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Bill Van Nimwegen

Bill Van Nimwegen has 292 articles published.

AJHS’s Cafaro Named Region Player of the Year

Lady Prospectors Cap Successful Season, Placing 5 on All-Black Canyon Soccer Squad

By Daniel Dullum

Had Katy Cafaro, the 4A Black Canyon Region player of the year, stayed with dancing, her noteworthy soccer career might not have happened.

“I started playing soccer when I was 7. But before that, I took dance lessons for a couple of years,” the Apache Junction sophomore recalled. “I knew that wasn’t for me! I needed something that was a little more aggressive when I was 7, and I’ve been playing ever since.”

By age 9, Cafaro knew that soccer was her true calling.

“I tried out for my first club team and they told me I was ‘amazing’ for only playing two years,” she said. “And I was like, ‘What?’ Ever since then, it’s been like, ‘OK. This is fun!’ But I had other girls on the team that were equally as good if not better. That always pushed me not to keep all of that in my head.

Katy Cafaro

“And the first club team I played on, most of the girls didn’t like me! That was another reason to work harder.”

What’s fun for Cafaro is a nightmare for her opponents. In 2017-18, she led AJ with 21 goals along with 12 assists. Cafaro was also a repeat all-region choice, and was the region’s offensive player of the year as a freshman.

As for an encore, Cafaro said, laughing, “I don’t know! I guess whatever comes, comes.  It’s just about playing the game.

“I personally don’t enjoy getting all the awards because I feel it puts pressure on a player to be better, and you have expectations. But at the same time, this my reward for working hard. There’s no off day – now I have to work harder.”

Norm Hoefer, the Lady Prospectors coach, said of Cafaro: “Katy has been an asset to our program over the past 2 seasons. With her skills up top, the team trusts that we can go score goals when we need to. She is a never ending workhorse that can change the game whenever she gets the ball.

“Katy works hard after practice and on weekends trying to perfect her shooting technique. She is a versatile player that can play almost any position on the field and play it well. It is nice to know that we will have her for two more years. She is a solid player that lets her play and her stats speak for her.”

Cafaro believes the region honors are reflective on the team’s success. The Lady Prospectors finished 17-5-1 overall, 3-2 in region play and 1-1 in the 4A playoffs.

“Our team worked together really well this year,” Cafaro said. “It’s the first time we’ve been to a playoff game that we did well in. Our team this year was one of the best teams I’ve played on for this school, ever. All the girls worked really well together, we all really connected, there was no fighting, no arguing this year, and I think that’s what really set us apart and made us better.”

While Cafaro has the option to play for her travel team fulltime, the high-scoring forward intends to continue at AJHS for the next two seasons – good news for the Lady Prospectors and bad news for their 4A opponents.

Personal goals do not motivate Cafaro. Team goals do.

“From my freshman year, I would usually pass the ball off and give up the chance to score. What was different this year was I got more confident with the ball and knew that if I took a shot, my girls were always following up and had my back no matter what happened.”

Cafaro isn’t hearing from colleges yet, but whatever program gets in touch with her needs to have a strong veterinary and/or zoology program. Toward that end, Cafaro was interning at Animal Hospital in Mesa and recently became an employee.

“It’s owned by one of the parents of the soccer club I play for,” Cafaro said. “They took me on as soon as I turned 16 and I’ve been working there since.

“Since I was little, everybody said I had a gift with animals and how they’re comfortable around me. I’ve always really liked animals. Becoming a vet or a zoologist gives me an opportunity to make animals healthy again or help the owners easily deal with the pain without having them go through a rough time.”

With her busy schedule, Cafaro said working with animals helps her decompress.

“It helps me get away, to just relax and do whatever I want while helping other people and not worrying about anything.

“It recharges the batteries a little bit.”

Still recovering from soccer injuries to her foot and shoulder, Cafaro had to let go of track after qualifying for the state 4A meet last year as a sprinter.

With a grueling, nearly year-round schedule, is there such a thing as too much soccer? Cafaro doesn’t think so.

“Soccer takes a lot of dedication, and if you want to become better, it takes that dedication to put a player above and beyond a little more. With a little extra help, you achieve those goals, and you become better.

