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Rancho El Dorado

Photo by Michelle Chance

A driver allegedly struck an 8-year-old pedestrian in Rancho El Dorado Wednesday afternoon, police said.

The incident occurred around 2:10 p.m. on Rancho El Dorado Parkway near Backus Drive.

“The kid hurt his hip and may have hit his head, so he is being transported to Cardon Children’s Hospital as a precaution,” said Maricopa Police Department spokesman Ricardo Alvarado.

Emergency crews don’t believe the child’s injuries will be life threatening, Alvarado added.

The child was apparently playing with his younger brother shortly before the incident. Alvarado said the 8-year-old boy was hiding behind a bush on the south side of Rancho El Dorado Parkway.

A driver heading east, noticed a child on the north side of the road and slowed his speed. However, Alvarado said the driver didn’t see the boy on the south side of the street dart into the road.

Alvarado said MPD doesn’t have an estimated speed for the driver at the time of the incident. The speed limit in the area is 25 mph.

“Luckily, he was already slowing down,” Alvarado said.

MPD does not suspect impairment as a factor.

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Marcos Martinez was arrested early Tuesday morning after his grandmother, Vicky Ten Hoven, was killed in her home Sunday. (Photos MPD/Facebook)

The grandson of a woman killed in Maricopa has been arrested in Chandler.

Vicky Ten Hoven, 62, was found deceased on her kitchen floor on Sunday around 7:40 p.m. by her husband, and a vehicle was missing. Maricopa Police Department announced they were seeking Marcos J. Martinez, 23, as a person of interest in the case.

Ten Hoven had been a Realtor with HomeSmart Success since May 2017.

Martinez’s arrest was announced Tuesday morning at a press conference by MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado. He said Martinez was found in an industrial area in Chandler at 1 a.m. in the missing vehicle. The arrest of Martinez was without incident, he said.

Martinez was further identified as a grandson of Ten Hoven, one of two grandchildren occasionally living in the house on Bunker Drive in Rancho El Dorado. Martinez also had a home in Gilbert, according to MPD.

Alvarado said police did not believe the crime was random because there was no forced entry to the house or other noticeable disturbance. 

“We did find biological evidence, physical evidence in the vehicle that linked him to the crime scene and to the death of Ms. Ten Hoven,” Alvarado said.

Martinez has been charged with second-degree murder and possession of a stolen vehicle. He was booked into Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office’s Fourth Avenue  Jail awaiting extradition to Pinal County.

MPD did not release information on the direct cause of death or likely weapon.

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Tom King checks out a visitor at Kings Bird Rescue. Photo by Mason Callejas

Most people have encountered an injured bird. It may have been thrown from its nest in a violent storm, injured by another animal or sometimes orphaned after its mother disappeared.

Often lacking the knowledge or resources to help the injured animal, most people opt to simply let nature run its course and leave it to die.

Two Rancho El Dorado residents have taken on the arduous task of changing that all-too-frequent approach, providing a sanctuary for feathered creatures of all types.

Tom and Brad King of Kings Bird Rescue help care for the community’s injured avian population, nursing hundreds of birds back to health since they opened their doors more than two years ago.

The couple moved to Maricopa four years ago. Like many who come to the community, they wanted a quiet life in the suburbs.

After getting settled in their new home, they decided to raise a few chickens in a small backyard “condo.” The chickens soon outgrew the condo, which was nothing more than a glorified birdhouse, so they decided to upgrade and build a much larger coop.

A bit overzealous, they built the coup much larger than needed, so when another bird-lover came calling, asking for help with an injured bird, they gladly took it under their wing.

“We let it fly in there, it healed and was fine. We released it back into the wild and she [the lady] just started to slowly trickle birds in,” Tom said.

Brad King watches over the backyard aviary at his home in Rancho El Dorado. Photo by Mason Callejas

The lady had a small rescue operation run out of her home, much like the Kings. Soon thereafter, she left Maricopa, leaving the Kings in charge of much of her business.

“She moved away and started to refer everyone to me. Then all of a sudden, we became the bird rescue,” Tom said.

The Kings have taken in everything from pigeons and doves to hawks and domesticated parakeets.

The native birds are typically returned to the wild after they recover from their injuries and regain their strength, Brad said. The larger birds of prey, such as hawks, get picked up by Arizona Game & Fish, while the smaller exotic birds remain with them.

Most of what they see are small injuries sustained from falling or attacks from other animals, they said. Since neither of them have actual veterinarian training, the most they can offer their avian patients is food, water and a safe space, which they say is all most of the birds need.

Veterinarians charge around $100 just to examine a bird, they said. For that reason, they do their best with what they have.

