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Ak-Chin Indian Community

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Photos by Kyle Norby

The annual Masik Tas celebration at Ak-Chin Indian Community had carnival rides, games and a junior rodeo among its festivities over the past two weeks, which also included a light parade, basketball, arts & crafts, fireworks and more.

Apex Motor Club has had a busy track since it opened but still needs to build garage condominiums and a clubhouse.

Nov. 7, Apex Motor Club received a city permit for a subdivision final plat for 48 garage condominiums. Council approval for the project is on the city council’s consent agenda for its Tuesday meeting.

In accompanying paperwork, Private Motorsports Group Vice President Matt Williams told Planning and Zoning Manager Rodolfo Lopez all 48 units have been reserved.

“Apex has experienced overwhelming success with track interest and membership acquisition to the club,” Williams wrote.

The condos for cars are planned to be in four buildings.

Early rendering of possible sports-car condominium.

According to the staff analysis, final plats require water rights transferred from the water utility, Global Water Resources, “upon approval to extend their Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CC&N) to provide service. This review and approval authority rests with the Arizona Corporation Commission.”

The Global Water line that is meant to ultimately extend down State Route 238 to the Apex site at Ralston Road is part of a slow process. According to the City’s Development Services Department, the only permit issued so far for the water line extension applies only to a section from the Cobblestone Farms subdivision to just west of Green Road, three miles from Apex.

The line extension, meant to serve businesses on SR 238, has funding from an agreement among the City, Apex and Global Water. The agreement has Apex contributing $1 million and Global Water paying for the upgrade from a 12-inch line to a 16-inch line.

As planned, the line would still need approval to traverse a portion of Ak-Chin Indian Community property before reaching Apex. While the estimated cost of the water line extension is at least $750,000 per mile, crossing Ak-Chin property could cost much more.

Tuesday’s City Council meeting begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

The only item on the regular agenda is a proposal to change fees in the Development Services Department. That involves planning-and-zoning fees, engineering fees, building safety fees and fire-and-safety fees.

Among several consent-agenda items are a block grant for street improvements in the Heritage District, law-enforcement moves to combat gang activities and an agreement to act as the fiscal agent as Maricopa Wells Middle School applies for a technology grant from Ak-Chin Indian Community.

A pilot and student were injured in a crash at Ak-Chin Regional Airport. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Two people were injured when a small plane crashed into a building at Ak-Chin Regional Airport on Tuesday morning.

A news release from Ak-Chin Indian Community stated a pilot instructor and a student were on board the plane, which tore into the Flight Operations Building nose-down from the roof. Both people were transported to Chandler Regional Hospital with injuries.

An airport employee inside the building made it out safely, according to the release. No other injuries were reported. The incident happened between 8:30 and 9 a.m.

The FAA has been notified, and the airport is open.

This year's Masik Tas parade will be a parade of lights for the first time.

As the Ak-Chin Indian Community celebrates its 10th annual Masik Tas celebration, tribal officials remind the community the celebration is about sharing with your neighbors.

Ak-Chin Tribal Council Vice Chairman Gabriel Lopez said it’s always been a tradition to share your bounty with the community.

“What we were taught when we were younger, in any community, is that when you have a good harvest or a good hunt you always share your hunt or your harvest,” Lopez said. “And, that’s the theory behind having everything free.”

The celebration includes several major events including a concert, carnival, rodeo and parade that are free for all, including non-tribal members.

The Masik Tas celebration started 10 years ago when women decided they wanted to expand the tribe’s youth beauty pageant to include young women, Lopez said. They started adding and experimenting with different events until it finally became what it is today.

This year the public celebration will appropriately start with the Miss Ak-Chin and Junior Miss Ak-Chin beauty pageants Dec. 2, followed by the parade Dec. 3, at 7 p.m.

The parade will be a “parade of lights” this year, Lopez said.

Sporting events will also occur the first weekend – Dec. 1-3 – including tournaments for basketball and a native game similar to field hockey known as “Toka.”

Jackpot roping and other rodeo events will take place at various times Dec. 7-10.

