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Bill Van Nimwegen

Bill Van Nimwegen has 481 articles published.

AJ/Chandler Duo Takes First Place

By Tracy Purtee

On June 9, Let’s Talk Fishin’ and American Bass Association (ABA) had its first of a five-night bass fishing tournament series on Roosevelt Lake.

First place went to the team of Robert Ostercamp of Chandler and Ronald Smith of Apache Junction. They had 19.55 lbs. They also had the big bass of the night at 7.95 lbs.

Matt Shura of Gilbert and Johnny Johnson of Lakeside took second with their weight of 19.25 lbs. —  their big bass was 4.85 lbs.

Jason Stockton of Tonto Basin and Daniel Adams of Apache Junction claimed third place at 17.47 lbs. Their big bass of 5.67 lbs.  was the second biggest bass of the night.

Just before the takeoff of 31 boats from both circuits, the temperatures peaked out at 100 degrees, the water level was 50 percent full, the water temperature was 76 degrees and the wind of 8 to 10 mph from the west set the stage for some nice fishing.

Other anglers from the Apache Junction area were Adam Combs and his partner Edward Meyers, both from San Tan; Josh Ciesielski and Joe Ciesielski, Steve Foutch and Dan Zehring of Gilbert; and Brady Hayes and partner Joey Montoya of San Tan Valley.

When the finish bell rang at 1 a.m., 138 fish were caught and 27 teams weighed in the limit of five bass per team.

The anglers did an amazing job of keeping their fish alive with the ice and oxygen in their live wells. The tournaments are catch and release only and all 138 fish went back into the lake safely.

Next tournament is June 23 on Roosevelt Lake, Windy Hill, Badger Ramp. For more information, call (928) 978-3659 or visit www.letstalkfishin.com.

Photo above Robert Ostercamp of Chandler (left) and Ronald Smith of Apache Junction (center) display their winning catches in a bass fishing tournament at Roosevelt Lake on June 9. Tournament participant Dan Zehring of Gilbert (right). (Photos courtesy Tracy Purtee/Let’s Go Fishin’)

McIntyre Follows ‘Interesting Journey’ to A’s Camp

AJHS Grad’s Road to Oakland Far Off the Usual Path Taken by Pro Baseball Prospects

By Daniel Dullum

Aiden McIntyre got the baseball bug at age 8, and with it the dream of many young players – getting to The Show.

“We lived in Pennsylvania before and baseball wasn’t really that big. Nobody in our family was really big into baseball,” the 2014 Apache Junction High graduate said. “We moved out here when I was about 10 and started playing Little League – we lived just a few minutes from the Little League fields.

“Mom and Dad got me registered for Little League and it took off from there. Mom thought it would be a good idea.”

After signing his first professional contract on June 10 with the Oakland Athletics, that decision now looks even better. Especially at the end of what McIntyre calls “an interesting journey,” if not an unlikely one.

“Now, they’re thrilled,” McIntyre, 22, said. “They were never not thrilled to watch me play baseball at any point, even when it wasn’t good. For me, it’s obviously more fun to perform well in front of them. But they loved the game and it’s part of our family now. We’ve embraced it. I wouldn’t be here without them.”

McIntyre, a starting pitcher for Division II Holy Names University in Oakland, Calif., was selected in the 22nd round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. After signing with the A’s, he was sent to the club’s minor league minicamp in Mesa, where he will likely be assigned to the team’s short-season Arizona Rookie League squad.

Four years ago, McIntyre was on no one’s professional or collegiate radar. Four years later, nearly half of Major League Baseball’s organizations expressed interest in his late-developing pitching talent.

On hearing from the A’s on draft day, McIntyre said, “I wasn’t thinking for a little while. It was a really cool feeling and I embraced that. I was just really excited. All of my family was able to be there, and it was exciting just to be with them and see their excitement.

“Once I calmed down a little bit, I was just grateful that the A’s took that shot.”

