Authors Articles byKyle Norby

Kyle Norby

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Rebekah Leon, 50, was detained by police on March 17 on suspicion of trespassing in the first degree.

Around 3 p.m. officers responded to a call on West Chambers Drive in Rancho El Dorado referencing a potential trespassing situation. Officers were in contact with the reporting party via phone call, who identified herself as the mother of Rebekah Leon.

The woman told police that she was in California and was notified by a neighbor watching the residence that Leon was inside the home. The woman wanted her daughter removed.

Police learned that Leon had lived in the home prior to moving to New York In November. Leon’s mother stated she should not have a key to the home, suspecting she must have broken in. Police arrived at the home, where they received a key to the home from the neighbor house-sitting.

Officers knocked on the front door and announced their presence. No one answered. Knocking again and looking through the front window, police saw a Leon in the home, refusing to come to the front door.

Police attempted to use the key to unlock the door, but it did not fit. They noted a small hole and shavings coming out of the keyhole. Officers brought a K9 unit and successfully unlocked the back door of the home with the key. After they re-announcing their presence, Leon came out. She was on her phone, claiming she was talking to her mother.

Leon allegedly claimed she had just flown back from New York due to issues with her roommates. She stated while the residence was her mother’s house, she considered it a family home. She confirmed she did move out in November of last year but lived in the home for years previously.

When asked why she did not get permission to be in the home, Leon said she did not have a good relationship with her mother. She allegedly showed police a receipt for a locksmith she hired to get her in the home. The locksmith drilled into the front door lock until it opened. She reportedly showed the locksmith identification listing the address of the home.

Rebekah Leon was cited with long-form charges for trespassing instead of being arrested and booked into jail.

“Due to COVID-19 we have asked our community police departments to only book those who they consider absolutely necessary,” Pinal County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Lauren Reimer said.



A+ Charter Schools is hosting two virtual Informational Meetings and Question & Answer Sessions for families on April 8 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. The virtual sessions are designed for families interested in enrollment for the 2020-21 school year. The administrative team will be available to share the instructional model and answer questions. 

Rachele Reese, Principal for A+ Charter Schools stated, “During these unprecedented times, as families, schools, and communities navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to offer ways to engage families in a safe and convenient way that meet their current needs. A virtual meeting allows us to connect with families, answer any questions they may have about the school, and be a resource to our community.”

Prior to the virtual meetings, A+ will post a series of videos about the school on their website, as well as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages. These are designed as a resource for families and students who may have questions about the school. For families interested in the virtual Informational Meetings, registration information will be on social media as well.

A+ Charter Schools will be located at 41735 W. Alan Stephens Parkway, west of Banner Health. Construction of the new campus is well underway and will be ready for the Fall 2020 school year. The school has worked in collaboration with the City of Maricopa and has received the building permits necessary for the completion of the building project. 

A+ Charter Schools began enrolling for the 2020-21 school year earlier this year. The school will open with students in grades 7-10 and add grades 11-12 in subsequent years. Space is limited and enrollment is filling up quickly. For families interested in enrollment for grades 7-10, visit the online enrollment portal at For more information, please visit their website at or call 520-265-5589.


Hunter Mullenix (PCSO)

Hunter Mullenix, 19, was arrested Wednesday on expected charges of aggravated assault, disorderly conduct and criminal damage in the amount of approximately $5,000. Police initially described him as a juvenile.

Around 11 a.m. Maricopa police responded to a call involving an individual with a firearm on West Cydnee Drive in the Villages. Men in a 2004 Acura told police Mullenix came out of a house and shot through the windshield, striking a passenger seat where one of them was sitting. The driver stated it was his father’s car.

The man was uninjured from the shot, so they fled from the area and called MPD.

Not long after officers arrived on scene and set up a perimeter in the neighborhood, Mullenix and his girlfriend exited the residence. Mullenix walked directly to the police, who placed him under arrest and handcuffed him. No weapons were found on his person or anywhere outside the home, police reported.

Officers interviewed Mullenix’s girlfriend, who said she was taking a shower when she heard the gunshot. She said she witnessed Mullenix run back in the home and into the garage. Mullenix allegedly admitted to her that he did shoot the car.

In fear of her safety, the woman texted a friend to get her. She claimed Mullenix has anger issues. Hunter Mullenix was booked into Pinal County Jail.

Victor and Robin Jones. Photo by Kyle Norby


Back in October, the Jones family had their lives changed forever. Last time we met with Victor “Grandpa” Jones, he had gone through surgery to remove his failing heart and replace it with a temporary TAH (total artificial heart) until a donor could be found.

Fast forward to now, and the wait is still ongoing for a new heart. With the TAH doing its job and being home from the long hospital stay, Victor still requires 24/7 care that his wife Robin is currently providing.

“Well, I’m out now and mostly mobile. I have a walker. Basically my life consists of going from appointment to appointment now,” Victor Jones said. “Between prescriptions, gas money, things like that and living off just a limited budget, it’s been a little bit of a struggle.”

With such a unique condition, Victor must travel to a dialysis center in Tempe multiple times a week. The facility is the only one certified to accommodate this type of machine in Arizona. Robin has since become certified to operate the machine and perform maintenance to take care of her husband along with some help from their grandsons Darian and Jaylin. The local Maricopa fire department is also trained on the TAH unit if anything happens. Because of this condition, chest compressions are not an option, as they are rendered useless without a heart and with key arteries missing.

“As you can see, I have my stack of bags in the corner because tomorrow we are back on the road again.” – Robin Jones. The pack includes extra batteries, back-up unit, paperwork and medication.

Robin has been unable to go back to work as a health professional at Saddleback Elementary due to taking care of Victor. Being told they make too much from Victor’s social security check of $2,400, the Jones are unable to get in-home care from Medicaid agencies like AHCCCS.

“We have tried different agencies to come in and help, but they are afraid of this (machine),” Robin said.“We did have a nurse come in here. She came in, then she actually quit. After she found out about this device, she said, ‘I can’t handle that.’”

Many agencies do not provide this type of care due to the high-risk nature of Victor’s condition. Robin said if he becomes unplugged, he will die.

Aside from in-home care issues, prices for victor’s medication have also taken a toll on them financially. One of the prescriptions Victor must take three times a day costs $230 after insurance for a 30 day supply. Robin said they use the app ‘GoodRx’ to search for discounts, helping them get the price down to $190 for the prescription.

“First and foremost, again, I would like to thank everybody. It has been a little rough but I don’t want to sit here in a begging type situation,” Victor said. “Getting past all that, I really want to thank everybody for the support.”

“This is my suitcase that I take every day wherever I go. I have a battery pack.” – Victor Jones. Photo by Kyle Norby

Victor’s artificial heart comes in the form of a suitcase-type casing strapped inside a backpack that runs plastic tubes up into his body, doing the work of a heart.  There are four batteries for the machine that provide about three hours of battery life if the unit is not plugged into an outlet. It takes approximately four to six hours to charge batteries. He is able to carry it on his walker and attend social events now, if he is feeling up to it.

“My free time, I’m going to say, is me resting. With appointments, it’s a lot of running around, you get very tired. I try to get as much rest as possible,” Victor said.

While the struggles are overwhelming and money is tight, the Joneses plan to keep moving forward as they have been.

