Authors Articles byScott Bartle

Scott Bartle

Scott Bartle
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InMaricopa’s publisher began his career in sports marketing, producing and marketing Association of Tennis Professionals Tour events in Indianapolis and Scottsdale. He served as marketing coordinator for the Super Bowl XXX Host Committee prior to joining the Maricopa County Sports Commission where he spent four years as its assistant executive director. Since 2000 Scott has served as president of Outside the Box Marketing, Inc. Scott is former president of the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board and IU Alumni Club of Phoenix and a member of the Knights of Columbus and Sigma Chi Fraternity. Scott is a graduate of Indiana University, Valley Leadership, Project CENTRL and the Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy. A native Hoosier, Scott has lived in the Phoenix area since 1977 and in Maricopa since 2004.

Sen. Jeff Flake spoke to local leaders in between tours of Copper Sky and the UltraStar Multi-tainment Center. Photo by Adam Wolfe

By Adam Wolfe

With the U.S. Senate out of session, Sen. Jeff Flake­­­­­­­­ spent much of the month visiting constituents around the state. Friday he met with Maricopa and Ak-Chin Indian Community officials in Maricopa.

Nearly 50 people representing the Ak-Chin community, city of Maricopa, Maricopa Unified School District and other public officials attended a luncheon at the Elements Event Center at Ak-Chin Circle.
Flake met with city officials at Copper Sky Multigenerational Complex prior to lunch and took a tour of UltraStar Multi-tainment Center afterward.

“I appreciate the partnership you have between the city of Maricopa and the Ak-Chin community,” Flake said. “It’s really great to see the contributions you made to Copper Sky. What a wonderful facility that is. I’d love to have something like that next door. Residents here are fortunate to have that.”

Flake was welcomed to the stage by Ak-Chin Indian Community Vice-Chairman Delia M. Carlyle and Maricopa Mayor Christian Price.

Referencing Ak-Chin’s strong ties to agriculture, Flake started his speech with an anecdote about his childhood growing up in a farming community. When he was 5, Flake said he stuck his finger “where he shouldn’t have” and lost the tip. However, his father re-attached it by wrapping it with a handkerchief, but finished his job before taking the younger Flake to the hospital. The story was received with laughter, and the light mood lasted throughout the event.

Flake addressed the water shortage in Lake Mead and new regulations that could directly affect agricultural in the area and electricity rates.

“We are likely to see a shortage declaration when the water hits 1,075 (feet) at Lake Mead,” Flake said. “Myself, Sen. (John) McCain and former Sen. (Jon) Kyl sat down several months ago with Gov. (Doug) Ducey and said, ‘How can we get all the stakeholders on the same page?’ Let’s figure how we can get some consent items that we can push in Washington. There’s going to be drought legislation moving through, probably initiated by the Californians who didn’t plan as well as Arizona did, and we want to make sure they don’t take our water.”

Flake said Arizona needs to improve the thinning of the forests to help improve the gathering of rainwater as well. He estimated 23 percent of rainwater is lost due to forest overgrowth.

Flake also addressed foreign policy. He said the Obama Administration should have held Iran accountable for more than just its nuclear weapons program, but he will support the Iran nuclear deal if it is ratified. Flake doubts there are enough votes in Congress to prevent it from moving forward.

The senator from Snowflake, Arizona, expressed his support of lifting sanctions against Cuba due to the economic boost it would provide American exports and the Cuban people.

Flake will return to Washington, D.C., when the Senate reconvenes Sept. 8.

There will be a 20 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms starting Friday night. Photo by Adam Wolfe

 By Adam Wolfe

 

The National Weather Service is calling for potential rain and thunderstorms throughout the weekend.

There will be a 20 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms starting Friday night and lasting through Sunday. The temperatures may still reach 110 degrees, but rain could keep the days a bit cooler. Once the storms blow through, mostly clear skies are expected.

The forecast for Friday calls for mostly clear skies during the day with a high near 108 degrees and winds staying calm near 8 mph. As the evening approaches, storms are expected to move in. There is a 10 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms throughout the night, and the overnight low is expected to be 83 degrees.

The storm is expected to linger into Saturday morning as there is a 10 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms before 11 a.m. As the afternoon approaches, the chances for rain increase to 20 percent, but the winds are once again expected to stay calm near 9 mph. The high for the day is projected to be 110 degrees, and the overnight low is expected to be 83 degrees.

Sunday will nearly mirror Saturday as there is a 10 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms in the morning before the chances increase to 20 percent in the afternoon. The projected high for Sunday is 106 degrees. The winds are expected to stay near 10 mph, and the storm is expected to blow out overnight.

As the new week approaches, the forecast calls for mostly clear skies. Temperatures are expected to be near 105 degrees to start the new work week.

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Coach Chris McDonald says he is proud of the way the Rams have dealt with adversity this week. InMaricopa photo by William Lange

By Adam Wolfe

The Maricopa High School Rams football team has dealt with tragedy, extreme heat and sporadic rain in the week leading up to their first game, but despite all the obstacles, head coach Chris McDonald feels his team will show up focused and determined against the Owls of Agua Fria High School (Avondale).

The largest threat the Owls present to the Rams is their size advantage.

“They’re bigger than we are up front, so that’ll be the first and foremost threat,” McDonald said. “We’re going to try to use our speed. I think we have more team speed, so hopefully we can counteract their power with our speed. Then we’ll be able to infiltrate gaps by being quicker.”

Similar to last year’s Maricopa team, the Owls were an offensively potent team that struggled on defense. Maricopa will look to exploit the gaps in the defense, but at the same time, be aware of an improved unit that features ball-hawking senior safety Jaylon Green.

“No. 3 (Green) is their best all-around football player,” McDonald said. “He’s their free safety and he’s one of their slot receivers. He’s arguably the best athlete on the field. He’s a threat to take it to the house any time he touches the ball.”

In the 2014 season, Green led Agua Fria in receiving yards on offense and interceptions on defense. He also returns kicks and had nearly 1,000 all-purpose yards last year.

Another threat to the Rams defense is senior running back Chris Cofield. Last year, Cofield finished with a team-high seven rushing touchdowns and over 500 yards. According to McDonald, he is “fast and physical” and the defense will need to stop him from reaching the open field.

On the Rams side of the football, they’ll look to their explosive offense led by seniors Aaron Owens and Isaiah Pedro to set the tempo for the game. The Rams return four starters on the offensive line from the 2014 season, and if the scrimmage against Notre Dame Prep is any indication, they should have no problem opening holes for running backs to get through.

However, their receiving core featuring team co-captain Johnny Johnson Jr. and junior David Owens will need to step up their aggression for Maricopa to reach their full potential.

“I thought we were more physical (in the scrimmage) than [Notre Dame Prep] was, which was good to see,” McDonald said. “I just think our experience should be a strength this year. We have a core group of seniors that are returning and a lot of two-way players that know what to expect.”

The experience will be largely beneficial on offense. On defense, though, there are still some question marks. The team showed great defensive speed and aggression in the scrimmage last week, but once the first string players came off the field, the team was susceptible to big plays.

If they show up with the same aggression as they did in the scrimmage, the defense should be able to use their speed to overcome the size and power of the Agua Fria front line.

The last obstacle the Rams defense, and team as a whole, will have to cope with is the loss of senior linebacker Nate Ford. The morning after last week’s scrimmage, Ford passed away in a traffic accident. The aftermath has been felt by the team and community alike.

Last Friday’s practice was canceled after the accident, and the team has been honoring Ford each day at practice by bringing out his helmet, pads and practice jersey. So far, the tragedy has been fueling the team. At practice, they play for purpose. Each sprint and each play is executed for their friend who can no longer be with them. The team has handled the situation with strength and class, said Coach McDonald, who believes that drive will carry through Friday night as well.

