Authors Articles byAaron Thacker

Aaron Thacker

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Maricopa’s Fry’s Marketplace, on John Wayne Parkway, opened its pumps with the lowest fuel prices in town today.

The Kroger grocery chain’s soft opening offers unleaded gasoline for $2.97 per gallon and Diesel #2 at $2.85 per gallon.

“We manage fuel prices a little bit different (than groceries),” said Chad Fife, assistant director of retail operations. He said that competitors should conform more to Fry’s prices, which should be good for Maricopa residents.

Fry’s offers a customer loyalty program to assist in fuel cost savings. Fife said that for every $100 spent in the grocery store by Fry’s VIP cardholders, excluding the purchase of alcohol and tobacco, shoppers will receive 10 cents per gallon off their next fuel up.

He said this offer will be extended to non-VIP cardholders during the official grand opening next Wednesday when Fry’s will extend their 10 cents savings to non-cardholders from June 20 – 26.

The new station is the only gas station on the east side of John Wayne Parkway within the city limits.

The following list compares Fry’s unleaded and diesel #2 grade fuels with other gas stations in town as of June 13:

Fry’s:
Unleaded $2.97
Diesel $2.85

Circle K:
Unleaded $2.99
Diesel $2.92

Express Stop:
Unleaded $2.98
Diesel $2.91

Shell:
Unleaded $3.19
Diesel $3.19

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    Maricopa taxpayers could face a $60,000 bill to replace 6,000 square feet of deteriorating decorative pavers at the entrance to Rancho El Dorado next time city council meets.

    The decision to fix the roadway was tabled by council at last night’s regular meeting after they rejected Public Works Director Bob Jackson’s suggestion to remove the pavers and replace them with asphalt concrete instead of the more costly bricks.

    “I don’t think it’s fair to the residents,” said Councilmember Will Dunn, who was in agreement with other members of council that the pavers were part of the attraction to residents who moved into the community.

    Jackson said replacing the pavers would be more expensive than his proposed option because they would have to pull the bricks, correct their engineering and replace them with new ones. He said it would be difficult to match the bricks, and salvaging existing bricks would be more costly than replacing them all.

    Jackson said one of the problems with the roadway was that it was built before the incorporation of the city and that there was no regulation to insure the interlocking pavers were installed properly.

    He said that the city does not allow these types of roadways very often now because they only work with the right application, and, he said, this was the wrong application.

    “Sometimes developers are interested in the decorative look rather than the long term application,” said Jackson.

    Vice Mayor Brent Murphree said most of them understand it to be an engineering problem, but, like most members of council, he wants to see other options before they make a decision.

    Rancho El Dorado Homeowners Association President Jeff Kramarczyk said that residents are willing to compromise. He said they are looking for a decorative replacement, but not “like” decorative.

    Jackson said he understands residents’ concerns, and he will look into alternatives, but that council needs to make a decision soon.

    “The problem is getting worse; we need to fix it,” Jackson said.

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    Walls were hoisted into place last week for a new Harkins Theater in Casa Grande.

    The Promenade at Casa Grande, located at the northeast corner of Interstate 10 and State Route 287 (Florence Boulevard), will give Maricopans a new choice for where to see a movie this fall.

    The new facility will feature a 14-screen theater, including stadium seating, giant wall-to-wall screens, state-of-the-art projection and sound systems and Harkins’ standard “Ultimate Rocker” seats.

    The more-than-130-acre Promenade at Casa Grande will feature a mix of department stores and specialty shops, a multiplex theater, restaurants and entertainment offerings.

    Photos courtesy of Westcor

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      A controlled fire started Wednesday evening on farmland north of Honeycutt Road and west of the Santa Cruz wash.

      Fire officials were on scene to control the blaze.

      Parents at a baseball game were concerned about the fire’s smoke drifting toward Pacana Park.

      Fire officials said the fire was non-toxic.

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        Maricopa’s City Council voted unanimously to adopt a compensation plan to make the city a more competitive employer and to help retain their current staff.

        This decision came after results from a salary study indicated that 91 percent of city employees are paid under the market rate for their positions.

        The new policy will offer market rate salaries and benefit packages, as well as a performance-based evaluation and merit system for promotions. The evaluation system will go into effect in July.

        The market rate policy the city adopted offers a flexibility range that allows managers to offer new hires pay based on variables like experience, education, certifications and others. In addition, employee salaries won’t exceed the pay range. If it already exceeds the range, then it will not be lowered.

        The independent study looked at jobs and salaries from 27 local government employers to determine their competitiveness.

        “We used some caution with respect to agencies that are significantly larger,” said study analyst Matthew Weatherly.

        In addition, council adopted recommendations to increase existing salaries that are under market rates for their positions in a 5 – 1 vote with Councilman Will Dunn voting against it. Councilman Edward Farrell was not in attendance.

        “Give them an $800,000 raise just because the other guy is? I don’t know if that’s the right response,” Dunn said.

        Mayor Kelly Anderson said that it is important that the city retains its current staff, which is currently lower than most city governments its size.

        City Manager Rick Buss said they need to consider that city governments are not the only field they are competing with for employees.

        He cited engineering as a field that is highly competitive. He said there just aren’t enough of them, and private industry needs them as much as the city.

        “Everyone is after the same individual,” he said. He also mentioned that additional costs go into replacing an employee.

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        Four children were recognized Tuesday for their combination of artistic talent and social awareness in the Keep Maricopa Clean drawing contest (see related story) at Ramsey’s American Grill.

        Kindergartener Nathan Berquist, fifth grader Dannon Leone Peters, eighth grader Lucas Scott and high school junior Nestor Murray each won a $50 gift certificate to Ramsey’s and will have their art reprinted on aluminum signs to be posted somewhere in the community.

        “This is great because it is community-based effort driven by residents,” said Mayor Kelly Anderson. “This helps youth develop leadership and a commitment to community service.”

        On hand to present the awards to the four youths were Mayor Kelly Anderson, Vice-Mayor Brent Murphree, and sponsors Pinal Energy, 1st Impressions Ink and Ramsey’s American Grill.

        Event sponsor Mark Molus of 1st Impressions Ink said he hopes they will be able to post the signs at Pacana Park.

        “We need to get approval from the planning and zoning committee,” he said, “but maybe this will make people think twice about spray painting graffiti at the park.”

        It was graffiti in the community that started this effort to raise awareness about vandalism among children.

        Contest organizer Ramsey Harkness said kids need to be taught respect in a positive way if they are going to learn.

        It’s great to see artwork on the posters rather than the walls,” said Murphree.

        He said that this event is in line with what the city’s public safety committee has been looking at to cope with and detour graffiti.