McIntyre said he filled out “about 15” questionnaires from other MLB teams expressing interest, besides the Athletics.

“That all came within the last month of the season. I got some attention early and was able to finish strong.

“The last three weeks, I wasn’t contacted. Then, after the last game, I got contacted by a lot of teams. I knew I was on a handful of team’s boards, so it was a matter of who went first.”

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound McIntyre, the 653rd overall selection, is the first Holy Names player ever drafted by a MLB organization.  In 2018, McIntyre (2-9) led the Pacific West Conference with 105 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings while walking 55.

Aiden McIntyre

As a junior, McIntyre was an All-PacWest Academic selection while leading the Hawks with five wins. In his career at HNU, McIntyre was 7-15 with a 5.13 ERA and a team-record 155 strikeouts.

McIntyre transferred to HNU from San Diego City College, where he was 5-7 in 15 games – 10 starts – with a 3.82 ERA, 61 strikeouts and 41 walks in 2016.

McIntyre finished his HNU career with a flurry. After a disastrous start against Point Loma, he won two of his last four starts, striking out 34 batters in 26 1/3 innings with an ERA of 3.08.

“All year, I knew the chances of getting drafted was a possibility. Once it got closer to the draft, I got a better sense of interest from teams. I didn’t expect much, and honestly, I didn’t need much. I told the A’s I was just looking for the opportunity..”

“Aiden has all the tools to be a big league pitcher someday,” Holy Names Coach Esteban Contreras said. “Nobody improved more over the last two years here at HNU. He really dedicated himself and his body to the game, and it is really paying off for him.

“The scary part is, I believe his best baseball is still in front of him, which is a big reason why, I think, the A’s were so high on him.”

ROAD LESS TRAVELED

In two varsity seasons at AJHS, McIntyre – then 6-foot, 180 pounds – played third base and pitched. In 2013 and 2014, he was a cumulative 0-4 while striking out three and walking 18. His earned run average as a senior was 7.87; at the plate, he hit .134.

McIntyre said he pitched occasionally in Little League and club ball. “I didn’t really pitch my first three years of high school. As a senior, I threw 10 innings, but it wasn’t a very good 10 innings. Looking back, I find it more intriguing, I think it’s funny, in a way! But it’s cool to see the progress.

“I threw a bullpen before my senior year and my fastball topped out at 78 (mph). Now my off-speed is faster than my fastball was back then.”

The interest in his potential, McIntyre believes, came from being a late-bloomer.

“I started pitching mostly after high school. After my senior season at AJ, the club team I played with knew I wanted to play college baseball and I had no offers coming out of high school. No interest, really,” McIntyre said.

“I was told my best shot was to be a pitcher, which sounded crazy, but I thought it was my best chance. People saw the potential with my size. At the time, I wasn’t that big. Some of it was seeing potential, but a lot of it was, they need players. I was an arm, and I was able to progress a lot faster than most people did. Especially when everything kind of came together.”

From there, McIntyre attended three junior colleges in two years – Yavapai Community College in Prescott, Otero JC in La Junta, Colo., and San Diego City College.

“I found San Diego  through a coach that I played for after my freshman year,” McIntyre said. “Then San Diego helped me get exposed to a different state, a bigger state. They set the table for Holy Names finding me.”

Contreras learned about McIntyre from Chris Brown, the SDCC head coach who Contreras had once played for.

“Chris said nothing but good things about Aiden during the recruiting process,” Contreras said. “McIntyre’s pitching coach at that time was a former teammate of mine, Sergio Mitre (who played eight years in the majors for the Yankees and Cubs). All those guys thought Aiden would be a great addition to our program.”

McIntyre was 5-2 in his freshman year, grew to 6-foot as a senior, then 6-4 at San Diego City College. His fastball is hitting the low 90s on the radar gun, topping at 95 during the past season. “I hit a handful of 94s. Usually 91 to 94 on a good day. The challenge is to locate it.”

