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Staff Reports

Staff Reports
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Jesus Escalante (PCSO)

A Maricopa man faces an assault charge after an arrest that involved both Maricopa and Ak-Chin police departments.

According to MPD, Jesus Escalante, 43, notified police Monday that Andrea Trujillo was staying at the Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Hotel and was abusing drugs. MPD contacted ACPD for a welfare check and was told the woman was there and “severely bruised.”

MPD spoke to Trujillo at the hotel. Officers described bruising to her chin, arm and shoulder. She claimed Escalante had assaulted her earlier in the day.

She said she and Escalante had argued Sunday at a residence on West Lococo Street about his feelings of being disrespected and she claimed he punched her in the mouth. A witness in the home told police she thought the incident occurred Saturday and said she did not see Escalante punch her friend because she left the room when they started arguing.

At some point, the two women left the Smith Farms residence to stay the night at the casino hotel. They returned to the home Monday morning, according to the report. They told police Escalante again became angry and chased Trujillo around with a dust pan.

They claimed Escalante grabbed Trujillo and pushed her against a wall and struck her with his elbows.

Escalante denied the accusations, claiming the alleged victim was known for hitting herself and was the aggressor.

MPD took Escalante into custody, noting he “showed no concern about being arrested and stated he just wants Andrea to get help.” He was booked at Pinal County jail on recommended charges of assault and disorderly conduct.

Kenneth Lewis (PCSO)

A man shot by a resident after being suspected of breaking into three Cobblestone Farms homes is undergoing a mental exam.

Kenneth Lewis, 43, had an order for a mental health expert examination (Rule 11) issued in June. Friday, his counsel was given time by Judge Jason Holmberg for the exam review, with a new hearing set for August. Lewis is free on a $5,000 bond.

In what became a community incident on Celtic Lane April 4, Lewis was tackled by a neighbor in the driveway of a home where he had just been shot. Police arrived and cuffed him before he was treated for his injury.

Lewis allegedly had entered Erik Keen’s home on Garden Lane and an empty home on Celtic Lane before trespassing at a third home, also on Celtic. There, he was shot in the shoulder by the 68-year-old resident and then was tackled by Keen in the driveway. Residents involved in the incident told responding police officers Lewis had been making statements that someone was following him or trying to harm him.

A Rule 11 screening determined there were grounds for a full mental examination. By state law, the court may request a defendant “be examined to determine the defendant’s competency to stand trial, to enter a plea or to assist the defendant’s attorney.”

Lewis is facing charges of criminal damage, trespassing and burglary.

Rayan Jarjes (PCSO)

A 43-year-old Lyft driver from Peoria who is accused of sexually assaulting a passenger in Maricopa had a preliminary hearing Tuesday. Rayan Jarjes is scheduled to be arraigned in Superior Court on Friday and remains in jail on a $100,000 bond.

In arresting him Sunday morning, Maricopa Police had suggested charges of sexual abuse, kidnapping and sexual assault. Pinal County Attorney’s Office has set the charges at three counts of sexual assault.

Jarjes’ LinkedIn account lists him as a chemist at a Glendale company. His wife was out of the country when the incident occurred.

According to the MPD report, the alleged victim had been drinking with several friends at a local bar before going to a friend’s house. However, she soon called for a Lyft driver to take her to her home nine miles away at around 2:45 a.m. Sunday.

She later told police Jarjes twice stopped the vehicle on the way and got into the back seat with her to force himself on her. She said he sexually assaulted her both while stopped and while he was driving after she tried to lie down to sleep. She said she also believed he took photos of her with his phone.

A friend of the alleged victim called MPD at around 4:25 a.m. Police took down a description of the driver and his vehicle. Reportedly matching both descriptions, Jarjes and his black Kia Optima were pulled over by MPD on Smith-Enke Road. Officers noted when he exited the vehicle his pants were not zipped.

Jarjes was arrested at 5:21 a.m. and his vehicle and cell phone were seized by MPD as evidence. He was interviewed at the department around 9:30 a.m. According to MPD, he initially denied the woman’s allegations but then confirmed sexual contact. However, he claimed it was her idea and said she threatened to call the police if he did not comply.

Jarjes’ previous court record in Arizona is a speeding ticket. According to the MPD report, he has driven for Lyft seven years. MPD described him as a flight risk because he is “a recent immigrant from Iraq” and his wife and children were visiting in Syria at the time of his arrest.

Dutch Bros is expected to open in early July.

