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Copper Sky

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Teens have signed up to do some good this summer in Maricopa. Photo by Michelle Chance

Forty teenagers in Maricopa are volunteering to become “future leaders” in the community.

Zachary Schroeder, 13, is one of them. He and his friend, 14-year-old Morgan Godfrey, attended orientation of the Future Leaders Teen Summer Volunteer Program Wednesday at Copper Sky.

However, the experience isn’t entirely new for them.

Both teens volunteered in the city-run program last year and assisted aides in the city’s Summer Fun & Fitness Camps – which cater to young children between 5 and 12 years old.

Schroeder and Godfrey said it was an opportunity to socialize and gain volunteer hours, but most important to them was their time spent with the kids.

Recreation Coordinator Heather Lozano said the teens mean a lot to the campers too.

“It gives them somebody to look up to. It gives them a mentor,” Lozano said.

Before Schroeder was a future leader volunteer, he himself was a camper. His mother, Jennifer, said she has seen her son take on more volunteer and leadership opportunities since his first experience with the program.

She said it also helps prepare young teens for the real world.

“There are not a lot of opportunities for kids this age to be able to get out there to learn what it’s like to work,” Jennifer Schroeder said. “So this gives them a chance to get out there and do a job and see what it’s like to be responsible and become a leader.”

Teens volunteer at four camp locations around the city for six weeks: two at Copper Sky, one at Maricopa Elementary School and another at Saddleback Elementary School.

The camps run Monday through Friday for four hours per day.

Lozano said this is the biggest group of volunteers she has had in the program and added she may have to expand it next year.

Teens who complete the program receive a letter of recommendation from Lozano, which includes the number of hours volunteered.

It’s an opportunity for the teens looking to build their resume, Lozano explained, as well as the possibility of future employment.

“I have actually hired staff from future leaders,” Lozano said.

Camp begins for volunteers and campers June 5.

Photo by Michelle Chance

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Kids 5 to 12 are invited to summer camp, but time to register is running out.

School may be out for the summer, but it some cases, the fun is back at school.

Submitted photo

The City of Maricopa’s Summer Fun & Fitness Camps at Maricopa Elementary and Saddleback Elementary provide children with arts and crafts, games, sports and special events.

Parents can register their kids, ages 5 through 12, until June 5 at 11 p.m.

The six-week camps run Monday through Thursday, 1 to 5 p.m., and is managed by trained camp staff who have passed a background check. “Future leaders” with the city’s teen volunteer program will also be on-hand to assist staff.

Heather Lozano, recreation coordinator at Copper Sky, said the camps are a safe place for kids to build relationships with other children over the summer.

“It’s not only to keep them active, but it teaches them teamwork and cooperation,” Lozano said.

The city offers two additional summer camps at Copper Sky every year. However, those classes are currently at capacity.

For more information contact Heather Lozano at 520-316-4603 or heather.lozano@maricopa-az.gov.

Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart is proud of the teamwork that created the Edison Road extension.

The Edison Road extension is complete.

Edison Pointe is finalizing leases.

Commercial development at Copper Sky may also see some stimulation in 2017.

Estrella Gin Business Park is still waiting for the light to shine.

City of Maricopa Town Hall Meeting

Public Works Director Bill Fay will give an update on the SR347 Overpass, Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart will let you know the latest information on the Edison Pointe development, and the mayor and councilmembers will be there to answer your questions and listen to your concerns.

What: City of Maricopa Town Hall Meeting
When: Tuesday, April 11 at 6 p.m.
Where: City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza
Who: All residents are invited.

Pieces are in motion for construction of an overpass to begin this year. Developers are reviving nearly-forgotten subdivision plans. APEX Motor Club and Denny’s have shown plans to build in Maricopa.

Economic development in Maricopa is showing varying signs of progress this year as the city has studied approaches to growing the economic base of the community.

The improving economy has not necessarily created changes to the demographics of Maricopa. Denyse Airheart, the director of the city’s Economic Development Department, does not predict major changes to the methodology when the Economic Development Strategic Plan takes form this year.

“We target companies based off the assets of the community,” Airheart said.

That includes the youth (the average age of Maricopa residents is 33.8 years), income and education level of the population. Those selling points look much as they did three years ago.

A draft of the Economic Development Strategic Plan is scheduled to come before city council in April.

Maricopa may broaden its target sectors, Airheart said. Growth of employment opportunities within Pinal County, especially Casa Grande, may also impact the plan. But Maricopa is still selling itself.

