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Prospective Eagle Scout James McNelly completed his Eagle project Saturday by working on Mormon Battalion Trail on Bureau of Land Management land.

The 14-year-old Life scout is an eighth grader at Legacy Traditional Academy. He is a member of Troop 987.

Under the supervision of Melinda Mahoney from BLM’s Phoenix District, James organized his crew of volunteers to install trail signs, remove old signs and clear debris. Access has been closed to vehicles for several years, and BLM is working to re-open some areas to motor travel again on a restricted basis.

That section of the Mormon Battalion Trail is just north of State Route 238 west of Maricopa and follows the historic Juan Bautista de Anza Trail.

It was a chilly and damp morning for the free Family Fishing Day and clinic with Game & Fish.

By Michelle Chance

Maricopa families participated in a free fishing event at Copper Sky Regional Park last Saturday, where they could catch and keep up to four fish.

The 13th annual Maricopa Family Fishing Day was Jan. 14 and was a partnership event between the City of Maricopa and the Arizona Game & Fish Department.

The department held a free fishing clinic during the event.

Instructors were on-hand to teach families the basics of fishing: how to bait a hook, cast a line and reel it back in.

Marci Alderman, sport fishing education program coordinator with Game & Fish, said anybody could participate, regardless of skill level.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’ve never fished before or you’re an experienced angler,” Alderman said. “It’s just an opportunity for families to get out and have some fun.”

To prepare, the city stocked the lake at Copper Sky with 1,000 fish prior to the event, said Special Events Coordinator Niesha Whitman.

The lake was stocked with white amur, bluegill, catfish and trout.

Ten-year-old Mireyna Marez and her grandpa Ricardo Franklin participated in the event and caught a few fish.

Marez said she would release a small fish she helped her grandpa catch back into the water, in order to “keep the bigger fish alive.”

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Michelle Sorensen

Michelle Sorensen  is the Client Loyalty Coordinator for InMaricopa, moving to Arizona from Washington state, where she worked for the Attorney General’s Office.

Hometown: Fremont, California
Resides in: Desert Cedars
Maricopan since: 2013
Occupation: Client Loyalty Coordinator at InMaricopa
Family: Husband and (1) daughter (2) sons
Pets: Previously had chickens, cat and cockatiel. All have now passed on.
Cars: Ford 150 and Passat TDI
Hobbies: Sewing and variety of artwork
Pet peeve: Telling me to “calm down” is the fastest way to tick me off.
Dream vacation: Archipelago of the Azores; home of my great-grandmother
Like most about Maricopa: Weather
Like least about Maricopa: Amtrak blocking the train tracks.

Favorite …
Charity: Heifer International and World Vision
Book: All Idiom books
Movie: True Story movies – NOT based on true story
Actor: Michael Acosta – Nephew
Song: Aaronic Blessing
Musician: Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole
Team: Seattle Sounders
Athlete: Rollie Fingers, Oakland A’s
Food: Olives
Drink: Tea
Meal: Mediterranean Cuisine
Restaurant: Lucky Dragon, Kalama WA
Getaway: Hawaii
Quote: “By remaining exactly the same today as you were yesterday, you are guaranteeing that tomorrow will be no better than today.” Rabbi Daniel Lapin
Words to live by: Live in such a way that if someone spoke badly of you – no one would believe it.
Joke: “I don’t mind making jokes, but I don’t want to look like one.” Marilyn Monroe
Anything else we should know? Born in Oakland, California. Raised in Oakland and Fremont. Moved to Washington state and worked for the Attorney General’s Office before moving to Maricopa, AZ.

Get to know more of your neighbors at

For local start-up businesses or small regional companies looking to expand, finding the right lease space can be a little like being Goldilocks & the Three Bears. In one market, the spaces might be too big; in another, they may be too small or don’t exist at all. In another location, the lease rate may be too high and in another, there may be no place to expand.

And if you’re looking to serve multiple Arizona markets, the travel time and cost from locations that have more choices may well outweigh the benefits. However, there is a location in between that may be just right.

Positioned for Success

Located at 12501 N. Murphy Road on the southwestern side of the Ak-Chin Indian Community’s industrial park, Santa Cruz Commerce Center, the Mesquite Building lies in the state’s gateway region, just 14 miles from the heart of Casa Grande and only eight miles from the center of the City of Maricopa. This multi-tenant complex houses five suites and has visibility from the Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, making it ideal for small manufacturing operations, distribution centers, or even kids’ recreation facilities.

This is what attracted Beth Mundell, owner of Fyrestorm Cheer. A Mesquite Building tenant since August 2013, Mundell is enthusiastic about her location.

“I loved that the space was perfect for my business!” she said. “For a new business starting out, the price was affordable and terms doable for us. We could not have made this dream a reality anywhere else.”

Ak-Chin’s Advantages

Built in 2010, the Mesquite Building features hard-to-find office/warehouse space that can be customized to a tenant’s needs. Moreover, the building’s gross lease rates historically have run about 20 percent below current NNN leases in the surrounding areas. Ak-Chin-owned utilities are also a benefit of being a Mesquite building tenant.

“We love Ak-Chin Energy Services for keeping our rates so low,” Mundell added. “It really makes a big difference in our operating expense.”

