22 points.

“We just work together perfectly,” junior forward Tyra Williams added.

The Rams will have their resilience put to the test more than ever when they face top-ranked Seton Catholic High School in the quarterfinals.

In their only meeting this season, Seton Catholic beat Maricopa 76-36. The Rams beat the Sentinels in last year’s state championship game.

“I’m looking forward to what our coach has in mind to get us prepared for this next Seton game,” Womack said. “I know we have to run, but other than that, I’m ready to play them.”

Seton Catholic enters the quarterfinals as the top-ranked team in the state (across all divisions) and a top 25 team in the nation, according to the “Xcellent 25 Writer’s Poll.”

“I think we just have to play to our strengths,” Mitchell said. “We can’t let the team in front of us dictate what we’re going to do on the basketball court. We have a lot of work cut out, but I think we can definitely do it.”

The quarterfinals are set to tip-off Tuesday at 7:45 p.m. at Gila River Arena in Glendale.

Senior Danae Ruiz brings the ball downcourt while taking charge in the second half. Photo by Devin Carson
Senior Danae Ruiz brings the ball downcourt while taking charge in the second half. Photo by Devin Carson

 

 

Clouds have cooled down temperatures slightly but expect a return to the high 80s. Photo by Adam Wolfe

After another week of record heat, clouds and possible rain are moving into Maricopa and should provide a temporary relief from the unusually high temperatures.

According to the National Weather Service, there is a chance for “scattered sprinkles” and temperatures in the low 80s to start the weekend, but temperatures should slowly rise back to the mid 80s by Sunday.

Thursday’s forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies with “scattered sprinkles” between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The projected high for the day is 79 degrees, and the wind should increase from 5 mph to 10 mph throughout the day. The overnight low is expected to drop to 48 degrees.

Friday is expected to remain cloudy, but no moisture is expected. The temperature should rise to about 80 degrees, and the wind should calm to 5 mph. The clouds should decrease throughout the night, and the overnight low is projected to drop to 48 degrees.

Saturday is expected to start another warming trend once the clouds clear in the morning. The projected high is 83 degrees, and the wind should remain calm near 5 mph. Night skies should continue to clear, and the overnight low is expected to be 47 degrees.

Sunday’s forecast calls for sunny skies with a high near 84 degrees. The wind may increase to 10 mph in the afternoon but should calm back to 5 mph by the evening. The overnight low is projected to drop to 46 degrees.

Temperatures are expected to continue to rise next week as well. Monday is projected to be 85 degrees, Tuesday is projected to be 86 degrees and Wednesday is projected to be 87 degrees.

More information will be available as the weekend comes to a close.

Jany Deng spoke of his horrific childhood experience surviving a civil war in Sudan and trying to adapt to life in Arizona. He was a guest speaker at Central Arizona College-Maricopa. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Jany Deng, former “Lost Boy” from Sudan, came to Central Arizona College Wednesday afternoon to share his story of adversity and triumph, and to educate students on what a refugee goes through when waiting for relocation.

His presentation was part of a Lunch and Learn program on the Maricopa campus.

Deng was 7 years old when the Sudanese civil war forced him to flee his village and trek to Ethiopia. He joined approximately 500 other children on a journey to find refuge in the neighboring country. However, due to starvation, disease, militants and predators, only 20 of the 500 children he left with made it to Ethiopia.

“We left our cows and just started walking,” Deng said. “We didn’t know where we were walking. We had 4 year olds and 3 year olds to take care of. The 11 year olds became the leaders.”

After three months of surviving the elements, Deng made it to Ethiopia. His problems weren’t solved, though, as a civil war broke out in Ethiopia, and the “Lost Boys” were forced to seek refuge again.

The majority of the boys ended up in Kenya. From there, the United Nations got involved and tried to relocate as many of the boys as they could.

“I was one of the first ones to get to come to U.S. in 1995,” Deng said. “After all that, I was one of the lucky ones.”

The “Lost Boys” were scattered across the globe. Some went to Australia and Europe while others ended up in the United States.