Nailing down a description of Maricopa for prospective companies and creating a narrative of its future is not just a challenge for City Hall. Retail developers have had similar tests.

Edison Pointe

Edison Pointe, at the northeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Edison Road, is about a year behind leasing a typical development of its size, according to Vintage Partners leasing director Casey Treadwell. He said it has been difficult educating retailers on the attributes of Maricopa.

“I know it’s been frustrating for people wanting to see something going,” he said. At a Maricopa Advocates Program meeting in February, he predicted movement on the ground within a couple of weeks. But a month later, he said Vintage was still putting final leases in place.

Businesses he announced as part of the development are Ross, Burger King, Planet Fitness, Dunkin’ Donuts and Petco.

Mayor Christian Price has called it a game of enticement.

“The city’s doesn’t control economic development,” he said. “We can advocate for it and we can entice for it. We can go out and sell our wares as to why it’s a great place to be, but I can’t make somebody locate here.”

Copper Sky

The City itself knows the irritation of owning commercial property that stands empty for years. It has property at Copper Sky intended for commercial development since the park’s inception. An effort to develop the land may soon be renewed.

“In 2014 we went out to bid, and it just wasn’t the right time, we believe, for the economy,” Airheart said. “We anticipate we would go out sometime in 2017.”

The conceptual plan includes mixed-use commercial, a hotel and a restaurant.

“What we envision there is a destination where people can go and enjoy themselves, where people can go and get an ice cream and sit and enjoy people-watching,” Airheart said. “As you know, we sort of don’t have that sense of place because of how quickly we sprung up.”

Edison Road

The City of Maricopa also owns commercial property at what is planned as the Estrella Gin Business Park. Luring companies to the site has been a struggle, but the six-year effort has produced a new roadway – the Edison Road extension.

Airheart calls the new road one of the proudest achievements of her department.

“All the partners had to work together to make Edison Road a project,” she said.

The road was completed in March and provides another bypass between State Route 238 and John Wayne Parkway. Using a federal grant, the city worked with private landowners and utilities for years to construct the road, which includes sidewalks, curb, gutter and a center median.

Estrella Gin

The road was created to access Estrella Gin, and that project has been a problem. The city contracted with The Boyer Company to market the flex space in the business park. That contract expires in June.

Matt Jensen, a partner in Boyer, said there has been a lot of interest from small companies needing only 1,200 square feet while the city is trying to market to industrial businesses. A couple of proposals have gone out to larger enterprises. There is also an ongoing discussion with the City of Maricopa about moving the fire department administration offices to Estrella Gin.

“That would actually be fantastic,” Jensen said.

Without leases in place, the city will not begin construction, but Airheart said the city is looking at “multiple options” if the contract expires without tenants being signed. She maintains a positive attitude about city-owned commercial property.

“A community that’s investing in itself means that it’s a healthy community. So we’re showing the development community there are investments to be made,” she said.


This story appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Mason Callejas
Photo by Mason Callejas

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.”

Mayor Christian Price (left) and Copper Sky's fitness coordinator Matthew Reiter lived through a test run of this year's Maricopa Mud Run Course. See the video below. Photo by Mason Callejas

The city of Maricopa’s Mike Riggs and Matthew Reiter explain the building of the Mud Run, and Mayor Christian Price sets the pace for Saturday’s big event at Copper Sky. Learn more here.

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Maricopans gather in the community room at Copper Sky for Game Night. Photo by Dean Crandall

The Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee has hosted Game Night the last Friday of each month, creating an opportunity to share fun and conversation with other Maricopans in a relaxed setting over board games and cards. Last week, local photographer Dean Crandall dropped in to see what was cooking.

Jeremy Sellaro (front right in cowboy hat) and his group of helpers show off his Eagle Scout project. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa Parks Manager Mike Riggs has about 40 improvement projects in city parks that are necessary or have been requested but have not reached the top of the priority pile yet for his busy staff. He supplies local Boy Scouts leaders with the list for prospective Eagle Scouts to tackle.

Saturday, 17-year-old Jeremy Sellaro brought his helpers to Copper Sky Regional Park’s horseshoe pit for the labor part of his leadership service project. The group laid concrete slabs linking the pit border to the light fixture.

Riggs said benches had been requested at the pits, and the slabs will allow for the future placement of seating. He also said the project will save his staff hours of work each year when mowing around the pit.

jeremy-sellaro-eagle-project3

jeremy-sellaro-eagle-project2

Maricopa joined in the Pokemon Go craze with an organized event as Copper Sky staff released 20 lures around the busy park on Saturday. Using it as an opportunity to promote outdoor activity, the parks and rec department also teamed with Maricopa American Legion. Post members served up a pancake breakfast for donations. Musician Laura Walsh sang the National Anthem.