Room to Grow

Should a business outgrow its space in the Mesquite Building, there’s still room to grow in the Santa Cruz Commerce Center. Currently, the Commerce Center has approximately 50 acres of leasable land that can be used for an owner-built or a build-to-suit facility. With lots starting at 1.2 acres and up, the Commerce Center can offer qualified lessees some favorable terms to expand. For example, a tenant can typically amortize construction costs over a long-term lease that will give them a customized facility without the sizable upfront capital outlay.

The Deciding Factors

There are many factors to consider when choosing the right location for your business and for a lot of good reasons, the Mesquite Building at Santa Cruz Commerce Center could be just right for your business.


Content sponsored by Santa Cruz Commerce Center.


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Newly elected Councilmember Julia Gusse

After a controversial first term and a two-year absence, Julia Gusse (pronounced GUSS-ee) was voted back onto the Maricopa City Council last fall as the overwhelming top vote-getter in the General Election. This week, she sat down with reporter Mason Callejas to talk about challenges ahead, such as veteran services, the pending overpass (“we will be building this whether we want it or not”) and the flood plain.



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MHS AFJROTC cadets with KC-135R Stratotankers at the newly named Goldwater Air National Guard Base. Submitted photo

Students from Maricopa High School attended the renaming ceremony for an Arizona Air National Guard base in December.

The former Phoenix Sky Harbor Air National Guard Base is now Goldwater Air National Guard Base to honor the late Arizona senator and presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. The ceremony was Dec. 9.

Cadets from the MHS Air Force Junior ROTC program attended, hearing from Gov. Doug Ducey, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Barry Goldwater Jr.

Instructor Lt. Col. Allen Kirksey (ret.) called it “an awesome experience.”

The next Curriculum in Action (CIA) trip for the cadets will be a tour of Luke Air Force Base Jan. 19.

Studies show youth today are not playing outdoors as much as they used to do.
Misty Newman

By Misty Newman

Outdoor education opens up new doors for children and instills in them a love of the outdoors for their entire lives.

Children not exposed to aspects of the outdoors such as conservation, safety and health benefits are given the opportunity to still learn the importance of being in nature and active outdoors.

From what I’ve experienced, Maricopa is already an active community and has a significant population of youth who are outdoors on a regular basis. Many youth in Maricopa are involved in outdoor sports, play at the parks and go hiking and camping with their families. We also have outstanding outdoor and recreation programs through Copper Sky.

Children who stay inside the majority of time and have limited access to outdoor activities make up a large percent of youth that are being impacted in a negative way.

Studies show youth today are not playing outdoors as much as they used to do. A survey of 12,000 families with children ages 5-12 in 10 countries (including the United States) found 50 percent of children spent less than an hour per day outdoors and a third of these children spent only 30 minutes outdoors.

A study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found American children ages 9-17 are hooked on electronic devices; the total time estimated is a stunning 7 hours and 38 minutes a day.

As a result of kids spending more time indoors, they are less physically fit and often overweight. Obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the Center for Disease Control.

This trend of unhealthy kids could be reversed by establishing more outdoor education in our schools. Other curriculum does not have to be set aside but can be enhanced with outdoor related studies.

Children who take part in outdoor education develop the skills to ask critical questions and to observe. These are skills that relate to STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math.

We don’t need to be scientists to know the outdoors greatly enhances and engages youth in ways that computer screens never can.

A school in Oregon has an outdoor program in which parents report their “children are better focused in school, take more personal responsibility for themselves and have greater self-esteem.”

Speaking more about outdoor education is the first step in establishing this type of programming in schools. This exposure to the outdoors in schools benefits youth who have limited access to the outdoors in general. Let’s reverse the trend of unhealthy youth and give all children an opportunity to learn the importance of being in nature and active outdoors.

Misty Newman is the owner of Maricopa Outdoor Adventures.

This column appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

Squatting is as fundamental to human movement as apple pie is to America. Performing a squat involves nearly every muscle in the body.

It’s essential for picking up stuff off the floor, sitting down, going to the bathroom – basically most day-to-day activity we tend to take for granted.

Additionally, exercise science tells us squats are excellent for building strength, power and mobility. Full, properly-performed squats can help counteract many of the chronic musculo-skeletal problems we face today, such as weak glutes, poor posture, lower back pain and a weak core.

If a person can properly perform a full-depth squat with their own bodyweight, without pain or discomfort, they are probably fairly fit.

Below are some recommendations on how to master the ultimate exercise. Enjoy!


If you want to get better at the squat, practice. Practice helps coordinate movement and build the mobility you need to do the movement properly.

Every body type is different. Try a variety of squats, stances and ranges of motion. Focus on form and proper technique, not piling on weight to impress your gym buddies. Check your ego at the door.

Do your mobility drills. A body with poor mobility is a body that will likely get injured with squats.

Full squats are often safer than shallow squats. The deeper you go when squatting, the more muscles are recruited.

Control the descent and reverse the movement carefully. Don’t rely on your ligaments to bounce you out of a deep squat.

Think about how the squat helps your fitness and performance. The squat technique that allows you to lift the most weight isn’t necessarily the best or most appropriate option.

Keep it simple. Even babies can squat. Don’t over-think it.

