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Maricopa

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

“This is huge,” Mayor Christian Price said in announcing a major event.

“We are in the process of bringing an international soccer team to the city of Maricopa,” he said.

Deportivo Saprissa is a three-time winner of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Cup and the national championship team from Costa Rica. Saprissa was named CONCACAF’s Team of the 20th Century.

Price said its preseason appearance in Maricopa would draw national and international attention from businesses and fans.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Maricopa City Council, Price introduced local businessman Peter Cockle, instrumental in bringing the team to town at the end of June.

Cockle said Sapressa will play two teams during their preseason training in Maricopa. One is a professional team from San Diego and the other a team comprised of players selected from Arizona. He said each game is expected to draw 6,000 fans.

When the Saprissa team leaves Maricopa, it will travel to Denver to play in front of 70,000.

Maricopa businessman and sometime soccer scout Peter Cockle talks about the plans for Saprissa to train in Maricopa as Mayor Christian Price looks on. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Maricopa businessman and sometime soccer scout Peter Cockle talks about the plans for Saprissa to train in Maricopa as Mayor Christian Price looks on. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

“Where we think football is big in this country, soccer – professionally and internationally – dwarfs the NFL,” said Price, a lifelong soccer fan.

The mayor said he related the Saprissa visit to a business associate from Mexico. “He said, ‘That’s incredible. Coming to Maricopa?” His friend said he would expect his extended family and their entourage of 300 people from Texas to travel to Maricopa to watch El “S” play.

Juan Carlos Rojas, president of Deportivo Saprissa, appeared via video to introduce the club to Maricopa. He said the team’s stay in Maricopa would include coaching clinics, pro combines and summer camps.

“We are very glad to be visiting the Casa Grande and Maricopa communities for Saprissa’s preseason,” he said.

Cockle said the training camp is just the beginning of his plans. For one thing, it is not just a one-off event. “They’ve committed to three years. So they’ll be here next year; they want to play more games next year,” he said.

He said he is working to draw soccer fans from all over the state and build local support.

“If all goes well and the community buys into this, in January 2017 we will have our own professional soccer team here in Maricopa,” he said.

Cockle said pro teams that have trained at Grande Sports World in Casa Grande were unhappy with having to travel to Tucson for games. He suggested they come instead in Maricopa. He said they want to be involved with the Saprissa training next year.

“This is really going to put Maricopa on the map,” he said.

The plan is to have the training and games at Maricopa High School’s Rams Stadium. That deal includes a donation to the MHS soccer program. Cockle is partnering with Maricopa Unified School District, the city and businesses in Arizona and worldwide.

“This is what it takes. It takes creative thinking, outside the box, finding a vision and looking for a way to say ‘How do we make this happen?’” Price said.

Plans are still coming together, and the mayor said, “We have a long way to go.”

Cockle invites businesses interested in sponsorships or tickets to contact him at cockle.peter@gmail.com.

A trip to Peppersauce Cave is among the events this week in Maricopa.

This week holds lots of opportunities to learn new talents at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, but you may also solve a murder mystery or go on an overnight camping adventure. For details on the following events or to add your own, visit InMaricopa.com/Calendar.

SUNDAY

 

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa Chamber of Commerce, 44480 W. Honeycutt Road, Suite 106.

MONDAY

 

Tumbling, pom and cheer class for ages 4-12 starts at 5 p.m. Mondays through April 25 at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Chef Cody’s Culinary Adventure starts at 5:30 p.m. Mondays through June 27 at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Cooking lesson from cuisines around the world. Classes will include interactive cooking demonstrations.

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave. (enter through door on right side of building)

TUESDAY

 

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

Leading Edge Academy Kindergarten Round-Up is at 6 p.m. at 18700 N. Porter Road.

Maricopa Children’s Theatre: Beauty Is a Beast is 6-8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Maricopa City Council Work Session is at 6 p.m. at Maricopa City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza. Discussions include a new city seal, trends at the library and a minor amendment to the subdivision ordinance.

Maricopa City Council Meeting is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza. The council has 11 items on its consent agenda and one item on its regular agenda.

WEDNESDAY

Hip Hop Dance Class is at 4 p.m. for age 4-7 at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Pitch, Hit & Run is hosted by Maricopa Little League for all children ages 7-14 at Pacana Park, 19000 N. Porter Road.

THURSDAY

First Steps Ballet and Tumbling class for ages 3-4 starts at 4 p.m. at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

First Steps Ballet and Jazz class for ages 5-7 starts at 5 p.m. at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

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

FRIDAY

Peppersauce Camping & Caving adventure for adults leaves at 6 p.m. from Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Mandatory pre-trip meeting at 6 p.m. on April 5.

SATURDAY

Til Death Do Us Part Murder Mystery Dinner is at 6 p.m. includes a night of fun theatrics and a three-course meal at Elements Event Center, 16000 N. Maricopa Road.

Latin Dance Class for adults 16 and up starts at 6:30 p.m. each Saturday through April 30 at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

The previous open house on the possible Palo Verde Regional Park drew an was at Copper Sky in April. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Facing a vocal and hostile group of residents, proponents of a regional park west of Maricopa tried to spell out the purpose of the plan Thursday night.

Though there have been meetings and discussions about a possible park since 2007, when the Open Space & Trails Master Plan was approved, and the meeting at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center was the second open house in four months, many in the room said they knew nothing about a Palo Verde Regional Park.

They were angry about what they felt was lack of meeting notification in the rural area and they were angry about the park concept itself.

“This is BS,” said Mike Johnson, who said his property is near the 23,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management territory being considered for the park. “We don’t want to pay for something we already get for free.”

Johnson also said bringing more people into the area would increase the danger from drug-smuggling spotters in the mountains.

Kent Taylor, director of the Pinal County Open Space & Trail Department, and Michael Park, landscape architect with Environmental Planning Group (EPG), bore the brunt of the push-back from about 15 residents. An equal number stayed silent or spoke up for the park concept.

Planning for the park began last fall.

Taylor said the open house was a continuation of the information-gathering stage. As residents continued to complain about lack of notification and question the impact on taxes, lifestyle and law enforcement, Taylor repeatedly encouraged them to write their concerns on the comment forms provided at the meeting.

A handful of those attending saw the park plan as an improvement in public safety.

The most popular items on the list of possibilities for a Palo Verde Park were non-motorized trails, according to an online poll conducted by the OS&T Department.

“Trails are fairly easy to build and will probably be in Phase 1,” Park said.

The county could also regulate the shooting area that already exists and develop campsites.

“The county gets a lot of its funds from camp fees,” he said.

Most other activities proposed for the parkland have been spoken of as fee-free. The Open Space & Trails Advisory Commission has hosted field trips into the BLM land to create more discussion on the recreational possibilities of a park.

County Supervisor Anthony Smith said creating the park would be funded by development impact fees. Smith spoke to the crowd off the cuff. Though Maricopa city staff was present, they did not wander into the fray.

Johnson said it was all just another government money-grab.

