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Dana Trumbull

Dana Trumbull has 28 articles published.

Kollenborn’s Chronicles: Christmas Eve at the Reavis Ranch

Going home to Reavis Ranch for Christmas.
Photo by Nyle Leatham

One of the most beautiful areas of the Superstition Wilderness Area at Christmas time is the Reavis Valley. The old Cleman’s ranch house beckoned to weary travelers to rest their aching feet and sore shoulders.

After 1967, the only way to visit the old Reavis Valley was by hiking or riding horseback some nine miles from the Reavis Ranch trailhead, three miles from the Apache Trail. Several years ago, around Christmastime, a group of us decided we would visit the ranch on Christmas Eve. This visit I will never forget. Tom Johnson, the principal of Superstition Mountain Elementary School, and I rode up to the Reavis on December 23, spent the night and rode out on Christmas Eve, December 24. Another group had spent the night in the ranch house and rode out that morning. We had the place to ourselves. We knew it would be quite cold before morning; probably below freezing.

As soon as we unsaddled the horses, fed them and put them in the corral, we went about gathering firewood for the night. We gathered wood far and near, because so many campers were using the Reavis Valley. To be honest, firewood was extremely scarce in the immediate area. Eventually we gathered enough firewood for the night. The scarcity of wood for campfires was what eventually led to the downfall and destruction of the old ranch. Lazy campers started burning the ranch house itself. They burned the old ranch piece by piece until it was nothing more than a skeleton of what it once was. Then, sometime during November of 1991, somebody built a fire in the attic and caught the roof on fire. Campers would take the sheet of tin into the attic and build a fire on it if the ranch house was full of people on a real cold night.

Once the sun went down, we moved inside. We built a fire in the old fireplace and turned on our lantern. As our eyes became accustomed to the light we could still see the old brands in the fireplace mantel and on the side rails. I could visualize the room from an earlier visit when Floyd Stone and his wife, Alice, lived here. My wife and I had sat several times in this room filled with Native American pottery, Navajo rugs and Papago baskets. I remember the Western leather furniture Stone had hauled over the Reavis Ranch road from the Apache Trail, some twelve miles. This certainly was a trip of reminiscence for me, as I described what this room had looked like when Floyd Stone and his wife lived here in the 1950s and early 1960s.

As Tom and I sat around the giant hearth with a roaring fire in it, I began to recall some of the stories about the Reavis. I told Tom the story about old Elisha M. Reavis, the first settler in this valley. I told him about the fifteen-acre truck-garden he put in and then sold his vegetables throughout the Central Mountain region of central Arizona Territory. He became known as the “Hermit of Superstition Mountain.” He settled in the valley about 1874 and died about four miles south of the Reavis in April of 1896. There are many stories about Reavis and what he did before moving to the valley. He served as a Deputy United States Marshal in the McDowell Precinct, he raised and trained pack animals up on the Verde River above Fort McDowell, and he assisted the Army occasionally as a packer. Hopefully, someday, somebody will write a book about this very interesting citizen of Arizona. He was born in Beardstown, Illinois, in 1829. He attended college, and, upon graduation, he moved to California and taught school. Gold prospecting interested him more than teaching, so he became a prospector and miner. He was married and had a daughter before he left for Arizona Territory the last time in 1869.

Tom and I sat around and talked about the old Reavis and the many people who had lived in this beautiful, isolated valley. These people included Elisha Reavis and John J. Fraser, a Canadian. Fraser sold the homestead to William J. Clemens and his two sons Mark and Twain. Floyd Stone was John A. “Hooley” Bacon’s son-in-law. Stone married “Hooley’s” daughter Alice. After several stories, Tom had had his history lesson for the night.

As we prepared to go to bed, we found a poem written by an Apache Junction Firefighter titled, “The Night Before Christmas At The Old Reavis Ranch.” The poem mentioned the fireplace, the brands on the mantle, the raccoons in the attic of the ranch house and several other events and things associated with the old, isolated mountain ranch. We read that poem several times before turning in. The poem became one of the most memorable things for me in this mountain wilderness. I didn’t have a pen and could not copy the poem down. Also, I didn’t have the heart to remove it from the old Reavis Ranch. We have always hoped the fireman who wrote it would come forward with it, because I would love to print it in the paper and share it with the world. This poem was so special to us on that night. The next day, we packed up and headed home. We both needed to get home to our families by Christmas Eve.