“I told the kids after practice today that I was proud of them so far with how they’ve gone about their business,” McDonald said. “There’s no manual on how to handle something like this. So we’ve had a short week due to the circumstances. We got rained out Tuesday, so we haven’t had a lot of practices, but the tempo was real good in the practices we have had, and these players have had a spark.”

The Rams have decided to make Nate Ford the fourth team captain for Friday’s game. His number will be represented at the coin toss with the captains, and his jersey and equipment will be given a spot on the bench with his teammates.

There have been plenty of events throughout the week to provide excuses for the Rams, but the players haven’t taken them. They appear focused and determined to make a statement Friday.

MES Principal Jen Robinson presents her plan to help change the teaching culture in Arizona.

By Adam Wolfe 

National Board Certified teachers Jen Robinson, Angela Ebner and Treva Jenkins presented their “World Domination” plan to address issues facing teachers in Arizona to the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board during their meeting Wednesday night.

The district has 19 teachers signed up to take a pre-candidacy course to become National Board Certified teachers. The process isn’t easy and takes years to complete. Once a teacher completes it, they can move into leadership roles amongst their peers and be nationally recognized for their teaching prowess.

“Finding your leadership voice is unique to each of us,” Ebner said. “Prior to the National Board process, I would have never taken on leadership roles on my campus. On my journey to become a National Board Certified teacher, I discovered that not only should expert teachers question, investigate and research, but they should expect the same from their peers. This is what I have been doing from the comfort of my own classroom.”

The teaching profession has seen an extreme exodus in the state of Arizona over the last few years. This is largely due to budget cuts, but also because half of all teachers leave the profession by their fifth year. MUSD hopes to curb that trend by getting more teachers involved in National Board programs. These programs help instill confidence and expertise into the workforce, and that can help teachers rely on themselves more than the inconsistent Legislature.

“If we don’t stand up and take back our profession, who will?”Maricopa Elementary School Principal Jen Robinson asked. “We need to have teachers tell our stories. Not politicians. Not legislators. Not Diane Douglas. Not Doug Ducey. My call to action for teachers is to take back our profession. Stand up and share your story.”

Another issue addressed by the Governing Board on Wednesday was the lack of air conditioning on the buses. However, MUSD Superintendent Steve Chestnut assured the board each bus being used does have air conditioning. There was an incident where a bus broke down and the backup bus did not have air conditioning, but water was provided for each student, and the bus was only used for one day.

The board also acknowledged some of the tragedies happening around the city of Maricopa over the last few weeks. Governing Board president Patti Coutre made it a point to briefly speak her mind on the issue before proceeding into any items on the agenda.

“I thank God every day for the blessings I have received; none more precious to me than my children,” Coutre said. “I have witnessed amazing strength in so many this past week. The compassion that this community has shown to the families and how our community stands together reinforces how much I love living in Maricopa. I pray for peace and healing for all of us as we grieve the terrible losses we have experienced this last week. I encourage all of you to drive safe and buckle up.”

The Governing Board also unanimously passed an updated personnel schedule. The new personnel schedule included the creation of a new position to help tutor and mentor athletes hoping to make it to a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I, II, or III program. The position, currently being filled by Maricopa High School football coach Chris McDonald, will provide guidance to ensure student athletes are meeting the criteria put in place by the NCAA in order to earn an athletic scholarship.

Other items passed by the board included an acceptance of the first reading of an update to the state Legislature regarding the evaluation of professional staff members and student discipline in classrooms. The professional evaluation will determine whether a teacher is an effective educator, and the student discipline clarifies what members of the staff are properly certified to handle student discipline, specifically the “restraint and seclusion” technique.

The Arizona Department of Corrections needs to fill hundreds of jobs.

Pinal County’s jobless rate is close to its January numbers after ticking up slightly in July.

According to statistics released today by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate remained the same compared to June while Arizona’s rate grew from 5.9 percent to 6.1 percent.

In Pinal County, joblessness was at 6.9 percent in July. That was up from 6.5 percent in June and just under January’s 7 percent.

During the month, Arizona had a net loss of 7,200 jobs. The biggest losses were in education, which had a drop of 12,900, comprising most of the 13,500 government job losses. The largest gain in employment was in professional services, which picked up 3,700 jobs.

Pinal County’s available labor force shrank by almost 1,000 between the June and July reports, but the number of unemployed grew by about 500 people.

The Arizona Department of Corrections announced it has 539 positions open around the state, and nearly 300 in Pinal County. Arizona Workforce Connection will be hosting a “hiring event” for the Arizona Department of Corrections in September.

The majority of the DOC jobs are out of Florence, but there are opportunities for job seekers in many parts of Arizona. The event will be hosted at the Arizona Workforce Connection office at 1015 E. Florence Blvd. in Casa Grande.

“[The event] will be on Sept. 23 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.,” Arizona Workforce Connection business service liaison Linda Martinez said. “There are over 500 positions statewide and 289 positions in Florence.”

To be considered for a position, job seekers must have a high school diploma or GED, be at least 21 years of age, have no felonies in their background and have a valid driver’s license. Applicants will also be subject to a comprehensive knowledge exam, background check, and pre-employment drug testing. All of which must be passed in order to be considered for a position.

However, if an applicant is chosen, they’ll have the opportunity to receive paid training, health and dental insurance, vacation and holiday pay, opportunities for retirement after 25 years and tuition assistance for those looking to go back to school. Other benefits include job stability, opportunities for advancement and higher salaries for more experienced officers.

Compared to July 2014, Arizona has had a net gain of 67,600 jobs.

There was a year-over-year jump of 6.5 percent in construction jobs in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale Metropolitan Area, which includes Pinal County. Private-sector jobs have grown 0.1 percent month-to-month and 3.6 percent year-to-year.

july-jobless

The name of the man killed in an accident at his home on Roan Road Tuesday has not been released.

The 58-year-old man was working on his truck with a friend on the property in the Thunderbird Farms area southwest of Maricopa.

“At some point while the two men were working on the truck, the truck engine started and it was in reverse,” Pinal County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Mark Clark said. “The truck started to move un-piloted [and] both men tried to regain control of the truck.”

The 49-year-old friend rolled under the truck and suffered injuries to his legs, head and arms. The owner then fell under the truck, which stopped on top of him. Clark said the fatal injury was due to massive blunt force trauma.

The 49-year-old man was air-lifted to a hospital for his non-fatal injuries.

PCSO was called to the scene around 11:15 a.m. by the victim’s wife. When detectives arrived, they found him deceased.

Willard Castenada left Maricopa in December and was found this month in Tucson. (PCSO photo)

Nearly eight months after absconding from his Maricopa home, a convicted sex offender has been recaptured.

An off-duty Pinal County sheriff’s detective is credited with identifying Willard Castenada at a shopping mall in Tucson on Aug. 14 and calling in the Violent Offender Task Force.

Castenada, 26, is a registered Level 3 sex offender who was required to wear a GPS ankle bracelet. He had been convicted of sexual conduct with a minor in a case involving a 14-year-old girl in 2010. On Dec. 28, 2014, he cut off the bracelet and left town.

According to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, he also had prior convictions for armed robbery, drug possession and several misdemeanors.

The detective who spotted Castenada is a member of the U.S. Marshal’s Violent Offender Task Force. Castenada was arrested without incident and extradited back to Pinal County.

“When Castaneda was interviewed by our detectives at PCSO Jail, he admitted that he cut off his ankle monitor and had been in Tucson since then,” Sheriff Paul Babeu said. “He said he couldn’t handle probation and wanted to live as much as he could before he was caught.”

Castenada was arraigned Aug. 21 and given no bond. His next court hearing is Sept. 14. He had warrants for violating sex-offender registration laws. He is also charged with interfering with a monitoring device.

 

By Adam Wolfe

The summer season might be at its peak, but summer vacation is coming to a close as all schools within the Maricopa Unified School District will start classes on Monday.