Deng and his brother were sent to Phoenix. Deng was placed with a foster family while his brother, who was over 18, was placed in the workforce.

“My brother had a lot of issues,” Deng said. “We weren’t living in the same place, so things got hard for him real fast. The trauma stays with you. Whether it is a car accident or anything, trauma stays with you.”

Like many of the boys from Sudan, the trauma proved to be too much for Deng’s brother. An altercation with police led to his death.

Since this event, Deng has dedicated his life to helping Sudanese refugees through the trauma. His organization, Lost Boys Center for Leadership Development, assists refugees with assimilation into society and promotes the value of an education.

“We came into the United State with nothing from where we come from,” Deng said. “We have achieved 85 percent of us graduated from either community college level or university with a degree.”

Deng received a bachelor’s degree in business from Arizona State University and is working on his MBA. He has made one trip back to Sudan, but another civil war has prevented further trips.

To learn more about the Lost Boys Center for Leadership Development, visit http://www.lbcld.org.

Photo by Adam Wolfe
Photo by Adam Wolfe

Mayor Christian Price declared February CTE Advocacy Month. Photo by Adam Wolfe

The Maricopa City Council approved a measure to bring the Arizona Rattlers arena football team to Maricopa for their spring workouts.

“This is really about growth and about opportunity,” Rattlers President Chris Presson said. “We’re repurposing certain areas including Copper Sky (Multigenerational Complex), which we find to be a marvelous facility, and we want to bring value to your community.”

The council unanimously approved the Rattlers use of Copper Sky Regional Park for practice. The team will spend nearly three weeks in Maricopa to train for the start of the season in April.

“I just want to make the point that this is going to be about the city and about the Ak-Chin Indian Community,” Rattlers head coach Kevin Guy said. “This isn’t going to be about the Rattlers. We’re going to put ourselves into the community for two and a half weeks, and I know our players are excited about it.”

The Rattlers won three straight Arena Bowls from 2012 to 2014, and have five championships overall.

“We have a champion in town!” council member Henry Wade said.

The council also honored Career and Technical Education programs at Maricopa High School when Mayor Christian Price proclaimed February to be “Career and Technical Education Advocacy Month” for the city of Maricopa.

“The City of Maricopa has many past and present Career and Technical Education students working in the various city departments including the Library, City Hall and the Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship,” Price said. “Therefore, I, Christian Price, Mayor of the City of Maricopa, do hereby proclaim the month of February 2016 as Career and Technical Education Advocacy Month in the City of Maricopa, and we urge all residents of Maricopa to recognize, support and commend the students, educators and business people involved with these important tasks.”

Earlier in the council work session, the Maricopa Development Services Department provided updates and future plans for the City of Maricopa Express Transit system throughout the city.

According to Transportation Planner David Maestas, Development Services hopes to continue local and regional “demand responses,” acquire right of way for bus stops and install bus stop signs, work through the budget to develop bus shelters and aggressively market the bus stop locations.

“We’re on course to increase our ridership 30.2 percent for the year,” Maestas said.

Development Services hopes to improve the efficiency of the fixed route system by eliminating seldom used stops at City Hall and the Park-n-Ride, and making the route circular to help with pick-up consistency.

“One change we are proposing to the route is to change the route to a circular route,” Maestas said. “What that does is closes the loop in conjunction without lengthening the hours. It makes it feasible for somebody to have the assurance to go shopping and reasonably be able to get back home.”

After a short discussion, the council also approved $25,000 from the city’s contingency fund for the purchase of a van to transport victims of crime during a crisis event. The Maricopa Police Department will utilize the van to transport victims of domestic or sexual assault to secure areas for examinations and protection.

The Maricopa City Council will reconvene on March 1 at 7 p.m.

Ak-Chin Chairman Robert Miguel talks about his new role.

Ak-Chin Indian Community’s newest Chairman Robert Miguel came by the InMaricopa Studio to discuss his goals for the upcoming year and the challenges he and the Ak-Chin Community face.

