Authors Articles byAsh Friederich

Ash Friederich

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Millions of people play the Arizona Lottery and may or may not win, but for each ticket purchased, the money is seen around the state and, more importantly, in Maricopa.

Since 2006 Maricopa has received funds from the Local Transportation Assistance Fund (LTAF) to help fund the MaricopaXpress (MaX) and City of Maricopa Express Transit (COMET). The MaX busses Maricopa commuters into Phoenix and Tempe, and the COMET runs local routes within the city.

However, budget issues led the state to eliminate the program, which was funded by the purchase of Powerball tickets, allowing those monies to go into the general fund.

“The city will no longer be given any assistance through the state as the funding has been swept, and there has not been a funding source proposed or identified to assist with transit,” said Maricopa Transit Coordinator Kellee Kelley. “The city of Maricopa still has LTAF II funding from previous years that will be used toward the operations of both systems at this point in time.”

In 2009 the city received $51,696 from the fund, which was spread across the state to help further transit and mobility efforts. In 2011 the city only received $31,658 from the final disbursement.

According to the Arizona State Lottery, LTAF II, signed into law in 1998, distributed over $127 million to transportation projects in cities across the state since the first collection of funds in 1999.

Those funds have been allocated for bus stop improvements, Dial-A-Ride and other types of transportation services.

As of now, Maricopa will see the buses continue to run, as there is currently a surplus of money left from the LTAF funds. However, if the mayor and city council decide to end the services, any money left in that fund would go back to the state’s general fund or be allocated to other cities with transportation services.

“Transportation is one of the goals set by the mayor and council in the strategic plan that provides specific direction for the immediate future of Maricopa and establishes a strong foundation upon which to build strategies that will guide future activities and the development of the community,” Kelley said.

In March, MaX provided a total of 736 one-way rides to and from the Valley, and riders boarded the COMET 96 times.

MaricopaXpress (one way):
$3 Adult
$2 Youth (6-17 years old)
$1 Seniors (60+ years old) or persons with disabilities

COMET
$1 per day (children 5 and under are free with a paying adult)

For more information and schedule times, visit Maricopa-az.gov.

Photo by Ash Friederich

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When they arrived at work On April 9, tenants in the Maricopa Manor Business Center were greeted with notices on their doors announcing a pending trustee’s sale of the complex.

According to court documents, Maricopa Manor Business Center, LLC, which is owned by Maricopa Vice Mayor Edward Farrell and his mother, Alma Farrell, has defaulted on three loans with Great Western Bank, prompting the sale of the complex at public auction on June 14.

The approximately 19,500-square-foot office complex is located on the northwest corner of Garvey Road and John Wayne Parkway and is, ironically, anchored by a 2,500-square-foot Great Western Bank branch. Its tenants include Acts Christian Center, Bright Minds Preschool, Desert Sun Performing Arts, Electrical District No. 3, InMaricopa.com, Maricopa Monitor, Puppy Love Pet Grooming, Trafelet Accounting Group and Western Land Planning.

According to Edward Farrell, the bank initiated the sale process because the 2010 property taxes had not been paid, in violation of the loan agreement. Farrell said the two sides had worked it out, the taxes will be paid, and “this isn’t going to a trustee’s sale.”

However, the bank filed a verified complaint in Pinal County Superior Court on March 23 asking the court to appoint a receiver to take immediate control of the property. That action, if approved at a May 23 hearing, would permit the bank to ensure all revenue collected from tenants is used to pay normal operating expenses and the bank’s loan.

According to the verified complaint, Maricopa Manor Business Center LLC defaulted on three different loans, totaling approximately $3.9 million, by failing to make payments, failing to pay real estate taxes and assessments, and failing to pay a $15,000 insurance premium.

According to the complaint, in addition to Maricopa Manor Business Center, LLC’s obligations on all three loans, the Dunn Family Revocable Living Trust guaranteed all the loans and the Estate of Dorothy J. Dunn and the Farrells are guarantors of one of the loans, which has a balance of about $870,000.

In addition to the past due balances, Maricopa Manor and the guarantors face legal fees, late fees and interest that has been accruing at a rate of almost $2,000 a day since March 9.

Some tenants are concerned about the impact the potential sale of the building would have on their business.