Taylor said the park proposal would not come to a public vote but would go through intermediate county staff before ultimately coming to a vote of the Board of Supervisors.

The next public meeting on the park plans is scheduled for June 9. There will be a preliminary meeting for stakeholders June 2.

Residents, elected officials, police and fire personnel and many others attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Maricopa Police Department substation at Copper Sky. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa Police Department put its new substation on display for a ribbon-cutting event Tuesday. It is not fully open, yet. In fact, it’s not fully complete, at least as far as the police chief is concerned.

More than being a police presence south of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, the substation is the communication center for police and fire. It will use the new tower next to the Public Works fleet maintenance facility on Edison Road.

Mayor Christian Price drew attention to the Edison Road communications tower, which will allow the city to end outsourcing of its emergency feeds. “Now we’re going to be able to bring that home,” he said. “And this just helps speed things up and ultimately helps each and every one of you.

“But if we’d opened this building prior to opening up that tower, what use would it have been in that respect?”

MPD is moving into the substation, but it is not expected to be a full operation until May.

Budgeted for $4 million, the substation funds did not stretch as far as Chief Steve Stahl wanted. He pushed to get more technology.

“I think any of the law enforcement leaders in the audience will tell you, technology is at the forefront of our thoughts all the time – how can we be smarter, how can we be wiser, how can we fight crime better but not harder,” Stahl said at Tuesday’s ceremony. “That is through technology.”

Ak-Chin Indian Community kicked in $450,000 to help add technology and electronics. Chairman Robert Miguel said it was just another example in the long history of Ak-Chin and the city of Maricopa working together on mutually beneficial projects.

“We always help each other out in providing services in the best way possible,” Miguel said. He called Ak-Chin support of the substation “automatic.”

Even with the Ak-Chin aid, the substation does not have everything originally envisioned. It’s smaller, for one thing, and the police chief plans for that to change.

Stahl said the design had to “be able to be built upon in years to come and look like, when it was done, that it was all built at the same time. That was my task to the architect.”

That architect was Joseph Salvatore of Architekton in Tempe. He also designed the Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, which won the 2014 facility award from the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association. The substation shares several architectural elements with that neighboring facility.

Salvatore said he was particularly pleased with the building’s aspect after dark, calling the entrance porch “spectacular” at nighttime.

“It’s such a welcoming look and feel that draws people in and brings people to the police so they can have that dialogue,” Salvatore said. “That’s the key.”

He said he also wanted to create “exciting spaces” for employees, and used interesting angles to create visual value.

“This is the very first time we’ve done that,” Salvatore said. “Dispatch is in here 24/7 and they need something special. And with the natural light we have coming in here, that enlivens the space as well.”

The building was constructed by CORE Construction, which also built Copper Sky Multigenerational Center and the fleet maintenance building.

“It’s wonderful that we’re able to extend our public safety portion of our operations south of the tracks,” City Manager Gregory Rose said. “None of this would have been possible without the leadership of our mayor and council. Without their willingness to allocate funds and set aside funds and really be committed to the project, it simply doesn’t happen.”

Carol Oakley performs during "Spice o Life." Photo by Michelle Chance

By Michelle Chance

Over a dozen performers took the stage during the Spice of Life Senior Variety Show Saturday night at the Maricopa High School Performing Arts Center.

Sponsor and coordinator Helen Brown said she was “blown away” by the talent she saw three years ago when she first attended the variety show in Chandler. From that moment on, Brown said she immediately asked to have the show in Maricopa.

Brown, with help from the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee, hopes to have the show back in the future.

“Everyone seems to enjoy it so we probably will bring it back,” Brown said, adding, “The performers really love our stage, so they would love to come back.”

The wide variety of performers ranged from cloggers, singers and dancers. One singer, Mary Poindexter, has been a part of the variety show for 13 years, said the show’s host, Rosemary Morton.

However, it was the first Spice of Life variety show performance for local talent, Charles Linn. “This year we have a new performer from Maricopa,” Brown said. “He is an illusionist.”

Linn entertained the crowd with card tricks and humor, which produced hearty laughs from the audience after each punchline.

Brown said among her favorites is Jesse Washington, a singer with a powerful operatic voice. Overall, Brown said “I like everyone, they did a magnificent job.”

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.

Library manager Erik Surber will give a presentation on the library during an April 5 city council meeting.

By Yvonne Gonzalez

Maricopa Public Library is underfunded, understaffed and out of options to expand services without added resources.

Library manager Erik Surber said he plans to ask the city for more funding as officials lay out the next budget in the coming months. He will give a presentation on the current budget situation for city council members during an April 5 work session.

“I feel it’s really my job to advocate for the library to get us to where I think [we should be],” Surber said, “and where the community wants us.”

Surber said there are no current plans to close the library on Saturdays, despite a rumor to the contrary.

“We’re in the middle of the budget process right now,” he said. “Nothing’s finalized at this point.”

Library programs are largely based on community input, Surber said.

“If there [are] a lot of people asking for certain programs and we want to add it, we have to look at what program we’re currently offering that we would cut,” he said. “That is the reality of our economic situation.”

City spokesperson Jennifer Brown said a new spending plan for the city will be adopted in late June, with the current budget year ending in July.

“The budget is tight for everybody,” she said. “We’re still in the midst of figuring out next year’s budget.”

Though the library is understaffed, Surber noted the facility doesn’t have the capacity to hold more employees.

“In this case, being undersized trumps being understaffed,” he said.

Surber said among 16 Arizona cities with a population between 12,000 and 80,000, the median library budget is $33.88 per capita. Meanwhile, Maricopa’s library is about a third of that, at $11.20 per capita.

Median staffing for those same libraries, Surber said, is at 0.54 full-time equivalent positions for every 1,000 residents, while Maricopa sits at 0.18.

“That’s generally how libraries measure staffing level,” he said.

Several reasons play into the library’s staffing and funding, from the economic downturn to the rising costs of goods, including books.

“We are the newest of those 16 libraries,” he said. “We are the newest one and playing catch-up.”

He said the library has been put in a difficult funding position.

“We’re definitely not unique in that struggle,” he said. “Libraries all over the country are really finding themselves in similar positions.”

The library is getting creative in finding funds, pursuing sponsors for its summer reading program as well as regional and national grants.

“It’s an unfortunate situation economically that we’re in currently, but we’re trying to find solutions,” he said.