        “This is part of that deterrence,” he said, “especially when the kids get involved.”

        Organizers said they plan on making this an annual event.

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          Residents in and around Maricopa’s proposed annexation area packed city council last night to voice their concerns about being acquired by the city.

          Many residents feel the 44-square-mile proposal (see related story) will be a threat to their rural way of life and spoke against it.

          “This will change our way of life,” said Thunderbird Farms resident Ted Ledbetter. “It looks like I’m going to have to be moving, and I don’t appreciate it.”

          Ledbetter received applause from the audience for his sentiment, as did many of the dozens of community members who spoke in opposition to the proposal.

          The city made an effort to educate doubters on their points of view by leading off the event with a presentation on how the city thinks annexation will benefit their community.

          Project Manager Nicole Daily said annexation will help them preserve open space needed for their rural life.

          “Urban sprawl is already happening, and we want to ensure the preservation of open space,” said Dailey.

          She cited the county’s requirement for only 15 percent open space, whereas the city wants 20 percent. She also said that city annexation can bring in public services like fire and police stations, parks and recreation centers and roads. She also talked about forming community advisory groups to guide zoning restrictions for future developments.

          However, many community members were not convinced.

          “We don’t need another layer of government,” said Thunderbird resident Tamara Clark.

          Clark said they were told in the beginning, when the city was incorporated, that they would not be annexed.

          “We know development is coming, and we do not want annexation,” she said.

          Others accused the city of creating a cultural divide between the old and new communities.

          “You’ve created a polarization,” said Thunderbird Farm resident Jack McClain to the council.

          You appear to be disingenuous.”

          McClain said there seems to be an agenda behind the city’s intent to annex this area “although it may not be evil,” he said, it’s causing distrust. He and others said that developers may have influenced the city’s decision to annex.

          He said the community’s concerns come from an equal distrust of government and developers.

          In the end, McClain said, he wants to see a full disclosure between builders and the city.

          After the meeting City Councilman Kelly Haddad told inmaricopa.com that annexation of that area was introduced as a part of the general plan since the beginning of the city’s incorporation.

          McClain said later in a phone call that a city representative told a community group more than a year ago that they would not be annexed.

          Delia Carlyle, chairperson of the Ak-Chin Indian Community, spoke on behalf of her community.

          Although she did not take a stand for or against the annexation, she did raise concerns about expanding roadways on their lands and development of surrounding sacred lands.

          However, she said that there may be a way to find a mutually beneficial solution between the 800 members on the reservation and the city.

          Resident Tom Crabtree tried to balance the argument, weighing in against the annexation in principle, but accepting it as a means of controlling it. He said he grew up in Gilbert and witnessed this type of growth before.

          “The growth is going to come,” he said, adding that new residents to the area won’t like the existing rural lifestyle, including the smell of animals. He said they will try and change the rules that will take away from local culture. He suggested the only way to fight this change was by sticking together as a community.

          “Let’s make the rules,” Crabtree said, if not, “those people will make the rules.”

          “That smell (of cows) was here a long time before they were,” he said.

          The city plans to host more public hearings on this topic.

          If you go:
          What:
          Public Hearing on Annexation
          Where: Mountain View Community Church Parking Lot, 50881 W. Papago Road
          When: Tuesday, June 12, 6:30 p.m.

          What: Public Hearing on Annexation
          Where: Maricopa Wells Middle School Multi-Purpose Room
          45725 W. Honeycutt Ave.
          When: Saturday, June 16, 1 p.m.

          For more information about Maricopa’s propose annexation, visit the following Web pages:
          For a brochure about annexation
          http://www.cityofmaricopa.net/annx-07-01.html
          Annexation FAQs
          http://www.cityofmaricopa.net/annx_07-01FAQ_5-9-07.html
          Myths & Misconceptions About Annexation
          http://www.cityofmaricopa.net/annx_07-01Myths_5-9-07.html
          Village Planning Committee
          http://www.cityofmaricopa.net/annx_07-01Village_5-9-07.html

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            Maricopa’s Director of Public Works Bob Jackson beat Jerry Odom by a thin margin in the Casa Grande mayoral election yesterday.

            Unofficial votes show Jackson winning 1299 votes to 1233.

            “The voters had some tough decisions to make,” said Jackson. “We wouldn’t have gotten here without our great elections committee.”

            Although Jackson will forfeit his seat as director of public works for Maricopa, he said that he doesn’t plan to leave the city in a bind. He said that he is working with Maricopa City Manager Rick Buss to find solutions for filling the gap until the position is filled.

            “Rick and I have talked about doing some things for the city that aren’t management level, like special projects and consulting work,” said Jackson.

            “Hopefully we can keep him on as consultant for a while until we get a new director of public works,” said Maricopa City Manager Rick Buss.

            Although Buss said Jackson leaving Maricopa will be a loss to the city, he said Jackson’s new role will be good for the region.

            “Bob always sees things from the big picture,” said Buss. “I think he will look for regional development, not just for Maricopa and Casa Grande, but countywide, state wide.”

            It will bode very well for Pinal County and central Arizona,” said Mayor Kelly Anderson. “Bob comes to the table with a tremendous amount of experience, economic development, transportation and overall implemental facilities.”

            Jackson said there are many things that the two cities and region as a whole can work on together. He said the Hidden Valley Transportation Study, which is looking for ways to bring new roads and freeways into the area, can benefit everyone.

            He also said that at some point Maricopa is going to need to get into the animal control business.

            “Maybe we can share a regional facility that dispatches our separate city control officers,” he said.

            “There are many mutually beneficial things we can do together,” he said.

            “The city of Maricopa is excited to work with both Jackson and his council on regional issues.

            I look forward to being a part of that,” said Anderson.

            There were a total 2,539 cast votes giving Jackson 1,299 with a 51.16 percent and one-time Casa Grande council member Jerry Odom 1,233 votes with 48.56 percent. There were seven write-ins votes as well.

            A recount is not expected with a more than one percent margin, according to city officials.

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              A 23-year-old man is in critical condition after being shot in the head Sunday while driving down State Route 347 near Bowlin Road.

              The accident occurred after an altercation at Headquarters Lounge on John Wayne Parkway, according to police.

              Three others were injured as the result of the collision and transported for medical treatment.
              Police said the victim was traveling southbound on SR 347 when another vehicle drove along side and fired several shots.

              The victim was struck in the head causing him to lose control of the vehicle and crash into a block wall at about 2 a.m.

              He was transported by air to a Phoenix area hospital and is in critical condition.
              The investigation is on-going.

