Authors Articles byMason Callejas

Mason Callejas

Mason Callejas
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Photo by Mason Callejas

Skies are forecast to remain mostly clear this week as temperatures continue to keep fall weather at bay, according to the National Weather Service. With highs in the mid-90s, few clouds and only a slight breeze late in the week, Maricopa could be in for another warm week before temperatures marry with the season.

Today looks to be sunny and clear with a high around 96 and an overnight low near 66.

Tuesday will likely be sunny and mostly clear with a high around 96 and a low near 66.

Wednesday should be mostly sunny with some slight cloud cover moving in around early evening with a high around 94 and a low near 65.

Thursday looks to again be mostly sunny with sparse cloud cover, a high around 94 and a low near 64.

Friday will likely be mostly sunny with a slight 15-20 mph wind gusting on and off, a high around 92 and a low near 62.

As the United States, Caribbean Islands and Latin America all struggle to mend wounds inflicted by a recent rash of hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires, many people are searching for a way to help those affected by natural disasters.

Some donate money to the Red Cross or send food and clothes to Goodwill, some pray and others, pick up a shovel, saw or hammer and go to work.

Jim Shoaf of the Maricopa Food Pantry had a vision of doing just that – going to work.

 

 

Organizing a group of volunteers calling themselves Copa Central Command, Shoaf saw what was happening in Texas after Hurricane Harvey and decided to do something. Upon seeing the news coverage of Houston and the devastating floods there, Shoaf turned his attention to Rockport, Texas, where Harvey’s eye had made landfall, an area he thought was receiving minimal attention.

After an extensive donation drive and fundraiser, Copa Central Command left Maricopa on Sept. 26, headed for Rockport.

The group spent ten days clearing debris, cutting downed-trees and manning a disaster relief center.

The experience left a mark not just on the those who received Copa Central Command’s help, but also on the volunteers.

Photo by Mason Callejas

Fall weather will likely avoid Maricopa this weekend, according to the National Weather Service. Despite a chance for moderate 15-20 mph winds moving in on Saturday, clear skies should keep the daily highs in mid-90s until next week.

 Today looks to be sunny and clear with a high temperature of around 95 and a low near 63.

Friday will likely also be sunny and clear with a high around 93 and a low near 61.

Saturday should be sunny, clear and a bit breezy with 15-20 mph winds gusting on and off throughout the day, a high of around 93 and a low near 59.

Sunday looks to be sunny and clear with a high around 95 during the day and a low near 63 at night as a light 15 mph breeze moves in.

Monday will likely also be sunny, clear and a bit breezy with a 15-20 mph wind gusting on and off throughout the day, and a high near 95 and a low near 64.

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa City Council voted Oct. 3 to approve payment of a third-installment for irrigation water at Copper Sky.

The $191,750 credit will supply the city’s recreation complex with 500 acre-feet, or almost 163 million gallons, of non-potable water to help keep fields and landscaping green around Copper Sky.

Interim Parks Director Fred Gray said, though he wasn’t around in 2013 when the first agreement was made, he understands that at the time, Global Water lacked the infrastructure or supply to support their need.

Gila River Water Storage LLC, being more established, agreed to step in and provide the city 1,500 acre-feet, which would last until 2015 when the second agreement was made.

According to the agreement, an initial 1,500 acre-feet would be supplied for the first year, with an additional 500 acre-feet coming each year thereafter. The contract, which is set to expire in 2020, set the initial price at $347 per acre-foot, and then increases that number by roughly $20 dollars a year until that expiration date.

When the contract does expire, the city will have paid out just over $1.5 million to Gila River.

At that point, Gray said, the city should open up the bidding process to potentially allow Global Water to gain the business.

“My guess, based on my experience with municipal governments, is that we would be required to look at other options at that point, based on the amount of money that we would be spending,” Gray said.

Being a six-year contract, he added, the city should most likely start looking at those options sometime in the fifth year – 2019.

“If I were going to be the long-term guy, that’s what I would recommend,” Gray said.

Global Water was recently granted a zoning change and permit to move forward with a plant expansion they say will allow them to supply another potential 11,000 customers. It is, however, unclear at this point if the utility plans to seek out the city’s business when the contract does expire.

Willie Lofton (PCSO photo)

A Maricopa teen has been arrested on several charges stemming from alleged assaults at Copper Sky earlier this month, after which videos were posted on social media allegedly showing him bragging about the incident.

Maricopa Police arrested 19-year-old Willie Lofton Oct. 7 on charges of assault, aggravated assault and criminal damage after allegedly starting multiple fights at Copper Sky on Oct. 4 and Oct. 5.

The first incident, according to MPD reports, occurred around 10 p.m. Oct. 4 when Lofton allegedly struck another individual in the face causing a concussion and multiple abrasions.

The MPD report alleges Lofton admitted assaulting the male individual after the victim said to Lofton, “Don’t stand by me like we cool.”

The following day, Oct. 5, at 11:15 a.m., multiple videos were posted to Lofton’s Facebook page allegedly showing Lofton bragging about the incidents while pointing out blood stains on the concrete near what appears to the be the Copper Sky skate park, and additional blood stains on his shoes.

The person filming, who police believe to be Lofton, can be heard saying “this is what I do for a living, knocking n—- out.”

The second incident also allegedly occurred at Copper Sky, roughly 11 hours after the videos were posted.

This time, according to the MPD report, Lofton allegedly began fighting several people at the park, striking one individual in the back of the head and then throwing “landscaping rocks” at a car as it drove away, causing damage to the vehicle.

According to multiple witnesses, the report says, Lofton then allegedly pulled a handgun from his waistband, pointed it at a group of people and told them “he was going to kill them all.”

When police responded, Lofton fled the scene with several of his associates.

Two days later, on Oct. 7, information obtained during the investigation led to Lofton’s arrest. During a post-arrest interview, the reports says, Lofton allegedly admitted to both incidents.

He was ultimately arrested on warrants related to theft and marijuana possession, and charged with two counts of assault (class 1 misdemeanors), one count of aggravated assault (class 2 felony) and one count of criminal damage.

If convicted, Lofton could face up to 21 years in prison.

He is currently being held on a $13,500 bond at the Pinal County Adult Detention Center, and is awaiting a bond hearing on Oct. 13.

Photo by Anita McLeod

It’s that time of the year again, when Maricopans get dressed up, act goofy and mingle with the community. No, not Halloween. It’s the Maricopa Mud Run.

IF YOU GO
What: Maricopa Mud Run
When: Oct. 28, 7 a.m.
Where: Copper Sky Regional Park, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
How Much: $25 to $45
Info: maricopa-az.gov/web/mud-run

This year the run comes with a few changes that should have everyone’s inner-child running wild.

The first, and arguably the most important, change is the theme. This year, all challengers are being asked to “awaken your inner hero” by dressing up as their favorite superhero.

