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Copper Sky

Shirley Moenich (far left) said seniors are in the middle of shifting activities to Copper Sky. Photo by Jim Headley


Maricopa Seniors have been meeting in a backroom at Santa Cruz Elementary School for a year and earlier the Copa Center for several years.

Next month that comes to an end, and many seniors are still searching for answers. The Copa Seniors are moving out of Santa Cruz June 12.

Every Tuesday many of the Copa Seniors meet to play games. On May 21, they gathered at Copper Sky for Canasta.

“When we got the school, they said we were an adult group, so anybody who is an adult could come and play,” said Shirley Moenich. “What our status is now, I don’t know.”

She said the Copa Seniors are making a transition from Santa Cruz over to Copper Sky for many of their functions. The group is already meeting every Tuesday afternoon at 1 to play games at Copper Sky.

If you’re a senior, you’re welcome to drop in any Tuesday at 1 p.m. and play games.

“Someone is volunteering to supply all of our games, so we’re going to have that in a rolling cart. We will have that available at Copper Sky. Whatever days we end up with, we want to make sure there is someone here from our group that can say hello to new people, get them organized and let them know what we are doing,” Moenich said.

The origins of the Copa Seniors getting together to play games goes back to about 2013.

“I moved here before the town was here practically, in 1997, when Harrah’s opened. We had no subdivisions then at all. I have been here a long time, but I worked so I wasn’t able to join in on this group at first,” Moenich said.

She said as Maricopa keeps growing, the Copa Seniors are trying to get the word out to other seniors to come out of their homes and meet each other.

“And come to something where they can get some social life,” she said. “They need to find out what days we are here and what games we have going. If they have their own game that they want to bring, just come on in. They are welcome to come in anytime we are open – Tuesdays at 1 p.m. at Copper Sky right now.”

Moenich said with the move coming up June 12, many senior groups using Santa Cruz are trying to solve the many issues facing them. One of the largest problems is finding enough storage for their needed items.

“As far as the social game playing group, we won’t have a problem with storage because it will be solved,” Moenich said.

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A La Quinta is planned for Copper Sky commercial property.

Tuesday evening the Maricopa City Council has an extremely light agenda for their regular 7 p.m. meeting.

Only two items are listed on Tuesday’s meeting agenda and both items are on the consent agenda.

Matters to be voted on include a resolution endorsing the Pinal County Interstate 11 Coalition’s support for the Federal Highway Administration and the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Interstate 11 Tier 1 environmental impact statement and preliminary section evaluation.

The environmental impact study will take three years and studies a 280-mile corridor across the state for the proposed construction of I-11.

The other matter on their consent agenda is an amendment to a purchase and sale agreement with Maricopa Auberge for the construction of the La Quinta Hotel in the Copper Sky area.

The new agreement amends the sale of the property to Maricopa Auberge to 87,120 square feet of property south of the southeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The new agreement will also amend the purchase price to $411,970, which represents $5 per square foot.

Crews start construction of pickleball courts at Copper Sky. Photo by Jim Headley

Almost a year ago, pickleball aficionados in Maricopa learned they would at last realize their dream of having dedicated courts for their sport.

The City of Maricopa set aside more than $400,000 for six pickleball courts. This week, crews began construction next to the skate park at Copper Sky.

Ironically, Rocky Myers, the face of the drive for more pickleball, was not in town when the announcement was made in May. It took him and his fellow players by surprise.

“I was flabbergasted,” he said. “You could have picked me up off the pavement.”

No Pollyanna, however, he’s keeping his expectations grounded. He has been keeping a watchful eye on the process as the City prepares to follow through on the promise of the budget.

The plans are not everything he would like to see, like the ability to host state-level tournaments.

“I’m real excited to get the courts, but it’s disappointing,” he said. “We need at least 10 courts for a tournament.”

As planned, there is room for only six courts between the skate park and the tennis courts. Each court has a 44-by-20 feet playing area inside a fenced area of 64-by-34 feet, “to execute all possible shots” including around the post, Myers said.

He started his campaign for pickleball courts three years ago as the popularity of the sport become more apparent. Up to this point, the city tried to accommodate players by restriping basketball/volleyball courts inside the multigenerational complex and allowing players to use tennis courts, which Myers said was not ideal because of the different net dimensions.

The plans include a 10-foot-wide, covered walkway between courts to create shade for benches and a place to rest. The perimeter is expected to be an eight-foot chain link fence.

Maricopa artists invited to participate

The inaugural Art for the Heart Festival is set for May 4 on the Great Lawn at Copper Sky.

If You Go
: Art for the Heart Festival
When: May 4, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: Copper Sky Regional Park, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
How much: Free to attend; $60 to exhibit
Info: 520-568-8100, ext. 4136 

Hoping to fill the void left by the dissolution of Art on the Veranda and Maricopa Arts Festival, a Maricopa High School program is coordinating the community art show. Graphic Design teacher Maria Pour said they want to have as many Maricopa artists as possible participating.

The coordination is in the hands of SkillsUSA students. That program mandates they be involved in creating and running a project that benefits a nonprofit, and the usual approach is to host a clothing drive or a food drive.

“But we wanted something that relates to us, to graphics and art,” Pour said.

So, the young organizers are putting their skills to use in ways that have “real-world application,” she said. Art for the Heart invites artists from all media to display and sell their works at the festival. Pour said 75 percent of proceeds will go to the American Heart Association, the rest to cover overhead.

A 10-by-10-foot booth space is $60, and artists can bring their own tables. Painting, photography, drawing, sculpture, textiles and more are welcome from artists of all ages.