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              Maricopa’s first used bookstore opened Monday in the Maricopa Business Center on Honeycutt Road. Secondhand Pages Bookstore features various genres of books like classic literature, mystery thrillers, children’s literature, romance and much more. They buy, sell and trade. In addition, every other Saturday they will host a children’s story time at the store. Secondhand Pages is located at 44480 W. Honeycutt Rd. For more information visit www.secondhandpages.com or call (520) 423-9280.

              New shuttle service coming

              Arizona Shuttle Service is coming to Maricopa in June. The new park and ride location will be at 44301 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy., Suite #104. It will offer expanded daily service for Maricopa residents to major employers with destinations in Chandler, Tempe, southern Phoenix and Sky Harbor Airport. They currently are the on-site service provider for Honeywell Corporation and the TynanGroup in Phoenix. For riders with special service needs, the shuttle offers a “Rider-Assist Program” for unaccompanied minors and senior citizens. For more information call (602) 721-9933.

              Maricopa-based poker Web site launches

              Arizona Poker News announces its newly designed information Web site located at www.azpokernews.com. The new Web site features a movie site, focused poker content and an active message board. Arizona Poker News also features daily poker content, a community based message board, user-submitted reviews and a poker-based video network. This Web site is free and provides Arizona poker players with in-depth analysis of poker community issues.

              For More Information on AZPokerNews.com contact:
              Mr. Tony Pagliocco, Owner / Operator
              Arizona Poker News
              Maricopa, AZ
              Phone: (480) 363-7382
              Email: admin@azpokernews.com

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              A new doublewide trailer and driveway are almost in place at the post office on Hathaway Avenue in Maricopa.

              The new additions are to help meet the needs of the city’s growth.

              Maricopa’s Postmaster Chris Bisdnack said the trailer will accommodate equipment for the new routes.

              In addition, a new employee driveway has been constructed to the west of the building for employees and other authorized vehicles.

              Postal employees and customers will no longer need to share the same entrance.

              “This should help with parking lot congestion,” said Bisdnack.

              The post office is located at 44920 W. Hathaway Avenue, west of John Wayne Parkway.

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              Nearly 1,200 people turned out to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and raise money for charity at Ramsey’s American Grill Saturday.

              The event hosted live music, a beer and margarita garden, a motorcycle poker run and vendor booths from local businesses.

              The local charity Against Abuse, Inc. – Maricopa will receive around $1,000 from money raised at the event.

              “It was a good time,” said owner and operator Ramsey Harkness. “It was great hooking up with chamber of commerce and poker run people.”

              He said there were many events going on this time on the same day, like the Kentucky Derby and the Oscar de la Hoya boxing match, but the event was great.

              Live music from local artists Island Flava and Halo Falls opened the event for Minneapolis headliner Chris Shaffer.

              Many people commented on the event’s success on the inmaricopa.com Forum.

              “I had a blast. The band was awesome and so was the food,” said Jade, a senior member.

              “Thanks for the great party last night,” said senior Forum member bstoneaz. “I spent the entire night outside and loved it. I just wish your permit for drinking closer to the band would have lasted till midnight, at ten I was just getting started.”

              Harkness said he anticipates this event growing next year, hopefully to include a music festival.
              In the meantime, he is anticipating his role in the Great American Barbeque in conjunction with the city on July 4 at Pacana Park where $1 from every meal goes to the Friends of the Library to buy books.

              Vendor Village Participants:
              Maricopa Chamber of Commerce
              Tail Waggers
              Silver Jewelry
              Club del Sol Tanning
              Gifts, Games & Gadgets
              Accounting & Finance Pros
              The New Edition
              Alltel Cellular
              Maricopa Black Belt Academy
              Maricopa Biz
              The Optimist Club
              Maricopa Youth Football League
              Home Is Where the Hound Is

              .

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              Maricopans will have more shopping, dining and entertainment choices when the Promenade at Casa Grande opens this fall.

              Harkins, Target, Kohl’s, JCPenney, Dillard’s, Best Buy, Shoe Pavilion, Lane Bryant, Michaels and Famous Footwear will open as a part of phase one of the project.

              “The Promenade at Casa Grande will feature an open-air, pedestrian-friendly layout designed to promote a sense of community,” said Paul Rypma, Assistant Vice President of Development, Westcor. “The well-designed open spaces and plazas will feature lush landscaping and deliver a relaxing environment for shopping, dining and socializing.”

              Westcor announced today that Dillard’s, Famous Footwear, Lane Bryant, Michaels, PetSmart and Shoe Pavilion are the newest editions to the project and that more are on their way.

              The Promenade at Casa Grande is the perfect location for us to serve the area’s growing population,” said William Dillard, II, Chief Executive Officer of Dillard’s. “Our Arizona customers know what to expect from us, and this location allows us to present exciting choices in fashion in a convenient, multi-use destination.” The tone of the new store will reflect Dillard’s renewed focus on upscale and contemporary fashion.

              Previously announced retailers Best Buy, Staples and Target are expected to open during later phases. The Promenade at Casa Grande’s second phase is expected to open spring 2008.

              The Promenade at Casa Grande is located next to Interstate 10 and State Route 287 in Casa Grande.

              Founded in 1969, Phoenix-based Westcor is a wholly owned subsidiary of Macerich. The largest owner-manager of commercial properties in Arizona, Westcor’s portfolio currently consists of 18 million square feet of retail space at 28 shopping centers, including 11 super-regional centers, three specialty retail centers and 14 urban villages. The company has set the industry benchmark for ground-up shopping center development, such as Chandler Fashion Center, Prescott Gateway Mall and Scottsdale Fashion Square. Additional information about Westcor is available online at www.westcor.com.

              Illustrations courtesy of Westcor

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              Roughly 400 gallons of ice cream were sold to help raise money for firefighter charities at Maricopa’s Baskin-Robbins Wednesday.

              The ice cream parlor hosted 31 Cent Scoop Night to support the national franchise’s donation of $100,000 to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

              We’re trying to give back to our community,” said owner-operator Paul Koury.

              Members of Fire Department Maricopa were also on hand, raising funds for local firefighter charities with their boot drive.

              FD Maricopa bag pipers played music, and a ladder truck was on display while customers consumed more than 1,700 scoops of ice cream.

              “We regularly do about 500 a day,” Koury said.

              Baskin-Robbins is located at the southern end of the Bashas’ shopping center on John Wayne Parkway.

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                Hidden Valley and northern Pinal County’s populations are expected to reach 3.5 million by 2050, which is why City of Maricopa officials and other regional stakeholders are looking for ways to manage future traffic development.

                The city recently became a funding partner for the Interstates 8 and 10-Hidden Valley Roadway Framework Study that is taking a comprehensive look at regional transportation needs.

                “The study is to get them to the talking stages, conceptualizing,” said Bob Hazlett, a project manager with Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG). “Real recommendations will come around the end of year.”

