Authors Articles byMason Callejas

Mason Callejas

Mason Callejas
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Photo by Mason Callejas

Mostly clear and calm skies and low daily highs are in store for Maricopa this weekend, according to the National Weather Service. Daily highs on Thursday and Friday will linger in the low 80s while the rest of the weekend stays in the upper 70s, making things cool and comfortable well into thanksgiving week.

Today is forecast to be mostly sunny and clear with a high around 85 and a low near 58.

Friday will likely also be mostly sunny and clear with a high around 82 and a low near 57.

Saturday should be sunny and clear with a high around 77 and a low near 54 at a night when a slight wind picks up, gusting 15-20 mph.

Sunday looks to be sunny and mostly clear with a high around 79 and a low near 52.

Monday will likely by partly cloudy with a high around 79 and a low near 53.

John Barrera. PCSO photo

A Maricopa man has been arrested on multiple assault charges after an alleged domestic violence incident Thursday, during which, reports say, he never actually touched anyone.

John Barrera, 51, was booked by the Maricopa Police Department on a total of four counts of aggravated assault after allegedly threatening multiple people with a knife during an argument Nov. 9.

MPD reports allege Barrera was involved in an altercation with another individual inside a Homestead residence during which he grabbed a knife and began “swinging the knife at them” but “did not make contact with anyone.”

One of the witnesses, a minor, corroborated the account, the report says.

Barrera allegedly began yelling and pointing a knife at the witness after they tried to enter a kitchen area to get food, according to the report. Again, the witness said they were able to get away without being hurt.

Both witnesses and the arresting officer stated Barreras made “irrational” and unclear statements during the incident.

Despite never actually making physical contact, Arizona law (13-1204 (B)) states a person need only place “another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury” for it to be considered assault.

Barrera is being held on a $10,000 bond at the Pinal County Adult Detention Center, in Florence.

If convicted on all four charges, Barrera could face more than 16 years in prison.

Photo by Mason Callejas

Temperatures will pick up slightly at the onset of this week and then cool down as the weekend approaches, according to the National Weather Service. Cloudy skies will accompany those elevated temperatures until around midweek when the clouds break and temperatures begin to dip slightly into the low 80s.

Today is forecast to be partly cloudy with a high around 87 and a low near 61.

Tuesday will likely be mostly sunny with a high around 86 and a low near 60.

Wednesday should again be mostly sunny with a high around 84 and a low near 60.

Thursday looks to be sunny and clear with a high around 84 and a low near 58.

Friday will likely be Sunny with high around 80 and a low near 57.

Quintin Baker directs Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship. Photo by Mason Callejas

The director of Maricopa’s small-business incubator presented its third quarter update to City Council Tuesday, during which he proclaimed he would no longer be using certain metrics to measure success despite councilmembers previously requesting more detailed numerical data.

Quintin Baker, director of the Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship, presented its Q3 numbers which showed growth in certain areas such as attendance, social media presence and mentorship. However, he showed the number of clients served, and the jobs created, slipped.

In the Q2 report, Baker reported four jobs created and 39 clients served, but in Q3 there were zero jobs created and 32 clients served.

As such, Baker said he would no longer be providing metrics related to job creation. But, that’s a good thing, he said.

“It’s not that I don’t think it is [important], it’s just that the numbers weren’t there,” Baker said. “The small businesses weren’t showing job growth, and yet they were still showing measurable success and accomplishments along their milestones and things of that nature.”

In terms of average reoccurring attendance at MCE programs, Baker said, those numbers doubled from seven in Q2 to 14 in Q3. Likewise, social media likes nearly doubled from only 894 in Q2, to 1,662 in Q3.

Baker attributed this new-found local awareness to the attention generated by the organization’s recent Pitch Competition.

The winner of that competition walked with a $500 cash prize provided by MCE’s parent organization – The Norther Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NACET).

MCE also picked up three new mentors, Baker said, something he attributed to that new-found awareness and the fact that people are showing greater willingness to help.

“I think it’s because people know who we are and what we’re about,” Baker said. “People have been wanting to contribute.”

Those businesses, he said, want to help with specific industries and can provide accesses to resources that could significantly improve small businesses.

Members of that new mentor pool now include Councilmember Peggy Chapados and other area community and business leaders.

MCE further accomplished several other tasks Baker said are helping the organization reach its goals, including a Boot Camp and a new Business Advisory Board.

Combined, he said, all of these elements will help MCE not only provide success to others, but also promote its own success and eventual self-sufficiency.

“The whole point of this is to try to get us to a foundation to where we can then be in a position to be self-sustaining, whether through leveraging different funding options or by being able to generate revenue through our programing.”

Baker said he hopes to soon see 15 percent of the MCE’s expenses sponsored by other organizations or companies.

City Hall has already started a search for organizations that could run the business incubator after city council expressed dissatisfaction with NACET. At Tuesday’s meeting, the councilmembers spent very little time questioning Baker.

The developer of multifamily housing is interested in Maricopa.

An apartment developer presented a plan to City Council Tuesday, outlining its intentions of developing affordable multifamily housing structures in Maricopa.