From left, Easton, Zachary and Talyor Schroeder enjoy the American Legion's pancake breakfast during the Pokemon event at Copper Sky. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
From left, Easton, Zachary and Talyor Schroeder enjoy the American Legion’s pancake breakfast during the Pokemon event at Copper Sky. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

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Melanie Bayne shot this photo of a tree uprooted near Pacana Park.

Many Maricopans spent the weekend cleaning up after Friday night’s storm. That included city staff, who straightened up city property and leant a hand in some neighborhoods.

Friday saw 0.13 inches of rainfall. Though that was well above the July 29 average of 0.6 inches, it still left the month well below it average monthly precipitation. The average month total is 1.4 inches. This year July saw only 0.55 inches.

For Maricopans, it was the monsoon-style wind that caused the damage. Predictions were for wind speeds up to 30 mph and gusts up to 50 mph, and that was fulfilled in many parts of town.

About a dozen trees at Copper Sky Regional Park went down. Public Works Director Bill Fay said some can be put upright again, but others won’t survive. That was typical of housing developments where some trees were uprooted while others were snapped off at the trunk or just lost limbs.

Fay said many private trees were blown into streets and common areas, and city workers have been helping to remove them “just to be neighborly.”

The wind also carried a great amount of dirt and caused other issues, like rearranging lawn decor and turning swimming pools into swamps.

“We have had both street sweepers running all day for the last few days as a lot of dirt got washed out onto the roads,” Fay said. “One of our traffic signal cameras got blown off center by the wind so it wasn’t pointing at traffic and would not trigger the light appropriately.  It had to be pointed back at the right angle.  Some signs were blown askew or down and needed to be reset.”

Young palo verdes like this one at Copper Sky were typical victims of the weekend storm.
Young palo verdes like this one at Copper Sky were typical victims of the weekend storm.

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Rayados Arizona players and coaches have been practicing at Copper Sky. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A soccer academy for athletes for age 5 to 19 has had the young players going through their paces at Copper Sky Regional Park.

Rayados Arizona is an official school of Rayados de Monterrey (named for their vertically striped uniforms), a professional soccer club in Mexico. The club also has schools in Texas, Utah, Sonora and elsewhere. Some of the young footballers who play for Rayados Arizona have a chance to play in tournaments throughout the West and in Mexico.

Players are bilingual.

Coach Hugo Virgen said the international soccer academy also sets up player for a chance to play at the college level.

In May they participated in the college showcase Cerritos Memorial Challenge Cup in California. This week, some of the young players are part of the annual Copa Rayados at Universidad de Monterrey.

Call 520-360-1135 or visit RayadosArizona.com or find them on Facebook.

Rev. David Anderson prays with a gathering at Copper Sky. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

In contrast to confrontational and even violent outcomes in Phoenix and other cities around the country staging protests after deaths of black civilians and the killing of five police officers in Dallas, Maricopa had a peaceful candlelight vigil Friday night.

City Councilmember Henry Wade sponsored the event at Copper Sky, and about two dozen people showed up to pray with Rev. David Anderson and light candles. They also expressed support for the Maricopa Police Department. MPD Chief Steve Stahl was the only law enforcement present, and he spoke only at the urging of the attendees.

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Despite a temperature gauge reading 100 degrees after sunset, Maricopans turned out in droves at Copper Sky Regional Park to join in the 11th annual Great American 4th on Monday night. For more than three hours, music, entertainment and food had residents relaxing on the and the fields.

Entertainment was provided by Lelea and 3 Nations, ATA Karate, Jiselle Diaz and headliner Quantum. Miss City of Maricopa Aundria Littlejohn and Miss Estrella Mountains Courtney Ortega led the Pledge of Allegiance, and Littlejohn performed the National Anthem to start off the fireworks.

Costa Rica championship team Saprissa was scheduled to train in Maricopa this summer.

Perceiving a lack of support from the local business community, a Costa Rican soccer club is hedging on its plans to bring the professional game to Maricopa.

Deportivo Saprissa had been contemplating playing exhibition games against regional teams at Maricopa High School this summer as a warm-up to a three-year commitment to have pre-season training in Maricopa and Casa Grande.

