Authors Articles byJoyce Hollis

Joyce Hollis

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Angels, shepherds, wise men or kings, a donkey, a mother goat and her two babies plus, of course, the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph were all part of the Living Nativity hosted by Community of Hope Church Saturday evening.

Church volunteers staged Maricopa’s seventh annual event at the church, located at 18700 N. Porter Rd., adjacent to Pacana Park.

While carolers sang, the story of Christ’s birth was presented on a rotating basis several times between 5 and 8 p.m. In between each staging and the accompanying narration, adults chatted while children could pet the tethered animals.

“Do you fink we could pet the baby goats?” asked one young man, who was missing his front two baby teeth. “They’re on a weash after all,” he lisped.

Guests were treated to hot chocolate, apple cider and Christmas cookies. Children were able to visit a craft table to make a take-home project, a Nativity scene door hanger.

Community of Hope members and Pastor Rusty Akers present the Living Nativity each year to bring the community together to celebrate the holiday season with a reenactment of the night Christ was born. According to the scriptures, a host of angels were present, as well as wise men bearing three gifts. In fact no one knows how many wise men were in attendance.

“The living nativity is our Christmas gift to the community of Maricopa,” says Akers.

Photo by Joyce Hollis

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Thanks to Community of Hope Church, Maricopa residents have the opportunity to witness a Living Nativity this Saturday.

The event, scheduled from 5-8 p.m. on the south side of Pacana Park, is now in its seventh year. Well-attended each and every year, a good turnout is anticipated again this holiday season.

Pastor Rusty Akers explained the purpose behind the Living Nativity when it was first presented by volunteers from his church, “The nativity brings to light what Christmas is really all about. We hope to give residents a glimpse of what happened the night Christ was born.  There were no carnival rides, no light shows, just a manger surrounded by some animals.”

The event is free and open to everyone. Refreshments will be provided, and a craft table will be available for children.

The Living Nativity, complete with live actors and animals, will be presented on a rotating basis every 15-20 minutes, so it’s a come and go event. Carolers will provide Christmas music in the background.

Donations of non perishables for the F.O.R. food bank will be gratefully accepted.

If you go:

What:  7th Annual Living Nativity
When:  Saturday, Dec. 18, 5-8 p.m. (performances every 20 minutes)
Where:  South side of Pacana Park, 18700 N. Porter Rd.
Cost:  Free and open to everyone

Photo by Joyce Hollis

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After almost six years of planning and preparation, Against Abuse-Maricopa has broken ground for its domestic violence shelter.

The structure, which will replicate the plan of the Casa Grande shelter, will house women and children, providing bedrooms, laundry facilities and a kitchen, plus living and play areas for residents.

With approximately $260,000 raised from previous Galas, Torri Anderson credited her committee members for their time and effort in making the shelter a reality.

However, according to Anderson, who is also a member of the Against Abuse Incorporated board, breaking ground for the shelter is not the end of the annual Gala. “We still have to come up with maintenance and operating costs,” Anderson said, “so we will definitely have some type of gala event each year.” In fact, this year’s Mardi Gras-themed event will take place on February 19th at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort.

Gala committee members and various local dignitaries gathered after the groundbreaking for a celebration, with food provided by Penascos Mexican Restaurant.

On hand for the event were Maricopa Mayor Anthony Smith and Maricopa City Council members Marquisha Griffin and Julia Gusse, Against Abuse Incorporated chairman and Casa Grande Mayor Bob Jackson and board members Tom Ramsdale, Jackie Guthrie and District 3 Supervisor David Snider.

AAI Executive Director Pat Griffen was also at the groundbreaking, as were architect David Ludwig and Kent Dibble from Dibble Engineering, which donated engineering for the project.

Anderson called the groundbreaking a “glorious” day. She told those attending the event, “I am so proud of all of your time and passion.”

Photo courtesy of Kimberly Diedrich

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Members of the Maricopa City Council and the MUSD governing board failed to agree Thursday evening on an intergovernmental agreement for the public use of playing fields at Maricopa Wells and Desert Wind Middle Schools.

“In essence the fields would become public parks when not in use by the schools,” said assistant to the city manager Paul Jepson, describing the proposed agreement.

Both sites are 20-plus acres with baseball, softball and soccer fields, individual sprinkler systems and access to parking.

Under the proposed agreement, the school district would have first priority for scheduled events or activities, and the city would schedule community events, taking responsibility for opening and closing the fields. The city would also have primary liability.

Funding would come from the city, which budgeted $250,000 for the project for the fiscal year. The upfront costs, $27,150, would be expended for equipment to manage the fields. The estimated monthly cost of $13,400 would include a staff person’s salary, water and maintenance.

Community Services Director John Nixon proposed charging for third party use. “When you charge a fee, you set a value. The fee holds the time for whoever schedules it; with no fee you can just show up any time.”

MUSD board member Tim White questioned charging a fee for field usage when fees are not charged at Pacana Park.

“Where does the money go?” asked council member Marquisha Griffin. MUSD board president Geoff Goddard suggested that for adult community activities the money should go to benefit kids, while council member Alan Marchione felt a more practical use of monies would be to offset usage costs.

Board member Carrie Vargas did not see generating a profit as an issue. “Looking at it from a citizen perspective, recouping money is not an expectation.”

Griffin noted that fee consistency would make usage easier to manage. She added, “With the budget situation being not great, would it hurt to wait 18 months?”

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” said Mayor Anthony Smith, regarding the agreement. “It’s a trial. We can keep our commitment to the community and still test usage.” He added that after 18 months there would be a better idea of the agreement’s success.

Other issues that arose during the meeting included the need for restrooms at the sites, allowing service dogs on the fields, and tobacco and alcohol use. “There is no state law for parks, but there is for schools,” White said, regarding the use of alcohol and tobacco.

Goddard questioned whether the city was ready to commit to the project. “If we agree, there will be commitment, but is this a priority right now?” asked Griffin.

“I was very hooked on the project when we first started talking about this, but we are facing a huge budget deficit,” said Vice Mayor Edward Farrell. “Communication with the school board has increased, and I’m very proud of that, but it’s very possible that it (the IGA) won’t be agreed upon at council.”

“We still have an obligation to the community. We want to open up our facilities, but we have budget cuts,” said Goddard.

“The community needs this and we both have budget issues, but the cost is going up as we talk,” Smith said, noting that there seemed to be consensus that budget issues were the biggest stumbling block to the field usage agreement.