A contest will be hosted prior to the run. The best dressed team or individual will walk away with event swag, and adults and teenagers who finish the race in their costume earn a limited addition Mud Run Cape and T-shirt.

Kids who finish the Mini-Copa Mud Run will get “an awesome bag of treats.”

The course itself is undergoing changes, too, including new obstacles.

Mud Run organizer Matthew Reiter said the course is shorter, but participants will have to complete two filthy, inner-hero-awakening, zip-line gliding, ego-boosting laps. (Kids running the Mini-Copa Mud Run will complete one lap.) Competitors will also be grouped by age and sent off in heats to “help make things a little more evenly matched.”

Photo by Victor Moreno

Reiter also tweaked the Mayor’s Challenge: “This year we decided we want to see more teamwork and community in this event, so we made the Mayor’s Challenge a two-person team challenge.”

Any two-person team that beats the time set by Mayor Christian Price and his “highly motivated” mystery partner will win commemorative coins.

Parks Manager and Mud Run co-organizer Mike Riggs said the 20 or so obstacles will include a few new surprises this year, including obstructions dubbed “Chill-out” and “Plenty of Fish.”


This story appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Anita McLeod

Photo by Mason Callejas

After a windy start, the week should be mostly sunny and clear for Maricopa, according to the National Weather service. While high-temperatures hang in the mid to low-90s, winds are likely to gust up to 35 mph on and off Monday and Tuesday with skies remaining sunny and clear.

Today (Indigenous Peoples Day, Columbus Day) will likely be sunny, clear a bit windy with gusts from 25-35 mph, a high around 87 and a low near 61.

Tuesday looks to again be sunny, clear and a bit breezy with a 15-25 mph wind blowing on and off throughout the day, a high around 90 and a low near 65.

Wednesday should be sunny and clear with a high around 95 and a low near 61.

Thursday will likely be sunny and clear with a high around 93 and a low near 60.

Friday looks to also be sunny and clear with a high around 93 and a low near 58.

By Aaron Gilbert

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

What is fish oil? Fish oil is, well, oil from fish.

It’s rich in two groups of omega-3 fatty acids known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA and EPA, along with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in things like flax and walnuts, fall under the subheading of omega-3 fatty acids.

EPA and DHA are often cited as being the beneficial components of fish oil. EPA and DHA originate in algae, which is the base of the food chain for fish. Fish consume algae and thus concentrate high amounts of the beneficial fats.

Why is fish oil so important?

Overall health

Omega-3’s are very important to cardiovascular function, nervous system function and brain development, and immunity health. Research shows low DHA consumption (and blood levels) is associated with memory loss, difficulty concentrating, Alzheimer’s disease and mood problems.

Cell membranes

Essential fats play an integral role in promoting cell health. Human cells have a fatty membrane (lipid bilayer) that is semi-permeable. It regulates what gets into the cell and what goes out of it. The fluidity of cell membranes depends on the fatty acid composition of the diet.

Metabolic health

Finally, DHA and EPA can increase metabolism by increasing levels of enzymes that boost calorie-burning ability.

Omega-3 to omega-6 ratio

It’s easy for us to get omega-6 fatty acids. These are found in plant oils and factory-raised animals, which are fed a lot of corn and soy.

But it’s hard for people in western countries to get omega-3 fats from dietary sources. We eat a lot more processed foods and a lot less wild game and plants than our ancestors did. And we don’t usually eat things like snails and insects, which are also high in omega-3, like are common in diets elsewhere in the world. We rely heavily now on omega-6 vegetable oils.

What you should know

We can’t make omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in our bodies, so we need to get them from our diets.

Recommendations

  1. Aim for 3-9 daily grams of total fish oil (about 1-3 grams of EPA + DHA) per day from a supplement company that doesn’t contribute directly to the depletion of fish (e.g., they use primarily fish discards).
  2. Look for small-fish-based formulations (e.g. herring, mackerel). Small fish are lower on the food chain and less likely to accumulate environmental toxins. Or choose krill oil or algae oil.
  3. Avoid cod liver oil.
  4. Avoid trans fats; they can interfere with EPA & DHA in the body.
  5. Limit consumption of corn, cottonseed and sunflower oil (omega-6-rich vegetable oils), which negatively alter your fatty acid ratio.

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, is founder/owner of Longevity Athletics.

520-261-4661; Aaron@LongevityAthletics.com


This column appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

Little has changed in the commuter traffic on State 347 of 10 years ago (left) and today.

Pinal County residents will have the opportunity to vote in November to approve a sales tax funding infrastructure improvements across the county.

For Maricopa, it could mean several direct improvements including additional lanes on major roads, including State Route 347, the securing of a right-of-way for the future Interstate 11 corridor, and public transportation expansion.

Proposition 417 would fund these projects with a half-cent county transportation excise (sales) tax. The revenue from Prop 417 would provide funding to the updated Regional Transportation Plan – Proposition 416 – which voters will also have the chance to approve in November.

The first phase of the transportation plan includes measures to widen State Route 347 to six lanes north of Maricopa and to create an “East-West Corridor” by widening Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and Val Vista Road to four lanes.

Revenue from Prop 417, which officials are estimating to be $641 million over its 20-year lifespan, will be exacted on any business transaction involving the sale of “tangible personal property” in Pinal County.

There is, however, a limitation built into the tax.

The 0.5 percent tax would only be applied to the first $10,000 of income from any given item.

For example, if you purchase a car for $12,000, $2,000 of that would not be subject to the tax since a vehicle is considered a singular item. If you purchase another vehicle for $10,000 and then add $2,000 worth of accessories all $12,000 would be subject to the tax since additions are typically considered separate items.

Maricopa City Councilmember Nancy Smith said she rarely supports tax increases, but she will consider it if it meets three criteria: A rigid timeline, voter approval and specified purpose.

Smith said she supports both Propositions 416 and 417.

“I can’t help but say we have to stand up and help ourselves and apply this half-cent tax, which is equivalent to $88 per family per year,” Smith said.

Pinal County Public Works Director Andrew Smith said it’s important to note these issues will be on a special mail-in ballot only. Last year, he said, when the issue was first poised to be on the ballot, there was some concern with the length of the ballot given the nature of the general election and all the other propositions it contained.

Supporters are working against a “no new taxes” mindset among several Maricopans as well as cynicism about the cooperation of Maricopa County and Gila River Indian Community in widening SR 347 all the way to I-10.

Andrew Smith said he appreciates the concerns specific communities have about the tax and transportation plan and how it affects them directly. However, they should have a macro view of this plan, which will improve the quality of life for everyone who does business, has a job, owns property or lives in Pinal County.