Those summer games, originally slated for late June at Ram Stadium, are postponed. Local organizer Peter Cockle said about 3,000 tickets had been sold before Saprissa made the decision. Ticket-buyers have been refunded and have the chance for half off future tickets.

Cockle said Saprissa was concerned about a “lack of response” from Maricopa businesses. But there were other worries.

“The main issue they have is the cost to change the field at the high school,” Cockle said.

Saprissa wanted to temporarily paint over the American football gridiron and have just soccer lines for its two games. Painting and repainting would have cost an estimated $35,000, Cockle said.

Now the plan is to bring professional soccer to Maricopa in early February with Major League Soccer teams instead of regional squads in off-season exhibition at Copper Sky Regional Park.

The popularity of soccer has paid off for Pima County. Five years ago, the Tucson area began hosting MLS pre-season as a replacement for lost Major League Baseball spring training games.

This year, 14 MLS teams trained in Tucson and utilized Grande Sports World in Casa Grande. A recent report on KVOA in Tucson stated Pima County picked up $1.5 million last year from hotel stays, dining and shopping related to MLS pre-season training.

Saprissa still has a three-year commitment in place to bring players to Arizona. Cockle said those soccer fans who bought tickets for this year’s cancelled games can pay half-price for tickets to next year’s games.

The free Special Summer Shuttle to Copper Sky will be up and running again this summer. The Special Summer Shuttle operates between 11 a.m. – 7:40 p.m. Monday through Friday between residential neighborhoods and Copper Sky from June 1 through July 29. The bus will travel only between below stopping points and Copper Sky.

Time Time Comments
11:00 AM Desert Winds School Pickup
11:10 AM Santa Cruz School Pickup
11:20 AM Santa Rosa School Pickup
11:30 AM Pima Butte School Pickup
11:50 AM Saddleback Pickup
12:00 AM Copper Sky Facility Drop-off Only
12:10 PM Butterfield School Pickup
12:30 PM Maricopa Wells School Pickup
12:40 PM Maricopa Elementary Pickup
12:50 PM Copper Sky Facility Drop-off Only
1:55 PM Leave Copper Sky Departing Copper Sky
2:10 PM Desert Winds School Pickup/Drop-off
2:20 PM Santa Cruz School Pickup/Drop-off
2:35 PM Santa Rosa School Pickup/Drop-off
2:40 PM Pima Butte School Drop-off
2:50 PM Saddleback School Drop-off
3:00 PM Butterfield School Drop-off
3:10 PM Maricopa Wells School Drop-off
3:15 PM Maricopa Elementary School Drop-off
3:25 PM Copper Sky Facility Pickup
3:25 PM Leave Copper Sky
3:45 PM Desert Winds School Pickup/Drop-off
3:50 PM Santa Cruz School Pickup/Drop-off
4:00 PM Santa Rosa School Pickup/Drop-off
4:05 PM Pima Butte School Pickup/Drop-off
4:15 PM Saddleback School Pickup/Drop-off
4:25 PM Butterfield School Pickup/Drop-off
4:40 PM Maricopa Wells School Pickup/Drop-off
4:45 PM Maricopa Elementary School Drop-off/Last School Pickup
5:00 PM Copper Sky Facility
5:00 PM Leave Copper Sky
5:10 PM Desert Winds School Drop-off Only
5:20 PM Santa Cruz School Drop-off Only
5:30 PM Santa Rosa School Drop-off Only
5:40 PM Pima Butte School Drop-off Only
5:45 PM Saddleback School Drop-off Only
5:55 PM Butterfield School Drop-off Only
6:10 PM Maricopa Wells School Drop-off Only
6:15 PM Maricopa Elementary School Drop-off Only
6:25 PM Copper Sky Facility
6:25 PM Leave Copper Sky Last Bus Departing Copper Sky for the day
6:35 PM Desert Winds School Drop-off Only
6:45 PM Santa Cruz School Drop-off Only
6:55 PM Santa Rosa School Drop-off Only
7:05 PM Pima Butte School Drop-off Only
7:15 PM Saddleback School Drop-off Only
7:25 PM Butterfield School Drop-off Only
7:35 PM Maricopa Wells School Drop-off Only
7:40 PM Maricopa Elementary School Last Drop-off for the Day

 

Parents or guardians are responsible to make sure their children are at the bus stop before the last pick-up time of 6:25 p.m. departing Copper Sky. Please allow for a seven minute window for the bus to arrive to allow for train crossings and traffic. The minimum age to ride unaccompanied is 8-years-old. Skateboards are allowed as long as passengers don’t ride them in the bus. The vehicles are ADA equipped. For more information, please call 855-388-9088.