 

A Dutch Bros representative said no date has been confirmed for the opening of the store in Maricopa. “We are thinking early July but not 100 percent on the date yet,” Krystal Jackson said.

Native Grill & Wings, 21164 N. John Wayne Parkway, finally reopened June 17 after a January fire caused kitchen damage. It received a commercial alteration permit June 11 to replace ceiling grids and passed a health inspection a day earlier.

Circle K opened its latest convenience store and fueling station at 41433 W. Honeycutt Road on May 24.

La Quinta closed on a purchase of a parcel at Copper Sky. City Manager Rick Horst said groundbreaking for the hotel may take place in August or September.

Continuing its new business construction at 38743 W. Cowtown Road, Sacate Pellet Mill is putting in a 19,520-square-foot warehouse to go with five other buildings prepped for the site.

F.O.R. Maricopa food bank received the OK to modify the electrical plumbing in the old blue barn at 19428 N. John Wayne Parkway. The food bank is also improving the parking lot.

Fairbank’s Contracting and Development received a grading and drainage permit for work on a 5,500-square-foot retail development at 41940 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy. in Maricopa Power Center/The Wells. Just under 3,000 square feet is ostensibly for a Pacific Dental Services office. The property is owned by Maricopa Covenant Group, which purchased the lot last November.

The site of a proposed AAMCO at 20215 N. John Wayne Parkway received a permit for a hydrant flow test. Across the street, Dutch Bros put up its signs, which were approved in March, and started spreading asphalt ahead of its pending opening at 20168 N. John Wayne Parkway.

DR Horton is establishing a sales office at 36227 W. Picasso St. in Tortosa. LGI Homes received permission to put up model-home signs at 37627 W. La Paz St. in Rancho Mirage. K Hovnanian Homes received a temporary-use permit for a model-home complex at 17819 N. Miller Way in Maricopa Meadows.

Global Water received permission to use the right of way to excavate and install a water line from its yard across Smith-Enke Road to the lake at Province.

Both McDonald’s restaurants, on John Wayne Parkway and on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, were granted a sign permit to change out their menu boards.

Legacy Traditional Charter School received permits for a fire sprinkler and fire alarm as part of its expansion at 17760 N. Regent Drive. It is adding 3,760 square feet of classroom space to an existing building in a project valued at $564,000.

Sequoia Pathways Academy, 19265 N. Porter Road, got approval from the City to do some interior demolition to contain a mold problem. The project involved 200 square feet.

Exceptional Pets Maricopa (formerly The Pet Club) at 21145 N. John Wayne Parkway also was allowed to do some demolition courtesy of Williams Construction.


This item appears in the July issue of InMaricopa.

Amy Ragsdale and Jason Bowman (PCSO)

 

A stolen vehicle led to the arrest of two people on drug charges at QuikTrip on Thursday just after 12:30 in the morning.

Maricopa Police officers spoke to Jason Bowman, 25, at the gas station and Amy Ragsdale, 28, as she sat in the passenger seat of a Toyota Tacoma that had been reported stolen out of Tucson. Both allegedly admitted to officers they knew the pickup truck was stolen.

During Ragsdale’s arrest, officers reportedly found a small, plastic baggy “within her immediate reach” that field tested positive for methamphetamine and heroin. They also alleged she claimed ownership of a Calvin Klein bag that contained a glass pipe with burned residue “commonly used to smoke methamphetamine.”

Also in the vehicle, officers reportedly found foil with burnt residue “commonly used to smoke heroin.”

Bowman and Ragsdale were booked into Pinal County Adult Detention. Both are initially charged with theft of transportation, possession of a dangerous drug and possession of drug paraphernalia. Ragsdale is additionally charged with possession of narcotic drugs.

Isaac Guerrero (PCSO)

A Maricopa man was arrested by Maricopa Police Department Friday after allegedly spray-painting the car wash at Circle K. Police believe the culprit graffitied several other businesses in the vicinity.

The main suspect told police he was too intoxicated to remember.

A security camera at the 21212 N. John Wayne Parkway convenience store had footage of two people entering the car wash just before midnight Thursday night. The two individuals used spray paint to create graffiti on the walls of the car wash.

Officers identified one as Isaac Guerrero, 20, who had an outstanding warrant.

Friday morning, two officers found Guerrero at his residence on West Alamendras Street in Acacia Crossings, west of the Circle K, and arrested him on a warrant.