“Try and look at it as a resident of Pinal County,” Andrew Smith said.  “How do you get around? You do go to Maricopa County, you do go to Pima county, so this establishes a regional plan that will enhance the whole county and improve economic development.”

On a much longer timeline, the transportation plan is further considering the potential path of Interstate 11, which Pinal County hopes to bring into its boundaries, just west of Maricopa. Revenue from the tax will help preserve county rights-of-way in the area that could eventually give Maricopa direct access to the major highway.

“What I like about that being on the RTA is that it says our county is looking to influence I-11 and where it comes,” Nancy Smith said. “If we don’t have the money to secure the purchase of right-of way, then our chances become much slimmer at becoming part of that road, so I love that we’re planning ahead in that aspect.”

The Regional Transportation Plan also includes measures to improve public transportation by funding rapid transit services and expanding current transit services such as Park and Ride, Dial-A-Ride and Maricopa’s COMET.

Eligible voters should automatically receive ballots by mail. Voters can confirm they are on the mailing list by calling  the Pinal County Elections Office at 520-866-7550.

http://cagaz.org/RTA/documents/PRTA_Brochure_ReadOnly.pdf


This story appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

In attempt to boost economic growth in Maricopa, the city’s Economic Development team is again initiating it’s city-wide Bingo game to encourage Maricopa residents to spend more money locally.

In a presentation to council Tuesday, Economic Development specialist Mary Wolf-Francis said the importance of shopping local is multifaceted.

By shopping local, she said, it supports the local economy, builds a strong community and encourages entrepreneurship.

Perhaps most importantly, she said, by spending money at a hardware store or restaurant in Maricopa, the increase in city and county tax revenue directly benefits the residents of Maricopa. Equally, the income itself then turns around and can be spent at other local shops and restaurants, further bolstering job creation and economic growth.

“As those businesses grow and thrive,” Wolf-Francis said, “they are going to hire more local talent, and create more wealth in the city.”

One of the biggest problems in Maricopa, economically speaking, is the competition from businesses elsewhere in the valley. In a recent community survey, Wolf-Francis said, Maricopa residents do more of their retail shopping in Chandler than in Maricopa.

And it’s not just about shopping locally, but shopping at locally-owned businesses, she said.

Citing a national study from Local First Arizona, Wolf-Francis said for every $100 spent at a locally-owned business, $27 leaves the community. Whereas with a business which is not locally owned, $57 dollars leaves the community.

With national retailers, the number jumps to almost $86 dollars leaving the community. For Maricopa, she said, that leakage has reached a total of nearly $369 million for the 2017 fiscal year.

With over 900 businesses in Maricopa, Wolf-Francis said, residents shouldn’t have a tough time finding the things they need in Maricopa.

The game, which started Oct. 4, runs until Dec. 27, and is simple to participate in. Shop at local vendors across 24 industries and get your card stamped to become eligible for prizes.

A single line of five stamps is one entry. A “Black Out” counts as five entries and puts you in the running for the “Black Out” prize.

Drawings occur every week and include gifts and gift cards of at least a $50 value from local businesses. On the last day of the game, a grand prize valued at $250 will be given away, along with the “Black Out” prize that has not yet been determined.

“The icons on the card are industry icons, not specific businesses,” Wolf-Francis said. “So, there’s a little bit of flexibility in how we’re able to get people to get their stamps.”

Bingo cards can be picked up or dropped off at Copper Sky, Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship, Maricopa Chamber of Commerce, City Hall, Central Arizona College, Maricopa High School, Province and the Maricopa Public Library.

For more information on participating vendors, or to download a Copa Bingo card, check out the Copa Bingo website.

2016 was the fifth year Maricopans gathered for a Getting Arizona Involved in Neighborhoods (GAIN) event. Submitted photo

Maricopa Police Department is hoping to take advantage of fall weather to get residents more involved in the community and, by doing so, making Maricopa a safer place for all.

Submitted photo

MPD is participating in the Oct. 28 statewide event GAIN – Getting Arizona Involved in Neighborhoods.

The majority of the country celebrates a similar event in August called National Night Out. However, those familiar with Arizona weather in early August know it’s not the best time to be having outdoor, community gatherings.

Arizona’s solution to beating the heat is to hold another event – GAIN – in the fall.

MPD volunteer and GAIN organizer Christine Fuller said 2017 marks Maricopa’s sixth year participating in the event designed to help neighbors become more familiar with one another.

“The idea is to get citizens to help with being the eyes and ears for the police department,” Fuller said. “People should know, if you see something say something.”

If you know your neighbors, she added, then you more or less know who is supposed to be around and who isn’t.

The program asks neighborhoods to set up block parties or HOA-sponsored events that include members of city government, law enforcement and emergency services.

They typically bring their big, shiny, fire trucks and police cars to show off to the kids at the mobile meet-and-greet.

This year, likely dignitaries include Mayor Christian Price, City Manager Gregory Rose and Police Chief Steve Stahl.

GAIN parties can go on for as long as they’d like. However, those expecting a visit should plan to receive it between 2-7 p.m. Some parties include competitions like Province’s Marshmallow-Golf Ball driving contest, while others embrace the spirit of Halloween.

There are no minimum requirements for the event, Fuller said. Parties can be as small as three or four houses, or as large as an entire subdivision.

All MPD asks is you register by Oct. 15 so your neighborhood will be added to the list of stops. If you don’t register by that time, Fuller said, it’s alright. Host the party and get to know your neighbors, and still contact MPD in case a spot opens.

Contact MPD Public Affairs Specialist Ricardo Alvarado at ricardo.alvarado@maricopa-az.gov to register.


This story appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

Submitted photo

Arizona Wood Grinding & Recycling location

The Maricopa City Council approved another conditional use permit (CUP) Tuesday, this time for a wood-grinding company that happens to sit next door to the planned private racetrack Apex.

The company – Arizona Wood Grinding and Recycling – leases the 6.4 acres on the northeast corner of Ralston Road and State Route 238. And despite the legal dilemma born out of the CUP granted to Private Motorsports Group, Apex’s parent company, the property owner decided to follow the same route.

“They were informed of what was going on in the Apex litigation,” city attorney Dennis Fitzgibbons said. “The property owner was given an opportunity to decide which way they wanted to proceed, and so they chose to proceed this way.”

Multiple courts, including the Arizona Supreme Court, ultimately sided with the city and Private Motorsports Group, saying the property owners’ right to utilize an older county code is a vested property right.

The same legal argument, established by precedent, also protects the owner of the land that Arizona Wood Grinding and Recycling sits on.

As for the business itself, Director of Development Services Martin Scribner said, it fulfills a need.

“A lot of the product that’s coming out of there is from local landscape refuse,” Scribner said. “So, we’ve got a local need that’s being taken care of by a local company.”

The wood-grinding process the company uses, according to their application, is a low-impact process that “does not include any added chemicals or manure.”