Troubleshooting Your Squat

When you’re learning the squat, snap photos or videotape yourself. This can provide invaluable feedback.

Trouble getting a comfortable squat pattern? Try a wider stance with toes pointed out a little. (Remember knees follow toes.)

Use natural foot positioning (similar to other athletic movements), with toes slightly out.

Keep heels on the ground. If need be, put small plates under your heels until you develop better mobility in hip and ankle joints.

Control squat speed, using a 2-3 second descent (unless your sport/activity demands another style).

Maintain a neutral spine.

Take breaks — fatigue can result in poor mechanics.

Keep your hands close to your body.

Look forward and keep your head up.

Work on mobility drills for ankles, hips and the thoracic spine.

Trouble keeping the weight on your heels? Take off your shoes or get a thin-soled shoe. Keep your chest proud and core tight.

Trouble squatting deep? Get your body warmed up. Widen your stance and rotate your toes out. Start the squat by sitting your hips back. Try box squat progressions (high to low box).

Focus on keeping the knees out and “spreading the floor.” Drop the amount of resistance you’re using.

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, is the owner of Longevity Athletics.


This column appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

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Murray Siegel

By Murray Siegel

The voters of Maricopa demonstrated their support for improving the level of learning in MUSD schools by voting for the override proposal on the November ballot. The override funds primarily will be used to hire additional teachers to reduce the size of classes throughout the district.

Research has proven smaller class size has a significantly positive correlation to improved student learning. Many of the new teachers will be recent graduates of university teacher training programs. Since mathematics is a part of the elementary curriculum that needs improvement, what are the universities doing to better prepare future elementary teachers to teach math?

To answer this question, two Northern Arizona University (NAU) faculty members who are deeply involved in the mathematical preparation of elementary teachers were contacted. One is a professor of mathematics and the other a professor of teaching and learning in the College of Education. Pre-service teachers (the term used to describe future teachers) at NAU take two mathematics content courses. The mathematics faculty believe a third course is required to properly prepare these future teachers.

A reader might ask, “So, why do they not simply require this third course since math is vital in the elementary grades?”

There is a limit on the number of courses required to receive a degree at any university and departments fight over the number of courses they are assigned for a degree program. More courses mean more students, which causes the need for additional faculty, and that means more funding for the department. (Perhaps voters should contact state representatives and demand an increase in the number of math courses pre-service elementary teachers are required to take.)

In the College of Education at NAU, elementary teacher candidates take a math methods course where students delve into the importance of a positive attitude towards math and investigate various methods of delivering elementary math content. The ultimate goal of this course is to have graduates who are well prepared to teach math in the elementary grades and who, with experience, will become educational leaders.

A number of the faculty in both the content courses and the methods course have actual experience teaching in elementary school. That experience informs how these faculty prepare their students for the reality of teaching at an elementary school.

Theory is fine, but practical experience is vital in teacher training. Would a patient about to have serious surgery care if the surgeon went to a medical school where all the professors knew surgical theory but had no experience in the operating room? Obviously, lack of surgical experience would be a concern and the same should be true in our schools that prepare future teachers.

Murray Siegel has a PhD in MathEd and 42 years of teaching experience. He and his wife Sharon are volunteer teachers of advanced math classes at Butterfield Elementary School.

This column appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

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Sun Life Family Health Center is asking Maricopans to fill out an online survey to better meet the goals of local residents.

Sun Life is a not-for-profit organization providing health care to Apache Junction, Casa Grande, Eloy, Coolidge, Florence, Maricopa, Oracle and San Manuel. It is Pinal county’s largest provider of primary health care services.


The Bureau of Land Management’s Phoenix District Office has announced dates, times and locations for three public information meetings at which it seeks public input on recreational target shooting management alternatives for the Sonoran Desert National Monument.

See Map

Based on public comments and suggestions received during the scoping process in 2016, the BLM has developed and analyzed a range of alternatives included in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Resource Management Plan Amendment released on Dec. 16.

The purpose of the three public meetings is to present the draft management alternatives, answer public questions, and receive public input to be considered as the planning process progresses.

The first public meeting will be held Jan. 19, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the BLM National Training Center, 9828 N. 31st Ave., Phoenix.

The second public meeting will be held Jan. 20, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Arizona Game and Fish Department, 5000 W. Carefree Hwy., Phoenix.

The third and final public meeting will be held Jan. 21, from noon to 4 p.m. at the City of Casa Grande Dorthy Powell Senior Center, 405 E. Sixth St.

During the first 30 minutes of each meeting, the BLM will provide opening remarks describing the ground rules and will proceed to present the alternatives.

• Alternative A – the “no action” alternative or continuation of the 1988 Lower Gila South Resource Management Plan (target shooting allowed anywhere within the SDNM, or “no restrictions on target shooting”)
• Alternative B – the current temporary restriction on recreational target shooting would become permanent
• Alternative C – the agency preferred alternative, recreational target shooting would be available in the Desert Back Country Recreation Management Zone
• Alternative D – recreational target shooting would be available outside of designated wilderness, lands managed to protect wilderness characteristics, and the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail Recreation Management Zone
• Alternative E – recreational target shooting would be restricted in all areas of the SDNM

Alternative C is the BLM’s current preferred alternative. Alternative C is not a final agency decision but instead an indication of the agency’s preliminary preference that reflects the best combination of decisions to achieve the BLM’s goals and policies.