“I am concerned,” Desert Sun Performing Arts owner Ceylan Gentilella said. “I am not quite sure how this process works, and I don't have much information right now. We are planning to expand our school and are wondering how this situation will affect our goal.”

Story and photo by Ash Friederich

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The City of Maricopa picked Brenda Fischer as the new city manager at a special meeting on Thursday night. She will start May 2 under a three-year contract that extends until May 1, 2014.

Fischer, who was the deputy city manager of Glendora, Calif. prior to her employment in Maricopa, was very impressed with the vision and goals that the city has in moving forward.
 
“I’m honored to be able to work with such a visionary council,” said Fischer after the city council voted unanimously to have her fill the position. “I’m very privileged to be city manager of such an exciting city.”
 
Fischer’s starting salary will be $148,724. Her contract states: “After the first year of this agreement, the Employer may determine Employee’s salary as part of the City’s annual budget process.”
 
Fischer’s combined experience in California, North Las Vegas and Henderson, Nev. was a major factor in the council’s decision; they were also impressed with her energy.
 
“I think we are very excited collectively with the selection,” said Councilmember Marvin Brown. “She brings not only her intelligence, but a lot of effervescence. She’s very smart and a go-getter and I think we are at a point in time that we need someone like Brenda Fischer to move us further.”
 
Fischer said there were growth spurts in cities where she worked in Nevada that help give her insight into the direction Maricopa is headed.
 
“The City of Maricopa is very similar to the working conditions I experienced in Southern Nevada,” Fischer said. “Maricopa a very fast growing community and I was very impressed with the strategic plan. I applaud the fact that they have a strategic plan this early in the city’s growth spurt and are doing some exciting things with economic development. There is so much potential and growth here and I’m very excited to be part of it.”
 
Fischer earned her undergraduate degree in Public Relations at the University of Southern California and her master’s in Public Administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
 
“What we needed and what we got was someone who’s willing to come to a city that is still evolving,” Brown said.

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In November 2010 voters in Arizona narrowly passed proposition 203 that allowed the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The proposition also allowed individual cities to create and enact “reasonable zoning restrictions for medical marijuana and cultivation to specified areas.” 

During the April 5 city council meeting, council members voted 4-3 to keep language in the city’s proposed medical marijuana ordinance that severely limits the placement of a marijuana dispensary in the city.
 
When the code was originally written in December, it stated dispensaries could not be located within 1,500 feet of a school, place of worship, public library or park, or within 500 feet of a residential area.
 
However, at the March 29 council meeting, the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended removing restrictions on placing dispensaries near public parks, places of worship and libraries. The change would have greatly expanded possibilities for dispensary locations.
 
Councilmember Julia Gusse voted to keep the more restrictive language in the ordinance and supported the idea of keeping dispensaries out of the city, an outcome that would be likely if the facilities are barred from proximity to places of worship, public parks and libraries as well as schools and residential areas.
 
“I want to keep marijuana as far away from our kids as possible,” Gusse said. “I grew up in an area where I knew exactly where marijuana was sold, I moved to Maricopa to remove my kids from that environment.  
 
“At the same time I’m not naive and understand, as my parents did, that I must educate and keep my own kids off of any illegal substance. Nonetheless, I am in favor of keeping a marijuana dispensary outside our city limits.”
 
Under the rules created by the Arizona Department of Health and Safety ADHS, one dispensary is allowed in each of the 126 areas the department uses to track public health statistics.
 
“Medical marijuana is a very important and controversial issue,” said Councilmember Marvin Brown. “I feel very strongly about so many citizens getting emotionally distraught about this, when they shouldn’t be. 
 
“It’s a system that can easily be placed and controlled. What really disturbs me is, in this country, we have low tolerance for those who are in real need. It’s been viewed negatively, when it shouldn’t be.”
 
Councilmembers Carl Diedrich and Alan Marchione joined Brown in voting against reinserting the stricter limitations on distance into the ordinance.
 
“The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act only requires that the cities keep a 500-foot buffer from schools, day cares and other educational institutions,” Diedrich said. “The League of Arizona Cities created the model code that added other places of worship, parks, libraries into the potential for areas that you would create a buffer,” he said.
 