For some, the new school year will bring fresh starts in new schools, and for others, it will provide a much needed return to a regimented schedule. Parents may finally have time to relax and enjoy the quiet, while others may return to work. Either way, the time has come to bring back the sack lunches, replenish the notebook stash and return to school.

There have been some changes in leadership in the district. Former Desert Wind Middle School Principal Renita Myers is now principal of Maricopa High School. Former MHS Principal June Celaya takes Myers’ place at DWMS. Brand new to the district is Loraine Conley, new principal at Santa Cruz Elementary.

For families who have recently moved to the area or forgotten to register their children in classes, MUSD registration is still available.

“All Maricopa parents and guardians are invited to enroll their children in MUSD for 2015-16, and it is not too late to register,” MUSD superintendent Steve Chestnut said in a statement. “Registration forms and information can be found on the school district website at www.musd20.org.”

Parents and guardians can either go to the website and click on the “Registration” tab at the top of the page or pick up the registration forms and information from their neighborhood school.

In order to register, parents and guardians will need to provide the school with their student’s birth certificate, immunization record, picture ID of parent or guardian registering the student, proof of residency (utility bill, rental agreement, etc.), and records, transcript and withdrawal slip from the student’s previous school.

Sequoia Pathway Charter School also begins classes on Monday at 7:45 a.m.

Legacy Traditional School gets out of the chute before everyone, starting Thursday, July 30.

Leading Edge Academy begins Aug. 4.

Camino Montessori starts class on Aug. 10.

MUSD Schools:

Maricopa High School

  • Grades 9 – 12
  • 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave. Maricopa, AZ 85139
  • (520) 568-8100
  • Principal: Renita Myers – rmyers@musd20.org
  • In class 7:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Desert Wind Middle School

  • Grades 7 – 8
  • 35565 W. Honeycutt Road Maricopa, AZ 85138
  • (520) 568-7110
  • Principal: June Celaya – jcelaya@musd20.org
  • In class 9:10 a.m. – 4:10 p.m.

Maricopa Wells Middle School

  • Grades 7 – 8
  • 45725 W. Honeycutt Ave. Maricopa, AZ 85139
  • (521) 568-7100
  • Principal: Rick Abel – rabel@musd20.org
  • In class 9:10 a.m. – 4:10 p.m.

Butterfield Elementary School

  • Grades K – 6
  • 43800 W. Honeycutt Road Maricopa, AZ 85138
  • (520) 568-6100
  • Principal: Janel Hildick – jhildick@musd20.org
  • In class 8:35 a.m. – 3:35 p.m.

Maricopa Elementary School

  • Grades K – 6
  • 18150 N. Alterra Parkway Maricopa, AZ 85139
  • (520) 568-5160
  • Principal: Jennifer Robinson – jrobinson@musd20.org
  • In class 8:10 a.m. – 3:10 p.m.

Pima Butte Elementary School

  • Grades K – 6
  • 42202 W. Rancho El Dorado Maricopa, AZ 85138
  • (520) 568-7150
  • Principal: Randy Lazar – rlazar@musd20.org
  • In class 8:35 a.m. – 3:35 p.m.

Saddleback Elementary School

  • Grades K – 6
  • 18600 N. Porter Road Maricopa, AZ 85138
  • (520) 568-6110
  • Principal: Felicia Williams – fwilliams@musd20.org
  • In class 8:10 a.m. – 3:10 p.m.

Santa Cruz Elementary School

  • Grades K – 6
  • 19845 N. Costa Del Sol Maricopa, AZ 85238
  • (520) 568-5170
  • Principal: Loraine Conley – lconley@musd20.org
  • In class 8:35 a.m. – 3:35 p.m.

Santa Rosa Elementary School

  • Grades K – 6
  • 21400 N. Santa Rosa Dr. Maricopa, AZ 85138
  • (520) 568-6150
  • Principal: Eva Safranek – esafranek@musd20.org
  • In class 8:35 a.m. – 3:35 p.m.

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Like many passersby, Maricopa was known to Pat Kieny as a site along the way to San Diego. Unlike others, one such trip prompted him to build a second restaurant.

“As soon as that Bashas’ came up in the summer of ’04, my wife and I said, ‘Hey, this might be good,’ and we started negotiating with the property owner,” said Kieny, who built his first Native Grill & Wings franchise at Dobson and Guadalupe roads in Mesa in 2001.

The negotiation and subsequent construction took 18 months. Native New Yorker, as it was known then, opened in July 2005.

“The first three years was fantastic business-wise, as everyone down here realized,” he said, “and then the housing crash in ’08 really made a dent on the customers and how much money they had to spend.”

Kieny, who in mid-November inked a lease extension until 2022, is optimistic about Maricopa’s future.

“There will be a lot more new business coming to town, which is going to help everybody,” he said. We need to keep people in Maricopa spending their money.” 

Lately, those businesses have been other restaurants, the impact of which varies.

“Sometimes there’s hardly any impact at all, and other times it’s really big,” Kieny said. “When the Luxe [Lounge] opened that had an effect on us. When Firehouse Subs opened, we didn’t notice anything.”

Kieny employs 40 to 55 people depending on the season.

“We enjoy Maricopa, he said. “The people are great.”

Native Grill & Wings
21164 N. John Wayne Parkway
520-568-6077
Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily (bar open until 2 a.m.)
Stores: 30
States: Arizona, Colorado and Texas

Owner Pat Kieny:

PERSONAL

Family: Wife, three daughters, three granddaughters, two dogs

Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska

Current residence: Gilbert

Education: Studied business at University of Nebraska at Omaha
 
Interests: Family, hiking, golf, friends

Pets: Ody, a 3-year-old lab/pit bull, and Mr. Wiggles, a 6-year-old schipperke

Pet peeves: Roadside political signs

Car: Volkswagen Jetta

I wish I was … hiking with my wife.

Currently reading: “The First Phone Call from Heaven” (Mitch Albom)

Lowest round of golf: 74 (Dobson Ranch, 10 years ago)

Handicap: 12

Holes in one: Zero

Dream foursome: (Wife) Sue, (daughter) Erika, (granddaughter) Jaden 

BUSINESS

First job: Newspaper boy

Favorite job: This one

Why this business? I like dealing with the people, and I like the physical nature of it.

Why Maricopa? Because of the growth. That’s why we originally came here in 2005.

Greatest challenge: Economic change and government regulations (Obamacare and minimum wage); running the restaurant, staff and customers is easy.

Greatest opportunity: To get more embedded in the community.

What person has most influenced your career? Rod Ticknor, who owns Natives in Ahwatukee. I’ve known him 30 years. We worked at Wendy’s together back in the ‘80s. He was my boss at my first restaurant job, and we started together at Native 17 years ago.

Best advice you give others: Whatever your situation is currently – good or bad – don’t worry, it’s going to change. Don’t be too worried about what’s happening right now.

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The local Veterans of Foreign Wars post honored several Maricopa students, teachers and a police officer through its participation in the national organization’s annual awards programs in November.

Essay contests give high school and middle school students an opportunity to express their views on democracy and win cash prizes. The theme for this year’s Voice of Democracy essay contest for high school students, which requires written and audio submissions, was “Why veterans are important to our nation’s history and future.” Participants in Patriot’s Pen, the middle school version, wrote “Why I appreciate American’s veterans.”

Maricopa High School junior Cristaly Betancourt’s essay was selected as were those by Legacy Traditional School’s Madison K. Tucker, Saasil Luisa Caballero and Derek R. Blakely.

Local winners advance to district, which comprises eight posts. District winners compete at the state level and state winners earn the opportunity to compete for grand prizes in the national competition.

VFW also recognizes law enforcement officers and elementary, junior high and high school teachers who “teach citizenship education topics regularly and promote America’s history and traditions effectively.”

Maricopa Police Det. Pamela O’Neal was honored with the VFW National Law Enforcement Public Servant Citation. 