“You have to start over. But I’m better where am I now compared to rehab, where I had to learn to walk again. Basically, like a baby,” Victor said.

The Banner medical team that has been with Victor since the beginning of his journey has been very receptive and accommodating to the couple’s needs, Robin said. If something is abnormal, they can send photos to the team and get immediate responses.

Still searching for a heart, “Grandpa” Jones’s story is far from over.

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Pvt. Daniel Rojas (left) and Pvt. Oswaldo Sanchez visited home after boot camp. Photo by Kyle Norby


Maricopa has two new U.S. Marines back home after graduation and eager to serve their country. Stationed at the Marine Corps Recruitment Depot in San Diego, California, Pvt. Daniel Rojas and Pvt. Oswaldo Sanchez graduated from boot camp Friday and made the rounds in town to visit some of the people that made their career possible.

Graduating from Maricopa High School in 2018, Daniel Rojas, 19, stopped by to see some of his old teachers as well as kids in the JROTC program. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Rojas has done much of his growing up in Arizona, moving to the state when he was 6 years old.

“I decided I wanted to join the Marine Corps to help me basically better my future in becoming a DEA agent later on,” Rojas said. “I just want to serve my country and make sure that I keep this country safe for not only my family but everybody else.”

Oswaldo Sanchez, 22, is a native Arizonan who has lived in Maricopa since the early 2000s. Attending Casa Grande Union High School and not finishing, Sanchez had a different path before joining the Marines. Working as a truck driver, Sanchez enjoyed the money but did not feel like he had a fulfilling life.

Sanchez said he first felt interest in the Marines when a cousin enlisted around 2010. After seeing his transformation and how sharp he looked in his uniform, Sanchez knew that was what he wanted to do.

“I wanted the challenge and I didn’t like where I was at in life. I lived a comfortable life,” Sanchez said. “I started doing some research into the Marine Corps, you know, found out that’s the branch I wanted to enlist with. So, I went back to online high school and got my diploma.”

MHS Recruiting Sgt. Tylor Henson accompanied the men on their trip home and has seen their transformation.

“Some of the things that they went through in boot camp was a lot of leadership training, physical training and mental training to prepare them for what they’re going to go through later on in their Marine Corps careers,” Henson said. “When they get back, they usually stand a little bit taller and have a little bit more respect for everybody. Hold themselves to a higher standard like we see the Marines as.”

(left to right:) Pvt. Daniel Rojas, Sgt. Tylor Henson and Pvt. Oswaldo Sanchez. Photo by Kyle Norby

When asked what advice they would give to young people interested in the U.S. Armed Forces, both Marines agreed quitting isn’t an answer, and neither is underestimating yourself.

“Don’t quit. Never quit. Quitting is not an option,” Sanchez said. “Like, once you get there, you gotta make it out; you gotta make it through. It’s a one-way tunnel.”

Rojas agreed and stated, “Once you make it out, you just have that feeling of ‘I just accomplished something that most of the population can’t even do,’ and it just makes you feel like you have it. It’s that pride of the Marine Corps.”

Ricardo Deleon (PCSO)


Ricardo Deleon Jr., 31, was arrested Sunday on suspected charges of driving under the influence and misconduct involving weapons.

Maricopa police conducted a traffic stop on a Dodge Durango around 10 p.m. Sunday night after the vehicle was seen continuously going from one lane to the other on State Route 347. Officers stated the vehicle was “slow to stop” and was pulled over near Cobblestone Farms Drive.

Police identified the driver as Deleon and asked him if he had any weapons within the vehicle. He allegedly stated he did not. They asked him to exit the vehicle for Standardized Field Sobriety Testing, again asking if he had any weapons on his person. Deleon claimed he had a pocketknife but believed it was in the vehicle.

Police patted Deleon down and located an empty handgun holster on his right side. When asked where the firearm was, he allegedly claimed he did not have one and denied officers consent to search his vehicle for the gun.

Upon completely the field sobriety test, Deleon displayed signs of impairment and was placed under arrest for DUI, according to the report. Deleon refused to provide a blood sample.

Deleon’s vehicle was towed from the scene, and inventory of the car’s contents was conducted. Officers allegedly discovered a loaded handgun under the driver’s seat that matched the holster worn by Deleon.

“Ricardo knowingly failed to accurately answer whether he possessed a weapon when I asked him during the initial contact,” the police report stated.

Deleon was booked into Pinal County Jail.


Roberto Luz (PCSO)

Just before 2 a.m. March 5, Maricopa Police had a car chase with a suspected drunk driver.

MPD received a call from Arizona Department of Public Safety regarding a report of an erratic driver southbound on 347, entering Maricopa.

“Our units spotted the vehicle because traffic is obviously light that early in the morning,” MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said. “We attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle. The vehicle fled from our officers and started heading towards Santa Rosa Springs.”

The vehicle reportedly hit speeds of 90 mph. Police used a stop stick on the fleeing vehicle and were able to successfully deflate two of the tires during the pursuit. The vehicle came to a stop on the corner of West Plata Street and Rosa Drive in the Santa Rosa Springs subdivision.

The driver, later identified as Roberto Luz, allegedly bailed from the vehicle and was later found in a backyard not too far from the abandoned vehicle.

Reaching speeds of over 90 miles per hour, police utilized a stop stick on the fleeing vehicle and were able to successfully deflate two of the tires during the pursuit. The vehicle came to a stop on the corner of West Plata Street and Rosa Drive in the Santa Rosa Springs subdivision.

The driver, later identified as Roberto Luz, 28, allegedly bailed from the vehicle and was later found in a backyard not too far from the abandoned vehicle. A meth pipe was found near the location where Luz was taken into custody. He allegedly admitted it was his.

Before officers located Luz, a search was conducted on the abandoned vehicle. According to the report, police located 81.7 grams of methamphetamine under the floorboard of the driver’s side. Ten plastic baggies were found packaged, individually labeled with numbers. A digital scale was located among the packages as well. It also noted the vehicle did not belong to Luz.

Luz was booked in Pinal County Jail on suspected charges of possession of drug paraphernalia; possession of dangerous drugs; possession of dangerous drugs to sell; transportation of dangerous drugs to sell; unlawful flight; reckless driving; criminal damage; and trespassing in the first degree.

Four other unrelated warranted were active during the time of Luz’s arrested

Ron Smith

By Ron Smith

Ron Smith

In February, InMaricopa provided an introduction to the topic of aging-in-place. We will continue the topic to help provide insight into many of the facets of aging-in-place. Whether you’re just approaching retirement, already in retirement or are trying to help a relative who is currently facing aging issues, there should be many topics of interest to you.

Planning is not the typical strength of most people approaching retirement. Per a 2018 study conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Northwestern Mutual, one-third of Baby Boomers have less than $25,000 in retirement savings. In addition, many approaching retirement have their eyes focused on an active-adult lifestyle. The notion of aging and all the things that potentially accompany it are often not high on the new retiree’s planning sheet.

Aging-in-place considerations should be factored into retirement decisions as early as possible. We often don’t think about access problems caused by entry steps, staircases, narrow doors and hallways until that first knee or hip operation.

Having to move to another house because your initial “forever” home can’t accommodate your needs can be both costly and disruptive.