Aside from the wood chips themselves, the application says, only water is used “to control dust and darken the material.”

Any other potential nuisance such as smell or sound is negligible, Scribner said.

“It’s out there away from all the residential properties,” he said.

The Apex lawsuit, which attorneys for Apex believe came about out of opposition from another racetrack planning construction near Casa Grande, did see some opposition in the early stages of the permitting process.

The city doesn’t foresee any similar opposition to this CUP.

“We didn’t have any opposition at the public hearing, P&Z meeting or council,” Scribner said.

Photo by Mason Callejas

Looks like clear and sunny skies for Maricopa this weekend, according to the National Weather Service. Though winds will pick up some on Sunday evening, temperatures will stay out of the triple digits during the day and could possibly dip as low as 58 at night.

Today looks to be sunny and clear with a high around 99 and low near 65.

Friday will likely also be sunny and clear with a high around 99 and a low near 59.

Saturday should again be sunny and clear with a high around 97 and a low near 58.

Sunday is forecast to be sunny, clear and a bit breezy with a high around 97, a low near 60 and winds picking up to around 15-20 mph in the evening.

Monday (Columbus Day) will likely be sunny, clear and mostly calm with a high around 91 and a low near 58.

An example of a house being used as a business and not necessarily a home.

City officials revealed a plan at Tuesday’s City Council meeting that could allow homes in the Heritage District to more freely be used as small businesses.

“What we’re trying to achieve here is that you don’t have to live in the home anymore to consider it to have a business in there.” — Rudy Lopez

The “Adaptive Reuse” Plan, Maricopa senior planner Rudy Lopez said, will allow for homes with fewer than 5,000 square-feet to operate “low-impact professional office or appointment base business [sic].”

Examples of potential “mixed-use” uses are insurances offices, accounting offices, hair salons, barber shops and coffee shops.

“A lot of cities across the metro Phoenix area, and even Pinal County as well, are using this type of tool to reinvest within older portions of town,” Lopez said.

As part of the Adaptive Reuse plan, the city will streamline the permitting process by modifying parking, landscaping and mechanical-screening standards allowing for minor developments to support the businesses.

The current city code, Lopez said, already makes room for “home occupation.”

“What we’re trying to achieve here is that you don’t have to live in the home anymore to consider it to have a business in there,” Lopez said.

This allows for the property to possibly even be leased to another small business without anyone living at the property.

“The biggest thing we are trying to get out is that business can now have signage,” He said. “They can expose their business.”

These types of businesses would still have to abide by nuisance regulations that prevent sight obstruction, loud noise and harsh smells.

Examples of other cities doing similar things are Phoenix, Chandler and Gilbert.

Council will likely vote on the matter in the coming weeks.

Heritage District map

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Enrique Gomez speaks to Maricopa City Council on behalf of the Mexican Consulate. Photo by Mason Callejas

Representatives from the Mexican consulate appeared before the Maricopa City Council Tuesday, presenting information about the consulate and their role in the state and nation.

Answering an invitation by Councilmember Henry Wade, Deputy Consulate Enrique Gomez spoke on behalf of Consul Ricardo Pineda, highlighting statistics on Mexican nationals and immigrants in the United States and the programs offered to them and the community as a whole.

“Mexico has 50 consulates in the United States,” Gomez said. “It’s the largest consular network that one country has into another one.”

Five of those consulates are located in Arizona: Yuma, Nogales, Douglas, Tucson and Phoenix. The reason for having five, Gomez said, is because of three things: population, trade and immigration.

In Arizona, 27.3 percent of the population is of Hispanic origin. In Tucson that number is just over 40 percent of the population.

Mexico also trades more with Arizona than they do with all of Central America combined, Gomez said. Likewise, 40 percent of Arizona’s exports go to Mexico.

Because of this, the consulate offers numerous resources and programs for Mexicans abroad through legal assistance, and advice on labor, criminal, and administrative issues.

Other large programs are offered through the Institute for Mexicans Abroad – Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior – or IME.

“[The IME] promotes strategies and programs to help Mexican communities living and working abroad to integrate and maintain contact with their countries of origin,” Gomez said.

The program offers education, community development and health and wellness advice and services.

The consulate, Gomez said, also works within the academic world, tracking advanced studies and networking with and connecting researchers all across the globe.

Locally, Gomez said, the consulate works with state and local governments and law enforcement agencies in both Pinal and Pima Counties, including Customs and Border Patrol and sheriffs offices in both counties.

Councilmember Julia Gusse asked Gomez if the consulate did much to work with undocumented immigrants who may be afraid to report crimes, given their status.

The consulate, Gomez said, understands their frustration and works with local law enforcement agencies so people may understand what their rights. He said he would be happy to work with the city of Maricopa to have the same discussion.

However, he said, “if there is ever any [criminal] issue, people should always collaborate with the authorities.”

In addition to these lesser-known services, he said, the consulate also provides typical passport and Matrícula services to Mexican nationals, and visa services to U.S. citizens looking to travel, study or work in Mexico.

For more information on Tucson’s Mexican Consulate and the services offered visit their website.

 

The Maricopa City Council voted Tuesday to sign a lease on behalf of a local small-business incubator, extending its ability to function despite uncertainty about the city’s contract with the incubator’s parent organization.

Voting 5-1 in favor of the move, the city signed the 12-month lease with Transition Investments giving the Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship the ability to operate for another year in their current offices.

Councilmember Julia Gusse cast the lone vote against the measure, despite personally benefiting from the programs offered by the MCE.

Gusse said she was reluctant to put the city on the hook for $2,232 a month – $26,793 a year – given that the city has not yet extended its contract with MCE’s parent organization – the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.

“My son is going to go to ASU,” Gusse said. “I’m not going to get his room, I’m not going to get his classes scheduled, I’m not going to get anything unless he’s actually been accepted to the university.”

With this lease, the city will be the signatory, Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart said, as opposed to the past when NACET signed the lease. However, she said, the lease would be paid for out of the $200,000 grant MCE receives on behalf of the city.

MCE’s lease expired Sept. 30, Airheart said, so they would have to be out as soon as possible.

The organization was given an extension by the property owner to allow time for the city to decide on the matter.

Airheart further stressed the importance of the incubator, emphasizing its role as one of the three legs of the city’s economic development plan. The space, she said, would be under control of the city, which would allow them to sublease in the event the contract with NACET was not extended.

Mayor Christian Price agreed it’s better to have the space and not need it, than need it and not have it.

“We’re covering our rear-ends, so to speak,” Price said.

To be clear, Gusse’s vote against the measure was not out of disdain for the organization, she said. However, she thought it would be premature without a decision on the extension of the NACET contract.

The contract extension with the incubator will likely be decided on in the near future.