                The project began following the completion of the Hassayampa Valley Roadway Framework Study in March that looked at various projects like the Loop 303, which will provide an outer tier freeway system that will circle the Valley. Whether it is Loop 303 or another freeway system, experts are saying they need something to connect all of the growth.

                “There needs to be something to connect cities like Goodyear, Buckeye and Maricopa to Casa Grande,” said Hazlett.

                Transportation experts at MAG – the Hidden Valley study managers – are estimating this region of northern Pinal County and Southwestern Maricopa County will have 10.2 million vehicle trips in and around the region per day.

                They estimate this type of traffic will require $75 billion worth of transportation investment, which currently does not exist.

                Maricopa’s Transportation Manager Brent Billingsley said it is important to look at traffic needs this way. He said that this type of study could provide “boundless solutions.”

                “It can give us the tools we need to control our own destiny,” said Billingsley.

                Billingsley said that a common problem with many transportation studies is that they set limitations to solving problems like only looking to build freeways and highways.

                He said that the Hidden Valley study is different because it looks at solving the problems without setting limitations. This study plans to incorporate regional planning for freeways, state highways, parkways, boulevards and major arterial level roadways and and to find creative solutions to fund them.

                Billingsley said that having the flexibility to build smaller roadways that can develop into larger highways is an important part of future growth. He said developers could play a greater role in providing the necessary infrastructure that will solve their transportation problems today, rather than waiting for state or federal funding.

                Something development advocates see as a problem with state and federal funding is the flat tax on gas that generates the revenues. Having a flat tax, rather than a percentage tax, means that when gas prices go up, the tax stays the same. That, combined with more fuel-efficient cars and inflation, is eating away at those funds.

                One of the proposed solutions is allowing developers, or a combination of stakeholders, to build the necessary roadways based on where they want their developments to go.

                To do this, they will need to find corridors that will give them the right-of-way as they build.

                Billingsley said identifying this need comes from the Federal government’s inability to widen Interstate 10 to relieve congestion between Phoenix and Tucson. The Gila River Indian Community owns the right of way through the area to the south of Phoenix and won’t allow for expansion.

                Both Billingsley and Hazlett said there needs to be an alternate route to the west of Maricopa that will provide congestion relief as well as allowing for future growth.

                Hazlett said they also recognize developers’ need for connections between the Hidden Valley and Hassayampa Valley regions.

                This expanding trend doesn’t stop with the merging of cities and counties. Hazlett said Arizona and Nevada are the fastest growing states in the country, and there isn’t a freeway connecting Las Vegas and Phoenix. These studies could lead to traffic development patterns that merge entire states into what is being called megapolitans.

                Megapolitans are byproducts of merging counties and states caused by real estate booms.
                Virginia Tech urban planning professor Robert Lang predicts it will take 25 years to erect the next 200 billion square feet of urban development, which will accommodate 70 million more people.

                He has named 10 regions in the country megapolitans, one of which is “Valley of the Sun” – the area that incorporates Tucson and Phoenix.

                Before this can happen, though, the region needs to figure out what it wants to do and how it will pay for it.

                “It takes investment,” said Hazlett. “Transportation systems are not free.”

                He predicts that it will take 20 – 30 years to get the funding for the desired roadways.

                What do we charge for growth?” he said, noting that it is pure economics in the end.

                “The worst things we can do is bury our head in the sand on this issue.”

                For more information about MAG and transportation studies visit: www.mag.maricopa.gov.

                Illustration courtesy of MAG

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                Nearly 700 ballots were cast to determine the winners of the 3rd annual Maricopa Salsa Festival presented by inmaricopa.com at Pacana Park Saturday.

                The winners will be recognized and presented with their awards at the city council meeting Tuesday night.

                “The weather events from yesterday afternoon really put a damper on things,” said Maricopa Parks, Recreation and Libraries Director Marty McDonald. “We were close to breaking the 4,000-people mark for attendance and would have eclipsed 5,000 had the weather remained calm.”

                The event ended suddenly after sandy winds from the south moved in, knocking over vendor tents and reducing visibility.

                Despite the abrupt ending, which cancelled the fireworks show, McDonald said the turnout and participation made the event a success.

                Musical acts The Big Zephyr and Neoprimitive were able to play as well as a combined dance performance by Maricopa’s two dance schools: Desert Sun Performing Arts and Maricopa Dance.

                McDonald said that Maricopa will host a fireworks show at the Great American Barbeque at Pacana Park July 4.

                Salsa chef winners are as follows:

                Best Bean Dip ($300 prize):

                Carolyn Haight – Team Carolyn

                Best Guacamole ($300 prize):

                April Herrera – Team Herrera

                Most Unusual Salsa ($500 prize):

                Jack & Minerva Hendrix – The Hendrix Experience

                Best Mild Salsa ($500 prize):

                Amada Landeros – Team Landeros

                Best Hot Salsa ($500 prize):

                David Sheparad – MBA Salsa

                BEST OVERALL SALSA ($1,000 PRIZE):

                Jack & Minerva Hendrix – The Hendrix Experience

                Photos by Jeremy Knop and Aaron Thacker

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                  Meadow Valley Corporation is slated to repave portions of State Route 347 in Maricopa County this summer after winning a $5.8 million contract from the Arizona Department of Transportation.

                  They said they will pave from mile post 173.96 south of Edison Road and stop at the county line.

                  Project sponsor Mark Krumm said they expect to start this summer after plans are finalized with ADOTs Tucson division.

                  He said the project will last for two to three months and that they hope to get started in May, since the contract goes into effect May 23.

                  The company plans to do hot-in-place recycling of the asphalt – a process where heaters heat up existing asphalt and reuse it. Krumm said that portion is expected to take about a month. He said that they will apply regular asphalt as well.

                  In addition, Krumm said they will increase the turning radius on Casa Blanca Road by widening the turn lane.

                  Meadow Valley Corporation is based in Phoenix and is engaged in the construction industry as both a contractor and a supplier of construction materials.

                  The Company’s construction services segment specializes in structural concrete construction of highway bridges and overpasses, and the paving of highways and airport runways, primarily in Nevada and Arizona.

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                  A man spotted with a gun Santa Rosa Elementary School was the cause of a campus lockdown yesterday.

                  Someone saw a concealed handgun on the man, later identified as an off-duty police officer, who was picking up his son.

                  “There was no incident related to this other than someone seeing the weapon in his waist band and calling us,” said Pinal County Sheriff’s Deputy Lt. Scott Elliot, “which was exactly what we want them to do.”

                  Units responded to Santa Rosa Elementary to discover that the subject had already left.