What you want is an “adaptable” home, i.e. one that can change to meet changing needs caused by growing old. The more adaptable the home is, the less costly it will be to make those necessary accommodations in the future. Better yet, it might help avoid a costly move due to the high cost of a retrofit needed to remain in your own home.

Keep in mind, accessibility is not the only consideration because other issues, like the need for skilled nursing care or dementia safety, may demand another solution.

As part of your planning, considerations for the availability of other senior-support services in the area are helpful to maintain support networks, social connections and in-home medical assistance when needed.

It is probably unwise to assume aging won’t happen. Planning for aging-in-place is a personally responsible way of coping with unexpected changes that can be life-altering events and potentially lead to institutionalized long-term care.

Aging-in-place planning can help a person live in their own home longer. There are many excellent resources available through AARP and the National Institute on Aging to aid in your planning.

Ron Smith is an aging-in-place advocate. He is also a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee and a member of the Maricopa Senior Coalition.

This column appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

Joan Koczor
Joan Koczor

By Joan Koczor

Many of you have heard or read about Freon R-22 and how the oils in R-22 destroy the ozone. According to the Clean Air Act of 1990, R-22 is a harmful refrigerant and currently being phased out of use. Homeowners are now recommended to use Puron, or 410A, refrigerant to maintain indoor comfort.

In 2004, there was a 35% reduction in R-22 production the quantities available have diminished over the years. Now in 2020 a 99.5 % reduction in the production of R-22. Simply put, the law of supply and demand will prevail with the price of each pound of refrigerant increasing dramatically. Prices have risen from $100 to $300 a pound.

My concern is if R-22 becomes unavailable – or unaffordable – and we have to use 410A, does that mean we need to replace the air conditioning unit? So, I asked an expert in the A/C field – my son Dan. Information he provided is based on his years of experience in the heating and air conditioning business.

He said R-22 can be replaced. To do so, you would need to replace the unit; the A coil inside and the condenser outside. Lines could be cleaned, but it is best to replace.

Dan also said there is no need to panic. Many units in Maricopa and cities in Arizona may already be using 410A. Each A/C unit has a label that lists the type of freon being used. It’s easy to check what type of Freon is in your A/C unit.

If your current A/C service person suggests changes that are expensive, get a second opinion. If you question the repairs they are suggesting, get a second opinion. Disreputable service persons target seniors. They are the most vulnerable. Seniors know there is a need for a properly working A/C unit, especially in the Arizona heat.

Dan advises to always question a service person who cleans your A/C unit and tells you they had to add freon because of a leak. An A/C system is sealed so there is no need to replace freon unless a noticeable leak is present. Just a practice some A/C service persons use, especially targeting seniors, to increase the cost of the service call.

Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee.

This column appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The least expensive home sold in Maricopa Jan. 16-Feb. 15 was a cozy, 14-year-old, one-owner home with all the basics in the Alterra subdivision. It had new xeriscaping in back with a patio. It sold for $4,000 under its asking price.

  1. 45004 W. Sage Brush Drive, Alterra

Sold: Feb. 8

Purchase Price: $175,000

Square Footage: 1383

Price per sq. ft.: $126.53

Days on market: 199

Builder: unknown

Year built: 2006

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 2

Community: Alterra South

Features: New paint, new carpet, clean backyard, near Copper Sky


  1. 45182 W. Gavilan Drive, Acacia Crossing ……………………………………….. $180,000
  2. 42979 W. Martie Lynn Road, Senita ………………………………………………. $185,000
  3. 43859 W. Baker Drive, Rancho El Dorado ………………………………………. $186,500
  4. 41328 W. Pryor Lane, Homestead North ………………………………………… $191,000

This item appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.


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Brian Petersheim

By Brian Petersheim

Maricopa Real estate market inventory drying up while sellers sit in the driver’s seat.

The number of homes currently for sale in the city of Maricopa is as low as I have seen it since I have started tracking monthly sales in 2015.

As of today March 4th 2020, there are only 165 homes currently for sale in the city of Maricopa. The 165 homes are only the homes not currently under a contract and looking for offers.

Normal monthly inventory averages around 300-325 homes available.

It’s not just Maricopa that is feeling the tightening of local inventory. I have been keeping in touch with agents throughout the Valley daily, and they are experiencing the same issues in the rest of the Phoenix Metro area.

I am hearing many stories of homes being listed on the MLS on a Friday, and by Sunday evening, there are multiple offers. Some of those buyers are even waiving and inspection or appraisal contingency to get their offer accepted, which was more common in the booming real estate market of 2005/2006.

 Feb 2020        Feb 2019

# of homes for sale                            165                    378

Average sale price in                   $234,695          $221,146

Average price per sqft                     $117                   $107

Average days on the market             57                       63


These are the numbers for the city of Maricopa for the month of FEBRUARY 2020

These numbers only focus on the homes in HOA’ed subdivisions, since the non HOA areas are so diverse.

165 Homes currently available for sale, not under contract, looking for offers

269 Homes currently under contract (should close escrow within 45 days pending inspection, appraisal, etc)



29 of the sold homes had a built in private pool.

$170,000 Least expensive home sold Feb 2020- Notes: 3 bed/2bath 1393sqft in Tortosa 35710 N Velasquez


$430,000 Most expensive home sold Feb 2020- Notes: 5bed/4bath 4270sqft home on the lake, with dock and pool. Loaded with upgrades! 40938 N. Chambers in the Lakes @ Rancho El Dorado

9 Homes sold in Province (active adult community)

35 Of the sold homes were new build/spec homes


Number of bedrooms- 165 sold homes

2 bed-5

3 bed- 77

4 bed- 63

5 bed- 18

6 bed- 2

7+ bed- 0


Garage parking: of the 165 sold

2 car- 141

3 car- 22

4 car- 2


Price ranges of the 165 sold:

$150,001-175,000—- 3

$175,001-200,000—- 27

$200,001-225,000—- 57

$225,001-250,000—- 32

$251,001-275,000—- 24

$275,001-300,000—- 11

$300,001-350,000—- 6

$350,001-400,000—- 3

$400,001+ —- 2

Bottom line: The market is strong, and homes that are priced competitively are selling very quickly. Get out there and meet your new neighbor! Please consult a local Real Estate professional for help buying or selling a home.

Please consult a local Real Estate professional for help buying or selling a home.

Brian Petersheim
HomeSmart Realty

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Photo by Raven Figueroa

The most expensive home sold in Maricopa Jan. 16-Feb. 15 was a two-story Horton home on a corner lot in Homestead. It sold for its asking price, 3.7% higher than its sale price a year ago. The private pool is salt water with travertine decking. The property sold for its asking price.

  1. 41039 W. Robbins Drive, Homestead

Sold:  Feb. 14

Purchase Price: $360,000

Square Footage: 3,527

Price per sq. ft:  $102.06

Days on market:  48

Builder: DR Horton

Year built: 2007

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 2.5

Community: Homestead North

Features:  Corner lot, four-car garage, granite countertops, wet bar, covered patio, pool, synthetic grass, built-in barbecue, two balconies


  1. 44566 W. Granite Drive, Cobblestone Farms …………………………….. $299,000
  2. 43242 W. McCord Drive, The Villages ……………………………………….. $287,000
  3. 44156 W. High Desert Trail, Cobblestone ………………………………….. $285,000
  4. 38094 W. Padilla St., Rancho Mirage …………………………………………. $283,990

This item appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

Maricopa High School varsity baseball head coach Brad Vericker. Photo by Kyle Norby

With baseball season under way, no one is more excited to play some ball than Maricopa High School’s new varsity coach, Brad Vericker. Having been a volunteer coach for MHS previously when he worked in fuel and oil sales, he is now a full-time teacher at the high school and was eager to get back on the field when Maricopa varsity’s coach Andrew Pollak stepped down after many years.