Neighbors gathered in The Villages for a Monday presentation by Maricopa Fire/Medical Department after a house fire. Photo by Mason Callejas

The average response time for a Maricopa fire truck is 4-6 minutes.

Maricopa Fire/Medical Department held a fire safety presentation Monday at a home in the Villages that was partially burned by a fire last week. Against the backdrop of the charred home, the department emphasized the importance of planning and early-alert systems, such as having evacuation plans, functioning smoke alarms and not being afraid to call as early as possible.

Speaking at the event, Battalion Chief Ken Pantoja stressed the importance of alerting the fire department as soon as possible. Given that fires can double in size every minute, the earlier the call comes in, the better, he said.

A rise in plastics and synthetic materials in everyday items such as carpets, furniture and appliances has accelerated the speed at which fire moves, he said.

“When I first started, we had about 20 minutes to fight a fire,” Pantoja said. “Now, we have 6-8 minutes.”

MFMD Public Information Officer Brad Pitassi additionally emphasized the importance of calling 911 earlier.

They, like most modern fire departments, have real-time information given to them, he said. When a caller alerts 911 dispatchers to the location of a trapped family member or details about the fire, they immediately send that information to the responding firefighters, giving them an edge when combating the blaze.

For the most part, Assistant Chief John Storm said, the fire was contained to one portion of the house due to the rapid communication between dispatchers and responders. Within 35 seconds the first truck was en route, and five minutes and 36 second later they were on scene.

Firefighters were able to use the real-time information relayed to them by dispatch to quickly react when they arrived.

The Professor was the only injury in the fire, needing oxygen from MFMD afterward.

Three out of every five fatalities that occur due to fire, Pitassi said, happen in buildings without smoke detectors.

“If you check your batteries, if you make sure your detectors are working and efficient and in the right position, you’re going to cut your chances of dying in a house fire by 50 percent,” Pitassi said. “Go home and check your alarms, please.”

MFMD officials also emphasized the importance of having a safe meeting place for your family to go during a fire, preferably on the opposite side of the street, away from the fire and out of the way of first responders.

They also suggested keeping trees and hedges trimmed so they are less likely to act as a catalyst for a fire, limiting its ability to spread from house to house.

The fire in the Villages only injured one victim, a dog named Professor who was successfully treated for minor injuries and smoke inhalation. Pantoja said MFMD received a grant a while ago that also allows them to treat animals with oxygen and other minor injuries.

MFMD Fire Marshal Eddie Rodriguez said the exact cause of the blaze has yet to be determined.


Joycelyn Cabrera contributed to this article.

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Photo by Mason Callejas

After a cool start to autumn, daily highs could reach into the triple digits, according to the National Weather Service. With clear, calm and dry skies hanging over Maricopa, summer-like temperatures could reach as high as 100 on Friday.

Today looks to be sunny and clear with a high temperature around 91 during the day and a low near 65 at night.

Tuesday will likely be sunny and mostly clear with a high temperature around 94 during the day and a low near 67 at night.

Wednesday should also be sunny and mostly clear with a high temperature around 97 during the day and a low near 69 at night.

Thursday looks to be sunny and mostly clear with a high temperature around 98 during the day and a low near 70 at night.

Friday will likely be sunny and clear with a high temperature around 100 during the day and a low temperature near 71 at night.

Photo by Mason Callejas

Putting on my volunteer hat, I walked through the open doorway of the hurricane-ravaged Salt Lake Baptist Church in Rockport, Texas, looking for resources to help someone in need.

The tattered, blue tarp covering a hole in the ceiling and a portion of the wall fluttered in the South Texas wind, kicking up particles of insulation and dust that twinkled as they crossed broken beams of light pouring in through grimy, mud-covered windows.

The pews had been removed and replaced with shelves and boxes of food, toiletries and cleaning products. The pulpit was entirely absent. Where a church elder would likely have stood on Sunday morning, a woman sat at a folding card table with a spiral notebook and a few pens with which the church kept track of those who received goods.

At first not looking toward the doorway, the woman eventually turned in her set and smiled when she realized I was standing there.

“Howdy,” I said overplaying my Texas roots.

I explained I was a reporter from Arizona following a group of volunteers from the Phoenix area. I told her someone who had requested our help was looking for equipment to help demolish his house, which had been overtaken by mold.

She thought for a moment and shrugged as she shook her head side to side, eventually saying, “No, sorry.”

“But,” she said, “that’s great you’re doing this. I once lived in Coolidge.”

I immediately asked her name, to which she somewhat persistently only replied with her first name –Sheila.

About 40 years ago, she said, she trained and worked in a psychiatric hospital near Florence.

It was only a brief time – three years or so – but she recalled it well. We talked briefly about Casa Grande, desert sunsets, dryer climates and the many places she lived in her time between Arizona and Texas.

She offered to take our information and if she happened to find anyone with equipment to lend, she would call.

I then asked if I could take her picture. She declined.

However, she said, the pews which had been removed from the chapel were lined up outback, and those might make for a good picture.

I smiled, thanked her and left through the twinkling dust particles in the doorway.

I walked across the barren parking lot, back to the truck of Judge Lyle Riggs and his wife Veean, who at the time had been acting as escorts for Maricopa Monitor reporter Bethany Blundell and myself.

To the south, I saw the pews.

They were pushed together tightly, covered in mud and grass, some still with Bibles and hymnals stuffed into the compartments on the backs.

I retrieved my camera from the Judge’s truck and snapped a few shots of the desolate scene.

I didn’t linger for longer than necessary, took five or six shots, returned to the truck and we went about our day looking for others to help.

I’m not a religious man, but now, looking at those images, I can’t help feeling something powerful.

Though I didn’t get to photograph her, Sheila presented me the opportunity to capture these striking images. Within them lies a subtle yet direct reflection of humankind’s inevitable fight against nature, and for that I will always be thankful for her guidance.

Jim Shoaf and Mike Connelly. Photo by Mason Callejas

Follow InMaricopa’s Mason Callejas, “embedded” with Copa Central Command on its trip to Rockport, Texas,  bringing supplies to victims of Hurricane Harvey. Learn about who’s in the volunteer convoy and what they are encountering as they deliver goods donated by Maricopans. Follow the story on InMaricopa’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


Oct. 1, Houston, Texas

After a connecting flight via Houston and a subsequent three-hour delay, at last I’m settling into my cramped seat in this steamy airplane on my way back to Phoenix. In this moment, I cannot help but recall the past six days and feel humbled.

Photo by Mason Callejas

For nearly a week I’ve been embedded with the Copa Central Command team on their mission to provide Hurricane Harvey relief in Rockport, Texas, and the experience has revealed a unique and benevolent side of the city of Maricopa.

The city, the state and the entirety of our species should be proud of the collective human spirit that spread its feathers in the weeks after Harvey battered the Texas coastline in late August. And now, Maricopa is part of that in a big way.