Representatives from the Indianapolis-based Englewood Group discussed with members of council their two-fold approach to multi-family housing and how it may be able to help Maricopa overcome the rental gap in the city.

According to their presentation, 76 percent of renters in Maricopa are cost burdened, earning only 30-50 percent of the Area Median Income. Also, according to the presentation, 33 percent of Maricopa residents earn $50,000 or less per year.

Englewood Group representative Brian Pozen said 97 percent of houses in Maricopa are single-family homes. Based on current market analysis, rental properties in the city have an average rent of $1,376 per month with nothing available for less than $1,000.

This, they said, is where they can help.

Englewood’s approach, Pozen said, would use both market-rate and low-income apartments to fill this need.

Market-rate units would range in cost from $800 for a single bedroom, up to $1,300 for a two bedroom, he said.

Three-bedroom apartments were not discussed.

Low-income units would range from around $700 for a studio to $900 for a two bedroom, he said. To achieve that goal, the company would utilize the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit.

To qualify for the credit, the complex would have to abide by the qualified Allocation Plan which prescribes that the unit would need to be, among other things, smoke-free, built and maintained efficiently, preserve historical aspects of the region and target low income tenants.

Englewood representative Julia Surak said, this is not “Section 8 housing.”

“You can use a Section 8 voucher, but you don’t need it to live there,” Surak said.

Building the low-income units would take more time, Pozen added. However, he said, Englewood has already signed a “letter of intent” for a property in Maricopa where they hope to construct market-rate units.

Once that property is rezoned, he said, Englewood can begin moving forward with permitting and subsequent construction almost immediately.

To apply for the tax credit, the land must already be zoned for multifamily thus drawing that process out on a longer timeline which they hope would conclude in spring or summer of 2019.

The company also expressed an interest in building a senior living complex. Each complex would contain on average 20 units per acre – 90-110 units per complex.

Photo by Mason Callejas

Maricopa’s first ever Veterans Day parade should see moderate temperatures and mostly clear skies, according to the National Weather Service. The rest of the weekend should see daily highs in the low to mid-80s with little wind and a zero percent chance of rain.

Today is forecast to be sunny and mostly clear with a high around 83 and an overnight low near 59.

Friday will likely be sunny and clear with cloud moving into the area in the early evening, a high of around 84 and a low near 58.

Saturday (Veterans Day) should see mostly sunny and clear skies with a high around 82 and a low near 58.

Sunday looks to be mostly sunny and partly cloudy with a high around 83 and a low near 60.

Monday will likely also be mostly sunny and partly cloudy with a high around 86 and a low near 60.

Still-dirty corners of city facilities have council looking at its cleaning-services contract anew. Submitted photo

The Maricopa City Council batted down the extension of a janitorial contract Tuesday due to what some members said was sub-par service.

The one-year contract, valued at nearly $340,000, was to be granted to Carnation Building Services Inc., the city’s previous janitorial service provider. However, Mayor Christian Price and others on council expressed dissatisfaction with both the quality of service and what they felt was an inadequate bidding process.

“I don’t want to say we haven’t been happy, but I can’t say that we’ve been thrilled with this particular service here,” Price said.

Both Price and Councilmember Vincent Manfredi referenced instances in which both constituents and themselves personally have been to Copper Sky Recreation Complex when the facilities were unusually dirty.

In photos submitted to InMaricopa, areas around Copper Sky can be seen to be only partially clean, with certain surfaces and areas behind furniture left dusty.

Price said one possible solution would be to divide the contract into multiple, smaller contracts. By doing this, he said, it would not only allow for a more fair and competitive bidding process but also may allow for more specialized janitorial services.

The contract currently includes the cleaning of City Hall, Copper Sky, the Fire Administration and Public Works offices and special events.  The broad scope of the contract, Price said, is where the city is going wrong.

“It makes me wonder if we haven’t hindered ourselves by putting together this entire quote, because they’re different things,” Price said.

Price compared it to going to Costco and needing mayonnaise but being forced to buy a tub of mayonnaise because it is all they offer.

“You might save some money in some respects, but you might waste a lot, too,” Price said.

Price suggested separating the contract into basic janitorial services and additional special events and/or Copper Sky services.

Public Works Director Bill Fay said the average number of received bids for any government contract is around 4.2 bids per contract. However, this contract received considerably less than that.

“My understanding is that there were two bids,” Fay said. “One was declared non-responsive, so that left one.”

That number could have much greater, Price said, if the contract were separated so businesses that specialize in offices could bid on a contract that doesn’t include special events or fitness centers.

Furthermore, Price said, by continuing the contract, the city is doing a disservice to paying members of Copper Sky who may notice the unclean areas and decide to discontinue their memberships.

Council ultimately voted to reject the current contract and directed city staff to reconfigure the contract.

Carnation Building Services will likely continue on a month-to-month contract until the matter is resolved.

How are Maricopa seniors responding to having their own recreational space at Santa Cruz Elementary School?

Shirley Moenich


Shirley Moenich: “If you’ve lost a spouse, or you have a spouse in a live-in care center, it’s the best thing you can do. Get out, meet other people, laugh a little bit; it helps get you through the trials and tribulations. People in those situations need that encouragement.”

