Mayoral candidates: “Did you know?” Page 12
February 2010




The many sides of Lt. Willie Payne



Page 6


Maple Leaf explosion: Influx of Canadians impact Maricopa Page 10


Sister and brother share passion for basketball. Page 21
Michael K. Rich

“I have sold 70 houses in the past 150 days, and almost all of the buyers were Canadian.” — Steve Murray,
The Maricopa Real estate company

The Education of Maricopa
Graduate or doctorate degre College degree Associates degree Some technical or vocational school Some college, no degree High school/GED Some high school, no diploma Less than 9th grade


15.9% 6% 1% 10.3% 23.7% 9.5% 8%



Source: City of Maricopa Labor Study, Elliot D. Pollack & Company 2009


InMaricopa.com sharing the thoughts and opinions of Maricopa
Publisher Scott Bartle Editor Jim Williams Copy Editor Joyce Hollis Reporters Michael K. Rich Jennifer Stefanow Photographers Michael K. Rich Jim Williams Art Director Carl Bezuidenhout Operations Manager Carolyn Struble Sales Representative Kathy Dodge Classifieds/Events Kathy Debevec Customer Service Coordinator Cynthia Hammond

February 2010

Lower your taxes: Vote ‘yes’ on override continuation
they thought this money would go to facilities instead of teachers and proWe Maricopans tend to complain, and grams. (Does anyone think our teachoftentimes rightly so, about our high ers are overpaid?) Or maybe they’re taxes, skyrocketing utilretired or don’t have schoolity rates, the quality of our aged kids, or send their kids schools and the city’s lack to charter schools and don’t of jobs. Next month, we care about our public schools. can do something to posiRegardless, the result of this tively impact these issues. election will affect every sinOn March 9, Maricogle Maricopan. pans will vote for a mayor There is nothing more and three people to join, important to economic deor rejoin, the city council. velopment than the quality Voters will also decide on of education. If our schools whether to allow Maricopa are great, people — and their Unified School District to employers — will want to loscot t bartle continue receiving about cate in Maricopa; and if our $3 million a year to help fund its main- schools stink, Maricopa will have little tenance and operations, or about 10 chance of recruiting new employers to percent of its total M&O budget. If the override fails, teachers, possibly 70 or more of them, will lose their jobs — naturally increasing class sizes ✮ FOR ✮ as a result — and programs such as fullMARICOPA CITY COUNCIL day kindergarten and physical education, music and art classes will likely be FOR dropped. Gifted programs, classroom OTE ON V materials, and sports and extracurricuA JULI H 9 lar activities will also be reduced. C The same measure was on the NoMAR vember ballot and defeated with 1,618 people voting against it. There was no Julia4Council@yahoo.com formal opposition to the override, so I Julia4Council.webs.com can only assume those folks thought it PAID FOR BY JULIA ROMERO GUSSE COMMITTEE would increase their taxes. Or maybe By Scot t Bartle help shoulder the tax burden. And until some industry comes to Maricopa, the (increasing) costs of running our community — from schools to streets to staff — will continue to be borne primarily by its residents. The $75 or so each homeowner will pay annually — that’s about one venti latte a month — to continue this levy is a great investment and will ultimately save us many times that. Do what’s right for our schools and this community on March 9: Vote ‘yes’ in support of the Maricopa Unified School District Override Continuation.
Scott Bartle is publisher of InMaricopa. have an opinion you’d like to share? e-mail us at news@inMaricopa.com

Maricopa Notebook

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February 2010

Mayor, chamber president meet with Rocky Point mayor
Mayor Anthony Smith and Rusty Akers, Maricopa Chamber of Commerce board president, met with Puerto Penasco President Alejandro Zepeda on Friday, Jan. 22 to talk about how the two cities could better work together. Smith and Akers hope to foster a relationship between the neighboring cities to cross-promote business and tourism on both sides of the border. “The city of Maricopa has a long history as a gateway to Rocky Point,” Smith said. “Our two cities share many of the same problems, interests and opportunities. I’m looking forward to exploring how we can help each other in tourism, public safety and commerce.”

desk in December. The letter marks the official beginning of a timeline of activity that will culminate in a comprehensive plan to deal with Pinal County’s air-quality issues. “We don’t want to declare the entire county as non-attainment, which is where the EPA started with all this.” Domsky said. “There is the ability to do an analysis of a number of different factors to identify an area that should be larger, or, in our case, it’s smaller, and we want to make sure we get all the areas that are contributing to non-attainment as well as the areas of where we measure the violations and standards.” In a year that saw the city add a new library, open a Walmart and host an Arizona Corporation Commission hearing, 2009 will go down as one of Maricopa’s busiest. And now, with an improved and upgraded strategic plan to guide them, the stage is set for the next three years. “This helps to give us guidance in what council wants us to get accomplished,” said Nicole DaiKeVIN eVaNs ley, assistant to the city manager. The strategic plan was an idea brought to Maricopa by City Manager Kevin Evans when he was hired more than two years ago. “We continue to improve this foundational document to ensure we have the best framework possible for guiding growth in the community,” Evans said. The document lays out the goals of council and city staff in five areas: economic sustainability, quality of life, transportation connectivity, managing the future, and public safety. To read the complete stories, visit inMaricopa.com.

city updates strategic plan

cleaning up the air

Details about a plan to clean up the air expanded on a hot-button issue at a public hearing at the University of Arizona Agricultural Center in Maricopa on Jan. 20, concerning a proposed non-attainment area map for the dangerous particle PM10. Ira Domsky, acting director of air quality for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, led the hearing that included a diverse crowd of residents, air-quality experts and businessmen from all over Pinal County. The Environmental Protection Agency has eight monitoring stations in Pinal County., which has inal has the dubious honor of having five of the top eight meters for poorest air quality in the country. The Cowtown meter, located in Maricopa, is the most active in the United States with nearly 222 days a year in violation. For comparison, the next closest meter has 49 days per year. This hearing focused on the EPA’s letter to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, which arrived on her




February 2010

Cover Story

The many sides of Lt. Willie Payne
He’s a police officer, DUI expert, singer, Halloween aficionado and buffalo owner
By Michael K. rich