By carefully observing both the volunteers and victims in Rockport, it became brutally apparent to me that in situations such as these, there truly is no full-proof or perfect response. Resources are spread thin on all avenues, and despite the efforts of so many, people are still scrambling to rebuild their lives.

Now, as Floridians rebuild after Hurricane Irma’s wrath, and citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands suffer in the wake of that and other hurricanes, volunteers must pick and choose their battles.

For the next 5 days, Copa Central Command will continue to fight their battle in Texas. However, the group’s leader Jim Shoaf hopes their limited abilities will soon expand. The group, he said, “God willing,” will grow into something that can provide relief for other disaster areas both near and far.


 

 

Photo by Mason Callejas

Sept. 30, Rockport, Texas

After the first three days of labor intensive debris and tree removal, unloading donations from semi trailers and coordinating relief efforts, Maricopa volunteers are passing out BBQ sandwiches and water to residents and other volunteers.

 


Gail Dye. Photo by Mason Callejas
 Sept. 29, Rockport, Texas
Gail Dye is a former Arizona resident who for the past two decades has called Rockport home. Her humble life in this seaside Texas town was turned upside down as a result of Harvey’s destruction. “I lost everything,” she said. “But, in a strange way, its an opportunity. If you made it [through the hurricane], it’s a chance to start over.” Like many here, this new chapter in her life has been trying. On this day, she searched through pallets of donated pet food so she can feed her dog, a 7-year-old boxer who had a stroke as a result of the noise and chaos brought by the storm. The dog is recovering well, as is she. But times are tough, money is thin and every little thing helps, she said. Every dollar she saves on dog food is one dollar more she can spend toward making the best of this opportunity.

Sept. 28, Rockport, Texas

Twenty-nine-year-old Maricopa resident, father of two and Navy veteran Mike Connelly volunteered for the trip to Rockport. While clearing debris for a man who’s home was declared a total loss, Mike and another volunteer found an American flag buried under the rubble. As any current or former service member should, Connelly properly folded, carried and stored the colors that he has vowed to defend. “That’s my flag,” he said. “I signed a blank check, up to and including my life, for that flag.”

 

 

 

 


Lyle Riggs. Photo by Mason Callejas

Sept. 28, Rockport, Texas

Pictured right: The Judge, Lyle Riggs, gets his hands dirty moving debris for a family who lost multiple houses to Harvey’s wrath.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictured Left: Representing Maricopa, the Honorable Lyle Riggs and his wife Veean are in Rockport to lend a hand!

Veean and Lyle Riggs. Photo by Mason Callejas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Photo by Mason Callejas

Sept. 27, Rockport Texas

Stan Ballantine has been a Case Mitigation Specialist with FEMA for nearly two decades. His primary job is to make sure people have their aid-paperwork in order.

In terms of damage caused and people displaced, he said, he believes Hurricane Harvey is a close second to Hurricane Katrina. Ballantine was on the ground in Louisiana in 2005 soon after Katrina.


 

Jim Shoaf. Photo by Mason Callejas

Sept. 27, 12 p.m. (central)

The first wave of Copa Central Command is on the ground in Rockport, Texas! Donations and more volunteers are set to arrive within the hour. Service should begin early this evening or first thing tomorrow morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Travis Kuriger. Photo by Mason Callejas

Sept. 27, 11 a.m. (central)

Barely 24 hours into the excursion, the convoy has suffered one shredded tire, almost two, and had clothes, bibles and other personal effects soaked in the West Texas rain. But, the trials haven’t swayed the optimism of 20-year-old volunteer Travis Kuriger. After a little help from a blow dryer, the important stuff was saved Kuriger said. “It was hell. Things got a little wet, but that’s life,” he said.
Kuriger just wants to get to work and do his part to help the world at large. “We’re all a part of it [the world] in some way, we’re all family in the end.”

 

 

 


Sept. 27, 12:50 a.m. (central)

 


Sept. 26, 11 p.m. (central)

 


Volunteer George Sopi. Photo by Mason Callejas

Sept. 26, 4:30 p.m.

The main objective of Copa Central Command’s convoy is to help. But, for some on the team, that help is a two-way road. “I’m finding myself,” 27-year-old George Sopi said. “You find yourself when you help someone in need. You can’t find yourself when all you do is think about yourself.” Sopi also sees this as an opportunity to represent Maricopa, and Arizona, and to show how people should all take care of one another regardless of the borders and distance between them. “You get what you give,” he said.

 

 


Sept. 26, 11 a.m. – Departure Day

 

 

 

 

Scott Kelly (left) and Bob Marsh are running an amicable campaign for a seat on the Maricopa Flood Control District Board.

A local flood control authority is reconciling changes to state election laws as its October special-election approaches Wednesday.

The Maricopa Flood Control District is holding a special election Oct. 4 to fill the seat of board member Owen Kelly, whose term is expiring this year. However, recent changes to election regulations are already having a bearing on the outcome.

Prior to Jan. 1, 2016, it was acceptable for representatives of businesses and trusts who own land in the flood protection district to cast ballots in those special elections. Now, the law has changed to allow only property owners to cast ballots.

As a result of the changes, the MFCD states, “representatives of trusts, corporations, partnerships and estates that owned property within the district became ineligible to vote in district elections.”

Likewise, only members of the eligible electorate are allowed to run for positions on the board. This means Kelly, as a non-property owner, is not allowed to defend his seat.

“It’s complicated,” said Dan Frank, president of MFCD. “I’m not happy about it. My property is in trust, and I can’t vote in this election even though I am president of the board.”

Candidates for Kelly’s seat are Scott Kelly and Bob Marsh.

MCFD Manager David Alley is concerned about how the limitations are potentially disenfranchising people who pay property taxes, whether through a trust or business, who are now ineligible to vote.

“If you own property in the town, you’re supporting the flood district through your property taxes so you should be able to vote and you should be able to run,” Alley said.

The change happened, Alley said, because a law that guaranteed those types of taxpayers the right to vote expired and state lawmakers didn’t have to forethought to replace it.

Alley said the district is in the process of coordinating with other flood control authorities and state legislators to get the law fixed before the next election cycle in 2019.

The decision is a “no-brainer,” he said alluding to the fact that he couldn’t foresee any opposition to a legislative fix. But, he added, “you never know, because with politics anything can happen.”

2017 Voting Requirements  

  1. You must be a registered voter in Arizona.
  2. You must own property within MFCD boundaries, and your individual name must be listed on the property deed.
  3. The taxes on that property must be paid and current.
  4. Ballots can be cast in person Oct. 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the clubhouse at Villages at Rancho El Dorado, 20991 N. Butterfield Parkway.