In closing, I would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. God bless, and thank the servicemen, policemen and firemen who are keeping us safe and secure all year long.

Delivery List for Santa’s Helpers

Where can you drop off those gifts for families in need?

One thing that warms the hearts of those of us at The Apache Junction/Gold Canyon News is the abundant spirit of giving in the Apache Junction/Gold Canyon area. Although the overall demographics do not place us among the wealthy, it seems our neighbors are always willing to pull together to help those who have less.

To help all of our local Christmas elves work more efficiently, we offer this summary of the many holiday food and toy drives that have contacted The News. The list is not all-inclusive; everywhere we turn this season, we see another box or another sign. Most of them, though, are wrapping up their final collections this week (to give Santa’s distribution network a chance to coordinate), so be sure you fulfill your good intentions and find your way to one of the gift collection centers near you!

Thank you, from all of us at The News. May your season be merry and bright!

H.U.G. Toy Drive
Benefitting: Genesis Project, Jose’s Closet, St. George Catholic Church, Salvation Army
Deadline: Monday 12/18 – Contact: Individual Collection Sites
Collection Sites:
AJI Sporting Goods: 10444 E Apache Trl, Apache Junction, AZ 85220   Phone: 480-984-8616
AJ Chamber of Commerce : 567 Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85120   Phone: 480-982-3141
The AJ/GC News: 1075 S. Idaho Rd. Suite 102, Apache Junction, Az. 85119   Phone: 480-982-6397
Arizona Golf Resort, Hotel, Spa & Conference Center:  425 S Power Rd, Mesa, AZ 85206   Phone: 480-832-3202
Chevron Gas Station
Paris Family Hair Cuts: 1573 E 28th Ave, Apache Junction, AZ 85119   Phone: 480-649-3493
Rosati’s Pizza: 6900 US-60, Gold Canyon, AZ 85118   Phone: 480-983-7400
Sindy’s Just Cuts: 461 Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85120   Phone: 480-288-4613

W. Steven Martin 911 Toy Drive
Benefitting: Children of families in emergency situations via local police & fire departments
Deadline: Thursday 12/21 – Contact: 480-983-7600
Collection Sites:
Shady Storage: 3705 Colt Rd, Apache Junction, AZ 85119   Phone: 480-983-7600

Homeless Holiday Lunch with practical gifts
Lunch event is 12/18 for local homeless families & individuals
Deadline: Friday 12/15 – Contact: 480-671-3846
Collection Sites:
Mirage Sports Bar & Grill: 725 Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85120   Phone: 480-671-3846

AZ Tiremen Services Holiday Toy Drive Competition
Benefitting CAAFA & AJ Food Bank
Deadline: Friday 12/15 – Contact: 480-330-7744
Collection Sites:
Ace Hardware: 725 Apache Trail #3B, Apache Junction, AZ 85120   Phone: 480-983-9223
Arizona Tiremen: 482 Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85120   Phone: 888-782-7651
Arnolds Auto: 870 Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85120   Phone: 480-982-2831
Phoenix Metro Towing: 2244 Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85120   Phone: 480-354-7394
The Hitching Post: 2341 N Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85119   Phone: 480-983-8800
The Independent News: 23043 N. 16th St., Phoenix, AZ  85077   Phone: 480-982-7799

Community Food and Fund Drives for the AJ Food Bank
Deadline: Friday 12/15 (and ongoing) – Contact: 480-983-2995
Collection Sites:
Ace Hardware: 725 Apache Trail #3B, Apache Junction, AZ 85120   Phone: 480-983-9223
AJ Chamber of Commerce: 567 Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85120   Phone: 480-982-3141
AJ Library: 1177 N Idaho Rd, Apache Junction, AZ 85119   480-474-8555
Arnold’s Auto Center: 870 Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85120   Phone: 480-982-2831
Community Thrift Store: 555 Apache Trail B, Apache Junction, AZ 85120   Phone: 480-982-3649
Mirage Restaurant: 725 Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85120   Phone: 480-671-3846
Pathway’s Christian Fellowship: 1215 S Winchester Rd, Apache Junction, AZ 85119   Phone: 480-982-0898

AJUSD Budget Analysis: “Glaring” Differences

Consultant looks to special ed and staffing for potential savings

By Dana Trumbull

A central piece of the Apache Junction Unified School District Governing Board work session on Sept. 26, 2017, was a presentation by Bill Maas, Valley Schools Management Group board member and financial consultant. AJUSD Superintendent Dr. Krista Anderson had requested Maas’ assistance in identifying areas of inefficiencies within the existing budget that could possibly allow monies to be shifted.

