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Bill Van Nimwegen has 635 articles published.

Planning & Zoning Approves Land Use Changes

By Bill Van Nimwegen

The Apache Junction Planning & Zoning Commission met on Tuesday, September 11 and unanimously approved a proposed amendment to the city’s land use map to redesignate a 38 acre property at the southwest corner of E. Old West Highway and S. Goldfield Road from Community Commercial to Medium Density Residential.

Plans for the site include a community development of 178 single-family houses.

The proposal was made by McMillan Manufactured Home Development Company LC and Lennar Homes, represented by Ralph Pew. Mr. Pew told the Commissioners that the development is in its early stages, and because of the property’s proximity to Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) land, there would be a slow, but sure progress to ground-breaking.

Senior Planning Administrator Rudy Esquiviaz gave a brief history of the city’s original plans for the site, including commercial development that would make the eastern entrance to Apache Junction a kind of “gateway” to a commercial district along Old West Highway.

Mr. Esquiviaz said the staff no longer thinks that plan is viable. Infrastructure has been slow to extend to the area, and planning staff is in favor of the land use redesignation.

Several public meetings have already been held on the proposal and, with the exception of one neighbor who voiced concern that 2-story homes might block his view, the plan has met with no opposition.

Mr. Pew said that the preliminary plat of the subdivision (see illustration) has not gotten to the stage of specifying dwelling sizes. Also not finalized are the entrance and exit details, which may depend on ADOT.

If the development wants to have an entrance off Goldfield Road, it will need to cut openings in existing ADOT medians.

Commissioners Peter Heck and Steve Kridler expressed hope that the residential development might spur commercial interest in the area. Mr. Pew is of the opinion that the development of brick and mortar businesses like big box home improvement stores is diminishing. He encouraged the city not to wait for them.

Also discussed was the viability of mixed-use (residential and business complexes) in Apache Junction. Mr. Pew said that financing for such projects was hard to get, and Apache Junction lacks the population density required for success.

The Commission ran down the list of findings before approving the land use redesignation. The matter will be heard by the Apache Junction City Council in a public hearing this week.

The Commission also discussed and held a public hearing for two other land use map amendments at their September 11 meeting.

The Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval to Council of GPA-1-18, general plan land use map amendment to redesignate 50 acres of a 78-acre property at the southeast corner of US-60 and S. Idaho Road, from Community Commercial to Light Industrial/Business Park.

The companion rezoning case to the map amendment was recommended for a continuation. PZ-2-18 would rezone the 50 acre property from B-1/PD (General Commercial by Planned Development) to B-5/PD (Light Industrial/Business Park by Planned Development). The proposals were made by Amerco Real Estate Company and U-Haul International LLC, represented by David Pollock.

Commissioners were persuaded to give the applicant more time to consider conditions and costs relating to the rezoning and will hold further discussions at a later date.

Planning & Zoning Commission meetings are open to the public and held in chambers at 300 E. Superstition Blvd. in Apache Junction. Complete agendas and supporting materials are available at

Lady Prospectors Drop 2 on the Road

Apache Junction volleyball suffered a pair of 4A setbacks in the last week, being swept by Phoenix Arcadia and Tempe Marcos de Niza.

The Lady Prospectors lost 25-15, 25-11, 25-13 to Marcos de Niza on Sept. 13 in Tempe. Mady Roach was AJ’s kill leader with four, followed by Morgan Farsolas with three, and two each by Kennedy Bishop, Addison Cooksey and Lucia Kimble.

Farsolas also had three aces, two assists and nine digs. Kimble added 13 assists.

Sophomore Hailey White led the Padres with 10 kills and two blocks. Katy Johnson had 23 digs for MDN and Olivia Craig had 11 assists.


The Lady Prospectors lost 25-9, 25-15, 25-22 at Arcadia on Sept. 12. Zora Carrier led the Titans’ 37-kill attack with 12, followed by seven by Madelyn Knee. Carrier also had 13 digs, and Maddie Mittendorf finished with 20 assists.


AJHS won its first two matches at the Wolves Classic tournament, hosted by Goodyear Estrella Foothills Sept. 14-15, improving to 4-11 overall.