The recommendation was to put the agreement, which was in its fourth draft version on Thursday, on hold until next spring, with the possibility of reopening discussions with the school board after city budget plans are finalized.

Photo by Joyce Hollis

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Legacy Montessori is having an Open House on Sunday from 1-4 p.m. to show the progress the school has made in the last six years.

The school began as a one room childcare and is now a two classroom school with a one-acre garden, a small orchard and chickens, whose organic eggs are shared with the families of students.

Children, ages 18 months through kindergarten, grow and develop at the school in a peaceful, respectful environment located in the Heritage District of Maricopa.

Special guest Judy Webster will be on hand to discuss her plans and explore possibilities for a Montessori elementary school in Maricopa—Camino Montessori.

Owners Carol and Joe Hoover, the Legacy staff, students and families want to say thank you to the community and welcome the opportunity to meet new friends and showcase their facilities and programs.

For further information, call 520-568-9183.

If you go:

What: Legacy Montessori Open House
When: Sunday, Nov. 14, 1- 4 p.m.
Where: 45290 West Garvey (1/2 mile off John Wayne Parkway; west of interim city hall)

File photo

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Rick Abel

Maricopa Unified School District’s governing board met Wednesday evening to hear an update on Maricopa Wells Middle School from its new principal, Rick Abel. The board also approved a $3.2 million grant from the Ak-Chin Indian Community for a turnaround project.

Introducing Maricopa Wells assistant principal Kevin Ames, “one shining example of the staff members we’ve added this year,” Abel provided an update on the start of school at Maricopa Wells. Enrollment is currently 630 students with an average of 26 students per class; there are 39 staff members, including 16 new to the school.

Maricopa Wells is now on a block schedule, as is Desert Wind Middle School. This schedule features a four-period day with 82-minute class periods, providing 20 additional minutes per day for math instruction. It also cuts down on the number of passing periods so there are fewer conflicts, according to Abel. “There is more time to learn.”

New sod, sunshades and outside drinking fountains are some of the cosmetic changes planned for the campus.

In addition, students are scored for lunchroom behavior on a 1-10 scale. The grade levels are averaging a score of 8, which Abel sees as highly commendable.

“It’s an overall positive atmosphere,” said Abel, noting that instructional improvement will continue. “Our vision is every child learning every day,” he said.

Business Director Aron Rausch presented the monthly financial report, indicating, “Right now we are within budget.” He will be preparing a financial data analysis for board members covering at least the last two years. “I think you’ll see a huge revenue change and a huge expenditure change,” said Rausch.

A final reading of the extracurricular activity eligibility policy received unanimous board approval. Athletes and students in extracurricular activities will have their grades checked at two-week intervals, with warnings for D grades. Ineligible students may practice in order to maintain physical conditioning and instruction, but they will not be allowed to travel, wear uniforms or sit with their team or group during their ineligibility.

The energy management policy presented to the governing board in June was approved. Actual controls and procedures will be determined in the near future.

Board members approved a sixth and eighth grade “Worth the Wait” abstinence until marriage curriculum and a fifth grade “Puberty, Growth and Development” curriculum, which includes a parent night at all six elementary schools. Both curriculums are provided by the Pinal County Health Office School Liaison Program. Parents may review each curriculum and must sign permission forms for their children to participate.

The $3.2 million grant provided by the Ak-Chin Indian Community was approved unanimously, but the vote on the grant-funded positions was 3-1 with board member Lori Glenn voting ‘no.’ (President Geoff Goddard was absent due to a work emergency). Glenn felt she did not have enough information on the Turnaround director’s position. 

The grant provides for a MUSD Turnaround Project affecting five schools in the district: Butterfield Elementary School, Maricopa Elementary School, Maricopa Wells Middle School, Maricopa High School and Saddleback Elementary School.

Grant monies will be paid to the district in four quarterly installments of $400,000 each or $1.6 million per year for a two-year period. According to Superintendent Jeff Kleck, the Turnaround Project will, hopefully, be a ‘bridge’ for the district until better economic times.

Grant specifics stipulate the hiring of 25 teachers to reduce class sizes. The funds will also allow for a district-wide gifted coordinator. A turnaround director will be hired for oversight and to determine program progress. Eight paraprofessionals and four academic and behavioral coaches will also be hired for the program.

File photo

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When the Maricopa Unified School District governing board meets Wednesday evening, they will be asked to approve the revised budget for the coming fiscal year and to determine whether or not to put a budget override measure on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Originally passed in May 2005, the override was defeated by only 20 votes on the March 9 ballot. If not continued, override funding is reduced by one third each year for two years and then expires in 2012-2013. An override is for maintenance and operations; it levies no new taxes and is different from a bond, which is used to build structures with capital funds.

Per Arizona Revised Statute a public hearing on the 2010-2011 budget will be held, combined with the Truth in Taxation Notice hearing. That notice is to inform property owners that the district is proposing an increase in its primary property tax levy from $45.30 to $83.95 on a $100,000 home.

The proposed budget for 2010-2011 indicates nearly $5 million in personnel reductions, both positions and stipends.

Other agenda items slated for board discussion and possible approval are the purchase of the Genesis data management system and courtyard improvements at Maricopa Wells Middle School.

Board members will discuss planning, procedures, guidelines and permission for district field trips and both organization and fundraising for parent support organizations.

The first reading of the policy on class rank and grade point average will be presented. The policy recommends that, beginning with the class of 2011, AIMS scores no longer be included in the GPA and weighting for advanced classes be changed to a point system.

Scheduled reports include:  school improvement plans for Maricopa Wells and its feeder schools, on initial report on Maricopa Wells from newly named principal Rick Abel, a transportation update and reviews of the volunteer program handbook and the Arizona Academy drum and bugle corps’ visit to Maricopa.

If you go:
What:  MUSD governing board meeting
When:  Wednesday, July 14, 6 p.m.
Where: District Office Administration Bldg, 44150 W. Maricopa/Casa Grande Hwy.

Click here for full meeting agenda.

Photo by Jake Johnson

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Maricopa Unified School District’s governing board will hold its regular meeting tonight at 6 p.m. at the District Office Administration Building, 44150 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

Items scheduled for the board’s study session include a report from the Arizona Department of Education regarding a corrective action plan for Maricopa Wells Middle School, a report on the use of bonds for construction purposes, a review of next school year’s MUSD elementary handbook and an end-of-the-year report on the Volunteer Program.