“We’re talking about the potential for one dispensary in Maricopa.” Diedrich added. “We’re talking about a domino effect when trying to place a dispensary in our city. Anyone can say they are a house of worship and there is nothing that designates they are, except they say that they are. You’re asking for us to limit the placement of a legal activity, which is very similar to what they do at Walgreen’s.”
 

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Maricopa’s search for a new city manager has been narrowed to three candidates who spent time with city staff and council and met with members of the public on Friday. The public reception was held at Global Water headquarters, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“We look forward to this public participation time, in which the community has come out to meet the candidates and give us their impressions,” said Mayor Anthony Smith.
 
The national search for a new city manager attracted 73 applicants, a number that was narrowed to 15 and then to the final three by consulting firm Waters-Oldani and the city council. The city hired the firm for $22,000 to help replace former City Manager Kevin Evans, who announced his intention to leave in September and stepped down in January.
 
“The thing I was most impressed with was the quality of the candidates and the varied background they brought,” said Councilmember Carl Diedrich. “It really gave us the ability to see different perspectives and have the opportunity to talk with three unique individuals and understand their different approaches.”
 
The three finalists are Ms. Bola Akande, Ms. Brenda Fischer and Mr. Steve Crowell. All three hold master’s degrees in Public Administration.
 
“It was great to see that the city council not only put together a very aggressive strategic plan, but they are actually making inroads,” said Akande, who serves as assistant city manager of Richmond Heights, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis.
 
“They are making progress towards accomplishing their goals. That in itself is exciting and what really fascinates and appeals to me is that this council has the intuition and fortitude to think about the future.
 
“Over the past ten years Maricopa has exploded rapidly and must look ahead to fill the needs of its citizens. The open and transparent process of hiring a person to manage this growth is very important.”
 
“Maricopa is a growing city,” said Crowell, a candidate from North Port, Fla. “I see a lot of opportunity and challenges. The community I came from is very similar to Maricopa in its stage of development.”
 
The three candidates toured the city on Friday and learned about the council’s plans for city development. 
 
“I had an opportunity to meet with the council and learn about their vision,” said Fischer, who is deputy city manager in Glendora, Calif. “Pointing to a corner and saying this is going to be a park and this is going to be city hall was exciting.”
 
The council expects to pick a candidate by April 19.
 
“The process has been very thorough,” said Councilmember Alan Marchione. “I think the final candidates all have very strong attributes. The city wants to see a new city manager come in and grab the bull by the horns and lead us into the future with the policy set forth by the council. The new manager will help us shape the face of Maricopa to be a very vibrant and exciting community and help us bring closure to many of the projects we are working on.”
 
 
 
 

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In the wake of the catastrophe in Japan, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a public hearing at the Arizona Corporation Commission office on Tuesday to discuss the safety of the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station.

 The triple-reactor plant, located about 50 miles northwest of Maricopa, has a history of poor safety evaluations that have raised concerns for officials and residents. The problems ranged from leaking oil seals in reactor cooler pumps to backup diesel generators that were broken for 18 days in 2008.
 
Starting in 2007, the plant was listed by the NRC as a Category 4, which meant the agency kept a close watch on it. After repairs were made, the NRC moved the plant to Column 1 of its Action Matrix, representing the lowest danger level on the scale.
 
In a March 16, 2011 letter to the majority owners – Arizona Public Services and Salt River Project – Arizona Corporation Commissioner Paul Newman asked a series of questions to gain insight into the current state of the facility.
 
Here are Newman’s questions:
 
1. What are the sources of back-up power for PVNGS; how long would each system provide back-up power? Please provide as much detail as possible.
 
2. What would happen if PVNGS had a total and sudden loss of power?
 
3. How much cooling water is stored on-site; does it require electricity or is it gravity-fed; how long would the cooling water last in case of catastrophic failure? Please provide as much detail as possible.
 
4. How much waste is stored on-site; are there spent fuel ponds that are open to the air? Please provide as much detail as possible.
 
Newman also said in the letter that he was getting inquiries about the plant, which ranks among the top 20 nuclear generators in the nation that would be affected by an earthquake.
 