Maas, who previously served as the Chief Financial Officer for both the Peoria Unified School District and the Deer Valley Unified School District, compared AJUSD with five districts that are similar in size, grades served and socio-economic demographics. His study reviewed the 2015-16 annual budgets, Annual Financial Reports, the Average Daily Membership (student enrollment as calculated by the ADE), the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) Budget 25 reports and the ADE Annual Reports for Prescott, Sierra Vista, Humboldt, Payson and Coolidge Unified School Districts. Maas introduced his findings stating, “I think you’re going to find a couple of items here that are kind of glaring; different from what others are doing. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong – just different.”

Maas’ analysis showed that the district spent 84.34% of the 2015-16 budget on salaries and benefits. This is slightly higher than the average for the five comparable districts, amounting to a difference of approximately $350,000. The total includes classroom support staff such as counselors and teachers’ aides as well as classroom teachers.

“You are above the average in classroom dollars spent. That’s good!” commented Maas. “That is where your budget should be focused. But when we look at how those classroom dollars are allocated, a couple of things jump out.

“The average amount other comparable districts spend on special education is 16.73%, and your average is 22.25%. You’re spending about $1,215,000 more in SPED than other districts like you.” Maas explained, “The government doesn’t give schools enough money to cover what you need to spend. But when we had 10% of our population identified as special needs and we were spending 12% of the budget, I would always complain that, ‘Hey, you’re taking away from the regular classroom by identifying these students, and we’re spending 12% of the money for 10% of the kids. That’s not right.”

Maas recommended evaluating the special education placement process. “You have to have a principal or a teacher who is strong about saying, ‘This student needs help. In our evaluation, this is what he needs, and we’re going to make sure he gets it. But this other stuff beyond that, he doesn’t need, because there’s nothing wrong with him in those areas.’”

The second topic addressed as a “glaring” exception was staffing. “Every district runs different, and you need to staff as you need to staff, but it’s good to look at,” Maas stated. After applying a presumptive equal enrollment total to each of the five comparison districts, Maas calculated how many administrators, teachers and support staff districts would have if they maintained their current student to employee ratios. With this formula, Maas concluded that AJUSD employs 39 more people than comparable districts, with 30 of those employees being classified (non-teaching) staff.

AJUSD employs two less administrators than the average comparable district.

“You are above the state average in the amount of money you are spending in the classroom; however, you’re spending it the wrong way,” declared Maas. “The key is that, when you do your budget, you have to decide: do you want to have higher salaries or more people?

On reviewing your salary schedules, they’re about as low as any salary schedule I’ve seen. If I had to make a recommendation, I think increasing the salaries would be a top priority. You need to attract and retain qualified and top notch teachers. Right now, you’re spending about $1.6 million on those 39 additional people.”

Commenting via email after the work session, Superintendent Dr. Anderson clarified, “This is just one of several steps we are taking to examine our budgets. We also plan to create staffing standards for schools and departments based on data we collect from our neighboring districts and national standards. We are systematically looking at each department to determine if there are cost savings to be found.”

Marching Prospectors Take First Place

8th Annual ‘Sounds of the San Tans’ marching band competition ranks AJHS at the top

By Dana Trumbull

On Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, under the direction of newly hired Director of Instrumental Music Jaclyn Chappel, the Apache Junction High School band stepped into First Place in the “Sounds Along the San Tans” invitational band competition, hosted by Basha High School (Chandler Unified School District). The Marching Prospectors competed against three other division IV schools including Casteel, Florence and Vista Grande.

“The band worked so hard and were absolutely thrilled to be ranked 1st in our division,” commented Chappel. “It was a great experience and the Basha High School Band made great hosts.”