“It’s all about becoming better in this sport. It’s about the team and having fun.”

Celebrate Sinatra in Gold Canyon

Canyon Sounds Artist Series presents Bryan Anthony, “Celebrating Sinatra: His Life In Music,” on Friday, March 16, 2018, 7:30 p.m. at Gold Canyon United Methodist Church, 6640 S. Kings Ranch Road in Gold Canyon.

Bryan Anthony is lead singer for the Nelson Riddle and Tommy Dorsey orchestras. Join Bryan as his golden voice performs “Celebrating Sinatra: His Life In Music,” a musical journey through Frank’s big band years, those unforgettable recordings at Capitol Records, his great movie years and his final iconic international concerts. Prepare yourself for a very romantic and nostalgic evening.

Purchase advance adult tickets for $25 and student tickets for $5 at Canyon Rose Storage, 6405 S. Kings Ranch Rd., Gold Canyon, and at the Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce office on the Apache Trail.  Also, order via PayPal on our website Adult tickets at the door are $30.

The Gold Canyon Arts Council, a non-profit organization, promotes the performing and visual arts and is supported in part by grants from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, WESTAF, the National Endowment for the Arts, local corporations and businesses.

Household Hazardous Waste Event

Set for March 3, 2018

The city of Apache Junction will be holding its annual free Household Hazardous Waste, White Goods, Electronic Recycling and Document Shredding collection event on Saturday, March 3, 2018. The event will be held at the city’s Public Works operations yard, 575 E. Baseline, from 8 a.m.-noon.

The Household Hazardous Waste collection is for items that typically cannot be deposited into your regular trash. An effort will be made to recycle as many of the items collected as possible. Residents may bring hazardous waste items such as anti-freeze (up to 20 gallons in up to 5-gallon containers), batteries (auto/truck and marine), motor oil (up to 20 gallons in up to 5-gallon containers), paint (latex and oil based, non-aerosol) and passenger, light-truck and semi-truck tires (rims will not be accepted).  Collection of hazardous waste and tires will be free of charge.

White goods are any large household appliances such as refrigerators, air conditioners, freezers, stoves, washing machines, clothes dryers and related.  All refrigerators and freezers must be emptied of food before they will be accepted.

Electronic recycling includes items such as personal computers, laptops, flat panel monitors, modems, switches, power cords, printers, wire and cabling, mice, keyboards, hard drives, floppy, DVD, CD drives, telephones, cell phones, printers, fax machines, copiers, calculators, typewriters, flat panel televisions, stereos, radios, projectors, cable equipment, video equipment, VCRs, video game equipment, etc.

Document shredding of confidential documents will be done on site.

Items that will not be accepted are furniture, lamps and small appliances, or any items from businesses or commercial interests.

The event is open to area residents, including Pinal County residents from the surrounding area. Participants are responsible for transporting the goods to the city collection site and will be asked to show proof of residency.

For additional information about the collection of household hazardous waste and other items, contact Heather Hodgman at 480-474-8500.

Hikers Stranded Overnight in Superstitions

After spending the night on Superstition Mountain with volunteers from Central Arizona Mountain Rescue Association, three stranded hikers were picked up by a Department of Public Safety (DPS) helicopter last Wednesday morning.

According to a Facebook post from the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, their dispach got a call for help Tuesday evening. Because it was already dark, rescuers could not bring the three hikers down the mountain, so rescue volunteers stayed with them overnight.

Superstition Fire & Medical District met the hikers and the DPS helicopter at the base of the mountain the next day.

In a statement posted on their Facebook page, SFMD said: “Our crews assisted Pinal County Sheriff’s Office and MCSO with a rescue at Siphon Draw this morning. Two hikers spent the night on top of the mountain and needed assistance getting down. They were evaluated by our crews and released without any injuries.”

DPS said three people, two of them in their 70s, were suffering from exhaustion near the Flatiron summit off Siphon Draw trail.

Photo above: Superstition Fire & Medical District met the airlifted hikers after their overnight stay in the Superstitions. SFMD photo

AJ Resident Convicted of Animal Abuse

AJPD Animal Control began investigation into neglect over a year ago

By Robert McDaniel

An investigation that began over a year ago by Apache Junction Police Department Animal Control Officer KC Sheahan was adjudicated on February 8, 2018.

