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Pinal County

Starting April 2, Pinal County Air Quality begin issuing only 3-day open burning permits. All permits will expire by May 1, and Pinal County will suspend the issuance of all open burning permits on April 27.

Burn permits allow for the disposal of plant material by open burning during limited daytime hours.

Additionally, State law prohibits open burning in Area A from May 1 thru Sept. 30. The Pinal County portion of Area A includes Apache Junction, Queen Creek, Gold Canyon, San Tan Valley and portions of Florence.

The annual cycle of rising temperatures will quickly dry seasonal vegetation, leading to an acute wildfire risk in the desert and upland areas of the County.

The suspension on burn permits will continue until the summer monsoons arrive and mitigate the dual risks to public safety and public health.

Additional information on the Pinal County Air Quality program can be found at www.pinalcountyaz.gov or by calling the Pinal County Air Quality Division at 520-866-6929.

 

Supervisor Smith talks county economy, development

Supervisor Anthony Smith talks with Hidden Valley residents. Photo by Jim Headley

Pinal County Supervisor Anthony Smith had a public meeting for residents of the Hidden Valley/Thunderbird Farms area Thursday afternoon at the Raceway Bar and Grill.

Topics of discussion included the flood in the area when Hurricane Rosa parked over the region for about 18 hours in October. Also discussed were roads, taxes, the Thunderbird Fire Department and the local economy.

Smith brought several Pinal County managers and department supervisors with him to Thursday’s Hidden Valley meeting.

During the Hurricane Rosa flood of 2018, the Hidden Valley area was heavily impacted with lots of water, particularly Vekol Wash.

“There was about an 18-hour period where it just dumped a lot of rain and a lot of water in that area,” said Chris Wanamaker, Pinal County Flood Control section chief. “In that storm, we got almost what we would normally get in a whole year. In one area, we measured near the county yard, it was close to eight inches over the full three months. During the storm it was closer to three-and-a-half inches.”

Wanamaker said Rosa was a 10-year storm event and it cause a serious damage to private and public property.

“We identified 48 damage sites, private property and damage in homes. Some reports had 20 homes with water in them,” Wanamaker said.

In the coming fiscal year, a study of the Hidden Valley area is being launched to determine its vulnerability to flooding.

“This is an area that has not been studied before. That is the first step to moving into construction projects to negate flooding in the future,” he said, adding the study will look at existing data, damage estimates, talking to residents, typography and drainage patterns.

“We are identifying where are the projects needs and what sort of projects can we do,” Wanamaker said. “There are channels and basins, combinations of those, bridges and such. The goal of the study is to get a list of projects that we can actually build to reduce flooding on private property and reduce damage to public infrastructure.”

Wanamaker said he already knew there was extensive damage to the Hidden Valley area from Rosa, but after talking to residents at Thursday’s meeting, he said, “We probably have more flooding damage out there than we were aware of.  Not everybody calls us.”

Pinal County Emergency Manager Charles Kmet said there was about $700,000 damage to the county’s infrastructure during the Rosa event.

“After the event is over part of what our role is, is the recovery of that community or jurisdiction,” Kmet said. “What we did specifically with Rosa is we gathered all the information from public works road crews as to how much it was costing them to repave roads, fix roads and clear debris. We were able to put a dollar figure to that.”

He said that figure of almost $700,000 was submitted to the state department of emergency military affairs and to the governor’s office. With a state gubernatorial emergency declaration, funding is opened from the governor’s emergency fund for 75 percent reimbursement.

“Each year the governor’s office has a pot of $4 million to handle disasters around the state,” Kmet said, adding the county applied for and was approved for the emergency declaration by the governor.

The matter is before the department of emergency military affairs for their analysis of the flood damage.

Meanwhile, Smith updated residents on the county’s financial status.

“Pinal County was the first county to come out of and recover from the recession,” said Smith. “We have tremendously reduced our poverty level and hauled in a lot of jobs. Our population keeps growing at a brisk pace and our growth rate is around three percent. We have some great projects that are happening in the county. There is going to be more happening in the Hidden Valley area once the overpass is completed because a lot of development interest are looking to the south.”

He said there is a lot of industrial expansion coming to the county. He said there is a coming factory for Lucent Motors going to be built in the county as well as an Attesa race and test track that will be four times larger than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The huge facility will be used as research and development for the auto industry.

“Lucent is going to be breaking ground in the spring. The Attesa track will be breaking ground in the fall. So those are just two of the big projects that will be coming to the area,” Smith said. “We have a lot of good stuff happening in the county. We continue to find additional revenue that we are able to use to lower the tax rate.”

He said five years ago, Pinal County had the second highest tax rate in the state. Today, Pinal is fourth highest on the list of 15 counties in Arizona. Smith said the supervisors’ goal is to be in the middle of the pack.

“This year we will probably reduce our tax rate and the next year we will probably reduce our tax rate again. It helps a lot of the small businesses because they are not protected by what is called the 1-percent cap,” Smith said.

Photo by Jim Headley

Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb said participating in "60 Days In" was beneficial for his department.

 

When television producers first approached Sheriff Mark Lamb about doing a reality show, he was understandably hesitant.

It was early in 2017, and Lamb was still getting his feet wet as sheriff of Pinal County. But when Lucky 8 producers reached out again in the spring of 2017, Lamb was re-thinking the proposal.

“They wanted to show what a border-state jail felt like,” Lamb said.

Sneak Peek from Thursdays episode of 60 Days In

SNEAK PEEK! Don't miss Sheriff Lamb on Thursday at 10PM during the brand new episode of 60 Days In!

Posted by 60 Days In on A&E on Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Lucky 8 produces “60 Days In” for A&E TV, and it is the network’s top-rated show. Now in its fifth season, the show sends a handful of innocent people undercover into jails. Posing as inmates, they gather information about other prisoners and staff from a vantage point usually unavailable to administration.

Previous jails filmed for the series included Clark County in Indiana and Fulton County in Georgia.

Lamb said he realized Pinal County Sheriff’s Office could gain great information at no cost to taxpayers. Filming at PCSO adult detention began in the fall of 2017 after PCSO and the TV producers did background checks on their faux inmates from diverse backgrounds.

“One had been in prison for 15 years,” Lamb said. “One was a police officer.”

The new season of “60 Days In” is airing now on Thursdays at 10 p.m.

After filming, the sheriff’s office debriefed the “cast” members and found consistent information from all participants. PCSO was instituting changes within a week. That included a body scanner purchase after learning the details of how drugs were entering the detention center.

“We didn’t get paid for the project, but we used the information to justify the purchase of the body scanner,” Lamb said.

Drugs, gangs and jail operations were focal points for PCSO in agreeing to do the series.

Had PCSO paid for a typical audit of the jail, “we would never get the intel that we got,” said Navideh Forghani, PCSO’s public information officer.

She said the department had also participated in A&E’s “Live PD” in the same way, weighing the pros and cons and seeing the benefits once they found a way to make sure everyone was safe. “Live PD,” she said, helped with recruitment, while “60 Days In” helped PCSO improve the jail.

While jail staff was as oblivious as the real inmates to the undercover operation, the sheriff said he had no intention of using the project as a “gotcha” against employees.

“We have 12-hour shifts for employees,” he said. “We wanted to make sure the programs were worthwhile.”

Lamb said his top priorities for any PCSO decision are employees, the agency, taxpayers and the county. He said he did not want the show to cost the department money. Any staff overtime required was paid by the producers.

While there were some things that went awry on the production side – participants forgetting their “back story,” for instance – there were not major issues for PCSO.

Besides the body scanners, the sheriff said the department has changed protocol, including improving the ability to lodge complaints.

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Supervisor Anthony Smith

County officials from across the state honored Pinal County Supervisor Anthony Smith for his outstanding service as President of the County Supervisors Association (CSA) at the organization’s Board of Directors meeting in November.

“It has been an absolute privilege to serve as president of this outstanding organization over the past year,” Smith said. “The work of CSA is essential to supporting local county operations throughout Arizona, and I am thankful that by working together counties had a very successful year at the Arizona State Capitol.”

Incoming CSA President and Yuma County Supervisor Russell McCloud lauded Smith for strengthening the partnership between county elected officials and state law-makers, stating: “Supervisor Smith’s leadership contributed directly to CSA’s success during the last legislative session. He is passionate about county officials engaging in the legislative process. He knows it’s the best way to help legislators understand the impacts of state policies, like if a bill increases costs to the county tax-payer or impedes local ability to be responsive to our communities. We followed his lead and CSA had one of its most productive legislative sessions in many years.”

Under Smith’s leadership, CSA worked with the governor and state legislators to address important issues impacting county finances and operations. Most notably, the state provided Arizona’s counties more than $20 million in financial relief by addressing recession-era policies that diverted county tax dollars to fund obligations of the state general fund. Also, legislators substantially amended or rejected over 30 proposals based on concerns raised by county supervisors.