The governing board has also agendized two executive sessions, one for student disciplinary recommendations and the other for legal advice on board policy BDG “School Attorney.”

In addition to approving the regular personnel schedule, the governing board will be asked to approve the formats for counselor, administrator, leadership team and related service provider contracts.

District administration is recommending personnel reductions and reclassifications by position. According to agenda information, workforce reduction is required “to effectuate economies in the operation of the District and/or improve the efficient conduct and administration of the schools of the District.”

Reductions include: 23 paraprofessional positions and reduced hours (to 29.5 per week) and benefits for all remaining paraprofessionals, the standardization and reclassification of custodial assignments plus elimination of 10 custodians and two groundskeepers, elimination of three bus drivers, two aides and a shop supervisor, and the elimination of nine library aide/bookstore clerks (the ad hoc budget committee recommended only six be eliminated).

Other eliminations include middle school mentor and security positions, two truancy officers, one high school security position and the high school receptionist among others, some of which have yet to be determined.

A modified fee schedule for community use of district facilities will go to the board for final approval. A fee schedule exhibit presented at the April 14 board meeting received unanimous approval. Superintendent Jeff Kleck explained then that the first priority was to establish the four classes of facility users. “The fee schedule is what we’re using now; two or three weeks from now we’ll come back with the new fee schedule.”

Dissolution of the Ad Hoc Budget Committee is also on the board’s agenda with an advisory budget planning committee possibly replacing it.

In a Monday night email Ad Hoc Budget Committee chair Marty McDonald wrote to committee members:  “The Budget Ad Hoc Committee was authorized by the Maricopa Unified School Board to meet to discuss numerous budget issues facing the district. Attendance in our meetings has significantly shrunk from 53 attendees at the first official meeting to just 20 members tonight. Per Open Meeting Law, we must have 50% plus “1” in order to establish a quorum. Our magic number is 27 people. Tonight, we had 20 people show up by 7:15 p.m. and, therefore, canceled the meeting.”

McDonald asked that any members no longer interested submit a letter of resignation so a smaller quorum number could be established.

To view the entire governing board meeting agenda, click here.

Photo by Joyce Hollis

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What is more fun than spending some time feeding alpacas, seeing weaving demonstrations and shopping for unique Christmas gifts offered by vendors?

Maricopans can do this and more at Alpacazona Farm’s 4th Annual Open House on Saturday and Sunday.

Residents and their families can meet and feed the alpacas (carrots will be provided) while learning more about the timid and gentle creatures.

Alpacas were treasured by Incan royalty, but their numbers diminished with the end of that civilization. In recent years South America has allowed the export of alpacas. An average adult alpaca weighs from 100 to 175 pounds. Wonderful pets, they have a life span of about 20 years.

The open house will feature spinning and carding demonstrations, and guests can also test their craft skills.

Alpacazona Farm’s owners, Claudia and Brian Klaus, moved to Maricopa almost eight years ago. What began with Claudia’s hobby in fiber arts, weaving and spinning, led to the couple attending an alpaca show in Anthem. They bought Godiva, their first female, a few weeks later, and their business began.

The couple is dedicated to growing and improving their small huacaya herd and learning about alpacas.

For additional information, call 520-568-1946.

If you go:

What:  Alpacazona Farm’s 4th Annual Open House
When:  Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 4 and 5; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where:  33117 W. Peters and Nall Rd.

Submitted photo

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Maricopa historian Patricia Brock has spent the last year writing a new book, “Images of America: Maricopa,” which follows and celebrates Maricopa’s rich heritage—from the early Hohokam digging canals with sticks to the residents of the city of Maricopa as it exists today.

Brock chronicled the early history of Maricopa and profiled some of its residents in her previous book, “Reflections of a Desert Town.”

According to Brock, the 127-page “Images of American: Maricopa” combines archival photographs with stories from the past, revealing the people and events that helped shape the character of what Maricopa is today.

“The material came from the files of the Maricopa Historical Society’s oral and written history projects—newspapers, magazines and even faded handwritten letters saved in someone’s old trunks,” said Brock.

Her stories tell of a neighbor who taught a 17-year-old boy how to cook when he had nowhere to eat at Maricopa Wells in the 1870s and  a young man who traveled from Missouri in 1891 to Maricopa Junction for his health. His grateful mother sent this telegraph giving thanks to those who helped him through his final days: “He was a stranger in a strange land, yet found here brothers in Free Masonry, who did all that was possible to smooth his pathway to the grave.”

Later, during the uncertain years of the depression when her own husband lost his job with the railroad, Nina DeHart gave all she had to feed the thousands of hungry people passing through Maricopa in the open boxcars of the trains. 

At the height of Maricopa’s agricultural days, farmers came from miles around the Maricopa area with their own machinery to harvest a cancer-stricken neighbor’s crops before tackling their own fields and crops, and they did it all in one day. 

Then, more recently, after the slowdown of America’s fastest-growing city because of the economy, many people fell upon hard times. Neighbors rallied around to help: donating a car to a family who had none, cleaning up vacant yards and generously giving money or food to those who had no job or could not feed their families. 

Today, the city offers a variety of programs that bring people and families together such as Stagecoach Days, the Movies in the Park series and the Salsa Festival under the Stars.

In addition, there are groups in the community who not only share parenting skills, but also raise funds to help schools, clubs, the library and other programs that need assistance. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Quilts donates comfort quilts to the Police and Fire Department for children who are in fires, accidents or generally need help. 

“Images of America: Maricopa,” from Aracadia Publishing, will be available in March for $21.99. The Maricopa Historical Society is taking book orders now. Visit the Maricopa Historical Society’s website for more information: www.maricopahistory.com.

All profits from the book will go to the building of the Maricopa Historical Museum. To order your copy, email Patricia Brock at hpbrock@cox.net.

“The Maricopa Historical Society and I are proud to share Maricopa’s rich heritage and to highlight the incredible role Maricopa played in the growth and development of the Southwest,” Brock said.

Submitted photo

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For Our City-Maricopa will be holding a community-wide drive on Saturday, Dec. 4, to collect jackets, long pants, jeans and backpacks for MUSD students in need.

The mission of For Our City-Maricopa is built on the following question: What can we do together than we cannot do separately?

Residents from the business, government, volunteer and faith-based sectors of the community met recently to discuss some of the city’s needs and how to respond to them in a collaborative, cohesive manner. Their short term goal is to assist MUSD with students’ critical needs.