The last 30 minutes will be dedicated to a presentation on the project monitoring and mitigation procedure. The time in between BLM presentations will be conducted in open house format.

Public comments from these meetings, as well as all written comments for the record, will be considered before a decision is made.

The 90-day comment period will close on March 15.  All comments must be received prior to this date in order to be included in the final analysis.  Following the public comment period, the BLM will consider all of the input and begin work to finalize the RMP Amendment and EIS.

Stakeholders are encouraged to submit their comments for the record through the BLM online land use planning tool, ePlanning. Comment on the document here. Written comments may be mailed to the BLM’s project manager, Wayne Monger, at 21605 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85027, faxed to (623) 580-5623, or emailed to

SDNM RMP Planning Website:

All comments will be made available to the public.

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Pat Lairson

By Pat Lairson

It’s a new year, and everything is looking up.

According to the Consumer Confidence Board, there is a 6.3 percent increase in consumer confidence since November 2016. This translates into more consumers being optimistic about the economy, their jobs and spending money in general.

Consumer confidence certainly has an effect on the real estate market. If a person feels secure in their job and their financial future, they are more apt to commit to something as important as a mortgage. All indicators show a very steady growing real estate market for 2017.

Interest rates have inched up slightly for some lending programs and seem to be staying there, although still very lows. Both down payment assistance programs available for Pinal County changed their criteria to the buyers’ advantage. For example, you can own other real estate at the time of closing now and still receive 10 percent of your purchase price toward your new home. If you are renting or ready to upgrade into a larger home, this is the time to check into this program!

We closed 2016 with all real estate market numbers showing an increase. (See chart at Ten percent more homes sold in 2016 than 2015, and the price of homes sold was 8 percent higher.

New builders are coming to town and current builders are buying lots in unfinished subdivisions. Fulton Homes is going to be building again in Maricopa. They have purchased up to 400 lots in the Glennwilde subdivision off Porter Road and in the interior section of Glennwilde off Honeycutt Road.

Their models should be completed by early fall, according to Fulton’s corporate office.

Historically, new listings will increase in January as people wait until the first of the year to put their homes on the market. Ending 2016 we have about 291 single family homes available for sale, which is just under a 60-day supply.

Pat Lairson, Realtor

Plant bare root roses from January to mid-February.

By Betty Beeman

Betty Beeman
Betty Beeman

Roses have been symbols of love, beauty, war and politics. And according to fossil evidence, they are 35 million years old. There are at least 150 species spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

According to the Guinness World Records, the largest and oldest living rosebush, covering 9,000 square feet is located in Tombstone, Arizona. The White Lady Banks Rose reportedly was gifted and planted in 1885 by a husband for his new bride.

Growing roses in Arizona can be challenging because of the triple-digit heat and little rain for long periods of time, but it can be done. There are a number of successful rose gardens around the area, including Mesa Community College Rose Garden. Google “rose gardens” for the endless varieties that can be grown here.

1. Purchase only grade 1 roses because these have the best chance to become established and survive our summer heat. Roses can take the heat; it’s the intense sunlight that stresses them most. Also do not buy roses that have been dipped in wax or those that have started to leaf out.

2. Plant bare root roses from January to mid-February.

3. Make sure each bush has three strong healthy canes. Reject those with fewer canes or roots that are spindly.

4. Prune to 8-12 inches, preferable to outside bud. Seal cuts with wood glue to prevent rose borers from getting into canes.

5. Using a 32-gallon trashcan filled with water and a tablespoon of B1 or a few drops of Super Thrive, soak entire bush for 24 to 48 hours. You can get several bushes in the trashcan at the same time.

6. Dig a hole 18-24 inches wide. Width is crucial for good feeder root development. Scratch in ½ to 1 cup of Disper-sul or Tiger Brand Soil Sulfur in the bottom of the hole. Then add ½-cup of Triple Super Phosphate (0-45-0) as a clump.

7. Mix a large wheelbarrow of about 30 percent forest mulch or compost, 50 percent original soil and 20 percent perlite; this will help keep soil from compacting. Place two shovels of this mix in hole over amendments and form a mound.

8. Trim off ¼-inch of all root tips to stimulate growth and remove any damaged roots. Place rose on mound, draping roots comfortably over cone. Bud union should be just above surface when hole is filled. Firm soil around roots and then fill up hole with soil mix.

9. Saturate with water to eliminate any air pockets. Water every other day for 10-14 days, then once a week, for spring watering.

Plant beets, bok choy, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, lettuce, green onions, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach, turnips
Water cactus every 4-5 weeks if no rain.
Don’t let winter weeds get ahead of you. Seek and destroy.

It is almost impossible to overwater roses if they have proper drainage. Roses need to grow down deeply, because roots near the surface are exposed to high desert heat and will dry out. Deep watering will also keep salts from accumulating in the root zone causing brown leaf tips. When temps are over 90 degrees, water two or three times a week if you flood irrigate; 4-5 times a week if you drip irrigate. Each drip irrigation should provide a minimum of four gallons per bush.