“Serving as CSA’s president was an outstanding learning experience,” Smith said. “I am grateful for what we accomplished and for the inspiring support I have received from my colleagues across Arizona. I am looking forward to building on our successes in the years to come.”

“Supervisor Smith is a passionate and dedicated public servant and it was a privilege to work alongside him this year,” CSA Executive Director Craig Sullivan said. “His leadership and drive helped counties forge a production partnership with the state and that really helps government better serve the people of Arizona.”

CSA is a non-partisan research and advocacy organization representing the 61 county supervisors leading Arizona’s 15 counties. CSA serves as a forum for county leaders to address important issues facing local constituents and as a critical liaison between local county officials and the state and federal governments.

ADOT

 

Both sides in a lawsuit against Pinal County over a tax to improve roads are now waiting for a judge to decide whether that tax can continue to be collected during appeals.

The Goldwater Institute’s suit against the county and the Arizona Department of Revenue remains alive after a Maricopa County Tax Court ruled against the county in the case, Harold Vangilder et al. v. Arizona Department of Revenue et al., earlier this year. The defendants are preparing to file an appeal in the Arizona Court of Appeals Division 1.

The tax-court judgment was officially filed Nov. 15.

“It’s unfortunate the county is going to waste taxpayers’ money appealing this case when they’ve already wasted taxpayer money on the issue they were warned was illegal before the election,” Goldwater attorney Timothy Sandefur said.

At the center of the argument is Prop 417, approved by county voters in 2017. It is the funding mechanism for Prop 416, which is a plan to improve several roadways in Pinal County, including State Route 347. The Goldwater Institute, a conservative thinktank that litigates public-policy issues across the country, spoke out against Prop 417 during the campaign.

Joseph Kanefield, attorney for Pinal County, asked Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Whitten to stay the enforcement of the tax-court ruling and allow the collected monies to continue to be put into escrow until the case is finally resolved.

Whitten took up the motion Monday.

“He’s a judge who takes his time to weigh all the consequences of his decision,” Sandefur said.

Sandefur’s stand is that Pinal County opted to ignore the appropriate method of collecting sales tax for a funding project and instead devised a “scheme” that would exclude big-ticket businesses like auto dealerships, farming equipment dealers and others selling items that would generate more than $10,000 in sales tax. Kanefield argued the proposition as voted on by the public was not in the form as presented to the tax court by the plaintiffs.

“We believe the tax court erred in his ruling in terms of what was presented to the voters versus the resolution originally proposed by the Pinal Regional Transportation Authority,” Kanefield said. “Ultimately, the way the tax was structured was within the scope of the state statute that allows the RTA to propose a tax at a variable or modified rate, which is exactly what they did.”

Kanefield said if Judge Whitten rules against his motion to stay the enforcement of the tax-court ruling, he will include that issue with his appeal to the higher court.

Collection of the tax has never been suspended.

“A general principal of tax law is you don’t enjoin or stop the collection of a tax that’s being challenged in court,” Kanefield said, “because the ramifications of that are pretty severe.”

Meanwhile, Sandefur has an appeal of his own after the court denied his motion to collect $12,000 in attorney’s fees from the defendants in the case.

Pinal County has until mid-December to file its intention to appeal. Kanefield said he may ask the appeals court for an expedited process. He estimated the briefings could be completed by spring, “unless we can get the court to act quicker.”

Photo by Bruce McLaughlin

This week’s damage caused by flash flooding in Hidden Valley, specifically through Vekol Wash, is still being determined. Flowing water blocked some roads and destroyed others. Land, homes and outbuildings were damaged. Ralston Road, Amarillo Valley Road and Louis Johnson Road all had sections washed out. Pinal County estimates 20 affected homes. The rushing water moved north and flooded Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Course with “catastrophic” results, causing more damage and forcing the course’s closure until at least next week. Bruce McLaughlin of McLaughlin Air shared photos of what he witnessed, including Greg McLaughlin rescuing his 4-year-old Arabian colt from the corner of Warren and Papago roads, where the Vekol crested and flowed into homes.

Photo by Bruce McLaughlin
Photo by Bruce McLaughlin
Photo courtesy Ak-Chin Southern Dunes
Photo by Bruce McLaughlin
Photo by Bruce McLaughlin
Photo by Bruce McLaughlin
Photo by Bruce McLaughlin
Photo by Bruce McLaughlin
Photo by Bruce McLaughlin

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Stephen F. McCarville, presiding judge of the Superior Court in Pinal County, has appointed two Superior Court Commissioners to fill vacancies created by the gubernatorial appointments of Robert Carter Olson and Patrick Gard to the Pinal County Superior Court bench.

Barbara A. Hazel, a former hospital administrator who currently works as a principal attorney for the Pinal County Public Defender’s Office, was selected for one of the two vacancies left by Olson and Gard earlier this week.

Karen F. Palmer, who currently works for the Pinal County Attorney’s Office as deputy county attorney prosecuting major crimes, was selected to fill the other vacancy.

McCarville thanked McDermott, Kelly Neal and Megan Weagant, who were included in the five candidates identified by the Superior Court’s Judicial Selection Committee to move forward for the judge’s consideration.

Hazel and Palmer are expected to begin their new roles as commissioners Oct. 22.

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Former county officials Lando Voyles and Paul Babeu maintain the RICO funds were not misspent.

Former Pinal County officials are at the center of a report from the Arizona Auditor General that found their offices allegedly misused anti-racketeering funds and violated conflict-of-interest policies.

The report, published Aug. 20, focused on $2.4 million managed by the offices of former Sheriff Paul Babeu and former Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles from January 2013 to December 2016.

Auditor General Lindsey Perry forwarded the report to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office for further review.


RICO Funds

Anti-racketeering monies are forfeited to law enforcement agencies and include cash and proceeds from auctioning forfeited properties.

Those funds are supposed to be awarded to nonprofit community organizations to support substance abuse prevention, education, and gang prevention efforts.

The report found Voyles allegedly did not always follow procedures to ensure the money was spent appropriately.


Expenditures not monitored

Of the 82 awards given to 225 community organizations during the time period, 77 did not provide a memorandum of understanding with the county attorney.

“Accordingly, the uses of the awarded monies could not be determined,” the report stated.

Additionally, half of all the awards did not have applications or written proposals from the beneficiaries and those that did, included incomplete or missing documentation. The County allegedly could not provide documents to show the Community Outreach Fund Committee evaluated the awards as procedure requires.

In a majority of those awards reviewed by the state, the county attorney allegedly did not monitor the organizations’ expenditures.

“For example, monies were spent on unauthorized purposes such as appreciation events for county sheriff employees and their families and construction for a church dance studio,” according to the report.

Current Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer said in a response included with the report that his administration took action to account for and document all requests for anti-racketeering money when he took office in January 2017.

PCAO now requires those requests be accompanied by applications. Applicants must submit a letter explaining the intended uses and goals of expenditures.

Voyles previously threatened Volkmer with legal action in 2016 when Volkmer spoke out about the previous administration’s handling of RICO funds.


Former sheriff’s staff did not disclose conflicts of interest

The report also alleges Babeu and his staff allegedly violated conflict of interest policies and often did not abstain from involvement in anti-racketeering award decisions.

The Arizona Public Safety Foundation received the largest number of awards out of any organization, equaling a total of $683,406.

County sheriff employees held officer positions on the foundation’s Board, performed accounting functions, approved transactions, held foundation credit cards in their names and allegedly initiated some of those funds on the foundation’s behalf.

In all, the report states the former sheriff and county attorney dispersed $151,645 of community outreach award monies for unauthorized purposes that benefited their own programs, such as Babeu’s morale, welfare and recreation programs.

“These included events such as golf outings, holiday banquets, a Diamondbacks baseball game and movie nights,” the report stated.

More than $60,000 was used to produce public service announcements for both offices, unrelated to substance abuse prevention, education and gang prevention.

Current Sheriff Mark Lamb said PCSO has separated from the Public Safety Foundation and instituted a new process for the review of anti-racketeering fund requests. A new committee was formed to review those requests, along with other policy changes.


Former county officials say report found no wrongdoing

Babeu and Voyles maintained RICO funds were not misspent, according to a written statement sent to InMaricopa Thursday.

“The violations noted are not laws or statutes of Arizona or federal government,” Babeu wrote. “They are policies and procedures put in place by the former County Attorney Lando Voyles, as guidelines.”

Voyles said he welcomed the audit and it proved his office and Babeu’s were compliant with state and federal laws.

“I knew the audit would prove what every independent audit said, that we’ve vastly improved policies procedures and reporting,” Voyles said.

In 2017, those policies turned to law, according to Volkmer.

House Bill 2477 amended state law and required authorized purposes for county anti-racketeering funds. The law also now requires documentation and information to request and award those funds.

