Authors Articles byMichael K. Rich

Michael K. Rich

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Maricopa firefighter and CrossFit gym owner Nathan Maxcy took home a 5th place overall finish in the East Valley Iron Fest last weekend.

Maxcy competed in the 94 kilo weight class, weighing in at 194 pounds. He snatched 95 kilos (209 pounds), hoisted 120 kilos (264 pounds) in the clean and jerk and completed seven rounds one repetition of the AMRAP MetCon.

The MetCon is a CrossFit workout that requires seven reps of 30-inch box jumps, seven reps of lifts with a 70-pound kettle bell and seven reps of full range of motion pull-ups.

The completion of all 21 reps is considered a round.

For his feats, Maxcy earned second place in his weight class and a fifth place overall finish in the competition.

“This was a great event,” Maxcy said. “All the lifts were performed and judged using Olympic standards.” To learn more about Maxcy’s gym visit http://crossfitbattlefit.com/

Photos courtesy of  Nicole Rameyer with Nikolr Photography.

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Arizona Diamondbacks players will descend on the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino for a meet-and-greet autograph session this Friday.

“This is a great way to give back to the community and help promote the Arizona Diamondbacks’ upcoming season,” said Melody Wolcott, Gila River Gaming Enterprises public relations manager.

Members of the club who will attend the free event are pitchers Joe Saunders, Sam Demel and Jarrod Parker, as well as catcher Konrad Schmidt.

Fans of all ages are welcome to attend the event, which will run from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Each attendee will be provided an opportunity to have one item signed by each player. Free autographed player photos will also be available.

This is the fifth year the Diamondbacks and the casino have partnered for a meet-and-greet promotion.

Last year, more than 500 people came out for autographs and the players stayed overtime to accommodate all the fans.

“We encourage everyone to come out and take part in this great event,” Wolcott said.
 

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Car collectors, builders, racers and other motor sports enthusiasts are invited to show off a favorite set of wheels at the Third Annual Maricopa Motor Sports Day, an annual event hosted by car aficionado Steve Barcak.

The event takes place at the First Baptist Church, 18705 N. John Wayne Parkway on Saturday, April 9.

“There is nothing else like this in Maricopa,” Barcak said.

There is no fee to include a vehicle in the show and every person who displays a vehicle is treated to a free hot lunch. Participants will have the opportunity to win prizes in 10 different categories.

“This is the first year we will be handing out awards, so it should be really exciting,” Barcak said.

At a typical car show, a panel of judges awards the prizes, but at this show the collectors will be the judges.

“Everyone who enters a car will be able to vote for the winners,” Barcak said.

Spectators are asked to bring a can of food to help support the church’s food bank as the price of admission.

Besides cars, the event will include food, music and activates for children.

For more information or to register a vehicle, call 520-431-0627 or visit www.fbcmaricopa.net
 

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Maricopa High School will bring two concerts to the general public in May.

“This is a great opportunity to show the public what we have been working on all year and the progress these students have made,” said Maricopa High School Music Director Ivan Pour.

The first opportunity for the public to enjoy the musical talents of Maricopa’s high school students is Thursday, May 5.

That day, at 6 p.m., the school’s concert band, percussion ensemble, drumline, and Winter Guard will put on a concert under the stars in the Maricopa High School courtyard.

“The New York and Chicago Symphonies have had a lot of success with outdoor performances. I thought it would be a great experience for our kids,” Pour said.

Pour added that outside concerts are an enjoyable venue for the public. “It gives an opportunity to bring some snacks, kick back on the grass and listen to some music,” he said. The music will include original pieces,covers of classical music and more.

On May 16 the high school choir and orchestra will perform at 7 p.m. in the high school library. That venue seats only 100 people, so Pour encourages everyone to show up early for the best seats.

“This is going to be a very personal performance,” Pour said. The show will feature a performance of Queen’s hit “Bohemian Rap City,” African language pieces, original compositions and more.

“We are really aiming to have something for everyone,” Pour said.

For more information e-mail Pour.

Maricopa High School Band – Concert Under the Stars

Concessions will be available courtesy of Band Boosters

Where: MHS Courtyard (between the main office and the library)

When: May 5, 6 p.m.

What: Performances from the MHS Concert Band, percussion ensemble, drumline and Winter Guard. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and get ready for summer with an evening of music and entertainment "under the stars."

Maricopa High School Choir and Orchestra

Where: MHS Library

When: May 16, 7 p.m.

What: The award-winning MHS orchestra and the rapidly growing MHS choir will present a variety of classical and popular works from Offenbach to Queen.

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A major overhaul of the Maricopa Unified School District’s Governing Board was completed Tuesday afternoon as three new members of the board were sworn in.

“I am excited to get started,” said Patti Coutre. “It has been a long process securing this seat.”

Coutre took the oath of office along with Scott Bartle and Torri Anderson. All three were sworn into their new seats by departing board member Tracy Davis at the brief ceremony.

“Board members get to choose who swears them in and the district could not think of a better person than Tracy,” said Superintendent Jeff Kleck.

The new members replaced Davis, who chose not to run for re-election, and two other departing members: Tim White, who lost a re-election bid and Lori Glenn, who vacated her board seat in November.

The trio join board members Geoff Goddard and Carrie Vargas, both of whom have served for two years.

“These three community members now get to be part of our fine institution,” said Kleck.

Anderson, Bartle and Coutre will participate in their first school board meeting Jan. 5.

“It feels great to finally have the ability to ask questions during the board meetings,” Coutre said.

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The average price of homes sold in Maricopa is $106,300 according to information from Truila. However, this past month five homes fell far bellow that line, in some cases selling for 25 percent of the average home price.