Starting his baseball career at Corona Del Sol High School in Tempe, Vericker went on to play college and professional baseball. Watch the video below to get to know more about Coach Vericker:

The Rams started the season by going 2-2 in their home tourney, the Tomas Pinon/Matt Huffman Memorial Tournament, last week. They defeated Tempe, 12-5, and McClintock, 7-5, before losing to Mesa, 12-1, and Seton Catholic, 13-5.

Monday, MHS started the regular season with a home loss to Paradise Valley, 8-2. Junior Johnathan Leyva and sophomore Kahleb Bell each had two hits. Senior Parker Hunsaker scored both runs for Maricopa. Bell started the game on the mound and took the loss.

Maricopa women are part of the Casa Grande Roller Derby league. Photo by Kyle Norby

When we think of the competitive sport of roller derby, fast-paced, rough bouts and powerful women often come to mind. While true, many of these players may not be whom you’d expect.

The modern revival of this roller skate-based sport has a worldwide fandom, but it is much more than a game to the players who participate.

For the women of Casa Grande Roller Derby, the sport and spectacle have become a lifestyle, and they see each other as family. Four CGRD women from Maricopa have adopted this lifestyle.

Ellen Zoretic. Photos by Kyle Norby

Ellen Zoretic (Victoria Vangore)
Quote: “I try to eat, sleep and breathe roller derby.”

Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Ellen Zoretic found herself moving to Maricopa in 2011 with most of her family for better weather and cheaper homes. She fell in love with the community.

“It’s been five years since I started roller derby,” Zoretic said. “The truth is that my boyfriend at the time, who I’m still currently with, got into a really serious car accident and he needed to go back to his mom in Illinois and recover. He almost lost his life.”

Zoretic said she and her family attended a roller derby match in Phoenix. Loving what she saw, she wanted to pick up a new hobby while her boyfriend was away. Zoretic went to beginner tryouts the next day. Starting on bank track, an angled field instead of flat, Zoretic developed her persona, “Victoria Vangore,” often shortened to just “Gore” by her team.

Photo by Kyle Norby

After a successful career on the Hot Shots traveling derby team, Gore now plays jammer with the Arizona Coffin Draggers. She also joined the Casa Grande league, became a star player and now plans to focus on being of CGRD’s flagship team, The Big House Bombers.

Balancing the team with her everyday job as a teacher has been challenging but worth it, she said. Graduating from Ohio Dominican University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Zoretic didn’t expect to become an art teacher. After coming to Maricopa, Ellen fell into teaching as a substitute for Maricopa Unified School District. After three years, the district offered her a position as an art teacher. She teaches at Pima Butte Elementary and Maricopa Elementary.

“This is my fifth year in art, kindergarten through fifth grade,” Zoretic said. “I love it. The satisfaction of just knowing that I’m making a difference in their lives and knowing that art is a special area. I mean, a lot of people come to me telling me about their students who have behavioral problems or aren’t good in math and writing. Then when they get to art, they just flourish.”

Zoretic eventually would like to combine her love of art and degree in psychology to work as an art therapist.

April Stovall. Photos by Kyle Norby

April Stovall (April May Dismember)
Quote: “If you’re not falling down, you’re not trying hard enough.”

Growing up in Arizona and graduating from Casa Grande and living in Maricopa, April Stovall has seen a lot of change in Western Pinal County. She has worked at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino for 20 years.

“I started in security back in 1999, then I transferred into surveillance and fell in love with it,” Stovall said. “I took on facilities about 10 years ago. It just kept growing over time, just working my way up.”

Photo by Kyle Norby

While Stovall loves her job, she admits to being a workaholic and wanting something more.

“My daughter graduated from high school, moved out. Things were changing,” Stovall said. “Roller derby was on my bucket list. I Googled “roller derby Arizona.” AZRD (Arizona Roller Derby) came up, and I went to their new-skater orientation. I skated with them for the first three years.”

Her derby name, April May Dismember, stemmed from using months and a word that “incorporated strength and power.”

“Kind of long, but it’s catchy,” Stovall said with a smile. She spoke of the fun of getting into her derby character as a nice contrast from her professional, busy work environment.

Once CGRD was established, Stovall and Chachi Patron transferred to the Bombers. April is now the CGRD manager and oversees all the organization’s operations as well as jam for the team. April is entering her fifth year of roller derby.

“Roller derby to me is probably the hardest, most empowering thing I’ve ever done in my entire life,” Stovall said. “It’s an inclusive sport for people of all backgrounds. I love our mission statement: “We empower women through roller derby and serving the community as a team.”

Corinna Velasco-Ivancovich. Photos by Kyle Norby

Corinna Velasco-Ivancovich (Chachi Patron)
Quote: “We’ve prayed a lot, and I really think our league has been blessed.

Corinna Velasco-Ivancovich has been in the world of derby the longest between the three women. When InMaricopa met Velasco-Ivancovich in 2011, she was a member of the Surlie Gurlies in Phoenix, out with a torn meniscus. Having fully recovered, Velasco-Ivancovich has continued her derby career of 14 years, playing with the Big House Bombers since 2018.

“When I started, I was 36. I just got out of a really bad relationship that was kind of abusive,” Velasco-Ivancovich said. “My kid’s dad was an alcoholic, and I wanted to get into something that kept me busy.”

Photo by Kyle Norby

While Velasco-Ivancovich grew up, she watched her father play hockey. Fascinated by the female hockey players she would see at the rink, she decided to take up a different kind of skating. After learning the sport of roller derby, she joined an AZRD team.

“I think there’s a lot of people that’ll lift you up,” said the 10-year Maricopa resident. “If you don’t have like a lot of women that don’t have really close friends, they can find friends.”

The name Chachi Patron was born from banter with a work friend with whom she would always talk like mobsters.

“She would always call me Chachi, so I was like maybe I’ll keep it then,” Velasco-Ivancovich said with a laugh. “I came up with Patron because it was kind of catchy and I’m short and stubby like Patron.”

A single mother of three for many years, Velasco-Ivancovich married in 2009 and cited her Christian beliefs for many of her and the league’s successes.

“There’s been a lot of blessings. You can see in the short amount of time, like the whole community supports us.”

CGRD continues to grow, most recently with its purchase and revitalization of the Casa Grande Boys and Girls Club gymnasium as their base of operations and practice facility. With local women joining the league frequently, a Maricopa roller derby league may be in the future.

Hannah Norby. Photos by Kyle Norby

Hannah Norby (Julia Wild)
Quote: “Once you do it, you’ll fall in love with it”

CGRD welcomes new players into their league with open arms, just as they were welcomed when they began. This has led to more “fresh meat,” what they call newcomers. Still fairly new to the Roller Derby scene, Hannah Norby has fully embraced the sport and finds it as a perfect outlet to get some aggression out.