MHS had participated in Art on the Veranda, and Pour understood the challenges involved hosting a community art event. She has 15 students helping to staff Art for the Heart, from creating the plan to designing the logo or handing out water.

The additional challenge is participation, both by artists and art-lovers. Previous organizers have provided her with names of area artists, and she also seeks to reach out to Ak-Chin and Gila River artists.

Photos by Jim Headley

About 1,000 flag football players participated in the Southwest Showdown NFL Flag Football Tournament in Copper Sky Regional Park. Participants came from across Arizona and the western United States to expand their football skills.

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Photos by Kyle Norby

The City of Maricopa’s annual Copa Color Run brought in participants of all ages to run or walk the color-laden event at Copper Sky Regional Park on Saturday.


A unique flag football tournament is coming to Maricopa April 6-7. The Southwest Showdown NFL Flag Football Tournament will take place at Copper Sky.

Greg Johnson, co-owner of Playmakers Youth Sports, the organizers of the Southwest Showdown, said he expects between 80 and 100 youth, flag football teams to attend. With an average of 10 players per team, the event will draw 800 to 1,000 players to the community plus family and friends.

“The Southwest Showdown is an NFL Flag youth national football tournament,” Johnson said. It is a qualifier for the annual national championship tournament in Orlando, Florida.

Johnson said the tournament has taken place across different locations in the Phoenix area over the past four years.

“We have grown from a very small, little, 20-team tournament into what I just described,” Johnson said.

This is the first time the tournament has come to Maricopa.

“The City of Maricopa was looking to do more things out at Copper Sky Park. They invited us out to check it out,” Johnson said. “We were like ‘Wow, what a beautiful facility.’ It is a great place to host a tournament. That is how we ended up connecting.

“Fortunately, our tournament has been able to tour through a couple different cities in the Valley because of the popularity of it. It is great for us to have an opportunity to bring events to an up-and-coming area,” he said.

NFL Flag is one of the fastest-growing sports in the nation, according to Johnson. With the current concerns about concussions in football, flag football is a growing alternative to youth football.

“More and more people are pushing families to the flag game,” Johnson said. “What you’re seeing is the evolution of a recreational sport that is popular and becoming more and more competitive. We are tracking teams from multiple states.”

Teams playing in the Arizona tournaments over the past few years have travelled from as far away as Hawaii.

“This is something that I’ve been talking about,” said Nathan Ullyot, Maricopa’s director of Community Services. “The value that we can provided, from an economic development standpoint is to attempt to bring in larger multi-day sports tourism events or tournaments. This is the first one that we set out to recruit, received interest and ultimately booked a multi-day tournament that will bring anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 people into the city over April 6-7.”

Ullyot said the influx of that many people brings an economic impact to restaurants, gas stations and retail businesses.

“While it’s not going to fund our whole operation, what we can bring into the city is a benefit,” Ullyot said. “Our parks staff are phenomenal. They are among the best that I’ve seen.”

“We don’t just bring local flair; we bring economic impact to an area because a lot of teams come in and rent hotels, visit restaurants and all that stuff,” he said. “They will stay for the entire weekend.”

There are two divisions of tournament actions, with 5-on-5 and 7-on-7 teams.

In the 5-on-5 division, teams play in age groups of 6 and under and 14 and under. The 7-on-7 age groups are high school and under.

“The 7-on-7 is something that we’re seeing a lot of interest in. It’s not just a tournament; it’s an event,” Johnson said, adding beside the tournament games there will be food trucks on site, a mobile DJ and related field activities.

“One of our sponsors is Dick’s Sporting Goods, so we have a fastest-kid contest and a swag bag competition,” said Johnson. “Most of these teams have custom uniforms, and we do social media voting on them. There are a lot of interactive activities that we do at the tournament.”

Registration start at $400 per team, though Johnson said there are discounts available for teams from Maricopa. Admission is free.



Photos by Jim Headley

A total of 12 teams took to the fields at Copper Sky Park in Maricopa to raise money and assist the family of Israel “Izzy” Calderon, who was seriously injured in a car wreck on State Route 347 a few years ago. The 2019 Israel “Izzy” Calderon third annual benefit softball tournament raises funds for the family. This year was action packed on Saturday, as the first pitch was thrown by former mayor Kelly Anderson shortly before 8 a.m. and action continued through the day and into the evening, ending about 9 p.m.

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Mayor Christian Price, parks manager Mike Riggs and sponsor Ace Hardware owner Mike Richey throw out the the first discs in the Maricopa Disc Golf Open at Copper Sky. Photo by Jim Headley

Nearly 200 players from all over the United States came to Maricopa over the weekend for the Maricopa Disc Golf Open.

Anthony Barela of Mesa won the Open Division, throwing 24 under par during the weekend. Austin Hannum of Perry, Oklahoma, was second at 23 under par over the two-day tournament, which was played at Copper Sky and Maricopa Meadows.

Paul Ulibarri of Show Low was third overall at 19 under par and first in the 40+ age division at 13 under par.

Catrina Allen of Pipestone, Minnesota, won the woman’s open title at 5 under par, followed by Callie McMorran of Arlington, Tennessee, at 6 over and Jennifer Allen of Gilbert at 8 over.