Miguel has been a member of the Ak-Chin Indian Community Tribal Council since 2014. He was unanimously selected as the community chairman by the council on Jan. 20. He will serve as chairman for one year before he can be re-selected or substituted.

“Words can’t describe how I feel really about my community and how much I love my community,” Miguel said. “I can always step back and just thank the entire community for supporting me. You guys have made a dream come true.”

Miguel’s journey to politics began when he watched his grandfather lead the Ak-Chin Indian Community as the chairman. As he grew up, he worked on the community farms before becoming a photojournalist for the Ak-Chin Runner. He covered monthly council meetings for 17 years before earning a spot on the Tribal Council.

In his first year as chairman, Miguel hopes to expand programs and involvement to help keep Ak-Chin students in school, as well as progress the community forward with the development of a hospital and center for children with special needs.

“There is some thought as to what I’d like to see in the community,” Miguel said. “One of my inspirations is we tend to forget about our special needs. We forget (to develop) programs for them, and I hope to spearhead that we move into a direction that we build a 24-hour facility for them to be at. We have two housing groups in Casa Grande, but I’d like to see them come back home and be part of the community.”

Rotary Park, next to the Maricopa Unified School District offices and the Maricopa Veterans Center, is showing signs of dilapidation. City Council will talk about the park in tonight's work session. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Rotary Park is currently under the control of the Maricopa Rotary Club, but that could change.

The Maricopa City Council will hear a presentation from Community Services Director Kristie Riester regarding the city’s acquisition of Rotary Park during the council’s work session tonight.

Riester and City Manager Gregory Rose recently attended club meetings and spoke with club president Aron Rausch regarding a transition for the park to fall under city control.

“Tonight we will have a discussion with the mayor [Christian Price] and council to see if a purchase of the park is good for the city,” Rose said. “If the council instructs us to move forward, our intention would be to acquire the park and develop a Capital Improvement Project.”

If the council moves forward with the purchase of the park, and the Rotary Club follows suit, the city would conduct a survey of the park. The cost of the survey is approximately $6,320.

The park would also need substantial upgrades to the bathroom, ramada and pool. The ramada and pool are safety hazards at this time. Decisions on whether to refurbish or remove each feature would come at a later date.

“It would be good to have a park in the Heritage District that better serves the community than Lexington Park currently does,” Rose said.

The presentation will take place during the council’s work session tonight at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

 

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Halvorson takes 6th in state wrestling

Junior Ashia Laidler Nelson. Photo by William Lange

The Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team is the last winter athletics team with a chance to win a state title.

The defending champion Lady Rams finished the regular season ranked eighth in the Arizona Interscholastic Association Division II Girls’ Basketball Power Rankings. The top-eight ranking guaranteed Maricopa a spot in the state tournament and allows them to get two extra days of rest by having a bye for the tournament’s first round.

“We’re really scrappy, but I think we have lapses boxing out that we need to address before we play teams like Seton [Catholic],” head coach Melvin Mitchell said. “I think we’ll try to adjust accordingly to whoever we have.”

The girls will play at home on Friday at 7 p.m. against the winner of 24th-ranked Marana High School (Tucson) and ninth-ranked Cienega High School (Vail). Seton Catholic, which Maricopa defeated last year for the state title, has the top seed.

For the boys’ basketball team, a 10-game winning streak in the middle of the season and a trip to the AIA Division III Section V semi-finals weren’t enough to clinch a spot in the state tournament. Four straight losses to close out the regular season dropped the Rams to 28th in the state ranking.

“We finished just outside the top 24, which was a tough pill to swallow,” Neill said. “It is difficult to look back knowing that if we could have turned one of those losses into wins it could have gotten us in.”