After his junior year, McIntyre spent time at Driveline in Kent, Wash., a noted training facility for baseball players.

“My mechanics cleaned up a lot this past year, mostly just mentally maturing, changing the mindset a little bit, and the big jump physically.  Even in my junior year at Holy Names, I wasn’t in nearly good enough shape to get to what I wanted to do.” McIntyre explained. “In my junior season, I ran it up to 91 in one game, but in most games I would down around 85. I didn’t have enough strength and endurance for the season.

“Driveline is where players go to maximize their potential. In a way, it’s the last stop to see how much you can do. Honestly, without Driveline, I wouldn’t be here at all.”

THE NEXT LEVEL

McIntyre said he thinks the A’s are projecting him as a starter. “Outings will be pretty much short innings, so you don’t get too stretched out. Right now, it’s getting command of the strike zone, getting people to miss or make weak contact, and we’ll move from there.”

His repertoire includes a four-seam fastball, split-finger fastball, a “spike-curve” and a changeup.

“The spike curve is a little like a knuckle curve,” McIntyre said. “I developed it over winter throwing with my brother (Ian, a former Prospector who plays for San Diego CC), and I watched videos on it. That’s a little unconventional, but I needed another pitch. My splitter is my most effective pitch.”

On the challenge of playing professionally, McIntyre said, “Everybody knows the percentages of players drafted to make it. I wasn’t expected to play college baseball, in high school, I was never expected to get drafted. So it’s not a different situation for me. I’m used to it. I’m comfortable.

“It’s another challenge. It’s fun. The baseball field is a good fit for me.”

Grateful for the opportunities he’s had along the way at San Diego and Holy Names, “teams that allowed me to progress and to get here,” McIntyre said, “Our parents made sure we had what we needed, allowing me to pursue my dream, even when it wasn’t, from a parent’s perspective, very clear for a long time.

“They allowed me to be me, and guided me to do that.”

Photo above: Aiden McIntyre (left), a 2014 Apache Junction High graduate, along with his brother Ian, who graduated in 2017. Aiden recently signed with the Oakland A’s; Ian plays for San Diego City College. (Photo by Daniel Dullum)

Sons of the American Legion Fund Playground

Donation tops off the till for inclusive playground equipment at DVES

By Sally Marks

The Sons of the American Legion Post #27 came to the rescue of Desert Vista Elementary School, 3701 E. Broadway in Apache Junction, by donating the $4,267.18 needed to complete the inclusive playground equipment on the west side of the campus.

Playground equipment was recently installed following  an intensive two-year fundraising campaign that included efforts from students, parents, members of the community  and local businesses, but one important piece from the original plan was missing: an Ant Farm Tunnel.

Mary Morelos, a life skills teacher, and Pat Smith, principal of DVES, attended the American Legion meeting and made a presentation to the members about the playground project. Following their presentation, the Sons of the American Legion voted to approve the full amount to fund the Ant Farm Tunnel. The equipment will be installed in six to eight weeks.

“We are thrilled to be able to complete this project and provide adaptive playground equipment so more of our students can enjoy the playground,” said Mrs. Smith. “The Sons of the American Legion show they live the promise of their organization of being devoted to mutual helpfulness. We are deeply grateful for their generosity.”

The America Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness. The American Legion Apache Post 27 is located at 1018 S. Meridian Road in Apache Junction. For more information visit www.apachepost27az.org.

Photo above: Front L-R: Chuck Woodcock, Scott Gulli, Pat Smith, Mary Morelos, James Matlock. Back L-R: Adam Hodge, Jeff Broom, Jason McPherson, Tyler Golenbiewsk

ZAO THEATRE: Apache Junction’s Own Full-Fledged Community Theatre

By Hank Sheffer

Yes, Apache Junction does have its own full-fledged community theatre.