Crazy Cranberry was the grand prize winner at Salsa Festival. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa Community Services announced the full list of winners of the 12th annual Salsa Festival among the 21 competing salsa chefs:
Overall Favorite and Grand Prize Winner:
Crazy Cranberry (U14)

Hot Category:
Mickey’s Salsa (H2)
Los Muertos Salsa (H17)
2 Dudes Salsa (H27)

Mild Category:
Mickey’s Salsa (M2)
Puma Salsa (M20)
Hay’s Salsa Lovers (M13)

Unusual Category:
Tango Mango (U4)
RC Salsa (U28)
Ellie Warder (U24)

Most Festive Booth Decor:
Los Muertos Salsa

Celebrity Judges Choice:
2 Dudes Salsa (H27)

Winners received the following prizes:
Best Overall – $1,000
1st Place Hot – $500
2nd Place Hot – $150
3rd Place Hot – $50
1st Place Mild – $500
2nd Place Mild -$150
3rd Place Mild – $50
1st Place Unusual – $500
2nd Place Unusual -$150
3rd Place Unusual -$50
Celebrity Judges – $250
Most Festive Booth Decor – $100

Students prepare to sing for the ground-breaking ceremony at Leading Edge Academy's expansion site. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

In six years, Leading Edge Academy’s presence in Maricopa grew from a trailer, where Principal Mat Reese interviewed parents of prospective students, to a 430-student charter school.

“We’ve seen it grow, and we kept thinking, ‘Are they going to expand? Classrooms are getting kind of tight,’” said Heli Tanon, who placed two children in the school. One has now moved on to high school and the other is in fourth grade.

Tuesday morning, LEA broke ground for the much-anticipated expansion.

LEA founder Delmer Geesey was on hand along with Mayor Christian Price, members of the city council, county Supervisor Anthony Smith, Ak-Chin Chairman Robert Miguel, members of the Ak-Chin tribal council and some parents. A school choir performed the national anthem.

“It’s nice to see everybody come together and support the school,” parent Nicolle Tanon said.

The expansion at the northwest corner of Porter Road and Adam’s Way came about after Community of Hope Church sold its parcels on the site to Leading Edge. From there, things moved quickly.

“I went on spring break and came back and suddenly all the fencing was up,” Reese said.

The 28,500-square-foot expansion provides space for up to 450 more students. Reese said it will include 18 classrooms, a gymnasium and office space. Completion is planned for August.

Price called Leading Edge a “great partner” with the city.

Maricopa is expected to be warm and sunny this week. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

If you like 80-degree temperatures, you’re going to love this week in Maricopa.

According to the National Weather Service, every day this week should hit 80 with clear skies.

Today calls for the high near 80 and mild winds out of the west 5 to 10 mph. Tonight’s low is expected to to be about 49 degrees.

Tuesday, expect the high to reach 84 with calm winds and another evening with a low of 49. Winds from the northwest will shift to east-southeast.

Wednesday, temperatures will climb to 86 degrees during the day and cool to around 50 at night.

Thursday is expected to be about the same, with a high of 85 and an overnight low of 51, but a little breezier, with gusts possibly as high as 20 mph.

Friday will be sunny, with an expected high of 84 and a nighttime low of 49. The southwest wind is forecast to be 5-15 mph and gusting up to 20 mph.

Similar conditions are exprected to last into the weekend.

Besides performing, the students had clinics with top music leaders during their time at the Rose Center Theater. Submitted photo

March 3-6, the Maricopa High School Band, Orchestra and Winter Guard took their fifth bi-annual trip to Anaheim, California, to participate in a national festival sponsored by Worldstrides OnStage Programs.

Students performed at the Rose Center Theater in Westminster, California. The orchestra had a clinic with Neal Hendricksen from Woods Cross High School in Utah. The band and guard had clinics with Jeffrey Sisil from the Kingston Jazz Band. The students enjoyed visiting Universal CityWalk and Disneyland and topped off the weekend with an awards ceremony held in Disney’s Fantasyland Theater.

“This year marked some of our best performances in this program since we began these trips back in 2009,” director Ivan Pour said. “Our band and orchestra earned a Silver Award (the second-highest, equivalent to a rating of Excellent), and our Winter Guard earned a Gold Award (the highest available – equivalent of a rating of Superior). Our orchestra concert master, junior Joseph “Kyle” Ferland was recognized with a Maestro Award for outstanding musicianship. Our entire group was for the third time awarded the Spirit of Anaheim award for outstanding teamwork and outstanding representation of our school and community.

“These are truly wonderful students that Maricopa can be proud of,” he added, “and it is a joy and privilege to be able to work with these students learning about making music each day in class and a joy to see their hard work pay off on stage!”

Long-time Maricopa resident and former Rotary president Don Pearce is protesting the idea of filling in the pool at Rotary Park. Photos by Devin Carson

Don Pearce moved to Maricopa in 1959 and soon after began helping with maintenance at the local Rotary Club’s new swimming pool.

“It was about the kids. I was here close, and if something happened I could go down,” said Pearce, who owned the NAPA Auto Parts store at the corner of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and State Route 347.

He still considers the Rotary pool his baby and wants it to reopen. It closed in 2014 when Copper Sky Regional Park opened its aquatic center.

When the city of Maricopa started talking about acquiring Rotary Park, including the pool, Pearce became worried the plan would be to fill in the pool that was built in 1958. That could be the case whether the property remains a park or is significantly altered by rerouted roadways for the overpass.

Back in 1958, John Smith and Fred Enke donated the land to the Rotary for the park and pool. If the property ceases to be used as a park, it reverts back to the Smith family.

“I would like to see the whole thing re-done,” Mary Lou Smith said. “It would serve a lot of people, not just the Heritage District. That’s a very nice area there; it would be an asset.”

She said people who could not go to Copper Sky, including those in subdivisions next to the Heritage District, would have a pool.

“I bet we taught over 2,000 kids to swim,” Pearce said of his years with Rotary. “I’ve got five daughters. All of them learned to swim in that pool. Two were lifeguards.”

He can wax nostalgic about the swimming pool, but his opposition to dismantling it is not about keeping a piece of history alive.

“The Maricopa Domestic Water [Improvement District] furnished the water for the pool free of charge,” Pearce said. “So the people that are paying the bill are the people in the Heritage District. They don’t feel like they should furnish the water for the park only and not have the swimming pool. They feel like they’re being short-changed.”

Since the pool’s closure, the city has adopted a new zoning code. A cost study for re-opening the pool under the new codes is pending. Early ballpark figures from City Hall are $500,000-$1 million. Pearce called that “ridiculous.”

He said he could gather a group of people who would willingly do the work and maintain the pool for free. It is an idea harkening back to the heyday of the Rotary Club, which started Stagecoach Days as a way to earn money before incorporation.

“The last year we ran it, we painted it, cleaned it up and got it ready,” Pearce said. “The city gave us $20,000. We ran the pool all summer, had at least 50 kids every day, and we gave them back some of that grant.”

He parted ways with the Rotary Club over the closing of the pool, among other things, but still wants to have a citizen’s voice as discussions begin between city officials and the Rotary Club. He said it should be about the children.

“These kids don’t have a way to get to Copper Sky,” he said. “I can’t even go on my scooter.”

Paint collapsed off the wall of the facility at Rotary Park. Photo by Devin Carson
Paint collapsed off the wall of the facility at Rotary Park. Photo by Devin Carson

Aron Rauch, president of Maricopa Rotary Club, stands at Rotary Park, which is next to Maricopa Unified School District. The city is debating whether to acquire the park. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Before Maricopa was a city, it had a park. Back when the Heritage District was not called the Heritage District but was just Maricopa, the local Rotary Club saw the unincorporated community’s need for safe recreation.