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Pinal County Recorder Virginia Ross is reminding voters and potential voters that the midterm election will be soon upon us.

“Time is running out to register to vote,” Ross stated. “It’s important that if you have any questions about if you are registered or not, to give our Citizen Contact Center a call at (520) 509-3555 or by cell at 3-1-1.” Or check the status of your registration at Voter View https://voter.azsos.gov/VoterView/RegistrantSearch.do

If you would like to register to vote, you can find a voter registration form at most city, county and state offices or libraries. The Recorder’s Office will mail you a form if you call and request it at 520-509-3555. You can also go online to the EZ Voter Registration page https://servicearizona.com/webapp/evoter to complete a form electronically.

If you would like to be on the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL), you can go to: http://www.pinalcountyaz.gov/Recorder/Pages/PermanentEarlyVotingRegistration.aspx and download a request. You can also fill one out at the Pinal County Voter Registration Office in Florence or at either Pinal County Recorder’s Office satellite locations in Casa Grande and Apache Junction.

Important dates for Upcoming Elections

Primary Election
July 14, Military & Overseas Registered Voters ballots are mailed
July 30, Last Day to Register to Vote
Aug. 1, Early ballots are mailed to the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) & absentee voters; early in-person voting begins at the three Recorder’s Office locations
Aug. 28, Primary Election

General Election
Sept. 22, Military & Overseas Registered Voters ballots are mailed
Oct. 9, Last Day to Register to Vote
Oct. 10, Early ballots are mailed to the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) & absentee voters; early in-person voting begins at the three Recorder’s Office locations
Nov. 6, Primary Election

Offices on the ballot for the Primary Election
Voters will receive a ballot according to political party affiliation (Republican, Democrat, Green or Libertarian), Independents choose which ballot and may select “Nonpartisan” which will have only city/town contests.
• Federal offices: U.S. Senate and U.S. Representative for Congressional Districts 1, 3, and 4
• Statewide offices: Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction, State Mine Inspector, Corporation Commissioner
• Legislative offices: State Senate (one seat) and House (two seats) for Legislative Districts 4, 7, 8, 11, 12, and 16
• County offices: Clerk of the Superior Court, Justices of the Peace, Constables, Precinct Committee Persons (partisan only)
• Cities/Towns: Primary election for city/town council members and mayor. Runoff in November, only if necessary.
• Special Taxing Districts: There may be some that participate in the primary, but most will be on the November ballot.

Offices on the ballot for the General Election
All voters will receive the same ballot for a given precinct part – all candidates from all parties that won in the primary are listed.
Same offices as discussed for the primary, except cities/towns may not be included if they don’t need runoff elections.
Additional contests:
• County, city/town, school district, special taxing district ballot measures
• School district and special taxing district governing board candidates
• Retention of judges (Arizona Supreme Court, Arizona Court of Appeals and Superior Court)
• Statewide ballot measures

Candidates
If you are interested in who has qualified for the Primary Election, you can click on the following link: http://www.pinalcountyaz.gov/elections/Documents/UpcomingElections/PrimaryCandidates.pdf

#InMaricopaTownHall

Gov. Doug Ducey, running for re-election, addresses the Pinal Partnership. Photo by Michelle Chance

Gov. Doug Ducey highlighted a major project in Maricopa during a Friday morning networking event in Casa Grande.

The discussion happened at The Property Conference Center June 1. The event was hosted by Pinal Partnership.

Ducey said he wants to bring “commitment for resources” toward infrastructure projects in the region like Maricopa’s future State Route 347 overpass.

“State Route 347 (overpass) is going to be traveled every morning and every evening,” Ducey said. “It can use some investment.”

The $55 million project was partially funded from the city, the Arizona Department of Transportation and a $15 million TIGER grant. The grade-separation is projected to transport motorists over the Union Pacific Railroad by 2019.

Ducey’s half-hour long speech touted legislative actions at the state level. On the top of the list were tax cuts and 160,000 new private sector jobs in Arizona since 2015, according to the governor.

“The last time unemployment was this low, you were renting your movies at Blockbuster,” Ducey said.

Education spending was also considered a victory.

Ducey approved funding for a 20 percent salary increase for teachers last month. One percent of that figure was dispersed to districts last school year.

“We just finished one of the most significant Legislative sessions in our state’s history. These are teachers that have earned this pay increase and they deserve it because Arizona children are improving faster in math and reading than any other kids in the country,” Ducey said.

Arizona is working to combat its challenges, according to its highest elected official.

Ducey outlined the state’s plan to combat the opioid addiction crisis that has stricken most of the country.

Tackling Arizona’s portion of the nation’s border security is an issue Ducey said requires a careful balance.

While combating human trafficking, drug cartels and illegal immigration at the Mexico border, Ducey said keeping a positive relationship with Arizona’s No. 1 trade partner is also priority.

“I don’t want to see us build a wall around the economy,” he said.

A low-cost rabies clinic and dog licensing event is this weekend.

 

Dog owners can purchase licensing and vaccinations for man’s best friend in Maricopa this weekend.

The Pinal County Animal Care and Control will hold the clinic May 26 at City Hall from 9-11 a.m. City Hall is located at 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza.

Saturday’s event will be the only clinic hosted in Maricopa this year. See others…

License Fees:
Unaltered Dog: $30 (Annual fee)
Altered Dog: $15 (Annual fee)
Three-year Altered Dog License: $35
Senior-Citizen Altered Dog: (Proof of age required)

  • 1-year license: $6
  • 3-year license: $15

Altered Dog late fee: $2 per month
Unaltered Dog late fee: $4 per month

Vaccination Fee:
Rabies: $9

Call 520-509-3555.

Supervisor Anthony Smith talks about a recovering economy in his State of the County address. Photo by Michelle Chance

The Maricopa Chamber of Commerce hosted its first State of the County address Thursday evening.

Former city Mayor and current Pinal County Supervisor Anthony Smith led the conversation May 18 inside Elements Event Center.

Smith touted Pinal’s progress since the economic downturn at the beginning of the last decade.

“We are the first county to recover all the jobs that were lost during the recession,” Smith said.

Pinal’s unemployment rate as the recession peaked was higher than 11 percent. It’s now 4.6 percent, according to Smith.

“That basically means everybody who wants a job, has a job,” Smith said.

Pinal tops the state in growth at 14.49 percent. Maricopa County is second. However, the rapid development brings to the county a fair share of challenges.

Smith said the county has included goals in its strategic plan to lessen tax burdens on residents.

By 2021, the goal is to have the property tax rate reduced to 3.75 percent. Smith said property valuations and state tax revenues are growing.

The biggest slice in the county’s budget, 62 percent of the pie, goes to law enforcement, the adult detention center and the judicial system.

Pinal County Sherriff Mark Lamb said since being elected in 2016, the county jail population has decreased by nearly 200 prisoners.

“It’s not because we’re not arresting people,” Lamb said. “We are protecting these communities, but we’ve been working well with the County Attorney’s Office and we’re reducing your cost for you, the taxpayer.”

Smith talked about problems the county plans to address in the Maricopa area, including State Route 347.

The solution in Smith’s eyes was, of course, last year’s two, successful RTA ballot initiatives that are meant to improve roadways across the county.

Smith often called upon the county’s “brain trust” to speak to the work county employees are doing to increase its job prospects, tourism and big business.

Those appearances featured presentations from County Public Works Director Louis Anderson, County Manager Greg Stanley, Economic Development Program Manager Tim Kanavel and Joel Millman, Workforce Development Program Management for Arizona@Work Pinal County.

A glimpse into Pinal’s ideal future included road improvements, solving chronic flooding issues, reversing the exodus of workers outside the county and local job creation.

Arizona House Rep. Vince Leach (R-District 11), Mayor Christian Price, Maricopa Justice of the Peace Lyle Riggs, Constable Bret Roberts and city council members also attended the event.


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County Supervisor Anthony Smith (District 4) in his Maricopa office. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

 

In what will be a first for Maricopa, a State of the County Address is scheduled for May 17, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce.

IF YOU GO
What: State of the County
When: May 17, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Elements Event Center at Ak-Chin Circle
Who: Supervisor Anthony Smith
How much: Individuals $35; table of eight $280
RSVP: MaricopaChamber.org

District 4 Supervisor Anthony Smith of Maricopa will talk about what’s happened in the past year and what’s ahead for Pinal County. Smith said outgoing chamber executive Terri Crain approached him about providing the update as a chamber fundraiser.

Though Maricopa is the second-largest municipality in Pinal County, Smith acknowledged many of its residents know more about what is happening in Maricopa County.

“We’re going to identify what kind of services we bring here, where the county offices are at the library/health department/HUD,” Smith said. There is a fair county presence in Maricopa, but we’ll eventually need more. It’s just a matter of growth.”

Smith is bringing with him several elected and appointed county officials, from County Manager Greg Stanley to Sheriff Mark Lamb. In fact, he’s set aside two tables for county personnel.