Dec. 8, the Carnival and Fun Zone will open at 4 p.m. followed by live music from Clay Walker, Parmalee, Kasey Tyndel and a special mystery guest.

Event dates and times are tentative.

This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

MOBILE USERS GET NEWS FIRST. Download InMaricopa for Apple and Android devices.

Clay Walker is the headline entertainer for Masik Tas. Submitted photo

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Ak-Chin and guests gathered at Antone Park for Native American Recognition Day.

Ak-Chin Indian Community marked Native American Recognition Day on Saturday. The day included guest performers and artists demonstrating their talents from Gila River, Apache, Navajo and other nations. There were also children’s activities, vendors and food.


2017 Ak-Chin Tribal Council (from left) Councilmembers Delia Carlyle, Ann Antone, Chairman Robert Miguel, Vice Chairman Gabriel Lopez and Councilmember Alvin Antone. Submitted photo

The Ak-Chin Indian Community’s new tribal council was sworn in Tuesday.

Robert Miguel took the oath as chairman, and Gabriel Lopez was sworn in as vice chairman. Both will serve four-year terms. Councilmembers are Delia Carlyle, Ann Antone and Alvin Antone.

The Nov. 19 election was particularly historic because it was the first time Community members were able to vote for chairman and vice-chairman. A change to the constitution was adopted in July 2016 allowing for candidates to run for a specific office and for Community members to vote specifically for the chairman and vice chairman in addition to councilmembers.

“I’m honored that the first time the Community was able to elect its chairman, they chose me,” Miguel said. “Together, the newly elected Tribal Council will work together to strengthen the Ak-Chin Indian Community resources including education, healthcare and continued economic endeavors.”

Miguel, who was the incumbent chairman, is passionate about Community growth and a growing infrastructure. Additionally, he is a strong believer in prioritizing education by providing a greater level of educational resources to adults and children.

Lopez, who previously served four terms on the council, has also played an active role in the Ak-Chin Indian Community,  having served on the Education Committee, Industrial Park Board, Livestock Association, Community Charter School Committee, Masik Tas Committee and Community Justice Complex Committee. Lopez is a strong proponent of upholding O’odham culture and traditions, and in turn keeping the O’odham language alive.

As a councilmember, Carlyle, who previously served two consecutive terms on the council, most recently as vice-chairman, is looking to expand the Community’s economic self-sufficiency. Additionally, she places great importance on the progressive teamwork on the council.

Ann Antone, who will be serving her second term with the council, had previously held several jobs in the Community, including positions with the Recreation and Education departments and at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino.  She is committed to important issues facing the Community such as greater revenue-generating projects, education, and economic development and further positioning the Community as one of the best tribal communities in North America.

While Miguel, Lopez, Carlyle and Ann Antone have all served previously on the council, Alvin Antone will be serving his first term. His focus will be on improving education, healthcare and farming, and he looks forward to continuing to grow the Community’s enterprises, while still maintaining the Ak-Chin Indian Community’s traditions and culture.

Photo by Mason Callejas

Ak-Chin Indian Community’s Masik Tas included a parade Dec. 10 down Farrell Road.

Previously chosen by the council, Robert Miguel (left) became the first elected chairman of Ak-Chin Indian Community under its new bylaws. Gabriel Lopez was elected vice chairman.

Voting members of the Ak-Chin Indian Community elected incumbent chairman Robert Miguel Nov. 19 in what was the first-ever direct election of the position.

The council adopted a new constitution in July that altered the election process to allow for direct voter participation in the selection of the top two positions. In previous years, votes were cast only for council members, who, once elected, chose from their ranks a chairman and vice chairman.

Miguel, whose grandfather was chairman in the 1970s, is proud to have been part of this significant election and is honored to have been democratically chosen to lead his community for the next four years. To him, this direct election not only legitimizes the post, but also exhibits the outstanding democratic traits underpinning the community.

“This is historic,” Miguel said. “This is the first time that the people chose, and fortunately for me I was the first to be elected.”