Officers noted similar graffiti on the walls of Dignity Health, True Grit Tavern, EarthWise Pet Supply and Dickey’s BBQ as well as Acacia Crossings subdivision walls. Damage is estimated between $2,000 and $10,000.

According to the report, Guerrero told police he had no memory of the night because he was intoxicated but said one of the graffiti pictures was his. He said he did not know the person with him.

Guerrero was booked a Pinal County Adult Detention on the warrant and suspicion of criminal damage.

UPDATE:

The victim in the fatal crash Saturday has been identified as Johnny Salsberry, who would have turned 19 on Thursday. His residence was in Maricopa, according to MPD

___________________________

A 19-year-old man died in a crash on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway overnight, according to Maricopa Police Department.

Emergency personnel were called at around 2:30 a.m. Saturday on a report of a car found off the eastbound lane of MCG Highway. The witnesses said the driver was not responsive and had severe injuries.

The driver was confirmed deceased at the scene. Police have not yet released the name of the driver.

The cause of the crash is not known. MPD is waiting for a determination if impairment was a factor.

Closure Map
Westbound I-10 to close south of Loop 202 Santan Freeway this weekend
 
Crews replacing overhead signs for new South Mountain Freeway interchange
 
PHOENIX – Westbound Interstate 10 will be closed between State Route 347 (Queen Creek Road) and Loop 202 (Santan Freeway) this weekend so Arizona Department of Transportation crews can remove and replace overhead signs for the system interchange with the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway.
 
Westbound I-10 will close from 10 p.m. Friday, June 21, to 5 a.m. Monday, June 24. Two additional closures will be scheduled later this summer to complete sign removal and replacement. The westbound I-10 on-ramps at Queen Creek Road and the westbound on-and-off ramps at Wild Horse Pass Boulevard also will be closed.
 
Westbound I-10 drivers will exit I-10 at Queen Creek Road, travel east to Price Road, north to Loop 202 (Santan Freeway) and then east to return to I-10. Local business access from westbound I-10 to the Gila River Hotel & Casino area will be available by traveling west on State Route 347 and north on Maricopa Road.
The South Mountain Freeway will connect with I-10 to the west in line with the Santan Freeway. Construction is scheduled for full completion in 2020, although traffic is expected to begin using the freeway earlier.
 
The 22-mile South Mountain, the largest freeway construction project in Arizona history, will provide a long-planned direct link between the East Valley and West Valley and a much-needed alternative to I-10 through downtown Phoenix. Approved by Maricopa County voters in 1985 and again in 2004 as part of a comprehensive regional transportation plan, the South Mountain Freeway will complete the Loop 202 and Loop 101 freeway system in the Valley.
 
For information on the project, visit SouthMountainFreeway.com.

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Molly's House of Little Feet received a recommendation from P&Z and will go before the Heritage District Citizen Advisory Committee on Thursday.

A loaded agenda of proposed new businesses will great the Heritage District Citizen Advisory Committee at its Thursday meeting.

The committee will look at architectural elevations for a new daycare, restaurants, automotive center and self-storage building as well as expansion of the courthouse.

Amalia Clark has proposed a two-story daycare known as Molly’s House of Little Feet at 19909 N. Justin Drive. The facility would be more than 7,000 square feet.

At 20215 N. John Wayne Parkway, a retail center has been proposed in a lot north of the current Maricopa Self Storage. As proposed, it would include two drive-thru restaurants, 6,000 square feet of retail space, an automotive center and 94,000 square feet of self storage. The lot sold in October for $1.25 million to PH Maricopa LLC of Chandler.

A proposed project on John Wayne Parkway includes retail, storage and restaurants.

The courthouse at 19955 N. Wilson Ave. has plans to expand. The court serves as justice court for Western Pinal and magistrate court for the City.

The Heritage District Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall.

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Photo by Kyle Norby

Maricopa High School’s varsity softball team thumped Paradise Valley 15-0 Monday to move its overall record to 3-2.

Sophomore Karyn Meier batted 4-for-4 in the game with a home run and two doubles, knocking in four runs. Senior Chantel Holguin had three hits and drove home two. Sophomore Evone Santiago and junior Kiana Miller-Gomez had two hits apiece.

Santiago no-hit the Trojans (0-7) to get the win on the mound by striking out seven through five innings.

Through five games, Santiago leads the team batting with an average of .667. Sophomore Maquela Pena is batting .611, and Miller-Gomez is at .600. Meier leads the Rams in runs batted in with 11. Holguin has hit five doubles and scored 14 runs. The Rams have outscored their opponents 70-23.