Here are the top 5 results of the professional and intermediate categories of the tournament from the Professional Disc Golf Association:

Open (Top 5)

Place Name       Par Rd1 Rd2 Finals Total
1 Anthony Barela       -24 49 49 49 147
2 Austin Hannum       -23 50 51 47 148
3 Paul Ulibarri       -19 51 48 53 152
4 Jeremy Novak       -15 53 53 50 156
5 Jeremy Herr       -13 59 51 48 158

Open Women (Top 5)

Place Name     Par Rd1 Rd2 Finals Total
1 Catrina Allen     -5 61 51 54 166
2 Callie McMorran     +6 63 57 57 177
3 Jennifer Allen     +8 61 64 125
4 Azrielle Rogers     +16 65 68 133
5 Hannah Stefanovich     +28 76 69 145

Pro Masters 40+ (Top 5)

Place Name     Par Rd1 Rd2 Finals Total
1 Pete Ulibarri     -13 53 55 50 158
2 Shaun Peavy     -8 55 56 52 163
3 Brad Casarotto     -6 56 55 54 165
3 Sam Russ     -6 54 53 58 165
5 Kevin Hand     -4 58 56 53 167

Pro Masters Women 40+

Place Name     Par Rd1 Rd2 Finals Total
1 Lisa Reisch     +30 74 73 147

Pro Masters 50+

Place Name     Par Rd1 Rd2 Finals Total
1 Zach Walker     +3 61 57 56 174
2 Nick Mucha     +7 63 54 61 178
2 Jav Kowalski     +7 58 59 61 178
5 David Neff     +8 59 58 62 179

Pro Masters 55+ (Top 5)

Place Name     Par Rd1 Rd2 Finals Total
1 Dan Ginnelly     -8 55 57 51 163
2 G. Scott Carle     +8 59 59 61 179
4 Harvey Brandt     +21 66 64 62 192
3 Patrick Barela     +18 71 64 135
5 Brian Wynn     +26 78 65 143

Advanced (Top 5)

Place Name     Par Rd1 Rd2 Finals Total
1 Alex Lombardo     -7 56 56 52 164
2 Travis Wessel     +3 60 58 56 174
3 Colin Hahn     +4 62 58 55 175
4 Huntington Coats     +7 59 59 60 178
5 Shawn Stokes     +9 59 62 59 180

Advanced Women (Top 5)

Place Name Par Rd1 Rd2 Finals Total
1 Sandra Martinez +19 66 61 61 188
3 Kristy Pirkle +34 66 72 65 203
4 Bailey Petty +36 63 74 68 205
2 Kay Powell +25 72 68 140
5 Kimberly Owens +45 81 79 160

Intermediate (Top 5)

Place Name Par Rd1 Rd2 Finals Total
1 Joseph Bradshaw -1 61 55 52 168
2 James Russell -1 53 56 59 168
3 Matt Bennett +5 61 57 56 174
4 Dominic Medrano +6 66 56 53 175
4 Christopher Paetz +6 57 63 55 175

Intermediate Women (Top 5)

Place Name Par Rd1 Rd2 Finals Total
1 Tonya Hunter +35 67 73 64 204
2 Becky Bare +37 67 69 70 206
4 Elaine Houchen +46 70 72 73 215
3 Britnay Marquez +43 79 79 158
5 Cindy Petty +47 86 76 162

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Fee changes for the use of Copper Sky received the OK from city council Tuesday.

Tuesday evening the Maricopa City Council unanimously approved a resolution that will change fees at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center at their regularly scheduled meeting.

The new fees will impact the use of day passes while promoting six-month and annual memberships in an effort to make Copper Sky more sustainable and offer more services to citizens.

“While we probably didn’t please absolutely everybody, I think we generally reached a consensus,” Community Services Director Nathan Ullyot said of conversations with city committees. “For the most part, we have some support for these schedules.”

With all the changes in membership costs, the city is adding a scholarship program that gives discounts on memberships and classes based on income levels.

Seniors automatically get a 10-percent discount but can get further discounts based on income levels. If seniors qualify for the scholarships and the regular senior discounts, they could save up to 50 percent off their memberships.

Seniors will no longer have a separate price point.

Some seniors may also qualify for assistance through their health insurance programs.

The scholarship program has two discount levels of 20 and 40 percent off membership costs. The application for a scholarship is simple and only one-page long.

In applying for a scholarship, the city asks for a tax return, a current income statement and proof of residence like a utility bill or driver’s license. Copies of the documents will also be returned or destroyed after application processing, which should take two weeks or less.

Councilmember Nancy Smith said her earlier concerns over the fee changes were centered on the senior rates.

“I felt so strongly about this concern, that I wanted you to have lots of people to talk to,” she told Ullyot. She thanked Ullyot for presenting the information in many settings, including city committees. Smith also said senior advocate Joan Koczor was a vital part of getting the word out and starting strong communication between residents and City Hall.

Members will also save with discounts on sports programs, like aquatics classes or enrichment classes, as part of their membership. They also receive free event parking and fun-zone passes. Members also receive 10 guest passes per year.

Rates will be categorized at three levels for Copper Sky – member, resident and non-resident.

Copper Sky has about 6,800 members with approximately 2,000 senior members.

The Council also heard a presentation by Denyse Airheart, Maricopa’s director of Economic Development, on plans for an 18-acre development around Copper Sky that will include La Quinta Hotel, 620 units of multifamily housing, a 172-unit Morning Star Assisted Living Center and 53,000 square feet of new retail space.

Airheart unveiled the $146-million plan at the Jan. 9 special meeting between the Maricopa Economic Development Alliance (MEDA) and Maricopa City Council.

Photo by Dean Crandall

The City of Maricopa wants to make Copper Sky Multigenerational Center 75 percent self-sufficient. Currently, it is at 65 percent sustainability.