“In March will be my year anniversary playing derby,” Norby said. “I thought this sport would be up my alley, so I just took the leap of faith and went to one of the meets-and-greets in Casa Grande. Everyone was so sweet and nice, so I ordered my skates and started soon after.”

Photo by Kyle Norby

In her day-to-day life, Norby is a Culinary Arts teacher at Maricopa High School, where she graduated in 2016. After working a handful of cooking jobs in Las Vegas and graduating from the Art Institute there, she decided to move back to her hometown and apply for the open culinary position. Norby now works with her old culinary mentor from high school, teaching the programs she went through. With a clear passion for the kitchen and the art of cooking, picking a derby identity that reflected it was important.

Keeping the theme of food and chefs in mind, Norby decided on the name, “Julia Wild,” inspired by the famous American cooking teacher and TV personality Julia Child.

“It would have been Julie Wild or Bobby Slay,” Norby laughed. “Wild just really stuck with me and felt like it described me.”

Norby finds the balance between work and derby to be a very familiar one.

“I used to play soccer in high school, and I ended up quitting,” She said. “I had like a few years of not doing anything athletic and I really wanted to get into another sport, something to have fun.”

Confident in the growth of the league and becoming a stronger player, Norby is excited to see new faces and encourages anyone with doubts or are nervous to come check them out.

“Every girl felt the same way when they started,” she said. “You just have to take that leap of faith.”

Hannah Norby is the wife of author/photographer Kyle Norby.



Maricopans (from left) Hannah Norby, Ellen Zoretic, April Stovall and Cirinna Velasco-Ivancovich are part of the roller derby league. Photo by Kyle Norby

Roller Derby
Teams of up to five players skate two 30-minute periods, which are comprised of jams lasting up to two minutes each. During a jam, four blockers on each team form a pack with their jammer behind them. Jammers must get through the pack and then around to lap the blockers. A point is scored for every opposing blocker lapped. There are 30 seconds between each jam.

Jammer, wearing a star helmet cover, scores points by lapping opposing blockers.
Blocker forms the pack, hinders the opposing jammer from passing through the pack, and helps their team’s jammer pass through the pack.
Pivot blocker may become a jammer during a legal transfer of the star.

This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

CGRD celebrating their new home gym.

Remy Nieves (right, with brother Rayden) suffered a medical emergency when he was 3, a difficulty for his self-employed father. Submitted photo

Health insurance has been a hot topic in the nation for a long time. With programs such as the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” being inconsistent even when available, the healthcare hurdles and the ramifications of an unexpected medical problem are an everyday struggle for many Maricopans.

Ray Nieves, owner/operator of 911 Air Repair, recounted his battle with an insurance company after his oldest son was attacked by their dog. In July 2018, Nieves was on a job in Gilbert when he began receiving calls from his wife McKenzie.

“When I’m with a customer I usually don’t answer the phone. Obviously, we’re trying to maintain professionalism,” Nieves said. “So, I kind of just hit ‘ignore.’”

When a third call came in, Ray answered and received horrifying news — their German shepherd had bitten the head of their 3-year-old son Remy.

“The first responders and everybody showed up before I got there,” Nieves said. “They got him wrapped up, wrapped his head and put him in the ambulance. They were taking him to the children’s hospital in Mesa.”

Remy never lost consciousness, but the doctors determined his skull was fractured.

“They were really concerned with any skull fragments getting into his brain,” Ray recalled. “So, they had to go and do surgery. They brought a pediatric neurosurgeon who went ahead and ensured that there wasn’t anything in there.”

After a few days of monitoring in the hospital and 19 staples, Remy was back to a happy kid, albeit with a shaved head from surgery. Ray and McKenzie decided to shave their youngest son Rayden’s head as well.

“We tried to help him be a little bit more comfortable,” Nieves said with a smile.

Then the medical bills began rolling in.

“[It was] $10,000 for this, $2,000 for that, $15,000 here. It added up very, very, very quickly,” he said.

Nieves described the difficulty in acquiring and providing affordable health insurance as a self-employed, small-business owner.

In a 2019 survey published by The Kaiser Family Foundation, small businesses in the United States that do not provide health-care
benefits to their employees still cite the cost as the central reason. The survey reported the average annual premiums as $7,188 for single coverage and $20,576 for families.

“When you are self-employed it’s very difficult to get health insurance,” Nieves said. “It’s kind of like a pay-to-play thing. I’m paying more than my mortgage to have insurance for my family. You know, 1,500 bucks a month to carry insurance that isn’t even the best insurance available.”

“There needs to be reform when it comes to stuff like that, and I just don’t think that anybody’s coming forth with long-term solutions,” Nieves said. “I mean, it’s always been a really touchy subject as far as health insurance and stuff go. To me, it seems that it’s a really bad industry because there’s a lot of money involved. You see what the CEOs and stuff are making, and I’m not against them making money. I mean, that is capitalism, but it’s also a human right.”

Medicaid programs such as Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) aim to provide care for low-income households that otherwise would not have insurance. The Census Bureau estimated 4,000 Maricopans — 7.8% of its population of 50,000-plus — were without health insurance in 2018.

U.S. Department of Health data shows 17.4% of children in Pinal County are not covered by health insurance.

Nieves is not hopeful the status of U.S. health care will change anytime soon: “There’s just a lot of stuff that comes into play, and that just goes to show you why it’s such a difficult problem to solve.”

Dr. Philip Wazny, NMD, believes no one knows how to solve the health-care problem, at least not yet.

“Looking at the medical literature, wages and income have not kept up with deductibles,” Wazny said. “It is at the point where patients are not coming in for what may seem like just a cough, now it’s bronchitis or pneumonia.”

Wazny described this lull in people going to doctors in fear of being charged as an “unfortunate rebound” because people could end up with a far more severe ailment if left untreated, oftentimes high blood pressure or diabetes. He said people should be able to choose how they are treated, but with so many big companies involved, it could be quite a while before the nation sees a shift.

“I really think the doctors get paid through the pharmacies, and I really personally do not like doctors,” said Manny Chavez, owner of Prestige Landscaping. “It went from healthcare to a money gold mine.”

He is not in a position to offer health insurance to employees and said they are covered by liability insurance if they are injured on the job. “If the employee gets hurt or not, I’m still paying so much for how many hours they work,” he said. “I still get charged from unemployment insurance, and that’s like the biggest killer to me.”

Health insurance and even healthcare was not a priority when he was growing up, just the work.

“As a Mexican, you were never going to the doctor, and you couldn’t afford it anyway,” Chavez said. “Personally, we were never really supposed to retire. We were supposed to work until our body just quit.”

He said the U.S. healthcare system isn’t necessarily rigged on purpose, “it just happened the way it happened, and everybody’s in each other’s pocket.”

With the Affordable Care Act turning 10 years old, new steps are being made to further solve problems presented to patients in the medical industry. In December, U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions and bipartisan House leaders approved the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019.

According to a summary of the proposed legislation by the House Committee on Ways & Means, included in this agreement is the protection of patients and families from surprise billing with a system for “independent dispute resolution often called arbitration.”