The club was only 2 years old in 1956 when it decided the community needed a pool. According to Patricia Brock’s “Reflections of a Desert Town,” Rotarians John Smith and Fred Enke donated 3.5 acres, and the club raised money and donated labor to construct the swimming pool in 1958.

The park included a lawn shaded by trees, a ramada with picnic tables and grills, a basketball court, volleyball pit and bathrooms.

For decades, the pool was the place to go in the summer.

But times changed in Maricopa. The community grew, eventually incorporating and building a city park called Pacana. When Copper Sky Regional Park and its aquatic center opened in 2014, Maricopa Rotary Club closed its swimming pool.

Now, the city maintains the lawn area while the Rotary Club manages the now-drained pool, locked restrooms, basketball court and ramada.

The Maricopa City Council is contemplating taking over Rotary Park to make sure the Heritage District continues to have a usable park.

The Council seems to favor taking ownership of park, but the debate over how much of the park to maintain remains a divisive issue.

“We would like to acquire at least the park and get the restrooms open,” Maricopa Community Services Directory Kristie Riester said. “Right now the bathrooms are secured and closed off and unavailable for people that are accessing the park to use.”

Rotary President Aron Rausch said he has doubts the property can legally be split between two owners, another issue to be studied by City Hall.

If the Council moves forward with the purchase of the park, the city would conduct a survey of the park. The cost of the survey is approximately $6,320 and another $7,300 is expected to go toward renovations of the restrooms.

Though the city has not done a study of the pool costs, City Manager Gregory Rose estimated repair costs and bringing up to code would exceed $500,000. Reister said her rough guess for renovating the existing structure was $1 million.

Don Pearce, who had helped maintain the pool since 1959, took issue with those figures. “It’s ridiculous what they’re talking about,” he said. “That pool was built better than any other pool anywhere. It’s structurally good. I can’t imagine what they’re gonna do to it that costs that much money. We don’t need gold fixtures in there.” See related story

“When I first moved here, we used that pool a lot,” City Councilmember Vincent Manfredi said. “Does Rotary have any intention to spend the million dollars to fix it? If they don’t, there is no point in not acquiring the whole (park) and just taking the pool out or repurposing it. Otherwise it’s just going to fall apart, become an eyesore or create a hazard.”

Ideas such as a community garden or playground equipment have been mentioned as an alternative if the pool is filled in.

“I think the issue here is if there is interest in having the city staff move forward and start these negotiations,” Mayor Christian Price said. “The long-term plan needs to be brought back before us so we can make the ultimate decision. If (the park is) going to come to us, then it needs to be of a new use. We have to have the right to change that in the future.”

Another issue surrounding the park is whether it will stay a park when the State Route 347 overpass is built.

One of the elements of the overpass is the redirection of traffic from Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway to Honeycutt Road. The Arizona Department of Transportation is working on an alternative that would expand an existing access road by Maricopa Unified School District and direct it through to the MCG Highway.

If ADOT sticks to that plan, the road would be directly adjacent to and even within the borders of Rotary Park. That could affect park operations.

If the park is no longer used as a park, the ownership rights are transferred back to the original title holder, Maricopa Community Services Company, because it was deeded to the Rotary Club as a park.

“I’m concerned about the clause that if it no longer serves as a park it reverts back to the granter,” Councilmember Peggy Chapados said. “We can’t guarantee what the future of that land will be. With the future of Maricopa-Casa Grande and the 347 and the changes in that area, we can’t guarantee what it will be.”

This story appeared in the March issue of InMaricopa News.

Rotary Park was created to build a community pool, which was completed in 1958. The pool closed when Copper Sky Regional Park opened. Photo by Devin Carson
Rotary Park was created to build a community pool, which was completed in 1958. The pool closed when Copper Sky Regional Park opened. Photo by Devin Carson

Teenagers gathered at Copper Sky for the first Youth Town Hall on March 3. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Youth were empowered at separate events in Maricopa on March 3.

The city of Maricopa’s Youth Council hosted its first Youth Town Hall to allow teens to express themselves about issues that impact their lives. Meanwhile, a sorority was at Maricopa Elementary introducing RunJumpThrow.

In a segment on academic pressure, students attending the Youth Town Hall at Copper Sky spoke about self-doubt after moving to Maricopa and self-improvement after losing their way academically or socially in a new environment.

“Every time I would turn in my report card to my parents, I could just see the disappointment on their faces, and that really affected me,” one student said. “I know that they love me, but I would think at the time that they didn’t because they were so disappointed.”

Some credited their friends and school counselors with helping them get on track while others said they realized the people they were hanging out with were dragging them down. Others spoke about overcoming overloaded schedules.

Led by members of the Youth Council, they discussed the cause and effects of stress. Councilmembers directed the conversation toward resources for help.

While the Youth Town Hall proved to be a safe space for teens to openly discuss personal issues, over at Maricopa Elementary, younger children were learning leadership and self-worth in a very physical way. The Kappa Eta Sigma Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. hosted its Youth Symposium, “Building Partnerships to Support Our Youth.” It was a community service event with the Be Awesome Youth Coalition.

Submitted photo
Submitted photo

The event was planned to introduce the RunJumpThrow program, the sorority’s new partnership with USA Track & Field sponsored by the Hershey Company. City Councilman Bridger Kimball and former Denver Bronco Drew Anderson were special guests. RunJumpThrow is a hands-on learning program to get youths excited about physical activity by introducing them to the basic running, jumping and throwing skills through track and field.

“Statistics show that almost one in four children is suffering from childhood obesity, so we know that our children need more opportunities to exercise,” said Bonita M. Herring, international president of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority. “It is important to work with community partners to develop young people in all facets of their lives, educationally, socially and emotionally.”
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The day also included interactive workshops on healthy living as part of Project Reassurance.

Desert Wind Middle School Principal June Celaya, flanked by City Councilmember Peggy Chapdos (left) and Maricopa High School Principal Renita Myers, tells the students at the Youth Town Hall she is proud of them.
Desert Wind Middle School Principal June Celaya, flanked by City Councilmember Peggy Chapdos (left) and Maricopa High School Principal Renita Myers, tells the students at the Youth Town Hall she is proud of them.

Overcast skies have kept Monday temperatures mostly in the high 60s. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A mild, cloudy Monday will have an increased chance of showers moving into evening in Maricopa.

According to the National Weather Service, there is a 20 percent chance for rain tonight, a prognostication that will linger until 11 a.m. Tuesday. The overnight low is expected to be 45 degrees.

Tuesday, the clouds will mostly clear by the afternoon, and the high will be near 71 degrees. Expect breezy conditions, with gusts up to 25 mph.

The rest of the week is forecast to be mostly clear. Days are expected to be sunny with temperatures in the mid 80s. Overnight lows will be in the mid 40s to low 50s. The wind from the south-southwest is expected to be 5-10 mph.

Those conditions are expected to last at least through the weekend.