It was a cool night just before 1 a.m. as Marciopa Police Lt. Willie Payne, then a Pinal County Sheriff’s Office deputy, patrolled Interstate 10 outside Toltec. “I pulled behind a mid-sized car, as I had countless times before, to assess the driver for possible signs of driving under the influence,” Payne said. After several moments of following the car, the unexpected happened. A tire on the vehicle Payne was following blew out, sending the car rolling off the highway. “I just counted the number of times the car flipped,” Payne said. “I thought I saw a body fly out on the third or fourth roll.” Once the car came to a stop, Payne rushed from his cruiser and looked into the wreckage of the vehicle, which was now lying on its roof. He saw no one inside. But then he heard a voice scream: “Help me, please don’t let me die. I have three …” and then the voice stopped. Acting on pure instinct and adrenaline, Payne grabbed the car and hoisted with all his might. He felt his heart thumping, to the point he felt it was going to burst from his chest. As the vehicle rested halfway on its side, Payne, his heart still racing, felt a hand grab his ankle. “It snapped me back into reality, and I realized what I was doing,” he said. Payne pushed the car over the rest of the way; however, as it flipped, his back gave out, and he collapsed on the ground beside the injured man. “I couldn’t move.” Luckily another car had stopped, and its driver witnessed the entire episode. The bystander rushed to the

that propelled him into the law enforcement field. In 1976 Payne had just gotten married and was planning to visit a close friend who recently had been injured. However, before he could fulfill his commitment, the man Payne describes as “like a brother,” died in an auto accident caused by a drunk driver. “I vowed from that moment to become a police officer and wage a war on drunk drivers,” Payne said. The following year Payne joined the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy, a position he would hold until he came to work for the Maricopa Police Department in 2007. To launch his war on drunk drivers and make roadways across the county safer, Payne embarked on an off-duty mission. He did his own research to gain a better understanding of alcohol impairment, utilizing an abandoned property. Payne and a friend would go to the property several times a week with Payne taking the wheel with booze in hand. “We would essentially monitor my blood alcohol content with a Breathalyzer and take notes on my driving behaviors as the amount I drank continued to increase,” Payne said. Armed with his research, Payne became one of the most prolific experts in the state on spotting alcoholimpaired drivers. His best year came Michael K. Rich lt. Willie Payne, shown here at the bridge dedication for Officer Shane Figueroa last fall, is an in 1995 when he was named Deputy accomplished singer and musician. of the Year for issuing 142 DUI citations, 82 of them were aggravated (a aid of the two injured men. Payne in- him each year. more severe DUI charge that is a Class structed him to get into the police 4 felony). cruiser and call for help on the radio. “Any officer can spot a drunk driver While the memory of saving a life if they put their mind to it,” Payne said. The man who had been trapped under While Payne had the knowledge to the car survived and, years later, Payne is one that Payne holds close to his still receives a card of gratitude from heart, it was a memory of tragedy spot the drunken vehicle operators, he

On a mission

February 2010



Payne’s home reflects his many interests, which include collecting halloween-themed items such as this coffin (left) and model trains. initially lacked the knowledge to make the charges stick. “I had my first DUI case thrown out because of a bad report,” he said. It would be the only one Payne lost. He dedicated himself to perfecting his reports, questioning prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges, all in an attempt to find what they look for in a DUI arrest report. “It got to the point those TV lawyers did not want to take on any of my cases,” Payne said. Report-writing perfection, teamed with his eye for drivers under the influence, has resulted in Payne removing more than 1,600 drunk drivers from the road. Now a lieutenant, Payne no longer sits behind the wheel of a patrol car, but that doesn’t mean the streets are

Michael K. Rich

any less safe. Payne regularly holds training seminars to teach other officers his methods and often plays a major role in the county’s inter-agency DUI task force. “I will keep on working for the department until I feel I have nothing to give back,” Payne said. “I don’t want to keep a job just to get a paycheck.”

Payne recalls being only 3 years old, living on a farm in Coolidge and watching the Ed Sullivan Show. He remembers being intrigued when a young black musician with dark sunglasses named Ray Charles took the stage to play piano and belt out a song. A young Payne asked his mother why the man was wearing sunglasses. She told him the singer was blind. “I didn’t even know what being blind meant back then, but I figured if he could play the piano, so could I,” Payne said. Payne immediately took up the keyboard, teaching himself to play by ear. His skills grew until he and a childhood friend, Rick English, formed a band, nearly 20 years ago, called the Rick and Willie Band. The group still plays select venues throughout the Valley and Casa Grande when Payne can make time in his tight schedule. “They say I have a range from Barry White to Michael Jackson,”

Music man

the 300-pound-plus Payne said. While Payne’s band is an accomplishment he prizes, it isn’t the peak of his musical prowess. That came several years ago when the musician got to play with his childhood idol, Ray Charles, at the Celebrity Theater. “It is an experience I will never forget,” Payne said. Growing up on a farm and participating in rodeos, Payne had many firsthand experiences with animals, but one variety struck a chord with him: the majestic buffalo. “I saw a few buffalo when I was a kid and thought to myself that I would one day own some of those creatures,” Payne said. Then in 2007 a Maricopa area farmer informed Payne he had a couple buffalo he was looking to unload because he planned on selling his property. “They were pretty skinny at the

time, but I jumped at the opportunity,” Payne said. To get the buffalo to his threeacre property in Thunderbird Farms, Payne, with the help of several friends, worked day and night to build a pen for the animals. “It was a lot of work and at times I wasn’t getting to bed until after midnight,” he said. However, it was a sacrifice Payne said was worth it. “There is just something great about waking up and seeing buffalo in your backyard,” Payne said. According to Payne, the animals are similar to cattle; however, they are not nearly as friendly. Payne has yet to ride his male buffalo and predicts he never will. “I’m at the age right now, I’ll just look at the buffalo and say ‘you win.’ But if I was a little younger, it would be a different story.” Payne eventually would like to increase the size of his herd to 12 buffalo and raise the animals to be slaughtered for their meat. “There is

February 2010

Where the buffalo roam

no taste like buffalo meat; it is so lean décor, which includes a coffin, life-size and flavorful.” mummy, a “creepy waiter,” and several other frighteningly fun figures. Payne added that he has several While law enforcement, music and mechanical toys rigged throughout the raising buffalo consume a lot of Payne’s house to jump out at the opportune time, they are not the Pinal County na- time to spook people. “I don’t like the tive’s only interests. gory, scary stuff, but the old school, Payne is fascinated with all things startle-you type of scary,” Payne said. Halloween and has decorated the en“I just like to have fun with life. I am tire interior of his home in Halloween living my dream.”

in his spare time

Did you know?
• Bison is actually the correct name for buffalo, but common usage has made the term “buffalo” an acceptable synonym for the American bison. • A mature buffalo bull weighs approximately 2,000 pounds. • The average life span of a buffalo is 20 to 25 years. • There are approximately 500,000 head of buffalo in North America.