The girls next play Thursday in the Gopher Classic in Florence.

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Maricopa High School’s varsity baseball team is staying around .500 after a dramatic home win Monday was followed by a Tuesday tournament loss. Hosting Independence Monday, the Rams led most of the game, but had to break a tie in the bottom of the seventh for the 4-3 win.

Maricopa had 10 hits in the game, including doubles from senior Trey Keel and sophomore Jacob Keel. In six innings of work, senior Jose Leyva gave up just one earned run while striking out eight and walking four. He and senior Devin Fiala each had two hits in the game.

Tuesday, the Rams fell to 6A’s Red Mountain (6-3) in five innings, 20-4, during the Bob Everett Classic. That put Maricopa’s overall record at 5-5.

Through 10 games, junior Austin Rapp is batting .438, and sophomore Johnathan Leyva has a batting average of .310. Senior Nico Bandin leads the team with 12 hits, and Johnathan Leyva and Fiala each have nine.

Jose Leyva has the most time on the mound, with 16 innings pitched and leads the team in strikeouts with 20. Trey Keel has pitched 14 innings and has 17 strikeouts.

 

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place March 18 at East Valley Cardiology, 20924 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite D4-B (next to Dickey’s BBQ). The event commences at 9 a.m. with networking and refreshments, followed by the ceremony at approximately 9:15 a.m.

Native Grill & Wings remains closed while restoration work continues after a January fire. It is expected to re-open in April. Gift certificates of $5 and $10 that expired in February will be honored for 30 days after the re-opening.

Maricopa City Manager Rick Horst floated the idea of building a “a starter hospital and associated health services” in Maricopa during a Top Ten Strategic Objectives PowerPoint presentation for city council members during their annual strategic plan retreat Feb. 7. Horst said it was just an idea for council members to consider and to determine if they wish to work toward that goal.

 Walmart is implementing a parking area for online pickup, requiring permits for exterior and interior remodeling for the parking canopy.

Apex Motor Sports applied for a permit to build a commercial shade structure for parked cars at its construction site at 22408 N. Ralston Road.

Red River Cattle Company received a conditional use permit for work at Sacate Pellet Mill, 38743 W. Cowtown Road.

At Signal Healthcare’s new building at 44555 W. Edison Road, Heartland Dental received a permit for interior construction.

A hair-styling salon received a commercial tenant improvement permit for 2,000 square feet of space at a building owned by Pinal County at 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.

Circle K received a permit to work in the right-of-way during construction on its lot at 41433 W. Honeycutt Road. Lanes were temporarily blocked on Porter Road and Honeycutt.

Maricopa Shell continued improvement by getting a permit for two LED illuminated canopy signs and wall signs valued at $19,300. East Valley Cardiology and Brakes Plus, 44510 W. Edison Road, also received sign permits.


This item appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

After more than a dozen Maricopans complained of bad fuel or rainwater being pumped into their vehicles at a Circle K last weekend, the company is encouraging anyone who think they were affected to report the incidents to its claims department.

“At Circle K, we guarantee the quality of our fuels,” spokesperson Donna J. Humphrey told InMaricopa. “However, issues do occasionally arise, and customers should report them to Circle K for review by its claims department. Customers may either file a claim with the Store or call our Customer Service Hotline at 1-833-685-7318.”

Customers complained the fuel they acquired at the north Circle K had caused their vehicles to malfunction or stop altogether. Some claimed more than $1,000 in repairs were required.