Kathleen Kelley of Butterfield Elementary School, Legacy Traditional School’s Stephan Beltz and Maricopa High’s Dishon Gregory received the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Awards.

“I was happy with everyone’s participation and the quality, from the nominations of the law enforcement to teachers of the year to the content of the essays,” VFW Post 12043 Commander Mike Kemery said.

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Close to 400 people filled Our Lady of Grace church – and much of its parking lot – Friday for a Mass and potluck dinner honoring Rev. Marcos Velasquez’s 25-year anniversary of becoming a priest.

The guests included friends, family, former parishioners and fellow priests. Nine priests from around the state, including one serving in Germany, came to Maricopa to support their friend and colleague.

Velasquez, the pastor at Maricopa’s catholic church, was ordained June 3, 1989 in St. Augustine Cathedral in Tucson.

“It’s gone by fast. It seems like yesterday, just like I started,” he said.

Velasquez said the priesthood has “far surpassed” his expectations: “I never thought I’d be in a position to be in the different places I’ve been, the people I’ve met, and then of course here in Maricopa the opportunity to build a church. I just never thought it would fall to me, but thank the Lord; He’s given me that chance, the opportunity and the support of the people.”

Our Lady of Grace is in the process of building a new church as the anchor to a mix-use development called The Crossing. The new church will increase seating capacity from about 200 to 1,500.

One of the visiting priests was Fr. Martin Martinez, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Nogales, Arizona. He gave the homily and reflected on their meeting in the seminary.

“Father, as you know, never changes,” Martinez said. “He’s like the Lord; the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.”

Parishioner JoAnn Ortega, whose husband is the church’s deacon, said: “Fr. Velasquez has been a tremendous asset to the community. He’s really done a good job of bringing people together in a community of faith and moved the construction of our church forward at a time when it was really difficult to do so.”

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County Recorder Virginia Ross said all votes have been counted except four conditional provisional voters who she is not expecting to present their identifications today to have their votes counted.

Vincent Manfredi, Nancy Smith and Henry Wade will join the Maricopa City Council and incumbent Pattie Coutre and Gary Miller earned seats on the Maricopa Unified School District governing board.

“It’s a good feeling not to have to worry anymore about it,” Manfredi said.

Manfredi said the makeup of the new City Council is “representative of the city itself.”

“It’s great that we have people from every background on the Council – people who have owned businesses, people who have worked in business, people who have worked in government – and we have experience. … I think we have a really good makeup,” he said.

Rich Vitiello came up short against Smith in his bid for the two-year seat.

“I fought a hard battle,” Vitiello said. “I did have an uphill battle because the Smiths have been in politics a while, but I learned a lot …  I will rerun in ’16; I look forward to that. I met a lot of great people and also made a lot of great new friends, and that’s awesome.

“We already started strategizing today,” he said of his 2016 campaign.

Patti Coutre, the top vote-getter in the school board election, said: “I’m going to work just as hard as I have the past four years to continue the direction the district is going and brining all our schools to A schools and an A district.”

County Recorder Virginia Ross said the official canvass will be presented to the Pinal County Board of Supervisors Nov. 19.

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Fast & Friendly Car Wash has proven to be just that. The “friendly” is obvious from the staff’s smiles and owners’ positive attitudes. The “fast,” well, how else could you wash more than 1,000 cars in your first day in business?

“It looks like we’ll do that again today,” co-owner Matt Dadam said Tuesday, the day after their much-anticipated opening.

Jeff Dadam, Matt’s brother and fellow owner, thought 700 was a realistic number.

Jeff said one of his equipment suppliers, who works car-wash openings around the world, was impressed: “He said the largest day he’s ever seen on an opening day was about 800, and he said that was on a Saturday. He said for us to do 1,115 on a Monday and not even open until 8:30, he said it’s just unheard of … the numbers are very positive.”

But Jeff drove through Maricopa shopping center parking lots and found “there’s still a lot of dirty cars out there; our goal is to clean them all.”

One of Fast & Friendly’s new customers is Marcos Rodregues, who lives a block away from the business.

“I like it,” he said. “It’s a good car wash.”

Desert Cedars resident Trista Sisk hadn’t washed her car “in a good six or seven months.”

“It’s fantastic. I’m extremely excited about it,” she said.

She appreciates the quality in addition to the convenience: “I’m impressed with it, honestly, considering it’s been so long.”

Sisk predicted she would be “absolutely a regular. I used to love to have my car washed when I lived in the Valley, but since we don’t have many options out here” (she stopped). … Maricopa’s growing!”

Fast & Friendly hired 12 employees, all of whom who live in the Maricopa area.

“We’re having fun. It’s definitely exciting,” Jeff said.

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A day of activities honoring America’s veterans fittingly began with a flag-raising ceremony at the Maricopa Veterans Center today.

Scouts sang, bagpipers played, Air Force JROTC members marched and veterans saluted at the 8 a.m. Veterans Day celebration.

“America makes a lot of things,” Veterans of Foreign Wars Post Commander Mike Kemery said. “But the standout, the strongest, most resilient, honorable, dedicated, committed and true American product is the American veteran. And today is their day.”

Bryan Concho took the morning off work to attend the event.

“I have a long line of family being (Marine) Corps – my dad, myself and my son who is currently serving; he’s 10 years now in the Corps,” Concho said of his motivation to attend. “And always that opportunity to see fellow vets, too; it’s always good to come to an event like this.”

Kemery also told the crowd of dozens of community members, veterans and non-veterans alike:

“Today we honor every man and woman who has proudly worn the uniform of our armed forces, whether serving here at home or abroad. This relatively small group of individuals does not ask for anything from us in return. That’s a good thing because, the fact is, we can never repay them for all they’ve done for us. But ladies and gentlemen, today is a start. By your being here, it shows you acknowledge and appreciate the great sacrifices our military men and women have made for generations to ensure freedom endures.”

Other Veterans Day events include a pancake breakfast at Legacy Traditional School, appreciation luncheon hosted by Tortosa Homeowners Association, and lunch and silent auction fundraiser at Raceway Bar & Grill.
 

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Pinal County counted 17,734 more ballots, and results for the Maricopa elections in question didn’t change.

Henry Wade and Vincent Manfredi swapped spots, but both are likely winners as the top two vote-getters earn City Council seats.

Nancy Smith maintained her comfortable lead for the two-year seat, as did Patti Coutre and Gary Miller in the school board election.

Here are the current results with about 10,000 votes left to count countywide:

Maricopa City Council (Elect 2)
1. Henry Wade – 2,567 votes
2. Vincent Manfredi – 2,510
3. Rachel Leffall – 2,439
4. Marty Hermanson – 2,055

Maricopa City Council (Elect 1)
1. Nancy Smith – 2,924 votes
2. Rich Vitiello – 2,516

Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board (Elect 2)
1. Patti Coutre – 2,311 votes
2. Gary Miller – 2,221
3. Rhonda Melvin – 2,043
4. Adam Schrader – 2,028
5. Jaysie Sheppard – 1,119 

Final results are expected Thursday.

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Residents escaped a house fire in the 20000 block of North Gibson Road today after being alerted by their smoke alarms.

Maricopa Fire Department responded to the call in Cobblestone Farms about noon after residents reported hearing the smoke alarms and seeing smoke in the laundry room area on the second floor of their home. Fire crews found thick smoke on the second floor of the home and quickly contained the fire to the laundry room.

“Everything fell into place,” Maricopa Fire spokesman Brad Pitassi said. “There was smoke alarms alerting the residents of an issue in the house, the quick activation of the 9-1-1 system and our crew’s ability to get there and contain that fire within minutes of arrival. All of the dominoes fell into place for a good outcome.”

Carl Landry was one of three people home at the time.

He said they heard the smoke alarm “then we saw the smoke coming under the door. She called the fire department and they told us to get out, so we all ran out.”

“I guess lint in the dryer got hot and caught on fire,” Landry said.