Take a look at the five cheapest homes in March. A slide show is also included, showing what the money got these lucky homeowners. Pictures of the home on Bowlin were not available.

51090 W. Barnes Rd.
● Sell Price: $24,900
● 4 Bedrooms
● 2 Bathrooms
● 1,568 sq ft
● Mobile/Manufactured
● Built In 1999
● Lot 3 acres

53528 W. Whirly Bird Rd.
● Sell Price: $25,000
● 3 Bedrooms
● 2 Bathrooms
● Single-Family Home
● Built In 2011
● Lot 3 acres
● 2,014 sq ft

54239 W. Bowlin Rd.
● Sell Price: $26,000
● 1,080 sq ft

42320 W. Balsa Dr.
● Sell Price: $44,000
● 2 Bedrooms
● 2 Bathrooms
● 1,310 sq ft
● Single-Family Home
● Built In 2008
● Fireplace
● Parking Spaces: 2
● Rooms: 4
● Patio
● Ceiling Fan
● Floors: Carpet
● Floors: Tile
● Heating Fuel: Natural Gas

46109 W. Windmill Dr.
● Sell Price: $46,500
● Price: $42,900
● 3 Bedrooms
● 2 Bathrooms
● 1,040 sq ft
● Single-Family Home
● Built In 2005
● Fireplace
● Parking Spaces: 2
● Patio
● Floors: Linoleum
● Floors: Tile
 

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The city of Maricopa issued permits to four businesses this past week, including a transportation company located within city limits.

The transportation company approved for a permit is Maricopa Shuttle. It is owned by three-year Maricopa resident Karl Piksa.

Piksa started the business about three weeks ago when he was laid off from his job. “I don’t like being out of work so I decided to open a business,” he said.

Piksa’s idea for transportation services arose when he first moved to Maricopa from New York and had extreme difficulties in finding a reasonably priced shuttle service to take him from the airport to his new home.

“There is a great need for a company to shuttle people to and from the airport,” he said.

In addition to running shuttle service to the airport, Piksa plans to transport residents to hospitals, grocery stores and wherever else they may need to go.

“Maricopa is a great place to live if you have a car but, if you don’t, getting simple things done becomes difficult,” he said. “I want to help people get things done.”

Piksa’s business will offer 24-hour-a-day service.

In addition to Piksa’s local business, three companies outside of Maricopa were approved to operate in the city. Those companies were Arm Security Inc, Dr’s Sweet Tea and Lemonade and Desert Steel Builders.

Permits are necessary for all businesses headquartered locally or outside of Maricopa to do business within the city limits. Permits are valid for one year.

The map below shows the contact information, location and other details about all the businesses receiving permits.

 

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Each year hundreds of Maricopa residents lace up their shoes, hop in their cars and drive countless miles to the Valley to purchase designer brand fashiones such as Nike, Ed Hardy and Echo.

Maricopa residents Tammy Smith and Jessie Adams are hoping those residents would rather drive to the other side of the tracks than out of town. The couple are the owners of Maricopa’s newest designer fashion and accessory store, Jesta Fashion Ware, which is located at 19439 N. John Wayne Parkway or just past the tracks on the left.

“Being on the other side of the tracks is our biggest challenge,” Smith said. “We hope once we get the word out people won’t mind driving to check us out.”

The couple opened the store at the end of January.

“Until we opened there wasn’t really a place in town to get designer fashions,” Smith said. “We hope this is something that will fill a need in the community.”

The store features clothing, shoes and accessories from popular brands like Nike, Mecca, Rockawear, Dereon, Ed Hardy, Coach, Perry Ellis, Echo, Polo and more. Prices range from $20 to $80.

“We have a mid-sized inventory, but, if there is something you want, we can always order it,” Smith said.

Currently the store in in a joint partnership with the Maricopa Auto Spa, meaning the businesses share one common office space. However, as the popularity of their business grows, Smith said they hope to open their own dedicated store front.

“It has always been a dream to own a fashion store,” Smith said. “I hope to grow that dream with the city and residents of Maricopa.”

At a glance:
Name: Jesta Fashion Ware
Address:19439 N. John Wayne Parkway
Hours:11a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat.
Phone: 520-414-3140

Photo by Ash Friedrich

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This week’s showcase home is a beautiful, 1,883-square-foot starter in the Maricopa Meadows subdivision.

The four bedroom, two bathroom home looks like many on the block from the exterior, but, once inside, it is clear this house is a step above the rest.

The interior of the home features a unique design in which two of the home’s four bedrooms are actually master suites with their own private bathrooms.

In addition to the unique floor plan, the home features vaulted ceilings, two-tone paint, upgraded lighting fixtures, and a fully tiled kitchen, dining room and hallway.

The kitchen features granite countertops, an under mount sink, cherry wood-colored cabinets with rope crown molding, an island unit and all black appliances.
 
This is not a bank owned or short sale home.

For more info contact  Dayv Morgan with TIG Real Estate Corperation at 480-251-4231.
 
At a Glance:
Address:
46068 W. Starlight Dr.
Sq Feet: 1,883
Bed/Bath: 4/3
Cost: $79,900

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The city of Maricopa issued four business licenses last week.

Permits are necessary for all businesses headquartered locally or outside of Maricopa to do business within the city limits. Permits are valid for one year.

Three of the companies that took out licenses are local and one is located outside of the city.

Local business include Al’S Dogs, Renaissance Medical Properties LLC and Luney Services.

Al’s Dogs is a new business opened by local resident and realtor Al Paine.