The premises at 1445 S. Ironwood were found to be uninhabitable, with 14 dogs, 4 cats and a bird living in contaminated and filthy conditions.

The investigation began when a dog belonging to a neighbor of Alysha M. Cox (24), 1445 S. Ironwood, was attacked by the Cox dogs while he was walking his dog. This incident led to an investigation of extreme animal neglect and cruelty of multiple animals at the Ironwood address. Located at the residence were 14 dogs, 4 cats and a bird living in contaminated and filthy conditions.

In January 2017, the owner was cited by Officer Sheahan for violations that included: dog at large, no dog licenses and no kennel permit. During the investigation, Officer Sheahan observed evidence of neglect and cruelty. A search warrant was obtained and, as a result, the residence and exterior were found to be uninhabitable. All the neglected animals at the residence were placed into foster care at the Paws and Claws Care Center pending the criminal case, where a total of 28 criminal charges were filed against the defendant, Ms. Cox.

During court proceedings, City Judge Richard Geiser awarded custody of all the animals from the residence to the city of Apache Junction, Paws and Claws Care Center, where each animal was placed with their forever home. On February 8, 2018, the defendant was found guilty of 24 counts of animal neglect and will be sentenced by the court.

AJUSD Governing Board Opts for 5-Day Schedule

District votes 4-1 to implement Calendar Advisory Committee’s secondary choice for 2018-19 school year; “modified 5-day” schedule includes shorter days, longer fall & spring breaks, shorter summer break

By Dana Trumbull

The Apache Junction Unified School District Governing Board voted 4-1 at the February 13, 2018, Board meeting, to move the district to a 5-day, modified schedule for the 2018-19 school year. The first day of school for the coming year will be July 24, 2018. Jodi Ehrlich, Dena Kimble, Mike Weaver and Cami Garcia voted in favor. Board member Christa Rizzi voted against the change.

Board President Jodi Ehrlich explained her vote, “The original intent for the 4-day week was teacher retention, but it didn’t change markedly… it might have changed by 2 or 3%. Attendance, [substitute teacher] usage – we tracked all of those markers… and there was an improvement that first year, but by year three, the differences were immaterial.

Board Member Dena Kimble agreed, “As much as my daughter likes the 4-day, I feel I have to do what’s best for the students. For me, a quality education is the most important thing. The way we’re going on the 4-day right now, we’re never going to get there.”

Several parents spoke out during the Public Comments period in favor of the return to a 5-day schedule, citing students’ long days, exhaustion and lowered performance. “My daughter tells me ‘everything just feels so crammed; I feel like I’m not getting it,’” said Jenny Powell. “From an education standpoint for my children, please, please consider what is fair for their future.”

Kathy Allen’s daughter, however, has thrived. “My daughter’s attendance has improved. I’ve also seen better comprehension in her classes, which we all believe is due to the extended class periods. We’ve also seen an overall improvement in her attitude toward school. Mornings go a lot smoother on 4-day.”

Many members of the Calendar Advisory Committee used the opportunity to remind the Board of the long hours of research that were behind their 4-day recommendation, including parent and staff surveys (60.43% of the 930 parents who responded to the survey were in favor of the 4-day schedule, while staff response was 89.83% in favor of the 4-day). Their vocal displeasure during Board discussion, as one after another of the Board members indicated their leaning, became somewhat rowdy for the normally staid proceedings, with one committee member calling the decision, “a slap in the face.”

AJHS teacher Niki Smith summed up a fear shared by many, “With the teacher shortage in Arizona, teachers can go anywhere else, work a 5-day week and get paid more money. I could go to Queen Creek and get $8,000 more. The 4-days here is a perk. I love AJ and I would hate to see this decision tear our district apart.”

The committee’s recommendation to continue a “4-day traditional” schedule was presented to the Board in December. The academic calendar was similar to the current AJUSD schedule; however, four days were added to the school year to allow the instructional days to be shortened and to provide for later start times.