These proposals could protect millions of Americans just like the Nieves family who happen to fall victim to the expensive and intimidating health-care system.

This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

Around 10 a.m. this morning, reports came in of a body found south of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene now described as North Anderson Road at the Santa Cruz Wash.

“We have been able to positively identify the body. We are not releasing a name at this time as we are still in the process of notifying next of kin,” PSCO spokeswoman Lauren Reimer said. “It has been determined the individual is an adult male, and we are working with the Medical Examiner to determine the exact cause of death.”

No further information is known at this time as the investigation is ongoing.

The victim in the fatal, two-vehicle collision involving a wrong-way driver that occurred on State Route 347 Sunday has been identified as Ma C. Ponce, 67, from Mesa, according to the Department of Public Safety.

“[The] name of the wrong-way driver cannot be provided at this time due to the fact that he is hospitalized,” said DPS spokesman Bart Graves. “The male, age 31, is from Maricopa and charges are pending his release from the hospital.”

According to the initial report from DPS, the wrong-way driver was traveling north in the southbound lanes around midnight Sunday when he impacted another vehicle head-on.

More information will be provided once the investigation has concluded.


The investigation is still ongoing in a fatal, two-vehicle collision involving a wrong-way driver that occurred on State Route 347 near Casa Blanca Road around midnight.

According to Arizona Department of Public Safety, the wrong-way driver was traveling north in the southbound lanes when he impacted another vehicle head-on. The driver was taken to a local hospital where he is currently being treated for serious injuries.

The other driver was pronounced deceased at the hospital.

“AZDPS detectives are leading the investigation and believe impairment is a factor,” said DPS spokesman Bart Graves. “We’ll put out a general update once we hear back from the investigators.”

Sponsored Content

Toma Fitzgerald and Terry Leamon of My Maricopa Plumber.

By Terry Leamon
My Maricopa Plumber

Periodically giving your water softener a checkup will keep it running efficiently and help you avoid maintenance costs associated with hard water. Here are some DIY best practices:

Avoid salt bridges and salt-mushing
A salt bridge occurs when a hard crust forms in the brine tank and creates an empty space between the water and the salt, preventing the salt from dissolving into the water to make brine. Without brine, the resin beads that soften your water can’t do their job. Common causes of bridging include high humidity, temperature changes and using the wrong salt. You may have a salt bridge if your salt tank appears full but you know your water isn’t soft. The quickest way to test for a salt bridge is to take a broom handle and carefully push on the top of the salt, using a little bit of pressure to break it up.

Salt-mushing is the more serious of the two problems and happens when dissolved salt recrystallizes and forms a sludge on the bottom of the brine tank. This thick layer of salt keeps the water softener from properly cycling through the regeneration process, leaving your water hard and creating a serious blockage in the tank. To avoid these salt issues, opt for high-quality salt pellets, which greatly reduce the potential for any problems — especially salt-mushing. Additionally, don’t overfill your brine tank with salt. Keeping it half-full prevents older salt from sticking to the walls of the tank. It’s also important to manage the humidity level around your water softener.

Be selective with your salt choice
There are three basic types of water softener salt: rock, solar and evaporated. Rock salt, the least expensive, contains higher levels of insoluble minerals or impurities. Over time, this can result in a muddy tank, decreasing the softening efficiency while leaving impurities in your water. Solar salt, which is much more
soluble than rock salt, is obtained by the evaporation of seawater and is found in both pellet and crystal form. The best option is evaporated salt, which is obtained through a combination of mining and evaporation. This is the purest form of salt at 99.99% sodium chloride.

In general, look for high purity salts, which will leave less storage tank residue lowering the likelihood of salt bridges and salt-mushing and resulting in less maintenance. High-quality salts — and salts in pellet form — help eliminate bridging problems. Additionally, many leading brands also offer salt products that address specific issues, such as high iron concentration, rust stains and sodium alternatives.

This column appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

Jeannette Dubois (PCSO)

Jeanette Dubois, 53, was arrested on an outstanding warrant on Feb. 10 near Farrell Road in Maricopa.

MPD received a call requesting a welfare check for a “white female, laying face down in a ditch in the area.” Officers arrived and found the woman and her identification.

Dispatch notified police that Dubois had a failure to appear warrant out of Maricopa Superior Court. She was also arrested in the City of Maricopa back in November.

Police placed Jeannette under arrest, and she was transported to Pinal County Jail.

Dubois was arrested again on Feb. 13 in Maricopa County on charges of possession of dangerous drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Barbara and Pastor Steve Adamson have led Maricopa Community Church 25 years. Photos by Kyle Norby

A lot can happen in 25 years. We grow old, build new relationships, lose old ones. However, one thing that hasn’t changed for the Stephen and Barbara Adamson is their commitment to God and preaching to the residents of Maricopa.

Maricopa Community Church celebrated its 25-year anniversary Sunday with a lunch for churchgoers to connect and reflect on the many years Pastor Steve has been leading the ministry. The lunch also included a paper-crafted timeline along the walls where people could write messages and life events and put pictures for specific years of the church lifespan.

Pastor Steve recalled the beginning of the Church’s life and Maricopa’s roots.

“The Lord is good, and then the quality of small-town people can’t be downplayed,” he said. “It really is a wonderful thing to know so many quality people and to be able to really share in each other’s lives.”

Barbara Adamson has been by his side all through the years and has contributed to the success of the church in all aspects. Mainly focused on their senior ministry, she embraces the growing and diverse city Maricopa is becoming.

“We were glad we got to live here before the city grew, so we got to experience the culture of old Maricopa before, when people were still saying, ‘Oh, it’ll never grow,’” Barb said with a laugh. “To be a part of that culture and then to grow into a more signature church, we still really know how to love God and love each other.”

Maricopa Community Church has gained new followers and recognition in recent years with its annual events, notably the Fall Fling and Spring Fling craft and vendor events.

Event organizer Robin Bennett has been in charge of all events put on by the church and said she does so to give more exposure to her great church whose services she has been attending since the very beginning.

“We didn’t start having events until about 10 years ago, starting with the fall and spring fling,” she said. “The church is now used every day of the week.”

Bennett said Barbara and Pastor Steve don’t just preach sermons every Sunday.

“It’s not just their job. They are friends,” Bennett said.

Looking to the future, Maricopa Community Church has its focus on raising funds for  a new building on its property to accommodate its growing services and improving its youth ministry. This would also allow more event opportunities and a space for all to worship together.

“We know that the City is thinking that its probably gonna double in the next 10 years, and so our challenge is to try to meet that potential and to be able to reach out with this same sort of personal touch that we’ve always had,” Stephen Adamson said with a smile.

First responders and witnesses at the scene. Photos by Kyle Norby

A vehicle rolled over on the 238 highway around 10 a.m. Friday.

The vehicle was traveling west on State Route 238 when it attempted to pass another westbound vehicle, misjudging the timing of a vehicle traveling east. The westbound driver swerved off the road into an Electrical District No. 3 powerline pole and rolled. Two people and two dogs were in the vehicle.

“The 2 occupants being transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries,” MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said.

One dog is currently missing.

Aaron Littleman (PCSO)

Aaron Littleman, 37, was arrested on the morning Feb. 1 on suspected charges of aggravated extreme DUI.