Mary Freeman

Mary Freeman: “This has been a lifesaver for me. When my husband died, Karen, my daughter, made me do stuff so I wouldn’t just crawl in a hole. And it has been life-changing. Since then, my brother [Norman] started going.”

Norman Wyttenbach

Norman Wyttenbach [Mary’s brother]: “I was 74-years-old and I would recline on my bed, and that’s basically where I lived. Then she started dragging me to pinochle, because I like to play pinochle. So, I’m out of the house, it’s got me out talking to people and meeting new people.”

Lynn Grant

Lynn Grant: “It’s nice to have a place where people can meet other people. [I don’t want] people to sit at home and say, ‘I haven’t met anyone in Maricopa.’ You have to get out and do something. So, this is perfect.”

Karen Wilson [Mary’s daughter]: “I like this facility. This is what the city busted their butt to get for us. It’s clean, its accessible. But, I have bigger visions for it. I’ve

Karen Wilson

only been here a year, but I would like to see more than just games here.”

The senior rooms at Santa Cruz Elementary are open Monday-Friday excluding holidays. Drop-in is from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Park in the north lot and proceed to the back of the building at the chain-link fence. Doors to the senior rooms are at the back of the school. Organized activities throughout the week include pinochle, canasta, farkel and the Creative Sisterhood. Check out the calendar at

This item appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

Maricopa County has issued an arrest warrant for Andrew Chamber, whom officials believe is in this footage of a break-in a local Islamic center. Submitted photo

An arrest warrant has been issued for a man sought for his alleged involvement in the burglary of Islamic worship centers in both Maricopa and Chandler in March.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich handed down an arrest warrant Nov. 3 for Andrew Charles Chambers for allegedly breaking into the Islamic religious centers and stealing money from donation boxes.

Detectives from both the Maricopa and Chandler police departments reviewed surveillance footage from both mosques and were able to identify Chambers as the alleged burglar, the AG’s office said in a press release.

On the evening of March 30 and morning of March 31, Chambers allegedly broke into the Masjid Bilal Rabah Mosque in Maricopa and the Islamic Center of the East Valley in Chandler and stole an unknown amount of money.

Though neither mosque could say the exact amount stolen, charges indicate that somewhere between $2,000-3,000 was taken from one site, and less than $1,000 was taken from the other.

The warrant, issued out of Maricopa County Superior Court, contains a total of eight charges against Chambers – two counts of third degree burglary, class 4 felonies, two counts of possession of burglary tools, class 6 felonies, two counts of aggravated criminal damage, class 6 felonies, and two counts of theft, one class 5 felony and one class 1 misdemeanor.

If convicted, Chambers faces up to seven years in prison.

Chambers is wanted by authorities in both Alabama and Virginia for allegedly committing similar crimes, the release said. He was arrested in 2013 in Virginia for allegedly breaking into a Woodbridge mosque but fleeing after realizing the building was occupied. He was described as 6-foot-4, 225 pounds and at the time was driving a truck with North Dakota plates.

His whereabouts are currently unknown.

Authorities claim he could be using multiple aliases including Martin Andrew, Flint Frank, Andy Chambers, Flint Franks, Steven Franks, Andrew Ghambers and Flint O’Neil.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Chambers is urged to contact the Arizona Attorney General’s Office or the Maricopa and Chandler Police Departments.

Submitted photo

Apex Motor Club, owned by Private Motorsports Group, wants to open a private track in Maricopa.

Lawyers representing the private racetrack Apex have filed a complaint against a political action committee that took Apex to court.

The complaint, filed with the City of Maricopa by the lawfirm of Coppersmith-Brockleman, targets the group that took both the city and Apex to court in recent months regarding the company’s planned racetrack in Maricopa.

In the complaint, attorneys representing Apex argue the group known as Maricopa Citizens Protecting Taxpayers, acting as a political action committee, broke Arizona state election law when officers failed to file campaign finance reports.

By not filing a campaign finance report in both July and October of 2017, the complaint says, MCPT violated A.R.S. 16-927 and 16-927 in not disclosing who paid for the “disbursement” of funds used to pay for “petition circulation and litigation that should have been captured on such reports.”

Second, the complaint says, the committee further violated state law A.R.S. 16-906(B)(1)(b) when it failed to identify in its name its “sponsor’s name or commonly known nickname.”

“As a consequence, the Committee never registered and properly formed as a committee, and has been improperly operating in the city,” the complaint says.

According to the complaint, “the Committee is clearly the brain child and outsourced operation of Mr. Erickson.”

During a hearing regarding another lawsuit filed against the city and Apex by Maricopa resident Bonita Burks, lawyers for Burks denied allegations claiming that Dan Erickson and his company – Danrick Builders – are behind the Burks lawsuit.

However, in a Sept. 26 letter to the Maricopa city attorney, Burks’ lead counsel, former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods said both Burks and Erickson wish to settle the matter.