Fire Marshal Eddie Rodriguez was investigating the blaze and said lint in the vent pipe behind the dryer or elements in the appliance itself is the likely cause. He did not rule out an electrical issue.

Landry’s mother started the dryer around 11:30 a.m. before leaving for work.

Rodriguez said if people were not home “we would’ve had a down-to-the ground fire; we would’ve lost that home.”

Rodriguez also said the fire “would have spread pretty fast” if the laundry room door was not shut.

“The home right now is not livable,” Rodriguez said. “ED3 did come out and shut the power off. It’s going to be a while before they can get back in there.”

Landry’s cousin Heather Jackson, whose family also lives in the home, put the day’s events in perspective: “It could’ve been a lot worse.”

“The main thing I’m concerned about is just my kids, getting them settled in,” she said of her 10-, 11- and 15-year-olds.

Red Cross was on its way to assist the seven members of the household.

“We’re a tough group of people,” Jackson’s husband, Sharmon Jackson, said. “We can handle this.”

Rodriguez suggests residents “clean the lint trap and every once in a while clean that vent pipe, and replace your smoke detector batteries.”

MFD released a statement reminding residents of the importance of properly-functioning smoke alarms:

“Smoke alarms save lives. This incident illustrates the importance of having smoke alarms throughout your home and keeping them in working condition. This is a great item to check your smoke alarm batteries or replace the entire unit if it has expired.

“During the changing of the seasons the fire department runs on numerous smoke alarm calls. Most of these calls are for dead batteries or dirty detectors. Please take some time to make sure your batteries are fresh and

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The road to Nov. 4 was long enough for most candidates. For some, their political fate is still not determined as thousands of ballots remain uncounted.

Pinal County Recorder Virginia Ross estimates 23,000 early and provisional ballots have not been counted. How many of those are from Maricopa voters is unknown, but it would be about 2,300 based on primary election voter turnout.

“We anticipate having all ballots counted by next Thursday,” Ross said.

Ross said her office will have all the mailed early ballots counted this weekend. Conditional provisional ballots, however, won’t be final until next Thursday.

Conditional Provisional voters have five business days to bring their identification to the Recorder's office. Tuesday is a county holiday, so the deadline is extended to Wednesday.

Vincent Manfredi, the current leader of the Maricopa City Council race with 1,763 votes, said he’s “sitting on pins and needles.”

Manfredi is 40 votes ahead of Henry Wade and 138 votes in front of third place Rachel Leffall. The top two vote-getters earn seats. 

“You’re getting all these congratulations, but they’re not really good yet. … I could be back in third tomorrow,” Manfredi said.

Wade is 98 votes clear of Leffall for the second seat.

“It’s something I’d like to get done,” Wade said. “I’m still comfortable; I’m still confident that I will be elected.”

Manfredi is more nervous: “The uncertainty of the election is very stressful … I’ve been hitting refresh on my phone so many times I might wear out the button.”

Rich Vitiello is 284 votes behind Nancy Smith for the two-year City Council position.

In another close race, Adam Schrader is 112 votes behind Gary Miller and 149 back of leader Patti Coutre for the Maricopa Unified School District governing board, which has two seats available.

Ross said updated results will be available by Saturday.
 

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In the end, experience won out. Republican Lyle Riggs, an attorney and part-time judge, beat Councilmember Julia Gusse, an independent, and Democrat Kevin Taylor for the opportunity to turn around the Maricopa Justice Court.

With all precincts reporting but some ballots yet to be counted, Riggs earned 53 percent, 2,678 of the 5,028 ballots cast for justice of the peace. Taylor, who ran for Pinal County Sheriff in 2012, was second with 31 percent (1,548 votes). Gusse finished a distant third with 16 percent, 892 votes behind Riggs.

Riggs will take over the position formerly held by Judge Scott Sulley. Sulley was relieved of his duties earlier this year and banned from serving in a judicial capacity by the Arizona Supreme Court in September for a variety of improprieties, including missing funds. The State Bar of Arizona recommended Sulley be disbarred.

During the campaign, Riggs said he was eager to “help restore the community's confidence in its justice of the peace court.”

His sights are now set on doing just that.

“We’re excited, ready to go to work, get the court fixed,” Riggs said.

Riggs said his campaign strategy worked: “I think the message we’ve run from the beginning – we have the education, training and experience – I think it’s resonated with voters.”

Gusse tried to make Riggs’ legal background a negative, drawing a comparison to Sulley’s actions during an Oct. 4 debate because they both have a law degree.

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A Maricopa man died shortly before 10 p.m. last night after his motorcycle rear-ended a moving vehicle on eastbound Honeycutt Road east of White and Parker Road.
 
Maricopa Police spokesman Ricky Alvardo said MPD received a call from Native Grill and Wings at 9:47 p.m. informing them an impaired man left the bar on his motorcycle. Minutes later, MPD received priority calls of a collision on Honeycutt Road.
 
“We arrived on scene and found the subject matching the description of the person they’d given us that left Native New Yorker had rear-ended a vehicle at a high rate of speed and actually was thrown off the motorcycle and landed in front of the vehicle,” Alvardo said.
 
Alvardo said James Hagan, a 48-year-old Tortosa homeowner, was pronounced dead at the scene. The woman driving the other vehicle was not injured. 
 
“We do suspect alcohol was a factor in this collision,” Alvardo said. 
 
Hagan was not wearing a helmet. Asked if it would have made a difference, Alvarado said “probably not.”
 
Hagan’s alleged actions prior to the accident corroborate his apparent impairment. 
 
Native Grill and Wings patrons and employees verbally – and physical – tried to stop him from leaving the bar prior to the accident, according to witnesses. 
 
“He was impaired when he showed up,” restaurant owner Pat Kieny said. 
 
Kieny said a witness saw Hagan almost hit another customer’s motorcycle and tip his own bike as he pulled into the parking lot. A confrontation with the other motorcycle owner ensued.
 
“We got him some water and stuff, and he was really belligerent,” Kieny said. “Then he decided he wanted to go. We told him no, that we’d call the police; and that’s what happened.”
 
Kieny said his staff offered him a free ride home and Hagan’s wife, who was there, said he had another ride option, too. 
 
One witness said Hagan was at the bar 15 to 20 minutes before leaving. 
 
“People were holding him, and then he just took off. He got on his bike and peeled out,” Kieny said. “(One) customer ran and got his car and tried to block him in with his car, but he got around it with the motorcycle.”
 
Kieny said the customer tried to follow Hagan “but he couldn’t catch up to him.”
 

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The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety awarded the Maricopa Police Department grants to increase red-light, speed and impaired-driving enforcement.
 
A $13,337 grant pays for officers to work speed and red-light enforcement details, which will start in November. MPD spokesman Ricky Alvarado said the department also received five mounted, radar units valued at approximately $3,000.
 
“We’re going to be focusing on the intersections on John Wayne Parkway. Those are the ones of major concern when it comes to red-light runners especially and speed coming into the city,” Alvardo said. “Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway we’re going to focus on also, in front of Walmart area.”
 
Separate grants from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety are funding nine portable breath testers and mouthpieces and officers to work the DUI Task Force.
 
“Overtime under this ($24,500) grant will be utilized for activities with the Maricopa, Ak-Chin, Stanfield, Hidden Valley Substance Abuse Coalition as well as providing educational instruction on the dangers of driving under the influence,” according to an MPD statement.

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Top cops, civilians named at Maricopa Police Foundation banquet
By Scott Bartle
 
Ofc. Jenny Alsidez and Sgt. Elliot Sneezy took home the top honors – Officer of the Year and Sergeant of the Year – at the Maricopa Police Foundation awards banquet at Province Oct. 25.
 
The annual event recognizes Maricopa Police officers and civilian employees and raises money the foundation uses to purchase equipment for the department.
 