• Yellowstone National Park has the largest free roaming buffalo population in the world, with more than 3,500 head.
Source: National Bison Association

Help Our Kids. Help Our Community.

Vote Yes March 9th!

MUSD Override Continuation
On Tuesday, March 9th, Maricopans will vote whether to continue an existing levy that pays for school teachers, programs and materials. Following is a partial list of what the tax override pays for and where Maricopa Unified School District will likely have to make major cuts if the measure is not approved:
■ Teachers (70 or more may lose their jobs) ■ Full day kindergarten ■ Music education ■ Physical education ■ Art education ■ Gifted programs ■ Sports and extracurricular activities ■ Curriculum and classroom materials ■ Technology in the classroom


February 2010
Banner ironwood


While Banner looks at a critical mass of upwards of 100,000 people, Wagner said Gilbert Hospital has a much smaller requirement as evidenced by the company opening a location in Florence. In Florence, Wanger’s company partnered with Pulte Homes to work out a deal in which the developer agreed to sell a 40-acre parcel to the health-care company as needed at a pre-determined price. “Hospitals help to sell homes, and we are a company that is not large enough to land bank,” Wanger said. The Florence Hospital is starting off on 11 acres of that land with 36 inpatient beds. “I believe the industry is going to take a hard look at the hospitalbuilding model; companies cannot afford any longer to come in and build $350 to $400 million sites,” Wanger said “You can offer all the same services in a smaller $35 to $40 million hospital.” If Gilbert Hospital eventually does open a hospital in Maricopa, Wanger said the process from beginning of the feasibility study to opening day is typically two years. Despite the two companies representatives stating they are not in discussions with Maricopa, Casey said a hospital is one of the city’s top priorities.

Two hospitals to open in Pinal County; Maricopa still looking
By Michael K. rich

The good news: By the third quarter of 2011, two new hospitals will be open to serve the traditionally underserved health-care needs of Pinal County. The bad news: neither will be in or near Maricopa. The first, Banner Ironwood is slated to open in November near Queen Creek; the second, 20 miles away, is the Florence Hospital, which is looking at the third quarter of 2011 to open. “These hospitals are a great score to help Pinal County improve the availability of health care,” said Heather Murphy, spokeswoman for Pinal County. Maricopa has been involved in negotiations with at least three hospitals about the prospect of locating in the city for the past four years, but the names or details behind those talks cannot be disclosed due to confidentiality reasons, according to Danielle Casey, Maricopa’s economic development manager. “It is a complex and timely process of bringing a hospital to a community,” Casey said. However, neither Banner nor Gilbert Hospital, are in talks with the city of Maricopa, according to sources from each company.

Despite the lack of conversations David Wanger, chief executive officer of Gilbert Hospital, said Maricopa is a community that is definitely on the radar. “If we were out of the ground on all three of our other projects and had financing in place, we would build a hospital in Maricopa tomorrow,” Wanger said. Gilbert Hospital currently has three projects in the works: the Florence Hospital, which broke ground late last year, and two projects yet to break ground in Peoria and Buckeye. In the case of the Florence Hospital, Wanger said the city came to his company to start negotiations almost two years ago, but that is not always the case. “Sometimes, we contact cities, sometimes they contact us, or in some cases we are contacted by other concerned residents of an area,” he said. An example of the latter is Buckeye. Wanger said a member of his hospital-planning department was playing racquetball with a Buckeye resident and the need for a hospital in the community came up. “We crunched some numbers and determined the community was one that fit our model,” Wanger said. Gilbert Hospital’s model is one that is much different than the larger

health-care institutions in the state. “We build smaller hospitals that grow with the community,” he said. Banner Ironwood is the product of a similar model with its newest hospital. The 220,000-square-foot site located at Combs and Gantzel roads is being slated to open with 36 beds, but room is available to expand that capacity to 86 beds with no further building construction. When Banner looked at locating in the Queen Creek area, one of the determining factors was the growing population base, which was already around 100,000 and without a nearby hospital, according to company A version of this story appeared on spokeswoman Susan Gordon. InMaricopa.com.

No-go on catholic healthcare West

Rumors have been swirling in recent days about possible hospitals coming to Maricopa. Bob campbell, vice president of business development for catholic healthcare West, can dispel one: his company has no immediate plans of opening a hospital site in Maricopa. catholic healthcare West is a non-profit health-care organization that owns and operates hospitals across the western United States, including chandler Regional hospital, St. Joseph’s hospital and Mercy Gilbert hospital. “Maricopa is a market we have looked at, but its population is currently not large enough to support one of our hospital model,” campbell said, citing the population base his company looks for when determining a possible site as in the 100,000 to 150,000 range. in addition to the population necessary to support a site, campbell said catholic healthcare West is looking for solid economic growth to return prior to building any more hospitals in the state. “We are using this time to make upgrades to our existing sites and plan for the future.”



February 2010

Northern exposure
By Michael K. rich

Real Estate

Canadian homebuyers providing economic boost to local businesses

Pat Clark is like many business owners in Maricopa and across the country struggling in challenging economic times. Clark, who coowns Maricopa Mountain Plumbing with Bob Stanford, had to make the difficult decision to reduce her work force in early 2009. “Business had slowed, and we just couldn’t afford to keep everyone on,” she said. The clouds would grow darker with work slowing to a near stop. But then, a force from the north came blowing into town, which would not only restore the size of her workforce, but also increase it by one and a half positions. That force: Canadians. “Right now, half our business is coming from Canadians,” Clark said. “It was totally unexpected.” However, it isn’t only the doors of Clark’s business that are swinging freely these days. Since the Maple Leaf explosion, local State Farm Insurance owner Courtny Tyler said she has witnessed a 15 percent surge in business. In a tough economy that has seen many people walk away from homes, Tyler said the Canadian buyers have really picked up the slack, pushing her business into profitability and helping to maintain her current staffing model. “If they weren’t here, it would be a lot of lost business for Maricopa,” Tyler said. “Canadians have been a lifesaver for the community, and we need to find a way to bring more of them into Maricopa.” Both Tyler and Clark said they have noticed a recurring theme with our neighbors to the north: they like to keep their shopping and dollars local.