Nathan Ullyot, Maricopa’s director of Community Services, explained a proposed fee change for Copper Sky to the media Tuesday. Ullyot said there has been a lot of discussion, mostly on social media, about the city’s proposed fee changes that will be presented to the city council later this month.

“What is getting missed in all this is the opportunity that we are providing for everybody. There is a lot of focus around senior pricing,” Ullyot said. “There are some really nice changes for families or folks who decide to get a membership to Copper Sky.”

Ullyot said the new fee schedule will allow flexibility for members and provide the city a more sustainable facility.

With all the changes in membership costs, Ullyot said the city is adding a scholarship program that gives discounts on memberships and classes based on income levels.

Seniors automatically get a 10-percent discount, according to Ullyot. He said they can get further discounts based on scholarships that are also available.

“Folks who are at need or in need can have a scholarship opportunity to Copper Sky and receive a 20 or 40 percent discount,” he said, adding the scholarships are based on federal poverty level guidelines.

He said if seniors qualify for the scholarships and the regular senior discounts, they could save up to 50 percent off their memberships.

Seniors will no longer have a separate price point.

“This was done when they opened, and they haven’t changed it. There was no policy to guide that. This policy changes that. The seniors get an automatic 10 percent along with veterans. They can combine that with a scholarship,” he said.

Some seniors may also qualify for assistance through their health insurance programs.

The scholarship program has two discount levels of 20 and 40 percent off membership costs. He said the application for a scholarship is simple and only one-page long.

In applying for a scholarship, the city asks for a tax return, a current income statement and proof of residence like a utility bill or driver’s license. Copies of the documents will also be returned or destroyed after application processing, which should take two weeks or less.

“We are also looking at making sure our Copper Sky programs have an improved value,” he said. “The reality is our annual members will see no increase. There will be no change in their membership. The big changes will be for those going month to month. We are trying to push them to go to six months or annual. There is also an increase to our day passes.”

Members will also save with discounts on sports programs, like aquatics classes or enrichment classes, as part of their membership. They also receive free event parking and fun-zone passes, according to Ullyot. Members also receive 10 guest passes per year.

Rates will be categorized at three levels for Copper Sky – member, resident and non-resident.

Ullyot said Copper Sky has maintained its budget numbers in recent years but increasing costs, like the increase in minimum wage, is impacting the center’s bottom line.

“We have maintained for the last four years. This has been on the minds of the council going forward. How do we hit a better sustainability model? … For a family we want to be the best fit financially and quality-wise,” Ullyot said.

Copper Sky has about 6,800 members with approximately 2,000 senior members.

Ullyot said some seniors are upset about the new fee structures.

“We’re getting some heat from folks who aren’t (members) or some folks who took advantage of day passes,” Ullyot said. “They are losing some of that flexibility. We’re trying to drive them towards membership. We didn’t explain some of the senior impact upfront. After we talked about it – it makes a lot of sense. If people can afford, they do. If they can’t then there is help.”

Ullyot said a lot of seniors want a space solely dedicated to them, but that is difficult because Copper Sky just doesn’t have the room. He said they are planning to increase services for seniors.

“I don’t think we’ve done enough for seniors in Copper Sky. We are working to identify a couple days a week where we can do some senior fellowship programs. Provide coffee and doughnuts and things like that. We are looking for feedback from seniors on things they want to do,” he said.

Another thing that will change at Copper Sky will be rental fees that are equivalent to a sports complex level, not a community park level.

“When it comes to turf and fields Copper Sky is maintained at a sports complex level. Which is going to mean more mowing, overseeing timelines and things like that. It is designed to attract outside tournaments to come into town,” Ullyot said.

Fields at Picana Park will remain at their current price point while Copper Sky fields will increase in rental costs to support “that level of care.”

Ullyot said in the past rental fees at Copper Sky didn’t always cover costs incurred by the city for the event to take place, such as wages for lifeguards.

“We actually lost money. We didn’t charge enough for the amount of lifeguards it takes and the space that was being given. It was very difficult with a private rental, so it wasn’t cost effective,” he said.

The city’s annual free fishing day is Jan. 12 with registration at 8 a.m. and fishing starting at 9 a.m. at Copper Sky Lake. Fishing licenses are not required for those registered in the event, but fishing is readily available at both town ponds throughout the year.

What kind of fish will you encounter at Copper Sky and Pacana Park?

Bass are the most sought-after fish among U.S. anglers, according to U.S. Fish & Wildlife, but they are getting harder to find in community waters. According to Arizona Game & Fish Department, largemouth bass in particular cost four times as much as trout and nearly six times as much as catfish to stock. AGFD tries to stock bass at least once a year, usually in spring.

Bluegill, like black bass, are members of the sunfish family. They are often stocked in spring. Popular as pan fish for humans, they are also sought by largemouth bass and catfish looking for a nice dinner, so they tend to hide around underwater forms.

Catfish are omnivorous bottom-feeders and one of the most instantly recognizable fish. Anglers also consider them a fun sport fish. They will be stocked in Maricopa again in late March, according to AGFD.

Trout are also a popular game fish across the country and the focus of Arizona hatcheries. They again will be stocked in Maricopa waters in January and February.

White Amur, named for the Amur River in Asia, are commonly called grass carp outside of the United States. The Amurs do well in standing bodies of water like ponds and lakes. They can be difficult to catch and can be fighters once they’re on the line.