There are lots of ways to stay entertained this summer in Maricopa. Photo by Misty Newman

By Misty Newman

Looking for something fun to do with your family and banish those boredom blues away? Maricopa is a great community with numerous fun places, events, and activities for your entire family to enjoy.

Whether you visit beautiful parks, enjoy movies under the stars or go horseback riding, you can stay entertained, excited and engaged all summer long.

1. Copper Sky Recreation Complex

Copper Sky Recreation Complex includes a multi-purpose recreation center, a 98-acre park, and an Aquatics Center.

Hours of countless fun could be spent in the park alone. There are many different activities your family can enjoy at Copper Sky. Some of the park features include:

•    A large covered playground
•    Fishing lake which is stocked with rainbow trout, bass, catfish, bluegill and white amur.
•    Dog park
•    Tennis Courts
•    Skating Park
•    Basketball courts
•    Sand Volleyball courts
•    Soccer and Baseball fields
•    Horseshoe pits

The skate park at Copper Sky. Photo by Misty Newman
The skate park at Copper Sky. Photo by Misty Newman

If you would rather be inside, the multi-purpose recreation center includes weightlifting equipment, fitness classes including Indoor cycle, Total Body Conditioning, Boot camps, Jillian Michaels’ Body Shred, Silver Sneakers and much more.

For those hot summer days, the Aquatics Center is a swimmer’s haven. Your family can enjoy the eight-lane, 25-yard lap pool, waterslide, rock-climbing wall, lazy river, and splash pad.
Daily rates for adults are $4 and $2 for children.

In addition to the many activities provided at this complex, Copper Sky has partnered with the City of Maricopa to offer a multitude of sports, fitness and recreation programs.

In the PLAY Maricopa Guide (Summer 2016), you can find information on swimming lessons, tiny tot fitness, karate, summer reading events, summer camps, dance, Homeschool Fit Program, and youth sports- soccer and softball.

For outdoor enthusiasts, take advantage of the all-inclusive trip packages which include hikes to Fossil Creek and the Grand Canyon, a trip on the Verde Canyon Train or a visit to the Musical Instrument Museum.
For more information or to sign up for an activity through Copper Sky Recreation, visit: www.copperskyrecreation.com.

2. Play Disc Golf

Disc golf at Maricopa Meadows.
Disc golf at Maricopa Meadows.

Try something different and enjoy a round or two of disc golf at Maricopa Meadows Community. On this challenging and fun disc golf course, you can spend quality time with your family outdoors and get great exercise at the same time.

The course in Maricopa Meadows was established in 2012 and redesigned in 2015. It is a 21 Mach 3 hole course with concrete pads at each launching station.

The moderately hilly course is designed strategically requiring you to throw over the lakes and around the trees. The baskets are in excellent condition and are set in a counter clockwise direction for an optimum flow.
You will find that playing disc golf is not just a “walk in the park.” Throwing the disc from basket to basket and concentrating to get there in a certain amount of throws takes a lot of physical and mental energy.

Disc golf is a fun and convenient activity because you can play anytime and (other than the initial equipment), there is no cost involved.

3. Dining with Antiques

Raceway Bar & Grill. Photo by Misty Newman
Raceway Bar & Grill. Photo by Misty Newman

Looking for a restaurant where you can get a great outdoor dining experience? The Raceway Bar & Grill has a one-of-a-kind spacious outdoor patio your entire family can enjoy.

This restaurant has a unique atmosphere. In the outdoor dining area, antique cars, signs and other memorabilia the owner has collected over the years are nestled among the tables, chairs, and outdoor bar. These collectibles are so well known that a few years ago the television show “American Pickers” filmed at Raceway and even bought some of the antiques.

Raceway not only has a great atmosphere, but also a delicious menu. Live music every other Friday night from 10 p.m. to 2 p.m. will keep you entertained and is a great accompaniment to your dining experience.

4. UltraStar Multi-tainment Center

UltraStar Multi-tainment Center has movies, bowling, laser tag, dining, bars and a video arcade.
UltraStar Multi-tainment Center has movies, bowling, laser tag, dining, bars and a video arcade.

UltraStar is an excellent choice in Maricopa when you want to be entertained, dine or have fun indoors. Grab a bite to eat from the elegant 347 Grill or Luxe Lounge before watching a movie or enjoying one of the many game and entertainment options.