Community programs manager Mary Witkofski was named Civilian Employee of the Year and Suzan Win Volunteer of the Year.
 
Alsidez has been a police officer for 10 years, seven of which working for the city of Maricopa. 
 
 “I was very surprised,” Alsidez said. “I work with a lot of well-deserving officers, and I know a bunch of good officers were nominated and I’m honored to have been selected as the Officer of the Year.” 
 
Chief Steve Stahl said Alsidez epitomizes what he believes is the “complete package” in an officer: “They should be crime fighters; they should be crime preventers; they should be peers; they should be leaders; they should be counselors.
 
“There is no task that’s too great for her to handle. There is no assignment she doesn’t accept, and when the work is completed, it’s usually before it’s due and always extremely thorough. I believe that is exactly what the citizens ask for in a police officer.”
 
Officers Jose Angulo, Pam O’Neal and Irene Walker were also nominated by their fellow officers.
 
Sneezy and Sgt. Leonard Perez were nominated for the prestigious Sergeant of the Year award. 
 
Stahl said his sergeants “are accountable not only for their actions but for those of their squad and, quite often, other squads, and they represent the leadership of Maricopa Police Department on an everyday basis.”
 
Stahl praised Sneezy’s leadership, ability to empower and advocate for his officers, and his efforts in spearheading the department’s bicycle safety and certification programs.
 
“Sgt. Sneezy has taken my vision of secession planning and preparing these officers for the next level – not only being extremely good at what they do, but preparing them to be supervisors in this department,” Stahl said.
 
“It’s really a tribute to the people I work for,” Sneezy said, referring to the six officers in his squad, one of whom is Alsidez. “They put in a lot of good work.
 
“The whole goal was to work together as a team.”
 
Sneezy has been in law enforcement 20 years and was in the second group hired at MPD after the department was formed in 2007. 
 
“There’s a lot of discussion, if not arguing, among executive staff members” when deciding the winners, Stahl said. “They are all extremely well-deserving, and I’m extremely proud of all the officers.”
 
One hundred sixty people attended the event – a third more than last year – raising about $8,500 for the Maricopa Police Foundation.
 
Stahl said he was pleased, proud and humbled: “I think everyone walked out of there with a great deal of pride for their police department.” 
 
See photos of the event at www.InMaricopa.com/Gallery. 
 
Award Recipients
 
Sergeant of the Year: Elliot Sneezy
 
Officer of the Year: Jenny Alsidez
 
Civilian Employee of the Year: Mary Witkofski
 
Volunteer of the Year: Suzan Win
 
Chief’s Meritorious Award:
Arielle Cohen 
Ryan Sheppard
 
Certificate of Appreciation:
Elvis Ray
 
Chief’s Unit Award:
Richard Aguirre
Craig Curry
Arielle Cohen 
Michael Knueppel
Meredith McLean
Ryan Sheppard
Michael Straub
Ryan Straub
 
Distinguished Service:
Jose Angulo
Colt Homan
BJ Marino
Rebecca Molus
Peder Thygesen
 
Commendation
Jenny Alsidez
Jose Angulo
Steven Bribiescas
Donnie Burnias
Michael Campbell
Arielle Cohen
Craig Curry
Michael Dennison
Andrew DeOrio
Melissa Drane
Joshua Hawksworth
Lisa Hendrix
Colt Homan
Frederick Kiefer
Steven Judd
Michael Knueppel
Andrew Leach
Gregory Lochner
Michael MacAllister
BJ Marino
Kevin Mellor
Rebecca Molus
Pamela O’Neal
Mario Palacios
Leonard Perez
Adam Pittman
Zaki Sanchez
Ryan Sheppard
John Soanes
Pete Torres
Irene Walker
Garrick Ward
Allen Weston
Sean Wurm
Martha Zayas
Ofc. Jenny Alsidez and Sgt. Elliot Sneezy took home the top honors – Officer of the Year and Sergeant of the Year – at the Maricopa Police Foundation awards banquet at Province Oct. 25.
 
The annual event recognizes Maricopa Police officers and civilian employees and raises money the foundation uses to purchase equipment for the department.
 
Community programs manager Mary Witkofski was named Civilian Employee of the Year and Suzan Winn Volunteer of the Year.
 
Alsidez has been a police officer for 10 years, seven of which working for the city of Maricopa. 
 
 “I was very surprised,” Alsidez said. “I work with a lot of well-deserving officers, and I know a bunch of good officers were nominated and I’m honored to have been selected as the Officer of the Year.” 
 
Chief Steve Stahl said Alsidez epitomizes what he believes is the “complete package” in an officer: “They should be crime fighters; they should be crime preventers; they should be peers; they should be leaders; they should be counselors.
 
“There is no task that’s too great for her to handle. There is no assignment she doesn’t accept, and when the work is completed, it’s usually before it’s due and always extremely thorough. I believe that is exactly what the citizens ask for in a police officer.”
 
Officers Jose Angulo, Pam O’Neal and Irene Walker were also nominated by their fellow officers.
 
Sneezy and Sgt. Leonard Perez were nominated for the prestigious Sergeant of the Year award. 
 
Stahl said his sergeants “are accountable not only for their actions but for those of their squad and, quite often, other squads, and they represent the leadership of Maricopa Police Department on an everyday basis.”
 
Stahl praised Sneezy’s leadership, ability to empower and advocate for his officers, and his efforts in spearheading the department’s bicycle safety and certification programs.
 
“Sgt. Sneezy has taken my vision of secession planning and preparing these officers for the next level – not only being extremely good at what they do, but preparing them to be supervisors in this department,” Stahl said.
 
“It’s really a tribute to the people I work for,” Sneezy said, referring to the six officers in his squad, one of whom is Alsidez. “They put in a lot of good work.
 
“The whole goal was to work together as a team.”
 
Sneezy has been in law enforcement 20 years and was in the second group hired at MPD after the department was formed in 2007. 
 
“There’s a lot of discussion, if not arguing, among executive staff members” when deciding the winners, Stahl said. “They are all extremely well-deserving, and I’m extremely proud of all the officers.”
 
One hundred sixty people attended the event – a third more than last year – raising about $8,500 for the Maricopa Police Foundation.
 
Stahl said he was pleased, proud and humbled: “I think everyone walked out of there with a great deal of pride for their police department.” 
 
See photos of the event at www.InMaricopa.com/Gallery
 
***ADVERTISEMENT***AWARD RECIPIENTS
 
Sergeant of the Year: Elliot Sneezy
 
Officer of the Year: Jenny Alsidez
 
Civilian Employee of the Year: Mary Witkofski
 
Volunteer of the Year: Suzan Win
 
Chief’s Meritorious Award
Arielle Cohen 
Ryan Sheppard
 
Certificate of Appreciation
Elvis Ray
 
Chief’s Unit Award
Richard Aguirre
Craig Curry
Arielle Cohen 
Michael Knueppel
Meredith McLean
Ryan Sheppard
Michael Straub
Ryan Straub
 
Distinguished Service
Jose Angulo
Colt Homan
BJ Marino
Rebecca Molus
Peder Thygesen
 
Commendation
Jenny Alsidez
Jose Angulo
Steven Bribiescas
Donnie Burnias
Michael Campbell
Arielle Cohen
Craig Curry
Michael Dennison
Andrew DeOrio
Melissa Drane
Joshua Hawksworth
Lisa Hendrix
Colt Homan
Frederick Kiefer
Steven Judd
Michael Knueppel
Andrew Leach
Gregory Lochner
Michael MacAllister
BJ Marino
Kevin Mellor
Rebecca Molus
Pamela O’Neal
Mario Palacios
Leonard Perez
Adam Pittman
Zaki Sanchez
Ryan Sheppard
John Soanes
Pete Torres
Irene Walker
Garrick Ward
Allen Weston
Sean Wurm
Martha Zayas
 

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If you’re an educator or parent of a Maricopa Unified School District student (or future student), I likely don’t have to convince you of the importance of improving the educational opportunities for our kids.