The number of “homeless” students in the school district has doubled in the last four years to about 200. However, these students are not on the streets; they are living with others, doubling up in one home, residing in cars or with friends.

The following is needed to help students at MUSD, in particular, the high school: jackets for ages 4-18 years old, pants, jeans and backpacks. The jackets are critical to students given the weather change. All jackets must be zip or button front. 

All items should be new or gently used, but, if gently used, they should be in good condition and laundered prior to drop off.

The donation site will be the lot in front of the Maricopa Fire administrative offices and the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office off John Wayne Parkway. Drop-off times will be 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday, Dec. 4.

Volunteers would be welcome to help sort donations on Dec. 4. If interested, contact Ernest Whitehead at ernest@care-inc.com.

Residents are urged to reach out, to check their closets and to help needy students in Maricopa.

If you go:
What:
For Our City coat, pants and backpack drive
When: Saturday, Dec. 4; 9 a.m. to noon
Where: Lot in front of PCSO and MFD administrative offices on John Wayne Parkway 

File photo

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Flags, streamers, tambourines, music and dance mark the beginning of worship service each Sunday afternoon at Maricopa’s only Hispanic church, Nueva Esperanza Iglesia (New Hope Church). For congregation members, this joyous and colorful part of the service is a way to celebrate their faith while inviting the Holy Spirit to join them.
 
Pastor Pedro Cordero, who comes from Scottsdale each week to minister in Maricopa, leads his flock in prayer and the laying on of hands prior to his weekly sermon, which is given in Spanish.
 
Nueva Esperanza, a nondenominational Church of God (Iglesia de Dios), began three years ago with just four families. Today, there are 45 members, including some from Chandler and Mesa. Each year the church’s anniversary celebration lasts three days, starting on Friday and ending at the church on Sunday.
 
Guest speakers from countries like El Salvador and Columbia are featured. Until recently the congregation met at Pima Butte Elementary School; now they share facilities with Community of Hope Church on Porter Road.
 
“The church is extremely grateful to Rusty and Lisa Akers for their generosity in having us under their wings,” said Grace Granillo, who heads up Nueva Esperanza’s youth ministry. “They have given us a place to come and worship our awesome Lord.”
 
Dancing for the Lord
Seven dancers perform each Sunday, wearing long white, green or red satin gowns adorned with seasonal decorations. Intricacies of the dance are passed down from older members to the young girls in the congregation, and the group practices for three hours each Saturday to prepare for their part in the worship service. Vicky de Leon and the pastor’s wife, Ana, are the instructors. Other dancers include Sonia Cordero, Nancy de Leon, Jajaira and Jennifer Zazveta, Dagmara Medero and Brittany Perez. Five more women and girls are in training.
 
“Anyone who is interested in dancing for the Lord is welcome to learn,” Granillo said.
 
In addition to Sunday worship, the congregation meets at a member’s home each Wednesday evening to honor special prayer requests and pray for all other churches and the city of Maricopa. On Fridays evenings, Cordero teaches on various topics.
 
“Right now his teaching is on how to be a leader in the church,” Granillo said.
 
Nueva Esperanza also sponsors events around Maricopa, including retreats for youth, couples and families, as well as conferences for men and women. Members of the congregation may choose to participate in part or all of Daniel’s Fast, which takes place twice a year for 40 days.
 
“Every first of the month we also fast for seven days, and this may be done by just fasting for one meal a day,” Granillo said.
 
Vigilia, an all night prayer session, takes place twice a year.
 
After the first of the year, Nueva Esperanza’s services will be translated from Spanish to English.
 
“We are a church that God has directed to Maricopa for the Hispanic community,” said Cordero. “We cordially invite you to visit us to see the miracles God does in our lives.”

Photo by Joyce Hollis

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As of last month Maricopa has its own American Legion Auxiliary, Unit 133.

The group currently has twelve members and one junior member (under 18 years of age). They meet on the second Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at the Maricopa Veterans Center, which is located adjacent to Rotary pool at 44240 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

“Our purpose is to support veterans and to promote individual volunteerism in the community,” said president JoAnn McNeil.

Some of the Auxiliary’s members are Reading Buddies in the Maricopa public schools, one works as a public library volunteer, several are actively involved at the F.O.R. Maricopa food bank, and one member volunteers in the cafeteria at the Mobile Elementary school.

Newly elected Unit 133 officers are: JoAnn McNeil, president; Patti Lacombe, vice president; Pam Barnes, secretary-treasurer; and Beverly Floerchinger, chaplain.

The Auxiliary was organized nationally in 1919 to assist The American Legion. Currently it is the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization with nearly 10,500 units located in every state and some foreign countries.

Eligibility requirements for membership in the American Legion Auxiliary include the following:
• A woman who is eligible for membership in the American Legion is also eligible to join the American Legion Auxiliary.
• The mother, wife, daughter, sister, grand-daughter, great-grand-daughter, or grandmother of members of the American Legion, and deceased veterans who served in the United States Armed Forces during the  war eras are eligible for membership.
• Step relatives are also eligible.

If you are interested in becoming part of Maricopa’s new Unit 133 of the American Legion Auxiliary, contact McNeil at 520-840-4645 or Barnes at 520-568-4266.

Submitted photo: (left to right) Vice president Patti Lacombe, President JoAnn McNeil, Secretary-treasurer Pam Barnes and Chaplain Beverly Floerchinger.

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Lights, decorated trees, snowmen and a reindeer—or two or three. Maricopa will have them all, ready to be viewed by residents during the 6th Annual Holiday Homes on Parade.

The contest, sponsored by the city of Maricopa, focuses on the energy and time put into the holiday decorations at so many homes in Maricopa. The contest is open to all residents in the greater Maricopa area.

Exterior home decorations, scenes, lights and seasonal characters, must be in place by Dec. 6 as judging will take place nightly from 6 – 9 p.m. between Dec. 6 and Dec. 16.

Judging will be in five categories:  Best on Parade, Residents’ Choice, Best Use of Color, Best Theme and Best Light Show. Best on Parade will receive a $500 gift card to ACE Hardware.

Registration is open, and all forms are due by Nov. 29 in order to have homes placed on the city’s Holiday Homes on Parade map.

For forms and contest details, visti www.Maricopa-az.gov, call 520-316-6963 or e-mail brenda.campbell@maricopa-az.gov.

File photo 

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Hot dogs were the bait of choice for residents and their family members at Province Community’s first annual fishing derby Saturday.