Movie Series: Pull up a lawn chair and watch a movie under the Stars. Every Friday night in May and June 2016, a different movie will be featured. Concessions are available for an additional cost.

Ten Pins Down: Bowl at one of the most advanced bowling alleys in this area. Enjoy leather couch seating, 20-foot video screens and food and beverage service. Ten Pins Down has 16 standard lanes and eight VIP Lanes.Ultra Stars and Little Star bowling is open to kids every Saturday morning from 10 a.m. to noon.

Urban Arena Laser Tag: This is a great event for the entire family or for parties. Get your heart pumping in this 3,000-square-foot, two-story arena. Using the latest laser technology, there is a vast number of programmable games to choose from. You can play from eight-minute rounds up to 20 minutes and play as a team or individually.

5. Horse Back Riding

The Hunters lead trail rides in Hidden Valley. Submitted photo
The Hunters lead trail rides in Hidden Valley. Submitted photo

For that country feeling, strap on your boots, grab a hat and take a trail ride or get a riding lesson with Hangin’ Saddle Ranch. Trail rides on the BLM land are $55 for one hour. According to the owner, Glenn Hunter, the trail rides often go 2-3 hours.

If you need to get more comfortable on a horse first, you also have the option of taking horse riding lessons. In addition to learning how to ride, you will learn about the equipment, how to saddle a horse, and even learn about the horses anatomy and basic physiology. Children as young as 4 years of age can begin training.

Hunter has trained and won over 30 ribbons and 13 trophies with his winning show horse, Sonny. Being a “seasoned veteran cowboy,” he trains his horses using The Natural Horse Method. In addition to riding lessons and trail rides, Hangin’ Saddle Ranch also offers horse training and boarding.

Hangin’ Saddle Ranch is located in Hidden Valley in the Sonoran Desert nestled among Haley Hills, Papago Butte, and the Palo Verde Mountains, and is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

So get outdoors this summer and enjoy one of the many activities we have right here in our community.


Misty Newman grew up in Idaho and was raised in the outdoors. She loves to go camping, hiking, fishing, & rafting. In her past life, two of her favorite recreational activities included bungee jumping and rock climbing. She was a ranger for a state park, a Recreation Coordinator for the Boys and Girls Club, and the photo editor at the College of Southern Idaho. She moved from Idaho in 2007 and has lived in Maricopa since. She now enjoys exploring AZ with her two beautiful children. Visit http://www.maricopaoutdooradventures.com/

See her previous InMaricopa Outdoors stories:

Relive the Old West with Maricopa Mounted Shooters

Residents grow with Master Gardener course

Gun-safety tips from Maricopa Shooting Service

Avid adventurer changes life, now helping others

Hang gliding over Maricopa

Pacana Park remains in the heart of Maricopa

Introduction to InMaricopa Outdoors

Pickleball players in Maricopa. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

For a couple of years now, a passion for pickleball has been apparent in Maricopa. It has now reached the point that aficionados are asking the City of Maricopa for courts of their own.

The pickleballers’ estimated cost of eight dedicated pickleball courts is $200,000.

Pickleball ambassador and advocate Rocky Myers is convinced having a bigger pickleball presence will be a boost to the Maricopa economy.

“It will bring in more retirees, and pretty soon retirees will make up one in five of the population,” Myers said.

He said he knew families that moved out of Sun Lakes because there were not enough pickleball courts.

Myers is afraid the same could happen in Maricopa.

“Right now pickleball is really growing but there is no place to play,” he said. “There’s plenty of room there at Copper Sky. If they build courts, people will come.”

Maricopan pickleballers have three mornings a week to use half of the gymnasium at Copper Sky, with pickleball lines interspersed with markings from other sports and a surface they do not consider ideal. Outside, they try to play on the tennis courts, which have a net that is too high.

“It’s hard on the tennis players, too,” said Robert Matysiak, 68. “They try to accommodate us, but it’s their court.”

Two years ago, the city added pickleball markings to its tennis courts at Pacana Park.

Pickleball has rules similar to tennis, badminton and ping pong. It was created in the 1960s in Washington.

Matysiak said one of the reasons he enjoys pickleball is the close proximity of the opponents.

“We can talk to each other and joke across the net,” he said. “In tennis, you have to yell across the court.”

It is also not as demanding on the body as tennis while still providing exercise and health benefits. In Maricopa, pickleball first scored in the 55+ community of Province, which was where Myers was introduced to it.

Locally, that has given pickleball the reputation of being a retirees’ game, but Margo Malouf wants to see younger players in Maricopa.