The Lady Prospectors defeated Phoenix ASU Prep 25-16, 25-14; and Avondale La Joya Community 25-19, 25-20 before losing to Fountain Hills 25-21, 25-16.


AJHS went 1-4 overall in the Coconino Classic, held Sept. 7-8 in Flagstaff. The Lady Prospectors lost to Chandler Valley Christian (25-18, 25-20), Coconino (25-21, 25-18); defeated Holbrook (26-24, 19-25, 15-9); and lost to Winslow (20-25, 25-21, 15-8) and Flagstaff Northland Prep Academy (30-23).

Panthers Earn First Football Victory

Anaya Runs for 3 TD’s in Prep’s Win Over St. John Paul II

Three rushing touchdowns by Jonathan Anaya helped Imagine Prep-Superstition earn its first football win of the season on Sept. 14, as the Panthers blanked St. John Paul II 36-0 in CAA Open Division play at Avondale.

The Panthers (1-2) opened the scoring with a safety in the first quarter, and took a 9-0 lead one minute into the second quarter on Jonathan Anaya’s 20-yard touchdown run.

A fumble recovery on the ensuing possession for winless St. John Paul II (0-3) set up Anaya’s second rushing TD, this one from five yards out, putting the Panthers up 15-0 with six minutes to play in the first half.

With three minutes left in the second quarter, Eduardo Delgado’s interception set up Anaya’s third rushing touchdown, a 1-yard plunge that gave Imagine Prep a 21-0 lead. Moments later, another fumble recovery put the Panthers in the red zone, where Junior Figueroa fired an 18-yard TD pass to Jonathan Benavidez, and the Panthers took a 27-0 advantage into halftime.

Two minutes into the second half, Ezekiel McGarran picked off a Lions pass, setting up Anthony Blanco’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Alex Maxfield. Prep tacked on a 15-yard field goal by Anthony Mendoza to complete the scoring with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Panthers return home on Friday to host Queen Creek Canyon State Academy at Highland Jr. High in Mesa. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.



In their second meeting within a week, Heritage Academy-Gateway scored another CAA volleyball win over Imagine Prep-Superstition, winning 25-21, 25-23, 25-20 on Sept. 13 at Panther Arena.

Lady Panthers Coach Charlyne Long didn’t think Heritage-Gateway did anything different from their previous five-game win, saying, “They’re the same team, same strategies. We just started playing better late in the game.

“It’s frustrating, I wish we wouldn’t have momentum get away from us early in the match.”

IPS hits the road this week, going to BASIS-Chandler on Tuesday and ASU Prep Poly on Thursday.

Bye Week Welcome for AJHS Football

By Daniel Dullum

Apache Junction’s football bye week couldn’t have been timed any better. The Prospectors have a chance to get their injured players healthy for the final six weeks of the season, with Black Canyon Region games on the horizon.

On Friday, the Prospectors (2-2) host Phoenix Shadow Mountain. The Matadors (1-3) come in off a 32-21 loss to Phoenix Arcadia on Sept. 14, their third consecutive defeat after beating Phoenix North Canyon 27-14 in their season opener. Shadow Mountain has also lost to Prescott Valley Bradshaw Mountain and Phoenix Paradise Valley.

“We’re matched pretty well with Shadow Mountain,” Prospectors Coach Vance Miller said. “They’re very athletic, they have decent size. They’re not monsters by any means, but they’re probably a little bigger and a little more athletic than Vista Grande.

“Offensively, we showed up pretty well offensively against Vista Grande. We had some defensive stuff we had to tighten down. We get our middle linebacker back this week, but cornerback Gabe Nogales is out for another week with his knee issue.”

Miller added, “Most of our injuries are coming back together and this is a great week for healing. A couple of shoulder injuries are coming around, but we’ve kept it light this week and we’ll hit the ground running on Monday. We’ll be OK.”


The Prospector JV is 1-1-1 after a 28-28 tie with Goodyear Estrella Foothills on Sept. 13, but AJHS took solace in the fact that they held the visiting Wolves to their lowest point total of the season.

In its first three games, Estrella Foothills JV defeated Buckeye 49-27, Poston Butte 51-6 and Cactus 61-8.