Zao Theatre occupies the Superstition Mountain Elementary School (SMES) complex. As a part of this community, it has always been our desire to engage, inspire, entertain and challenge audiences with theatrical productions that range from the classics to new works. We offer opportunities and support to new and aspiring generations of young theatre artists, as well as offering a forum for some of the best peformers to be found anywhere in the state of Arizona to perform.

We provide arts education promoting life-long learning to a diverse community, while celebrating the essential power of the theatre to develop one’s sense of self, community, and the purpose of life.

The name, Zao Theatre, comes from two sources: the first a Greek verb “zao,” meaning: to live, breathe—be among the living—to enjoy real life. And “theatre,” which is defined as a collaborative form of art that uses live performers to present a real or imagined event before a live audience. That is exactly what we do at Zao Theatre; we live, breathe and enjoy real life and share those experiences with our audiences.

Since its inception, Zao Theatre has offered the best in Broadway-style entertainment in the East Valley. It became a living, breathing entity in October, 2014, when presenting its production of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, followed shortly thereafter with another of the popular Simon plays, Barefoot in the Park. The first important hurdles for a new theatre had been overcome—actors were willing to work with us, and audiences found us. Zao Theatre was alive!

In 2015, we forged ahead with the gripping best-seller drama, To Kill a Mockingbird. At the close of that show, we found ourselves preparing to move Centerstage Church and Zao Theatre to their current location at Ironwood and Broadway. Ironically, with that move Zao became the only major theatre in the valley that could actually say it was “On Broadway.”

We have been enjoying life ever since. Zao Theatre is a performer’s theatre and has continued to present quality, top-notch productions such as: Godspell, The Foreigner, 1776: The Musical, A Few Good Men, Nunsense: The Mega Musical, the huge production, Ragtime:The Musical, Curses Foiled Again: A Melodrama, and 12 Angry Jurors.

Theatre is great entertainment, and there is always something for everyone to enjoy.

Zao Theatre is located at 550 South Ironwood Drive in Apache Junction, Arizona 85120. For information about the theatre, upcoming shows or to purchase tickets, visit our website, www.zaotheatre.com, or email: shows@zaotheatre.com. or call: 480-924-5122.

Photo above: Performances at Zao Theatre have included ‘Ragtime: The Musical’.

Local Businesses Team Up On Patriotic Makeover for DAV Drawing

By Dana Trumbull

How much would you pay for a chance to win “a beat up, old, white, well-used golf cart”? Marcus Rodgers, a veteran and “golf cart doctor” at Robinson Golf Cars, Apache Junction, AZ, provided the less-than-glowing description of a used SoloRider 34 golf cart that was donated to the Disabled American Veterans. But after three local shops got their hands into it, the result was something any patriotic American would be proud to own, whether for golf or neighborhood transportation.

The golf cart was earmarked as a prize to be awarded in a fundraiser to benefit the DAV. Tickets were sold by DAV members throughout Arizona, and the drawing was scheduled to take place at the 2018 annual convention, held June 6-9 at the Sheraton Tucson East in Tucson, AZ. Rather than handing it off “as is,” though, Dents Plus, AZ Hot Rod & Upholstery and Robinson Golf Cars teamed up to make it a real showstopper.

Dents Plus, 1680 E. 34th Ave., Apache Junction, created a stunning star-spangled paint job, complimented by an equally patriotic red, white and blue upholstery job contributed by AZ Hot Rod & Upholstery, 2134 S. Idaho Rd., also in AJ. Robinson Golf Cars, 2165 S. Coconino, Apache Junction, pitched in with batteries and wheel covers, and Rodgers donated his time and talents to transport and repair the cart. “What we pulled off was absolutely amazing,” Rodgers proudly proclaimed.

The fundraiser brought approximately $3,000 to the DAV coffers. A former commander of the DAV, Chapter 11, in Yuma, Arizona, was the lucky winner. “Usually, the prizewinner would donate the golf cart to a local veterans center or to a golf course for use by amputees or paraplegic veterans who want to be able to continue the sport,” explained CW Hall, southern district commander for the Arizona DAV. “But I don’t know if he’ll be able to turn loose of this one!”