                  Moments later, the subject was located at Jane Askew Memorial Park near the entrance to Rancho El Dorado where he was identified as an off-duty Phoenix Police officer.

                  “As he got out of his vehicle his shirt raised enough to expose view of the weapon,” said Elliot. “Someone noticed it and called us.”

                  “Obviously, no charges were filed due to the law providing for law enforcement officers to carry their weapons with them even when off-duty.”

                  School officials said they locked down the school as a precautionary measure.

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                  School officials reported that a lockdown occurred at Santa Rosa Elementary School today.

                  Principal Rick Abel was unable to give details about the situation, but he said that the incident was a precautionary measure.

                  He said that concerned residents can call the following numbers for more information: District Hotline (520) 568-5150; MUSD district office at (520) 568-5102 or Pinal County Sheriff’s Office at (520) 568-2233.

                  The letter below is being sent home with students to their parents.

                  3:25 PM
                  April 25, 2007

                  Dear Students, Parents/Guardians and Community Members,

                  There was an incident today at Santa Rosa Elementary that resulted in the school being placed in a lockdown. The situation was investigated by the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office. They determined that at no time were any students or staff at risk. We appreciate the quick response of our law enforcement officers and thank the students, parents, and staff for handling this situation in a very professional and positive fashion.

                  Rick Abel, Principal

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                    Maricopa city officials are seeking support from people in a proposed annexation area to keep them from being acquired by Goodyear while improving Maricopa’s economic possibilities.

                    The city said they will proactively communicate with residents and property owners in community forums about their intentions.

                    “Our plan isn’t to do the bare minimum to communicate with residents,” said planning department administrative assistant Nicole Daily. “We’re not just annexing land, we’re annexing a community.”

                    The city is concerned that if they don’t lock in the annexed land, then Goodyear will continue to acquire land to its south like its 67-square-mile annexation that takes effect Thursday. This annexation contains the town of Mobile and a large stretch of the proposed Loop 303 highway area heading south out of Goodyear.

                    Maricopa’s April 17 proposed annexation of the 44-square miles to the south and east of the city will secure land for a possible regional airport, land to the south of the Ak-Chin Indian Reservation and two square miles in Maricopa County. It is expected to impact roughly 12,000 residents.

                    “People in Thunderbird Farms need to know that we are doing this to protect them from Goodyear,” Councilmember Will Dunn said Monday. He said these residents are a part of Maricopa’s community.

                    If they became a part of Goodyear, then they would have to drive more than 50 miles to talk to a city official, he said.

                    The proposed two square miles into Maricopa County are an important part of the annexation plan, according to Daily.

                    “This allows us to be a regional player within Maricopa County,” she said.

                    Having land in Maricopa county is the first criteria to join the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) – a planning body for highway placement and other regional transportation issues such as the Loop 303 heading south from Goodyear toward Maricopa.

                    “Employment centers for sustainability are in this corridor,” said Amy Haberbosch at Monday’s planning and zoning meeting.

                    The annexation process will take13 months or less. The city must get 51 percent of signatures from property owners to add the area to the city.

                    For more information about MAG go online to: mag.maricopa.gov.

                    To talk to city officials and learn more about the annexation processes, residents can attend the following two upcoming events:

                    If you go:
                    What: City information booth
                    Where: Farmers Market on Papago Road in Thunderbird Farms
                    When: Saturday from 8 – 10 a.m.

                    If you go:
                    What:
                    City Information Booth at Salsa Festival
                    Where: Pacana Park on Porter Road
                    When: Saturday 11- 7

                    Map courtesy City of Maricopa

                    NOTICE of PUBLIC HEARING
                    City Council: May 15, 2007 @ 7:00p.m.
                    Maricopa Wells Middle School
                    45725 W. Honeycutt Avenue Maricopa, AZ 85239

                    NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT a Public Hearing will be held at the above referenced time, place and location. The purpose of the public hearing is to receive public testimony on the following requests:

                    ANNEXATION 07-01:
                    A portion of Sections 14 and 26 all of Sections 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 33, 34, 35 of Township 4 South, Range 2 East and a portion of Sections 16, 27 and 28 and all of Sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 of Township 5 South, Range 2 East and a portion of Section 21 and all of Sections 17, 18, 19 and 20 of Township 5 South Range 3 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona to that of the legal limits of the City of Maricopa, Gila River Reservation, Ak-Chin Reservation, and Maricopa County and all adjacent right of ways and all of Sections 13 and 24 of Township 5 South Range 1 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Maricopa County, Arizona to that of the legal limits of Maricopa County and all adjacent right of ways, described as follows: All of Section 15 Township 4 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways; to that of the legal limits of the City of Maricopa the Gila River Reservation and the Ak-Chin Reservation. All of Section 18 Township 4 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways; to that of the legal limits of Maricopa County and the Gila River Reservation. All of Section 19 Township 4 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways to that of the legal limits of Maricopa County. All of Section 20 Township 4 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All of Section 21 Township 4 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All of Section 22 Township 4 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways.All of Section 23 Township 4 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways; to that of the legal limits of the Ak-Chin Reservation. All of Section 27 Township 4 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona. All of Section 28 Township 4 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All of Section 29 Township 4 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All of Section 30 Township 4 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways; to that of the legal limits of Maricopa County. All of Section 31 Township 4 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways; to that of the legal limits of Maricopa County. All of Section 33 Township 4 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All of Section 34 Township 4 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona. All of Section 35 Township 4 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona to that of the legal limits of the Ak-Chin Reservation. That Portion of Section 14, Township 4 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona, to that of the legal limits of both the City of Maricopa and the Ak-Chin Reservation. All of Section 26 Township 4 South Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways; to that of the legal limits of the Ak-Chin Reservation; excluding the Northeast ¼ of the said section. All of Section 2 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona to that of the legal limits of the Ak-Chin Reservation. All of Section 3 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona. All of Section 4 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All of Section 5 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All of Section 6 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways; to that of the legal limits of Maricopa County. All of Section 7 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways; to that of the legal limits of Maricopa County. All of Section 8 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All of Section 9 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All of Section 10 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All of Section 11 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona to that of the legal limits of the Ak-Chin Reservation. All of Section 13 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona to that of the legal limits of the Ak-Chin Reservation. All of Section 14 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona to that of the legal limits of the Ak-Chin Reservation. All of Section 15 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All of Section 17 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All of Section 18 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona to that of the legal limits of Maricopa County. All of Section 19 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways to that of the legal limits of Maricopa County. All of Section 20 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All of Section 21 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All of Section 22 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All of Section 23 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All of Section 24 Township 5 South, Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All that portion of the North half of Section 16 Township 5 South Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona, described as follows; Commencing at the Northeast corner of said Section 16; Thence South 00 degrees 00 minutes 00 East along the East line of said Section 16, a distance of 2642.89 feet; Thence North 90 degrees 00 minutes 00 seconds West, a distance of 1319.00 feet; Thence North 00 degrees 00 minutes 00 seconds East, a distance of 678.00 feet; Thence North 90 degrees 00 minutes 00 seconds West, a distance of 614.70 feet; Thence North 32 degrees 25 minutes 59 seconds West, a distance of 417.07 feet; Thence North 68 degrees 20 minutes 28 seconds West, a distance of 581.41 feet; Thence North 18 degrees 01 minutes 03 seconds West, a distance of 873.50 feet; Thence South 86 degrees 13 minutes 51 seconds West, a distance of 631.79 feet; Thence North 42 degrees 39 minutes 04 seconds West, a distance of 828.22 feet to a point on the North line of said Section 16; Thence North 90 degrees 00 minutes 00 seconds East along said North line of Section 16, a distance of 4159.50 feet to the POINT OF BEGINNING. All that portion of the Northwest ¼ of Section 27 Township 5 South Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona, described a follows; Beginning at the Northwest corner of said section 27; Thence North 89 degrees 27 minutes East along the North line of said Section 27, a distance of 1532.8 feet; Thence South 10 degrees 27 minutes West, a distance of 982.1 feet; Thence South 82 degrees 38 minutes West, a distance of 844.2 feet; Thence North 85 degrees 41 minutes West, a distance of 512.7 feet to a point on the West line of said section 27; Thence North 00 degrees 21 minutes West along said West line, a distance of 1024.4 feet to the POINT OF BEGINNING. All that portion of North ½ of the Northeast ¼ of Section 28 Township 5 South Range 2 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian Pinal County, Arizona, described as follows; Beginning at the Northeast corner of said section 28; Thence South 00 degrees 21 minutes East along the East line of said section 28, a distance of 1020.4 feet; Thence North 85 degrees 41 minutes West, a distance of 56.1 feet; Thence North 78 degrees 07 minutes West a distance of 613.3 feet; Thence North 68 degrees 21 minutes West a distance of 962.2 feet; Thence North 72 degrees 25 minutes West a distance of 568.6 feet; Thence North 36 degrees 19 minutes West a distance of 430.5 feet to a point on the North line of said section 28; thence North 89 degrees 34 minutes East along said North line, a distance of 2340.1 feet to the POINT OF BEGINNING. All of Section 17 Township 5 South, Range 3 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways; to that of the legal limits of the Ak-Chin Reservation. All of Section 18 Township 5 South, Range 3 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona to that of the legal limits of the Ak-Chin Reservation. All of Section 19 Township 5 South, Range 3 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All of Section 20 Township 5 South, Range 3 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All of Section 13 Township 5 South, Range 1 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Maricopa County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All of Section 24 Township 5 South, Range 1 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Maricopa County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways. All of Section 21 Township 5 South Range 3 East of the Gila and Salt River Base Meridian, Pinal County, Arizona including all adjacent right of ways; to that of the legal limits of the Ak-Chin Reservation; excluding the Southwest ¼ of the said section.
                    Anyone wishing to appear and make comment is encouraged to attend. Written comments are welcome and, if received prior to the meeting, will be included in the record. For questions please contact the City of Maricopa’s Planning Department at (520) 568 9098 ext 285.

                    Dated this 24th day of April, 2007
                    Rick Buss, City Manager
                    Published in the Casa Grande Dispatch April 26, 2007

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                      Maricopa filed to annex nearly 44 square miles April 17 that will roughly double the city’s size and block the city of Goodyear’s ability to annex economically strategic land.

                      An approved annexation would extend Maricopa around the Ak-Chin Indian Reservation, keep the Estrella Sailport – a possible location for a regional airport – and give the city a spot on Maricopa Association of Governments, which plays a large role in deciding where freeways go, including Loop 303, which will run from Interstate 10 through Goodyear and south in or near Maricopa’s planning area.

                      Maricopa’s action came after Goodyear recently annexed 67 square miles including the town of Mobile to the west of Maricopa. Councilmember Will Dunn said he thinks Goodyear intends to annex land that is a part of Maricopa’s general plan.

                      “All they are trying to do is take our tax dollars,” said Dunn.

                      If Goodyear continues to grow toward Maricopa it would create complications for residents, Dunn said, citing building permits as an example.

                      Dunn said people wanting to build in those areas would have to travel more than 50 miles to Goodyear to get a building permit and then would have to file their deed at the county office in Florence.

                      “People in Thunderbird Farms need to know that we are doing this to protect them from Goodyear,” Dunn said.

                      Obtaining residents’ approval in Thunderbird Farms, to the south of Maricopa and Ak-Chin Indian Reservation, is an important part of getting the annexation. The city must gain more than 50 percent of property owners and owners of 50 percent or more of the assessed valuation in the area for the annexation to happen.

                      Dunn said Maricopa has set aside $3 million to create a fire station for Thunderbird Farms, which would include an interim police station. In addition, he said that the city has already authorized that area to be zoned the way Thunderbird Farms residents want per the general plan. He said the only exception is the land that was authorized as master planned communities by the county.

                      “These are our friends,” said Dunn. “Does Goodyear have any concern for our citizens?”

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                      “If you bring a gun on any school campus in Arizona, you are going to be prosecuted by authorities,” said Stephanie Sharp in a post on the inmaricopa.com Forum Monday night. “Zero tolerance means zero tolerance at Maricopa Wells.”

                      These comments came in response to community rumors that say the student who brought a gun to Maricopa Wells Middle School April 13 will not be suspended or expelled.

                      “We will follow district policy regarding any infraction involving a weapon of any type,” she said at a later time.

                      Maricopa Unified School District Superintendent Dr. John Flores agreed stating that there is a “no tolerance policy” for this type of behavior.

                      Flores said that incidents like the one at Virginia Tech – where more than 30 people were killed by a gunman – this week “make us realize how vulnerable we can be.”

                      He said the district can’t downplay the seriousness of weapons on campus, whether the gun is loaded or not.

                      He said that district disciplinary actions are guided by the Federal Safe Schools Act. The purpose of the act is to set a national framework for education that says schools will offer a disciplined environment conducive to learning, by ensuring that all schools are safe and free of violence.

                      Gang Issues

                      MUSD schools are getting concerned that incidents like the one that occurred last Friday may be gang related.

                      Recent spray paint vandalism – known as tagging – found at Pacana Park and around the city have led police to believe there is a possibility of gang activity in the community. They said that they don’t know if it is real gang activity or copycat work; however, either one can pose a risk to the community (see related story).