Miguel and Vice Chairman-elect Gabriel Lopez will serve until January 2021. Three council members elected will serve two-year terms until January 2019. Out of eight candidates running, the victors were incumbents Delia Carlyle (the current vice chair) and Ann Antone and newcomer Alvin Antone.

For the community, this election is only a waypoint on the long path of development. To excel in a modern world, Miguel said achieving sustainable development also means addressing social issues.

“We’re taking steps to improve their lives, healthcare wise, education wise, infrastructure wise,” Miguel said. “We have a wave of 125 homes coming up here pretty soon, and a new admin building.”

Aside from the social stability the community is also focusing on its geographical growth. Miguel has long-term plans for growth, and half-jokingly admitted one of those goals is to try to buy back land one piece at a time.

“Right now, what we need to focus on is expanding our land base. We are always looking to see if we can purchase land adjacent to our community that we can put it in trust. I’m talking about 40, 50, 60 years from now because we’re going to grow. We’re going to need more land base to accommodate our members in the future.”

One such land acquisition was the Ak-Chin Southern Dunes golf course, which, along with farming, contributes to the economic growth of the community. The main moneymaker, however, is the entertainment complex and casino, which is currently undergoing a large renovation and expansion project expected to be completed by 2020.

‘We’re looking to continue developing our entertainment district,” Miguel said. “We want to build things that will accommodate the two [Harrahs Ak-Chin and UltraStar Multi-tainment].”

The Arizona Rattlers opened their practice to public view Saturday. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Arena Football League’s Arizona Rattlers started training in Maricopa March 8 and opened the practice to the public in near-perfect weather conditions on Saturday.

That was also the first day team President Chris Presson attended practice at the facility at Copper Sky Regional Park. “It’s going great,” he said. “We’ve been really impressed.”

Also dropping in were Ak-Chin Chairman Robert Miguel and former chairman Louis Manuel. Ak-Chin Indian Community is sponsoring the Rattlers’ use of Copper Sky for training camp this year.

“This is a fantastic facility,” said les Skelton, team safety director.

The Rattlers have two 50-yard fields drawn out on the grass next to the dog park on the southwest side of Copper Sky. The team has around 40 players signed but has to whittle that down to a 24-man roster by the time the season starts April 1.

Short bleachers were set up on the rise overlooking the field. A handful of residents came specifically to watch the practice while others who had come to use the dog park stopped to watch the action.

The Arizona Rattlers announced 2016 training camp, presented by the Ak-Chin Indian Community and including practices at Copper Sky Regional Park in Maricopa.

Scheduled for March 8-25, the daily practices, which are open to the public beginning March 12, will run from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Copper Sky, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Practice days and times are subject to change.

The Rattlers, an arena football team, will cap off the training camp with Fan Fest on Saturday, March 26, at the UltraStar Multi-tainment Center at Ak-Chin Circle, 16000 N. Maricopa Road, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Players, Sidewinders dancers and Rattlers mascot Stryker will be in attendance. Fans will have the opportunity to purchase a limited number of tickets to ride the Fan Express, providing round trip transportation from Talking Stick Resort Arena to the UltraStar Multi-tainment Center at Ak-Chin Circle.

“We are excited to expand our partnership with the Ak-Chin Indian Community,” said Rattlers team President Chris Presson. “None of this would be possible without the support of this community and the city of Maricopa.”

The Ak-Chin Indian Community will offer fans the opportunity to stay,  play and golf with their “Three Great Reasons,” Harrah’s Ak-Chin Hotel and Casino, UltraStar Multi-tainment Center at Ak-Chin and Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club.

“The Ak-Chin Indian Community became a partner with the Arizona Rattlers in 2014.  We are excited to be a part of the training camp program this year and most especially to have the players and fans visit our Community and for our youth to participate and learn is an experience that they will always remember,” said Ak-Chin Tribal Chairman Robert Miguel.  “Our continued support of organizations like the Rattlers, combined with our local entertainment options Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, UltraStar Multi-tainment Center at Ak-Chin and Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club, further demonstrate our commitment to Arizona.”

For more information on the Arizona Rattlers, please visit azrattlers.com.

Ak-Chin Chairman Robert Miguel talks about his new role.