Photo above: This used golf cart (inset) received lots of local TLC for a DAV benefit.

Arizona Girls State Marks 71st Session

It was a girl’s week with nearly 300 high school girls from across Arizona converging on the University of Arizona campus for the 71st session of the American Legion Auxiliary premier program, Arizona Girls State. This unique opportunity is open to girls completing their junior year of high school who meet the necessary qualifications. The session ran from June 1 through 9, 2018.  Attending from Apache Junction High School were: Myka Adams, Jessica Cruz, Emalee Rogoff, Calista Smith and Kyra Ehrlich.

Girls State is a weeklong program designed to educate young women in the functions of their government and kindle the desire to actively participate in and responsibly fulfill their role as citizens.

According to Penny Maklary, Girls State Director, “This is a week that shapes a lifetime.”

Delegate Kyra Ehrlich told The News that she felt Girls State was a valuable experience, “During my six days at girls state, I learned several things about how government works; one of which is the specific process that a proposed law has to go through to be enacted.

“Many laws were proposed and debated, but only four were passed. It was a great opportunity and I was able to meet other girls from across the state with similar interests.”

Arizona Girls State is comprised of 12 hypothetical cities and 4 counties. There are 22 to 24 girls in each city and about 75 girls in each county. The girls are divided into two pseudo political parties called federalists and nationalists.

Each city elected a mayor and counsel, wrote their own ordinances and resolutions, passed a budget and a strategy for planning and zoning. Cities were assigned to a county, and the educational process continued with campaigning and election to county and state positions.

During the span of the week, the girls conducted regular city and party meetings, wrote and debated bills, received instruction from actual elected state/county officials and “learned by doing.”

Midweek, they elected the prominent positions of governor and secretary of state. The girls elected to these two positions will return to preside over the 72nd session of Arizona Girls State.

Culminating the week was the election of two delegates as senators to attend the prestigious Girls Nation held the following month in Washington, DC. Girls Nation is an all-expense-paid week with other girls elected as state senators from across the nation. They debate federal issues they present as bills, visit the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, the White House and other memorials in the nation’s capital.

For more information on Girls State or the American Legion Auxiliary, contact the Auxiliary Unit located in your city or the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Arizona at 602-241-1080.

Photo above: AJHS Girls State delegate Kyra Ehrlich (far right) poses for a photo with the representatives of her Girls State “city.”  (L-R): Jessica (last name unknown), Hannah Griffin, Dylann Cox, Anna Bruen and Kyra Ehrlich.

First Responders Resuscitate Child

An Apache Junction 2-year-old was saved last Thursday, thanks to the quick response of first responders.

On June 14, 2018, at approximately 8:30 a.m., the Apache Junction Police Department responded to a residence in the 900 block of West 21st Avenue, Apache Junction.

The 9-1-1 call was concerning a two-year-old child who was not breathing and had no pulse.  Corporal Marshall Harshman arrived first and immediately began cardiopulmonary resuscitation until the child began to breathe on her own.

Superstition Fire and Medical District personnel arrived and attended to the further medical needs of the child.

Corporal Harshman’s timely response to the home, quick evaluation and immediate actions led to positive results for the child, the child’s family and Corporal Harshman.

AJ: We’re Ready for Our Closeup

Film crew working in and around the city on new sci-fi feature

An independent feature film The Unhealer will include some familiar scenery to Apache Junction denizens. Apache Junction High School and the Bluebird Mine have hosted the crew in the past weeks, and there have been just a few murmurs about the heat. The film explores teen bullying and abuse of power with supernatural twists.

Is there a better location than our own legendary Superstition Mountain? “We scouted Scottsdale and Chandler, but Apache Junction was most accommodating,” said unit publicist Tom Tanno.

The film combines the genres of  drama, science fiction and horror, featuring a cast of young Hollywood and Arizona actors led by a trio of veteran film and television stars.