Pat clark, co-owner of Maricopa Mountain Plumbing, has seen an increase in business from canadian customers. “I get a lot my business from Canadians,” said Maricopa landscaper Sam Craig. Craig feels they have kept many local businesses afloat. Although there is no recent data on the economic impact of Canadians, a Valley-wide study of about 300,000 winter visitors done by Arizona State University six years ago found that they spent about $1 billion on food, entertainment and other goods and services. That equates to roughly $3,300 per visitor, per visit. Winter visitors also pay sales, gas, liquor and other taxes. City of Maricopa Economic Development Manager Danielle Casey doesn’t have data on the amount of money each visitor brings to Maricopa, but said any person coming into the city right now is a plus for the community. Casey said she would be even happier if they chose to make Maricopa their permanent home so the city could reap the benefit of their presence during the census. Cities receive an allotment of money from the federal government and other sources based on population. However, since Canadians are only part-time residents, they cannot be counted during the census.

JiM WilliaMS

“If they are helping our local businesses stay alive, all I’ve got to say is O’Canada,” Casey said. Don and Jean Smith would happily sing along with Casey. They came down from Edmonton, Alberta, last spring to purchase a winter home in Maricopa. “It was 50 below today in Edmonton,” Don Smith said on a recent 70-degree day in Maricopa. “We love it here.” The Smiths, like so many of the new part-time Canadian residents, learned of the city through word of mouth. “I had some customers who



February 2010

Only in Canada
While our Canadian friends love Maricopa, they’d love us more if we could provide some items they can’t find in the states. Here are a few:

Ketchup-flavored Old Dutch chips
JiM WilliaMS

Smarties (they’re like M&Ms)

Don and Jean Smith (left) don’t miss the snow. The canadian couple left freezing edmonton, alberta for their new winter home in the Glennwilde neighborhood. local real estate broker Steve Murray (right) has helped many canadians buy homes in Maricopa. had purchased in the area, and they told me to look at Maricopa and Casa Grande,” Smith said. He toured the area in March looking at both cities. “Casa Grande looked like a border town to us, while Maricopa was very clean and wellmanicured.” Smith said. “It was just what we were looking for.” Judging by the numbers moving to Maricopa, it’s what others are looking for also. From January 2009 to January 2010, the number of homes owned in Maricopa by Canadians has increased from 346 to 1,148, according to the Pinal County Assessor’s Office. “Maricopa has a great environment, wonderful weather and friendly people,” said Canadian Terry Lumb, who purchased his Maricopa getaway home a year and a half ago. “Maricopa is very strategically located. It is near beaches, Mexico, Las Vegas and Sedona.” In addition to the community’s aesthetic appeal, the strength of the Canadian dollar and low housing prices in Maricopa have enticed Canadians to purchase investment properties and part-time homes in the area. This wasn’t the case six years ago when the Canadian dollar was worth 60 cents against its American counterpart. However, the turn in the economy has shifted the valuations, and Canadian greenbacks are now regularly trading anywhere from 85 cents on the dollar to even. “When we started looking for a home, there was a 15 to 20 percent difference in the value of the dollar; today that difference is just 3 percent,” Smith said. While the Canadian dollar surges, home prices in Maricopa remain among the more attractive in the state. “Lots alone only cost $3,500 to $20,000 in Maricopa; compare that to $150,000 to $200,000,” Smith said. The cheapest lot I have seen in our area of Canada was $145,000.” Lumb has fallen for Maricopa so hard he has become somewhat of an ambassador and sales representative for the community. “I think about half a dozen individuals I have told about the area have ended up purchasing so far,” he said. “Maricopa is the best in terms of amenities and cost per square foot.” It is a phenomenon realtors recognize well. The local Prudential One agency has taken to advertising Maricopa homes for sale in Canadian markets. “We have seen about 20 percent of our home sales coming from Canadians,” said John Kamouzis, co-owner at Prudential One Realty. “They know what they want, and they come with cash in hand.” Steve Murray, owner of The Maricopa Real Estate Company, agrees. He adds many of the buyers are also investors. “I have sold 70 houses in the past 150 days, and almost all of the buyers were Canadian,” Murray said. Murray even has a Canadian agent, who works the rodeo circuit, spreading the word about Maricopa. “These Canadian buyers like the Maricopa subdivisions; homes with pools, the nearby golf courses and the casino. These buyers have been a great boon for us.”

Tim Horton’s coffee Ham sausage Mackintosh Toffee Coffee Crisp wafers Gripe Water (for those with kids) Poutine (French fries topped with cheese curds and hot gravy) Hockey Night highlights



February 2010 The one thing people would be Three words that describe me suprised to know about me is … are...

Mayoral candidates







When i’m not working…

Three people i’d most like to have lunch with are___.


I enjoy spending time with my family and reading historical fiction.

• • •

Cormac McCarthy Judas Iscariot Antonin Scalia

Despite years of Catholic school lunches I still hate fish.

• • •

Honest Direct Amusing

I am studying.

• • •

Dave Gahan Martin Gore Andrew Fletcher

I’m a huge Depeche Mode fan.

• • •

Good-natured Fair Athletic

I am golfing or spending time with friends and family.

• • •

Abraham Lincoln Joe Frasier Pete Rose

My innovative and artistic side.

• • •

Reliable Honest Sincere

To read the city council candidates’ responses, visit InMaricopa.com/news/elections.aspx.

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grated into a glossy, magazine-style publication that describes festivals in the community, history, tourist attractions and other items. “These types of studies can attract visitors and create jobs,” Tyrrell said.