                      Flores said the presence of gangs was here before the incorporation of the city and that the population growth has only added to the problem.

                      He said the attraction to gangs for many youth has to do with something being absent in the family structure. He said gangs offer children with home problems a sense of belonging.

                      He said law enforcement agencies are coming together at the county and city levels as well as a gang task force from Tucson to work with the schools to deal with this problem.

                      With police and the district on the same page, Flores said they hope to minimize any risk of gang activity.

                      One of their goals will be to identify leaders of groups that exist or may be forming and keep them from organizing.

                      Flores said the only good gangs are on school sports teams.

                      Click here for more information about the Safe Schools Act.

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                      Maricopa Salsa Festival presented by inmaricopa.com organizers are looking for more salsa chefs to participate in a salsa making competition April 28.

                      Six cash prizes will be awarded at this year’s event at Pacana Park with the top prize set at $1,000.

                      “We had 28 salsas last year,” said event organizer Marty McDonald, director of Parks, Recreation and Libraries Department. “We currently have 35 salsas entered and eight people for the guacamole and bean dip contests. However, we are still looking for salsa chefs.”

                      McDonald said he will accept registrations, which are available at www.MaricopaSalsaFestival.com, until this Friday afternoon at 4 p.m.

                      In addition to the salsa contest, this event features something for everyone in the family.

                      “We are creating the largest inflatable Kidz Zone in Maricopa,” said McDonald. He said there will be three bounce houses, a bungee run, boxing ring, a 15-foot tall slide, obstacle course and a 26-foot tall rock wall.

                      Children will also be able to smash piñatas, play carnival games, make their own salsa, eat free snow cones and watch puppet and magic shows.

                      And for the adults, there will be four bands with the Freddie Duran Plan headlining.

                      The festivities will culminate with a fireworks show at 7:30 p.m. This will be the first-ever fireworks show within the city limits featuring more than 1,700 items.

                      McDonald said this portion of the festival is a warm-up to a July 4 celebration.

                      In addition, the festival will also have a beer and margarita garden hosted by Native New Yorker and Budweiser.

                      Native New Yorker will also be selling pizza and wings, and the local Boy Scouts will be selling polish sausages. Jamba Juice and Cold Stone Creamery will be on hand to counter balance salsa-infused taste buds with cold treats. Also, Maricopa Women in Business will be selling Cotton Candy with proceeds benefiting their scholarship fund.

                      Lastly, a vendor village will feature close to 80 businesses and community groups where residents can interact and learn more about the local economy.

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                      Although resident turnout was minimal, nearly 45 non-profit organizations attended a Community Support Day event at Rotary Park Saturday.

                      The day’s event was designed to give residents a chance to see what types of charitable organizations are serving the community.

                      The organizations ranged from church groups to veterans organizations to children who created a way to make their own kind of contribution.

                      Eight-year-old Teddy LeMieux is one such child. LeMieux is an origami enthusiast who had been working on his art when he got the idea to sell some of them. He raised $2 one day which he took to his teacher at school and said that he wanted to give it to poor children.

                      Later, his friends Kate Faulkrod, 8, and Lonnie Waite, 6, got involved with making more art.

                      Their efforts eventually became a part of the Mexican Shoe Box charity, a Rotary Club sponsored effort that fills shoeboxes with goods then delivers them to poor children in Mexico.
                      Also in attendance was the Recycling Association of Maricopa.

                      Executive Director Gina D’abella stood before a table of distorted glass bottles with etched images of cats, flowers and inspirational sayings.

                      D’abella said that all of the artwork at her table was made from recycled glass. Bottles that were once used to hold wine, beer or soda are placed into a special kiln that melts the glass to make an object that is rough and bumpy on one side and flat on the other. It is the flat side that can be etched into art or converted in to a clock.

                      She said that converting bottles into art isn’t as new an idea as using recycled bottles. D’abella said that when she goes to art fairs and sees this type of work, she looks to see if they are using virgin bottles or recycled.

                      Another recycled item at her table were T-shirts made from 50 percent plastic and 50 percent reclaimed cotton. D’abella held up a plastic water bottle and said “these get shredded up and blended with cotton to make these,” as she held up on of the shirts.

                      D’abella said the cotton used in the shirts was recycled too. She said that when new T-shirts are made, they are cut from large pieces of cotton. The left over scraps are what can be reclaimed, blended and reused.





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                        The former financial advisor to the Maricopa Fire District was sentenced to 2½ years in jail by the Superior Court of Arizona Monday.

                        Leonard Mikosz received his sentenced for his role in embezzling more than $86,000 from the district’s volunteer firefighter pension plan (see related story).

                        The district learned of the missing funds during a 2004 audit of an account held by Zurich Kemper where Mikosz worked.

                        Mikosz – the son-in-law of Fire District Board member and former chairman Don Pearce, who was also chief of the volunteer firefighters – later admitted to stealing the money.

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                        More than 100 cars attended the benefit car wash at Checker Auto Parts Saturday to help raise money for a Maricopa boy recently diagnosed with Leukemia.

                        Nick McCluen, 8, was diagnosed about three weeks ago with cancer leaving his family in a tight financial situation.

                        “I wanted to thank all the people for their donations and time put in for the carwash,” said event coordinator and Nick’s aunt Shelly Rogers. “Nick was excited to see his friends from school and the public who helped out.”

                        Rogers said many people stopped by to donate money, and didn’t bother getting their car washed.

                        She also noted that 25-30 volunteers helped wash and dry cars.

                        Nick received a special moment when his uncle arrived on his Harley Davidson motorcycle to give him a ride.

                        Local businesses also chipped in to the support the effort. Checker donated a hose, towels and car wash soap, the water and parking lot. While Native New Yorker donated wings and Sonic gave coupons for free burgers and drinks.

                        Photos by Shelly Rogers

                        Related story:
                        Benefit car wash scheduled to help boy with Leukemia (April 4, 2007)

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                        Ashley Flynn stands upon an incomplete set singing and dancing when, suddenly, she stops.

                        “I forgot my line,” she said.

                        A voice from the back of the room fills in the lyrical gap, and Flynn steps back into character with a smile.

                        The voice was Maricopa High School Theater Arts Director Carrie Vargas who is producing and directing “Bye, Bye Birdie” – a musical around an Elvis Presley-like superstar named Conrad Birdie who gets drafted into the Army.

                        The rock ‘n’ roller’s agent, Albert Peterson, finds himself in a bind wondering what to do when his golden ticket is gone. His secretary and love interest, Rose Alverez, comes up with a publicity stunt as a last hurrah, and makes Peterson promise to quit the music business to become an English teacher after.