“I have been getting a lot of questions from constituents who are wondering about possible issues at PVNGS, and understand from a study done by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that Arizona’s nuclear power plant ranks 18th on a list that ranks over 100 nuclear power plants in the U.S. at risk of core meltdown from earthquakes. I know that APS and SRP have high safety standards but would like to hear about their concerns and plans in case they lose cooling water,” Newman’s letter said.
 
Since the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11 the overheating Fukushima Daiishi nuclear power plant located near Tokyo has made news around the world as a core meltdown threatens. The overseas disaster has prompted the NRC to assess safety procedures of the Palo Verde plant, along with others in the U.S.
 
Palo Verde officials have already briefed Arizona legislators about safety measures that would be taken if there was a natural disaster or major problem at the plant that caused the cooling water to fail.
 
While the majority of the city of Maricopa falls just outside the 50-mile evacuation radius around the Palo Verde reactors, the boundary does cross just south of Smith-Enke Road.
 
However, if there was a major problem at the facility, Maricopa would be protected from most fall out with the Estrella Mountains providing a barrier between Palo Verde and the city.
 
“For Maricopa, our risk of radiation exposure is relatively low,” said Fire Chief Wade Brannon. “We get some protection from the mountain ranges and the prevailing winds. What the city ends up doing is being a responder to the areas that are affected.”
 
The Arizona Aid System links state fire, police and other emergency responders, allowing agencies to share information and respond to emergencies with a coordinated effort.
 
“Plan on 72 hours before Federal resources arrive,” said Brannon. “Maricopa would assist other cities with their 72-hour needs (inside the 50 mile hot zone). There are agreements among 26 different fire districts and municipalities that say we are going to share communications, procedures and training, and the closest trucks will respond regardless of jurisdiction.”
 
Every year, the Maricopa Fire Department participates in preparedness training exercises that include other agencies from around the Phoenix area at the Tempe APS training center.
 
“We are prepared for all hazards response,” said Maricopa Fire Spokesman Brad Pitassi. “Whether it’s the nuclear power plant, a flood or a train derailment. If something went wrong (at Palo Verde) and the state had to step up a response to support the local effort, they have the resources to do that.”
 
For more information about area emergency response plans and tips for personal and family preparedness, go to http://www.ready.gov.
 

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With Opening Day right around the corner, the Arizona Diamondbacks may have found their offensive stride at the perfect time.

After dropping a 6-4 game to Texas on Monday in Spring Training, the Diamondbacks have outscored their opponents 36-14, while scoring the second most runs in the Cactus League (206), 14 less than Kansas City.

However, the players are now focusing on the regular season that begins on Friday against inter-division rival Colorado Rockies.

“It will be the first Opening Day for a few of us,” said Diamondback pitcher Barry Enright, who is scheduled to pitch the fourth game of the season against the Chicago Cubs on Monday.

“We’re excited and ready to get the juices flowing, the adrenaline, and get to the games that matter,” he added.

Enright pitched 3 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on six hits against the Quintana Roo Tigres in the team’s final exhibition game.

During the game, Chris Young finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs and Justin Upton added a homerun.

To support the team, the Diamondbacks this year brought in a number of new players to help them challenge for the National League West crown.

“It’s upon us and we’re excited,” said veteran Russell Branyan, who made the team after signing a Minor League contract during the off-season. “We got a lot of questions answered, but it’s a marathon.

“We’re going to take it day-to-day. I think we got a ball club that can go out there and compete and really do something in this Western Division.”

After a 97-loss season last year, Arizona was focused on getting back on the right side of winning and new General Manager Kevin Towers, who came over from the San Diego Padres, is helping put a strong product on the field.

The Diamondbacks added several big names via trades or off-season signing, including pitchers Armando Galarraga, Aaron Heilman, J.J. Putz, who will be the closer this season, Melvin Mora, Geoff Blum, Henry Blanco and Xavier Nady.

The starting rotation for the Diamondbacks is looks solid, and with the addition of Putz, the bullpen will be stronger than last year’s MLB-worst.

 Last season’s bullpen had a combined ERA of 5.74, which was a full run worse than the next worst bullpen.

 “We are here to win games,” said Galarraga, who will fill the fifth spot in the rotation behind pitchers Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders and Enright. “We have a good team and we just need to be healthy and do the little things. We have a lot of young people that are hungry to win.”