“I’m going to emphasize teamwork between the county and the city,” Smith said.

Atop that list is the successful campaign for the regional transportation authority. Though it is still in court on a lawsuit from the Goldwater Institute (and probably will be for the summer, Smith predicted), it saw a variety of Maricopa entities and individuals come together in support.

The teamwork of the county and local flood control districts and the Army Corps of Engineers, he said, will be crucial to Maricopa’s ability to grow.

He will also talk about the growing job market, predicting Maricopa will provide 25 percent of the labor for new projects in the county. Maricopa, he said, has a well-educated work force, “and that’s an advantage when recruiting for jobs.”

Smith said Pinal was the first county to manage its way out of the recession and continues the highest rate of growth (14.5 percent compared to Maricopa County’s 12.5 percent).

In his forays into District 4, Smith also fields concerns and complaints the county needs to address. Those include emergency-response time in rural areas, illegal dumping and code compliance.

Overall, however, he thinks Pinal County is on strong footing.

“Our finances are very solid,” Smith said. “We have a decent reserve. We balance our budgets.”


This story appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.

Sales tax set to be implemented April 1

The RTA plans are aimed at widening State Route 347 and establishing an east-west corridor.

Pinal County and the Regional Transportation Authority filed a legal response Monday to an injunction request filed by the Goldwater Institute over a transportation sales tax.

The tax and the transportation infrastructure improvements it is meant to fund (Props 416/417) were approved by county voters in November. The Goldwater Institute, a conservative thinktank based in Phoenix, filed suit in December against the county, the RTA and the Arizona Department of Revenue. Plaintiffs are listed as Arizona Restaurant Association, county resident Harold Vangilder and On Sight Shooting owner Dan Neidig.

The suit [read it here] challenges the legality of the tax and also claims it exceeds the county’s authority “by creating a new tax classification.”

“The problem is the tax is so complicated and confusing that nobody really knows what is taxed and how,” Timothy Sandefur, Goldwater vice president, said at the time.

After the defendants filed a response in January, the plaintiffs asked the court for a preliminary injunction, hoping to stop the implementation of the tax on April 1. They said collecting the tax while the suit is still being decided would cause irreparable injury and hardship. [Read the motion here.]

The case is in Maricopa County Superior Court in front of Judge Chris Whitten.

In responding to Goldwater’s motion, the defendants called the claims of voter confusion “apparitional.” The response [read it here] also stated the plaintiffs failed to meet the requirements for injunction.

“This lawsuit is nothing more than a post-election attack by those who failed to convince voters to oppose the transportation tax at the election,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Todd House stated. “The voters spoke clearly about the need for improved transportation infrastructure in the Pinal region last November while also expressing their willingness to pay an additional sales tax that amounts to about $7.33 per month per household.”

There is continuing uncertainty over the legal ramifications if the court does not grant the preliminary injunction to halt the start of tax collection on April 1 but Whitten later rules against the RTA. The county cannot proceed with RTA plans until the case is settled.


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'Dancing this dance of sensitivity'

ADOT

A joint-litigation attorney for Pinal County Regional Transportation Authority wrote a letter to the Department of Revenue on Wednesday asking when and how the voter-approved half-cent sales tax will be implemented.

The sales tax is the funding mechanism for countywide road improvements, including the widening of State Route 347. RTA-related propositions 416 and 417 were approved in November.

PRTA General Manager Andy Smith told board members Wednesday a response from ADOR is expected by Feb. 5.

A sticking point in the progress of RTA planning is a lawsuit filed by the Goldwater Institute in December challenging the validity of the half-cent sales tax. Goldwater’s attorneys claim Prop 417 exceeds the county authority by taxing only items below $10,000, “creating a new tax classification instead of a variable rate and violates the Equal Protection Clause by taxing transactions below an arbitrary threshold amount but not above that amount.”

The Goldwater Institute is suing Pinal County, PRTA and the Department of Revenue on behalf of two county residents and the Arizona Restaurant Association.

Smith said the respective attorneys “have been having conversations” to create briefs and establish “stipulated facts.”

The PRTA board has hopes for an April 1 implementation of the tax.

Maricopa Mayor Christian Price, a member of the board, explained the challenges of SR 347, both geographically and politically. The main agencies involved in adding lanes to the highway are PRTA, Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), Gila River Indian Community and Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG).

“It’s an incredibly complex road,” Price said. “It’s on Gila River land, it crosses county lines, it’s a state-owned road, it’s the city of Maricopa pushing for it.”

To prevent bottle-neck at the county line, “we need help on the Maricopa County side,” Price said. Maricopa leaders have been in discussions with MAG and Gila River for years. MAG specifically has discussed solutions for problems at interchanges at Riggs Road and old Maricopa Highway (Wild Horse Pass) and the possibility of using MC Prop 400 funds for improvements.

In the ongoing discussions, the sour relationship between Gila River and ADOT is “throwing things out of whack,” Price said. Gila River sued the state in 2015 over the South Mountain Freeway construction.

“MAG is conducting the scoping study, and we’ll kind of leave it in their hands because of the sensitivities,” Price said.

“Obviously, to come up with a fix for you all in Maricopa, that’s going to take Maricopa County to get involved,” county Supervisor Pete Rios said. He warned that often Native American communities are planning “seven generations down the road. We do need to be sensitive to where some of these tribes are coming from.”

Price said he has been working with Gila River Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis for two years. “We’re really trying to dance this dance of sensitivity,” he said.

The RTA plan is to provide $28.8 million over the next five years to fund additional lanes for nine miles of SR 347.


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Maricopa City Council: (seated, from left) Vice Mayor Marvin Brown, Mayor Christian Price, Councilmember Peggy Chapados; (standing) Councilmembers Nancy Smith, Henry Wade, Julia Gusse and Vincent Manfredi (City of Maricopa photo)

City of Maricopa
39700 W. Civic Center Plaza
520-568-9098
Maricopa-AZ.gov

 

Mayor
Christian Price
520-316-6821
Christian.Price@Maricopa-AZ.gov

City Council
Vice Mayor Peggy Chapados
520-316-3826
Peggy.Chapados@Maricopa-AZ.gov

Councilmember Marvin L. Brown
520-316-2020
Marvin.Brown@Maricopa-AZ.gov

Councilmember Julia Gusse
520-568-9098
Julia.Gusse@Maricopa-AZ.gov

Councilmember Vincent Manfredi
520-316-6823
Vincent.Manfredi@Maricopa-AZ.gov

Councilmember Nancy Smith
520-316-6822
Nancy.Smith@Maricopa-AZ.gov

Councilmember Henry Wade
520-316-6825
Henry.Wade@Maricopa-AZ.gov

 

Maricopa Unified School District
44150 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy.
520-568-5100
MUSD20.org

Governing Board
President AnnaMarie Knorr
AKnorr@musd20.org

Vice President Gary Miller
GMiller@musd20.org

Member Torri Anderson
TorriAnderson@musd20.org

Member Patti Coutré
PCoutre@musd20.org

Member Joshua Judd
JoshJudd@musd20.org

 

Maricopa Flood Control District
480-980-0531

Board of Directors
President Dan Frank
Secretary Brad Hinton
Member Scott Kelly

 

Pinal County

Sheriff
Mark Lamb
971 Jason Lopez Circle, Building C, Florence
520-866-5997
PinalCountyAZ.gov/Sheriff

County Attorney
Kent Volkmer
30 N. Florence St, Building D, Florence
520-866-6271
PinalCountyAttorney@PinalCountyAZ.gov
PinalCountyAZ.gov/CountyAttorney

Justice of the Peace – Precinct 8 (Maricopa/Stanfield)
Lyle Riggs
19955 N. Wilson Ave.
520-866-3999
PinalCountyAZ.gov/Judicial

Constable – Precinct 8 (Maricopa/Stanfield)
Bret Roberts
19955 N. Wilson Ave.
520-840-5294
Bret.Roberts@PinalCountyAZ.gov

Assessor
Douglas Wolf
31 N. Pinal St, Building E, Florence
520-866-6353
Assessor@PinalCountyAZ.gov
PinalCountyAZ.gov/Assessor

Recorder
Virginia Ross
31 N. Pinal St, Building E, Florence
520-866-6830
Recorder@PinalCountyAZ.gov
PinalCountyAZ.gov/Recorder

Board of Supervisors
135 N. Pinal St, Building A, Florence
520-866-6220
PinalCountyAZ.gov/BOS

Supervisor Anthony Smith [District 4, Maricopa]
41600 W. Smith-Enke Road, Suite 128
520-866-3960
Anthony.Smith@PinalCountyAZ.gov