“This was a great effort from our kids,” AJHS JV Coach Alex Murphy said. “Estrella was killing everybody they played. They were definitely one of the best JV teams we’ve seen.”

Gauge Kimbrell scored the first AJ touchdown in the first half before the Wolves scored twice in the second quarter to take a 14-8 halftime lead. After Estrella Foothills took a 28-8 lead late in the third quarter, Brady Bullard scored two of the next three AJ touchdowns, tying the game at 28-28.


With the varsity taking the week off, freshman Jordan Morris rejoined the AJ JV-B squad and made his presence felt, catching five passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns – including a 58-yard scoring pass from Ethan Knox in the Prospectors’ 39-27 win over Estrella Foothills in Goodyear on Sept. 12.

Morris also caught a 48-yard TD pass and converted five of seven PAT kicks. Other AJ touchdowns were scored by Trevin Furnish (42-yard pass), Hunter Dela Cruz (interception return), Knox (8-yard run) and Doug Reh (4-yard run).

Reh carried 14 times for 140 yards for AJ, and Knox was 6 of 8 passing for 179 yards and three touchdowns.

Defensively, Dela Cruz had seven solo tackles and Austin Martinez assisted on 10 tackles.

AJ Cross Country Senior Leaders

Veterans Salas, Rutkowski Set the Pace for Prospectors

By Daniel Dullum

The term “injury-plagued” is an understatement for Apache Junction runner Faith Rutkowski.

Following her first-place finish in the Prospector girls’ first cross country meet of the season at Prospector Park, Faith said, “I’m feeling a lot better” after battling a variety of injuries over her sophomore and junior years.

Faith Rutkowski

Faith explained, “In my sophomore soccer season, I hurt my hip and went into track and didn’t run a great track season. I came back off of that injury because I couldn’t run for three months. So I came back to cross country season as a junior and didn’t have the results that I wanted.

“Then in junior soccer season, I broke my foot and missed the first half of track season. So I’ve had a good six months to get back to it.”

Faith credits “a good training summer” as a key to returning to full health.

“With my foot, there wasn’t anything they could really do for it – it’s a waiting game,” Faith said.

“So I would try to do stuff that didn’t involve my foot, so I would stay somewhat active, which I think helped a lot more.

“When I hurt my hip, I couldn’t do anything. So I took a few weeks off and gradually got back into different things, like just trying to stay in better shape.”

As seniors, Faith and twin sister Emily, who have participated in soccer and track together, are also teammates in cross country. Faith said that while qualifying for the state meet as an individual is nice (she qualified last season finishing 20th in the Section 2 meet), going as a team, to her, is better.

“In my freshman year, I had a goal to make it to state individually as an athlete. I’ve done that the last three years, but I would really like the girls team to qualify as a whole,” she said. “I’ve done both, and it’s just a way better experience to go with your team.

“I think we have a really good team this year and one of the strongest girls teams we’ve had here in a while. This is a great first race for everyone and we’ll build more as a team.”


At the urging of his boxing coach, Erik Salas took up running. In the process, the Apache Junction High senior discovered a new athletic passion.

“Running has really helped me throughout my career in boxing,” Salas said. “I really like it. That’s why I started doing it. My coach told me I had to start training by running a few miles. He would ask, ‘How many miles did you run?’ I would say, ‘None.’ And he would get mad!

“That’s when I started putting in more miles.”

Soon, Salas discovered he enjoyed running, taking up cross country and distance running for track as a result.

“I didn’t expect that,” Salas said. “Throughout the year, I started getting better. I’m really competitive and it helps in boxing, which is a very competitive sport.”

Salas, who qualified for the State Division III cross country meet last season, said he wants to get back to the state meet again.  “I want to make 17 minutes. It’s a little far, but I’ll get there.”

He’s also a boxing champion at 135 pounds. His career record is 4-0.

“It’s hard to find fighters who are my age at my weight,” Salas said. “I want to take boxing as far as I can, as far as my body lets me.”