March 25-31, 2019

March 17-24, 2019

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Jan. 21-27, 2019

Jan. 14-20,2019

Jan. 6 – 13, 2019

Dec. 30, 2018-Jan.5, 2019

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July 8-14, 2018

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June 24-30, 2018

June 17-23, 2018

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April 29-May 5, 2018

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April 15-21, 2018

April 8-14, 2018

April 1-7, 2018

March 25-31, 2018

March 18-24, 2018

March 11-17, 2018

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Aug. 28-Sept. 3, 2017 

Aug. 21-27, 2017 

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Jan. 29-Feb. 4, 2017

Jan. 22-28, 2017

Jan. 15-22, 2017

Jan. 8-14, 2017

Jan. 1-7, 2-17

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Dec. 18-24, 2016

Dec. 11-17, 2016

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Nov. 27-Dec.3 , 2016

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March 20-26, 2016

March 13-19, 2016

March 6-12, 2016

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Feb. 7-13, 2016

Jan. 31-Feb. 6, 2016

Jan. 24-30, 2016

Jan. 17-23, 2016

Jan. 10-16, 2016

Jan. 3-9, 2016

Dec. 27, 2015-Jan. 3, 2016

Dec. 20-26, 2015

Dec. 13-19, 2015

Dec. 6-12, 2015

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2015

Nov. 22-28, 2015

Nov. 15-21, 2015

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Sept. 27-Oct. 3, 2015

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Aug. 16-22, 2015

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Maricopa High School athletes made a mark in Arizona Interscholastic Association winter sports.

Senior Jayla Johnson was named First Team in 5A San Tan girls’ basketball. Her average of 12.7 points per game was third in the region. She totaled 279 points. Given honorable mention were seniors Italy Brookshire and Jene Brown, junior Tayler Coleman and sophomore Shakira Gillespie. The Rams reached the 5A quarterfinals.

Four Maricopa wrestlers qualified for the state’s Division 2 tournament, and senior Jonathan Childers came away with a fifth-place medal.

Childers, wrestling in the 126-pound group, won his first match but lost his second to eventually champion Bobby Tellez of Cienega to land in the opposite bracket. There, he had two victories before losing to Mountain View Marana’s Seth Legros, who went on to take third place. Childers defeated Omar Artaega of Centennial to take fifth.

Also performing at state and wrestling three matches each were freshman Gabriel Garcia and seniors Connor Paine and David Onquit.

In girls’ soccer, Bianca Olivares was named to the region’s First Team. She had 16 goals through 17 games. Saneya Cowing made Second Team. Receiving honorable mention were Mackenzie Ford, McKinley Hacker and Madison Tyler. The team reached the state playoff bracket.

In boys’ soccer, Jaime Hernandez was named to San Tan’s All-Region First Team. He had four goals and eight points. Dakotah Barchus and Kevin Vasquez made Second Team. Honorable mentions went to Mario Gastelum, Christobal Mendez, Asa Miller, Asher Miller and Taylor Russo.

For the boys’ basketball team, which posted a losing record, senior Walter Greer stood and was named Second Team in 5A San Tan voting.

 

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The Maricopa High School baseball and softball tournaments scheduled to open the season this week, have been canceled due to inclement weather.

The Rams baseball team did get in one game of the Pinon-Huffman tournament, a 13-1 loss to Tempe on Wednesday.

 

Previous…
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The Maricopa High School baseball and softball teams start of their seasons by hosting home tournaments this week.

The Pinon-Huffman Baseball Tournament is Feb. 20-23 in Maricopa and Casa Grande.

Wednesday’s competition begins at 3:30 p.m. with McClintock playing Poston Butte, followed at 6 p.m. by Maricopa against Tempe. Meanwhile, Casa Grande is hosting Seton Catholic, Dobson and Apache Junction.

Play continues Thursday and Friday with the same game times. Maricopa plays Poston Butte at 6 p.m. Thursday and McClintock at 6 p.m. Friday. Saturday, the top four from the Maricopa and Casa Grande sites play.

The 12th annual Krystin Diehl Softball Tournament will take place Feb. 22-23 at Maricopa High School.

Teams playing in the tournament include Florence, Higley, Maricopa, Mountain Point, McClintock and Yuma Catholic.

Pool play games start on Friday at 4:00 PM. Bracket tournament action begins at 9 a.m. Saturday with the championship game slated to start at 3 p.m.

For both tournaments, admission for adults is $5, students $3, age 6 and under free. AIA Passes only are accepted.

For more information on the tournament call Maricopa High School at 520-568-8100, ext. 4008

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The former Rotary pool is being filled in. Photo by Jim Headley

The City of Maricopa has been filling in the pool at the former Rotary Park as part of the plans to re-use the space next to Maricopa Unified School District and Maricopa Veterans Center. The property is now the new home of the California Zephyr railcar, which sits on the highway side of the old pool.

The pool opened in 1958, thanks to donations of money, labor and time by members of the Rotary Club and other residents of the community. It closed in 2014 after the opening of Copper Sky. Last year, the realignment of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and creation of Plainview Street wiped out most of Rotary Park, leaving only the pool on the land that had been donated by the Smith family.

Landscaping and parking are already planned for the area around the Zephyr.