AJHS was also awarded with plaques for “Outstanding Music Performance” and “Outstanding General Effect.”

Music festivals, both instrumental and vocal, are often “rated,” meaning the competing groups are given a label (superior, excellent, good, fair) based on a numerical score. As a result, multiple schools will receive the same rating without consideration of how other bands or choirs compared. Most of the competitions in which AJHS have participated in past years were adjudicated in this manner. Other performance competitions, such as the Basha Invitational, are “ranked,” meaning the bands are given numerical scores based on their performance and then are compared to other groups in the same division and ranked accordingly. “Both systems have their value,” said Chappel. “I personally prefer rankings, because it very clearly lays out how we compare with other bands of our size.”

Chappel continued, “As eager as I am about the first place ranking, though, I don’t want to put too much emphasis on ‘winning,’ because there is always room to grow. We might have had the highest score in our division this time, but we still have a ton of work to do on the show. This is a great group of students – very dedicated – and I am eager to see where this season will take us.”

The Prospectors competed at Sabino High School, Tucson Unified School District, on Saturday, September 30. Results were not available by press time.

Focus on Business: Mountain View Funeral Home

3rd Generation owner honors life through service to community

By Dana Trumbull

Albert Coury, who founded Mountain View Funeral Home and Cemetery in 1951, was a compassionate man who believed in the importance of families. He wanted a beautiful green cemetery where families could feel at ease spending time with loved ones.

66 years later, Mountain View is still owned and operated by the Coury family. Inheriting the values of his father and grandfather before him, Greg Coury represents the third generation to tend the needs of the cemetery. In 2016, Mountain View was voted cemetery of the year.

Greg, however, has extended his grandfather’s vision of family service to include a deep and varied involvement in activities outside the wrought iron gates of the cemetery’s main drive. Recently, the business’ efforts have included events such as a “blanket party,” which opened the Superstition chapel in Apache Junction to an evening with community members making fleece blankets for homeless veterans. Other fundraising events organized by Mountain View employees have raised money for Sunshine Acres, Sharing Down syndrome of AZ, and other local charities.

Upcoming community events sponsored by Mountain View Funeral Home include:

  • Thursday, Sept. 28, 6 p.m. Free Bingo Event at Superstition Cremation and Funeral Services in Apache Junction. Please call (480) 982-2727 to RSVP.
  • Saturday, Sept. 30, from 9 a.m. to noon, Mountain View is inviting neighbors to a Vendor Fair at the Queen Creek location.
    More than twenty five businesses will be on hand for your browsing pleasure.
  • Wednesday, October 4, at 10 a.m., at the Mesa location, the mortuary is hosting its first Pet Blessing (on the green lawn in front of the funeral home). Father Dominico Pinti from St. George Catholic Church of Apache Junction will be officiating. Please call Hilary at (480) 832-2850 to RSVP.

To learn about more future events, “Like” Mountain View Funeral Home and Cemetery on Facebook or go to the website: www.mountainviewfuneralhomeandcemetery.com

Business focus:
All too often, staff at Mountain View have sat with families who were torn, not knowing what to do, because the family never discussed their loved ones’ last wishes.

Advance planning can save families the burden of facing emotional and financial decisions after you pass. “Our goal in the community is to educate people on the importance of advance planning.

We never want anyone to have to second guess themselves. We are here to serve you at all of our locations; you will be treated like family and, most importantly, your wishes will be honored.”

All consultations are free and can be conducted in the mortuary or in the comfort of your own home. If you choose to pre-pay, your money guarantees today’s prices for the options you select. Call 480-832-2850 for more information, or email wecare@mvfuneralhome.com.

Mountain View locations are:

  • Superstition Cremation and Funeral Services, 398 E Old West Hwy, Apache Junction, AZ
  • Mountain View Funeral Home and Cemetery, 7900 E. Main St., Mesa, AZ
  • San Tan Mountain View Funeral Home, 21809 S. Ellsworth, Queen Creek, AZ

Name Change Considered for US 60

BOS supports GC resident’s proposal for “Rose Mofford Memorial Highway”

Among the items unanimously passed in the consent agenda for the Sept. 20, 2017, Pinal County Board of Supervisors regular session was a resolution to support a proposal to the AZ State Board on Geographic and Historic Names to rename US 60 through Pinal County as the Rose Mofford Memorial Highway. The proposal was penned by Gold Canyon resident Roberto Reveles, who brought the issue to the attention of the BOS in a Call to the Public last month, stating, “Rose Mofford, who frequently traveled on US 60 between her beloved hometown of Globe and Phoenix, clearly is a name that, more than any other name, is most historically relevant and appropriate for US 60.”