 

 

Craig Nolan is a Maricopa resident and a member of the Exercise Science faculty at Mesa Community College.

By Craig Nolan

Most adults do not meet the recommended amount of at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.  What is the reason for this?  The typical response will vary but will usually include the following:  I don’t have time, I am not motivated, I don’t know how to, I can’t afford a gym membership.  None of these are actual valid reasons for not exercising but rather are excuses.

According to the World Health Organization’s most recent Global Health Risks data (2004) after high blood pressure, tobacco use and high blood glucose, lack of physical activity constitutes the fourth leading cause of death worldwide.

When the average person becomes ill she/he will visit their doctor in the hope of finding a cure for what ails them.  More often than not their doctor will prescribe them some type of pharmaceutical medication in the hope that this will remedy the problem.  The problem with this method of “treatment” is many of these medications do not cure the problem but rather mask the problem.  In addition many pharmaceutical medications come with a host of negative side effects which may include the following: itching, rash, dry mouth, drowsiness, elevated heart rate, nausea, and thoughts of suicide.

What if there was one simple prescription that could lower the risk of premature mortality, improve quality of life, and does not come with any of the negative side effects that most prescription medications do?  That prescription is readily available at no cost.  What is this magic pill?  Exercise!

Regular physical activity can achieve the following:  lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60 percent, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by approximately 40 percent, reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure by approximately 40 percent, lower the risk of stroke by 27 percent, lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent, decrease depression and anxiety symptoms as effectively as medication, and much more.

In 2007, the American Medical Association and the American College of Sports Medicine put in motion the Exercise is Medicine initiative.  The objective of this program is to further promote the scientifically proven health benefits of exercise.  This program calls for doctors to discuss their patients’ exercise habits in all of their interactions.  If these patients are not meeting the recommended amount of physical activity they will be made aware of the required recommendation and/or be referred to a fitness professional who can assist them in attaining their health related goals.

Exercise is a free “pill” that can be taken anywhere at any time!  It has tremendous upside with very few negative side effects.  I encourage all of you take your daily dose today and begin reaping the benefits of this wonder drug.

References
US Physical Activity Guidelines. (2008). Retrieved Feb. 10, 2016, Health.gov/PAGuidelines/
What is Exercise is Medicine? (2016). Retrieved Feb. 10, 2016, ExerciseIsMedicine.org/


Craig Nolan is a Maricopa resident and a member of the Exercise Science faculty at Mesa Community College.

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.

Mild winter days continue in Maricopa, though cooler than last week. Photo by Adam Wolfe

After weeks of record heat, the temperatures are expected to cool down into the 70s throughout the middle of the week.

According to the National Weather Service, the week should start with high winds near 30 mph and temperatures in the mid 80s. By Tuesday however, temperatures should drop to the mid 70s before returning to the low 80s by the weekend.

Monday’s forecast calls for sunny skies with a high near 83 degrees. The wind should increase to nearly 30 mph in the afternoon and evening. The strong winds are expected to last throughout the night, and the overnight low should drop to 50 degrees.

The strong winds should calm to 5 mph by Tuesday morning, and the forecast calls for sunny skies with a high near 75 degrees. The skies should stay clear throughout the evening, and the overnight low is expected to be 46 degrees.

Wednesday should stay mostly sunny with temperatures reaching 76 degrees. The wind is expected to increase to 10 mph throughout the day, but gusts should calm to 5 mph overnight. The projected low is 42 degrees.

Thursday is projected to see a spike back into the low 80s with temperatures reaching up to 82 degrees. The winds should remain calm near 5 mph, and the overnight low is expected to dip to 45 degrees.

Friday should see a slight increase to 83 degrees, but the weather should drop to 81 degrees on Saturday and 80 degrees on Sunday.

More information will be available as the weekend comes to a close.

Library patrons admired a quilt display at a special event today. Photo by Adam Wolfe

The Maricopa Public Library hosted the “Between the Covers Quilt and Nostalgia Show” Saturday night as part of its Winter Reading Club theme.

“The library has never done anything like this before,” Maricopa Public Library manager Erik Surber said. “Quilts connect us to the past and keep older traditions alive, which I think is important.”

The event showcased dozens of quilts and allowed the library to host its first after-hours adult event. The quilts were provided by Maricopa Divas and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Quilts, and the after-hours show featured Jan Sandwich in a rare appearance as herself for “The Jan Sandwich Nostalgia Show.”

“I’ve been here before as Mother Goose and Wendy Witch at Halloween, but I’m so happy to be here tonight as myself,” Sandwich said.

Jan Sandwich performed a Nostalgia Show. Photo by Adam Wolfe
Jan Sandwich performed a Nostalgia Show. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Photo by Adam Wolfe

Hundreds of participants came out to Copper Sky Regional Park Saturday afternoon to compete in the second annual Copa Color Fun Run.

For this year’s Color Run, the city added a beer garden and food trucks to provide participants with an afternoon of fun, food and entertainment.

“It’s going exceptionally well,” Maricopa Special Events and Marketing Manager Niesha Whitman said. “We had a very good turnout. We have business vendors out here, we have food trucks out here serving people, we have a photographer on site and we have a DJ entertaining the crowd. So we have a lot to do for everyone.”

Throughout the race, runners are doused with vibrant colors. Dozens of spectators lined the course to cheer on the runners, and hundreds of families took advantage of the bounce houses and various festivities for children and adults.

“It’s another avenue for people to do on a Saturday afternoon,” Whitman said. “It’s just something to get the community out, and we’re really encouraging everyone to go out to (Harrah’s) Ak-Chin and check out the Salt N Pepa concert this evening.”

Police recruits gather at Maricopa High School to start the physical test during MPD training Saturday. Photo by Craig Cummins

By Craig Cummins

Dressed in gym shorts and sweats, dozens of hopefuls came to Maricopa High School today to take their first steps toward becoming the first rookies sworn into the Maricopa Police Department.

The department, which was started back in 2007, has traditionally hired police officers that already had experience in law enforcement.

“It took the department six months to become operational and we needed experienced officers to help mold the department,” said Ricky Alvarado, the department’s public information officer.

This is the second round of testing for new officers in the last year for the department. The first round ending with the potential hiring of one officer who is currently attending a post-certified police academy.

More than 50 recruits showed up to MHS’s track to take their physical fitness evaluation, known as the Cooper Standards.

The Cooper Standards is a three-part test and is a preliminary requirement for recruits and consists of a 1.5-mile run in under 15 minutes, 29 sit-ups in under one minute and 25 consecutive push-ups without a time limit.

While delivering a pre-test speech to the recruits, Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl said, “As you go through this process today, there are several things that are going to happen. Obviously the first thing is this physical conditioning part, to make sure that you are of the proper physical condition to make it through the academy.

“For us here today, we’re testing you at everything. We’re watching how you dialogue with each other; we’re watching whether you support one another,” Stahl added.

Competition was tough on the track, with many of the recruits coming from backgrounds or experience close-knit to law enforcement.