“I thought opening a hot dog stand would be a good opportunity to meet people and earn some extra money,” Paine said. “I have a background in the restaurant industry.”

Al’s Dogs is a portable hot dog stand that will be located typically, Monday to Saturday, in the parking lot of the Old Stage Stop Marketplace at the intersection of John Wayne Parkway and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

The one Valley-based business receiving a permit was Grand Canyon Pools and Spas LLC.

 

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March was one of the busiest months on record for home sales in the city of Maricopa.

Here is a look at the five most expensive homes sold last month. The slide show at the bottom, which begins with the most expensive home, gives a glimpse of each home’s features.

22024 N. Balboa Dr.
● Price: $215,000
● 4 bedrooms
● 2 full, 1 partial bathrooms
● 4,264 sq. ft.
● Single-family home
● Fireplace
● 3-car garage
● Rooms: 6
● View: mountain
● Ceiling fan
● Floors: carpet
● Floors: vinyl
● Water softener
● Swimming pool

42858 W Placone Ln
● Price: $214,000
● 4 bedrooms
● 3 bathrooms
● 3-car garage
● 3,954 sq. ft.
● Single-family home
● Swimming pool

43216 W. Caven Dr.
● Price: $213,000
● 4 bedrooms
● 2 full, 1 partial bathrooms
● 2,675 sq.ft.
● Fireplace
● 3-car garage
● Swimming pool
● Rooms: 6
● Floors: carpet
● Floors: tile
● Heating: natural gas

42336 W. Blue Suede Shoes
● Price: $207,000
● 2 bedrooms
● 2½ bathrooms
● 2,529 sq.ft.
● Floors: tile
● Floors: carpet
● Granite countertops
● Lake front

43216 W. McClelland Dr.
● Price: $195,000
● 5 bedrooms
● 3 bathrooms
● 2,861 sq. ft.
● Single-family Home
● Built in 2005
● Fireplace
● 3-car garage
● Swimming pool
● View: golf course
● Vaulted ceiling
● Floors: carpet
● Floors: tile
● Heating: natural gas

 

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Rodent feces, pink slime and expired food were among the violations causing nearby Valley restaurants to fail their March health inspection.

Maricopa County routinely inspects restaurants to ensure the quality and safety of food. Health inspectors look for violations, such as storing food at improper temperatures, employees not washing hands and other health and safety issues.

Each of these violations is assigned a point value, which is then used to determine the restaurant’s score. A gold star is the highest ranking possible and means a business scored in the top 25 percent; a silver star denotes a restaurant scoring in the middle 50 percent, and no award means a restaurant scored in the bottom 25 percent.

If a restaurant receives no award, they are given an opportunity to comply with the health inspector’s complaints and then are re-inspected. Here is a look at the restaurants cited by health inspectors in March along with a list of violations that caused them to fail their inspections.

Jason’s Deli–7230 W. Ray Rd.
Food not being at proper temperatures, macaroni and cheese thawing in hand sink and front cooler not at proper temperature.

Polar Ice Cafe–7225 W. Harrison St.
Black debris on soda nozzles, debris on can opener, and restaurant does not have a certified food manager.

Streets of New York–5965 W. Ray Rd.
No chlorine in dishwasher, food debris in pans storing clean utensils, dirty facilities and personal items stored in wrong location.

Ahwatukee Country Club–12432 S. 48th St.
Raw food not stored at proper temperature, rodent feces on lids, expired foods not disposed of and raw cod stored below raw beef.

Cafe Boa–5063 E. Elliot Rd.
Flies in kitchen, not enough sanitizer in cleaning buckets and leaking sink.

Native New Yorker–5030 E. Ray Rd.
Food at improper temperature, slimy pink growth on soda nozzle and physical facilities not in good repair.

Rock Bottom Restaurant–14205 S. 50th St.
Hot food not being held at proper temperature, cold food not being held at proper temperature and employee drinks in unapproved area.

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A Maricopa city resident charged with 10 felony counts has been released from jail after posting a $10,000 bond.

Rebekah Lynn Corwin, 29, faces four felony counts of aggravated assault, four felony counts of endangerment and one felony count each of unlawful flight from an officer and resisting arrest.

The charges stem from a dramatic police chase on Feb. 15 during which Corwin plowed through multiple patrol cars in Scottsdale before her vehicle became disabled in a ditch.

Corwin’s difficulties began the night before when Maricopa police attempted to detain her for an alleged incident of road rage.

On Feb. 14 Maricopa police received a call from a concerned motorist who said that a woman had been following him for about 10 minutes. When the driver pulled to the side of the road to let her pass, she pulled behind him and parked.

The caller said his wife and children were frightened. When police arrived on scene, they asked Corwin for her driver license, insurance and other information, but she refused to comply.

When the officer asked her to step out of the car, she said, “No, who do you think you are?” and demanded to see his “metal badge.”

When the officer opened the door of Corwin’s truck, she tried to pull the door back shut. A brief struggle ensued and Corwin was able to speed away from the officer.

The officer persued the vehicle until he was directed to stop the chase as Corwin sped out of town on northbound SR 347.

The second chase began around 6 a.m. when a Scottsdale police officer observed a confused-looking Corwin and three children in a truck parked in a bank parking lot, according to Scottsdale police Sgt. Mark Clark.

When the officer tried to check on the occupants, Corwin revved her engine and drove toward the officer, who jumped out of the way to avoid being hit.

After missing the officer, Corwin crashed into his patrol vehicle, knocking it aside, and fled onto Scottsdale Road.

A Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office deputy attempted to stop Corwin nearby at the intersection of Carefree Highway and Scottsdale Road, but Corwin plowed through the MCSO car and continued south.