The committee also provided a second option at that time: the plan the Board adopted on Tuesday for the 2018-19 school year. The “modified 5-day” schedule added Fridays back into the school week, shortened academic days, increased fall and spring breaks to two weeks and maintained the two week winter break. Although the 5-day calendar is referred to as a “modified year-round” schedule, the options for 4 and 5-day calendars both included an eight week summer break.

Following the Calendar Advisory Committee’s December presentation, administrative staff followed up in succeeding meetings with additional presentations in direct response to Board questions. Start and stop times (bell schedule), professional development for staff, the addition of Parent-Teacher Conferences at the junior high and high school level and additional comparative data with statewide and neighboring districts (schedules, academic achievement, etc.) were among the topics the Board had requested for further exploration after the committee’s recommendations were heard. Among 4-day districts in Arizona, only one exceeded the state average for the percentage of students passing both the English language and math portions of the AzMERIT test. That district is Hillside; a district with a total enrollment of 19 students. Saddle Mountain, with 1,099 students, matched the state percentage in math, but fell short in ELA. Notably, most 4-day districts are considerably smaller than AJUSD.

Board member Cami Garcia, a real estate broker and avid community volunteer, expressed her concerns, “Listening to parents speak, whether by voice or email, brings me back to three years ago when the decision was made to go to the 4-day. Many teachers spoke on behalf of the 4-day, but then left because [a job in another district] brought more money in to their families. The whole goal was to attract and retain teachers.

“We were hoping for higher test scores and increased enrollment, but the enrollment has continued to decline. Many families left because of jobs or school closures, but so many families told me as a volunteer, in so many different ways that they left because of the 4-day.”

Approximately 100 AJHS students, led by alumnus Braden Biggs, gathered at the Administrative Office on Wednesday, 2/15 to protest the change to a 5-day school schedule for the 2018-19 school year. Biggs, a self-styled community advocate and member of the Calendar Advisory Committee, has announced his intent to run for a position on the AJUSD Governing Board in November, 2018.

Board member Christa Rizzi shared a different perspective, “One of the things that I do [in my business] is rent U-Hauls, so I talk to a lot of people that move, and a lot of times I have the opportunity to ask them where they’re moving and why. What I’ve heard overwhelmingly is that people are moving to Queen Creek and San Tan because the housing costs in AJ are too high, and in Queen Creek or San Tan Valley, they can get a better bang for their buck. Their reasons were not related to the school district.

“I understand that the former board did not go to the 4-day to save money. It was to offer an additional benefit to staff. We have to find a way to be competitive. We are not getting money from the governor as he promises. It’s just not happening. And the 4-day was a way to do it…

“I have a concern with making a promise that we’re going to pay [staff] more. I want to know that we have something in place to make sure that our employees and our staff are paid what they’re worth before we take away their one last reason to stay in the lowest paying district in the East Valley.”

A discussion of the salary schedule and plans to route savings from other cost efficiencies within the district to teacher and staff salaries will be discussed at the February 27 Governing Board meeting. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Cruz told the Board to anticipate recommended increases for teachers and support staff as funds become available. Administrators, however, will not share in the increase.

Lost Dutchman Days

By Tom Kollenborn

The old prospector of lost mine fame, Jacob Waltz, left the state of Arizona quite a legacy when he died in Phoenix on Sunday, October 25, 1891.

His death marked the beginning of a period of mystery, intrigue, myth and cryptic clues about a rich gold mine in the Superstition Mountains east of Apache Junction. Today, some believe Waltz had a rich gold mine and others claim the story is nothing but a fable.

As we celebrate this Lost Dutchman Days, we should think about all the stories these old timers left behind. Most are fiction, but some are true. Our state is unique with its many stories of lost mines, cowboys, gunfighters, miners, prospectors, lawman, ministers, farmers, ranchers, jurists and politicians. These were the men and women who helped Arizona make the transition from territorial status to the modern state it is today.

The stories like the Dutchman Mine compel some to search the deep canyons and towering spires of the Superstition Wilderness for the Waltz’s lost mine. Prospectors, treasure hunters and the curious come from far and near for a look at the Superstition Mountains and try their luck at searching for gold. Also, many hike and ride the old trails of the “Wilderness.” However, most come to enjoy the climate, scenery, tranquility and solitude of the mountains.