One such recruit, Michael Martinez, 26, from Casa Grande, comes from a family with a history in law enforcement, including his father who has served in numerous departments across the state. Martinez himself works in corrections at the Eloy Detention Center and is looking to make the transition into a traditional police department.

“I’m trying to make a difference and see some change within the industry of what policing is,” said recruit JB Smith, 28. He is no stranger to the strict guidelines and physical standards of the Maricopa Police Department, having served active duty in the U.S. Navy, which included a deployment to Iraq.

Currently the department is looking to hire two or three new officers, meaning only the best of candidates will make it through. And while the candidates are technically in competition with one another, praises of encouragement and camaraderie were constantly heard among the hopeful future officers as they ran their laps and proved they physically had what it takes.

The physical fitness test is only the first part of a long process towards becoming an officer. After completing the physical fitness test, the recruits who passed headed to Maricopa City Hall to take a written test, which will end the first day of testing.

“The written test is mainly reading comprehension,” Alvarado said. “There are some scenario-based law enforcement questions, but nothing a reasonable person couldn’t answer. We don’t expect them to be cops yet.”

The recruits who make it through the physical and written tests will later go through a long series of interviews and background checks before they are even given the opportunity to attend an academy. While many will not make it, those who do may one day dawn the uniform of a Maricopa Police officer.

Closing his speech to the recruits, Stahl said, “You all are the cutting edge of America today. Be proud you made the first step, showing up. That’s the first step of anything – showing up.”

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Junior Tyra Williams (30) stretches for a layup against Cienega Friday night. Photo by Devin Carson

 

The Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team punched their ticket to the Arizona Interscholastic Association Division II Girls’ State Basketball Tournament quarterfinals with a win over Cienega High School Friday night.

The Rams came out cold in Friday’s game but used a highly productive second half to run away with a 59-39 victory.

“I can think back to myself being a player and having that last playoff game,” head coach Melvin Mitchell said. “I still have regrets from that moment and I don’t want these guys to have any of those regrets. So I just tried to reiterate the fact that we have seven seniors and they need to go out there and lay it all on the line for us.”

Maricopa utilized a constant rotation of players to keep everyone fresh, and the payoff was evident as the Rams’ endurance didn’t dissipate down the stretch. As the game reached the fourth quarter, Maricopa was able to use pressure defense and fast breaks to exploit holes Cienega.

“I think early on in the season it was our Achilles heel that we didn’t have the bench we have now,” Mitchell said. “Just getting some of those guys involved and keeping them active and making sure everyone is fresh is part of the game plan. It’s vital to have those guys come in.”

Like most games throughout the season, Maricopa entered Friday’s matchup undersized. However, for the players, this was nothing new.

“We’re used to being undersized,” senior forward Raegene Womack said. “We’re not a big team. We just work with it.”

In fact, 5-foot-6 senior Danae Ruiz led all scorers with 22 points.

“We just work together perfectly,” junior forward Tyra Williams added.

The Rams will have their resilience put to the test more than ever when they face top-ranked Seton Catholic High School in the quarterfinals.

In their only meeting this season, Seton Catholic beat Maricopa 76-36. The Rams beat the Sentinels in last year’s state championship game.

“I’m looking forward to what our coach has in mind to get us prepared for this next Seton game,” Womack said. “I know we have to run, but other than that, I’m ready to play them.”

Seton Catholic enters the quarterfinals as the top-ranked team in the state (across all divisions) and a top 25 team in the nation, according to the “Xcellent 25 Writer’s Poll.”

“I think we just have to play to our strengths,” Mitchell said. “We can’t let the team in front of us dictate what we’re going to do on the basketball court. We have a lot of work cut out, but I think we can definitely do it.”

The quarterfinals are set to tip-off Tuesday at 7:45 p.m. at Gila River Arena in Glendale.

Senior Danae Ruiz brings the ball downcourt while taking charge in the second half. Photo by Devin Carson
Senior Danae Ruiz brings the ball downcourt while taking charge in the second half. Photo by Devin Carson

 

 

Maricopa Music Circle will add its own brand of musical grace to the catered Lobby Oscars® Viewing Party at Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center on Feb. 28, 4-6 p.m.

Ultrastar invited MMC to be the music feature at its black-tie Oscars Viewing Party based upon their earlier collaboration in December 2015 for the opening of the new Star Wars film, a hugely successful 13-hour Friday-Saturday musical marathon of John Williams themes from the entire Star Wars series, preceded by an appearance by MMC on Fox 10 News Live.

For the Academy Awards, the orchestra will perform many memorable movie themes. These include great melodies such as “Schindler’s List” theme, Henry Mancini’s “Moon River,” David Raksin’s piercing melody from “Laura,” Williams’ stirring music from “Star Wars” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” plus the soaring majesty of “Jurassic Park” and theme from “E.T.,” along with jazz greats, and even one or two classic staples that have shown up in films over the years (like Debussy’s Clair de Lune, Chopin’s famous Eb Nocturne, and Edvard Grieg’s “Hall of the Mountain King”).

Following the Viewing Party, the Oscar Awards Ceremony will be screened in Theater 1. For pricing and other details consult the box office and website of Ultrastar Ak-Chin Theaters.

MMC is the city’s original 15-piece chamber orchestra, unique because it performs standard orchestral music and popular favorites entirely without a conductor. The orchestra’s dedicated musicians play every type of standard orchestral instrument, ranging from piccolo to harp to tuba. Every instrumentalist in this large ensemble serves as coach and supervisor several times each season, and the orchestra produces a rich, colorful and true symphonic sound.

The Feb. 28 performance is a prelude to Maricopa Music Circle’s April 2 Saturday evening “Dancing into Springtime” concert at Ultrastar.

Clouds have cooled down temperatures slightly but expect a return to the high 80s. Photo by Adam Wolfe

After another week of record heat, clouds and possible rain are moving into Maricopa and should provide a temporary relief from the unusually high temperatures.

According to the National Weather Service, there is a chance for “scattered sprinkles” and temperatures in the low 80s to start the weekend, but temperatures should slowly rise back to the mid 80s by Sunday.

Thursday’s forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies with “scattered sprinkles” between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The projected high for the day is 79 degrees, and the wind should increase from 5 mph to 10 mph throughout the day. The overnight low is expected to drop to 48 degrees.

Friday is expected to remain cloudy, but no moisture is expected. The temperature should rise to about 80 degrees, and the wind should calm to 5 mph. The clouds should decrease throughout the night, and the overnight low is projected to drop to 48 degrees.

Saturday is expected to start another warming trend once the clouds clear in the morning. The projected high is 83 degrees, and the wind should remain calm near 5 mph. Night skies should continue to clear, and the overnight low is expected to be 47 degrees.

Sunday’s forecast calls for sunny skies with a high near 84 degrees. The wind may increase to 10 mph in the afternoon but should calm back to 5 mph by the evening. The overnight low is projected to drop to 46 degrees.

Temperatures are expected to continue to rise next week as well. Monday is projected to be 85 degrees, Tuesday is projected to be 86 degrees and Wednesday is projected to be 87 degrees.