Officers gave chase and followed Corwin to the community of Los Portones, near Scottsdale Road and Pinnacle Peak Road, where she crashed through the community gate.

Corwin then weaved through the community and made her way back out onto Scottsdale Road, striking a third police car and causing minor injuries to the officer in the vehicle.

A short while later, officers were able to successfully deploy stop sticks with spikes, causing the tires of the woman’s vehicle to deflate.

Clark said Corwin continued to drive for a short distance with flat tires until she lost control and crashed into a construction trench near Terravita Drive and Scottsdale Road.

After the crash, officers pulled the woman from the truck and tased her due to her combative behavior.

Neither Corwin nor any of the children, ages 2, 4 and 11 were injured in the chase, Clark said. The two younger children were identified as Corwin’s. The 11-year-old was the child of a friend.

Corwin was initially detained for the alleged crimes, but has since posted a $10,000 bond.

According Jerry Cobb, spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, Corwin has no prior arrests. If convicted on all 10 felony counts, she could face up to 21 years in prison.

Corwin pleaded not guilty Febuary 24 before Maricopa County Superior Court Commissioner Brian Rees.

An initial pretrial conference is scheduled for May 13 in front of Judge Phemonia Miller.

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In a testimony before the Department of Homeland Security in Washington DC last week, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu claimed Pinal County was the number one pass through county in the nation for drug and human smuggling.

To back his claims Babeu stated that the amount of marijuana seized in Pinal County has increased from 19,619 pounds in 2008 to more than 45,000 pounds seized last year. Other increases he noted  included vehicle pursuits increasing from 142 in 2007 to 340 in 2010 and illegal aliens seized increasing from 188 in 2007 to 370 in 2010.

“This violence is not just coming here. It is here,” he said. “People in my county do not feel the border is more secure than ever, and we are 70 miles north.”

Babeu added that in the Tucson sector last year alone the Border Patrol captured 219,300 people trying to cross the border and estimated that for every one captured another 2.7 made it across without capture.

“One out of six people crossing the Tucson sector are doing so illegally,” Babeu said.”While many of these people are searching for a better life, 17 percent already have a criminal record in the U.S.”

“We need help out in Arizona. On anybody’s scorecard, if the majority of people [illegal immigrants] are getting through, that is a failing grade. Period.” Babeu added.

To address the issue Babeu said that it was imperative the U.S. government implement the Senator McCain/Kyl 10-Point Border Security Plan.

The plan is based on the success of border enforcement in the Yuma sector, where 96 percent of those attempting to cross illegally are captured.

Three key elements of this plan, laid out by Babeu, include deploying 6,000 armed soldiers for a period of two years to immediately secure the border. It calls for completing construction of a double barrier fence with supportive surveillance platforms, lighting, sensors and supportive roads to support rapid deployment of the US Border Patrol.  Third, the plan seeks to fully enforce the law without any diversion option for illegals.

“Current catch and release tactics are undermining the law,” the sheriff added.
Babeu’s testimony came as part of a  panel assembled in Washington to discuss the issues plaguing the Mexico/U.S border.

The panel was headed by U.S. Sen. John McCain and Sen. Joe Lieberman. In addition to questioning Babeu, the group talked with  justice officials from Texas, California and New Mexico.

Babeu was asked to testify in place of Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever who unexpectedly backed out.

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This week’s showcase home is a stunning, 1,572-square-foot gem in the Desert Cedars subdivision.

The charming one-story home is priced under $100,000, but comes packed with the upgrades of a home twice the price.

The front exterior features two large palo verde trees, low maintenance landscaping and a setback entrance.

Inside the home are three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a spacious den.

The living room, dining room, kitchen and den are all floored in a dark tile, while all the bedrooms feature upgraded carpet.

The kitchen features light wood-colored cabinets, corian countertops, a gas range, stainless steel appliances and a pass through window.

However, the true allure of this home lies outside the back sliding door; sitting in the backyard is a Pebble Tec heated swimming pool.

For more info on this home call Dayv Morgan with TIG Real Estate at 480-251-4231.
 
At a Glance:
Address: 44556 W. Yucca Ln
Price: $99,000
Bed/Bath: 3/2
Sq Ft.: 1,572
 

 

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The Pinal County Health Department inspected 13 Casa Grande restaurants in March, handing out less than perfect scores to three.

The restaurants dinged were Blimpie Sub/Salads, 1667 N. Trekell Rd., Subway, 847 N. Promenade Parkway, and Hogan’s, 11 S. Mission Parkway.

All three were cited for not maintaining food at proper temperatures, resulting in grades of ‘satisfactory.’

Health inspectors conduct random inspections aimed at ensuring all proper steps are taken to maintain consumer safety, Pinal County officials said. The department can issue violations that are either critical or non-critical.
 
Critical violations must be fixed within 10 days and affect a location’s score. Non-critical violations must be fixed within 90 days. Grades are based on the number of violations, with an “E” for excellent being the highest possible score. Other scores are “S” for satisfactory, “U” for unacceptable and “N” for needs improvement.
 
Restaurants receiving perfect scores were Barrington’s Pub LLC, 864 E. Jimmie Kerr Blvd, Wild West Hot Dogs, 611 E. Florence Blvd., Kentucky Fried Chicken, 618 E. Florence Blvd., Chick-Fil-A, 893 N. Promenade Pkwy., Redbrick Pizza, 1269 N. Promenade Pkwy., Domino’s Pizza, 104 W. Florence Blvd., Los Hermanos Mexican Food, 1328 E. Florence Blvd., Chipolte Mexican Grill, 1755 E. Florence Blvd., Tom’s BBQ, 139 W. Cottonwood Ln., and Nico’s Mexican Food, 1226 E. Florence Blvd.