Photo above: The Prospectors’ Erik Salas hopes to return to the state Division III meet. (Photo by Daniel Dullum)

Imagine Prep Volleyball Update

Imagine Prep-Superstition’s late-game volleyball struggles continue, as the Lady Panthers lost in four games to ASU Prep Poly on Sept. 4, and in five games to Heritage Academy-Gateway on Sept. 6 at Panther Arena.

Heritage-Gateway defeated Prep 25-16, 24-26, 25-15, 25-27, 15-5.

“We have some injuries and some rotation issues right now,” Heritage-Gateway Coach Chad Kreikamp said. “But we’re coming together as a team and working together. And (Imagine Prep) dug it out in the fourth game at 27-25. They showed some heart. We rallied when we needed to.”

ASU Prep Poly prevailed over Imagine Prep 25-11, 25-18, 18-25, 25-18.

“The girls beat each other up and that creates a negative space,” Lady Panthers Coach Charlyne Long said. “That’s not the team that we are. This is the first time I saw attitudes on the court. It was difficult.

“The girls understand that we’re family. It’s a new season, a new team, new faces and we all want to build each other up. We all have the same goal and we lost that today, but everyone understands what needs to be done.”

Tough Week for Lady Prospectors

AJ Volleyball Outlasted by Desert Edge, Poston Butte

By Daniel Dullum

Navigating a tough early schedule, Apache Junction volleyball played a spirited five-game match against visiting Goodyear Desert Edge on Sept. 5. In the end, it was too much of Joi Harvey for the Lady Prospectors to handle in a 3-games-to-2 defeat.

Harvey, a 6-foot-4 early commit to Air Force Academy, dominated the decisive game five with four kills and a block. That, along with a serving run by Mikayla Sparks that included four aces, helped the Scorpions prevail 26-28, 22-25, 25-17, 27-25, 15-1.

“I knew if we could get our big middle (Joi Harvey) going, we had a really good chance,” Scorpions Coach Brandon Sparks said. “But we struggled passing and getting the ball to her, but in that fifth game, we didn’t.”

“Our struggle all season has been trying to get her the ball. The setter is learning to just keep setting her. The team knows that when she’s hot, we’re all hot, and they’ve accepted that.”

“Even if the set wasn’t there, (Harvey) would find it. Her timing was completely dead on and we just could not find a way to stop her,” AJ Coach Regan Roach said.

Apache Junction used its ability to frustrate hard-hitting teams to win games one and two.

“It was fun to watch them play,” Roach said. “They (AJ) came out with the intensity they needed. In set three, they had a little funk, but they came back. In game five, we just couldn’t stop (Harvey) and no matter how we ran our defense, she just bounced it.”

Lady Prospectors setter Lucia Kimble said, “We felt pretty good the first two sets. In the last couple of sets, we just made some mistakes, but overall, I think that’s the best game we’ve played so far this season.”

On trying to stop Harvey, Kimble said, “She’s definitely a strong hitter, especially the way she could drive that ball! It’s definitely cool playing against a girl like that because you get practice playing against big hitters like her. It makes us better.”

In game four, the Lady Prospectors battled back from a 20-15 deficit to break game point on a pair of Kimble service aces, tying the game at 24-24 with a 9-4 run. Brooke Gordon’s kill put AJ up 25-24, but a blocking error on match point let Desert Edge back in at 25-25. The Scorpions forced the tiebreaker with a block by Taylor Brown and Paige Pontius’s service ace on game point.

In game five, Desert Edge asserted itself with a 12-0 run and closed out the match with back-to-back kills by Pontius.

“(Apache Junction) had a couple of servers that made it tough on us and some balls bounced their way. That’s going to happen,” Coach Sparks said.

“Our energy started dropping when they started gaining points on us,” Kimble said. “But overall, I still think we played a great game.”

Gordon and Mady Roach each had six kills for AJ, Kimble had eight service aces and 19 assists.

Cameron Krueger led the Lady Prospectors with thtreee blocks,, with two each from Gordon and Addison Cooksey. Morgan Farsolas had a team-high 22 digs.

“If we play like this throughout our region and conference play, we’ll be OK,” Coach Roach said. “We’ll get through it and face them again.”


In the third of three matches in three days, Apache Junction dropped a hard-fought non-region battle with San Tan Valley Poston Butte.