Supervisor Pete Rios [District 1]
520-866-7830
Pete.Rios@PinalCountyAZ.gov

Supervisor Mike Goodman [District 2]
520-866-8080
Mike.Goodman@PinalCountyAZ.gov

Supervisor Stephen Miller [District 3]
520-866-7401
Steve.Miller@PinalCountyAZ.gov

Supervisor Todd House [District 5]
480-982-0659
Todd.House@PinalCountyAZ.gov

 

Central Arizona College (Pinal County Community College District) Governing Board
8470 N. Overfield Road, Coolidge
800-237-9814
CentralAZ.edu

Member Dan Miller [District 4 – Maricopa]
Dan.Miller2@CentralAZ.edu

President Gladys Christensen [District 1]
Gladys.Christensen@CentralAZ.edu

Member Debra Banks [District 2]
Debra.Banks@CentralAZ.edu

Member Rick Gibson [District 3]
Rick.Gibson@CentralAZ.edu

Member Jack Yarrington
Jack.Yarrington@CentralAZ.edu

 

State of Arizona

Governor
Doug Ducey
1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix
602-542-4331
Engage@AZ.gov
AZGovernor.gov

State Legislators
Steve Smith – State Senator – District 11 (Maricopa)
1700 W. Washington St, Room 33, Phoenix
602-926-5685
STSmith@AZLeg.gov
AZLeg.gov

Mark Finchem – State Representative – District 11 (Maricopa)
1700 W. Washington St, Room 129, Phoenix
602-926-3122
MFinchem@AZLeg.gov
AZLeg.gov

Vince Leach – State Representative – District 11 (Maricopa)
1700 W. Washington St, Room 226, Phoenix
602-926-3106
VLeach@AZLeg.gov
AZLeg.gov

Secretary of State
Michelle Reagan
1700 W. Washington St., 7th Floor, Phoenix
1-800-458-5842
AZSOS.gov

Attorney General
Mark Brnovich
1275 W. Washington St., Phoenix
602-542-5025
AZAG.gov

State Treasurer
Jeff Dewit
1700 W. Washington St, 1st Floor, Phoenix
602-542-7800
AZTreasury.gov

State Mine Inspector
Joe Hart
1700 W. Washington St, 4th Floor, Phoenix
602-542-5971
ASMI.AZ.gov

State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Diane Douglas
1535 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix
800-352-4558
adeinbox@AZED.gov
AZED.gov/superintendent

Corporation Commission
1200 W. Washington St, Commissioners Wing, 2nd Floor, Phoenix
AZCC.gov

Chairman Tom Forese
602-542-3933
foresee-web@AZCC.gov

Commissioner Bob Burns
602-542-3682
rburns-web@AZCC.gov

Commissioner Doug Little
602-542-0742
little-web@AZCC.gov

Commissioner Andy Tobin
602-542-3625
tobin-web@AZCC.gov

Commissioner Boyd W. Dunn
602-542-3935
dunn-web@AZCC.gov

 

U.S. Congress

Tom O’Halleran –  U.S. Representative – U.S. House District 1
126 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
202-225-3361
211 N. Florence St, Suite 1, Casa Grande
520-316-0839
3037 W. Ina Road, Suite 101, Tucson
928-304-0131
OHalleran.House.gov

John McCain – U.S. Senator
218 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
202-224-2235
2201 E. Camelback Road, Suite 115, Phoenix
602-952-2410
407 W. Congress St, Suite 103, Tucson
520-670-6334
McCain.Senate.gov

Jeff Flake – U.S. Senator
Senate Russell Office Building 413, Washington, D.C.
202-224-4521
2200 E. Camelback Road, Suite 120, Phoenix
602-840-1891
6840 N. Oracle Road, Suite 150, Tucson
520-575-8633
Flake.Senate.gov

 

President of the United States
Donald Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
Phone (White House Switchboard): 202-456-1111
Phone (Comments): 202-456-1414
Phone (TTY/TTD): 202-456-6213
Phone (Visitors Office): 202-456-2121
WhiteHouse.gov


2018 is an election year. For updated elected official information, visit http://www.inmaricopa.com/newresidentguide/

In the past five months, Pinal County has experienced an over-twofold elevation in the number of gonorrhea infections, compared to the prior five-year average.

Sexually transmitted infections are on the rise across the country, according to new data published by Pinal County Health Services. The city of Maricopa and its surrounding communities are no exception.

In a Dec.13 presentation to the Pinal County Board of Supervisors, Director of Pinal County Public Health Services District Dr. Shauna McIsaac said, despite certain sexually transmitted diseases reaching their lowest historical rate in the late 20th century, certain STIs have been on the rise in recent years.

“Although 20 years ago, gonorrhea rates were at historic lows, and syphilis was close to elimination, rates of sexually transmitted infections in the U.S. have now increased three years in a row,” McIsaac said.

Pinal County Public Health Services District

 

In 2017 alone, from January through September, Pinal County has seen an average of more than three new cases of syphilis per month, whereas the previous five years saw an average of less than one new case of syphilis per month.

Likewise, on average, 20-30 Pinal County patients tested positive for gonorrhea in the previous five years. In 2017 that average has jumped to nearly 40 patients testing positive per month.

The cause of this influx is difficult to precisely determine, Infectious Disease and Epidemiology Section Manager Graham Briggs said. However, he added, what is clear is the demographic where these spikes are being seen – young people and men who have sex with other men, also known as MSM.

People in those demographics tend to be those individuals engaged in riskier sexual behavior, Briggs said. This has little or nothing to do with their sexuality, he said, and instead had more to do with their reported behavior, such as repeated unprotected sex with multiple partners.

“In Pinal County, while we’re seeing an increase, we don’t know if it’s just because of an increase in MSM. We’re looking at the heterosexual couple being exposed,” Briggs said.

Pinal County has also seen a recent case of syphilis in a pregnant female, Briggs said, which can pose a danger to the child, as the STI can be passed congenitally.

At any rate, according to the Center for Disease Control, Americans ages 15-24, while only accounting for 27 percent of the sexually active population, account for 50 percent of known sexually transmitted infections.

Aside from unprotected sex with multiple partners, the CDC says this increased rate in that demographic is likely caused by any combination of factors, including biology, confidentiality concerns, insufficient screenings and lack of access to healthcare.

Biologically speaking, the CDC says young women are simply more susceptible to certain health issues, including most STIs. Additionally, young people don’t often receive CDC recommended screenings for STIs like chlamydia, nor do they disclose “risk behaviors” to their physicians.

The CDC also expresses concern that most young people either lack insurance or the transportation to access preventive services provided by local health departments and Planned Parenthood.

Factors such as these increase the degree of danger associated with the less-forgiving STIs such as syphilis, which, Briggs said, can cause irreversible harm if not treated during the initial stages of infection.

“We are really good at killing syphilis bacteria,” Briggs said. “What we’re not so good at is identifying infections early in people that don’t seek medical care.”

One telltale sign of syphilis infection sometimes over looked, Briggs said, is palmar-plantar rash – reddish, swollen spots that occur in the palms and bottoms of the feet.

When caught early, syphilis and gonorrhea are easily treated with penicillin and antibiotics, respectively.

The appearance of a new antibiotic-resistant form of gonorrhea, however, also has Briggs and other officials concerned.

The CDC says there are nearly 820,000 new gonorrhea infections a year in the United States, making the prospect of a drug-resistant form of the STI all the more disheartening.

To combat STIs, the CDC suggests, multiple courses of action.

First, officials suggest abstaining from sexual activity. Second, those who engage in sexual activity, are encouraged to use protection, especially condoms, and keep their number of sexual partners to a minimum. Third, the CDC recommends biannual medical exams, which include STI screenings, and communication with sexual partners to encourage them to also receive regular screenings.

Maricopa residents can obtain low- or no-cost screening and prevention at the Maricopa office of Pinal County Health Services, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road, Suite 15, near the Maricopa Public Library.

For a full list of Pinal County Health Department location, visit their website.

https://www.cdc.gov/std/products/infographics.htm



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More than a decade of rush-hour congestion on SR 347 caused many Maricopa residents to vote in favor of the county's RTA this week.

With all ballots in, Propositions 416 and 417 appear to have succeeded with Pinal County voters.

The unofficial results from Tuesday’s election show Prop 416, the county’s Regional Transportation Authority, receiving 57 percent approval. It was a tougher battle for Prop 417, which was the funding mechanism for Prop 416. The Yes votes currently lead 50.97 percent to 49.03 percent, a difference of 901 votes.

“What has impressed me is that the City of Maricopa precincts and those in San Tan Valley are pretty much carrying the county,” Supervisor Anthony Smith said.

For Prop 417, the Maricopa Fiesta precinct was most typical of the incorporated community. Those voters approved the half-cent sales tax by 59 percent.

The RTA includes road improvements and new road construction all over the county. Phase 1 includes the planned widening of State Route 347 from four lanes to six lanes up to the county line as well as an east-west corridor.