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File photo

Two big quarters in the middle of the game lifted the Maricopa Rams out of the 5A round of 16 Tuesday and into the state quarterfinals.

The Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team defeated Marana on the road, 58-48. That was despite a slow start and Marana’s attempt at a comeback in the fourth quarter. The Tigers were seeded eighth, just ahead of the Rams’ ninth-place ranking, but were without their standout, Anabella Muscoreil, who was injured a week ago.

Neither team could get an offense firing in the first quarter. Maricopa had only a 6-5 lead at the end. Then the Rams went on an intense offensive run while the defense stayed tight and left the Tigers little room to maneuver. Maricopa outscored Marana 20-8 in the third and 22-16 in the fourth to move ahead, 48-29.

The Rams held off a 19-10 surge by the Tigers for the victory.

Jayla Johnson led all scorers with 28 points. Jene Brown had 12 points, followed by Tayler Riley-Coleman with six, Brooke Smith with five, Destinee Chavis with three and Italy Brookshire and Shakira Gillespie with two apiece.

That sets up Maricopa (21-7) to face the powerhouse Millennium team (23-4) that is the top seed in the conference. They have not played each other this season. The quarterfinal game is Thursday at 7 p.m. at Millennium High School in Goodyear.

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Photo by Kyle Norby

Living up to their billing, the Sequoia Pathway girls’ basketball team won their play-in game easily Thursday in Canyon Athletic Association competition. The Pumas, ranked fifth in Division II, defeated South Ridge, 56-23, at home. That puts them in the quarterfinals to play No. 4 Jefferson Prep on Monday at Powerhouse Hoops in Phoenix. Game time is 5:30 p.m.

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Maricopa High School girls’ soccer pulled an upset Thursday night to qualify for the state playoffs.

The 18th-ranked Rams clobbered No. 15 Independence on the road in the play-in round, 6-1. Five Rams scored, and seven had shots on goal.

Senior Shannon Coutre scored two goals for Maricopa. Senior Bianca Olivares, junior Payson Hacker and sophomore Jezelle Magallanes each scored and had an assist. Freshman Lexy Rowe also kicked in a goal.

The results lifted Maricopa into the 5A state championship bracket for the first time. They will play No. 2 Casteel at 4 p.m. Saturday.

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Transportation planner David Maestas with a COMET van. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson.

When the City of Maricopa formally unveiled its bus-stop shelters in October, there was a jump in ridership within a couple of days.

“Attribute that to recognition that, yes, there is a transit system,” Transportation Planner David Maestas said.

In fact, City of Maricopa Express Transit (COMET) has been around in one form or another since 2008. That it continues to lie below the awareness level of many Maricopans is a source of frustration and repeated questions about the operation of at least one aspect of the service.

By the transportation department’s numbers, COMET had a ridership (individual boardings) of 7,344 during fiscal year 2017-18. That was an increase of 14.5 percent from the previous year.  The projection for 2018-19 is 8,665, a continuation of a four-year increase.

Those are budget numbers. The last time the city delivered a head count of “unique passengers” rather than boardings was FY 2015-16, when that number was 1,713.

On the ground, the regional demand-response service (dial-a-ride) averages 8.6 riders per trip to medical offices in Chandler or Casa Grande.

The 2018-19 budget for COMET is $354,000. The local share of that was $129,000 while federal grants pick up the bill for the rest. The projected number of trips to be taken during the same fiscal year is 8,665, making the per-trip cost to the City more than $14.84. Overall, the cost per-ride is $40.85.

For riders, the cost of local demand-response is $1 per one-way trip. For regional demand-response, it is $3 per round trip. For the local fixed route, which is the service that uses the new bus-stop shelters, the fare is 50 cents per boarding.

By comparison, in the tri-city area of Prescott a nonprofit operates the Yavapai Regional Transit that started as a municipal service in 2008. It is primarily comprised of three fixed routes. A one-way fare is $2 for adults and $1 for seniors, disabled and kids. The curb-to-curb, demand-response service is for seniors and individuals with mobility disabilities at a fare of $1; anyone else pays $5.

In Maricopa, the demand-response is “the least effective mode of transportation that we’ve got,” Maestas said. “It’s probably the worst of our services when it comes to availability.”

However, he said, an important reason the City continues to operate demand-response “is to make sure that we have viable transportation for seniors. It is [a Federal Transportation Administration] requirement that we have to continue operating a dial-a-ride to serve the complementary transit.”