If not, and you’re selfishly casting your vote on the MUSD override proposal, good for you. I am, too.

I want the value of my house to go up – not down. I want the value of my business to go up – not down. I want the city’s reliance on my taxes to go down – not up. I want more skilled nurses, firefighters and teachers working in our community – not fewer.

These are a few of the reasons I’m voting yes on the MUSD override. 

One of – if not the – first questions asked by employers and residents considering a move to Maricopa is: “How are the schools?”

The city has invested significant resources (read: spent a lot of our money) trying to bring jobs to Maricopa over the years. Most of the ingredients that go into successful economic development – the economy, our location, our population, our demographics, our access/transportation – are out of our control.

One requirement we can control is the quality of our schools.

Maricopa Unified School District has made great strides in recent years, continuing to improve its district scores and gain on its goal of being an A district.

MUSD’s success is happening in the face of stiff competition from several good, local charter schools, which receive more per-student funding and have fewer costs than traditional public school districts. Tempe Union and Kyrene schools, which bus Maricopa kids to the Valley, passed 10 and 15 percent overrides, respectively, last year. (MUSD is asking for the smallest allowable amount, 5 percent.)

It’s time we Maricopans loosen the handcuffs and allow MUSD to lower class sizes and increase academic offerings by hiring more teachers and investing in more instructional technology.

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The American Legion is hosting a picnic at Saturday’s Maricopa Music Festival at Copper Sky Regional Park to raise awareness for the organization, money for veterans in need and opportunities for youth.

American Legion District 4, which encompasses 10 posts throughout Pinal County, will be serving pulled pork sandwiches, macaroni salad, chips and dessert for guests through the duration of the noon to 7 p.m. event. Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 at the door, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to veterans, families of veterans and disadvantaged youth.

“Veterans helping veterans and children,” District 4 Commander Roy White said of the impetus behind the effort. “Veterans are coming back as we speak coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan – approximately 4,000 – who are going to need help.”

White, a Maricopa resident, said the Legion helps veterans in need pay utility bills, fix their vehicles so they can get to work and helps prepare them to get a job.

The Legion enlisted volunteers from the scouts to Maricopa High School’s Junior ROTC program to help, and members are donating tickets to disadvantaged youth.

“The purpose is there is comingling of cultures,” White said. “You can solve interpersonal problems simply by being nice yourself.”

White said approximately 200 tickets have been donated by local businesses and individuals so far, and he welcomes more.

In addition to lunch – or dinner if you prefer – tickets also provide entry into a raffle, which includes a $450

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In our endless effort to create our best magazine ever with each edition, you’ll find five sections — People, Family, Business, Government, Home and Food — and a lot of great content in each inside. (I know, I’m biased.)

I think you’ll really enjoy learning about some of your notable neighbors. Old timers (in residency, not age) Eddie Rodriguez and Tracy Davis and relative newcomers Chuck Morene and Laura Walsh are all making an impact on our community. An organization doing the same is the Maricopa Historical Society. This group of dedicated volunteers is passionate about preserving and promoting Maricopa’s prolific past.

We have a great tale (pardon the pun) of a family that rescued a stray dog (or was it Griffin who rescued the family?). You’ll learn about a successful school — actually, two — that started with an idea, a flier at the Post Office and an extra room in the house. A new feature will share what the teens already know — what’s trending.

Ever wonder what that monstrosity of a manufacturing facility is along the railroad tracks east of White and Parker Road? Wonder no more; details are inside. Also inside is a directory of local businesses and story about the man behind a soon-to-be Maricopa success story — Fast & Friendly Car Wash.

We continue to introduce you to your elected officials and hope you learn something new about folks who want to be your elected officials. I was amazed at the pushback we got from asking candidates a simple question requiring a simple (as in one-word simple) answer: Do you support MUSD’s override proposal? As an elected official and former candidate,

I’m empathetic to their desire to avoid the dreaded three-letter word that starts with “t” and ends in “x.” As a voter, I have no sympathy for you: Suck it up and tell your future constituents the truth. I for one give credit to (wannabe) politicians who give straight answers, even when they differ from mine.

What would your backyard look like if you invested a hundred grand in it? It could resemble an island paradise like the Tortosa pad featured. And if you’re getting ready to plant, an expert suggests you consider the ocotillo. Find out why in Home.

Food glorious food … While we don’t have hot sausage or mustard, the blackened ahi, pizza and pumpkin cake make Food a must-read.

We hope you find this to be our “best magazine ever.” But even if you don’t — especially if you don’t — please give me your feedback. It will go a long way to helping us achieve that goal next time ‘round.

Thanks for your readership!

Scott Bartle
520-568-0040 ext. 4
Scott@InMaricopa.com

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Mayor Christian Price spoke of “coming home” during his annual State of the City address yesterday at City Hall.

“We are truly a city unto ourselves, with a heart and a soul … with a sense of community, as sense of place, a sense of pride and a sense of belonging,” Price said in his opening remarks.

He gave updates on the city’s efforts in economic development, public safety, recreation, education and transportation.

More than 170 people RSVP’d for the event, which was broadcast live and will be rebroadcast on the city’s website and YouTube and government cable channels.

“I was really grateful that so many people came, and hopefully they walked away learning something new about our city; what we’ve worked on and what we’re working towards,” Price said.

Price said economic development is a constant focus: “I find myself thinking unceasingly about the myriad of creative new ways to attract small-, medium- and large-size business to the Maricopa area.”

He mentioned the growth of the Maricopa Advocates Program, construction of the Estrella Gin Business Park getting underway and groundbreaking of the retail development Maricopa Station. He said the city is implementing a new planning and permitting process tool, its own zoning code and a citizen-driven, 25-year vision plan. He also claimed success with the Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship and for receiving federal funding for studies into solving the Lower Santa Cruz Wash flooding.

Public safety-wise, Price reminded the audience the city was named the eighth safest city in Arizona and a new headquarters for the police department opened last year. Construction on a new police dispatch and substation at Copper Sky will commence this year.

The opening of Copper Sky, which has 8,700 members, highlighted growth in the city’s recreational opportunities. Copper Sky won the 2014 Best Arizona Parks and Recreation Facility Award and the city was recognized as a “Playful City” for the second consecutive year. Price also boasted of the Maricopa Public Library, which he said was one of the busiest in the country.

During the 2013 State of the City address, Price spoke of the need for better access to educational opportunities for Maricopans. Recently, the city announced Albright College will be offering four-year degrees in business administration, applied psychology and communications in partnership with Central Arizona College. Yesterday, Price revealed the University of Arizona is expanding its engineering programs to Maricopa.

“This helps lay the foundation to bring high-paying jobs to the area,” he said.

The highlight in 2014 was the city’s State Route 347 railroad overpass project earning a commitment of $18.5 million and a place in its official five-year plan from the Arizona Department of Transportation. The $55 million project is still years – and $36 million – from being a reality, but that didn’t temper Price’s excitement: “Folks, this is absolutely going to change Maricopa forever.”

A mini-loop will also be created with the extension of Edison Road through the Estrella Gin Business Park to State Route 238, and Honeycutt Road will be widened in 2015.

Shirley Ann Hartman described Price’s speech as: “Encouraging. Stimulating. Personally, I thought it was very, very good. … It’s good to hear some of the traffic problems will be solved.”

“I thought it was informative. I thought it was insightful. I thought it was encouraging. I thought he handled it very well,” City Council candidate Henry Wade said.

The format of this year’s address was more formal and reminiscent of a traditional State of the State or State of the Union. Sandwiched between the American and Arizona flags, Price’s gaze alternated between two teleprompters standing at 45-degree angles from him.

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On the heels of the Arizona Supreme Court banning former Maricopa City Magistrate and Pinal County Justice of the Peace Scott Sulley from serving as a judge, the State Bar of Arizona recommended to the Court Sulley be disbarred.