Roses are heavy feeders and need fertilization to perform their best. Apply every four weeks through May. Then cut back to half strength or stop fertilizing until September to give plants a rest in the hottest months.

Be on the lookout for aphids, thrips and spider mites. Use appropriate repellant. Read label and following directions.

Questions: Contact a Master Gardener volunteer

This column appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

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From the 1930s until 1961, the Maricopa Depot was operated by the Southern Pacific Railroad in the town of Maricopa. The vintage building closed Aug. 18, 1961, and was purchased by a family who had it moved to their home in Phoenix, where it remained until 2003 when it was purchased and moved to the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale. The depot was restored by 2004.

Photo courtesy of Maricopa Historical Society

This photo appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

Salmon Lyon

By Chef Neil Magbnua

Chef Neil Magbnua
Chef Neil Magbnua

When I was first told I would be contributing an article about healthy cooking, I was a bit taken aback. Being from the Midwest, specifically Michigan, my idea of healthy eating is a smaller piece of meatloaf, only one scoop of mashed potatoes, a salad with lite ranch and half of whatever dessert is offered (the other half will be eaten at a later time, likely 30 minutes later).

The dish I am sharing with you is one we did recently for a TroonFIT special. The challenge was to come up with a tasty lunch dish that was also under 500 calories. Quite a task for a chef who believes in the old saying, “Fat is Flavor.”

Salmon Lyon

Rice, portioned as needed
5-ounce salmon filet (thick cut, skin on preferred)
1 ounce red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon minced garlic
3 ounces olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herb of choice
4 cherry tomatoes cut in half
3 cucumber slices cut into strips
A few slivers of red onion to taste
Kosher salt
Cracked pepper

Cook the rice as needed. For us here at Arroyo Grille, that means 1 2/3 cups of water and 1 cup of Basmati rice simmered for 10 minutes. Then take off the heat to rest while still covered for 15 minutes. Fluff the rice immediately after to stop the cooking and cover to keep warm.

Whisk red wine vinegar, minced garlic, olive oil and herb. Add tomatoes, cucumber and red onion. For maximum flavor, allow this to marinate for 1 hour. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Dry the outside surface of the filet thoroughly with a paper towel. Brush a teaspoon of olive oil on the flesh side, season with salt and pepper, and place flesh side down on a very hot grill. The grill is hot enough if you can’t hold your hand over it for more than 2 seconds. Salmon is rich with healthy oils; as those oils are released, some smoking may occur. After 1 minute, check to see if the fish releases from the grill. If it doesn’t, don’t force it. It will release when there is a sufficient crust formed on the surface of the fish. Once the salmon is off the grill, place it in a dry, hot pan, skin side down, and cook to your liking in a pre-heated 350 degree oven. When the fish is done, simply slide a spatula between the skin and the fish. The skin helps to insulate the fish while it cooks, adds flavor and makes the fish easy to remove from the pan.

For best results, prepare in the following order; salad, rice, and then fish. To assemble the plate, place 3 ounces of rice in the center, top with the salmon, drain the salad of extra liquid, and place on top of the fish.

Good luck and good eating.

Neil Magbnua is chef at Arroyo Grille at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes.

This column appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

Joshua Judd

Starting Jan. 11, the Maricopa Unified School District will have a new face on its governing board.

In November, MUSD had just enough candidates to fill the available seats on the governing board. That meant no vote by the public was necessary. Current board members Torri Anderson and AnnaMarie Knorr retain their seats. The third slot is filled by newcomer Joshua Judd.

Judd is a teacher in another district, but his three children attend Pima Butte Elementary.

“My overarching goal for service on the MUSD Governing Board will be to help guide the district to an ‘A’ rating. I am joining an award-winning team and humbled at the opportunity to serve my community,” he said.

Hometown:    North Haven, Connecticut
Residence: Cobblestone Farms
Maricopan since: 2009
Occupation: Teacher
Family: My amazing and beautiful wife of 17 years Julie Judd, father to three wonderful children Elijah, Abigail, and Lillian
Pets: The best dog ever (Thor), and a bearded dragon (Voldemort)
Car: Chrysler 300
Hobbies: Reading, research and debate
Pet peeve: Pictures that are hung crooked
Dream vacation: Rome
Like most about Maricopa: The small town feel, but potential for growth
Like least about Maricopa: Global Water!

Favorite …
Book: “Campaigning With Grant” by Gen. Horace Porter
Movie: Kingdom of Heaven
Actor: Al Pacino or Robert De Niro (it’s a toss-up)
Song: Too many to pick just one
Team: New England Patriots
Athlete: Tom Brady
Restaurant: Brooklyn Boys
Quote: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”  – John Adams

Aaron Gilbert with wife Gigi and daughter Annabelle. Submitted photo

Aaron Gilbert is a personal trainer and owner of Longevity Athletics in Maricopa.