Two statements Maestas has repeated frequently are “we are growing COMET slowly and carefully” and “COMET was never meant to be self-sustaining.”

For 2019-20, the requested budget is planned at $440,000, with the local amount due to be $169,000.

The route-deviation service (fixed route) runs empty loops through the city some days. Getting more Maricopans aware of the service is one challenge; making them aware they need the service is another.

“It takes people to change their habits,” said Chris Hager, director of TotalRide’s transit operations.

The City contracts with TotalRide to run the COMET system. Hager said it is “probably the smallest” system his company operates, but it is just as important as systems in Phoenix, Avondale and Tucson.

“We are very much in the process of increasing ridership primarily on the route-deviation service,” Maestas said. “That’s a careful process that’s best done slowly.

“What happens is when you start a brand-new service and choose to fund it very generously, you’ve got a huge amount of expense chasing new riders that in many cases don’t even know there’s a transit system in place,” he said. “When you’re just getting started up, you have no bus shelters, you have no bus-stop signs, you may not even have bus stops identified. It’s a process of the ridership recognizing that the transit system is in place and choosing to try it.”

Unlike the demand-response service, which picks up riders at a reserved time and place, the route-deviation service has 11 specific stops, some now with bus-stop shelters. The vehicles run from Fry’s to Bashas’, Pinal County Public Health Clinic and the Maricopa Public Library, Legacy Traditional School, Central Arizona College, Walmart, Harrah’s Ak-Chin and UltraStar, Copper Sky, Sun Life Health Center, Maricopa Meadows Park and Sun Life Women’s Center.

“It is our vision to provide route-deviation service full-time, seven days a week, with council approval, including shuttles to connect communities to the central routes,” Maestas said. As far as ridership-vs.-cost, “we’re still in the process of growing ridership to make sure we can sustain it.”

While TotalRide wants to connect more of the demand-response riders to the route-deviation system, dial-a-ride is still necessary, even if fares need to be adjusted in the future.

Hager said the purpose is to provide “a safe transit system people can depend on. You can’t put a cost on a transit system that gets people to medical appointments. If it’s my mother or grandmother, I don’t care if they charge $50 or $100, as long as she’s safe because she can’t drive.”

 


This story appears in the February issue of InMaricopa. Information has been updated to reflect corrections and recent numbers.

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Girls’ basketball and soccer teams from Maricopa High School will be competing in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s play-in tournaments Thursday.

After two losses to end the season, the basketball team was ranked ninth, one position away from automatically qualifying for the state bracket. The Rams (19-7) will host No. 24 Independence (9-9) at 7 p.m.

The top eight teams in the 5A bracket are Buena, Desert Mountain, Gilbert, Horizon, Marana, Millennium, Sunrise Mountain and Verrado.

By coincidence, the MHS girls’ soccer team will also play Independence on Thursday. Ranked 18th, the Rams (8-9-1) will be on the road to face the No. 15 Patriots (11-7-1). The game in Glendale starts at 6 p.m.

All 13 restaurants and eateries inspected by Pinal County Environmental Health from Dec. 16 to Jan. 15 received a clean bill of health.

EXCELLENT [No violations found]
Barro’s Pizza
Culver’s of Maricopa
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit
The Duke at Rancho El Dorado
Francisco’s Mexican Food
Gyro Grill
IHOP
Maricopa Head Start
The New HQ
Panda Express
Pizza Hut
Rosati’s Pizza
Tacos ‘n’ More

SATISFACTORY [Violations corrected during inspection]
None

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT [Critical items noted during inspection cannot be corrected immediately requiring follow-up inspection]
None

UNACCEPTABLE [Gross, unsanitary conditions necessitating the discontinuation of service]
None


This item appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

Dutch Bros. received a commercial permit for its 1,280-square-foot property at 20232 N. John Wayne Parkway, which includes a drive-thru and patio. Construction is expected to be under way in February.

Maricopa Shell at 19680 N. John Wayne Parkway received a permit to re-install four new fuel dispensers at a value of $12,000.

Sports & Cuts Barber Shop was permitted for a fire alarm system in newly constructed space at 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road, Building 14, Suite 2. In the same building, State Farm was given a city permit to use existing signs and move the signs from its old location.

Red River Cattle LTD received permits for grading and drainage at the new site of Sacate Pellet Mill, 38743 W. Cowtown Road.

Brakes Plus, being constructed at 20555 N. John Wayne Parkway next to IHOP, received an onsite-improvement permit.