Malouf is also an ambassador, an official title with the USA Pickleball Association.

“When you go around the country, you see a lot of young adults and kids playing,” she said.

In communities with dedicated pickleball courts, children and grandparents alike are playing. “It makes the game more fun,” she said.

For many years, Myers was a competitor in marathon and Ironman events, and he loved playing tennis in college. He thought physical activity of any account was over when he had his knees replaced in 2009.

He discovered pickleball in Province in 2013 and fell in love with it. But he is not a resident of Province. To get his pickleball fix, he would travel to Sun Lakes. He has also played in Ahwatukee, Surprise, Palm Creek and Robson Ranch.

When Copper Sky offered pickleball classes, public interest began to grow. Myers estimated about 300 people play in Maricopa.

“This year, we have noticed more and more people picking up the sport and we find it is harder to get on any court to play,” Glennwilde resident Marilyn Cory said. “We have often driven to each tennis court only to find they are all in use and there are others waiting to play.”

Jeff Whipple, 55, a self-described snowbird from Alberta, Canada, started coming to Maricopa two years ago.

“I came looking for something to do,” he said. “I never heard of pickleball until last year. Now I’m addicted.”

He was one of several players who wrote to Maricopa City Council asking for dedicated courts like the nine in Province.

“Sitting, waiting for courts is very frustrating,” he said. “We completely understand that play falls off after the snowbirds go home, but we believe it is a big drawing card for the city to have public courts.”

He said the eight courts Myers asked city council to consider would be just a start.

“If we had eight courts, we could start having tournaments,” he said.

It is just that idea Myers wants to sell to councilmembers to persuade them pickleball has economic benefits to Maricopa.

“I don’t see any big industry relocating here,” he said. “But I’m convinced people will move here to play pickleball. And some won’t move here because there is really no place to play.”

Pickleball courts are not in the city’s budget.

Contact Rocky Myers at 520-494-2030.


This story appeared in the May issue of InMaricopa.

Fifty-four teams with 190 players participated in the Maricopa March Madness tournament. Photo by Craig Cummins

By Craig Cummins

The legacy of an Maricopa High School athlete lives on through the admiration and support of his friends, family and community, and his love of basketball.

Over 190 players spread across 54 teams took to the courts of Copper Sky Regional Park and Pacana Park, to compete in the Maricopa March Madness: Nate Ford Memorial Basketball Tournament.

The original Maricopa March Madness tournament took place back in 2014, when Nate, a Maricopa High School junior at the time, created the fund-raising tournament as part of his Eagle Scout project.

Nate passed away in a car accident in August 2015.  His father, Doug Ford, has picked up where his son left off, continuing the tournament as a testament to his son.

“I think he would be really proud of what we were able to accomplish with the tournament this year,” Ford says.

While Ford took the position of tournament organizer, he was not alone in his efforts. Members of the Maricopa community volunteered their time to help run the event. The scorekeepers were all members of the Maricopa High School baseball team and friends of Nate, and Blue Star Mothers of Maricopa handled tournament registration.

The first tournament, which was run by Nate, brought in $1,000 in fundraising. This year’s tournament brought in $5,000.
“He was very patriotic and always wanted to do something to help the soldiers,” his father said.

The money raised in this year’s tournament will be split evenly between the local American Legion and the Military Assistance Mission, an Arizona based non-profit that helps active duty service members.

“We provide financial and moral support for active duty service members in Arizona,” said Brian Gibbs, director of operations for Military Assistance Mission. “Rent, car payments – issues arise when service members are deployed, so we help them and their spouses with the diapers, utilities or whatever else they need.”

While many of the players that participated in the tournament never knew Nate, others were close friends.

Adam Orrock, a mining engineer and friend of the Ford family, made it to the finals in the tournament last year.

“I’m out here to support a good cause and have some fun,” Orrock says. “The first tournament was a lot smaller, but it’s the same ol’ song and dance. He (Nate) would be proud.”

Cole Trimmer, 17, a junior at Maricopa High School and friend of Nate, came to the tournament to with his team named “Clutch.”

“Nate was a good friend of mine, so I’m playing in the tournament to ball-out and to show him my respect,” he said.

The Rocking 4D Foundation, a charitable foundation started in Nate’s honor, plans to continue the tournament in the years to come and also hold other events to help improve the Maricopa community.

For more information on the tournament and other events visit www. Rocking4dfoundation.org.