February 2010

The city of Maricopa could see the fruits of a $10,000 investment in local tourism on May 6. The Maricopa City Council voted last July to give the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce $10,000 to develop a tourism strategy aimed at attracting outsiders to the city of Maricopa. The agency has since partnered with ASU professor Tim Tyrrell and his Tourism 402 class to complete the study. “Undergrads can do a good job, but not a great one, so I will shepherd them in this project,” Tyrrell said. During the next four months Tyrrell and his class will make multiple trips to the Maricopa area to gauge what the community has to offer in terms of attractions and history. This information will then be inte-

city to partner with aSU to promote tourism

Maricopa Republicans named top club in state
The Maricopa Republican Club captured the state party’s top honor during the annual State Chairman’s Awards Dinner held Jan. 23 at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort. The Maricopa chapter was named Club of the Year in competition with other Republican clubs from across the state. Club president Brenda Hermanson and past secretary Andy Lockridge accepted the award. Hermanson said she was “pleasantly surprised to win the Club of the Year honors. We were competing against so many outstanding clubs. After all our hard work this past year we are excited to receive this recognition.” To read the complete stories, visit inMaricopa.com.

New Planning and Zoning chair, vice chair elected
The Maricopa Planning and Zoning Commission on Jan. 25 unanimously voted to elect Mike Robertson and Courtny Tyler as new chairman and vice chairwoman, respectively. Both individuals will serve in these roles for at least the next year. coUrtNY t Yler The Planning and Zoning Commission is responsible for reviewing various development projects for compliance with

MIKe robertsoN the city’s general plan, and providing recommendations to city council for legislative action. The public is invited to attend the commission’s meetings, which are held on the second and fourth Monday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Global Water Center.

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February 2010




Home sweet home
Ross Nierman, of Ross’ Inspection Technologies, has a passion for helping people, doing things right
By JiM WilliaMS

Ross Nierman enjoys helping people, especially in stressful moments such as when they’re buying a home. The fact that his job as a home inspector engages this interest is not lost on him. “I truly enjoy being around people,” Nierman said. “I like being able to help put them at ease, make them feel secure and be someone they can trust.” Nierman is president of Ross’ Inspection Technologies, a home inspection company that serves Maricopa, areas of Pinal County and metropolitan Phoenix. He’s been in the home inspection industry for four years and a construction practitioner for more than 10 years with experience in residential and commercial construction. Nierman and his wife, Emmalou, moved to Maricopa two years ago from Chandler and could not be happier. “I love Maricopa,” he said. “The people are great. Everybody here has been relocated; therefore, the people are more open and still are very friendly.

It’s what I call the true spirit of Western life.” Ross’ Inspection Technologies covers the gambit of home-inspection services, providing both professional and residential inspections, pre-purchase analysis, home warranty and pre-sale assessment, and pool and spa inspections. Nierman said a full home inspection takes between three and four hours to complete and involves checking the entire property, interior and exterior. “I go room by room, seeing that everything has been properly constructed,” he said. He also checks water pressure, air conditioning and heating units, electrical and plumbing, the roof, garage, attic and even the foundation around the house. “I research the soil conditions and check to see if there are any fissures in the area.” When he’s done, he offers his clients an onsite computerized assessment of their entire home. Nierman says can do about two per day. He’s seen some strange things since he started in the business. “I inspected a 2,800 square-foot home in

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Arizona City, a beautiful home, but it had no insulation in it,” Nierman said. But for the most part, he feels builders and contractors do a good job. One of the most common inspection issues Nierman sees is planting shrubbery and landscaping too close to the house. “This can damage the house over time,” he said. Nierman says much of his business is word of mouth. “But since I moved down here, I need to get acquainted with the local realtors, and market that I’m here.” And he brings an incredible amount to the table. He holds a civil engineering degree, a master’s degree in organizational behavior, and a bachelor’s degree in industrial education. He taught at the university level for 17 years.

But working in and around the construction industry has always been Nierman’s passion. “I feel good about what I can do for people,” Nierman said. “I get callbacks from clients I’ve worked for. I love doing what I’m doing. My advice to people is to never give up on your dreams.”

At a glance:
BusiNess: Ross’ inspection Technologies, LLC seRviCe AReA: Maricopa, Casa Grande and Metro Phoenix HouRs: Available by appointment CosT: varies by square footage iNfoRMATioN: 480-241-6756 or Rossinspects.com

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February 2010


Synergy and richness vs. stereotypes and conflict:

You decide
By Ginny McMinn

GINNY McMINN understanding of who is present at work and how they think and feel. If I had followed my initial reaction, I might never have experienced the drug Not long ago, I entered a small store clerk’s outstanding customer drug store for copies of that day’s newspaper. The young clerk who offered assistance had long hair, was tattooed, pierced and sported a length “let us help you save your home” of chain he wound from his wrist to nearly to his elbow. What should I expect from this young man? How about the best customer service I can remember. He asked how many papers I needed; he then put the newspapers in a paper bag because I was “dressed We do new home up” and he didn’t want me to get newsprint on my clothes. He gave me purchases and refinances my change and sincerely thanked me • Get a loan modification and cut your for coming into their store. Employees today represent at least mortgage payments four generations, four basic personality • Get a mortgage payment you can types, seven learning-style preferences, afford, without refinancing varying education and experience, and differing communication skills (among • 97% of our qualifying homeowners many differences). Do you look at get a modified home loan this workforce and see synergy and richness? Or do you see stereotypes • Get help from experienced and conflict? attorneys who are on your side To get the benefit of the differences, try these steps: FREE CONSULTATION Challenge assumptions and www.ArizonaMortgageRelief.com avoid stereotyping. Learn about individual differences; don’t avoid them. Push beyond stereotypes to an

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service. By smiling and engaging in conversation, I received the benefit of his skills. Who is different? Help employees focus on how they are different – instead of just how others are different. Expand on what employees understand about themselves and others. Explore natural differences in personality, learning style, and communication patterns. Offer education and opportunities for interaction. Engage employees with others in new ways, such as work rotations and project teams. Different is good for business! Focus on how different experience, education and perspectives contribute to superior teams and better results. Creativity flourishes where not everyone looks at situations in the same way. Diversity also provides

an opportunity to reflect a customer base more accurately. When employee differences result in better solutions, recognize and applaud it. Set your expectations. Let employees know that your organization will be diverse by design, and that you value these differences. Expect open and respectful workplace behavior, and make working effectively with others a company value. Avoiding sameness in a workplace leads to good business and employee outcomes. Getting started will take education and commitment; and the results will be worth the investment! Ginny McMinn owns McMinnHR in Gilbert, Ariz. (www.mcminnhr.com). The firm provides advisory services to companies to develop the human side of business.