The BOS resolution states, “Rose Mofford was the first female Governor of the State of Arizona and served the public in many capacities over many years.”

The Arizona State Board on Geographic and Historic Names will consider the name change application at a hearing on Sept. 25.

Constable Acton’s Antics Earn 60-Day Suspension

On Sept. 20, 2017, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted 2/1, to suspend District 7 (Apache Junction) Constable John Acton for 60 days without pay, effective immediately. Supervisors Pete Rios and Mike Goodman voted to approve the suspension, while Chairman Steve Miller voted no, stating, “I think that there’s more to this that ought to be looked at going down the pike.” Supervisor Todd House abstained due to his “personal relationship” with Acton. Supervisor Anthony Smith was absent.

Constable John Acton

The action stemmed from a unanimous recommendation to the BOS from the State of Arizona Constable Ethics, Standards and Training Board (CESTB) to suspend Acton for 30 days. Supervisor Pete Rios, however, motioned to increase the suspension to 60 days, due to the continued nature of the infractions and Acton’s failure to improve despite the probation and additional training previously imposed by the CESTB. This action is consistent with A.R.S. 22-137 Section A. 5, which states that a constable who has previously been placed on probation may be suspended without pay, “for any specified length of time, not to exceed the remainder of the constable’s term.”

The recommendation letter from CESTB, dated August 29, 2017, indicated that, “The [Constable] Board reviewed the facts in this case, in which a service document was not properly filed with the court, causing inconvenience and distress to the complainant… This Board has received numerous complaints against Constable Acton of a similar nature over the course of several years. Despite additional training and coaching, being placed on probation by Pinal County, as well as admonishments by this Board, Constable Acton has not corrected this pattern of behavior. As you know, in July of this year, this Board requested Constable Acton resign from his position, which he has refused to do.”

Acton argued that the Constable Board of Ethics never “asked” him to resign, because the request was never made verbally. “I received the request in a certified letter from the board, but I was never ‘asked’ to resign.”

Acton had previously been convicted in superior court of two counts of disorderly conduct while on duty in March of 2016. He was also found to have made 89 additional errors in his paperwork since July of 2015. Court documents cited, “Several of these errors resulted in cases being dismissed, while many others caused unnecessary time delays in case processing.”

In an effort to improve the quality, accuracy, tracking and timeliness of his documentation, Acton recently hired a private secretary to handle his reports and mileage. “I think I’ve made adequate changes so there won’t be a problem again. Things transpired that shouldn’t have. I’ve handled over 2300 cases; I lost one piece of paper.”

Rios countered, “…for you to say, ‘one little piece of paper,’ well, the documentation from the court says differently.”

Chairman Miller instructed Acton, saying that any employee who would be assisting the constable at any level, can only be procured through the employment of Pinal County and approved by the BOS. “Since we have not approved an assistant for you, whatever that arrangement is for somebody handling your paperwork has to stop.”

A motion by Supervisor Smith on 9/13 to disapprove the suspension of Constable Acton died when it failed to receive a second. Smith then suggested that the issue be continued to the following week in order to conduct the vote with all members present.

After the 9/20 vote resulted in approval of a 60-day suspension, Acton called the action a witch hunt, stating, “I work very hard. I’m out there in 120 degree weather serving these documents, and I just think this is excessive. I’m as good as you’ve got out there.”

Acton’s problems with questionable behavior and veracity went public during his 2014 campaign for the Constable office. An article in The AJ/GC News from 5/11/15 recalls, “At that time, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office asked the Department of Public Safety to look into claims that Acton had exaggerated and in some cases lied about his law enforcement and military background during the course of his campaign.

“DPS eventually turned the case over to the Attorney General’s Office, recommending Acton be charged with fraudulent schemes. The AG’s office declined to prosecute, saying, even though Acton did make false and misleading statements, there are other means to remedy that, such as a recall election.