“This letter is to confirm that the parties currently opposing the Apex development are, and have been, willing to discuss settling this matter in an amicable way,” Woods wrote. “I have spoken to Ms. Burks and with Daniel Erickson to get his feedback on an approach to put this controversy to rest.”

Erickson also mentioned Burks in an Oct. 10 letter to Pinal Central, claiming it was never Burks’ intention to “prevent Apex from opening; they merely wanted more due diligence done and proper procedures followed in processing the conditional use permit.”

Because of this connection, Apex attorneys believe they have evidence of collusion between Erickson and the two opposition parties that filed separate suits against the city and Apex.

“Indeed, it is now clear that the Committee’s activities were but one piece of a comprehensive strategy employed by Danrick and its principal, Mr. Erickson,” the complaint states.

Pinal County Superior Court Judge Robert Olson originally issued a judgment in favor of MCPT Aug. 9. However, both the Arizona Court of Appeals and the state Supreme Court later sided with the city and Apex, tossing out the lower court’s ruling.

In Burks’ case, a Sept. 13 judgment by Olson ruled her suit lacked “standing.”

Burks filed an appeal Nov. 1 and is awaiting judgement.

“As with its failure to file timely campaign finance reports,” the Apex complaint says, “the effect of the Committee’s noncompliance with governing campaign finance laws serves only to conceal from the people of the City the identity of those who have meddled in its administrative affairs at great expense.”

Tina and Michael Hoehler lead an anonymous group of individuals dealing with the addiction of a loved one at Maricopa PAL. Photo by Mason Callejas

Addiction is a disease that does not often discriminate based on age or social strata.

Teachers have addicts for students. Students have addicts for teachers. Parents have addicts for children. Children have addicts for parents. Spouses have addicts as partners. And, sometimes, when you look in the mirror, an addict is staring right back.

For two Maricopa parents, the struggle to confront a loved one’s addiction left them feeling isolated. When Tina and Michael Hoehler finally realized their somewhat-guarded coping mechanisms weren’t working, they changed their approach.

The two had struggled with the harsh reality of loving an addict for several years, attending support groups like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon. But none of the tools they were taught or advice they were given provided them with that final piece to the puzzle they needed so desperately.

Then they found the program they said might have saved their loved one’s life – Parents of Addicted Loved Ones (PAL).

“It taught us how to set boundaries,” Tina said. “And how to stick by them.”

Soon after, they both saw how setting and enforcing those boundaries allowed their loved one to also make a change.

“When you begin to make changes, they see that and they change,” she said.

PAL not only helped them establish those boundaries, but it helped them open up and share their personal experience, they said.

It changed their mindset so much, they decided to bring PAL’s tenants of “education” and “support” to Maricopa.

“I wanted other parents to know that they’re not alone, and that’s exactly how you feel, alone.” Tina said. “Sometimes you choose it [to be alone], sometimes it just happens.”

Now, every Monday evening PAL meets “to receive support from, and give support to, others who are facing the same challenges.”

PAL is not unlike Al-Anon and Nar-Anon in that it provides a network and support. However, Michael said, PAL allows something the others do not – crosstalk.

“It allows people to have conversations, personal conversation,” Michael said.

One of the biggest differences, Tina said, is the education.

“I can spout off all statistics about drug abuse, but what good is that,” she said. “People need actual knowledge they can use.”

Each week, PAL offers lesson plans to provide attendees with tools to better understand themselves and, in turn, improve the lives of their loved-ones.

Lesson plans range from delayed emotional growth and transitional living to healthy helping and enabling.

“Understanding [these topics] is the difference,” Tina said.

For more information, visit or stop by PAL’s weekly meeting on Mondays, 7-8:30 p.m., at 19395 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite 16, on the second floor at the Maricopa Behavioral Health Services office. 

This story appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

FamiliPhoto by Mason Callejases gathered for outdoor fun Friday at Copper Sky. Photo by Mason Callejas

Copper Sky Regional Park hosted a Family Camp Out on Friday. Families brought tents and overnight provisions and connected through campfire stories, a scavenger hunt and an outdoor screening of Moana.

Photo by Mason Callejas

Calm and partly cloudy skies will likely make for a cool and comfortable week around Maricopa, according to the National Weather Service. With winds gusting below 10 mph and sparse cloud cover most of the week, daily highs will not likely breach the 82-degree mark until next Sunday.

Today looks to be mostly sunny with a high around 80 and a low near 61.

Tuesday will likely be partly cloudy with a high around 79 and a low near 58.

Wednesday should be mostly clear with a high around 80 and a low near 58.

Thursday looks to be sunny and mostly clear with a high near 82 and a low around 60.

Friday will likely also be sunny and partly cloudy with a high around 82 and a low around 60

Anthony Gonzalez, left, makes dough under the instruction of CAC Culinary Professor Gabe Gardner. Photo by Michelle Chance

The flour-covered hands of 20-year-old Anthony Gonzalez kneaded dough inside a kitchen classroom at a local community college Thursday night.

“The real hope is that they will stay in Pinal County and make better places for us to go out to dinner.” – Gabe Gardner

He’s one of many students in the Culinary Arts Program at Central Arizona College campus in Maricopa baking pies from scratch for the community.