Police received reports of a vehicle that had driven off the road near West Smith-Enke Road and was stuck in a ditch. When officers arrived on the scene, they found Littleman, whom they described as heavily intoxicated, behind the wheel of his vehicle. The car was lodged in a washout area on the shoulder after it left the road and went through a greenbelt.

Allegedly refusing to cooperate with the officer’s requests, Littleman was reported as visibly intoxicated and smelling of hard liquor. He refused to stay seated in his vehicle and was placed under arrest by police, according to the report. While searching his vehicle, police alleged they found multiple open containers of vodka.

Dispatch notified officers that Littleman already had his license revoked for past DUIs. Littleman allegedly told officers he had been parked in Apache Junction when he began drinking on his way to Maricopa.

Aaron Littleman was booked into Pinal County Jail.

Photo by Victor Moreno

When it comes to the small-town atmosphere that many Maricopa residents love, the Rev. Jay Luczak is no different. Having been a priest for over 27 years, Luczak has spent all his career in tight-knit communities in Arizona.

Luczak, known by the parish as Father Jay, has been the pastor at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church since August.

“I like small-town atmospheres. Miami was a small copper-mining town,” Luczak said. “Then I was in Nogales. I still had three years left in my term there and I was planning on staying there for at least those three years. But the bishop asked me to come here.”

In effect, he traded posts with Our Lady’s previous pastor, Rev. Marcos Velásquez, who had served in Nogales before coming to Maricopa and then returned to Nogales in 2019.

Being in the Catholic church all his life, Luczak had always felt a close relationship with God. He and his three brothers and two sisters attended Catholic school until the eighth grade.

“My dad was a police officer; he’s retired. My mom stopped working when she had six kids. She went back to work once my youngest brother was in school,” Luczak said.

After spending the first 19 years of his priesthood in the mining town of Miami,  Luczak became the headmaster of Sacred Heart Catholic School in Nogales for three years.

“The principal ran the school, and there was a really good school board there,” Luczak said. “I was in charge, but I can’t really take credit for running the school.”

Photo by Victor Moreno

Luczak sees a lot of opportunity and room for growth at Maricopa’s parish and has enjoyed his months in the community.

“He’s a good priest, a good homilist, but he also has a strong business background,” said parishioner Ken Lepper.

Saying Our Lady of Grace may be the only parish in the diocese with such an extensive development plan, Lepper said the new pastor has the experience to face the challenge of developing The Crossing and leading the church forward.

The Crossing is the parish’s 20-acre property surrounding the church. Our Lady parish of Grace plans to develop it with mixed- use commercial and residential components.

While being fiscally responsible and first taking care of some of the parish’s debt, Luczak looks forward to future projects such as a parish hall for board meetings and a large enough facility for classrooms.

“We’re using the high school for our classes, so it would be nice to have classrooms on-site, especially for a DRE (Directors of Religious Education),” Luczak said.

Taking over the role of pastor from Velasquez was no small ordeal but an honor, according to Luczak. Having known each other for more than 30 years, the two priests have become good friends with an understanding of their influence on the parish. Velasquez left the parish well organized and in good standing for his replacement, Luczak said.

“I’ve always admired and respected him,” Luczak said. “It was a little intimidating coming here kind of in his footsteps, and when I was in Nogales, I was kind of in his shadow there, too.”

Father Jay’s chosen profession has been a rewarding one, with the most memorable moments being with the people he has met along the way. “Wherever God’s people are is a good place.”

The 59-year-old says said his motivation has hardly faltered. And that motivation, he said, is “Jesus. Trying to please him. Do what he wants me to do. God’s will.”

While he describes his time with the people of the church as warm and welcoming, Luczak admitted he doesn’t know how long he expects to be in Maricopa. In a lot of ways, he said, it isn’t up to him.

“I was expecting to be in Nogales until I retired,” Luczak said. “So, I really don’t know.”

When asked about keeping his faith through all the years, hardships and the unknown, Luczak’s answer was quick and simple.

“I’m not always positive,” Luczak said with a laugh. “But you have to pray. Trust God and remember it all comes down to love.”

This story appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

Fabian Sanciprian (PCSO)


A Maricopa man is accused of damaging a monument sign at a shopping center while intoxicated.

Fabian Sanciprian, 24, was arrested around midnight Sunday on suspected criminal damage charges as well as an existing warrant. The warrant was also for a criminal damage charge.

Maricopa Police Department responded to a call near Native Grill & Wings reporting a “drunk male pulling the letters off the Bashas’ sign.” Officers later discovered the man was actually throwing rocks at the shopping center entrance sign, shattering the glass letters.

Photo by Kyle Norby

Police arrived on the scene and observed the damage done to the sign just west of State Route 347 and Smith-Enke Road. Officers made contact with a male matching the description walking down Cobblestone Farms Drive and Summer Lane.

The man identified himself to police as Fabian Sanciprian and allegedly told officers he worked at KFC and was walking home from there. He denied having been in the Bashas’ parking lot during the time of the incident. According to the report, Sanciprian had blood on his hands and jeans and smelled strongly of alcohol.

A police officer drove the reporting party to the scene, where they confirmed Sanciprian was the man who broke the Bashas’ sign. During questioning, police dispatch notified officers Sanciprian also had the existing warrant out from the Justice of the Peace court for criminal damage.

Fabian Sanciprian was placed under arrest and booked into Pinal County Jail.

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Wende Gehrt

By Wende Gehrt

Wende Gehrt

Gardeners have long valued herbs for their culinary uses, and they’re easy to grow, even in the desert.

An entire plant can be grown for less than purchasing a precut sprig at the grocery store, and it will be available as you need it.

Most herbs don’t require special soils and can thrive in any spot in the yard but can also be grown in pots or even on a windowsill. As with vegetables, grow what you like to eat.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) can be grown in the ground or in pots, and it can handle cold winter temperatures and scorching heat. Rosemary can be propagated simply by taking cuttings from existing plants and placing them in moist soil. Rosemary pairs well with pork, lamb and potatoes.

Mint (Mentha spicata) is a fast growing, spreading plant so you must give it a place to spread without getting in the way or plant it in a pot. Mint sends out runners that spread quickly, forming large patches. Mint varieties include spearmint, peppermint, sweet mint and chocolate mint. Fresh mint complements lamb, poultry, fish and vegetables such as peas, new potatoes and carrots. Mint is refreshing in tea or lemonade.

Italian parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is more heat tolerant than curly parsley and has a richer flavor. Frequent cuttings benefit the plant and will produce new shoots. Parsley adds flavor to meat and egg dishes, potato and pasta dishes, rice, vegetables, salads, soups and herb butters. Add chopped parsley at the very end of cooking or just before serving to preserve its fresh flavor.

Mexican oregano (Poliomintha maderensis) is more flavorful than its European cousin. It thrives in the alkaline soils we typically have in the Southwest. Mexican oregano enhances the flavor of fresh or cooked salsas, meat mixtures for burritos and tacos, enchilada sauce and classic braised pork.

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) thrives in full sun but will tolerate some shade. It’s best used fresh since it loses its flavor if dried.  Fresh cilantro is delicious in sour cream, salsa, pico de gallo, salad dressings, soups, stews, rice, and many Mexican dishes. Some people have a variation of olfactory-receptor genes that allow them to perceive the aldehydes in cilantro as a “soapy taste.”