Sixty individuals cast their lines, hoping for a bass or catfish large enough to win the $200 first prize provided by H & N Landscaping.

H & N also provided hot dogs, soda and popcorn for all participants.

A total of 70 fish were caught during the derby, and one gentleman reeled in several, using chicken fat and rotten strip steak as bait.
 
The largest bass caught was 14 inches, and the smallest was 13 inches, but they swam happily away in the catch and release contest.
 
The overall winner was Jacob McIntyre, grandson of Province resident Gary Owens. McIntyre took home $200 for his prize catch, a 20 ½ inch catfish.
 
Photo by Tony Debevec  

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The Maricopa Youth Recreation Center opened its doors in February. However, due to budget cuts at both state and local levels, the center has needs that are going unmet.

Open Monday through Friday from 2-7 p.m., the center, which is located at 19756 N. John Wayne Parkway (behind Great Western Bank), serves Maricopa youth in grades 6-12. This year 195 students have actively participated in the center’s activities, an average of about 30 per day.

Activities include a game room, snack bar, computers, music and drama classes, peer leadership programs, photography and special events including guest speakers, dances, and game nights.

“Kids who come to the center always seem to be bringing back more of their friends,” said CAASA program director Priscilla Behnke. “It’s great.”

CAASA (Community Alliance Against Substance Abuse) employs four staff members and relies on student volunteers to help manage the facility, as well as to help run areas like the concession stand.

However, this fiscal year several funding sources have dried up due to the downturn in the economy. According to Behnke, this has led to fewer classes being offered to the youth, as well as making it more difficult to purchase needed supplies.

The following is a list of items the Youth Recreation Center needs and hopes to have at some time in the near future. Residents, who may have some of these items to donate to local youth, may drop items off at the center during its Monday through Friday open hours.

Maricopa Youth Recreation Center wish list:
• DVD player
• IPOD
• ITunes Gift Cards
• Color printer, compatible with a PC.
• Copy machine for office use that can make quick copies
• Paper: copier, white, colored any art or sketch paper, notebooks
• Art Supplies: glitter, paint, paint brushes, glue, sponges, crafts, markers, easels,
• Locking cash box
• Novelty items (bracelets, bubbles, glow sticks, plush animals, stickers, notebooks, lanyards, items that can be used as incentives)
• Pens and pencils
• Display Counter new or used, locking preferred
• Locking Display Cabinets
• Cleaning Supplies; disinfectant sprays, paper towels, toilet paper, Windex, mop heads, brooms, dust pans, trash bags
• Ping Pong table (or gift cards to Wal-Mart or Sports Authority for the Joola inside Table Tennis Table)
• Ping Pong Accessories
• Cash Register
• Folding tables
• Bean bags, floor pillows
• Video games for Nintendo WII (rated E for everyone)
• Folding Chairs
• Paper plates, napkins, plastic cups, disposable eating utensils
• Snacks: chips, candy, popcorn, pretzels, condiments
• Locking file cabinets or locks for filing cabinets 2-6 drawers
• Rolling Desk chairs (4)
• Radio: am/fm and CD

Gift card and cash donations are also accepted. Checks can be made out to Maricopa Ak-Chin CAASA. For further information, contact Behnke at pkrbehnke@yahoo.com.

“We believe this center is a great service to the children of Maricopa and hope to keep it going,” Behnke said.

Photo by Joyce Hollis

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The current economic downturn in this country has often been likened to the Great Depression, which began with the New York Stock Market crash of 1929 and lasted until about 1939.

Once in a lifetime we get the opportunity to experience a few moments with someone who was an eyewitness to an important time in history like the Great Depression. There are few people left today who can share these stories and memories, but the recollections of a time and place that are gone will not disappear as long as there is someone to hear. The Maricopa Historical Society is hoping to capture those times during its first oral history mini-series on Nov. 18.

What were the Depression Years like?

By late 1932 stock values had dropped to about 20 percent of their previous value, and by the next year 11,000 of the U.S.’s 25,000 banks had failed. Demand for goods was severely reduced, leading to high unemployment. Farm income fell some 50 percent.

By 1932 approximately one out of every four Americans was unemployed. Bread lines were a common sight in most cities. Hundreds of thousands roamed the country in search of food, work and shelter. “Brother, can you spare a dime?” was a popular song’s refrain.

During the same years that farmers were being encouraged to take land out of production, a severe drought and dust storms hit the Great Plains states, further reducing farm production. Approximately 800,000 people headed west to the land of promise, California. These migrants were not only farmers, but also professionals and retailers. Most of them ended up competing for seasonal jobs picking crops at extremely low wages along the way, including working the cotton fields in Arizona.

The Depression meant a diet of beans and rice, wearing hand-me-down clothing and hoping for a job, any job.

Longtime Maricopa resident Mary Lou Smith recalls people coming to the family’s Tucson home, which was located in the present university area, seeking work for food.

“If my mother didn’t have work for them, she always gave them a sandwich or whatever she had on hand,” said Smith, whose father felt fortunate to be employed.

“We also had lots of door-to-door salesmen, selling Fuller brushes, Watkins or encyclopedias. Some offered to sharpen scissors or knives for a small fee. People did what they could just to survive.”

John Smith’s large family lived in Phoenix during those years. They often got fruits, vegetables or milk handed out by local farmers, who couldn’t sell their produce or products. His father, a good baseball player, often got work because every company in Phoenix at that time had a team.

“If you have memories, whether firsthand or shared by family members, please come and share. These memories will be very informal and videotaped for future generations,” says Maricopa Historical Society chairman Patricia Brock. 

For further information, contact at 480-821-0604 or hpbrock@cox.net.

If you go:
What: 
Maricopa Historical Society’s first oral history mini-series: The Depression Years
When: Thursday, Nov. 18, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Maricopa Agricultural Center (MAC)
Directions: John Wayne Parkway, then east on Smith-Enke Road (four miles to the MAC Administration Building on the north side of the road)

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F.O.R. Maricopa, the local food bank, needs residents to help them win a $250,000 Pepsi Refresh Grant.

Founded in 2007 to provide food, opportunities and resources (F.O.R.) to Maricopa and neighboring community residents, the food bank is currently feeding 180 families each week on Monday mornings and Thursday evenings. In 2009 26,000 people were served.

The Pepsi Refresh Grant would enable F.O.R. to relocate to a new, much safer, permanent site. The present location is a double-wide trailer at the end of a dirt road on the outskirts of Maricopa, which has been flooded from time to time.