The first major group to take advantage of this international interest was the Phoenix Dons Club, now known as The Dons of Arizona. Their first annual Superstition Mountain Trek was held in 1934. The Dons Club, in an attempt to further commemorate the history and lore of the Lost Dutchman Mine and Superstition Mountain, constructed the Lost Dutchman Monument in Apache Junction in 1938. The monument was rededicated in 1988 after standing for fifty years, undisturbed by progress. Almost 400 dignitaries and citizens from around Arizona rededicated the monument on February 28,1988. The governor of Arizona was the keynote speaker for the occasion.

Thousands of families have stopped to admire the monument over the years. Many had their photograph taken with the monument in the background. Sam Lowe, columnist for the Arizona Republic recently wrote about the historical significance of the monument in the lives of many prominent Arizonians, including Arizona governors, legislators and historians. Recently, the city of Apache Junction dedicated a bronze statue of the prospector and burro at City Hall on October 4, 2011. The prospector and burro have become the motif of Apache Junction, unique to any other community in Arizona.

The Apache Junction Lions Club so valued the legacy of the Lost Dutchman Mine story and the monument, they implemented the Apache Junction Burro Derby in 1958. The Burro Derby drew thousands to Apache Junction each winter. Hollywood movie stars often became involved with the Burro Derby, between 1960-1963, when they were in town filming at Apache Land.

As I recall, St. George’s Church started a Mardi Gras parade. Lost Dutchman Days evolved in 1965, under the guidance and support of Colonel Rodgers. Lulu Luebben named Lost Dutchman Days. Lulu’s husband Roy became the first officially elected Lost Dutchman.  If I recall correctly, the Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce organized the event each year after 1965. This year’s event will be the 53rd Annual Lost Dutchman Days.

Lost Dutchman Days is known around the nation and world because of the notoriety of Jacob Waltz and his lost gold mine in the Superstition Mountains east of Apache Junction. Each year, this celebration draws thousands of people to Apache Junction for fun and to share in our history. This event requires a tremendous amount of volunteer energy and ingenuity to pull off each year.

This event is marked by volunteer dedication everywhere you look. If it were not for community volunteers, there would be no Lost Dutchman Days. It is through their efforts our community puts its best foot forward. We also need to recognize the businesses and sponsors who so strongly support this event. It is also important we recognize the resources and support committed by the City of Apache Junction since 1978, when the city was incorporated.

Recently, I had to explain to an old timer how to find the burro and prospector monument in downtown Apache Junction, because of our recent growth. He recalled to me having his picture taken with the burro and prospector in the background in 1939. He said, “When I had that picture taken, there was nothing between the monument and Superstition Mountain.”

I then mentioned Lost Dutchman Days to him. His reply was simple, “You mean the old prospector and burro has an event named after them? It sure pays to hunt gold in these hills, friend.”

Please come out and celebrate Lost Dutchman Days with the fine people of Apache Junction on February 23, 24 and 25, 2018. This year’s celebration includes a parade, a rousing Rodeo Dance, a carnival, Polka contest, gold panning, a Senior Pro Rodeo and lots of good food and entertainment.

Community events have sustained Arizona through good times and bad times. Most communities in Arizona have an annual event that attracts thousands of people to Arizona. These community events have been important to Arizona’s sustained growth and prosperity. These events bring people together to enjoy the best of Arizona, its climate, culture, scenery and people.

Apache Junction’s 54th Annual Lost Dutchman Days

In a small 3-inch announcement in the Nov. 27, 1964, issue of the Apache Sentinel newspaper, the Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce announced the first Lost Dutchman Day would be held on January 23, 1965.

Lost Dutchman Day was just that—one day.

Mr. C.A. Rodgers was in charge of the pancake breakfast, Lloyd Larsen headed up the art show, Jack Weaver led the carnival committee and Ken Miller was the honcho of the “Horse Picnic.”

The Jaycees pitched in and held a barbecue, and Jeanette Lake was in charge of the dance that finished up the activities of the very first Lost Dutchman Day.