Photo above: Producers and star of the independent feature film The Unhealer on location near Superstition Mountain in Apache Junction. From left to right: Corbin Timbrook, Co-Producer; Lance Henriksen, actor; Cristi Harris, Producer; Galen Walker, Producer. Courtesy photo

17 AJ Unified School District Retirees Recognized

By Dana Trumbull

2017/18 has been a year of change at Apache Junction Unified School District. 2018/19 promises to continue the trend. But as the saying goes, “The only constant is change.” With 466 collective years of service to our community between them, that’s a story that can be told in many ways by the 17 long-term employees who are retiring from the district this year.

“It’s hard to imagine how much has changed in the past 32 years since I started working at AJUSD,” said Denise Gabrielsen, the administrative assistant who teamed up with Principal Larry LaPrise to open Peralta Trail Elementary and continued with him when he took over at Cactus Canyon Junior High and then Apache Junction High School. “I got to witness a class that began in kindergarten at PTES and followed them all the way to graduation this year. And I was able to see former Four Peaks students enroll children of their own at the high school.”

“I have been through 5 superintendents and 9 principals,” related Nancy Johnson, who retired with 35 years behind her. Johnson started as an aide at Four Peaks, but was quickly picked up at AJHS as the attendance clerk, then segued into the position of principal’s secretary at AJHS, where she remained for 19 years.

The next 15 years were spent as the AJHS bookstore manager, with additional duties as registration secretary recently added in one of the many job combinations necessitated by budget cuts. “I would have never chosen a better job than working in the district. It was like my family. I think I made an impact on many students; I could not wait to come back after breaks to hear what all the kids did over break.”

That sense of family permeates the comments from many of the retirees. Shelly Verley, is a 31 year veteran who attended AJUSD from the age of 12 to graduation in 1982. After college, she was hired as a teacher for AJUSD and taught for 25 years before becoming the school counselor at Desert Vista Elementary.

“[I have] many fond memories… as in thousands!” she reminisced. “I think they all boil down to the sense of family in this district. I love running into former students and having them tell me their favorite part of being in my class:  the parties they earned or painting suncatchers on the last day of school as a memento…

“I also love that my own boys went to Desert Vista while I was there and have friendships lasting into adulthood that were formed on that campus.”

With 42 years under her belt, Patty Smith (SAIS technology coordinator, not the Desert Vista principal – although they often received each others’ emails) has also moved through a number of positions. “I began my career at AJUSD in August, 1976, as a teacher at Apache Junction Junior High teaching Home Economics,” she related. “My favorite class was Bachelor Survival with 15 junior high boys. They loved sewing aprons and eating all the food they prepared!

“In the fall of 1979, I became a school counselor and spent the next 26 years working at AJHS, AJ Junior High and Four Peaks Elementary. In the summer of 2005, I took over the job of reporting data to the Department of Education for funding purposes.

“My 42 years working for AJUSD have been very rewarding,” she continued. “One of my greatest pleasures has been watching students attend AJUSD over the years, graduate, pursue many meaningful careers and now, their children are students in our district.”

AJHS NJROTC teacher and mentor for 15 years, Major William Parker is also among those retiring. “Saying goodbye… was one of the most emotional experiences that I have had in my life,” he said. “Hanging up my uniform after 44 years is tough. Leaving our cadets and the Prospector community is almost unbearable. You cannot imagine the joy and pride I have experienced in seeing my students succeed and go on to rewarding careers.”

So where will these hard working folks go now? What will they do? Not all of them will leave education. Connie Earl, an AJUSD employee for 22 years, plans to stay involved, “My first retirement plans are on hold as the #redfored movement has been and may hopefully continue to be a game changer for education. I’m excited, nervous and very tired. After a much needed rest, I will be back and ready to take on the world!”