The city’s fishing waters are typically open from sunrise to 11 p.m., and anglers can fish for free year-round. Anglers age 10 and over must have a license to fish.

This item appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

A gang of St. Nicks participated in the annual  Santa Run at Copper Sky Dec. 22. Joshua Hoeh was the winner of the 5K race, but all had a good time of the event presented by the City of Maricopa.

The new disc golf course at Copper Sky is expected to be ready in time for a tournament planned for late January.

A new disc golf course is coming to the Copper Sky Recreation Complex.

It is expected to open by Jan. 26, in time to host the Maricopa Open, which starts that day. The course is complete except for four of the holes, according to Mike Riggs, deputy director of Community Services.

“The nets are in and most of the tee pads are poured,” Riggs said. “There is a need. It is a popular sport. We had a partnership with Ace Hardware to help cost-share on the project.”

The idea of a new 18-hole course began a year ago. With Maricopa Ace Hardware helping the city on the project, cost to Maricopa taxpayers is under $10,000. Mike Richey, owner of Maricopa Ace Hardware, told InMaricopa that he paid $5,000 to Eric McCabe, 2010 Pro Disc Golf world champion, for planning and design of the course, and the city purchased the hardware.

Riggs said this project is very inexpensive, “especially for the amount of response it’s getting.”

The new course is especially designed to host larger tournaments as its “Blue Course” is 7,190 feet long and circles the distance of the sprawling 98-acre park.

“It is a growing sport, so there are a tremendous amount of people in town who play disc golf all of the time,” Riggs said. “Another angle was to go to the tournament level to bring people in.”

The 18 holes are separated by varying distances to challenge beginners and expert level players. The course covers grassy and granite areas and has water obstacles.

“I believe they are trying to hold a tournament on Jan. 26 and 27. The balance of the tee boxes will be in before that time,” Riggs said.

“We are excited to offer this to the inventory of things we offer our community,” said Community Services Director Nathan Ullyot. “That’s what it comes down to. It is both a passive and a direct programming opportunity.”

This is a corrected version of a story that published Dec. 10. The designer of the course is Eric McCabe. We regret the error.

Photo by Dean Crandall


As Copper Sky looks for more revenue streams, a proposal to change rates and fees is before the public. Maricopa City Council approved the policy in November and is scheduled to vote on the fee changes Jan. 15.

Community Services Director Nathan Ullyot called them “significant changes.”

The shifts in the proposal are meant to herd members toward an annual membership, which will be less expensive, especially for couples. The proposal does not include monthly rates but increases the six-month membership fees for couples and families and increases for daily punch passes.

“We’re really looking to add value to your Copper Sky membership,” Ullyot said.

A point of contention has been the change for senior citizens. Under the current rates, single seniors and senior couples pay 40 percent less than the adult fees. But senior rates are excluded in the proposal. The new fee schedule puts them level with military veterans, which is a 10-percent discount.

City Councilmember Nancy Smith, expressing concern for retirees on limited incomes during the November meeting, encouraged seniors to offer feedback about the proposal. Joan Koczor of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee also reached out to constituents on her senior-activity newsletter urging seniors to get involved.

Copper Sky Resident Memberships

Monthly                              1 Adult                 2 Adults               Family
Current                                      $35                        $55                        $65
Proposed                                   N/A                       N/A                       N/A

Six months                        1 Adult                 2 Adults               Family
Current                                   $180                       $280                       $420
Proposed                                $210                       $336                        $420
($35/mo)              ($56/mo)               ($70/mo)

Yearly                                 1 Adult                 2 Adults               Family
Current                                  $338                       $540                       $676
Proposed                               $336                       $504                       $672
($28/mo)              ($42/mo)               ($56/mo)

However, unlike the current schedule, a department proposal would allow scholarships for membership fees. The scholarship is based on federal income guidelines. Those who provide proof of income at 100 percent the poverty level (one person $12,140) could get another 30-percent discount along with the standard senior discount of 10 percent. Those at 200 percent the poverty level can receive 15 percent off.

Proposed Discounts
Veterans/Seniors            10%
Youth/Students               50%
Group                                 1-10%
Corporate                          1-50%

According to city numbers, more than 1,400 of the 1,800 senior memberships are paid for through programs like Silver Sneakers, Optum and Silver and Fit. Some insurance companies are changing their funding of those programs or even switching programs.

Ullyot will discuss some of the proposed solutions for senior memberships with the Age-Friendly Committee at its Dec. 17 meeting.

The proposed fee schedule was post Oct. 31, and residents are asked to respond within 60 days of that date.

Punch Passes and Daily Rates

20 punches                        Adult     Youth   Senior
Current                                   $50        $38        $40
Proposed                                $150      $75        $120

Day Pass                              Adult     Youth   Senior
Current                                    $5           $3           $4
Proposed                                 $10         $5           $8

This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

In a drizzle that turned into a lengthy downpour, Maricopa Mud Run got in two rounds, including the competitive race that saw Steve Campbell winning for the second straight year and Shell Abbott leading the women’s division.

Competitors who signed up for later rounds have the option of returning to the course Nov. 3, race organizer Matthew Reiter said.

While the obstacles at Copper Sky were built to be challenging, the weather conditions made the mud around the obstacles dangerously slick.

The first round with the top competitors had the best weather of the day, allowing Campbell to repeat last year’s feat. H said he runs the race to be part of the community. A teacher at Leading Edge Academy, Campbell moved to last year just before the Mud Run.

“It’s just meeting people and getting to know them,” he said. “These kids have come in second, and we’ve become good friends.”