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Semi-annual Used Book Sale MAR Friends of the Maricopa library are 6 sponsoring its semi-annual used book

February 2010
which may be purchased from the Friends of the Maricopa Public library the day of his visit. the library is located at 41600 W. smith-enke road. For more information about conrad storad, visit conradstorad.com. For more information about the Friends of the Maricopa library, visit maricopafriends.yolasite.com.
For a complete list of community events or to post one of your own, visit inMaricopa.com.

Running of the Gourds FEB More than 100 artists and vendors 5-7 will be on hand for the Wuertz Farm’s

7th annual Gourd Festival “running of the Gourds,” which will be held at the Pinal county Fairgrounds, casa Grande. the event features ‘gourd’ games, mini-‘gourdster’ races, sailing ‘regourda,’ mariachis, dancers, musicians, food booths and thousands of gourds for sale. For information, e-mail wuertzfarm@wuertzfarm.com

State of the City FEB Maricopa will present the state of the 9 city on tuesday, Feb. 9, from 5:30 to

sale saturday, March 6, from 8 a.m. to noon at santa rosa elementary school, 21400 N. santa rosa Drive. the price is $5 per bag for adult books, videos, DVDs, cDs. children’s books are individually priced starting at 25 cents. special: $10 for library book bag filled with your choice of books. the sale includes fiction, non-fiction, mystery, romance, selfhelp, Westerns, science fiction and much more. all proceeds will benefit library programs. In addition, you may still purchase “Home cookin’ from Maricopa, arizona” for $5, “reflections of a Desert town” for $25 and a bookbag for $7. Monsters,” won the Glyph award as arizona’s best children’s Non-Fiction book from the arizona book Publishers association. storad’s visit will include multiple presentations for children from pre-school through sixth grade. additionally, he will conduct a 90-minute writers’ workshop called “Writing NonFiction for Young readers.” storad will also be available to autograph copies of his books,

7:30 p.m. at Harrah’s ak-chin, 15406 Maricopa road. the official program starts at 6 p.m. there is space for 200 people. to rsVP, e-mail events@maricopa-az.gov. the event will be taped and broadcast on M20tV.

J. storad at the Maricopa Public library. storad is the author of more than 30 science and nature books for children and young adults. In May 2009, his book, “Gila

Childrens’ book author makes appearance MAR the Friends of the library will host 13 award-winning author conrad

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Reel time at Pacana Park

city now taking registration for annual Fishing Derby
are the kids still complaining about “the one that got away? ” Well, they’ve got another opportunity to land that lunker. the city’s community services department is now accepting registrations for the 6th annual Parentchild Fishing Derby. the popular family event will be held at Pacana Park on saturday, March 6, and is open to children ages 5 to 12. check-in will begin at 1:30 p.m. with fishing lines cast at 2:30 p.m. last year’s event drew 200 anglers, the most participants in the event’s history. one 7-year-old girl caught 19

fish, a record for the derby. the city’s parks and recreation department stocks the lake with hundreds of pounds of catfish, providing children with plenty of chances to hook a fish.

advance registration for the fishing derby is required. Young anglers can sign up at city Hall, 45145 W. Madison ave. For additional information, contact brenda campbell at 520-316-6963.

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February 2010




Real Estate

InMaricopa looking for needy non-profits
When the economy falls, often those most affected in the community are non-profit agencies. During economic hardships these organizations tend to see a dramatic increase in the number of people needing help and a dramatic decrease in the number of donors. To help offset this burden in 2010, inMaricopa is continuing a program it started last year of awarding deserving non-profit agencies an advertising stimulus package, which will include free advertising in InMaricopa News, InMaricopa The Magazine and inMaricopa.com. a different charity will be “adopted” each quarter whereas one nonprofit was awarded the prize for all of last year. “One of the most important elements of any successful business — for-profits and non-profits alike — is the execution of an effective marketing plan,” said Scott Bartle, publisher of inMaricopa. “Whether the goal is to launch a new program, recruit more volunteers or raise more money, we look forward to helping worthwhile charities beat the recession, and not only accomplish their goals in 2010, but have a lasting impact on Maricopa for years to come.” carrie Vargas, director for Olc School for the arts, was last year’s recipient. “i think there is a ton of value in having the opportunity to tell our story,” Vargas said. “it got our name out there and people started to hear about us. We got calls and we got traffic; it was great.” Non-profit organizations interested in applying for the advertising package must submit a request in 100 words or less describing why their organization is deserving of the advertising-stimulus package by Feb. 15. The decision will be made, in part, based on how the charities will leverage the benefits and what impact it will have on the community. applications can be downloaded from the “advertise” page on inMaricopa.com or by calling 520-568-0040 ext. 5.

Maricopa leads Pinal County in new housing permits
City added 244 new homes in last 6 months
JiM WilliaMS

By Michael K. rich

Despite a rash of foreclosed homes sitting on the market, Maricopa remains the fastest growing municipality in Pinal County. Maricopa added 244 new homes in the last six months of 2009, more than Florence (113), Casa Grande (74), Apache Junction (34), Eloy (22) and Coolidge (0) combined, according to numbers from RL Brown, a Valleybased organization that provides housing market data and market analysis. These numbers come at a time when cities such as Surprise (157), Peoria (157), Queen Creek (129), Avondale (51) and Litchfield Park (12) are issuing new housing at a much slower pace. While Maricopa didn’t fare as well compared with some of the Valley’s larger municipalities, the numbers were respectable. Other Valley cities include Gilbert, 791 permits, Phoenix, 699, Mesa 370, Goodyear 282 and Chandler 261, according to RL Brown research. “We are more consistent with communities who have experienced similar growth than the communities defined by our geographic boundaries,” said Danielle Casey, economic development manager for

the city of Maricopa. “Maricopa has attracted a lot of buyers from California and the Phoenix metro area who want a small-town feel, but still want to be near the Valley,” Casey said. “It is not surprising to us we are continuing to grow.” One of the reasons new home sales were so strong is because builders decided to lower prices to be more competitive with the prices on foreclosed homes. A prime example of this strategy occurred in The Lakes at Rancho El Dorado subdivision. Prior to the market collapse, the community was operating three home centers with nearly nine different models from which to choose. However, after the crashed, the company consolidated into one office, focusing on just three less expensive floor plans. “I would say the prices on the homes came down about $50,000,” said John Olkoski, of Meritage Homes, one of the community’s sales agents. However, it wasn’t only the lowering of prices that made the homes more attractive. Many builders focused their sales strategy on the monthly payment. “We post the monthly payment on each of our model homes to help people realize what the cost is,” he said. A drive around Maricopa model home centers reveals other builders have followed a similar marketing