Bob Klein needed five staples to close a laceration on his head after an altercation at the dog park. Submitted

Police are seeking a man who allegedly pushed a 72-year-old man to the ground at the Copper Sky Dog Park in an altercation Saturday.

Dr. Bob Klein of the Villages was walking a small dog in the dog park at around 10:30 a.m. Two small children, reportedly against Klein’s warning, approached to pet the dog, which then nipped at them.

Maricopa Police Department spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said that led to an argument between Klein and an adult male accompanying the children. The argument ended with Klein being shoved down and hitting his head on the concrete, causing a laceration at the back of his head.

The suspect then left with the children.

Though Alvarado said Klein refused medical treatment at the scene, he later went to Chandler Regional Medical Center, where the wound apparently required five staples.

Klein’s wife Colleen was shopping in Chandler at the time of the incident but told him to go to the hospital in case he had a concussion. She said her husband described the suspect as a white man in his 30s or 40s, 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-3, and 240 pounds. He had several tattoos on his neck including “111.”

Medical staff determined Klein did not have a concussion. But his family wants the suspect apprehended.

His son put out a plea on YouTube.

A city sign posted at the entry to the park warns that dogs may behave unpredictably around small children and asks adults, “Please do not bring children under the age of 12 into the dog park.”

Colleen Klein said that is what escalated the argument between her husband and the man with the small children.

Anyone with information on the identity of the suspect is asked to call Maricopa Police Department, 520-568-3673.

A portion of the sign at the Copper Sky Dog Park.
A portion of the sign at the Copper Sky Dog Park.

Mayor Christian Price was the first guest of MCE's new "Engage" series. Photo by Cori O'Connell

Mayor Christian Price’s approach to business leadership is a sum of all his experiences back to high school.

That was one of the tidbits he shared in a sit-down discussion as Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship debuted its “Engage” series at the Copper Sky Mutigenerational Complex.

“We realized that there were people in the community that were very influential in how businesses operated,” MCE Director Dan Beach said. “From that, we decided to create some kind of an event where we could bring them in and ask them the tough kind of questions about the business behind business.”

Dozens of Maricopa residents and business owners came to Copper Sky to hear the mayor speak. The discussion was initially meant to be at MCE’s storefront location, but large numbers of committed attendees forced MCE to rent out space at Copper Sky.

The conversation started with Price discussing his influences and journey into politics, but quickly transitioned into how Maricopa has and will continue to grow.

“How do we do something that is hard for us, and how do we build an image?” Price said. “We have lots of home-based businesses, but where is the middle ground? The cost per square foot [in Maricopa] is worse than Scottsdale! It’s ridiculous!”

According to Price, the city is hoping to lower the extremely high cost of renting office space in the city by installing “flex” buildings at the Estrella Gin Business Park.

The “flex” buildings allow businesses to rent as much space as they need without having to install thousands of dollars worth of upgrades to make the building meet safety codes. The buildings will also be a “public/private partnership,” so officials will have more control over the cost to rent space.

“As a city, we do not want to come into the real estate business and we don’t want to come in and be competitive to the market, but we do want to create an outside-the-box way of thinking,” Price said. “So we need to partner with private industry and take what both sides are good at to fill that niche. That’s what we’re doing at [Estrella Gin Business Park] behind Acacia Crossing.”

The next date and guest speaker for MCE’s “Engage” series has not been announced yet.

The Snow Zone was busy during Saturday's MerryCopa at Copper Sky. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Maricopa residents got a taste of winter with an ice skating rink and snow pile during the second annual MerryCopa Holiday Festival at Copper Sky Regional Park Saturday night.

Hundreds of local residents came out to celebrate the holidays with family and friends during the six-hour event. Bounce houses, sledding and ice skating were set up for children, and adults enjoyed food and entertainment from local vendors and performers.

“We have it all going on out here today,” Maricopa Community Services Special Events Manager Niesha Whitman said. “We wanted to do something to celebrate the holidays and bring everyone together.”

Participants competed in a gingerbread house contest and an attendance competition where they tried to receivee stamps on their “passports” from various locations around the event.

Winners of the different age groups for the gingerbread house competition received a $100 gift card to Holiday Ham, and the winner of the “passport” drawing received a freshly cut Christmas tree and ornaments to put on it.

“We love this event and we’re trying to make it bigger and better for you each year,” Maricopa Mayor Christian Price said.

Before the event came to a close, Price led a countdown to light the park’s Christmas tree.

Also during the event, Shaela Norris was crowned Miss Estrella Mountains Outstanding Teen.