Smith called it the election “one of the most important votes that Pinal County will have for several years or maybe generations.”

Pinal County reported voter turnout of 24 percent for the mail-in election.

Attesa is a proposed motorsports facility west of Casa Grande.

Pinal County approved an addition to the county zoning code Aug. 2, allowing a proposed motorsports complex to move forward with a facility near Casa Grande.

The county Board of Supervisors approved the creation of a multi-purpose community master plan (MP-CMP) zoning district, which will ultimately allow contractors to begin the process of zoning applications for a proposed 2,500-acre recreational motorsports complex called Attesa.

“This does not approve [the Attesa project],” Pinal County Planning Manager Steve Abraham said.  “The actual zoning process is the one that actually approves the development standards.”

This “text amendment,” Abraham said, specifically creates a “new zoning category to address developments that are over 2,000 acres in size” and feature a central recreational component (such as a racetrack) and complimentary elements such as residential, commercial, industrial and public facilities.

“We’re talking ultra-large developments that really have a degree of gravity to them,” Abraham Said.

Though this amendment was a citizen initiative filed by law firm Snell and Wilmer on behalf of DRE Development – Attesa, the change will take effect across the county and would address similar proposals.

“At the end of the day we can use this for other projects like the Pinal Airpark (and) the amusement park that was thinking about going on in Casa Grande [sic],” Abraham said.

Pinal County Supervisor Anthony Smith of Maricopa expressed concern with the future approval process, asking if there was sufficient opportunity for public input and feedback.

“If this is a large, mega project, they certainly have communities either adjacent or bordering that area and may want to weigh in, but I don’t see an element of a public process,” Smith said.

Abraham clarified it would follow typical zoning processes, in terms of public notice and neighborhood meeting requirements.

Smith, though satisfied with the stated opportunity for public input, raised further concern with certain wordage within the amendment, in particular the use of the term “rural” as it pertains to certain designations within the new zoning district.

Smith motioned to move the decision to the Aug. 23 meeting to allow for further reconsideration of the amendment and its wordage. The motion was not seconded.

A motion to approve the amendment was made by Supervisor Todd House and seconded by supervisor Rios.

The Board approved the amendment with a 4 to 1 vote, Smith voting against the measure.

DRE Development hopes to build two 2.8-mile road courses at the facility along with a hotel, convention center and 6000-foot private airstrip. Estimated construction costs are currently around $310 million.

 

Americans may have celebrated their independence a few weeks ago, but over 300 animals at a local shelter are still longing for their freedom.

The Pinal County Animal Care and Control is offering its “Celebrate Freedom” pricing for cats and dogs until the end of July, according to a Pinal County press release last week.

The reduced pricing is an effort by the county facility “to keep on track to be a no-kill shelter” as the number of homeless animals housed there swells to capacity.

“We do our best to keep dogs here as long as they can and sometimes that may not be the best for them since it can cause kennel craze and they are at risk of getting sick from the constant flow of new animals,” said shelter Acting Director Marybeth McCormack in the release.

Dogs known as “long timers” who have lived at the shelter for more than 90 days, come free of charge.

The most recent numbers provided by the release show the shelter is housing 57 cats and 261 dogs at 1150 S. Eleven Mile Corner Road in Casa Grande.

After adoption, all unaltered pets will be neutered or spayed, according to the press release.

Dog Pricing Unaltered Dogs (6-months-old and over): $50

Altered Dogs: $25

Long timers: Free

Puppies (under 6-months-old): $140

Cat Pricing

Unaltered cats and kittens: $25

Altered adult cats: $10

For more information please call the shelter at (520) 509-3555 or 3-1-1 if you are in the county.

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Nancy Smith. Photo by Mason Callejas

As Maricopa continues to grow, local leaders must grapple with the multifaceted and often erratic march of economic development.

To achieve economic sustainability, local governments, businesses and community leaders have developed a roundtable of sorts – the Pinal Partnership – where ideas can be discussed and projects can be developed to better serve all of Pinal County.

Recently, Maricopa City Councilmember Nancy Smith was appointed a seat on the Board of Directors at the Pinal Partnership, a position she hopes will help create prosperity for both the city and the county.

“Since there is no one from Maricopa on the list of board members, we need somebody,” Smith said. “So, I couldn’t turn it down, because we’re such a big part of Pinal County.”

The partnership, Smith said, will help the city attack some of its largest obstacles including transportation issues such as the widening of SR 347 and the redrawing of the floodplain.

Per its website, “Pinal Partnership was formed to bring together all the people and ideas that will ultimately lead Pinal County to its full potential.”

Smith said she appreciates the retail and food industries that thrive in Maricopa. However, she hopes to see healthcare support services and professional services also come to town, regardless of the transportation or floodplain issues.

Smith, who has served on the city council since 2014, works as a program manager for General Dynamics. She is in charge of making sure projects meet budgetary requirements, an aptitude she feels carries over to her political career as well.

“At General Dynamics, I’m responsible for making sure a program comes in on budget or under budget,” Smith said. For the city, she added, “that’s [also] my purpose.”

When Smith and her husband, former Maricopa Mayor and current Pinal County Supervisor Anthony Smith, first moved to Maricopa 13 years ago they didn’t immediately get involved in politics. Instead, they focused on their faith and working to promote their church – Community of Hope.

After the city gained its incorporation, the Smiths began focusing their political scope, closely following Maricopa’s first mayor and city council. Soon thereafter they became entranced with local politics and while her husband was mayor, Smith sat back and learned all she could about local governance.

In 2014 a two-year seat opened up on council, so Smith took the opportunity to get try out her political legs a bit.

“I thought, ‘that’ll just give me a taste of what it’s like, and I’ll be helping the community and serving the community as well,’” Smith said. “And, I fell in love with it.”

When offered the position at Pinal Partnership, Smith already knew Maricopa lacked representation in the partnership, thus making it an easy decision.

Other members of the board include Pinal County Supervisors Todd House and Steve Miller, Global Water President Ron Fleming, Apache Junction Councilmember Robin Barker, and the board’s chairman Jordan Rose of Rose Law Group.

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Economist Elliott Pollack is bullish on the local economy for 2017.

Arizona economist Elliott Pollack presented his annual forecast for the 10th year for Pinal Partnership at its Dec. 9 breakfast meeting at Rawhide. His predictions include:

■ 2017 will see exciting economic growth.

■ Donald Trump’s tax plan will not pass.

■ Expect faster growth and higher interest rates.

■ Expect higher inflation and higher after-tax profits.

■ A mild recession is likely in the next four years.

■ Pinal County is seeing the growth it needs with pending Lucid Motors, Attessa Motorsports and PhoenixMart.

■ Expect more announcements of businesses moving to Arizona.

■ International trade is one of the biggest issues facing the United States in 2017. “The last thing we need is a trade war.”

■ Arizona needs to closely watch its important trade with Mexico under the new president.

■ Up to 80 percent of existing businesses will comprise most of the job growth in Arizona.

■ Student debt is the top reason people under 35 don’t buy a home.

■ Baby boomers are prepared to sell their homes and live off equity, creating a large market for apartments.

■ 60.5 percent of American adults own their homes.

■ The largest group of homeowners is between 65 and 84 years old.


This article appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

Tina Morse

Tina Morse signed a plea agreement that will put her in prison for two years for events that led to the death of her 3-year-old daughter.

Tiana Rosalie Capps died of repeated blunt-force trauma Nov. 19, 2015, while in the care of Shawn Main, who was charged with murder. Main is still awaiting trial, and the Pinal County Attorney’s Office filed notice it intended to seek the death penalty.

Morse and another woman, Maria Tiglao, were charged with child abuse.

Tiana was one of four children belonging to Morse but being cared for by Main and Tiglao. All apparently lived in the same house on Ralston Road. Morse allegedly told Pinal County Sheriff’s Office investigators she had little to do with the care of her children.

Dec. 12, Judge Kevin White accepted her plea of guilty to two counts of child abuse. The prison sentence was attached to the first count, which specified Morse knowingly put Tiana in circumstances that would cause her to be injured or damage her health. Specifically, the plea stated, Morse permitted “the victim to be placed in a situation where she suffered severe diaper rash or burn and/or fail[ed] to seek prompt medical care for such condition.”

The two-year sentence takes into account time served.

The second count of her plea dealt with the abuse of her then-5-year-old son by “failing to protect him from physical injuries caused by Shawn Main.” For that violation of the law, Morse will be placed on lifetime supervised probation. She also is not allowed contact with her three sons. The two youngest boys were 4 years old and 5 months old at the time of their sister’s death.

Tiglao is no longer in jail but faces five counts of child abuse. Meanwhile, Main has a status hearing Jan. 30 for murder and abuse charges.

Pinal County picked up nearly 1,000 jobs in November, dropping its unemployment rate to 4.9 percent. That is its lowest rate of 2016.

A year ago, that number was 6 percent.