The Broncos swept AJ 25-21, 25-16, 25-23, improving to 4-6 overall.

Broncos Coach Belinda Quesada said, “AJ has always been tough for us, they don’t let anything fall, and my girls are just able to battle back.

“After our tough loss on Tuesday (3-games-to-2 to Phoenix Thunderbird), we had to regroup and pull it together, and play as a team again.

“My back row girls are finally reading things correctly, my hitters got going and I have some height this year, and it helps that they know how to time the ball and actually know how to block the ball.”

Throughout the match, Apache Junction could get defensive stops, but was unable to forge a sustained run.

Coach Roach said, “I feel like we dragged the fifth game (against Desert Edge) into today’s game. We started to find our groove in the third set, and we just couldn’t pull it together.”

Steady Improvement for AJHS Boys and Girls Golf

By Daniel Dullum

With an influx of athleticism, Apache Junction’s girls golf team is making great strides of improvement, according to Coach Candyce Matlosz.

“We’ve played a couple of teams that have real good players,” Candyce Matlosz said. “Queen Creek came out here and has three girls who are going to state. They beat us as a team, but the girls played really well with them and improved their score by almost 10 strokes.

“Against Saguaro, we were second out of three teams. Our girls got to see a different kind of course. They’re showing tenacity, determination and they’re going to get better.”

In the triangular against Saguaro and McClintock on Aug. 29, the Prospector girls were led by Elexis Toro and Hayden Pride, who tied for fourth with a nine-hole score of 17-over 47. Tristan Greer tied with Saguaro’s Penelope Terrazas at 21-over, and Kashmir Baillie and Lindsay Swigert tied with McClintock’s Cierra Weatherly at 32-over.

On Aug. 27 at Apache Creek, Pride and Greer tied for fourth overall with Ashlee Mink of Queen Creek at 16-over 51. Toro was eighth at 31-over, and Baillie placed ninth at 43-over.


Boys Coach Ed Matlosz attributes the early success of his squad to the ability to play five golfers and take the top four scores, something that hasn’t always been possible the last couple of seasons.

“We have a team,” Prospectors boys coach Ed Matlosz said. “We get to score as a team now. We’ve been in the 50s as a team and we’re trying to get that into the 40s, so everybody’s got to knock off a couple of strokes.

“We would have been in the 40s on Tuesday, except Matt got into some trouble on the first hole and wound up picking up, which disqualified him. So the rest of the team had to pick it up.”

The Prospectors golf team has a busy week ahead, starting with the girls in a dual with San Tan Valley Combs at Las Colinas Golf Course on Monday.

The AJ boys travel to Gilbert Williams Field on Tuesday for a dual at Trilogy Golf Club.

Photo above: Apache Junction’s Tristen Greer tees off at Hole No. 1 at Apache Creek Golf Club, with teammates Hayden Pride and Elexis Toros waiting their turn. (Photo by Daniel Dullum)

Panthers Drop Home Opener

San Tan Uses Aerial Attack to Upend Imagine Prep

By Daniel Dullum

MESA – Gilbert San Tan Charter used big plays to offset a penalty-plagued first half and defeat Imagine Prep-Superstition 28-12 Friday in CAA football at Highland Jr. High.

Junior wide receiver Kris Sippel hauled in scoring bombs of 72, 43 and 81 yards from quarterback Jalen Galaviz, the latter putting the Roadrunners ahead to stay three minutes into the third quarter.

San Tan (2-0, CAA Open Division) had a 76-yard scoring run by Nico Houck called back on an illegal block penalty on the game’s first play from scrimmage. That set a negative tone for the Roadrunners, who were penalized 11 times for 87 yards – 72 of those yards coming in the first half.

“Offensively, we were sloppy,” San Tan Charter Coach Cedric Jones said. “We had a bunch of penalties, so we have to be much more disciplined overall. That cost us a lot in the first half and allowed (Prep) to stay in the game.

“When we make mistakes and we’re beating ourselves, it doesn’t look very good. With 11 penalties, we’ve got a lot to work on.”