plan. While the moves have helped ensure a rise in business, Maricopa Prudential One Realtor John Kamouzis said he is finding that many buyers are now choosing to go with a new home versus a foreclosure, short sale or other resale property. “The resale market is getting to the point where people are having to bid on multiple homes, and a lot of people do not want the hassle, or would simply prefer a home with a warranty,” Kamouzis said. While the last six months of 2009 were strong for the city, 2010 could bring further optimism as the Province community has reopened for business. Province was originally developed by Engle Homes, a subsidiary of Hollywood, Floridabased TOUSA Inc., and opened in 2003. However, TOUSA filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2008, and the developer subsequently closed its Province sales office in April of that year. Prior to the sale being completed, the community had fallen into receivership. Province is comprised of 2,200 home sites, of which 882 have been sold to date. Meritage Homes acquired the remaining available property, consisting of 433 finished and 885 entitled/planned lots. Meritage offers homes priced from the low $100,000s.

February 2010



Generosity challenge prompts churchgoers to give up Cardinals’ playoff tickets
By Michael K. rich


Maricopa residents Matt and Missi Boyd are diehard Cardinals fans. The couple moved to Maricopa in 2004 and became season ticket holders the same year. “We had been Cardinals fans for several years prior, but, when we moved to Maricopa, we decided to make the commitment on season tickets,” Matt said. The duo were so dedicated to cheering on the red birds they could often be seen at Church of Celebration wearing their Cardinal red jerseys while paying homage to their Savior. “We would attend the early mass on game days and the middle service when they were on the road,” Matt said. “We never missed a game or a service.” However, Sunday, Jan. 3, the couple was struck with a bewildering dilemma while at church. Pastor Josh Barrett passed out $4,000 in denominations of $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 to the members of his congregation as part of a new series he was rolling out entitled “Freakonomics.” “We are generous by nature, but a lot of us just don’t have the ability to be generous in this economy.” Barrett said. “The series focused on the economy of God, and we wanted to give people the opportunity to be generous.” The only strings attached to the funds were that

on the list. The couple took the combined $20 they received and purchased a Bible. They then highlighted a few of their favorite scriptures and inside it placed their tickets to the Arizona Cardinals’ playoff game against the Packers. “They were great tickets, in section 115, row 5; it was the area of the field where the fumble occurred in overtime,” Matt said. The Bible was then gifted to another member of the community. “Giving something you don’t want or need is easy, but giving a gift straight from your heart means so much more,” Matt said. “God didn’t sacrifice some stranger off the street as a gift to us, but his very own and only son, Jesus.” The church ended the five-week series on Matt and Missi Boyd are arizona cardinals season ticket holders. the economics of God on Jan. 24 and will roll people use the money to benefit someone other out a new series called “Identity” on Feb. 7. than themselves, and that they would post on The new series will focus on helping people learn freakonomics.me what they did with the funds. how to identify who they are in the eyes of Christ. “We have a thing called ‘making His name more famous’ at the church, and that’s what we wanted About Church of Celebration this money to help accomplish,” Barrett said. fouNded: May 2006 Some of the stories on the site detail the purchasing of gift cards at McDonald’s, handing MeeTs: Sundays at 9 and 10:45 a.m. them out to random people, while others share their WHeRe: Maricopa Wells Middle School, stories of just gifting the money to the homeless, the 45725 W. Honeycutt Ave. PHoNe: 520-494-7714 needy and other random folk. However, the Boyds’ tale is one that stands out WeB: ChurchOfCelebration.com

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February 2010

All systems go for new charter
leading edge academy received charter approval from the arizona state board
Maricopa’s newest charter school, leading edge academy, received its charter approval from arizona state board for charter schools Jan. 25 giving the school the state clearance needed to open in Maricopa. “our campus will open this august, and we are excited to be a part of the Maricopa community,” said ron body, the school’s director. “We will bring the same academic excellence to Maricopa that we bring to all of our schools. our new school in Maricopa will utilize best practices in education to provide the highest quality of instruction to our students.” the new charter will initially offer kindergarten through 6th grade in a 20,000 square-foot campus at 19302 N. Porter road in Maricopa. “We anticipate site development to begin within the next two weeks,” body said. the facility will be shared with community of Hope church. leading edge academy, which opened its first campus in Gilbert in 2002, was founded by rev. Delmer Geesey, pastor of life community church in Gilbert. Geesey also serves as president of leading edge academy. “our schools are designed around traditional family values and imparting character into our students’ lives. We are committed to character-based education, small class sizes, and a safe-family feel.” For more information about Leading Edge Academy-Maricopa, call 520-568-7800 or visit LeadingEdgeAcademy.com.

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Mike Mccorry (left), a firefighter with Maricopa Fire, is excited about the department getting a new fire-prevention trailer similar to the one at right.

Education Maricopa Fire awarded grant to help educate students in fire safety and prevention
By Michael K. rich

New fire-prevention trailer is ‘hot’ subject
As the smoke rolls out the door, a group of 7-year-olds, on arms and elbows, wiggle their way across the floor and out of the mobile home. The description above is fictional, but it’s one that could soon become reality for students of Maricopa Unified School District and the Maricopa Fire Department. Maricopa Fire was recently awarded a grant to purchase a 39-foot fire-prevention trailer. “This is going to be a great learning tool for the community,” said acting Fire Chief Wade Brannon. A fire-prevention trailer comes packed with programs, tools and aids that simulate actual disasters in an attempt to help children better understand what to do in a particular circumstance. “What’s nice about this trailer is that it gives us very effective visual aids,” said Maricopa firefighter Mike McCorry. Those visual tools include fake flames coming off frying pans and out of trashcans, fake smoke, warm doorknobs and screeching smoke alarms. McCorry said one exciting aspect of the trailer is a phone from which they can generate mock 911 calls. “When a child picks up the phone to call 911, they are connected to a firefighter who is stationed in a closet in the trailer,” McCorry said. This is helpful for determining how well the children remember the information necessary to report an incident he explained. However, McCorry said calling 911 from inside the home is not always a good idea, especially in the case of a fire. “If there is a large fire, you need to get out of the home and not worry about taking anything with you or calling 911 from inside the residence,” he said. The $72,000 trailer, slated for delivery by the start of the 2010-11 school