In its briefing filed Monday, Chief Bar Counsel Maret Vassella, said:

“Over an extended period of time, (Sulley) failed to properly administer the duties of his office, which resulted in the public’s substantial negative perception of the office. The misconduct included engaging in judicial conduct that resulted in harm to the parties involved in a number of cases; potential harm to public safety; engaging in abusive treatment of staff and litigants in his court; failure to properly train and supervise staff; and failing to cooperate with the Commission (on Judicial Conduct) during its investigation and prosecution of the case.”

The briefing referenced Sulley’s Justice Court not meeting minimum accounting standards – an audit revealed more than $100,000 in un-deposited funds and $65,000 found in opened and unopened mail and a bank-statement discrepancy of more than $150,000 – hundreds of arrest warrants that went unprocessed, and “utter disarray causing widespread chaos in locating files.”

The recommendation also said Sulley threatened defendants, berated a new prosecutor and made “racially discriminatory and offensive remarks.”

The brief cited 11 rules violations and said Sulley’s “misconduct was characterized as catastrophic.”

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An accident at Porter Road and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks at about 4 p.m. yesterday closed traffic and injured the driver of the vehicle, who was crossing the tracks southbound on Porter Road.

Maricopa Police spokesman Ricky Alvarado said there were two occupants in the car. The driver, 55-year-old Zack Coryellbattle, was transported to Chandler Regional Medical Center and released last night.

Alvarado said a westbound service train was working on the tracks and, according to a Union Pacific representative, kicked up debris that blocked the railroad crossing arms’ sensor.  

“We’re still trying to get an accurate diagram of the scene, which could take some time because we have to do it to scale,” Alvarado said.

One detail is certain, according to Alvarado: “The arms didn’t work like they’re supposed to.”

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A substitute bus driver trainee for Maricopa Unified School District was arrested Friday and charged with two misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure and two felony counts of disruption of an educational institution.

Paul Dickerson, of Maricopa, allegedly exposed his genitals to high school students during an afternoon bus route Tuesday. A Maricopa High School administrator called police after receiving a phone call about the incident from a parent.

Maricopa Police Department spokesman Ricky Alvarado said two girls younger than 18 and one male over 18 witnessed the act.

Superintendent Steve Chestnut said Dickerson was on a ride-along and was in the seat behind the bus driver.

The bus was equipped with three interior cameras.

“I do think they will be helpful in the investigation,” said Tom Beckett, the district’s human resources director.

“For support staff we do finger-print clearance,” Chestnut said of the hiring process. “We don’t allow any unsupervised access to kids, like driving a bus by yourself.”

“We conducted background checks and there was no indicator he had a propensity to do something like this,” Beckett said. “If he is guilty, I hope they throw the book at him.”

Beckett said Dickerson was hired in mid-July and started three weeks ago. Dickerson was convicted of burglary in 1978, which he disclosed on his application.

Dickerson is on paid leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

“He will be terminated soon,” Chestnut said.

“The District is cooperating with the ongoing police investigation and additionally the District is reaching out to offer support to the victims and families of this alleged crime,” MUSD said in a written statement.

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Running for office is an experience wrought with many emotions. The morning after losing in my bid to represent you in the Arizona Senate, here are mine:

I’m relieved. Running for office is very taxing, and a lot of negative energy accompanies the experience. I’m certain serving would yield much more of the same.

I’m disappointed. I would have enjoyed the opportunity to be part of the political process, part of the solution.

I’m competitive; I hate to lose. And as Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos can attest, getting walloped in the big game adds a little “salt” to that wound.

I would have really enjoyed competing against Democrat Jo Holt. We would have shown our constituents and all Arizonans that two political candidates can have different ideas and values, yet debate the issues in an honorable and respectful manner.

And I’m disappointed I was not able to provide a positive return on the investment so many people made in our campaign and me.

I’m excited. There are many upcoming meetings and events I get to delete from my calendar! I’m excited to spend time with my family and friends, pay better attention to my health, and to roll up my sleeves and provide great service to InMaricopa.com’s clients. Plus, the door remains open for me to take the sabbatical that has evaded me for 20 years.

I’m confident. Five percent of the district’s population elected my opponent. I’m confident the vast majority of residents in Legislative District 11 would prefer – and be better served by – me representing them in the Legislature. Unfortunately, the majority of constituents don’t determine elections. The majority of registered voters don’t even matter. It’s only the majority of the people who actually cast a ballot.

I’m sad. I’m sad for our district and our state. There were a lot of conservative – yet pragmatic – Republicans running who would have collectively changed the tenor at the Capitol. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

I’m frustrated. This campaign (and many others) validates the merits of negative campaigning. There are many very capable and honest candidates and prospective candidates who would like to compete based on the merits of the people and their stances on important issues. Those folks will remain at a significant disadvantage – and in most cases opt to not even run – as long as the electorate responds so favorably to mudslinging.

I’m proud. I was told if my opponent could not find “dirt” on me, he’d make it up. I’m proud I’ve led a life that forced him to do just that.

I said at the onset I would run a clean, honorable campaign – even if it meant losing. That’s what I did – on both accounts. 🙂

In 2010 I ran for the school board because I felt it was critically important to our community that we upgrade the leadership at our district, and I felt the same about our representation in LD 11. I’m proud I “put my money where my mouth is” and gave it a shot.

I’m humbled. While the election results may suggest otherwise, we had a ton of support for our campaign. I’m very humbled by the confidence and help of so many people, many of whom I’d never met before the commencement of our campaign.

I’m thankful. I learned the negative perception the public has of politicians and the political process is well earned. I also got to know some very selfless, smart and hardworking people committed to the success of our great state. I am very thankful for the many relationships I’ve developed along the campaign trail.

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I knew going in receiving criticism is part of running for a high-profile political office (though I’m increasingly glad my mom doesn’t live in our legislative district and subject to the attacks ads that have been mailed). In fact, I was told very clearly if my opponent couldn’t find any “dirt” on me, he’d make it up.

This sentiment was reinforced when I first told my mother about my plans. After telling me what a great legislator I would be, she tearfully likened the upcoming experience of my candidacy to when my brother was deployed to Afghanistan.

What a shame. For at least one mother, the emotional toll of campaigning to be a public servant is akin to going to war.

I get it; it’s a nasty game. But it doesn’t have to be.

The messaging from my opponent, Steve Smith, attacking me started as typical political spin – take a fact and twist it in such a way the meaning changes to your benefit. Then it graduated to disingenuous. Now, it’s littered with egregious lies. (I’d like to credit his desperation with the rapid regression.)

For the record (again):
1. I adamantly oppose ObamaCare and all federal overreach.
2. Low taxes and limited government are principles upon which my decisions in the Senate will be made.
3. I support school choice and local control.

My opponent knows this – we discuss it at every campaign stop – but he advertises the opposite as true nonetheless. He’s trying to take your attention away from the fact that after four years in the Legislature he has not positively impacted the important issues facing our district and state. If he was an effective leader and properly represented his constituents, he would spend his time, money and advertising talking about all the great things he’s done for you and your family.

If this election was based solely on the candidates and the issues, I win in a landslide. I don’t say that out of arrogance; my opponent’s campaign strategy proves it.

You will not see these tactics from my campaign. I told myself and others I would run a campaign consistent with my core values – No. 1 of which is integrity – even if it hurts my chances to win. I will continue to focus on the facts surrounding the issues and candidates’ records (fortunately, I have a lot to work with). I will not stoop to the level of manufacturing lies and trying to deceive voters just to win an election.

Dirty politics exists because we, the voters, let it. Unscrupulous politicians would have to change their strategy if lies and deceit weren’t so effective.

Let’s do our part to make future elections about the people and the issues by voting for those qualified candidates who are transparent and honest; not the ones telling you what they think you want to hear just to dupe you into voting for them.