More information will be available as the weekend comes to a close.

Jany Deng spoke of his horrific childhood experience surviving a civil war in Sudan and trying to adapt to life in Arizona. He was a guest speaker at Central Arizona College-Maricopa. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Jany Deng, former “Lost Boy” from Sudan, came to Central Arizona College Wednesday afternoon to share his story of adversity and triumph, and to educate students on what a refugee goes through when waiting for relocation.

His presentation was part of a Lunch and Learn program on the Maricopa campus.

Deng was 7 years old when the Sudanese civil war forced him to flee his village and trek to Ethiopia. He joined approximately 500 other children on a journey to find refuge in the neighboring country. However, due to starvation, disease, militants and predators, only 20 of the 500 children he left with made it to Ethiopia.

“We left our cows and just started walking,” Deng said. “We didn’t know where we were walking. We had 4 year olds and 3 year olds to take care of. The 11 year olds became the leaders.”

After three months of surviving the elements, Deng made it to Ethiopia. His problems weren’t solved, though, as a civil war broke out in Ethiopia, and the “Lost Boys” were forced to seek refuge again.

The majority of the boys ended up in Kenya. From there, the United Nations got involved and tried to relocate as many of the boys as they could.

“I was one of the first ones to get to come to U.S. in 1995,” Deng said. “After all that, I was one of the lucky ones.”

The “Lost Boys” were scattered across the globe. Some went to Australia and Europe while others ended up in the United States.

Deng and his brother were sent to Phoenix. Deng was placed with a foster family while his brother, who was over 18, was placed in the workforce.

“My brother had a lot of issues,” Deng said. “We weren’t living in the same place, so things got hard for him real fast. The trauma stays with you. Whether it is a car accident or anything, trauma stays with you.”

Like many of the boys from Sudan, the trauma proved to be too much for Deng’s brother. An altercation with police led to his death.

Since this event, Deng has dedicated his life to helping Sudanese refugees through the trauma. His organization, Lost Boys Center for Leadership Development, assists refugees with assimilation into society and promotes the value of an education.

“We came into the United State with nothing from where we come from,” Deng said. “We have achieved 85 percent of us graduated from either community college level or university with a degree.”

Deng received a bachelor’s degree in business from Arizona State University and is working on his MBA. He has made one trip back to Sudan, but another civil war has prevented further trips.

To learn more about the Lost Boys Center for Leadership Development, visit http://www.lbcld.org.

Photo by Adam Wolfe
Photo by Adam Wolfe

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Desert Wind Middle School students presented their Future City concepts to university professors. Submitted photo

Submitted by Jennifer Szoltysik, Desert Wind 20+1 Instructor

On Feb. 15, students from Desert Wind Middle School (DWMS) were invited to show off their award-winning “Future Cities” projects at the Arizona Science Center and Desert Botanical Gardens.

These presentations are part of the Sustainability Solutions Festival that is happening statewide throughout the month of February.

The two teams, Gronn Vekkelse and Novos Comecos, won two of the five Walton Sustainable Community Awards at the Arizona Regional Future Cities Competition in January. As highlight to their day at the Arizona Science Center DWMS students presented to professors from the Arizona State University’s College of Sustainability as well as hundreds of curious kids and parents.

Team members include:

Submitted photo
Submitted photo

Team Gronn Vekkelse – Alysa Huffman, Henry McCloskey, Parker Hunsaker, Project Manager – Matt Whitley, Alternate – Kian Pack

Team Novos Comecos – Savannah Shelabarger, Jordan Levy, Rhiannon Reed, Project Manager – Jaden Pyle, Alternate – Landen Thomas

For more information about Desert Wind Middle School, the District’s 20+1 Program or the Maricopa Unified School District visit www.maricopausd.org.

futureCityScienceCenter3

MPD seeks to educate residents

Photo by Devin Carson

By Michelle Chance

Serious crime in January was down 2 percent compared to last January, Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl said, while all other crime decreased by 12 percent during the comparison period.

“Two percent is actually only one crime, so while one may sound insignificant, it’s one less victim out there on the street,” Stahl said during an interview at the Maricopa Police Department.

According to Stahl, more serious crimes, referred to as “Part 1 crime” by the police, include offenses like homicide, sexual assaults, and aggravated assaults. Examples of “Part 2” crimes are disorderly conduct, DUI and simple assaults.

Property crime is the biggest crime trend in Maricopa, Stahl said. Burglaries were up last month compared to January 2015. Stahl said stolen vehicles and theft from vehicles usually can be easily prevented.

“I know it’s a simple thing, but don’t park your car in the street,” Stahl said. “Park it in the driveway if you can. The best solution is to park it in your garage.”

Stahl said he and his officers work to educate the public on crime prevention during HOA meetings and during the monthly event, Coffee with the Chief, in which the public is encouraged to discuss their concerns about the department with Stahl.

It’s about communication with the public, Stahl said. “We are their guardians. If they do not trust you, you are not going to be a guardian; you are just going to be an enforcer and that is not the direction we want to be.”

Police Commander Gerald Kaphing joined the department in January and said he noticed citizens’ positive responses during public outreach events.

“They go out of their way to tell me they love their chief and what a great job the officers are doing,” Kaphing said.

In addition to promoting public awareness, Stahl said another component to crime prevention is a free house watch program run by MPD volunteers. The program is designed for citizens who go out of town for a period of time. Maricopa residents interested in the service can visit the city website for more information.

The MPD, along with City Manager Gregory Rose, are also looking into implementing surveillance cameras in high-crime areas within the city to assist the department in crime prevention. “The city manager is very supportive of it if we can find grant funding for those things,” Stahl said.

Overall, the chief said his goal for future crime prevention begins with educating youth in the community.

On May 9, the MPD Police Athletic League visited Maricopa Wells Middle School to “increase positive interaction between police officers and those who are highly impressionable,” Stahl said.

The PAL program is comprised of officers who not only offer recreational exercise for the students, but educational topics are discussed as well, according to Ricardo Alvarado, public information officer for MPD.

“There will be a component of education that will give information to the youth to make sure they make good decisions, because the decisions they make now will obviously carry on in the future for them,” Alvarado said.

Desert Wind Middle School, Maricopa High School and Sequoia Pathways have also partnered with the PAL program, Alvarado said.

Rotary Park, next to the Maricopa Unified School District offices and the Maricopa Veterans Center, is showing signs of dilapidation. City Council will talk about the park in tonight's work session. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Rotary Park is currently under the control of the Maricopa Rotary Club, but that could change.

The Maricopa City Council will hear a presentation from Community Services Director Kristie Riester regarding the city’s acquisition of Rotary Park during the council’s work session tonight.

Riester and City Manager Gregory Rose recently attended club meetings and spoke with club president Aron Rausch regarding a transition for the park to fall under city control.

“Tonight we will have a discussion with the mayor [Christian Price] and council to see if a purchase of the park is good for the city,” Rose said. “If the council instructs us to move forward, our intention would be to acquire the park and develop a Capital Improvement Project.”