year, would act as a supplement to the Fire Pals program McCorry instituted at MUSD in 2009. “We can teach children what they are supposed to do during an emergency and use the trailer to see those lessons actually in action,” McCorry said. Currently, the Fire Pals program consists of firefighters meeting with children in all of the district’s elementary schools to educate them on the basics of fire and personal safety. “We expect kids to go home and share this information with their siblings and parents,” McCorry said. The trailer will not be limited to school training and education. It will appear at city-sponsored events such as Founders Day and the annual salsa festival to help educate the public about fire safety. “Fire awareness and safety education are two of the primary responsibilities of a fire department,” Chief Brannon said. “Us having to pull people from a fire is Plan B.”

February 2010




Basketball draws siblings closer
Jace and Julia Dickerson know the score in friendly sibling rivalry
By Jennifer StefanoW

special to InMaricopa News
Long before the homes sprouted up in Rancho El Dorado and Cobblestone Farms, years before there were Fry’s and Bashas’ stores, Jace and Julia Dickerson played hoops together in Maricopa. “A lot of people don’t know this about us, but we were playing here with Ak-Chin before any of this was here,” Jace said. Jace Dickerson, a senior guard on the Maricopa High School boys’ varsity team, has played basketball since the age of 5. His sister, Julia, a sophomore forward on the girls’ squad, started playing at 6. Both credit their parents and aunt for getting them interested in playing the game. “My aunt, Deena Rom, was a coach, and she got me started playing,” Julia said. Julia plays a variety of sports – softball, soccer, as well as volleyball – but basketball is her true calling, she says. Jace and Julia are both highly regarded on their respective teams, but they’re each other’s biggest cheerleaders. “I try to go to all her games,” Jace said. “And I try to go to his, when I can,” Julia countered. Both Jace and Julia, members of the Ak-Chin Indian Community, played with the Ak-Chin club team before enrolling in the Maricopa school system. “We would go to tournaments and play other clubs,” Jace said. There was plenty of sibling rivalry among the two growing

Roller hockey, anyone?
By Michael K. rich

Marciopa resident looking to start up hockey league for kids, adults
James valenzano is used to hitting people and upset he can’t do it in Maricopa. However, it is not the type of hitting that lands you behind bars. The 47-year-old Maricopa resident grew up on the east Coast and started playing hockey at age 6. Now he’d like to start up a roller hockey program in Maricopa. “This is the first two consecutive years i have not played since i picked up a stick,” he said. it is a drought he wants to end. valenzano approached Maricopa’s parks and recreation department shortly after moving to town, but was told there was no money available to fund a program. so he’s taking the start-up of a program into his own hands. “i have talked with a few people about starting up roller hockey in Maricopa, but we haven’t got together any funding yet,” he said. To start a team in Maricopa, valenzano estimates an initial investment of $2,500 would purchase the goals and removable baseboards. However, that could be a fee that is recouped through advertising. “Back east we ran an operation where we sold advertising on the boards and actually turned a small profit,” he said. As far as finding a location for the team to play, valenzano said a tennis court or even a paved parking lot is all that would be required. “The best part of playing roller hockey in Arizona is the weather,” he said. “You can play all year around.” While valenzano is interested in playing the game, he has more urgent reason for wanting to start up a program: his two young children and other youth in Maricopa. “We need some more activities for the Maricopa youth.” To start a team a minimum of 11 players is required, valenzano said. Parents of the players would have to provide the basic equipment: stick, roller skates, a mouthpiece and gloves, all of which he said can be acquired for a fairly modest fee from used sporting goods stores. If interested in contacting Valenzano about starting up a roller hockey league in Maricopa, e-mail him at jvalenzano@gmail.com.

Julia and Jace Dickerson up. As the younger sibling, Julia soon got used to playing with the big boys. “I used to play with Jace and our older brother, Jacob,” she said. “I used to play pretty rough with her,” Jace said. “She had to get better to hold her own.” For Jace and Julia, their early experience in playing the game has helped hone their skills for competition at the scholastic level. Jace began playing for Maricopa in the eighth grade, when the middle school was still Maricopa Middle School. Julia followed in his footsteps a few years later and played in the seventh grade team at Maricopa Wells Middle School. Today, Julia is one of the Rams’ leaders, even as a sophomore, averaging double

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digits in both scoring and rebounding. Jace is averaging 10 points a game and five assists per game. Both Jace and Julia also see basketball playing a role in their future. “I want to make it all the way to the WNBA,” Julia said. Jace also welcomes the opportunity to go pro, but realizes that it is tougher for men to make it to the professional level than women. “I’ll tryout for a college team and go from there,” he said. Whatever they end up doing, whether it’s on the hardwood or in life, it is certain that Jace and Julia will continue to share a sibling bond that ties them together forever. “I just want her to do well in whatever she does,” Jace said. Julia agrees: “I’m his biggest fan.”

February 2010



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Court Clerk, Maricopa city/ Justice court. Work locally, good benefits, challenging duties. apply at PinalJobs. com, see Justice court clerk 1 reQ#2789-4 Sales Rep Maricopa’s premier online and print advertising company seeks highly energetic sales representatives to join our winning team. this 5-year-old company has set the standard as the city’s No. 1 news/ advertising source. Ideal candidates possess: * Passion for helping clients achieve their goals * ability to set and achieve sales goals * a high degree of sales initiative * strong ability to close Pt & Ft positions available. If you feel you have the credentials to make this team, send your resume and compensation requirements to jobs@InMaricopa.com or via fax to (520) 568-0050.

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your month of storage for referral that signs up,
must mention your name

20 Off


12 x 40
per month


22111 N. White Rd. Maricopa, AZ 85139
Located on Highway 238, 3 miles west of Walgreens

480-802-7777 www.HWY238RVStorage.com

w m e’ ov r in e g

Moving to Santa Cruz Elementary School
19845 N. Costa Del Sol (in Tortosa)

ting Star th b. 14 Fe

Sunday School 9:00am Worship 10:15am