Name:   Aaron Gregory Gilbert
Hometown: Phoenix
Maricopan since: 2009
Occupation: Founder/Owner/Operator of Longevity Athletics, LLC
Family: Wife Gigi Gilbert, daughter Annabelle Gilbert
Pets: 2 cats, Skittles and Jack, and 1 dog, Reina
Cars: Chrysler 300, Hyundai Elantra
Hobbies: Table Tennis, Golf, and playing the drums
Pet peeve: Incessant Complainers
Dream vacation: Frigate Island – Seychelles
Like most about Maricopa: The small-town feel
Like least about Maricopa: The 347

Favorite …
Charity: Keeping Teachers Teaching Foundation
Book: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
Movie: Tron
Actor:  Jeff Bridges
Song: Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Musician: Tony Royster Jr.
Team: 1995-96 Chicago Bulls
Athlete: Andre Agassi
Food: Sushi
Drink: Cucumber Collins @ Ra
Meal: NY Strip with Mashed Potatoes
Restaurant: Ra
Getaway: Sedona
Quote: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  Mahatma Gandhi
Words to live by: Live your life like tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.
Joke: If you think a minute goes by really fast, you’ve never tried planking.


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Misty Newman started Maricopa Outdoor Adventures last year. Submitted photo

By Francesca Lyons

Misty Newman was born in California.

Misty Newman
Maricopa Outdoor Adventures
Open since: Early 2016
Hometown: San Diego, California
Resides: Homestead
Family: 2 children; 1 son and 1 daughter
Hobbies: Activities in the great outdoors and physical fitness
First job: Training/software

She was “born again” when she moved to Idaho and fell in love with the splendor and the beauty of nature that existed there. Idaho is the place where she developed her great affinity with all things outdoors. Panoramic scenery, exploration of the land and physical activity was, and is, the focus of the adventure she enjoys and shares with people.

She launched her home-based business Maricopa Outdoor Adventures (MOA) in 2016. Newman and her partners – Jack Jackson, award-winning photographer, and Margaret Jackson, his wife and assistant – provide the means for an authentic southwest adventure.

Newman said her biggest challenge as a startup has been “successful marketing with a response resulting in increased awareness and activity directed at expanding and enhancing our business model.”

Among the categories offered by MOA are Arizona Desert Hikes with spectacular views and the experience of desert wildlife, its terrain and native plants, and Open Sky Yoga Hikes, a 90-minute workout integrating yoga techniques and practice with guided hiking instruction for all levels of skill.

Photography is a key element in the MOA experience. A variety of photo tours and instruction classes/workshops are led by Jack Jackson, who lets you enjoy the breathtaking vistas and views while learning how to capture it with your camera.

Get your heartbeat up a few notches and try the Adrenaline category of MOA. The “need for speed and to push the limits” is met when you encounter programs that offer canyoneering, climbing and rappelling. Or, if you’re really daring, do the High Performance Driving course at the Bondurant Road Course.

MOA, in partnership with Arizona Outdoor Adventures and other youth organizations, provide opportunities for youth ages 9-14 to camp in the back country of the White Mountains.

Newman’s vision is to explore and experience Arizona and begin right here in Maricopa.

Do you have a home-based business in Maricopa? Tell us about it at

This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

The January crossword “Maricopa Roadways” is on Page 43 of InMaricopa.

Across                                      Down
6. John Wayne Parkway        1. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway
7. Homestead                         2. Wilson
8. Regent                                 3. Costa Del Sol
11. Terragona                          4. Farrell
13. Garvey                               5. Ironpoint
18. Martin Luther King Jr.      9. Bowlin
19. Gila Bend                         10. Hathaway
21. Hogenes                           12. Butterfield
22. Edison                               14. Alan Stephens
23. The Duke                         15. White and Parker
24. Greythorne                       16. Mobile
25. Pacana                               17. Powers
26. Honeycutt                         20. Sorrento

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Rain is forecast in Maricopa for the changeover to 2017.

A damp week is forecast for Maricopa to welcome 2017, according to the National Weather Service.

Today, there is a 20-percent chance of showers. Skies will be mostly cloudy with a high near 65. Tonight, the possibility for rain increases to 80 percent, with the chance of a thunderstorm after midnight and the low temperature around 49.

Sunday, the New Year’s forecast has a 100-percent chance for precipitation before noon and possibly a thunderstorm. The high is expected to be around 58. The overnight low will be around 43, and the chance of rain lingers at 10 percent.

Monday, there is a 10-percent chance of showers under mostly cloudy skies and a high near 61. The overnight low will be around 43 degrees.

Tuesday will be partly sunny with a high near 64. The night will be mostly cloudy with a low around 42.

Wednesday will also be partly sunny with a high near 64. The possibility of rain returns that night, with a 10-percent chance of showers and a predicted low of 43 degrees.

Thursday also has a 10-percent chance of rain and a high near 64. The night will be partly cloudy with a low around 40.

Friday looks to be mostly sunny so far, with a high near 62.

Photo by Mason Callejas

It’s still Winter Break for most Maricopa kids, but Maricopa Public Library is coming back to life after the holidays to start off 2017 in style. Below, Library Manager Erik Surber explains what’s happening this week and later in January. For details on these and other events, or to add your own, visit


A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave.


Coffee with Friends of the Maricopa Library is at 1:30 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.

Tale Waggers is at 3:30 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.

Celebrate Recovery Coffee & Karaoke is at 5 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave.

Read ‘Em and Eat is at 5 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.

Winter Reading program begins at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road, starting at 6 p.m.