“Even though the public was then made aware of Acton’s false and misleading statements during his 2014 election campaign, Acton, a Republican, won the 2014 Constable’s race with 58% of the vote over an Independent candidate.”

During the 60-day suspension imposed by the BOS, private process servers will be used to serve most documents, with the sheriff’s office and other law enforcement departments filling in to serve writs.

AJUSD Incident Response Reviewed

By Dana Trumbull

In a statement at the Tuesday, 9/12/17 AJUSD Governing Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Krista Anderson reported on the arrest of Four Peaks Principal Karl Waggoner and the district’s actions to ensure continuity, quality and care for the students and families at Four Peaks Elementary School. A brief Special Board meeting followed on Wednesday, 9/13, to formally accept Waggoner’s handwritten note of resignation with a vote of 4-0. Board member Mike Weaver was absent.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Anderson told the Board that the district office was informed of the arrest at 7:30 a.m. on 9/5/17, by the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office. By 8 a.m., Heather Wallace, current director of educational services and former principal of Superstition Mountain Elementary School, was on the Four Peaks campus, working with staff and managing the daily business of the school. When school let out at 4 p.m., Anderson, Wallace and Cactus Canyon Junior High Assistant Principal Chad Cantrell were in front of the building and available to speak with parents. “Everyone at the school did a phenomenal job,” commented Anderson. “They were professional and cooperative, making sure we had a sound school environment for our kids throughout the day.”

Cantrell had agreed earlier in the afternoon to serve as interim principal at Four Peaks for the remainder of the 2017-18 school year. “When we were facing this, we knew that we would have to have a strong leader,” said Anderson. “We really wanted someone the community knows; someone who has been in our district and in our community for a number of years. In the short time that I have known Chad, he has demonstrated very strong leadership skills and those characteristics and qualities that we want in our school administrators.” Cantrell has also served as the district’s athletic director for two years. Those duties will temporarily pass to AJHS Art Teacher and Cross Country Coach Dr. Tina Harshman.

“In the spring, we are going to post the Four Peaks principal position,” explained Anderson. “If Mr. Cantrell is interested in the Four Peaks position, he will interview just like everyone else. If this is not his long-term plan, then we will give him the opportunity to head back over to the middle school for the 2018-19 school year.”

Anderson, who is new to the superintendent’s position, also reached out to neighboring districts for advice and tools to make sure the district navigated through the difficult day smoothly.

“The biggest challenge was communication with parents,” shared Anderson. “We would have been able to communicate with our parents about 1:30 p.m., but we had 437 students at Four Peaks who did not have active parent email addresses in the system. Two weeks prior to this incident, we sent a list to each school notifying them about which students did not have a parent’s email address attached to them, so they were already working on contacting parents and completing the information.” The updates, however, were not yet finished. If the notice had been emailed, the missing addresses would have resulted in approximately 300 families remaining uninformed. “We decided to release the letter at the same time so that everybody was getting the same information. The sheriff’s department worked very closely with us; they embargoed the information trying to get us close to the end of our school day, so we were very grateful to them on that.”

In conclusion, Anderson assured the Board members and the community, “We continue to work very closely with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, providing them with whatever they need so we can move forward.”

Genesis Project Collaborates to Expand Services

United Way and City of Apache Junction partner with Genesis to help clients cut through red tape

By Dana Trumbull

For nearly a year now, a collaboration has been simmering in the soup kitchens at Genesis Project, melding the capabilities of the United Way of Pinal County (UWPC) and the City of Apache Junction with the homeless and at risk outreach of Genesis.

Genesis Project is a faith-based 501c3 located at 564 N. Idaho Rd. Suite 5, in Apache Junction, across the street from the county complex. The coalition of local churches that makes up the organization have banded together for the common purpose of aiding the less fortunate. Their mission is to feed the hungry and the homeless and to provide opportunities for showers, clothing and medical services. Partnering with United Way and the City, those services are now extending further to help homeless and at risk community members get back on their feet.