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The city of Maricopa Police Department arrested an unnamed juvenile Wednesday for allegedly burglarizing multiple Maricopa residences.
 
The arrest came after police received a call regarding a suspicious person in the Maricopa Meadows subdivision.
 
Police patrolling the neighborhood spotted a juvenile matching the description of the suspect. The juvenile jumped a fence and made his way onto the Maricopa Wells Middle School campus. The officer followed the juvenile and, after confirming he was not a student, asked him to leave the campus.
 
At that point the juvenile dropped the large duffel bag he was carrying and fled. Additional units responded and captured the suspect, whose duffel bag contained loot from the burglary earlier in the day.
 
Police later connected the suspect to four burglaries committed in Maricopa.
 
The juvenile was booked on two counts of burglary and additional charges are pending. Police are investigating additional suspects identified in the crimes.
 
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Two city of Maricopa law enforcement officials have been cleared of allegations of taking part in adult swinging activities.

The allegations against Officer Cedric Randle and Lt. Larry Ekhardt were brought forth in late December 2008 by former Maricopa Police Officer Martice Berry, who was fired for making inappropriate advances on women and allegedly sending pictures of male genitalia.

In Berry’s complaint, he alleges the two police department employees were involved in swinging activities during two parties held in 2008.

Those alleged incidents took place at the home of one of the women Berry was accused of making unwanted sexual advances on.

To support his claim, Berry presented a recorded conversation he had with Randle regarding the swinging activities. However, during the conversation the officer never admitted to taking part in any sexual escapades.

In the course of the internal investigation, Ekhardt stated he had never attended any party at the house Berry specified.

Randle told the investigator he did attend two parties at the residence, but other than women getting a little out of control and exposing themselves, no swinging activities took place to his knowledge.

Both Randle and Ekhardt stated they had never taken part in any swinging activities.

When the investigator called the owner of the residence where these parties took place, she stated that Berry was making the charges to retaliate against her for testifying against him.

Due to a lack of evidence the police department found both men not guilty of any wrongdoing.

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The city of Maricopa Council will meet in a special executive session this Friday to interview the three finalists for the vacated city manager position.

The session will take place at the Global Water Resource Center, 22590 N. Powers Parkway, at 3 p.m.
 
Following the executive session, the city will hold an open house from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the center to give the general public the opportunity to meet the three candidates and express their opinions to council.
 
“I am looking forward to bringing three very qualified candidates to our city. This is an important leadership position,” said Maricopa Mayor Anthony Smith. “I hope residents take advantage of the opportunity to attend the reception and personally meet each candidate.”
 
The city hired Waters-Oldani in November for $22,000 to find a replacement for former City Manager Kevin Evans, who announced his intention to leave the position in September.
 
Under terms of his severance agreement, Evans stayed in place as city manager until Jan. 20, at which time City Clerk Vanessa Bueras took over the job on an interim basis. Evans will continue to receive his annual pay of $156,950 a year in biweekly installments until he finds a job paying a minimum of 80 percent of his previous pay, or until 12 months have elapsed.
 
Evans was recently a finalist for the city manager position in Corpus Christi, Tex, but was not tapped for the job.
 
Walters-Oldani originally predicted the city would be able to hire a new manager by the third week of February; however, that deadline was not met because of a holdup with paper work.
 
Walters-Oldani selected 15 qualified applicants from a pool of 79 who applied. That group was presented to council in an executive session March 22, at which time the city’s governing body selected three finalists.
 
Council also has a meeting scheduled for Saturday, April 2. It is possible an employment offer could be extended to one of the three candidates at that time.
 
About the three candidates:
 
Abimbola Akande
Akande holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Oklahoma. She has served in the public sector in various capacities the past 19 year and is currently the assistant city manager in Richmond Heights, MO. She has also worked for the cities of Woodlands, TX, Flower Mound, TX and Oklahoma City, OKLA. She is a member of the international city/county management association.
 
Steven Crowell, Jr.
Crowell holds a master’s in public administration degree from West Virginia University and has served as a city manager in three different states. Crowell’s most recent position was as city manager of North Port, Fla. He and the city commissioners in North Port entered into a mutual severance agreement in October after Crowell had interviewed for a position in Iowa. Commissioners had nothing but positive things to say about Crowell. Prior to that, he held positions in Greenwood Village and Commerce City, Colo., and La Vista and David City, Neb. He is a member of the International City/County Management Association in addition to various professional affiliations.
 
Brenda Fischer
Fisher holds a master’s in public administration degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and has worked in the public sector for more than 16 years. Fisher is currently the Deputy City Manager in Glendora, Calif. Prior to that, she held positions in North Las Vegas and Henderson, Nev. She is a member of the International City/County Management Association in addition to various professional affiliations.

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Pinal County Superior Court Judge Janna Vanderpool has granted former Maricopa city employee Marty McDonald’s motion for an evidentiary hearing on the three felony cases he is facing.

The motion was granted Monday and will give McDonald the opportunity to present evidence to dismiss the felony charges brought against him by the Friends of the Maricopa Public Library.

“We are looking forward for our first chance to be heard,” McDonald said. “At my bond hearing last October, Judge Vanderpool ruled that the State lacked proper evidence and could not present a case that showed a conviction could possibly occur in regards to the allegation that I conspired with David Aviles to tamper with a public document. Since then, substantial amounts of evidence have been uncovered that indicate David and I are totally innocent. I look forward to finally having the opportunity to clear my name through the judicial process.”
 