Celebrate Recovery Large & Small Group Meeting is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave.


Harrah’s Club 777 Toastmasters meet at 3 p.m. at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 Maricopa Road.

SMART Kids meet at 3 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.

Reading Rebels meet at 5:30 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.


A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Ak-Chin Social Services, 48227 W. Farrell Road.


Cross Lifeline CPR & First Aid Basic is at 5:30 p.m. at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Strength & Hope Al-Anon Meeting is at 7 p.m. at Community of Hope Church, 45295 W. Honeycutt Ave.

Gregory Wolfe performs Rod Stewart at 8 p.m. at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 Maricopa Road.


Teen Gamers’ Guild meets at 2 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.


A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave.

Maricopa Police Officer Ajay Wilson on patrol. Photo by Mason Callejas

By Pamela Crabajales

He loves the movie “Top Gun.”

He’d love to be Dale Earnhardt Jr. for a day.

He enjoys outdoor activities including camping, hunting and fishing.

He also comes from Snohomish, a blue-collar city in Washington that can be a bit cold and rainy 350 days a year.

But from 9 o’clock at night to 7 in the morning, he is Officer Wilson.

Ajay Wilson, 23, has served as a police officer for the Maricopa Police Department since June 2015.

He recognizes his grandfathers as main contributors to his pursuit of a career in law enforcement. One of his grandfathers was in law enforcement in Seattle and the other a firefighter for 28 years.

Wilson moved to Arizona at the age of 13 and attended Queen Creek High School. He was on path to college with a golf scholarship but lost interest in the sport and chose to take the road less traveled – the police academy.

What factors should students consider when entering a law enforcement career? Students should consider the dangerous aspects of law enforcement, but realize the rewards outweigh the risks.
What traits do you feel are necessary to become a police officer? You have to be willing to learn, and to fail. Messing up on the job is how you become better if you can learn from your mistakes.
What type of education is needed to become a police officer? GED or high school diploma, and The Police Academy.
What advice can you give to prospective students wanting to enter the field? You just have to realize that you will be in the public view at all times, and that you need to make smart decisions.
What college decisions or steps should one make in order to be successful in the path for this field? All I can say is work hard to get there. Just because you fail at something doesn’t mean to give up. Don’t give up.

Enrolling at 20, Wilson was sworn into the line of duty at 21. The responsibility of being a public servant includes working the long hours. For Wilson, a 10-hour shift four days a week has been his schedule the past year or so.

“I work graveyard, and it’s odd hours. Most normal people work the 9 to 5 shift,” he said. “In law enforcement you sacrifice a lot more than people realize. Working the odd hours is tough.”

Although the hours aren’t entirely his favorite, there is never a dull moment when it comes to being a police officer.

“In law enforcement [you] just never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “For patrol, [we] respond to calls for service. That can be for anything. You know, one minute you can be doing nothing, and the next you get really busy.”

The workload doesn’t stop the officer from enjoying what he does.

“I love my job,” Wilson said. “The fact that I can, everyday, go to work and have the chance to have an influence on someone’s life, or [make an] impact on their life. It’s nice to have that opportunity to be that influential person in someone’s life.”

The start of Wilson’s career as a police officer was something that hit him harder than any previous job. It opened his eyes to the rest of the world that most people were oblivious to, or for some, chose to block out. As someone whose duty is to protect and serve the citizens of the community, officers aren’t able to choose what they respond to.

“It was a culture shock,” he recalled. “A lot of the stuff that I was seeing was new to me. I grew up in a very close family [with] good family values. I see many people who are in bad situations and in a way I’m able to use my experiences to help that someone out.”

It may be the gratification knowing that this individual is making a difference in someone’s life, but for Wilson, it’s what keeps him coming back to the job knowing the dangerous and threatening situations he is exposed to.

The job may come with many rewards, but, unfortunately, it comes with negative aspects, too. For public servants, at times controversies arise.

Society is always looking at law enforcement under a microscope. When asked about the current situations involving law enforcement, Wilson replied, “It’s sad to know that every profession has bad apples. Everybody is criticizing what we do. It’s sad that some people target us, but it doesn’t stop me from doing my job. I wear my [body] camera, and all my stuff is put on video. You have to be very careful. You cannot abuse the public’s trust.”

Wilson then added, “I don’t see a skin color when I show up to a house, I see a person.”

Pamela Crabajales is a journalism student at Maricopa High School.

This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Mason Callejas
Photo by Mason Callejas

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Economist Elliott Pollack is bullish on the local economy for 2017.

Arizona economist Elliott Pollack presented his annual forecast for the 10th year for Pinal Partnership at its Dec. 9 breakfast meeting at Rawhide. His predictions include:

■ 2017 will see exciting economic growth.

■ Donald Trump’s tax plan will not pass.

■ Expect faster growth and higher interest rates.

■ Expect higher inflation and higher after-tax profits.

■ A mild recession is likely in the next four years.

■ Pinal County is seeing the growth it needs with pending Lucid Motors, Attessa Motorsports and PhoenixMart.

■ Expect more announcements of businesses moving to Arizona.

■ International trade is one of the biggest issues facing the United States in 2017. “The last thing we need is a trade war.”

■ Arizona needs to closely watch its important trade with Mexico under the new president.