This story has been updated to reflect a new date for the remainder of the Mud Run.







About 18 acres of land is waiting to be commercially developed at Copper Sky.

Maricopa could have a hotel in place by 2020 if a newly signed agreement with Commercial Properties Inc. (CPI) goes according to plan.

Cecil Yates, property management director for CPI, told the Maricopa City Council he already had three hotel users interested. CPI was selected in May to develop 18.3 acres at Copper Sky for mixed-use commercial, including a hotel.

A master planning and marketing agreement approved by council Tuesday is in place for three years, with three one-year extension options. It gives CPI 30 days to present a master plan for what is currently called Copper Sky Commercial Property.

Besides a hotel, planned uses of the property include retail, offices and restaurants.

Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart said the project has the “potential to be a destination.”

The agreement’s goal is to have a hotel of up to 100 units in place July 1, 2020. Yates said the timing possibilities are a year to 18 months from the time building designs are approved.

“They want to stick shovels in the ground as soon as possible,” Yates said.

Once CPI has a hotel commitment, it must notify the City whether it intends to purchase or lease the property for the hotel.

Jalen Lee (PCSO photo)

Detectives investigating an assault on a minor at Copper Sky nabbed the accused offender with a long rap sheet last week.

Maricopa Police arrested 21-year-old Jalen Lee Aug. 2 on suspicion of aggravated assault against a minor under 15 years of age. He’s also suspected of armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and other charges in 2016.

Lee’s most recent arrest came nearly one month after the alleged assault took place at Copper Sky Park July 5.

At that time, officers responded to reports of a fight at Copper Sky where a minor told them he was approached by two men he didn’t know, according to a Maricopa Police Department report.

One man reportedly asked the victim how old he was. When the minor told him, the other male, later identified as Lee, allegedly said, “I don’t give a f—” and struck the victim in the face.

“(The victim) stated he fell to the ground and was hit by the same unknown person multiple times,” the report alleges.

The two men then fled the scene, but not before several people witnessed the altercation, according to the report.

An older friend who was with the victim at the time of the alleged assault but had run away at the sight of the two men approaching spoke with MPD later that night. The friend told police he has a “beef” with Lee and identified Lee as the person who hit the victim, according to the report.

Detectives identified Lee as their primary suspect and generated a photo lineup using Lee’s Arizona driver’s license.

At the victim’s residence on Aug. 1, his mother told detectives she had learned new information in the weeks that had passed since the assault that would help in identifying the suspect. She said her son’s friend, who spoke with police in July, sent her a picture of Lee from Snapchat and identified him as the person who hit the victim, the report stated.

“(The victim’s friend) confessed to (the mother) that he had a ‘beef’ with (Lee), not (the victim),” according to the report.

The mother posted the Snapchat photo reportedly of Lee to Facebook and asked the public’s assistance in identifying him.

The report alleges several people came forward with Lee’s name, identifying him as the man in the photo.

The victim also identified the man in the photo as the person who assaulted him. Police said Lee’s driver’s license photo matched the man in the Snapchat image.

Police arrested and interviewed Lee the following day. Lee reportedly denied involvement in the assault and “claims officers have the wrong person,” according to the report. Lee is being held in the Pinal County Jail on a $50,000 bond on a slew of charges, most of them unrelated to the Copper Sky assault.

Lee is suspected of aggravated robbery (class 3 felony); armed robbery (class 2 felony); aggravated assault against a minor under 15 years of age (class 2 felony); aggravated assault using a deadly weapon or instrument (class 3 felony); and DUI.

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Photo by Michelle Chance

Nearly 70 Maricopa children participated in the World’s Largest Swim Lesson at Copper Sky Thursday. The annual global event promotes water safety awareness every year and continued in pools across the world June 21.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa Police Department has never lost an officer on duty.

Chief Steve Stahl said he prays that day never comes. But Steve Stroud, a board member of the Maricopa Police Foundation, thinks it’s only a matter of time. In Salt Lake County in Utah, where he’s from, five officers have been lost in 25 years, he said.

The “fallen officers” memorial monument unveiled Monday morning contains no names, yet, but includes a metal U.S. flag on which names can be engraved. The monument stands in the plaza in front of the MPD substation north of Copper Sky Multigenerational Complex.

The dedication came a little later than planned, but Stahl said it was fitting it occurred a day before National Peace Officers Memorial Day, which was established in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy. The monument includes a quote from Kennedy: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Police officers, staff from Maricopa Fire/Medical Department and elected officials attended the ceremony.

The plaza is full of brick pavers that are “sold” by the foundation to be inscribed “to honor the memory of a lost friend, family, or loved one or honor the career of an officer.”

“We officers know what we signed up for,” Stahl said. “Some families may not.”

Photo by Michelle Chance

Live music boomed under the blazing sun at the Maricopa Music Fest last weekend. It’s the second event hosted by Founder Chrystal Allen-O’Jon after the inaugural fest four years ago. The lineup spanned genres from indie, rock and reggae to rap. Entertainment ran from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Copper Sky.

See photos at http://www.inmaricopa.com/photogallery/gallery4/ 


The Sun Life Chocolate Run is Saturday at Copper Sky.

The annual event that pairs people’s love of chocolate with exercise returns to Maricopa this month.

Sun Life Family Health Center will host the third annual “For the Love of Chocolate” Fun Run at Copper Sky on March 3.

Beginning at 8 a.m., participants can choose to run or walk the 1-mile or 3-mile course. A runner’s brunch will be available prior to and after the race as well as photo booths to capture the memory of the event.