                        The plan is to have Conrad sing Peterson’s new song “One Last Kiss” on live television, and give one lucky girl from his fan club, Kim MacAfee played by 15-year-old Taylor Wells, a real ‘one last kiss’ on TV before going to war.

                        But things don’t go as planned.

                        The musical – starring 38 students from Maricopa High School and Maricopa Wells Middle School – is scheduled to open April 13 at the high school.

                        Although there have been many theatrical performances at the high school, Vargas said, this is their first musical.

                        “I picked something with relatively easy moves and vocals that would be fun for the kids,” said Vargas. Not to mention, “it is the cheapest musical to produce.”

                        Her dramatic theme, the name given to the director’s version of the production, is like the difference between Jim Hendrix’s rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” and Jose Feliciano’s – is “liberating oneself from the things that confine us.”

                        She said the troupe did pretty well with fund raising but not enough to go overboard on their first production. Proceeds from the event will go to buy sound and lighting equipment and help fund future productions.

                         src=

                        Conrad Birdie — 16-year-old Jerry Allen — leads the cast through a song and dance number during rehersal Thursday.

                         src=

                        Theater Arts Director Carrie Vargas coaches performers Ashley Flynn and Taylor Wells before rehersal Thursday.

                         src=

                        Theater Arts Director Carrie Vargas shows off her work-in-progress set for the musical “Bye, Bye Birdie.” The set is also a part of a project Vargas is using for her master’s degree.

                        If you go:
                        What: Bye, Bye Birdie
                        When: April 13, 14, 19 & 20 at 7 p.m. & April 21 at 2 p.m.
                        Where: Maricopa High School, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.
                        Cost: $7 students, $9 adults

                        Cast:
                        Gabe Jenkins
                        Ashley Flynn
                        Elyshia Armstead
                        Brittany Rimer
                        Taylor Wells
                        Lindsey Jillson
                        Tony Mastrianni
                        Desiree Comparetto
                        Jerry Allen
                        Tyler Loomis
                        Ali Parisse
                        Daniel Argeaz
                        Jeff Ball
                        Jenny Michalski
                        Rick Jones
                        Aubrea Vandermolen
                        EmilioVasquez
                        Issis Alexander
                        Karen Welch
                        Brittany Papineau
                        Devon Garay
                        Josh Davis
                        Shelby Tuerr
                        Caitlin Snow
                        Carson Rose
                        Tiffany Munn
                        Kylie Johnson
                        Korissa Moser
                        Lori Lowe
                        Autumn Papineau
                        Miranda Ware
                        Caitlyn Alexander
                        Lexie Vargas
                        Julio Allen
                        Colton Wilder
                        Michael Mastrianni
                        David Vargas

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                          The Maricopa City Council has approved about $10 million in tax incentives for roadway and infrastructure improvements at a big box retail development at Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and Porter Road.

                          The agreement reached Tuesday allows Shea Maricopa, LLC to start work on the first phase of the Maricopa Wells retail center. It will come to Shea as reimbursed development fee credits, construction and retail sales tax reimbursements.

                          The retail portion of the complex is estimated to generate $82 million during the next 15 years, said Maricopa City Manager Rick Buss.

                          “$62 million are reoccurring revenues, which means they are not one-time revenues that are here and gone,” said Buss. “That is very positive for the city.”

                           border=
                          City Manager Rick Buss discussed tax incentives for Shea Properties at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

                          Buss said the revenues needed for the improvements would not be available without the project.

                          “Our development plan is simple,” said Buss. “It’s a reimbursement of public improvements.” He said to get public improvements built today, the city is leveraging future tax revenues.

                          Planned infrastructure improvements include widening the Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, constructing Porter Road and installing traffic signals.

                          The incentive approval came with the council’s acceptance of Resolution 07-16 that took into consideration a state statute that forbids cities from reimbursing or giving tax incentives that exceed revenues.

                          The city paid for independent evaluation by Pollack & Co. to certify cost evaluations presented by Shea Properties.

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                          A drawing contest to promote a cleaner Maricopa is being offered to school children by three Maricopa businesses.

                          Ramsey’s American Grill, Pinal Energy, LLC and 1st Impressions Ink are offering one child from each school level – elementary, middle and high school – the opportunity to win a $50 gift certificate to Ramsey’s and having their art reprinted on to aluminum signs to be posted somewhere in the community.

                          “We want to teach children to take pride in their environment,” said William Harkness, owner of Ramsey’s American Grill. “This is a chance to get them on the same page.”

                          Harkness cites the recent graffiti vandalism around town as a lack of respect in the community.

                          “We’re trying to bring them back,” he said. “I believe we’ll be more effective if we promote awareness rather than focusing on punishment.”

                          The contest is open-themed revolving around keeping Maricopa clean. All school level children from elementary through high school are eligible to participate.

                          All entries must be submitted on the 8 ½ by 11 form provided by the sponsors (click here to download an entry form). Entries may be dropped off at Ramsey’s American Grill at 21141 N. John Wayne Parkway in the Fry’s Marketplace Center.

                          All entries must be received by April 24 at 1p.m. and must contain the following information on the back of the drawing: first and last name, address, phone number, e-mail, school and grade level.

                          For more information about the contest, stop by Ramsey’s American Grill.

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                          Nick McCluen was a healthy 8-year-old until two weeks ago when he was diagnosed with Leukemia, a cancer of the blood or bone marrow.

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                          Nick McCluen

                          Since then, he has been on high doses of chemo-radiation therapy and makes visits to Phoenix Children’s Hospital every Thursday where he undergoes additional medical treatment.

                          Along with the emotional drain the Maricopa family is going through, this misfortune is becoming a financial burden, which is why the family is hosting a benefit car wash at Checker Auto Parts Saturday at 9 a.m.

                          “This is something our family has never had to deal with and it is very hard,” said Shelly Rogers, the boy’s aunt. “Just like any other family, they want their children to be safe and healthy.”

                          Rogers said that her sister is having a tough time dealing with her son’s illness. Between the family business, a daughter in high school and a 3-year-old at home, there is a lot to think about. That’s why Rogers volunteered to set up the car wash.

                          “I love my sister and her family very much, and I will do anything to help them,” said Rogers. “I don’t want them to have to worry about anything.”

                          So far, Rogers said that many of the people she has talked to are interested in helping the family.

                          “I work in a doctor’s office, so I see a lot of people,” said Rogers. “Some of my patients want to do a bake sale, in addition to the car wash.”

                          She said she has made a lot of calls and created a flier to gain more support.

                          Rogers said the proceeds from the car wash will go to help with transportation, medications that are not covered on insurance and to keep the family going.

                          A bank account is set up at Wells Fargo under Nick’s Journey for those who can’t make it to the car wash and want to donate.