Many people have a mistaken idea that Lost Dutchman Days is the evolved form of the ‘Burro Derby,’ an event that was started back in 1958 by the Apache Junction Lions Club. But today’s Lost Dutchman Days celebration is a combination of not only the Burro Derby, but includes aspects of the annual Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo and Parade.

The Rodeo, Parade and a Queen contest were held in February and sometimes March.

It wasn’t until 1971 that the three things came together and Lost Dutchman Days, as people know it today, came together and was actually born.

From that one day celebration in 1965, Lost Dutchman Days has grown into a major event with a core three-day schedule of associated events that attracts more than 30,000 spectators.

Over the years, Lost Dutchman Days has evolved. Various arenas have been utilized for the rodeo and different streets were used for the parade route. The rodeo dance was also continually moving. But the main stable factor remained— promoting Apache Junction and providing quality entertainment and fun for all ages.

With the assistance of so many volunteers and organizations, Lost Dutchman Days has grown over the years, far surpassing the founders’ dreams in 1964.

The 2018 version of Lost Dutchman Days continues to be “the fun place to be for all ages.” This 54th Annual Event has 3 days of Professional Rodeo action, a Carnival that features 30+ rides, and carnival attractions, the Parade, always a favorite that attracts thousands of spectators entertained by over 150 entries, and don’t forget the Rodeo Dance held at the Elks Lodge 2349.

Thrown into all this action, entertainment for the spectators continues with quality musical entertainment, including styles from Polka to Rock ‘N Roll, for your pleasure. And what would any event be without the more than 100 food and vendor booths to browse and sample?

Event Center admission is $2.00 and includes parking only.

The LDD Committee partners up with various youth serving organizations, and sponsors to provide this opportunity to entertain the entire family. There is something here for everyone that visits Apache Junction on Lost Dutchman Days weekend. Profits from this Event are donated back to these Youth Organizations and other Youth serving Programs of the Apache Junction Community, insuring the opportunity to reach the ultimate goal of “Putting Smiles on Kid’s Faces.”

Banner Goldfield Medical Center Lost Dutchman Days Parade

Come out Saturday, Feb. 24, and celebrate the 54th year of the Lost Dutchman Days Parade. This year’s parade theme is “Blue Jeans and Gold Dreams” and the free event begins at 9 a.m. in downtown Apache Junction. Route: On Apache Trail, between Phelps Dr. and Ironwood –  begins at Phelps, just west of Idaho and goes west to Ironwood and returns. This parade allows viewers to see and line up on either side of the route and the event will last until about noon. Enjoy the parade from one of the seven announcement stands located in front of Jiffy Lube, Arnold’s Auto Center, the old Scuttlebutts, Circle K, Shoppers Supply, GBI Printing or Lucky Bob’s Liquor Store.

Annual Bratwurst & Beer Party

Thursday, February 22nd
Join the community from 12:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. at the Apache Junction Elks Lodge #2349 for everyone’s favorite- Johnsonville Bratwursts, drinks and live entertainment. All proceeds benefiting local youth charities. Don’t miss the FREE entertainment:
12:00 – 2:00 p.m. – Hungry 5 Plus Polka
2:30 – 4:30 p.m. – Sylvia’s AZ Polka Band
5:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Exit 40 Band

Rodeo Dance

Friday, February 23rd
The Rodeo Dance will be held from 7:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. at the Elks Lodge 2349 at the corner of Lost Dutchman (Brown Road) and Highway 88. This is the place to be on Friday night on rodeo weekend. Entertainment provided by Zona Road from 7 p.m.-11 p.m. This is a non-smoking event! You must be 21 years of age to attend. Dance admission is $5.00.

Main Event Center

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, February 23rd, 24th & 25th
The Main Event Center is located on 1590 E Lost Dutchman Blvd & Tomahawk Road at Rodeo Park in Apache Junction. This is where all the activities will be held including: Free Entertainment Stages, Carnival rides, Vendor Booths, Rodeo, and the Crowning of the Miss Lost Dutchman Days Pageant Queen. $2.00 admission includes free parking only. A donation will be made by the Lost Dutchman Days Committee to the Apache Junction Little League for their assistance.Additional charges apply for the games and rides in the carnival area, purchases from the vendors, Rodeo & Rodeo Dance held at Elks Lodge #2349. The Gates open at 9:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. on Sunday.