Finishers will be rewarded with a bag of chocolate goodies, a chocolate donut medal and an event T-shirt.

Top three 5K finishers in various age groups will also receive winners’ medals.

Pre-registration costs $35 for the 1 mile/walk run and $40 for the 3-mile walk/run until March 2. A mail-in payment method is also available. Race-day registration is $40 per person for the 1-mile run/walk and $50 for the 3-mile run/walk.

“One of the things that people can keep in mind is Sun Life is Pinal County’s nonprofit community health center, and the run is a fun way to support a local nonprofit,” said Renee Louzon-Benn, director of community outreach.

It’s also a way to enjoy chocolate, which, in moderation, is considered a healthy treat, she said.

“(Chocolate) has health benefits, and we thought chocolate is fun and people enjoy it, so why not bring people, exercise and chocolate all into one event?”

Participants can pick up race packets March 2 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Sun Life Family Health Center, 44572 W. Bowlin Road. Packets can also be retrieved the morning of the event beginning at 7 a.m.


This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Feb. 24, the City of Maricopa hosted the annual Copa Color Run at Copper Sky, with participants running or walking a 3K or one mile while being dashed with colored powder. The fun run raises funds for recreational events at the city.

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The Aquatic Center is a large portion of the expenditures at Copper Sky. Photo by Mason Callejas


For the past 15 years, city councilmembers, city managers, planners and other administrators have emphasized different areas of growth and identity in an attempt to put Maricopa “on the map.”

Parks & Rec Debt Service
Voter approved 2008 for $65.5 million
Paid through secondary property tax
Started Jan. 1, 2014 at 3%
Ends July 1, 2030 at 6.335%
Ak-Chin grant $7.4 million ($1.48 million annually) ends July 1, 2019
Rate of return: 65%

In 2008, a major move was made to bolster that development when voters approved a $65.5 million bond measure to expand the city’s parks, recreation and library facilities. The bonds were placed on a 15-year amortization schedule and are to be paid in full by 2030 via a secondary property tax.

After almost five years of planning, flood mitigation and eventually construction, Copper Sky Regional Park and Multi-Generational Center opened in the spring of 2014 at a cost of $52 million. The facility, being brand new, was expected to create an initial budgetary deficiency, Mayor Christian Price said.

“We’ve never operated a facility like this before… so you look around and see how other cities do it,” Price said. “But you have to remember that as soon as this facility comes out of the ground, you have a giant hit to the General Fund.”

To help cushion that blow, a $7.4 million grant was awarded to the city by the AK-Chin Indian Community to be distributed over the course of five years at $1.48 million annually.

To prevent undue burden on the city when the grant runs out, Price said, council set a goal.

That goal, he said, was to generate enough revenue through usage fees to cover at least 75 percent of operational costs and eventually shrink that margin to cover 100 percent of the cost.

Now, as the city enters the fifth and final year of the Ak-Chin grant, administrators are sifting through the facility’s budget in an attempt to lower overhead and get the facility on track to self-sustainability.

Not only will the $1.48 million cushion be taken away after next fiscal year, but the city is currently experiencing only about a 65 percent return, Interim Community Services director Fred Gray said.

In July, former Community Services Director Kristie Reister presented a financial review of Copper Sky at a Budget, Finance and Operations (BFO) Subcommittee meeting in an effort to address the impending situation and to both reduce costs and increase revenue.

The aquatic center was heavily scrutinized for its high overhead. Other suggested cuts were to simple expenses such as office supplies and advertising.

Additionally, in light of the recent increase in state minimum wage, increasing membership rates to reflect an increase in general labor costs was discussed at the July BFO meeting. This is most likely to take the form of increased day-use fees to encourage the purchase of monthly and annual memberships.

However, when considering rate increases, Price wants to err on the side of caution.

“Where’s the break-even point? How much do you let go so that you subsidize that because that’s what the taxpayers demand?” Price said. “They want to use [Copper Sky] for an economical price.”

Gray has since replaced Reister as head of the Community Services Department on an interim basis.

Gray has extensive experience in Community Services, including more than a decade as Tuscon’s Parks and Recreations director. And though his time with the City of Maricopa is currently considered provisional, he does agree changes must be made.

However, he said, any changes need to be done in such a way they “don’t impact services.”

Though officials seem to be working hard to compensate for the lack of a grant, Financial Services Director Brenda Hasler insisted that despite any potential shortcomings in the Copper Sky budget the city would never be in jeopardy of defaulting on any bond payments. Doing so would mean a significant blow to the city’s credit rating, so the city would make other budget shifts to prevent that from happening.

“We budget conservatively,” Hasler said. “We never budget [overall] expenditures over and above revenues.”

Accordingly, as the city prepares for life without the Ak-Chin grant, they must consider the impact of an increased burden on the city’s General Fund, the fund that AKIC grant money was channeled through.

And therein lies the rub.

As Price put it, the city must continue to subsidize the facility in such a way that rates do not price out the residents. As Gray put it, the city should be leery of sacrificing services. And as Hasler put it, the city cannot default on its debt obligations.

Instead, a balancing act must be performed that in the end keeps residents happy, Copper Sky afloat and the city financially solvent.

Additionally, for those who suggest issuing the remaining $13 million bond money to compensate, Price said, no way. The city doesn’t want to over-leverage itself and risk its credit-worthiness.

“Just because your credit card limit says $100,000, does it mean you should spend $100,000 if you only make $50,000 a year? No, it doesn’t.”


This story appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.