Ak-Chin Indian Community’s newest Chairman Robert Miguel came by the InMaricopa Studio to discuss his goals for the upcoming year and the challenges he and the Ak-Chin Community face.

Miguel has been a member of the Ak-Chin Indian Community Tribal Council since 2014. He was unanimously selected as the community chairman by the council on Jan. 20. He will serve as chairman for one year before he can be re-selected or substituted.

“Words can’t describe how I feel really about my community and how much I love my community,” Miguel said. “I can always step back and just thank the entire community for supporting me. You guys have made a dream come true.”

Miguel’s journey to politics began when he watched his grandfather lead the Ak-Chin Indian Community as the chairman. As he grew up, he worked on the community farms before becoming a photojournalist for the Ak-Chin Runner. He covered monthly council meetings for 17 years before earning a spot on the Tribal Council.

In his first year as chairman, Miguel hopes to expand programs and involvement to help keep Ak-Chin students in school, as well as progress the community forward with the development of a hospital and center for children with special needs.

“There is some thought as to what I’d like to see in the community,” Miguel said. “One of my inspirations is we tend to forget about our special needs. We forget (to develop) programs for them, and I hope to spearhead that we move into a direction that we build a 24-hour facility for them to be at. We have two housing groups in Casa Grande, but I’d like to see them come back home and be part of the community.”

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Chairman Robert Miguel and Vice Chairman Delia Carlyle (Submitted photos)

The Ak-Chin Indian Community Tribal Council has selected Robert Miguel, as chairman and Delia M. Carlyle as vice chairman for one-year terms.

Both Miguel and Carlyle have goals to continue the expansion of economic development projects in and around the Community, solidify key partnerships within Arizona and for job creation for Community members and residents in the State of Arizona.

“I am honored to have been selected to serve my Community as the chairman,” Miguel said. “Our entire tribal council will continue to work together to solidify the foundation for education, social and health services and continue building a stronger economy for the Ak-Chin Indian Community.”

Ak-Chin has an enrollment of more than 1,022 tribal members and a land base of just over 22,000 acres. Its business enterprises include Harrah’s Ak-Chin, Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club, Vekol Market, UltraStar Multi-tainment Center and Santa Cruz Commerce Center. Fore more information, visit Ak-Chin.nsn.us.

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The latest graduates of the Maricopa Citizen Leadership Academy were recognized by the city council Tuesday night. Photo by Adam Wolfe

The Maricopa City Council accepted a $450,000 grant from the Ak-Chin Indian Community for the construction of the police substation at the Copper Sky Regional Park during its regular meeting Tuesday night.

The grant is meant to provide the Maricopa Police Department with extra funding to complete the substation. The initial budget for the substation did not allow the department to equip the substation with all of the equipment in the initial plan. The extra funding won’t negate that deficit, but it will help the department add some much needed equipment.

“It’s a generous donation,” MPD Chief Steve Stahl said. “As you’re all aware, the budget for the police substation was woefully short. As a result, we had to make some cutbacks. Now, some of the very important parts of a functional communications center are being taken care of that weren’t going to be taken care.”

Those items include a noise wall and three 911 lines (plus backups) into the substation.

The council also took time to honor the 14 new graduates of the city’s fall Maricopa Citizen Leadership Academy.

“The Maricopa Citizen Leadership Academy is specially designed to help transform residents into the role of actively engaged citizen, ultimately building a stronger Maricopa,” Assistant City Manager Jennifer Brown said. “This was our 12th session in the city’s history. Over the last 11 years, we’ve had 191 graduates.”

The graduates were required to attend five of the six academy classes, as well as a City Council or Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board meeting, and a city board commission or committee meeting.

The council also approved a two-year contract with Lincoln Financial for short-term disability insurance, a resolution declaring the “2015 Amendments to the Tax Code of the City of Maricopa” to be a public record and a submission ratification of a grant applications to the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Program through Maricopa Association of Governments. The grant applications could potentially bring in $2,710,921 for approximately 5 miles of roadway paving projects. The grants would still carry a local match cost totaling $644,263 for the projects.

The Maricopa City Council will reconvene on Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.