McDonald was originally arrested on charges of fraudulent schemes, forgery and theft on May 11, 2010. The Friends of the Maricopa Public Library, a nonprofit organization that supports the Maricopa library and its programs, initiated charges, according to a Chandler police report. The report alleges McDonald, through fraudulent means, stole nearly $8,000 in two separate incidents.
 
The first incident allegedly occurred in late August or early September 2008 when McDonald ordered $4,835 in miscellaneous promotional items for the Founders Day event. McDonald then presented a copy of one of his own checks, showing payment for the items, to the library group.
 
However, Chandler Det. Robert Lenz said he contacted Wells Fargo Bank and found the check shown as proof of purchase never cleared McDonald’s account. According to the report, McDonald then authorized the city to make the payment to the promotional company and pocketed the reimbursement he received from the library committee.
 
After the charges were filed, McDonald’s attorney, Clair Lane, filed a claim against the city in the amount of $50,000. In this claim, McDonald asserts the charges against him are false and intended to defame his character. The claim states McDonald provided a personal check to Assistant City Manager Roger Kolman for $4,835 along with a copy of the Friends’ reimbursement check.
 
The claim alleges Kolman purposely did not cash the check and did not notify McDonald that the check was never processed.
 
The second set of charges arose when prosecutors said McDonald tampered with an invoice and receipt to manufacture evidence that cleared him of charges.
 
“They are alleging my client fabricated an invoice,” Lane said. “The fact is there were three items on the invoice, not two.”
 
The third indictment alleges McDonald and city employee David Aviles modified city of Maricopa records between Sept. 1, 2010 and Sept. 22, 2010 to make it appear that McDonald was innocent of charges that he defrauded the city.
 
Aviles was suspended from his job with the city after the charges were filed, but has since been reinstated in a lower-paid position after admitting that he violated city procedures. Criminal charges against him are still pending.
 
McDonald will take part in two evidentiary hearings in July, one for the charges he faces along with Aviles, the second for the other two criminal cases.

In public records obtained by InMaricopa on Monday, recently reinstated city employee David Aviles admits to modifying city records at the request of former city employee Marty McDonald.

Aviles was relieved of his duties by the city in October after he was indicted on nine criminal counts, including one count of forgery, one count of hindering prosecution in the first degree and one count of tampering with a public record.
 
The charges stemmed from Aviles allegedly altering city records between Sept. 1, 2010 and Sept. 22, 2010 to the benefit of McDonald, who was laid off and arrested on charges of stealing by deceit and is involved in a claim against the city.

In the course of an investigation conducted by the city while Aviles was on leave, he admitted to modifying the records after hours in response to requests made by McDonald. Aviles also states in the investigation report that he provided a copy of the inventory list to McDonald after making the changes and that his supervisor John Nixon would not have given him permission to make the changes if asked.

Despite the admission, the city found Aviles remorseful for his actions and due to his prior history decided to reinstate him March 4.

The reinstatement is not without punishment, however. Aviles position was changed from recreation coordinator with an annual salary of about $48k to recreation leader with an annual salary of about $39k. He will also serve a 40-hour unpaid suspension, cooperate with the attorney representing the city in a claim filed by McDonald and waive all appeal rights.

Aviles’ lawyer Dennis Gorman filed a motion for dismissal of the criminal charges in February, but the court has not ruled on the motion.

Aviles declined to be interviewed for this story and his lawyer was not available for comment.

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A lower-than-expected home vacancy rate in Maricopa gives the city reason to be optimistic, according to one economist.

In 2000, the city had 3,216 housings units; in 2010, it had 17,240. About 17 percent of those homes are vacant, according to data from the United States Census.

That number is lower than Valley cities Mesa, Surprise and Scottsdale, all of which have vacancy rates in the 18- to 19-percent range.

“I would have expected Maricopa to have a much higher vacancy rate, somewhere around 20 percent,” said Jim Rounds, Senior Vice President with Elliot D. Pollack and Company.  “This tells me the city is doing better than expected, and has a much smaller housing inventory than expected.”

While the city’s numbers are low compared to some Valley cities, they are even more anemic when compared to other cities across Pinal County.

Pinal County as a whole has a vacancy rate of 21 percent, with some cities much higher. The vacancy rates in several Pinal County cites are: Florence, 36 percent; Apache Junction, 31 percent; Arizona City and Casa Grande, 21 percent; and Eloy 19 percent.

“When you look at the time to commute, and quality of workforce, the city of Maricopa more closely represents Maricopa County cities,” Rounds said.

Maricopa official Paul Jepson, assistant to the city manager, said he thought the census data was a little high. “We were expecting a vacancy rate around 12 percent,” he said.

Jepson based those numbers on data received from utility companies, the post office and other entities.

Despite the numbers being slightly higher than the city projected, they are a big improvement from the numbers that came out of a special census the city conducted in 2005.

At that time it was determined 22 percent of the properties in Maricopa were vacant.

Jepson said that a reason for that high rate was counting new homes that were not ready to move into as vacant.

Despite the lower-than-expected vacancy rate in Maricopa, Rounds said he wasn’t optimistic on the whole about Arizona filling vacant homes in the immediate future.

Arizona county vacancy rates

 

The Pinal County Grand Jury has indicted Maricopa resident Kassandra Toruga on counts of reckless burning and aggravated assault. Toruga was arrested March 3 after she allegedly admitted trying to kill her pregnant friend and take the unborn baby. At the time of arrest police were recommending charges of attempted murder, arson and burglary.