■ Up to 80 percent of existing businesses will comprise most of the job growth in Arizona.

■ Student debt is the top reason people under 35 don’t buy a home.

■ Baby boomers are prepared to sell their homes and live off equity, creating a large market for apartments.

■ 60.5 percent of American adults own their homes.

■ The largest group of homeowners is between 65 and 84 years old.

This article appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

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Some big changes are coming to K’Bella Salon & Day Spa. Three rooms and a shower will be added as the spa begins flotation therapy and hydrotherapy.

Fiberglass flotation tanks have become increasingly popular at high-end spas. Owner Karen Benedek said she travels to Scottsdale for the treatment.

“It’s great for anxiety; it’s great for body aches; it’s great for stress,” she said.

The tank will be moved into the large room where Benedek currently conducts facials. Adding rooms to the spa means shrinking the space used for the salon part of the business. Benedek said there will now be two stylist chairs instead of three, creating space for a facial room, flotation room and commercial sauna.

Benedek plans to start renovations in January.

“The architect said three weeks, but I’m thinking six weeks,” she said. The spa and salon will remain open during the work, but will be closed three more days a week.

K’Bella is in the Shops at Maricopa Village, 20800 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite 116.

This brief appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

The Benson Family Singers are (from left) Rachelle, Luke, Aaron (who sings lead), Peter and David. Submitted photo

The Benson Family Singers will perform at Calvary Chapel Maricopa Jan. 18.

They are a family music group from Faribault, Minnesota. Peter and Rachelle Benson along with their four sons – David, Aaron, Luke and Paul – have a unique ministry consisting of barbershop, bluegrass and gospel music.

They specialize in tight, a cappella harmonies and also play a variety of instruments, including guitar, banjo, bass, violin and mandolin. Together, they have performed for many shows, festivals, fairs, churches and private events throughout the Midwest, including Branson, Missouri.

The Bensons use their music, humor and message to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

For more information and to hear song samples, visit Also find them at

Their Wednesday performance is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Calvary Chapel is at 44301 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, Suite 105.


A dog named Root Beer was removed from an abusive situation and spent six months in the Pinal County shelter, where Maricopa’s Laura Salter and her son volunteer.

The Salters grew attached to the well socialized but ignored little dog and eventually adopted him. She shared this video of Root Beer being introduced to his new back yard.

The main Pinal County Animal Control shelter is in Casa Grande at 1150 S. Eleven Mile Corner Road. Call toll free at 1-888-431-1311. Learn more about the shelter and the available pets at

It’s a light week of activities this week in Maricopa, with the focus on New Year’s Eve on Saturday, which brings a major fund-raiser for F.O.R. Maricopa. For details on these and other events, or to add your own, visit


Coffee with Friends of the Maricopa Library is at 1:30 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.

Celebrate Recovery Coffee & Karaoke is at 5 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave.

Celebrate Recovery Large & Small Group Meeting is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave.


Harrah’s Club 777 Toastmasters meet at 3 p.m. at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 Maricopa Road.


A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Ak-Chin Social Services, 48227 W. Farrell Road.


Strength & Hope Al-Anon Meeting is at 7 p.m. at Community of Hope Church, 45295 W. Honeycutt Ave.


Mother Mercy is on stage in The Lounge at 8 p.m. at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 Maricopa Road.

“Casino Royale” F.O.R. Maricopa New Year’s Eve Ball Fundraiser is from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Elements Event Center at Ak-Chin Circle, 16000 N. Maricopa Road.

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Rain clouds are expected to clear off for most of the week in Maricopa.

Rain clouds are expected to dissipate for Christmas Day to make way for a mostly sunny week, according to the National Weather Service, though showers may return by week’s end.

Sunday‘s forecast calls for sunny skies and a high near 55. The night will remain mostly clear and cold, with a high around 35.

Monday, expect a sunny day with a high near 60 and a mostly clear night with a low temperature around 39.

Tuesday, the warming trend continues under sunny skies, with a high near 66 and an overnight low around 42.

Wednesday is expected to be mostly sunny with a high near 68. The overnight forecast is for partly cloudy and a low around 43.

Thursday, the temperature is expected to climb to 70 with mostly sunny skies. The night will be partly cloud with a low around 47.

Friday carries a 10-percent chance of showers but is expected to be mostly sunny with a high near 69.

Jeff Gardner is organizing a 5K to benefit F.O.R. Maricopa as his Eagle Scout project.

A Maricopa teen is organizing a 5K run to benefit the F.O.R. Maricopa food bank.

Jeff Gardner, 17, a student at Sequoia Pathway Academy, is working on an Eagle Scout project.

“It is to help restock after Christmas when the shelves get empty,” Jeff said.

Calling it the Maricopa Food-Raiser, he plans a 5K run and one-mile fun run/walk. Entry in the 1-mile run is three cans of food. To compete in the 5K, bring five cans. The food goes “straight to the food bank,” he said.

The event is Jan. 21 at Copper Sky Regional Park. Registration is at 7:30 a.m. The one-mile run sets off at 7:45 a.m., and the 5K starts at 8 a.m.

To re-register or to volunteer for the event, contact Jeff between 3 and 7 p.m. at 480-772-0864.