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) loves the sun and benefits from frequent cuttings, especially to remove any flower buds. It darkens after chopping so it should be added just at the end of cooking.  Basil pairs well with Italian cuisine or anything tomato-based.

Maricopa Master Gardeners cultivate desert-friendly herbs along with vegetables and flowers, offering them at their annual plant sale March 7.

This column appears in the February issue of InMaricopa


From width of doorways to styles of doorknobs, design and remodeling of homes for an aging population has drawn notice from the construction industry since the 1990s.

Though the topic is uncomfortable for many to talk about, surveys have found many seniors or soon-to-be seniors want to stay in their homes as they age. According to AARP, that’s 89%. The idea of having to move to a new living space to accommodate the issues of health or just slowing down is just not palatable.

Incorporating concepts of “universal design,” what became known as “aging in place” became an industry designation. It is no longer only about the lifestyle needs of the elderly but all who want to stay in their homes when health and mobility issues are directing them toward care facilities.

National Association of Homebuilders began offering certification for aging-in-place specialists, called CAPS. The organization wanted to emphasize home designs and redesigns that were not only accessible and safe but also aesthetically pleasing.

The newest member of Maricopa’s Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee said he does not think the talk about aging-in-place precepts among architects and builders has transitioned into action well enough.

“It turns out we have one of the few homes in Province that has adequate doors, adequate hallways,” Ron Smith said. “We have grab bars. I didn’t want them installed; I just wanted the blocking in the walls. I just wanted to be ready.”

Though he has spoken to several residential developers, the aging-in-place design options remain limited. He finds that frustrating, because the U.S. Census predicts the number of older adults (code for age 65 and up) will double by 2060 and surpass the number of children being born.

“It’s marketing,” Smith said. “People buying these homes are coming in for a lifestyle. You don’t advertise grab bars to them.”

Lennar introduced a Legacy Series of designs for age 55 and up in Texas communities, using aging-in-place guidelines. D.R. Horton introduced its Freedom brand in other parts of Arizona. Meritage and K. Hovnanian have 55+ communities.

The Smiths are not elderly or impaired. Like many, however, Ron and Helen had to meet the needs of their own aging parents. Seeing the issues that came up was enlightening.

Hall width, flooring, paint color, counter height and especially grab bars became topics of discussion.

“That’s the one thing that really annoys people are grab bars,” she said. They often look institutional and are also a physical reminder that age is creeping on. Too often a fall is the wakeup call.

“Until it happens to you, it’s not real,” he said.

National Institute on Aging Remodeling Tips
1. Don’t use area rugs and check that all carpets are fixed firmly to the floor.
2. Install grab bars near toilets and in the tub or shower.
3. Replace handles on doors or faucets with ones that are comfortable to use.
4. Install a ramp with handrails to the front door.
5. Reduce fall hazards: place no-slip strips or non-skid mats on tile and wood floors or surfaces that may get wet.
6. Place light switches at the top and bottom of stairs and remember to turn on nightlights.


While building a home for accessibility costs more than a standard home, retrofitting a home to meet mobility needs often costs much more but is still less expensive than moving into a care facility.

“What aging in place is all about is educating the homebuyer,  so that they understand what they may face and be prepared for it,” Ron Smith said. “You can build a house initially to have the right footprint so you can have wide doors, wide hallways when you frame it.”

The NAHB Aging in Place checklist includes 36-inch-wide doors and hallways, non-slip flooring, lever handles on doors and faucets, low- or no-threshold doorways, low windows with lots of natural light and 5-by-5-foot turn space in main rooms.

Smith said the aging-in-place concept inspired him to leave his work as a college administration IT and go back to school 15 years ago to learn more about universal design and aging in place. For about five years, he worked for an interior design company that did cabinetry. With the recession, he returned to college admin for more than three years before retiring in 2014.

“A lot of my work was in planning,” he said. “I’m one of those guys that like to think down the road. I love architecture and building and construction. All these things were coming together.”

Aging-in-place concepts go beyond adapting a home to age-related limitations to “universal design.” Unexpected health crises or physical injury can change a lifestyle in a second for anyone at any age and put surprising demands on your home.

This article appears in the February issue of InMaricopa

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Photo by Kyle Norby

The least expensive home sold in Maricopa Dec. 16-Jan. 15 was in an older neighborhood of Rancho El Dorado. Its selling price was nearly 13 percent less than its previous, pre-Recession sale price in 2006. A three-bedroom home with all the basics, it touts a new paint job inside and a grass backyard that needs some TLC.

  1. 42611 W. Colby Drive, Rancho El Dorado

Sold: Dec. 22
Purchase price: $174,200
Square footage: 1,093
Price per square foot: $159.38
Days on market: 115
Builder: Continental
Year built: 2003
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2
Community: Rancho El Dorado
Features: Extended patio, two-car garage with painted floor
Listing agent: James Mickelson, HomeSmart Success
Selling agent: Pamm Seago-Peterlin, Century 21 Seago

  1. 36480 W. El Greco St., Tortosa ………………………………. $189,000
  2. 42609 W. Lucera Court, Glennwilde ………………………. $190,000
  3. 42068 W. Hillman Drive, Rancho El Dorado …………… $196,000
  4. 37118 W. Mondragone Lane, Sorrento …………………. $196,000


Dustin Peterson was arrested in Gilbert on Jan. 24 on suspected charges of stalking and aggravated harassment.

A Maricopa woman contacted Maricopa Police Department Jan. 23 to report court orders being violated numerous times by Peterson, her ex-boyfriend. She explained she had an order of protection against Peterson since August 2019, but he continued to contact her. Upon arrival at the woman’s location, police listened to multiple voicemails left by Peterson starting in December that included Peterson leaving insulting messages, using racist and vulgar terms. Other messages had physical threats, like punching the woman in the mouth.

One message, in particular, was Peterson allegedly saying he was on his way to her home and she better be there, “or else.”

During the interview with police, Peterson called the woman. An officer answered the phone. The officer reported Peterson cussed him out and disconnected the calls several times.

Police told Peterson he was committing felony offenses with the repeated contact with the woman. MPD attempted to get Peterson’s location, but he refused after being told he would be placed under arrest. The woman told officers after they left, Peterson allegedly texted her about the officer who answered the phone.

Upon being located on East Baseline Road in Gilbert the next day, Peterson was arrested. He reportedly admitted he knew about the order of protection against him. Additionally, he claimed he didn’t believe the officer on the phone was actually a police officer at the time and was annoyed when his ex-girlfriend wouldn’t respond to him.

Peterson was booked into Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail with a hold for Pinal County Jail.

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By Bill Day

Kristina Donnay FNP-C and Bill Day

Maricopa Wellness Center, a full-service Med Spa is honored to receive the “Small Business of the Year” award from the Maricopa Chamber. The center is a high-tech facility offering cutting edge treatments using state-of-the-art equipment proven by research, FDA approved and widely published in medical literature.

The highly trained licensed staff assists clients in getting the results they desire for their body and skin concerns. We would like to thank the City of Maricopa, our clients and customers for their continued support. LIVE WELL BE WELL.

Bill Day is the office manager for Maricopa Wellness Center in Maricopa, AZ.