When determining charges to hand down, the Grand Jury looks at both the recommendations and what charges they believe can be successfully prosecuted, said Pinal County Attorney Office spokesman Kostas Kalaitzidis.

Police first encountered the Homestead resident on Feb. 16 when responding to a fire she supposedly set in her friend’s closet in a home located in the Cobblestone Farms subdivision. At the scene, police discovered the 18-year-old woman in possession of two large butcher knives, a pair of scissors, diapers and baby clothes.

Maricopa Police Chief Kirk Fitch said enough evidence existed to charge the woman with a crime at that time, but police choose to continue the investigation instead. After a several weeks of follow-up police work, Fitch said Toruga confessed that she had planned to murder her friend and cut the baby from her body.

“This was an example of an excellent investigation that led to an attempted murder confession,” Fitch said.

Toruga is currently being held in Pinal County Jail with a bond of $500,000.

Since the arrest, the suspect’s friend has given birth to the child; according to police, she remains fearful the suspect will attempt to return and kidnap her baby.

Toruga’s next court date is not determined.

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The city of Maricopa has decided not to pursue further investigation into claims of criminal misconduct made against Assistant City Manager Roger Kolman, according to a release issued by city spokeswoman LaTricia Woods Tuesday.
The preliminary investigation began last month when the city received anonymous allegations Kolman was taking steps to manufacture false documents with the aim of incriminating former city employee Marty McDonald, who was laid off and arrested on charges of stealing by deceit two years ago and is involved in a claim against the city.
The anonymously submitted documents included a memo supposedly written by Kolman to then city manager Kevin Evans, two vender history reports and a letter from the person sending the documents.
According to Woods’ release, the allegations placed the city in the difficult position of trying to assess information from “unknown, phantom sources” who could not be interviewed.
Preliminary investigation revealed that at least one of the vendor history reports was forged and that several statements made in the documents were false, according to the release.
Kolman issued the following statement: “I was made aware on Thursday afternoon (Feb. 24) of a memorandum purportedly written by me and addressed to our former City Manager in which the author of the memorandum lays out a conspiracy to falsely accuse one of our City’s former employees of criminal activities.
“The allegation is insulting to me, personally, and the City of Maricopa. I did not author such a memorandum, I did not sign such a memorandum and I did not deliver such a memorandum to our former City Manager. Most importantly, I did not, have not, and would not knowingly participate in any conspiracy to falsely accuse any person, of anything.
“A close review of the “facts” alleged in the memo clearly shows it not only to be a forgery, but a very poorly written one. In short, I just do not understand the mind of someone who would take the time and go to the trouble to forge such a document and release it to the public, anonymously, as if it were fact. Such an act is not only cowardly; it is also potentially illegal under A.R.S. 13-2001 et seq. Who would do such a thing? Such acts cause unnecessary dissension and mistrust within an organization and should not be tolerated for any reason.”

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The city of Maricopa may add up to 12 police officers after comments made to the chief of police by councilmembers at a budget, operations and finance committee meeting held Friday morning.
 
The topic of hiring additional officers came up during the committee’s review of the police department budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, which begins July 1.
 
Chief Kirk Fitch requested seven officers, four to fill vacated positions and three new positions, but said he would like to have more. “We could really use 12 officers to bring us up to mean operating levels, but due to budget constraints we could get by with seven,” Fitch said.
 
Currently, the city’s police department consists of 40 officers, which amounts to a ratio of less than one officer per 1,000 residents.
 
The national average is 2.3 and the Bureau of Justice Statistics states that cities the size of Maricopa typically employee 1.8 officers per 1,000 residents.
 
Councilmember Carl Diedrich said he was skeptical about hiring additional officers based on national statistics if the department was getting the job done with current staff.
 
However, Fitch said that was not the case.
 
“We have seen an increase in most types of crime, plus an increase in our response times,” Fitch said.
 
In 2010, crime increased 19 percent in the city. This coincided with the size of the police force decreasing from 2008 and 2009 levels.
 
The increase in crime coupled with the decrease in officers led to increases in overtime pay and less attention paid to record keeping.
 
“Normal residents only see boots on the ground, but a lot of work an officer does is in the back of the office,” said Diedrich. ”That part of the police work is not getting done in Maricopa.”
 
Fitch agreed that many investigations are behind schedule due to a lack of personnel.
 
Also, according to Fitch, the limited number of officers has forced the police department to shift to a 12-hour schedule.
 
“We just don’t have the staff to run a four-day-a-week, 10-hour-a-day schedule,” Fitch said. “To do that we would need 12 additional officers.”
 
The 12-hour scheduled raised concerns for Councilmember Alan Marchione.
 
“I know from my experience in law enforcement that after 10 hours your reaction time decreases significantly,” said Marchione. “We need our officers as alert as possible.”
 
If council approves hiring 12 additional officers, Fitch said it would offset at least 50 percent of the nearly $150,000 the department spends annually on overtime costs.
 
The hiring of each officer comes with a price tag of nearly $2,000 plus an annual salary around $47,000.
 
Marchione, Diedrich and Mayor Anthony Smith said they would like further information about the proposed staff increase.
 
“If we eventually approve these positions I would need to see the police department find some additional savings elsewhere,” Marchione said.
 
 
Photo by Steven M. Thomas

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A report released by the Food Research and Action Center this week shows the congressional district which includes the city of Maricopa is one of the hungriest in the nation.

“The 2010 data shows that Arizona households are still struggling, which was reflected in the increased demand our food banks saw last year, when they distributed a record 134 million pounds of food,” said Ginny Hildebrand, president and CEO of the Association of Arizona Food Banks. “Despite the increased demand, we continue to work diligently to assist each of these struggling individuals and families.”