The Culinary Arts Thanksgiving Pie Sale is taking orders for apple, pecan and pumpkin pies through Nov. 13 at noon. Each pie is $8. A cream cheese-filled pumpkin roll for $10 and a dozen homemade soft dinner rolls can also be purchased for $5.

The sale benefits the students in the culinary program, said CAC Chef and Professor Gabe Gardner.

Proceeds raised will go toward the purchase of a Sous Vide machine, which will enable culinary students to cook red meat to precise temperatures. Gardner said it will also give them real-world experience with modern equipment.

“All the high-end restaurants are using them,” Gardner said. “So, the goal of all of this, as ever, is to create an environment that the students will see once they leave here, and the real hope is that they will stay in Pinal County and make better places for us to go out to dinner.”

To place a pie order, email Payment is cash only. Pie-pickup will take place the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 22, from 9 a.m. to noon in Building C, Room C102, at the CAC Maricopa Campus located at 17945 Regent Drive.

Photo by Mason Callejas

It looks like autumn is officially in full swing for Maricopa, according to the National Weather Service. Partly cloudy skies and daily highs in the upper 70s and low 80s over the weekend could make for rather cool Family Camp Out at Copper Sky on Friday night and then Veterans 5K and 2nd Saturday Market the following morning.

Today is forecast to be sunny and mostly clear with a high around 79 and an overnight low near 59.

Friday will likely also be sunny and mostly clear with a high around 81 and a low near 61.

Saturday should be partly cloudy with a high around 85 and a low near 60.

Sunday looks to be partly cloudy with a high around 79 and a low near 60.

Monday will likely also be partly cloudy with a high around 80 and a low near 62.

A group of middle-school students was allegedly harassed by an unknown individual in a black mask Tuesday morning.

Officials at Pima Butte Elementary School sent out an advisory bulletin around 11 a.m. warning parents that around 8:20 a.m., a man in a black “ski mask” harassed the students as they waited for their bus near the corner of Van Der Veen Way and Rancho El Dorado Parkway.

The man, according to the bulletin, stopped his vehicle – a light-red Ford pickup truck – then got out and allegedly shouted something inaudible at a group of Desert Wind Middle School students waiting at the stop.

As a bus approached, the bulletin says, the man wearing the mask, black pants and a red, white and black striped collared shirt, got back in to the pickup and drove away.

“One of the witnesses on scene believes they knew who it was,” Maricopa police spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said.

MPD is pursing that lead, he said.

At this time, police believe the man does not pose any further threat.

This story has been updated from a previous version.

Assault charges are pending against a teen after she allegedly kicked another, pregnant teen in an altercation at Maricopa High School.

Maricopa Police Department spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said the incident involving the two juveniles occurred around 2:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 27. The alleged offender supposedly kicked the other teen, described as four months pregnant, in the back causing her to fall to the ground, Alvarado said.

The pregnant teen refused medical treatment on scene and that “she would seek treatment on her own,” Alvarado said.

Alvarado further stated the teen responsible for the alleged assault was released into the custody of her mother. No motives for the fight were given.

As for the student’s punishment, Maricopa Unified School District superintendent Steve Chestnut said, “disciplinary consequences as described in the Secondary Student Handbook are being followed.”

Assault is considered a class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Photo by Mason Callejas

Moderate fall temperatures will likely make for a comfortable Halloween Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. Though there won’t be a full moon on Halloween, an 83 percent Waxing Gibbous should help illuminate the night for all those ghouls and goblins wandering around Maricopa. As for the rest of the week, light cloud cover and daily-highs in the low 80s mean autumn is likely in full swing.

Today is forecast to be partly cloudy with a high around 85 and a low near 63 in the evening.

Tuesday (Halloween) will likely be sunny and clear with a high around 81 and an overnight low near 62.

Wednesday should be sunny and clear with a high around 81 and a low near 60.

Thursday looks to again be sunny and clear with a high around 82 and a low near 61.

Friday will likely also be sunny and clear with a high around 85 and a low near 63.

Maricopa Mayor Christian Price crawls across an obstacle during his run in the 2016 Mud Run. Photo by Mason Callejas

Despite sunny, calm skies, temperatures are likely to remain fair in Maricopa this weekend, according to the National Weather Service. With daily highs peaking in the high 80s and little wind, it could be perfect weeekend for a Mud Run.

Oh, and if you haven’t yet registered for this year’s Mud Run at Copper Sky, be sure to visit their website  for more information, and don’t forget to dress in your favorite superhero costume when you run.

Today looks to be sunny and clear with a high around 91 and a low near 62.

Friday will likely also be sunny and clear with a high around 88 and a low near 62.

Saturday should again be sunny and clear with a high around 88 and a low near 62.

Sunday, too, looks to be sunny and clear with a high around 88 and a low near 62.

Monday will likely be sunny and mostly clear with a high around 86 and a low near 61.

Brandon Osife was arrested on suspicion of holding up the Shell gas station earlier this week.

Maricopa Police have released the identity of the last suspect arrested in Monday’s robbery at a Maricopa Shell station.