GCPRA Sanctioned Rodeo

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, February 23rd, 24th & 25th
The 54th Annual Lost Dutchman Days GCPRA Sanctioned Rodeo begins at 1:30 p.m. each day in the Rodeo Park in Apache Junction. Rodeo events include Bull riding, Saddlebronc, Bareback, Calf & Team Roping, Steer Wrestling and Ladies Barrel Racing and Breakaway Roping. This year, Lost Dutchman Days professional rodeo welcomes champion trick roper, gun spinner and whip cracker, Rider Kiesner.

Mutton Busting

Sunday, February 25th
Lost Dutchman Days is happy to announce the return of Mutton Busting this year! There is room for thirty entries, and it will be first come first serve. The riding will be held after the rodeo performance on Sunday. We will announce further information the day of. There will be an age/weight limit that will be determined by the stock contractor. It will be $20 a ride with a buckle for the best ride! Can’t wait to see all of our young riders out there!

Carnival Events

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, February 23rd, 24th & 25th
Lost Dutchman Days Carnival features 30 + rides and carnival events located in the Event Center. Carnival runs from 9:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Lost Dutchman Days Arts & Crafts Fair

Saturday, February 24th
Apache Junction Soroptimist Arts & Crafts Fair held at the Pinal County Complex is a one day only event on Saturday, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. -4:00 p.m. This is a separate event from the rodeo. Come join us to see the artists and crafter’s display their fine workmanship. If interested in setting up a booth, Get an online application or call (480) 982-3434. Booth fees are $60.00. Deadline for Applications must be submitted no later than February 20, 2018. City Vendor Forms will be addressed as Arts and Crafts applications when they are submitted.

Cowgirls Historical Foundation

Galloping with Gusto and Saddled Up for Service is the Cowgirls Historical Foundation! This talented group of riders has earned many accolades and awards; both as a team and individual riders. They have had the honor of being selected to ride in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade for the past 4 years. Donating hundreds of hours to community service and charity events, they reach out to share their time and talents. Working to preserve our western heritage, they present a fun educational program and “Wearing It Western” fashion show. The Cowgirls Historical Foundation loves the sport of Rodeo! Many of their riders have enjoyed the privilege of serving as Rodeo Royalty for rodeos across Arizona and the country. The CHF Drill team has performed at L.A.’s Equestfest and many rodeos. Cowgirls Historical Foundation will be performing their special drills for the Rodeo and also set the pivots for the Grand Entry at each Rodeo performance.

Live Entertainment Line-up

Thursday – February 22, 2018
Brats Party at AJ Elks Lodge #2349
12:00 – 2:00 p.m. – Hungry 5 Plus Polka
2:30 – 4:30 p.m. – Sylvia’s AZ Polka Band
5:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Exit 40 Band

Friday – February 23, 2018
Rodeo Dance at AJ Elks Lodge #2349
7:00 p.m. -11:00 p.m. – Zona Road

Friday- February 23, 2018
Carnival Stage*
11:00 – 1:00 p.m. – Pete Byam
1:30 – 3:30 p.m. – Bella ReUnion
4:00 – 7:00 p.m. – Weezel Brothers

Saturday- February 24, 2018
Carnival Stage*
10:00 – 12:00 p.m. – Rodney Wayne
12:30 –   3:30 p.m. – Donny Grubb Band
4:00 –   7:00 p.m. – Ripple Affect

Sunday- February 25, 2018
Carnival Stage*
10:00 – 11:00 p.m. – Cowboy Church
W/ Cheryl Fillmore & The Trinity Band
11:30 –   2:30 p.m. – Way Out West
3:00 –   5:00 p.m. – Guilty Pleasures Trio

*Sound Man – Rodney Wayne

Rodeo National Anthem Singers:
Friday: Rodney Wayne
Saturday: Jena Thranum
Sunday: Jena Thranum


AJPD Seeks Help with ID

Suspect wanted for questioning in Jan. 20 sexual assault incident

The Apache Junction Police Department (AJPD) has released a sketch and description of a man wanted for questioning about a sexual assault.