If the council moves forward with the purchase of the park, and the Rotary Club follows suit, the city would conduct a survey of the park. The cost of the survey is approximately $6,320.

The park would also need substantial upgrades to the bathroom, ramada and pool. The ramada and pool are safety hazards at this time. Decisions on whether to refurbish or remove each feature would come at a later date.

“It would be good to have a park in the Heritage District that better serves the community than Lexington Park currently does,” Rose said.

The presentation will take place during the council’s work session tonight at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

 

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Halvorson takes 6th in state wrestling

Junior Ashia Laidler Nelson. Photo by William Lange

The Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team is the last winter athletics team with a chance to win a state title.

The defending champion Lady Rams finished the regular season ranked eighth in the Arizona Interscholastic Association Division II Girls’ Basketball Power Rankings. The top-eight ranking guaranteed Maricopa a spot in the state tournament and allows them to get two extra days of rest by having a bye for the tournament’s first round.

“We’re really scrappy, but I think we have lapses boxing out that we need to address before we play teams like Seton [Catholic],” head coach Melvin Mitchell said. “I think we’ll try to adjust accordingly to whoever we have.”

The girls will play at home on Friday at 7 p.m. against the winner of 24th-ranked Marana High School (Tucson) and ninth-ranked Cienega High School (Vail). Seton Catholic, which Maricopa defeated last year for the state title, has the top seed.

For the boys’ basketball team, a 10-game winning streak in the middle of the season and a trip to the AIA Division III Section V semi-finals weren’t enough to clinch a spot in the state tournament. Four straight losses to close out the regular season dropped the Rams to 28th in the state ranking.

“We finished just outside the top 24, which was a tough pill to swallow,” Neill said. “It is difficult to look back knowing that if we could have turned one of those losses into wins it could have gotten us in.”

The boys’ team finished fifth in Section V with 4-5 conference record took a “step in the right direction,” according to the coach, by improving last year’s 15-15 overall record to 17-11 this season.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

“I was extremely pleased with this season,” Head Coach Jacob Neill said. “We fell just short of qualifying for the state tournament but that doesn’t take away from what we accomplished on the court. Our goal was to come out and be competitive to give ourselves a chance to win on a nightly basis, and we did just that. We didn’t always get the win but our guys played hard and competed from start to finish every time we stepped on the floor.”

In wrestling, junior Dakota Halverson was the only Ram to make it to the AIA Division II State Wrestling Meet. Halverson won his first two matches of the tournament, but tough losses in his next three matches dropped him to sixth place overall.

Photo by Devin Carson
Photo by Devin Carson

Halverson has made back-to-back trips to the state tournament, and he will look to make another run at the state title in 2017.

“I wanted to see improvement,” head coach Erick Fierro said. “I saw a lot of impressive wrestling from my kids and that’s what I wanted to see.”

It has been a promising year for Maricopa athletics, and spring sports (baseball, softball, track and field and tennis) will look to keep the momentum going as they get under way this month.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

By Roberta Cianciosi

Over a thousand people joined Bishop Gerald Kicanas, Rev. Marcos Velásquez, Parochial Vicar George Kunnel, Deacon Mario Ortega and visiting priests from the Diocese of Tucson and Phoenix for the Solemn Rite of Dedication for the new Our Lady of Grace Church on Saturday.

The ceremony was a conclusion to a journey begun when the parish was originally known as the St. Francis De Sales Mission.

“My family came to see what stole their father’s heart, his lovely heart, Our Lady of Grace, this was his family too,” said Priscilla Santi, whose late husband Wayne Santi worked for the church and helped in the fund-raising as well as the planning of the new church.

The day began with a procession from the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace to the front entrance of the church where the builders and parish representatives turned the building over to the bishop, who called on Velásquez to open the doors of the new church.

The ceremonies began with Kicanas blessing the water, sprinkling everyone in attendance to remind them of their repentance, and their baptism as well as blessing the walls, and to purify the altar.

The two hour and 45 minute ceremony consisted of a solemn mass and anointing of the interior of the church

“The Cathedral of Maricopa,” Bishop Kicanas proclaimed to the parishioners, who filled every pew to capacity and those standing in the vestibule. “It’s a historic day for our church, and the Diocese.”

“It is a privilege and joy to dedicate our Lady to Our Lady of Grace. We can say, ‘Finally!’” Kicanas said. He praised Velásquez for staying the course, and in the words of St. Peter, on this rock, this church has been built, he said.

Kicanas spoke of the church’s history, beginning with the arrival of Father Fidelis who knocked on the door of Alma Farrell’s family home to bring the Catholic faith to the people of Maricopa.

After his talk, the “Deposit of the Relics” took place at the altar. It is customary for all new churches to have relics of martyred saints deposited beneath the altar. For the new Our Lady of Grace, the relics of three saints were deposited, and they are St. Maria Goretti, St. Dominic Savio and St. Theresa of the Child Jesus.

“We have waited so long for this day,” said Teresa Diaz, who, along with a few volunteers, held an all-night vigil at the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace, where the relics were placed during the vigil service Friday evening. “Our Youth Ministry was so on fire, passionate in their contribution, that it is an honor to have the relics of three young saints.”

For the anointing of the altar, Kicanas removed his ceremonial vestments, donned a white apron and proceeded to pour oil on the altar and used his hand to spread that oil along the altar’s surface. This makes the altar a symbol of Christ as the “Anointed One,” and the blessing of the walls in four places symbolizes the church as a house of Christian worship, according to Catholic belief.

The burning of incense at the altar, the lighting of the altar and church and the preparation of the altar and gifts completed the dedication.

The offertory gifts were presented to Kicanas by the youth of the parish representing the different ethnicities who attend Our Lady of Grace.

The service was broadcast on two large screens under the tent adjacent to the church. The tent was filled to capacity by those parishioners unable to get a seat inside the church.

“It was an amazing spiritual experience,” said Erica Mannlein, who attended the event with her husband Eric.

“We feel so blessed to be a part it and we wondered if we would see this day. With God all things are possible,” Eric Mannlein said.

“Very grateful for the opportunity the Lord gave me,” Velásquez said. “It confirms my faith, God’s love, mercy and kindness.”

Near the conclusion of the service, Kicanas’ assistant Master of Ceremonies Rev. Miguel Mariano called to the altar youth member Matthew Sabetta. In the weeks leading up to the dedication, Matthew sent an email to the bishop with the request to meet him as well as invite him to the ceremony.

Matthew and his grandmother Melanie Warthman have been at the site from the very beginning when the infrastructure and the lights were completed to the building of the new church. His enthusiasm for this whole project earned him his wish to meet the bishop.

“It was overly emotional, fabulous,” parishioner Amy Hunt said. “This was a fulfillment of all the hard work from the fish fries, the burritos sold on Sundays, the carnival to this moment.”

In his closing remarks, Pastor Velásquez expressed his thanks to all who helped make this day a reality.