According to numbers released Thursday by the Office of Economic Opportunity, the county went from being slightly above the state’s jobless rate in October to being slightly below it. The state rate is 5 percent, down from 5.9 a year ago.

The national unemployment rate is 4.6 percent.

Maricopa County has the lowest unemployment rate in Arizona at 4.1 percent. Yuma County has the highest at 16.7 percent.

Pinal County residents gained 500 jobs in private service-providing fields, 325 in trade, transportation and utilities (TTU), 150 in leisure and hospitality, 100 in government, 50 in educational and health services, 25 in information and 25 in unspecified other services.

Doug Walls, research administrator, said the state’s gain of 16,800 nonfarm jobs during the month was less than post-recession average. From 2010 to 2015 that monthly average has been over 28,000 jobs. It’s also below the 10-year average of 21,500 jobs.

Statewide, TTU was the sector with the biggest job growth during the month with 9,800 jobs.

Walls also pointed out the estimate of 28,000 jobs gained in October has since been revised down to 24,700.

Year-to-year, Arizona has seen 1.1 percent growth in jobs. The biggest growth has been in educational and health services.

Arizona’s total labor force in November was 3.25 million people in the job market, up from 3.16 million in November 2015.

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Todd House is chairman of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors.

The Pinal County Board of Supervisors will be looking at a long-term debt proposal to finance a project in Pinal County.

The long-term debt will be used to acquire land (or interests in land) for economic development purposes, which would be utilized for future industrial, manufacturing, distribution or similar activities and projects. In accordance with Section 11-254.04, Arizona Revised Statutes, the county could then provide assistance or undertakings, improvements, leasing or future conveyance to spur industrial growth by attracting business and corporate development, expansion or relocation to enhance the economic welfare and job growth for the County’s inhabitants.

The total estimated financing cost will be $73,428,125, not to exceed $31,800,000 principal amount and total estimated interest of $41,628,125.

A public hearing is scheduled to take place during the Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Jan. 4 at 9:30 a.m.  The hearing will be part of the regularly scheduled meeting.

The public is invited to comment on this issue at the public hearing or by emailing:  newprojectscomments@pinalcountyaz.gov or mailing comments to:

Pinal County Board of Supervisors
c/o Sheri Cluff, Clerk of the Board
P.O. Box 827
Florence AZ 85132


The complete text of the required public notice is shown below:

 

NOTICE OF HEARING ON PROPOSAL OF THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF PINAL COUNTY, ARIZONA, TO INCUR A LONG-TERM OBLIGATION NOT SECURED BY THE FULL FAITH AND CREDIT OF SUCH COUNTY

For purposes of Section 11-391, Arizona Revised Statutes, the Board of Supervisors (the “Board”) of Pinal County, Arizona (the “County”), will hold a public hearing on January 4, 2017, at 9:30 a.m. in the Board of Supervisors’ Hearing Room, Administrative Complex, 135 North Pinal Street, Florence, Arizona, regarding a purchase agreement (the “Agreement”) to be secured by a pledge of amounts of certain general excise taxes which the County now or hereafter imposes, except for any taxes hereafter imposed for an inconsistent purpose; excise taxes and transaction privilege (sales) taxes imposed and collected by the State of Arizona, or any agency thereof, and returned, allocated or apportioned to the County, except the County’s share of any such taxes which by State law, rule or regulation must be expended for other purposes and vehicle license taxes distributed or deposited to the County’s general fund, except the County’s share of any such tax which by State law, rule or regulation must be expended for other purposes, to acquire land (or interests in land) for economic development purposes which would be utilized for future industrial, manufacturing, distribution or similar activities and projects so that, in accordance with Section 11-254.04, Arizona Revised Statutes, the County can provide assistance or undertakings, improvements, leasing or future conveyance of the same to spur industrial growth by attracting business and corporate development, expansion or relocation to enhance the economic welfare and job growth for the County’s inhabitants.  (More detail about the foregoing will be provided in analysis provided to the Board at the hereinafter described hearing.)  The Agreement is estimated to be in the principal amount of not to exceed $31,800,000 and, with total estimated interest of $41,628,125, to have a total estimated financing cost of $73,428,125.

The Board will receive oral comments at the hearing and will receive written comments at any time before adopting the resolution of intention with respect to the Agreement which will be considered no earlier than January 19, 2017 (the “Resolution”).  The Board’s mailing address is Pinal County Board of Supervisors, c/o Sheri Cluff, Clerk of the Board, P.O. Box 827, Florence, Arizona 85132.  The notice of such hearing posted on the website of the County includes an electronic link for submitting electronic comments at any time before adoption of the Resolution.

Dated:  December 15, 2016

/s/ Sheri Cluff

…………………………………………………………………………

Clerk, Board of Supervisors

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Maricopa voters casting mail-in ballots are beginning to worry about the legitimacy of the voting process.

Maricopan Joyce Larson, 73, was attempting to request her mail-in ballot this year when she was told by the Pinal County Recorder that she was no longer registered in the state. After some digging, it was determined that she had somehow been re-registered in her home state of South Dakota. The Pinal County Recorder’s Office could not offer Larson an explanation, only saying that they did not have the power to register people in other states.

Larson was able to get re-registered in Pinal County and send an early ballot, but her story does not end there.

Around same time she received her mail-in ballot, she also received a mail-in ballot for her husband Keith Larson. Keith has been deceased since 2014.

Pinal County Recorder Virginia Ross said the system of reconciling the deceased with voter registration rolls is sometimes slow and the recorder’s office, by law, cannot remove someone from the rolls unless they have missed at least two federal elections.

“If he is on the permanent early voting list, and we’re not aware [of his death], then he would get a ballot,” Ross said. “Obviously if someone were to vote his ballot and sign his name, we would know and we would not count that.”

Ross went on to say the recorder’s office is “trained in signature verification by forensic experts,” and their computers are trustworthy.

Joyce Larson understood there may be some clerical shortcomings that may have caused her to receive her deceased husband’s ballot, but nonetheless was still at a loss as to how she was registered in another state. Now, she admits her faith in the democratic system is shaken but it wasn’t that strong prior to the mishap.

“I just don’t trust it [voting],” Larson said. “It was questionable before, now I just don’t know.”

Another Maricopa resident, Jessica Flores, informed InMaricopa she was having trouble confirming through the state website that her ballot had been counted. She then called the Pinal County Recorder’s Office to dig deeper. According to Flores, they again were unable to confirm her ballot had been counted.

“I called 877-843-8683 (Arizona Secretary of State) and they could not find any information, so then I called 520-866-6830 (Pinal County Recorder), lo and behold they [too] have not received it or have counted it,” Flores stated in an email to In Maricopa. “So, they told me to vote at my polling station tomorrow and whichever ballot they receive first will be the one they count.”

Ross said she is so far not aware of any misplaced absentee ballots and all of the inquires she has dealt with concerning lost ballots were settled and confirmed counted. Ross admitted they do indeed recommend to provisional voters who believe their ballots were overlooked to also vote in person if possible, but it must be done at their registered polling place.

“If they are concerned that their ballot has not arrived they can cast a provisional ballot,” Ross said.

As of Monday, Nov. 7, Pinal County has tallied more than 58,000 early voting ballots.

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Jacqueline Minto is challenging Douglas Wolf for his job as Pinal County assessor.

Republican Doug Wolf is the incumbent assessor in Pinal County. This fall he is facing a challenge from Democrat Jacqueline Minto in the General Election Nov. 8. The candidates share their background and some insights into the challenges at the Assessor’s Office.

Also see them debate by clicking here

Jacqueline Minto    
Political party: Democrat
Age: 55
Residence: San Tan Valley
Years in Pinal County: 10
Education: MRes; BA (Hons) Psychology, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland; Level I & II Appraisal Certification, Arizona Department of Revenue; Certified Real Estate Salesperson, Arizona Department of Real Estate
Professional background: From December 2006 until January 2015 I was employed by the Pinal County Assessor’s Office. The positions I held include chief deputy assessor, Research & Equalization manager and Personal Property manager. From December 2015 until May 2016 I was employed as appraisal manager for the Coconino County Assessor’s Office.
Family: I have been married to Andrew for 27 years. I have three grown sons, John, Kevin and Connor, and I two grandchildren
Organizations/Affiliations: International Association of Assessing Officers 2007 – 2016; AZIAAO 2007-2006; National & Arizona Associations of Realtors 2014 -2016.
Greatest political inspiration: I am inspired by courageous leaders that promote justice and equality, leaders that engage in economic development and trade diplomatically, without promoting war. I believe that some of our most inspiring politicians include: Eleanor Roosevelt, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Barack Obama.

Why do you want to be Pinal County assessor? I hope to bring honestly and integrity back to the Assessor’s Office. My goal is to use my education, knowledge and experience to protect the rights of property owners in Pinal County.