Senior Chief David Patti (AJHS ROTC, 12 years) will be moving to greener pastures… literally. “I have accepted the NJROTC Naval Science Instructor position at Hot Springs High School [Arkansas]. I will miss AJHS, where I have been the last twelve years. They are truly a family community. But I am looking forward to buying a house on a lake and being able to walk to my boat.”

Johnson hasn’t yet decided what she will do, but, “I do know it will have to involve kids. No matter what, I will always be a Prospector.”

Verley smiled, “I have a new grandbaby that needs a full-time babysitter right now.  In a few years, when he goes off to preschool, who knows? You may see me back in the halls of AJUSD yet again!”

Major Parker gave the best parting advice: “No matter where you go, never forget where you came from! That is and forever will be your greatest strength.”

A reception was held at the AJUSD District Office to recognize the retirees, district-wide.

“It was a bittersweet experience to say goodbye to the dedicated staff members who are retiring,” said Superintendent Dr. Krista Anderson. “We value the loyalty, integrity and passion they have for educating our kids. They will be missed.”

Photo above: In a bitter-sweet celebration, AJUSD bid farewell to several teachers and staff. In attendance were (L-R): Sr. Chief David Patti, Major William Parker, Pam Turner, Patty Smith, Shelly Verley, Jamie Kenley, Dr. Steve Hughes and Connie Earl.

Hats Off to City’s Community Service Crews

AJ Municipal Court’s Community Service program provides a solution to outstanding fines, incarceration

By Bill Van Nimwegen

“People make mistakes in life. You shouldn’t have to live with that for the rest of your life. I believe in redemption.” This quote from Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe reminds us that fortune and misfortune can turn on a dime.

Every week, The News publishes court reports listing violations and fines imposed on individuals who have been found guilty of violating laws in Apache Junction.

Did you know that the city also provides options for those individuals to pay their court ordered fines through work programs? Many of us are familiar with the crews working throughout the city. We see them in safety vests clearing medians of trash or dressed in orange jumpsuits spreading gravel or painting curbs.

These are participants in a program that has benefited the city since it was begun in 2009. “It’s really a win-win situation for the city and those who owe fines,” said City Manager Bryant Powell. “After we lost so many employees during the recession, these maintenance projects were not getting done.” Apache Junction Municipal Court Presiding Judge James Hazel established the Court Community Service option, and Brittany Kimball is Court Community Service Compliance Coordinator.

Brittany Kimball

“They get a bad reputation for not abiding by the law, but these people are trying to do the right thing. They are the ones showing up to work and also provide a service to the city,” Ms. Kimball said.

“I have two crew leaders,” says Kimball, “Glenn supervises the Department of Corrections crew and Larry supervises the court crew. The community service crew provides hundreds of hours of free labor for the city every month. Last month, it was more than 600 hours.

We take direction from the city manager and other city departments as needed. This includes Apache Junction Police Department (AJPD), Development Services – Code Compliance (pickup couches/furniture dumped in a lot or on the side of the road), Parks and Rec (help with special events, clean the medians along Apache Trail), Public Works (clean alleyways and easements) and the Public Library.”

The personal accomplishments of participants in the program can’t be measured. Self esteem and receiving a tangible value for their work can have a positive influence on future behavior. Ms. Kimball told The News about one program participant who secured a permanent position with Horizon Health and Wellness after his hard work and diligence was noticed by the company’s director. Sometimes the participants make their own suggestions for projects that they see are needed.

The city program participants are paid $10/hr. toward their fines and can work as their schedule permits. A traffic violation fine costs about $225, which can be worked off in just over 20 hours on the crew.

City participants meet at 7:30 a.m. behind the courthouse any day they can work. The crew works until 11:30 a.m., Monday through Thursday. According to the city’s website, closed-toe shoes are required for participation on the work crew (no sandals or flip flops). A hat or head-cover is highly recommended.

The Department of Corrections participants are incarcerated in Florence, but are paid $15/hr. toward their fines. To learn more about the Court Compliance programs, visit https://www.ajcity.net/588/Court-Compliance.

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