Heritage Charter had a hydrant flow test for its construction at Adams Way and Conner Drive in Desert Passage.


This item appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Jim Headley

It is going to remain damp early in the week then become quite a bit cooler in Maricopa, according to the National Weather Service. Freezing or near freezing temperatures are forecast Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Today there is a 10-percent chance of showers before 11 a.m. Otherwise, mostly sunny with a high near 66 with wind 5 to 10 mph. Tonight expect a 10-percent chance of showers after 11 p.m. with partly cloudy skies and a low around 46.

Tuesday there is a 30 percent chance of showers, mainly after 11 a.m. the day is likely to be partly sunny with a high near 65 and winds 10 to 15 mph gusting as high as 20 mph. Tuesday night a 30-percent chance of showers is forecast. Skies will be mostly cloudy with a low around 43. Winds continue around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

Wednesday is forecast to be mostly sunny, with a high near 56. Wednesday night expect mostly clear skies with a low around 33 and winds 5 to 10 mph becoming light after midnight.

Thursday sees sunny skies with a high near 57. Thursday night should be clear but cold with a low around 32.

Friday expect sunny skies, with a high near 65. Friday night will likely be partly cloudy with a low around 36.

At this point, the rest of the weekend looks to be mostly sunny with high temperatures in the 60s.

 

Robert Acuna (PCSO photo)

Robert Acuna, 43, was arrested by Maricopa Police Jan. 29 for possession of a dangerous drug, methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and on a warrant for shoplifting in 2018.

According to a MPD probable cause statement, officers investigated a vehicle parked near Sun Life Family Health Center, 44572 W. Bowlin Road, about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Officers identified Acuna as a passenger in the vehicle and discovered he was wanted on a Pinal County warrant from for shoplifting. The warrant had a cash bond of $2,500 specified.

While conducting a search officers stated, “Robert was found in possession of dangerous drugs (methamphetamine) and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Acuna was transferred to the Maricopa Police Department and booked into the Pinal County Jail.

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Rain is expected throughout the weekend in Maricopa. Photo by Jim Headley

It’s about to get a little wetter in Maricopa as showers are forecast the rest of this week, according to the National Weather Service. Up to a half-inch of rain may fall on Saturday.

Today is mostly sunny with a high near 74. Tonight expect a slight chance of showers, then a stronger chance of showers and thunderstorms after 11 p.m. The night will be mostly cloudy with a low around 49. Chance of precipitation is 50 percent overnight. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts are possible if thunderstorms develop.

Friday there is a 20 percent chance of showers before 11 a.m. then mostly sunny with a high near 71. Friday night should be mostly cloudy with a low around 49.

Saturday, a 30 percent chance of showers exists mainly after 11 a.m. The forecast is for partly sunny with a high near 71 and south southeast winds 5 to 10 mph. On Saturday night showers are very likely with a prediction of mostly cloudy skies and a low around 50. Winds will be 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70 percent. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

Sunday, there is a 30 percent chance of showers before 11 a.m. The day will be mostly sunny with a high near 65. Sunday night should be mostly clear with a low around 44.

Next week starts with a temperate, mostly sunny day with breezes up to 10 mph.

 

After a possible threat against Maricopa Wells Middle School, parents are being cautioned by Maricopa Unified School District and Maricopa Police Department to talk with their kids about making social media threats.

The administration posted on its site: “Our district is committed to the safety and education of all our students, and we want to clearly communicate with parents about safety issues when they arise. Recently, a student reported a concerning social media message about a threat to Maricopa Wells Middle School to take place on January 30th.  School and District officials are working with the Maricopa Police Department to investigate and out of an abundance of caution, there will be an increased police presence while the investigation continues.”

School will be in session as usual on Wednesday.

MUSD asked parents to talk with their kids about the consequences of posting messages that could be interpreted as threatening.

MPD offered further tips on what to do if such a message is found on social media: “You need to notify authorities, but we ask that you please do not share or forward the threat until we have had a chance to investigate. This can spread misinformation and cause panic, and possibly expose you to legal consequences, depending on the situation.”

Emphasizing that a threat over social media, email or text is a federal crime, MPD reminded parents those making the threats can receive up to five years in prison.

“In addition to consequences for individuals who issue threats, there is also a significant societal cost. Law enforcement agencies have limited resources, and responding to hoax threats diverts officers and costs taxpayers,” the MPD post continues. “The threats can also cause severe emotional distress to students, school personnel, and parents.”