The boys’ team finished fifth in Section V with 4-5 conference record took a “step in the right direction,” according to the coach, by improving last year’s 15-15 overall record to 17-11 this season.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

“I was extremely pleased with this season,” Head Coach Jacob Neill said. “We fell just short of qualifying for the state tournament but that doesn’t take away from what we accomplished on the court. Our goal was to come out and be competitive to give ourselves a chance to win on a nightly basis, and we did just that. We didn’t always get the win but our guys played hard and competed from start to finish every time we stepped on the floor.”

In wrestling, junior Dakota Halverson was the only Ram to make it to the AIA Division II State Wrestling Meet. Halverson won his first two matches of the tournament, but tough losses in his next three matches dropped him to sixth place overall.

Photo by Devin Carson
Photo by Devin Carson

Halverson has made back-to-back trips to the state tournament, and he will look to make another run at the state title in 2017.

“I wanted to see improvement,” head coach Erick Fierro said. “I saw a lot of impressive wrestling from my kids and that’s what I wanted to see.”

It has been a promising year for Maricopa athletics, and spring sports (baseball, softball, track and field and tennis) will look to keep the momentum going as they get under way this month.

Maricopa Police Chief addresses at Citizens' Rights forum at Copper Sky for Black History Month.

Copper Sky Multigenerational Complex played host to a “Policing/Citizens’ Rights” forum as part of Maricopa’s Black History Month celebration Saturday afternoon.

Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl and Phoenix Police Department Assistant to the Chief Gerald Richard were part of a panel of presenters discussing citizen interaction with police and the training each department receives.

“This is part of the overall Black History Month celebration, but we certainly need to have more of these,” Maricopa City Council member Henry Wade said. “I think there were some myths that might have been dispelled. We had a large group of Police Explorers that were here, and even though that is what they do, I’m certain there were some things they learned today that will help them as they continue being explorers.”

The panel tackled complicated issues such as police approach to various situations and interactions with different cultures. The presenters also fielded questions from the audience regarding community and training concerns.

“I think it was an outstanding success,” Wade said. “We had a number of people here and excellent speakers. I think the attendees got some very good information and some resources they can reach out to if necessary.”

The city’s next event for Black History Month will be a showing and discussion of the motion picture “Selma” at City Hall on Saturday, Feb. 20 from 1 to 4:30 p.m.

The city is also hosting reading events for Black History Month at the Maricopa Public Library every Saturday at 1 p.m. For more information, contact council member Henry Wade at henry.wade@maricopa-az.com or call (520) 316-6825.

Phoenix Police Department Assistant to the Chief Gerald Richard
Phoenix Police Department Assistant to the Chief Gerald Richard

Thousands gathered at the new Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church waiting to enter for a dedicatory Mass. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church parishioners officially opened their new church after a dedication ceremony and procession was held by church staff and Bishop Gerald Kicanas of the Diocese of Tucson.

Thousands of parishioners and residents gathered on the 38-acre property to be part of the historic day. A procession featuring the Knights of Columbus, the bishop and congregation marched from the shrine of Mary to the front steps of the cathedral.

“The meaning (of the new church) to the community is so awesome with so many things coming to Maricopa because of this church,” parishioner Alma Farrell said. “The surrounding of the homes, the surrounding of the future apartments and the long-term care center; all kinds of things are going to come because of this. As a long time resident of Maricopa, this has to be one of the happiest moments of my life.”

Kicanas was the first to enter the church in order to bless the building. The public was then welcome to take part in the Mass of Rite of Dedication and the community reception that followed.

“We have a three-hour mass through the old Roman Rites in which the church is blessed, anointed and made ready for regular masses,” Construction and Design Committee Chairman Ken Lepper said.

Parishioners and city officials hope the church property will become the anchor for a “modern neighborhood” at the center of the city. Housing, apartment, retain and restaurants are expected to fill up the area over the next eight to ten years.

“I can tell you just from talking with others, there are retail investors that are already excited about this being here,” Maricopa Mayor Christian Price said. “They know it brings people, it brings population, and with that, it brings houses. Anytime we can see this type of construction going on and these types of facilities going up in Maricopa it’s a benefit to all of us, so we’re very excited.”

Regular masses will begin at the new church on Sunday.

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