F.O.R. needs a loading dock, walk-in freezers, stainless steel mult-compartment sinks, fire sprinklers and a public restroom. To really provide the services needed, the location should have phones, computer and Internet services to keep track of clients and their needs.

The grant money would provide land, a building and building improvements.

How can residents help F.O.R. win this grant?

Until Nov. 30 you can both text and email each day. Go to www.refresheverything.com/formaricopafoodbank to vote and then text Pepsi (73774) 104099.

“We need these funds to help us get a new place to live with some more appropriate equipment for the food that we have to serve the people that we see every week,” said F.O.R. executive director Wendy Webb. 

“We can do this Maricopa. We can make this happen.”

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Maricopa resident Stephanie Spence is passionate about helping to refurbish rooms at the Home of Hope.

On Saturday, Spence, who moved here from New Jersey in 2008, will hold a Donation Day party at her home from noon until 4 p.m. to help make that happen.

Residents and friends can stop by, grab a bite to eat, hear from students and staff about their experiences, and, hopefully, make a donation. Prayer cards with the individual’s goals will be available; they are made by each of the Home of Hope residents.

The Home of Hope is a safe place for women and women with children who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. It is a place for individuals to heal in a warm, safe and fun environment, and the program there lasts for 12 months. Located in Casa Grande, the home is run by the non-profit Teen Challenge USA.

Spence volunteers at the facility as a life coach; she is also a member of Maricopa Women in Business and a full-time college student. When she first heard about Home of Hope, she toured the facility and donated some clothing. “This position has raised my compassion to a new level, and I am dedicated to serve in this enrichment,” said Spence.

“I don’t want them to turn anyone away because a room is not furnished and ready,” she added.

The cost to refurbish a room is about $1,300. Items needed include twin sheets, twin comforters, twin mattresses and bed frames, towels, washcloths, curtains, paint, and floor tile. Individual students can be sponsored for a $70 donation to purchase personal items and toiletries.

For more information about the project, directions to Spence’s home or to donate, contact Spence at stefany7@womenofthebreakthrough.com or at 520-371-2748.

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Today is Veterans Day.

Banks and government offices, including the post office, are closed, and students and their teachers have a day off school. However, this date has a much greater significance for Americans than no school or mail.

Every year in the United States we honor all the men and women who have served in our armed forces. We honor both the living and the dead, those who have served in times of peace and in times of war.

Originally this date was known as Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918. The fighting stopped at 11 a.m., which was the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

The following year a proclamation was issued by then President Woodrow Wilson, recalling the sacrifices of those who died in that war. All businesses stopped for two minutes, a precedent for the two minutes of silence that later became common practice. Several states declared Nov. 11 a holiday, but it wasn’t until 1938 that Congress declared it a federal one.

Traditionally, the President of the United States, or his representative, places a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns, which houses the remains of unidentified soldiers from several wars, in Arlington National Cemetery on Nov. 11.

Armistice Day became Veterans Day in 1954 to include those who served in World War II and Korea. Today Veterans Day honors all veterans from all wars. It is always observed on Nov. 11 due to its special significance.

InMaricopa joins all those in Maricopa and across the nation in saluting the men and women who served, who fought, who died or are serving and fighting now to keep us safe and free.

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Maricopa residents can ‘clean house’ by getting rid of their trash and unwanted items during a free dump day on Saturday, Nov. 13.

There will be two dump day locations, the Butterfield Station Landfill and Recycling Association of Maricopa (RAM).

The Butterfield Station Landfill, located about 13 miles west of the center of Maricopa on Hwy. 238 at 40404 S. 99th Ave., is accepting trash only, including bulk refuse, unwanted furniture and other household items, from 8 a.m. to noon. The landfill will not take commercial loads, tires, appliances, TV’s or electronics, propane tanks, oil or paint.

No trash or liquid waste will be accepted at the Recycling Association of Maricopa site, at 46250 W. McDavid Road (take the first right turn south of the railroad tracks and then go west on McDavid Road), but residents can drop off items such as appliances and electronics, computers, ink cartridges, cell phones, scrap metal, car batteries and usable furniture from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The event is being sponsored by the Pinal County Board of Supervisors, Recycling Association of Maricopa, Waste Management and the city of Maricopa.

For special needs or further information, call 520-568-9428.

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Maricopa Unified School District’s governing board will meet Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. at the district office administration building, 44150 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy.

In addition to approving vouchers and personnel changes, board members will hear reports on the progress of both Maricopa Wells Middle School and Maricopa Elementary School. Both have been underperforming and are currently in a turnaround phase with new administrators at each site.

Board members will hear the first reading of policy services advisories for over 20 different board policies, including executive sessions and open meetings, bidding and purchasing procedures, bus safety programs, curriculum adoption, open enrollment, weapons in school, student discipline and immunization of students, to name only a few.

Staff conflict of interest (Policy GBEAA) will be open for discussion and possible action from the board.

Also on the evening’s agenda is an executive session regarding a student disciplinary action.

In addition, board members will be asked to approve an Air Force ROTC program at Maricopa High School.

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More than six million children – about 8 percent of American kids — live with their grandparents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The University of California at Berkeley Center on Aging says in the past 10 years the number of children living with their grandparents has increased by 50 percent.

This isn’t something that happens only to a particular race or area or social class. It happens in all socioeconomic groups due to divorce, neglect, teenage pregnancy, the death of the parents, incarceration, unemployment, abuse, alcohol or drug use and abandonment.

It can happen to almost any couple with grandchildren, as Maricopa residents Barbara and Kurt Pietrzak found out. At a time when they were anticipating the freedom of retirement, their lives changed drastically when they found themselves raising two grandchildren.

Second time around the track
The Pietrzaks raised three children of their own, all of whom graduated from Maricopa High School. Their daughter Becky is a massage therapist, son Shawn is a U.S. Marine, and daughter Jennifer is in prison due to events connected with meth addiction.

“As parents we watch our children grow; we hope and pray for their futures; we plan with them and dream with them,” said Barbara. “None of us plan, dream or imagine a future of meth addiction. It just happened, and that is how we became grandparents raising grandchildren.”

The Pietrzaks never considered seeking foster care for Autumn, who had just turned two, or Ethan, who was turning four. They were granted guardianship by the courts in January 2005, and the next year, when Jennifer knew she was going to prison, she asked them to apply for custody of her children, which was granted in 2007.