What makes you more qualified than your opponent to be assessor? My education, background in research, assessment experience and dedication to public service make me more qualified than my opponent to be assessor.

What would you most like to see change in the Assessor’s Office during the next four years? I would like to work with the other Arizona Assessors to implement a single-year valuation cycle. The two-year cycle, intended to help Assessor’s cope with the volume of petitions they received prior to the passing of Prop. 115, is no longer necessary.

What is the biggest challenge you foresee the Assessor’s Office facing in the near future and how will you prepare for it? I see future growth as the biggest challenge facing the Assessor’s office. Low morale has resulted in the resignation of several key personnel. The danger is that there will not be enough staff to meet demand as new homes and businesses are constructed. I plan to fill the vacancies. I also plan to introduce Pictometry to the Assessor’s Office. Pictometry is an aerial imagery platform that can be used by appraisers to locate and assess property from their desktop. It reduces the number of appraisers required to face demand while saving on transportation. Maricopa and Coconino Counties are using Pictometry with great success.

Douglas Wolf
Political party: Republican
Age: 60
Residence: San Tan Valley
Years in Pinal County: Six
Education: BS in Business Administration and minor in Mass Communications
Professional background: 35 years as a private sector business owner, focusing on two industries, real estate and computer technology
Family: Married to Gloria for 34 years. Two adult children
Organizations/Affiliations: YMCA Copper Basin board member. Avalon Charter school board member. Member of the San Tan Valley, Casa Grande, Florence and Apache Junction Chambers of Commerce. Poston Butte High School volunteer of the month.
Greatest political inspiration: Washington, who turned down the chance to be named the king after defeating the British, and Lincoln, who saved the union.

Why do you want to be Pinal County assessor? I am the incumbent and would like to continue serving the citizens of Pinal County.

What makes you more qualified than your opponent to be assessor? Leadership skills, my commitment to Pinal County and private sector experience. I have chosen excellent staff, like my chief deputy, who has nearly 40 years of working in the Assessor’s Office.

What would you most like to see change in the Assessor’s Office during the next four years? There are several software projects I would like to get funded by the Board of Supervisors. One is an online portal for easier filing of business personal property taxes and second, adding hi-resolution three-dimensional images to the appraisal process.

What is the biggest challenge you foresee the Assessor’s Office facing in the near future and how will you prepare for it? Using our limited resources to value property in Pinal County and stay under budget. You do this by making sure you have the right people in the right places with the training and support they need to do their best work.

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Unofficial numbers indicate Republican Mark Lamb and Democrat Kaye Dickson will face each other in the general election in the race to be Pinal County's next sheriff.

Republican Mark Lamb and Democrat Kaye Dickson dominated their respective primaries Tuesday and will face off in the General Election to determine Pinal County’s next sheriff, according to unofficial election results.

Lamb, a former Pinal County Sheriff’s Office deputy endorsed by the Pinal County Deputies Association, earned 62 percent (13,165) of the 21,275 votes counted as of midnight. He beat PCSO Chief Deputy Steve Henry (8,110 votes), who was trying to succeed his boss, Sheriff Paul Babeu, a candidate for U.S. Congress.

I couldn’t be more ecstatic,” Lamb said. “It makes me happy to see the people of Pinal County recognize the need for change.”

He credited “great volunteers” as the key to his success.

Dickson is a 30-year Pinal County law enforcement veteran whose jobs included PCSO deputy, sergeant and commander. She beat Maricopa resident Kevin Taylor, who also ran for sheriff in 2012 and justice of the peace in 2014, 62 percent (7,425 votes) to 38 percent (4,530).

“It feels great,” Dickson said, adding “The real challenge happens now.”

“I always ran this race with an eye on the finish line, which is Nov. 8,” Dickson said. “It’s never been about the party; it’s about the people.”

Despite being Lamb and Dickson being political newcomers – or maybe because of it – indications are Pinal County residents are in for a general election campaign rooted in respect and civility.

“I believe we have a lot of respect for each other,” Dickson said. “I anticipate it being a very clean campaign.”

Looking ahead to the next phase of the campaign, Lamb was quick to compliment his new opponent: “Kaye works hard … We’re going to have to work hard, too.”

Rich Vitiello

By Rich Vitiello

Since this will probably be my last campaign editorial before election day, please let me remind you of some of the differences between myself and the incumbent. Firstly, I haven’t lied, deceived or told any half-truths and don’t intend to, either. Any claims or statements that I’ve made in my campaign have been based on factual research. I’ve run an honest campaign.

Where folks wanted to get to know me and hear my views on a subject, they got it. I haven’t couched anything behind political double-talk, deception or evasion. I believe in transparent, open and honest government. Where I have presented issues, I based them on factual research, not something conjured up out of a rumor mill. I don’t base my opinions on speculation – I look for the facts and try to understand the issues as best I can. Where I have an opinion, it’s clearly that – my opinion.

I look forward to hearing others’ opinions, as well. Casting an opinion in stone before all the facts are in can be a dangerous proposition. I respect others for their opinions. I’m willing to hear what others have to say and look forward to learning more. It’s the right thing to do.

I’ve run my own campaign. Although campaign donations are nice (and I thank the folks who donated), I’ve funded the majority of my campaign out of my own pocket. I don’t owe anyone anything, especially out of county attorneys, their clients or developers. I’m in this race to represent the people who live here, not to do the bidding of out-of-area campaign donors. Once elected, I’m not going to tailor my vote to suit some campaign donor. My integrity means too much for me to sell out.

I am grateful for the endorsement and friendship I have developed with Sheriff Babeu. Contrary to what some others might say, he’s a great guy and a good friend to have. As he is running for a congressional seat, he won’t be our county’s sheriff next year, but my wish is that he succeeds in his election bid.

With this new board, and the folks I’ve come to get to know in the Sheriff’s Office and other Pinal County departments, I will work hard as part of a team. The loss of the ICE contract put the county budget in the hole by some $10 million; if we can get that contract back, it will help a long way to allowing our county to move forward with restaffing public safety positions that are open and doing the things our government needs to do.

I’m going to look for other ways to streamline our county government and stretch the taxpayer dollar. I don’t like fiscal waste and will do everything I can to make sure your tax money is used efficiently.

I don’t believe in grandstanding and taking credit for things that I don’t do. If an idea is brought to my attention that would make government run smoother or more efficiently, I will be happy to give credit where credit is due. People are one of our most valuable resources, and with everyone working together as a team, more can be accomplished. I want to see good things happen.

There are only so many hours in the day, and time is limited. I know that I will have to allocate my time according to priorities, but my priorities will always be what is best for the people in Pinal County, specifically District 4. Going to out-of-county meetings where the supervisor can mingle and strut around like a proud peacock is not an efficient use of time. I’ll look into attending certain events by video conference or other means as much as possible (after all, what’s the Internet for?). I’m looking forward to doing, being proactive in resolving issues, not just talking about them.

There are a lot of issues that have been raised during the campaign, including public safety, the flood zone, business development, marijuana and other things. I will do my best to distinguish myself by being true to my word. After all, provided I get elected, you will be my boss and you will judge my performance.

I will have an open door policy. My cell phone number is (480) 358-8051. I don’t intend on changing it. I plan on having regular website updates and hours at the Sheriff’s substations in Saddlebrooke and Arizona City. The office in Maricopa will also be open on a regular basis. Folks can come in, have a cup of coffee, and discuss what’s on their minds. If folks can’t make it during business hours, I’ll make arrangements to meet with them. It’s important that people connect, and the only way to do that is by both parties making an effort. I promise I’ll do my part.

I’ll say it again: I’m looking forward to a brighter future. I hope you are, too. I promise to work hard for you. Please vote for Rich Vitiello for Pinal County Supervisor. It’s time for a change.


Rich Vitiello is a candidate for Pinal County supervisor in District 4 and a Maricopa resident.

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The Primary Election is Aug. 30. Early ballots should be mailed by Thursday.

Pinal County Recorder Virginia Ross is reminding voters of some important dates coming up for this year’s Primary Election.

“If a person wants to vote early in person, they will have to cast their vote no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 26,” Ross said.  “We have three convenient locations in Pinal County where registered voters can place their ballot.”

Voter Registration Office – Florence
31 North Pinal Street
Mon – Fri, 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Pinal County Recorder’s Office – Apache Junction
575 North Idaho Road, Suite #800
Mon – Fri, 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM

Pinal County Recorder’s Office – Casa Grande
820 E Cottonwood Lane, Suite A-2
Mon – Fri, 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM

“For those who have early ballots, you should mail them in no later than Thursday, Aug. 25,” Ross stated.  “If we received them by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 30, they will be counted.  If you can’t mail them off by the 25th, any Pinal County voting location can take them and they will be counted.”

For more information on voting in Pinal County, visit: http://pinalcountyaz.gov/elections/Pages/home.aspx.

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