MaricopaFCD.com

 

Meet the Candidates

Scott Kelly

Occupation: Senior design engineer at Electrical District No. 3

Years in Maricopa: 49

Why are you running for this office? My interest in the vacant seat on the Maricopa Flood Control District Board stems from a genuine interest in future development in the Maricopa area both personally and professionally. My position at ED3 is directly related to residential and commercial progress. It would be of great value for me to have knowledge and participation with on-going expansion.

What in your background qualifies you for this office? I am a lifelong resident of Maricopa. I graduated from Maricopa High School in 1986 and continued my education at the University of Arizona graduating in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics. I strongly feel that my lifelong residency and ongoing employment in the Maricopa area make me an ideal candidate.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the district and how do you propose the board should overcome that challenge? it is important to me that development progresses with minimal negative impact on the residents and businesses throughout our community.

 

Bob Marsh

Occupation: Retired engineer and manager

Years in Maricopa: 7 (Years in Arizona: 25)

Why are you running for this office? The responsibility of the MFCD Board is to maintain the Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa washes through the city of Maricopa and the rest of the district south of the city. That job involves engineering, financial management, contracts management, and project management. In my career, I’ve worked in all these areas, and I feel I can do a good job for the district.

What in your background qualifies you for this office? I’m an MIT graduate engineer, and have worked for several decades solving problems and managing projects for major companies and government agencies.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the district and how do you propose the board should overcome that challenge? I see the main challenge to be the ongoing maintenance needed in the washes, dealing with the invasive and rapid growth of salt cedars and other bushes and trees and continued erosion of the channel banks from water washing in from neighboring subdivisions. This challenge should be handled with frequent inspections of all channels, businesslike project bid and proposal practices, and follow-up inspections. If the channels – especially the bridges under the railroad and under SR238 – get clogged with plants, trees, and trash, then when we do get a flood, the water could back up and potentially to serious damage to homes and property. The MFCD Board is a small board with a small budget and a very limited job to do, but staying on top of the job of keeping the channels clear is important to homeowners, business, and farms in the district. In this election, we are fortunate to have two capable and qualified candidates running, both with engineering backgrounds, and I feel that whoever wins the open board seat, the district will be well-served.


This story appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

Mayor Christian Price delivers the State of the City address at Maricopa City Hall.

Packed with humor and spontaneity, the State of the City Address is about more than the city giving itself a pat on the back.

Mayor Christian Price said it’s about knowledge and understanding, and nobody ever said learning had to be dull.

“I want it to be more than just a boring speech,” Price said about the engaging experience the State of the City Address offers. “I want it to be entertaining and educational, and I want people to walk away feeling enriched and understanding what their city is doing on their behalf.”

The typical attendee can expect the city to highlight some of its recent and ongoing accomplishments, such as the July groundbreaking at Edison Pointe, the city’s recent legal victories relating to the planned Apex Motor Club, and the November groundbreaking on the long-awaited State Route 347 overpass project.

The 2017 address is themed “Overcoming Obstacles.” Along with highlighting some of the recent obstacles the city has overcome, Price said the address will focus on several members of the community who have overcome obstacles of their own.

He wouldn’t say who, but he did say their stories are special and residents should come out if not to learn about local government, then to at least learn something about their neighbors.

The mayor also plans to discuss some of the more tedious aspects of city government.

“One of the things I like to highlight is what is being done behind the scenes that people don’t often see,” Price said. “I think people should know where their money is going.”

He also plans to discuss a few of the city’s newer cost-saving measures and how they are preparing for the future of Maricopa.

The State of the City Address will be at Maricopa City Hall, Oct. 4, at 6 p.m. and can be viewed live on the city website.

Maricopa-AZ.gov


This story appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

Jose Valenzuela was in Superior Court Monday for a pretrial hearing on murder charges in the deaths of Michael and Tina Careccia.

The trial for one of Maricopa’s most high-profile murder cases is on track, according to lawyers on both sides.

The trial date for accused double-murderer Jose Ignacio Valenzuela is set for Jan. 23 and is on schedule. Valenzuela is charged with the two counts of first-degree murder for the shooting deaths of Tina and Michael Careccia.

Prosecutor Gary Husk and defense attorney James Mannato appeared along with Valenzuela in a Pinal County court room Monday as part of a status hearing. Both sides agreed they were on course to make the January court date.

The next status hearing is scheduled for Nov. 6 at 2:30 p.m. in Judge Kevin White’s courtroom at Pinal County Superior Court in Florence. Because of the notoriety of the case, it has become the trial around which all other upcoming murder trials are scheduled.

On the evening of June 21, 2015, both victims were shot in the head with a .22 caliber pistol, the bodies buried next to the Valenzuela house and discovered two weeks later.

Photo by Mason Callejas

After a cool weekend, things are likely to warm up slightly this week as a slight chance of showers moves in midweek, according to the National Weather Service. Average high temperatures for the week will likely be in the low to mid-90s.

Today looks to be sunny and clear with a high around 88 during the day and a low near 59 at night.

Tuesday is forecast to be sunny with a few clouds, a high around 91 during the day and a low near 63 at night.

Wednesday should be mostly sunny with a 10-20 percent chance of rain throughout the day, a high of around 92 during the daytime and a low near 64 at night.

Thursday looks to be mostly sunny with a 10 percent chance of rain early in the day, a high of around 93 at night and a low near 68 at night.

Friday will likely be sunny and clear with a high around 96 during the day and a low near 70 at night when a slight 15 mph-breeze is expected to pick up.

 

A local water utility is on track for a planned expansion after being granted a zoning variance from City Council Tuesday.

The council approved the application for a zoning change that moves the 31.8-acre facility from the old County Industrial (CI-2) zone to the new City of Maricopa General Industrial (GI) zoning C. Global Water Resources filed the application with the city earlier this year as they prepare to expand their facilities to accommodate another possible 11,000 commercial and residential hookups.

GW General Manager Jon Corwin said the expansion is in response to anticipated growth. The northern section of The Lakes where Global Water’s office is located is mostly undeveloped.

The utility is currently operating at 80-90 percent of its capacity, which is set at 9 million gallons per day. After updates, they claim, the treatment facility will be able to process roughly 12 million gallons per day.

The zoning change doesn’t mean the utility will begin altering its facility just yet. The city had advised Global Water at the start of its application process to seek rezoning under the new city code to help mitigate any problems that may arise as part of the permitting process.

 

Mariachi music fills City Hall during Tuesday's council meeting. Photo by Mason Callejas

With Mariachi music and chips-and-salsa, the City of Maricopa declared Hispanic Heritage Month Sept. 15-Oct. 15 with a proclamation by Mayor Christian Price at Tuesday’s meeting of the council. In the proclamation, Price recognized the cultural and economic impact of residents of Hispanic origin.