The study looked at the number of people who reported in the past year not having enough money to buy food they needed for themselves or their family. It then ranked the findings by state, congressional district and metropolitan area.

In the 7th Congressional District, 22.5 percent of residents reported not having enough money to buy the food they needed, which ranked the area third-worst in Arizona and the 88th out of 436 districts nationwide. In the district with the greatest hunger problem, 31.8 percent of residents lacked sufficient food.

Statewide, more than one in five Arizona households reported not having enough money to buy needed food. That number moved Arizona up in the ranking, making it the 15th hungriest state. It was 17th in 2009 and 22nd in 2008.

In Maricopa, the increase in need for food assistance was even more dramatic, according to FOR Maricopa Food Bank Director Wendy Webb.

“From 2009 to 2010, the number of people we served increased from 26,000 to 38,000, a little more than 30 percent,” Webb said. “It seems like people are trying to improve their situation, but they just don’t have enough resources to currently survive on.”

Webb pointed out the 38,000 are not unique people served. “One person could have received five food boxes and that would count as five servings,” she said.

Arizona’s growing hunger comes at a time when the overall number of people dealing with food hardship declined from 18.5 percent to 18 percent nationwide.

The FRAC report analyzes survey data collected by Gallup. The ability to provide such localized up-to-date data comes from Gallup’s partnership with Healthways, which included interviewing 1,000 households per day throughout the year.

More than 352,000 people were asked in 2010 whether there were times over the preceding year that they did not have enough money to buy food they or their family needed. To read the full report, visit www.azfoodbanks.org or www.frac.org.

 

Pinal County Deputies arrested five men less than 20 miles south of Maricopa for the alleged smuggling of drugs.

The arrest came on Sunday when deputies attempted to stop a 1999 Ford F-250 on Highway 84 and Green Road for speeding.

The driver of the vehicle failed to comply and led deputies on a chase in excess of 100 mph.

Deputies attempted to stop the vehicle using strip spikes, but the driver avoided the device and took the chase off-road.

As the vehicle sped through the desert, a man who was in the bed of the vehicle was ejected when the truck hit a bump. The man attempted to escape on foot, but deputies were able to capture him.

In the meantime, the driver of the truck navigated the vehicle back onto Highway 84, where deputies were able to successfully deflate the right front tire using spike strips and perform a “high-risk stop.”

The driver, 34-year-old Casa Grande resident Victor Estrada, was taken into custody, along with three passengers. Deputies found 158 pounds of marijuana in the back bed of the truck.

Estrada was booked into the Pinal County Adult Detention Center for felony flight, possession of marijuana for sale and transportation of marijuana. Court records show Estrada previously served prison time.

The four passengers, including the one who was ejected, were booked for possession of marijuana for sale and transportation of marijuana.

They are identified as Juan Baradas Garcia Valades, 39, of Florence; Marcos Antonio Espinoza Lopez, 35, of Mexico; Carlos Lugo Garcia,19, of Mexico; and Jesus Guillero Avila,26, of Mexico.

 

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Maricopa resident Sally Meyerhoff dreamed of becoming one of the top runners in the world and earning a gold medal in the Olympics.

In pursuit of these dreams, she dedicated her life to her sport, spending countless hours training and competing.

Tuesday around 1:22 p.m. those dreams came to an end when the 27-year-old champion was involved in a cycling accident near the intersection of White and Parker Road and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

According to city of Maricopa spokeswoman LaTricia Woods, Meyerhoff was riding her bike southbound on White and Parker Road and failed to yield at the intersection, colliding with a truck heading east.

Woods added that the initial investigation indicates the driver of the truck was not impaired, but police would continue to investigate the incident.

Adam Zucco, Meyerhoff’s coach, said the following on behalf of Meyerhoff’s family late Tuesday night in an e-mail to the Ahwatukee Foothills paper:

“Sally’s family would like to make it known she will be tremendously missed. They love her very much and she was the best sister and daughter anyone could ask for.”

Meyerhoff earned seven state championships in high school track and field at Mountain Pointe High School. She finished 12th at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in 2001.

At Duke University, where she attended on a full athletic scholarship, she was an NCAA All-American in cross-country in 2004 and in track in 2006. She was also the Atlantic Coast Conference cross-country champion in 2004.

She made her debut in marathon running at the P.F Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon in 2008, qualifying for her first Olympic trials.

Over the past several years, Meyerhoff bounced in and out of the rankings as one of the top women marathon runners in the world, but she appeared ready to cement her status as a world-class champion in the past few months.

Meyerhoff won the 2010 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship on Dec. 5 in Hawaii by a full eight minutes. Meyerhoff said the event was the most “difficult” she ever competed in and it left her depleted for weeks afterward.

Despite lingering soreness, she went on in January to win her hometown race, the P.F Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon. In a February interview with InMaricopa, Meyerhoff called the race her crowning achievement to date.

With the win in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon win, Meyerhoff earned a ticket to compete in the U.S. Olympic trials next January in Houston.

In the meantime she was preparing for a 15K event in Fountain Hills this weekend and also had plans to compete in the half Ironman June 26 in Lubbock, Texas, hoping that a win there would land her a spot at the Ironman Triathlon World Championship on Oct. 8, just 14 weeks before the Olympic trials.

Tempe Marcos de Niza High School track coach Anna Rodriguez, who ran on the same cross-country and track teams with Meyerhoff, said, “This is what she dreamed about. She wanted to have a family and kids. But I kept telling her, ‘You’ll have that, too.’ She was so driven. Nothing was going to get in her way.”