According to a release, officials say that at 4:30 a.m. on January 28, AJPD officers responded to a sexual assault complaint from a victim living on E. Junction Ave. in Apache Junction.

It was stated that the assault occurred in an unknown desert area within the city.

Officials said: “The reporting party informed the police that his girlfriend came home extremely distressed saying that there was a crazy man outside their home and he had sexually assaulted her. The boyfriend immediately went outside and saw a white male in a newer (2011-2015) white dodge pickup truck with a work/ladder rack rapidly backing out of the driveway and speeding away. The victim detailed she had met the male subject (introduced only as Brandon) at the Lucky Strikes Bar in Apache Junction who offered to give her a ride home. The suspect then took victim to an unknown location in the desert where he sexually assaulted her. The victim was later able to convince the offender to drop her off at her home.”

AJPD officials have described the suspect as a white male, a little muscular and chubby, straight teeth and approximately 32 – 38 (under 40) years old. His height is estimated to be 5’7” – 5’10” and approximately 185 lbs. Tan complexion, straight brown hair with the top longer than sides and unknown eye color. No tattoos were observed and the suspect spoke English with no accent.

Police are asking that if anyone has information on the identity of the suspect, please contact the Apache Junction Police Department Criminal Investigation Division at (480) 982-8260 or Lead Detective Steven Jeansonne at (480) 797-6191.

AJHS NJROTC CyberPatriots Move on to National Finals

By Dana Trumbull

Last week, the nationally recognized Apache Junction High School Navy Junior ROTC program claimed another kudos as cadets on the CyberPatriot team scored first place in the Silver Division for Arizona. The students, coached by parent volunteer Bryon Schroeder, are in their second year of competing in the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, which focuses on computer and internet security. They will compete on Sunday, February 11, in the National Final Round.

The CyberPatriot competition puts teams of high school students in the position of newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company. In the rounds of competition, teams are given a set of virtual images that represent operating systems and are tasked with finding cybersecurity vulnerabilities within the images and hardening the system, while maintaining critical services in a six hour period.

Teams compete for the top placement within their state and region, and the top teams in the nation earn all-expenses paid trips to Baltimore, MD for the National Finals Competition, where they can earn national recognition and scholarship money.

CyberPatriot (the National Youth Cyber Education Program) was created by the Air Force Association (AFA) to inspire K-12 students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation’s future.

For more details about the CyberPatriot program, visit

Photo above: AJHS NJROTC CyberPatriots, L-R: Coach Bryon Schroeder, Kaleb Schroeder, Nabeel Adam, Brady Williams, Josh Ivy

SFMD’s Firefighter of the Year

Ken Simkins recognized

By Richard Ochs

The Superstition Fire & Medical District (SFMD) has recognized Firefighter/Paramedic Ken Simkins as the 2018 Firefighter of the Year.

Ken hails from Minnesota, where he worked as a paramedic on an ambulance and volunteered with a Sheriff’s Search & Rescue team. He was hired by SFMD in 2006 (then the Apache Junction Fire District) and has focused his career on excellence in paramedicine and teaching others. He has been awarded the Save Hearts in AZ Registry and Education (SHARE) Award for multiple cardiac arrest saves and was recently awarded the Arizona Emergency Medical Systems (AEMS) Aces of Hearts Award in 2017 for exemplary EMS achievement.

Firefighter Simkins has been passionate about teaching paramedicine for more than 10 years. He has served as preceptor for probationary firefighter/paramedics during his career with the SFMD and currently teaches paramedic students in his off duty time. He holds instructor credentials that include; the American Heart Association, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Prehospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS) and the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT).

Ken credits his most enduring success as being a husband of 28 years to his wife Tracy and a father to his son Kyle. He enjoys spending his free time with his three dogs and volunteering as a board member for his Home Owners Association and as a liaison with the HOA’s community landscape contractor.

Firefighter Simkins clearly exemplifies the mission, visions and values of the SFMD and has earned the honor of the Firefighter of the Year award with distinction. Congratulations Ken!

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