MPD spokesperson Ricardo Alvarado said 35-year-old Brandon Osife was apprehended around 9:08 a.m. Thursday in an alleyway near Condrey Avenue and Garvey, only two blocks from the scene of the alleged robbery.

Initially MPD was notified of a disturbance in the Edwards Circle area, Alvarado said, the same area where the first robbery suspect, Breon Stephens, was arrested Tuesday.

When police arrived, Osife allegedly fled north past Maricopa High School and toward the railroad tracks, Alvarado said.  The school was then put on lockdown as a precaution.

MPD established a perimeter on the north side of the tracks and, with the help of K-9 units and the Ak-Chin Police Department, successfully located Osife hiding in bushes near garbage bins.

Osife was unarmed and surrendered peacefully, Alvarado said. MPD is still searching for the gun used in the robbery.

Osife is facing possible armed robbery charges, a class 2 felony. If convicted, he could be sentenced to as many as 26 years in prison.

Court records show Osife has previous convictions for assault, endangerment and disorderly conduct (fighting).  If a court deems these offenses to be repetitive, “dangerous offenses,” Osife could face up to 35 years in prison.

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Maricopa Police Department is seeking suspects in an armed robbery at a gas station Monday night. Photo by Mason Callejas

A person of interest in an armed robbery that took place at a Maricopa gas station Monday is now in police custody.

A warrant was served by the Maricopa Police Department in the area of Maricopa High School Tuesday afternoon, around 1:30 p.m., sending the school into lockdown.

MPD spokesperson Daniel Rauch said the warrant was successfully executed and the person of interest was safely taken into custody.

The school was put in lockdown from 1:30-2 p.m., he said, “just as a precaution.”

Detectives are searching for more clues related to the robbery at the location where the first person of interest was apprehended, Rauch said.

A second person of interest is still being sought by MPD in relation to the crime.

Maricopa Police Department is seeking suspects in an armed robbery at a gas station Monday night. Photo by Mason Callejas

Three individuals are being sought in connection with an armed robbery at a Maricopa gas station Monday night.

The Shell Food Mart and Dairy Queen on John Wayne Parkway was robbed Oct. 23, around 10 p.m., by three people, a Shell employee said.

Cashier Bonnie Johns said she was not at work when the incident took place. However, she was called in shortly after the incident to relieve the cashier who was working at the time of the robbery.

Johns said one of the three individuals was armed with a gun.

This is their third armed robbery in as many years, Johns said. She was also not working when the other robberies took place.

“I’ve had a few beer-runs, but nothing like this,” Johns said referring to petty thefts that occur from time to time.

Maricopa Police Department Spokesperson Daniel Rauch confirmed the department received an armed robbery call around 10 p.m. However, as of publication of this article, he was unable to confirm the robbery had occurred at the Shell station.

Roush also confirmed there was a “weapon” involved, though he wouldn’t say what type.

No one was injured, Rauch said.

MPD is reviewing video surveillance footage of the incident, and will release more details as the investigation moves forward.

InMaricopa is continuing to follow this developing story.

Paula Powers (left) and Terri Robinson said it is important to find support at work and other outlets besides family during the fight against cancer. Photo by Mason Callejas

Twelve percent of American women will suffer from breast cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. That’s one in eight.

Though modern treatment has improved the survival rate of most patients to better than 70 percent in the worst cases and near 100 percent in the best cases, the affliction still takes its toll on those diagnosed, and their loved ones.

Now, as the country celebrates Breast Cancer Awareness Month this month, Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino once again rolled out its support for those affected by cancer by hosting events such as their annual Battle of the Bras, and by raising money for cancer research.

However, Harrah’s does more than just support the greater cause, cancer survivor and casino employee Paula “Princess” Powers said.

With nearly 30 percent of the casino’s employees having been diagnosed with cancer at one point or the other, she said, there is a unique network to tap into. Often times, relying on close family and friends as your sole support system can be trying.

“Family is not your [main] support system,” Powers said. “They are, but it’s probably harder on them than it is on you.”

That’s why she and so many others offer support at work, she said.

Powers has been a Harrah’s employee for roughly 10 years. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2012, one week before Thanksgiving. Only six months later, in April 2013, she was declared to be in remission, but that wasn’t the end of it for her, she said.

Now she helps wherever she can.

Paula “Princess” Powers. Phot o by Mason Callejas

Not only does the casino itself provide help to the employees through their collective support, but it also sometimes helps minimize the financial fallout that comes with a cancer diagnosis.

Per their website, the Harrah’s Employee Assistance Relief Trust, or HEART fund, “is designed to provide financial assistance to team members who face an unforeseen crisis, which results in financial hardship.”

One of the recipients of the HEART fund, casino employee Terri Robinson, said the program quickly provided financial assistance that helped her afford the costly drugs used to treat cancer.

“I was told to apply, and it was like that day, or the next morning that I had [their] help,” Robinson said. “In my case, it helped with medical bills and helped start my chemo treatment again.”

Robinson has been a Harrah’s employee for just over three years. Less than a year after coming on board in 2015, she said, she was diagnosed. In February of this year she was finally declared to be in remission.