City of Maricopa Proclamation

* Whereas, the history of the State of Arizona and the City of Maricopa are similar and parallel with the history of Hispanics in our great City; and
* Whereas, according to the United States Census Bureau, in 2015, 24% of the residents in Maricopa were of Hispanic background; and
* Whereas, according to the United States Census Bureau, by 2020, 27% of residents of Maricopa will be of Hispanic background, and Americans of Hispanic descent make contributions in every facet of our society; and
* Whereas, according to a Arizona State University 2010 study, more than $35 billion dollars flow into Arizona’s economy by the state’s Hispanic community, that has created an enormous impact which positively contributes to the quality of life for all Arizonans; and
* Whereas, Hispanic Americans enrich our culture and arts, serve at every level of government, contribute to our state’s economy by creating business opportunities and jobs, serve valiantly in the military and law enforcement; and have played a significant role in making our state strong and prosperous; and
* Whereas, Hispanic Heritage Month pays tribute to, and recognizes the numerous outstanding accomplishments, past and present, that these individuals made to our city, our state, nation and the world, and
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Christian Price, Mayor of the City of Maricopa, do hereby proclaim September 15 through October 15, as “HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH” in Maricopa and call upon the citizens of this community to observe and commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month as we continue our commitment of being a “great place to live and work.”
Dated this 19th day of September, 2017

Planning to play golf this weekend? The weather may be agreeable. Photo by Mason Callejas

Maricopa’s first taste of autumn should happen this weekend, according to the National Weather Service. A breezy Thursday and Friday could knock daily high temperatures down into the 80s all weekend, while temperatures at night could dip down as low as 56 on Sunday.

Today looks to be sunny, mostly clear and breezy with 20-30 mph wind gusting on and off throughout the day while temperatures reach a high around 96 and a low near 68.

Friday (first day of fall) will likely be cooler, sunny and mostly clear with a 15-20 mph breeze blowing on and off throughout the day while temperatures reach a high around 89 and a low near 60 at night.

Saturday should be calm, cool and sunny with a high temperature around 86 during the daytime and a low near 58 at night.

Sunday looks to also be calm, cool and sunny with a high temperature around 87 during the day and a low near 56 at night.

Monday will likely be sunny and clear with a high temperature around 90 during the daytime and a low near 60 at night.

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City Council is trying to determine if having City Hall open earlier and later than normal operating hours and closed on Fridays has been a benefit to employees and residents.

The Maricopa City Council weighed in on the city’s condensed hours of operation Tuesday, declaring an intragovernmental survey conducted on the matter was inadequate.

The two-question survey did show that roughly 87 percent of non-elected city employees who participated preferred to work four 10-hour days – Monday-Thursday. However, the survey asked only two questions and had only 33 respondents. This lack of a sample size was deemed by several councilmembers as insufficient to close the books on the issue.

Councilmember Nancy Smith, who said she first supported the two-question format, now feels the questions were inadequate and in need of constituent and customer input.

“I receive, on a regular basis, input from developer groups or businesses,” Smith said. “If they want to ask questions, and if they wait until Thursday afternoon, they’re not going to get an answer for three days later.”

Smith also noted the employee comments made in the survey, suggesting changing the four-day workweek could result in the loss of several employees.

To combat any such flight, she suggested the survey consider an off-set or “hybrid” work schedule in which one group of people work Monday-Thursday and another group works Tuesday-Friday. She also suggested considering nine-hour workdays Monday-Thursday and four-hour Fridays.

The city is historically slow on Fridays, from a business standpoint, given as the reason it moved to the four-10 workweek nearly five years ago. However, Smith said she wants to make sure the residents and businesses were getting reasonable access to their city government.

Councilmember Peggy Chapados said she wanted to see other data concerning reductions in sick-time and improvements to employee morale. She indicated that morale should almost certainly be better considering the likelihood of Mondays being holidays, which essentially means a “mini vacation” for city employees.

Even if the survey is expanded to residents, she said, she already knows what it will prove.

“I think we know what they want to see,” Chapados said. “They want to see comprehensive services.”

To provide that, she suggested a gradual change such as possibly making City Hall open one Friday a month.

City Manager Gregory Rose agreed with Smith and Chapados. However, he said, changing the work schedule doesn’t mean more employees, so it’s important to understand the impact of diluting services.

Councilmember Vincent Manfredi, though reluctant to spend any money on a third-party survey, said he also felt the survey was not broad enough and should include the residents.

“Regardless of what we want, it’s what the people want,” Manfredi said.

Judge Lyle Riggs also weighed in, saying he wanted to consider a move in the opposite direction. The Maricopa Municipal Court is currently open on Fridays, which he said, much like the city, is its slowest day.

Moving to a four-10 workweek for the court would not have much of an effect on the judicial process he said. In the case of search warrants or other emergency actions, he said he is still on-call 24-7.

In light of the conversation, Council directed Rose to conduct more research, including a broader survey which will also lend consideration to the Municipal Court.

Photo by Mason Callejas

Moderate temperatures and breezy skies are likely to grace Maricopa this week, according to the National Weather Service, making for appropriate weather on the first official day of fall. While temperatures hang out in the mid to high 90s most of the week, a steady breeze will push the high on Friday down into the 80s.

Today looks to be sunny and clear with a high temperature around 97 during the day and a low near 69 at night.

Tuesday will likely also be sunny and clear, though a bit breezy with winds gusting at 15-25 throughout the day while high temperatures hang out around 98 during the day and near 71 at night.

Wednesday should be sunny, clear and again breezy with gusts blowing 20-30 mph on and off throughout the day while high temperatures reach up around 98 in the daytime and dip down near 73 at night.

Thursday is forecast to be sunny and mostly clear with winds again gusting between 20-30 mph throughout the day as high temperature reach up around 94 during the day and then dip down near 69 at night.

Friday (first day of fall) will likely be sunny and clear with winds gusting around 15-20 mph while high temperatures reach only as high as 88 in the daytime and then drop to near 63 at night.  

Photo by Mason Callejas

Summertime weather is on the run as temperatures are likely to stay out of the 100s this weekend, according to the National Weather Service. While here will be a slight chance of dust storms as the wind kicks up on Friday, the expected high temperature for Maricopa this weekend is only 96 on Sunday, while nighttime temps could dip down as low as 66 on Friday.

Today will likely be sunny, clear and breezy with winds gusting at 15-20 mph throughout the day, possibly kicking up some dust, while the high temperature hangs around 100 during the day and 69 at night

Friday looks to also be sunny, clear and a bit breezy with a 15-mph wind gusting on and off throughout the day as the high stays down around 93 and the low dips down to 66 at night.

Saturday should see sunny and clear skies with a high around 94 and a low near 68.

Sunday is forecast to be mostly sunny and clear with a high around 96 during the day and a low near 69 at night.

Monday looks to be sunny and mostly clear with a high around 97 during the day and a low near 69 at night.