Arizona, which finished 12-25 in Cactus League play, will enter Friday’s game with Colorado on a three-game winning streak, counting the final game of Spring Training in which they beat the Cubs, 15-4, and two exhibition game wins over Mexico’s Monterrey Sultanes (11-4) and the Quintana Roo Tigres (10-2) on Wednesday.

The Diamondbacks open on the road for their first six games, with three contests at Coors Field with the Rockies before heading to Chicago to face the Cubs starting Monday.

Arizona’s home opener at Chase Field will be Friday, April 8, when they host the reigning National League Central champion Cincinnati Reds at 6:40 p.m.

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The Maricopa Youth Football and Cheer season will begin early registration on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Maricopa Elementary School.
 
Practices begin July 28 and regular season games will start during the last weekend of August. The league will provide helmet, jerseys, shoulder pads, mouth piece and socks for football players. For the cheerleaders, the league will provide uniforms.
 
Early registration fee will be $145.00 for players and $100.00 for cheerleaders.
 
Starting Saturday, April 9, the registration will be increased to $175.00 and will be held at Maricopa Elementary School from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Registration for cheer will be $125.00.
 
There will also be registration on April 16 and May 14 at Pacana Park from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
 
Last registration will be on Saturday, May 21 and the price will be $200.00 also at Pacana Park. Cheer registration will be $150.00.
 
At a glance
 
Who: Maricopa Youth Football
 
What: Registration for the upcoming season
 
Where: Maricopa Elementary School
 
Early Bird Registration: Sat. March 26: 9 a.m.–1:30 p.m. ($145.00 football, $100.00 cheer)
 
Regular Registration: (All dates are Saturdays $175.00 football, $125.00 Cheer)
    – April 9, 2011: 9 a.m.  – 1:30 p.m., Maricopa Elementary School
    – April 16: 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Pacana Park
    – May 14: 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Pacana Park
 
Final Registration: May 21: 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Pacana Park
 
For more information and volunteer opportunities visit http://www.copayouthfootball.com.

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After a 10-4 loss to Arcadia earlier in the week, Maricopa was hoping to get back on the winning track, but several miscues got in the way.
 
Despite a 15-5, run-shortened, six inning loss to Williams Field on Thursday, the Rams were able to stay close before the Black Hawks pulled away.
 
“Bottom line is that we have to play better,” said Rams coach Daron Connelly. “We’re a better team than what we showed (on Thursday). At times, we’re impatient at the plate and other times we will take some great at-bats. It seems like we are taking bad at-bats into the fields with us.”
 
When Maricopa was patient at the plate, they were able to get runners on against Williams Field pitcher Nic Martino and move them into scoring position.
 
However, Williams Field, who leads the Power Rankings after the win, had everything working in its favor.
 
The Black Hawks wasted no time getting to Rams’ pitcher J.C. Seymore when shortstop Drew Wahlers hit the second pitch he saw for a homerun over the left center wall for a 2-0 lead. Williams Field added another run later in the inning for a 3-0 lead.
 
Maricopa was able to get to Martino finally in the second inning, when Kolter Hunt singled for the Rams. 
 
Justin Warren doubled after working Martino in to a 3-2 count into right field that went over the outstretched glove of Black Hawk Jamison Gardner’s glove and against the fence, scoring Hunt.
 
Warren then scored to cut the lead to 3-2 when Ryan Sarver flew out to left field.
 
“Usually we are a good, tough team and we don’t give up mentally,” said Rams’ shortstop A.J. Beltran, who finished 3-for-3 with a run scored. “It seemed we let off a little bit and that is uncharacteristic of all the guys we have playing together.”
 
Maricopa kept the game close through their half of the third inning and cut the lead to 5-4 when Seymore helped his own cause with a two run single.
 
But Williams Field outscored the Rams 10-1 over the next three innings, chasing Seymore out of the game in the fifth inning. Joey Kelly relieved him and finished the game.
 
With plenty of the season left, Maricopa is looking to get back into their winning ways and Connelly believes they can make a run through the East Sky Region. 
 
“Everybody’s going to be coming out, I don’t care who it is,” Connelly said. “The team that is in last place in this region can jump up and bite you. This was going to be a big week for us and we have a lot of season left.”
 
Photo by Ash Friederich