Having access to a great support network among her co-workers, and surprisingly even some of the guests, has helped tremendously, she said.

“One day, out of the blue, [a guest] asked if I was a survivor, and this was partially covered,” Robinson said as she pointed at the pink ribbon and butterfly tattoo she has on her forearm. “It’s just amazing, the support.”

Terri Robinson. Photo by Mason Callejas

As of the publication of this article, Robinson was awaiting the result of another test which could unfortunately show her cancer has returned. Regardless of the results, she said, she will press on.

“It’s hard to be positive sometimes,” Robinson said. “Princess always asks how I’m doing, or says, ‘Hang in there,’ so when you have somebody else fighting the fight, it helps.”

Both Robinson and Powers said it’s important to not be afraid to reach out and ask for help. But, they said, the No. 1 thing that has helped them was staying positive.

“You have to stay positive,” Powers said. “The slightest amount of negativity and you could fall off.”

Terri Robinson’s cancer-survivor tattoo. Photo by Mason Callejas

Photo by Mason Callejas

After a warm start, temperatures are forecast to begin to drop slightly this week, according to the National Weather Service. Starting off in the high 90s, daily high temperatures could dip to as low as 91 after a couple of breezy days on Tuesday and Wednesday. Nightly lows will sit in the mid- to high-60s throughout the week.

Today looks to be sunny and clear with a high around 98 and a low near 68

Tuesday will likely be sunny, clear and a bit breezy with winds gusting at 15-25 mph while temperatures reach a high around 96 and a low near 66.

Wednesday should also be sunny, clear and a bit breezy with winds gusting 15-20 mph while temperatures reach a high around 92 and a low near 64.

Thursday looks to be sunny and clear with a high around 91 and a low near 63.

Friday will likely also be sunny and clear with a high temperature of around 90 and low temperature near 63.

Terrance & Michael put on a performance to win Battle of the Bras. Photo by Mason Callejas

Male employees at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino put on a show in the annual Battle of the Bras for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Departments again competed to create the most popular, outlandish and hilarious brassieres, using staff from each department as models. Even Ak-Chin Chairman Robert Miguel got into the act as employees created elaborate choreography. For the second year, Terrance & Michael walked away with top prize.

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Photo by Mason Callejas

City Council heard a presentation Tuesday from a private company that claims to be able to help lower utility and maintenance costs by leasing machinery and heavy equipment to the city.

Rick Gibson with Sustainability Partners spoke to council and those in attendance during the work session, calling his organization “the cloud utility.”

“Without using debt, we’re a way for you to pay for what you use more,” Gibson said.

Sustainability Partners offers lease-like service agreements for heavy equipment such as LED lighting, HVAC and irrigation.

The best part, Gibson said, “you only use what you pay for.”

They calculate kilowatt-hour usage and other operating costs to determine the extent of usage and based on that then determine a monthly cost for the equipment.

The agreements are month-to-month with an option to buy out or cancel whenever their customers wish.

To buy out the equipment, Gibson said, a price is calculated that shrinks each year based on usage. After 10 years, customers are given the option to buy out for $1, he added.

Customers are also not bound to the agreement. All have a chance to cancel with a 30-day notice.

Mayor Christian Price suggested to “turn them [Sustainability Partners] loose” on city-owned property to determine if there is something the company can do. Price said he knows there are certain elements within the city’s infrastructure that will soon need to be replaced and this might be a viable option.

Councilmember Henry Wade didn’t disagree with Price, but he reminded council that the city would have to go through the bidding process before any decision could be made.”

“We would have to make sure the playing field is level,” Wade said.

To that, Price said, “We don’t know what we don’t know,” and that by advising the City Manager to look at creating a Request for Proposal so that “it moves the process forward in discovery.”

Council advised city staff to move forward with an RFP and additionally provide council with more information that would help them understand some of the more intricate details of a service like Sustainability Partners.

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Photo by Mason Callejas

City Council voted Tuesday to make an official Arts Committee from the Arts Task Force.

The task force was previously charged with coordinating special art installations in city-owned spaces and will now oversee multiple other aspects including rotating galleries in City Hall and the library as well as promoting the city’s identity through the creation and recognition of icons around the community.

As the committee’s council liaison, Councilmember Peggy Chapados recused herself from the vote, and instead presented the group’s mission statement and newly created policy for art displays.

The Display Policy, Chapados said, will include sales options for artists work.

An economic development mechanism received an updated agreement with the city Tuesday.

During a regular meeting, City Council voted to approve the new $125,000 agreement with the non-profit Maricopa Economic Development Alliance for fiscal year 2017-18.

The agreement is contingent upon several metrics that include MEDA having to maintain its private funding to the tune of $83,000. They also must increase media value by 10 percent and increase online exposure throughout the region.

According to MEDA, the organization will also continue to use online television spots to promote the city and help bolster a positive image and ultimately growth for the city.

Per their mission statement, “The Maricopa Economic Development Alliance (MEDA) organization champions strategies and solutions that foster economic growth and prosperity in the city of Maricopa by bringing together the businesses, government, education and civic sectors to identify and advance forward-looking policies that facilitate investment, growth and workforce development.”