“A lot of times they bring [fatally injured birds] to us. We hold them for a couple of days and kind of let them be in a peaceful environment,” Brad said.

Recently, they’ve opened their rescue to a few other species including a tortoise and potbelly pig they named Einstein.

They are unsure if opening up a rescue for all animals is their future, but they have begun navigating the permitting process and looking into what it takes to gain nonprofit status.

The best thing they can do now, Brad said, is to build up the rescue and then present it to the county and state to show they are capable of operating as an official rescue.

Until then, the rescue relies mostly on their own personal funding and the kindness of a few generous contributors who donate bird seed and other items.

Though they do have dreams of expanding, the Kings are keeping things low-key as they plan for the future.


This story appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

Walter Smith

By Walter Smith

Because of a recent unfortunate incident in the Rancho El Dorado neighborhood, it has come to the attention of other residents and myself that the city of Maricopa has no city ordinance to prohibit anyone from sleeping in a car in front of a house, whether or not they live in that house, in the neighborhood in question, or even in the city of Maricopa itself. We believe that this oversight by our city government should be corrected promptly in order to ensure the safety of the residents of the city of Maricopa.

In the recent incident that brought this oversight to light, a former convict had been evicted from a house in Rancho El Dorado by his fellow tenants for his continued use of illegal drugs and for causing problems with neighbors because of that drug use. The eviction came after a swarm of police descended on the residence when, following a confrontation with another neighbor, the man flashed a handgun at the neighbor and his two sons. But, instead of moving on after his eviction, the man simply began sleeping in his vehicle in front of that house after most people on the street had gone to sleep.

When some of us began to notice the man asleep in his car in the morning when we’d wake up, we called the Maricopa Police Department and the Rancho El Dorado HOA to have the man removed, as an armed former convict flashing a gun at neighbors a short distance from sleeping children (my wife and I alone have a 2-year-old and a newborn 8-week-old less than 100 feet away from the man’s car) is not exactly the most desirable attribute to suburban living. Both MPD and the Rancho El Dorado HOA told us that there was nothing that they could do about the man sleeping in his car because that wasn’t illegal in the city of Maricopa nor prohibited by the Rancho El Dorado CC&Rs.

Since the man became aware of the flurry of e-mails about his presence, the former convict has moved on. That does not, however, correct the problem.

Yesterday, it was a former resident sleeping in the street in his car just a few feet away from my children. Tomorrow, that might be a drug-running cartel member who needs some shuteye after making it up through the Vekol Valley, and it might be your house he stops in front of to catch some winks. But no city ordinance prohibiting sleeping in the street in your car means that your neighborhood, in front of your house with your sleeping family, is a perfectly viable spot for him to relax and unwind. After all, what can MPD or your HOA do about it? There’s no law.

It is ludicrous that a resident of this city would need to sleep in his or her car in the street. Even considering domestic tensions, the houses in Maricopa should be of more than sufficient size to separate squabbling residents. And even if they’re not, a driveway is certainly a much more appropriate place to sleep in your car than the public streets outside of your own personal real estate. No one is asking for further restrictions against what residents may do in their own driveways. Maricopa is well served on that front. But a city ordinance banning sleeping in cars on public streets is a prudent measure to consider for the safety of all Maricopans.

As recently as Monday, Sheriff Paul Babeu warned of cartel assassins in Pinal County. Restricting sleeping in cars is not an uncommon practice. It is done in cities across the countries, including in the cities of Minneapolis and Palo Alto. Even the city of Phoenix prohibits sleeping or camping in the street, and Arizona revised statutes permit municipalities to make decisions about such activities for the safety and peace of mind of their residence. I suggest that the city of Maricopa implement a ban on sleeping in cars in public streets immediately. When can Maricopans expect to see some action on this front?

Walter Smith is a resident of Maricopa.

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The Duke Golf Course has an asking price of just under $5 million. Rancho El Dorado opened the course in 2003. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A virtual “for sale” sign has been posted on the Duke Golf Course at Rancho El Dorado for four months.

The Duke is listed at $4.995 million. It includes the 7,011-yard course and 5,400-square-foot clubhouse. The veranda is another 3,000 square feet.

“It’s got a lot of things going for it,” broker Jon Knudson said. “It’s trending in the right direction.”

Designed by Dave Druzyski, the course was constructed in 2002 and opened by Rancho El Dorado Golf Course in 2003. The property is in three parcels. The 110 acres sold to Hiro Investment LLC in 2009 for $1.45 million.

Hiro Investment LLC has owned four golf courses in Arizona, Ahwatukee Country Club, Club West, Foothills Golf Club and The Duke. It listed three of them for sale.

“We’re seeing a bit of an exit strategy by these guys because they already listed another golf course with me, Club West,” said Knudson, a partner at InSight Golf Brokerage. “Ahwatukee was already listed.”