Photo by Michelle Chance

Maricopans remembered the life of Martin Luther King Jr. Monday at Copper Sky. The third annual Martin Luther King Celebration featured appearances by notable city leaders, local youth groups and residents. Speeches from councilmembers Henry Wade, Marvin Brown and Vice Mayor Peg Chapados preceded one by keynote speaker Floyd Galloway. The sold out event featured live music, dancing and brunch.

Family Fishing Day was a chilly affair at Copper Sky Jan. 13. Photo by Michelle Chance

Anglers of all ages were greeted with perfect winter weather during the annual Family Fishing Day at Copper Sky Lake Saturday morning. The event, hosted by the City of Maricopa, included agents from the Arizona Game & Fish Department who provided fishing tips and equipment to attendees before a community barbecue sponsored by Fry’s Marketplace.

Click photos to enlarge.

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File photo

Anglers, both novice and experienced, will take to the lake at Copper Sky for the city’s annual Family Fishing Day.

The 14th annual event begins at 8 a.m. on Jan. 13. Participants can register online or onsite the morning of the event at 7. Fishing licenses are not required for participants.

The five-acre lake will be stocked with bass, catfish, rainbow trout, bluegill and white amur.

Each participant can keep up to four fish, said Niesha Whitman, City of Maricopa events and marketing coordinator.

As in previous years, the Arizona Game and Fish Department will provide fishing clinics and the city will issue “loaner” fishing kits with a rod, reel and bait to each participant. A fishing pole can also be purchased for $5.

The city will offer a barbecue lunch for participants at the event. The meal consists of a hot dog or pulled pork, cupcake, potato chips and a drink for $5.

One dollar can also buy children a goodie bag filled with prizes, Whitman said.



What: Maricopa Family Fishing Day

Where: Copper Sky Regional Park

When: Jan. 13, 8 a.m.

Info: Maricopa-AZ.gov

This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Dean Crandall

A company was granted a permit Nov. 9 to fill in an aesthetic opening between the first and second floors of Copper Sky Multigenerational Complex. Architekton, a subcontractor, is filling in the oculus opening that allows members in the workout room to see into the lobby. The $10,000 project is part of a larger project by CORE Construction to create room for more exercise equipment on the second floor to help Copper Sky’s revenue.

HRW Builders was granted a site-improvement permit Nov. 1 for a possible Jiffy Lube. The property is at 42100 W. Maricopa Casa-Grande Hwy.

Global Water-Santa Cruz Water Company received a rezoning permit Nov. 1 for the campus on the northwest corner for The Lakes at Rancho El Dorado as part of ongoing construction for its water reclamation facility. Global also received zoning permits for 30-foot antenna poles at Rancho El Dorado, Province, Homestead, Cobblestone and Smith-Enke Road.

Maricopa Renovations received a permit Oct. 18 for an illuminated black aluminum sign at 20024 N. John Wayne Parkway. On Nov. 7, Edison Pointe received a permit for two banners for the property at 20595 N. John Wayne Parkway.

Nov. 2, the City of Maricopa received a temporary use permit for its 2nd Saturday Maricopa Market at Sequoia Pathway Academy.

SAC Wireless was granted a permit Oct. 26 for a cell tower modification in Glennwilde. The project is valued at $9,000.

This item appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

Still-dirty corners of city facilities have council looking at its cleaning-services contract anew. Submitted photo

The Maricopa City Council batted down the extension of a janitorial contract Tuesday due to what some members said was sub-par service.

The one-year contract, valued at nearly $340,000, was to be granted to Carnation Building Services Inc., the city’s previous janitorial service provider. However, Mayor Christian Price and others on council expressed dissatisfaction with both the quality of service and what they felt was an inadequate bidding process.

“I don’t want to say we haven’t been happy, but I can’t say that we’ve been thrilled with this particular service here,” Price said.

Both Price and Councilmember Vincent Manfredi referenced instances in which both constituents and themselves personally have been to Copper Sky Recreation Complex when the facilities were unusually dirty.

In photos submitted to InMaricopa, areas around Copper Sky can be seen to be only partially clean, with certain surfaces and areas behind furniture left dusty.

Price said one possible solution would be to divide the contract into multiple, smaller contracts. By doing this, he said, it would not only allow for a more fair and competitive bidding process but also may allow for more specialized janitorial services.

The contract currently includes the cleaning of City Hall, Copper Sky, the Fire Administration and Public Works offices and special events.  The broad scope of the contract, Price said, is where the city is going wrong.

“It makes me wonder if we haven’t hindered ourselves by putting together this entire quote, because they’re different things,” Price said.

Price compared it to going to Costco and needing mayonnaise but being forced to buy a tub of mayonnaise because it is all they offer.

“You might save some money in some respects, but you might waste a lot, too,” Price said.

Price suggested separating the contract into basic janitorial services and additional special events and/or Copper Sky services.

Public Works Director Bill Fay said the average number of received bids for any government contract is around 4.2 bids per contract. However, this contract received considerably less than that.

“My understanding is that there were two bids,” Fay said. “One was declared non-responsive, so that left one.”

That number could have much greater, Price said, if the contract were separated so businesses that specialize in offices could bid on a contract that doesn’t include special events or fitness centers.

Furthermore, Price said, by continuing the contract, the city is doing a disservice to paying members of Copper Sky who may notice the unclean areas and decide to discontinue their memberships.

Council ultimately voted to reject the current contract and directed city staff to reconfigure the contract.

Carnation Building Services will likely continue on a month-to-month contract until the matter is resolved.