Other goals stated in the agreement include tackling flood plain issues, championing public education, helping prepare “shovel-ready” commercial and industrial property and improving the overall business climate.

MEDA claims to do this in a number of ways, the largest being support for the City of Maricopa’s efforts to bring businesses to the city through “deal-generating.”

MEDA Board Officers:
Chairman – William H. Stacy –– Electric District 3 – general manager
Treasurer – John D. Schurz – Orbitel – president and general manager
Secretary – James F. Kenny – El Dorado Holdings – president

Board Members:
Denyse Airheart – City of Maricopa Economic Development – director
Christian Price – City of Maricopa – mayor
Marvin L. Brown – City of Maricopa – vice mayor
Gregory Rose – City of Maricopa – city manager
Steve Chestnut – Maricopa Unified School District – superintendent
Jennifer Alai – Great Western Bank – Southern Arizona president
Brian C. Bernardo – Banner Health – senior director
Ron Fleming – Global Water – president
Bryan M. Hartman – Santa Cruz Ranch – president
Adam Saks – Ak-Chin Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center – general manager and COO
Bud Walters – Southwest Gas – Supervisor

Advisory Board Member
Lyle Frederickson – Great Western Bank – vice president

MCE Director Quintin Baker was praised by council, but MCE's parent company inspired disappointment.

Maricopa’s local business incubator and its parent company were moved to a month-to-month contract Tuesday, after city council voted to limit the term of the agreement while searching for and possibly transitioning to a new operator.

Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship and its overseer the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NACET) were scrutinized once again as councilmembers, many reluctant to continue with the current arrangement, struggled to make sense of a relationship that itself has struggled to show success.

In a 6-1 vote the council voted to move to the month-to-month agreement, with a six-month maximum, while the city’s Economic Development team prepared a Request for Statement of Qualifications (RSOQ), opening the door for other organizations to potentially operate the incubator.

One such organization –Maricopa Chamber of Commerce – was on hand Tuesday to throw its hat in the ring.

“The chamber, by its nature, stands ready and able to create the necessary programs, as well as enhance other services we currently offer, to start up business here,” Chamber Director Terri Crain told the council.

Though the council couldn’t directly respond to the potential of moving the incubator to the Chamber, all councilmembers did express appreciation for the importance of an incubator in one form or another.

Most, however, stated frustration with the model MCE has followed.

Councilmember Julia Gusse compared MCE with several other incubators in the area. Though they all differ in their structure, one thing they do have in common, she said, was external sponsorship.

“In my opinion, the city shouldn’t be the sole funder of any entrepreneurship program,” Gusse said.

Responding via teleconference, Councilmember Nancy Smith also questioned MCE’s continued reliance on taxpayer dollars, asking, “When are you going to become self-sufficient?”

Quintin Baker is the director at MCE. He said he hopes to see private-sector support at MCE for at least 25 percent in the next six months.

Councilmembers also questioned the resources NACET provides to MCE.

“In my opinion, we haven’t received much,” Gusse simply stated.

Further scrutinizing the resources from NACET, Councilmember Vince Manfredi said, “I think NACET has failed Quintin [Baker]; I think NACET has failed the City of Maricopa.”

Manfredi said he thinks Baker is a “remarkable asset to the city,” and if he could keep him without giving any more money to NACET, he would.

Baker responded saying a personal partnership with the city is something he would look at, but he couldn’t say if it was really any option.

Regardless of the past experience, Councilmember Henry Wade said, the city needs to step back and consider the options that will be presented by the RSOQ.

“I think we need to let the process take its course, and then we will have a very firm understanding about comparing apples to apples, instead of apples to oranges,” Wade said.

Another concern was expressed by Councilmember Peggy Chapados about the affect a shock-therapy type transition would have on the businesses currently under MCE’s umbrella.

“Is it worth it for this council to stick with what we got knowing that we intended to change it somehow so we don’t lose the whole project,” Chapados asked rhetorically.

Baker later said he doesn’t fear what may have come from this decision or any future decisions. To him, it’s all part of being an entrepreneur.

“If it didn’t work out to today, fantastic,” Baker said. “What are we going to try next? Let’s try to break something else, and if you just keep going, it’ll work out.”

Photo by Mason Callejas

As cloud cover and light winds bring forth a chance of rain for Maricopa, daily highs could drop this weekend, according to the National Weather Service. A 10-percent chance of rain on Thursday and mild 15-20 mph winds on Friday and Saturday are likely to keep daily highs in the mid to high 80s this weekend.

Today looks to be mostly sunny with a 10-percent chance of rain while temperatures reach a high around 95 and a nighttime low near 65.

Friday will likely be mostly sunny and a bit breezy with winds gusting between 15-20 mph while temperatures reach a high around 89 and a low near 59.

Saturday should again be mostly sunny and breezy with winds gusting 15-20 mph while temperatures reach a high of around 85 and a low near 59.

Sunday looks to be sunny and clear with a high temperature around 91 and a low near 63.

Monday will likely also be sunny and clear with a high temperature around 95 and a low near 64.