Imagine Prep (0-2) opened the scoring at 10:58 of the second quarter on Junior Figueroa’s 2-yard quarterback sneak, putting the Panthers up 6-0. STC wasted little time to respond with Sippel’s first touchdown reception on the Roadrunners’ ensuing possession.

Ezekiel McGarran’s interception at his own 20-yard line set up the second Panther touchdown, a 55-yard pass from Figueroa to Jonathan Benavidez with 1:13 left in the second quarter. But with seven seconds remaining in the half, Sippel again weaved through the Imagine Prep secondary for his second touchdown reception, tying the game at 12-12.

“We felt good about things at the half,” Panthers Coach Joe Crawford said. “But after we put together a good first half, the second half, we forget the momentum. Then, we’ve got to finish. That’s all.”

Sippel’s third TD catch, with a 2-point conversion run by Houck, put the Roadrunners up 20-12. San Tan Charter extended its lead to 28-12 when junior safety Tristyn Miller picked off a Figueroa pass with 10:18 to play in the fourth quarter, returning it 66 yards to complete the scoring.

In the final seven minutes, Imagine Prep had one drive stall when Eduardo Delgado lost a fumble following a pass reception at the STC 21, and, after recovering a San Tan fumble at the Roadunner 18, the Panthers’ drive stalled on downs.

In the second half, Figueroa noticed San Tan “was bringing the blitz from the linebackers a lot. Our linemen got kind of confused from it. But I rolled out sometimes, my receivers made plays. I give credit to my O-line – they played a heck of a game and picked it up from last week.

“It was a great game for us all the way around, and we’ll pick it up next week.”

“We made a few changes defensively,” San Tan Charter Coach Cedric Jones said. “We couldn’t contain their quarterback because he was getting outside the pocket.

“Until late in the game, it was a dogfight.”

Houck led the Roadrunners with 80 rushing yards on two carries. Galaviz threw for 225 yards on 5 of 12 passing for three TDs and one interception.

Jonathan Anaya was Prep’s leading rusher with 49 yards on 10 attempts. Figueroa completed 14 of 31 passes for 239 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Benavidez caught four passes for 104 yards, and Alex Maxfield caught four passes for 87 yards.

This Friday, the Panthers travel to Friendship Park in Avondale to face St. John Paul II. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Prospectors Back in Win Column

AJHS Nips Vista Grande, Snaps 2-game Losing Streak

By Daniel Dullum

The Prospectors had to come from behind twice to do it, but Apache Junction outlasted Vista Grande 39-33 in a non-region 4A football contest Friday at Casa Grande, snapping a two-game losing streak.

AJ’s defense forced four Spartan turnovers, including a fumble recovery on a kickoff return late in the game. An interception by Talon Izbicki with time running out sealed the win for the Prospectors (2-2). The loss evened Vista Grande’s slate at 2-2.

Apache Junction was down 19-6 in the second quarter before tying the game at 19-19 going into halftime.

“In the first half, we had a number of calls, especially pass interference, that didn’t go our way,” Prospectors coach Vance Miller said. “So we told the kids at halftime that we have to play as clean as we can, and we need to play better.”

The Prospectors gained momentum in the third quarter, forcing two Vista Grande turnovers and eventually surging ahead 26-25. The lead see-sawed for the rest of the second half before AJ’s final TD snapped at 33-33 deadlock.

“I was really proud of how the kids came back and fought right down to the end,” Miller said. “We’re still banged up, but nobody left the field. Everybody played hard right to the final horn.”

In the scoring column for AJ was Justin Fabritz with a defensive touchdown, Justin Ramirez scored two TDs – one rushing and one on a pass from Gibson Limongello, who scored a pair of rushing touchdowns, and William Lohman caught a TD pass from Limongello.

Ramirez also had a 2-point conversion, and Chazz Chavez hit 1 of 2 extra-point kicks.

After this Friday’s bye, the Prospectors continue their season on Sept. 21 against Phoenix South Mountain at Davis Field.

“The good news is there were a few dings here and there, but no big injuries, and it was good to finally get (defensive lineman) Max Farris back in the lineup,” Miller said. “We have our bye week coming up, which will help everybody heal up, and we’ll be ready for Shadow Mountain.”

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