Jerry, the children’s father, was also incarcerated for a time. He had no contact with the children until two years ago when he showed up clean, sober and employed. He now takes the kids every other weekend and pays child support.

“Having their dad in their lives has been so good for the kids,” Barbara said.

When the Pietrzaks were granted custody of the children, their son and other daughter were still at home. They credit their children, especially Becky, with pitching in to help care for the little ones.

“I think those first years would have been a lot harder on us had she not been there to help,” Barbara said.

Kurt was injured on the job several years ago and is home on disability. He takes Autumn and Ethan to school every day and gets them started on their homework in the afternoon while Barbara works for the Maricopa Unified School District in the district office.

“I continue to work,” she said. “I probably would have anyway, but, as any parent knows, raising kids costs money.”

Prior to the father paying child support, the Pietrzaks received a total of $204 per month in state assistance. In addition, the children have AHCCCS medical coverage. During the first six months they had the children, the couple received $150 from a Pinal County program to purchase furniture and major items the kids needed.

Difficult decisions
One of the most difficult decisions for the couple was whether or not to take the children to see their mother in prison.

“After doing some research and having many discussions, we decided that if they were to have any relationship with her, we needed to take them,” Barbara said. The kids were a bit apprehensive at first but now look forward to those monthly visits.

The Pietrzaks find some aspects of childcare exhausting – often the same things they went through with their own children.

“Grandchild siblings fight just like kid siblings fight,” Barbara said. “Some days we have homework wars, and some days they just sit down and get it done. I have to say the biggest challenge is that they have a lot more energy than we do, and it’s hard to keep up with them.”

But there are rich rewards for these grandparents, too.

“We get hugs and kisses; we get to hear about their day at school, and we know their friends and teachers. We get the unconditional love only a child can give,” Barbara said.

Still, on the weekends when the kids are with their dad, “we get a taste of what our lives would be like had things been different.”

Looking forward
Jennifer will be released from prison to a halfway house before the end of the year. The Pietrzaks hope she will become a mother to her children, but only time will tell.

In the meantime, Barbara and Kurt will continue with round two of parenting, which they have been doing for more 30 years.

“Would we do it again? You bet, and we’ll continue until Autumn and Ethan no longer need us.” Barbara said. “They are worth it! It’s not about us; it’s about them.

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Residents of Rancho El Dorado headed to Jane Askew Park Saturday for the community’s 4th Annual Social. An estimated 500 residents turned out for the event.

Bounce houses, a climbing wall, music and dance contests, plus free food and drink, all made the outing a fun time to meet and greet neighbors and friends.

Gift baskets and gift cards from local restaurants and businesses were among the 50 raffle prizes given away.

Representatives from the city’s police and fire departments were in attendance to provide information and give children and adults the chance to see public safety vehicles inside and out.

“This event is a chance for us to build a sense of community and to keep those relationships going over the next year,” said HOA board President Ken Edwards. “It’s a chance to meet your neighbors and find out that your kids all go to the same school.”

Photo by Joyce Hollis

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Maricopa Unified School District’s governing board will meet tonight at 6 p.m. at the district office administration building, 44150 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy.

In addition to approving vouchers and personnel, board members will hear reports on staffing, district data, the use of fields by the district and the city, as well as updates from principals Rick Abel and Bonnie Gibson regarding Maricopa Wells Middle School and Maricopa Elementary School. Maricopa Wells is going into its third year of corrective action, and Maricopa Elementary is a feeder school also looking at school improvement.

A final reading of the extracurricular activity eligibility policy will be provided for board approval The updated policy will feature two-week grade checks with warnings for D grades.

The energy management policy, first presented to the governing board in June, appears on the evening’s agenda for a first reading.

Board members will be asked to approve both a sixth grade “Worth the Wait” sex education curriculum and a fifth grade “Puberty, Growth and Development” curriculum. Both are provided by the Pinal County Health Office school liaison.

The $3.3 million grant provided by the Ak-Chin Indian Community will come to the board for approval tonight. The grant provides for a MUSD Turn Around Project affecting five schools in the district:  Butterfield Elementary School, Maricopa Elementary School, Maricopa Wells Middle School, Maricopa High School and Saddleback Elementary School.

Grant specifics stipulate the hiring of 25 teachers to reduce class sizes. The funds will also allow for a district wide gifted coordinator, and a turn around director will be hired to determine progress and what steps the district needs to take to turn schools around. This individual will work with principals and the state department of education to evaluate teachers and train them in evaluating data. Eight paraprofessionals will also be hired for assessment monitoring.

In addition, the grant will fund four turn around coaches, who will be at the three elementary schools and Maricopa Wells, to provide academic and behavioral intervention and possibly assist with the gifted program. These new positions must all receive board approval.

To see a full agenda for this evening governing board meeting, click here.

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Local resident and recently published author Shelley Gillespie will launch her book, “Hiking for the Couch Potato,” Saturday at the Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W Smith-Enke Rd.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Library, the event will begin at 10 a.m. with a short, humorous presentation by Gillespie, followed by book signings and refreshments.

Books will be available for purchase at $14.95, and a portion of the sales proceeds will be donated to the Friends group.

For those who miss this opportunity, a second book signing will be held on Dec. 5 from 1-3 p.m. at Penascos Mexican Restaurant.

Gillespie credits her husband, Roger, for getting her on the ‘path’ to hiking. Admittedly not an athletic person, she has written a book for those who are exercise-challenged and perhaps faint of heart at the prospect of taking those first steps on the trail to fun and fitness.

As Gillespie says on the book’s web site, “Let’s face it. Moving is an exertion; sitting is much easier.”

The book provides motivational tips for couch potatoes on how to get off the couch and on the trail, discusses hikes that Gillespie has actually taken and would endorse for novices. Potato recipes for couch and non-couch potato eaters are an additional benefit included in the book, the first in what Gillespie plans as a series of couch potato guides.

The Friends of the Maricopa Public Library will also be hosting an open house at the library on Saturday, Nov. 13, from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
 
Members and guests are invited to stop in to meet the Friends and learn who they are and what they do to support the Maricopa Public Library. 
 
Photo by Joyce Hollis

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Copa Kids Care, the MUSD before and after school program, is offering a summer camp for Maricopa children from June 2 through July 30.

Titled ‘Multicultural Playground,’ children are invited to go along for a trip to places like Jamaica, Bolivia and Greece, exploring various cultures through music, dance, art, cooking, physical activities and more.

The camp will be held at Butterfield Elementary School from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays. Breakfast and two snacks will be provided.