Knudson estimated the average time to sell a golf course in Arizona is six to nine months.

“The best thing I can see is that during the period between 2009 and 2015, they went from a considerable negative number in what the business was generating to a considerable positive number,” Knudson said. “So these guys have totally turned around the business. They made almost half a million dollars last year.”

The Duke is at the time of year when it has just gone through over-seeding and winter visitors have returned.

The Duke is 18 holes and plays 7,011 yards from the tips. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
The Duke is 18 holes and plays 7,011 yards from the tips. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

“The course came in phenomenal after over-seed,” said head golf pro Stephen Reish, who is also serving as co-manager with Susan Miller, the food and beverage director. “Right now, with the improvements, if we keep the course in good shape like this, there’s not much we can improve on.”

He credits good customer service, from the course workers to the golf shop to the Silver Spur Grill, with spurring The Duke’s turnaround over the past few years.

“That’s what brings people back, and they bring their friends,” said Reish, who has been with the course four years. “We just know how people want to be treated, and it goes all the way around the whole course.

“I don’t see a lot changing if somebody does buy it,” Reish said. “They would be crazy to just change everything. Maybe wait until the end of the year and then start implementing their rules, whatever that might be.”

The interim situation Reish and Miller share for the course’s management is expected to last until The Duke has new ownership. It came about when General Manager Corey Parker was hired elsewhere.

The clubhouse containing the pro shop and restaurant is more than 5,400 square feet. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
The clubhouse containing the pro shop and restaurant is more than 5,400 square feet. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The course being for sale has left employees, even Reish, unclear what their future at the course is. He and Miller may continue to manage, or they may be placed back in their departments under a new general manager. Reish said The Duke sold fewer Gold Cards, its annual discount card, possibly because of the uncertainty.

Knudson called it a typical transition.

“Sometimes when a golf course gets sold, it’s concerning to employees, so you see some turnover,” he said. “The GM there was actually fantastic. We loved him, but he got another opportunity. There are a lot of people, when you build a good reputation in the industry, who will want to hire you. And he was really good.”

The Duke is consistently called “player-friendly,” with its wide greens and easy views in a laid-back ranch setting, to bring in casual golfers. “People leave the course feeling good instead of feeling like they got jumped by someone,” Knudson said.

But the lure for many is simply proximity.

Convenience is the main reason Julian Rachey golfs at The Duke. The Canadian writer winters in the Villages. This is his fifth year coming to Maricopa.

He said a little more water could go a long way, talking about both the course and the ball washing.

“The last three or four years, it’s been like they’ve been holding everything at a certain level to hold down expenses,” Rachey said.

“Now it’s crowded with Canadians, and the prices keep going up. And I’m Canadian.”

Tom Botterud, too, does not like the prices going up when winter visitors arrive. It’s something he would like to see change with new ownership. He said he did like the results of the over-seeding this year.

“It’s a nice course. They’re all nice courses. They have three or four them, but because I live here I come here most,” said Botterud, a Wisconsin native who has lived in the Villages six years.

“It’s going to happen where Maricopa is going to hit its stride again. And The Duke is in an excellent position to capitalize on it.”

The Duke’s closest competition geographically is Ak-Chin Southern Dunes. The 320-acre Southern Dunes is more known for its championship-level golf, recently landing an agreement to host the PING Southwest PGA Section Championship for the next five years. Golfweek ranks Southern Dunes ninth in the state and does not list The Duke in the top 30.

“Competition is always high anywhere in Arizona. But because Maricopa is more of a daily-fee type demographic, they’re not looking for real expensive golf,” Knudson said. “It differentiates itself from Southern Dunes because that’s a little bit higher end. I think that is one of the reasons The Duke [was] able to generate 54,000 rounds in 2014. That’s high.”

The Silver Spur Grill also has benefited from lack of competition in its category of a sit-down restaurant with a bar and good-quality food, Knudson said. “In the neighborhood, you don’t have 40 different places where you can go out to eat.”

Much of The Duke’s future success depends on Maricopa. The community had a population of about 1,000 when the golf course was under construction. Use of the course has grown with the city. But it has also echoed trends in the sport.

Even before the Great Recession, the golf industry started seeing a decline in rounds.

“When things get tight, this kind of spending is one of the first things to go. But over the last two, three years, we’ve kind of seen that stabilize again, with a slightly lower amount of participation across the country,” Knudson said. “There’s been about a 5-percent drop in the past five or six years, so that part is not great.

“It’s going to happen where Maricopa is going to hit its stride again. And The Duke is in an excellent position to capitalize on it.”

This story was published in the November issue of InMaricopa News.