Several enrollment options are offered for the camp:

One day per week:  $40 per week
Two days per week:  $75 per week
Three days per week:  $100 per week
Five days per week:  $140 per week

All options are billed in either two or four-week increments. The payment for the June 2-18 enrollment (or June 2-July 2, if paying every four weeks) is due on Friday, May 14.

Contact the Copa Kids Care office at 520-568-5100, ext. 1011, to enroll or visit www.maricopausd.org.

If you enroll:

What:  Copa Kids Care Multicultural Playground summer camp
Where:  Butterfield Elementary School, 43800 W. Honeycutt Rd.
When:  June 2 – July 30; 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost:  $25 registration fee plus enrollment option

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Desert Star Gymnastics and Amy Jamieson Photography will host a holiday photo day on Saturday, Nov. 6, and the public is invited.

Prior to the photo session, 40 gymnasts (ages 3-17) will perform in the Desert Star Gymnastics recital from 10-11 a.m.

Photos are scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Two photo backgrounds will be available: one is a fall setting with leaves, pumpkins and bales of hay; the other is a photo with Santa to make sure this year’s holiday photo is ready for family and friends.

Each 5×7 photo is $15 and can feature one or two individuals or even families. Other photo packages will also be available for purchase.

The photo session is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Desert Star Gymnastics, 44301 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway (in the Stagestop Marketplace). The public is invited to come out and get some holiday photos taken while supporting a good cause. Children’s activities will be available during the photo shoot to keep the little ones engaged.

Photo proceeds will go to help homeless families by providing much needed items such as clothing and personal items.

“This is all about kids helping kids,” said Desert Star Gymnastics director Amy Bratlie.

Photo courtesy of Amy Jamieson Photography

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The wheels on MUSD buses are going round and round—totaling 882,141 miles plus special trip mileage to date.

Transportation Director Fred Laguna was at the governing board meeting Wednesday evening to provide an update on his department.

According to Laguna, the MUSD bus fleet is running 148 regular routes and 255 special needs door-to-door routes. They do this with 17 regular buses, 11 special needs buses, eight vans and three trip buses.  Seven buses are out of service, due to damage or needing engine rebuilds. Two of those seven are off inventory, neither licensed nor insured, and have been for a year and a half.

Board president Geoff Goddard asked, “Are the only options to rebuild them or scrap them altogether?”

Laguna acknowledged that rebuilding the engines would give his department two spare buses. “We have no spares at this time,” he said. “We use our trip buses if they’re not on trips.”

However, the drawback to rebuilding the engines of the two buses would be cost, $15,000-$19,000 each.

Although the transportation department has been working to reduce the number of routes driven, the number of riders per bus route is recommended by the Arizona Department of Transportation. It recommends 52-56 high school or middle school students per bus and 56-66 elementary students per bus. Numbers are based on the physical size of students. “We have to be real careful on each route about the rider capacity,” explained Laguna.

If a bus is over capacity as determined by the driver, another bus is sent out, usually within 15 minutes. “We use two-way radios to communicate and take care of the situation,” said Laguna.

Special needs capacities differ by vehicle, often depending on the number of wheelchairs the vehicle can accommodate. The district has taken over the transportation of special needs students to facilities in the Valley, routes that were previously covered by private contractors.

Dr. Kymberly Marshall, who heads Exceptional Student Services, told the board, “I think we’re going to see increased numbers as far as transportation needs go.” She and Laguna will be meeting next week to determine whether IEPs will permit some special needs students to be transported on regular buses. “There has to be a need tied to special needs busing,” said Marshall.

Laguna outlined for board members the department’s emphasis on improvements and maintaining safety. There are 25 regular route drivers, 11 special needs drivers, three substitute and three office drivers, as well as one mechanic driver in the department, with a need for an additional five substitute drivers and five substitute bus monitors.

Bus simulator training was done last week to practice backing, driving and railroad crossing procedures. The department institutes refresher classroom training, first-aid and CPR training for both drivers and bus monitors, as well as physical performance testing to be able to lift 40 pounds and drag 150 pounds of weight. Laguna will also soon be bringing in transportation directors from neighboring districts to do a peer review of the MUSD department.

Versa Trans routing software, which was purchased by the district last fall, should be in place for the next school year. Goddard inquired about what was taking so long with the implementation of this software.

According to director of business services Aron Rausch, the GPS maps were received last month and are loaded. Student address information has been forwarded to Versa Trans and may take up to 90 days to load.

Thanking Laguna for his detailed report, Goddard noted, “We’re trying to raise the standards across the board; we’re going to get there.”

Photo by Joyce Hollis

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The Church of Celebration (COC) family has spent three months collecting candy, planning and then organizing 250 volunteers for this year’s 4th Annual Maricopa Trick or Treat scheduled for Oct. 31 from 4-8 p.m. at Pacana Park, 1900 N. Porter Rd.

The event will feature carnival games, inflatable jumpers and slides, free popcorn, cotton candy, snow cones, a climbing wall, a hay maze, a monster mash dance, train rides, a kid zone, drawings for raffle prizes sponsored by Wal-mart and a costume contest.

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three winners in three separate costume categories: birth to 5 years; 6-12 years and 13 years and older—so adults can get in on the fun also.

According to Pastor Mat Balgaard, the costume contest and the vast array of Trunk or Treat candy are the most popular portions of the entire event. Children should bring a bag to hold all the candy that will be available, which is donated by church members, businesses and corporations.

Vouchers will also be available at the Church of Celebration tent for a Nov. 7 drawing at both 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. at Maricopa Wells Middle School. The prizes are a Disneyland trip and two cash gift cards.

In addition, part of the Oct. 31 event will be a “need help” area where CAHRA, Against Abuse, the F.O.R. Maricopa food bank and others will be offering information and assistance to local residents and their families.

Why does Church of Celebration undertake this free, safe Trick or Treat event, which last year drew over 12,000 attendees?

“Things are difficult for all of us with or without economic downturns, job losses, foreclosures and rising costs of living,” said Balgaard. “This is just one way COC extends a hand to let people know we’re here for them when they’re ready, and we care.”

Schedule of events:

Event begins                4pm
Raffle                          5pm
Raffle                          6pm
Costume Contest          6:30 pm
    Cash prizes awarded to top three winners in the following categories:
    Birth to 5 years
    Ages 6-12
    Ages 13 and up
Raffle                         7pm
Event closes                8pm

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