“It started with the financial stability classes this past winter, where class members expressed what gaps they were trying to leap over,” elaborated UWPC Executive Director Manuela Rehm-Bowler. “The common denominator was the need for a navigator and a cheerleader in their corner.” In the spring of this year, United Way started going to Genesis Project on Mondays to help people navigate the system in their efforts to access available resources. “We’ve helped people find housing, procure copies of birth certificates, earn their drivers licenses and connect with other resources.

“Out of the Casa Grande homeless conversation [a coalition effort organized by UWPC], grew the idea of a day center,” continued Bowler. “I brought that idea up in Apache Junction; however, there’s no infrastructure to support that sort of venture at the moment. So, Genesis and UWPC felt that having set agencies come on set schedules could at least help people know when and where they can get assistance when they have a problem.”

With the goal defined, Genesis Project made accommodations to stay open longer on Mondays; Apache Junction Grants Administrator Heather Patel reached out to schedule the appropriate agencies and the UWPC coordinated the effort. The new services started September 11, with the Department of Economic Security (child support services) and UWPC offering information, mentoring and general help.

“Today I saw over 10 people in my two hour navigation sessions from noon to 2 pm, and then 4 more individuals came by during the next 3 hours,” explains Bowler. “It was the first time we’ve done this extended day, so the low traffic is somewhat to be expected.”

One of the unique aspects of the Genesis Resource Center is that the social services assistance is available to anyone in the community, not only the homeless or at risk.  “Financial and personal hardship is an equal opportunity offender.” Bowler knows this statement to be fact. Her passion for helping others stems from personal experience. “Regardless of how educated you are, the social service maze feels like it requires a PhD.  I remember when my family was underemployed, and we attempted to qualify for AHCCCS. The amount of paperwork that was required and the documentation was insane. I have a master’s degree in business, and I’m very tenacious, but we ended up just giving up, because it was so overwhelming. I wish I would have had an advocate who could make some phone calls for me and ask questions to ensure I wasn’t doing it wrong and to give me hope. We gave up and went uninsured. That’s a risky thing to do with three teenage kids depending on their parents to hold the net while they explore their independence. That whole application process left me feeling so inadequate! That memory is what drives me. We become advocates for something when it has become personal for us; when we truly understand the plight of others because we have experienced it.”

Social services programming is offered at Genesis Project on Mondays from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. except on holidays.

Lucy Young Passes at Age 66

By Dana Trumbull

Lucy Young passed away last week. In the eyes of many, she passed too soon, but her accomplishments within the community of Apache Junction, AZ, could have filled several normal lifetimes. Her love for this community and, in particular, for the children of our community were expressed through her commitment to many organizations in volunteer, member and leadership positions.

Lucy was a part of the Apache Junction Unified School District Governing Board for 20 years, serving multiple terms as president. She was a teacher at Gold Canyon Elementary School for 8 years before that and went on to start her own successful business: The Little Prospector preschool. She was a driving force within the Friends of Apache Junction, and simultaneously served in organizations such as D.A.R.E., the Superstition Mountain Rotary Club, SRP Board and Apache Junction Parks & Recreation youth programs.

Her true legacy, however, is her impact on the people whose lives she touched. A few of their stories are shared here, in memorial to one of our community’s most esteemed leaders.

Debra Nine: I think the thing that makes me proudest of Lucy is her devotion and commitment to her “family.” Yes, her blood family, but also all the children she touched through her wonderful business, The Little Prospector, and her participation in many, many kid-centered events for the AJ Parks & Rec. She was always doing things either outright or behind the scenes to support and promote kids and their interests.

Cami Garcia: Lucy was like a second mom to many of us, including me.

Mike Weaver: Lucy was a unique person. She spoke her mind, and she was a fixture and a driving force in a lot of things.

Gary Nine: I first met Lucy at AJUSD orientation; we started at the district the same day. At the time, I thought she was shy, but her love of children came through loud and clear. Lucy was naive, yet bold; caring, but forceful; and most importantly, never met a child she didn’t love.

Liz Langenbach: Words are not enough to express what she means to this community, to her friends and family… and to me. She saw everything about us. So blessed to know Lucy Young and the beautiful, strong daughters she raised.

Lydia Henry: As a school board member for 20 years, Lucy was someone I would look to for advice on many teacher questions. She was smart, and she loved this community. I am blessed to have known Lucy and will miss her humor the most.

Debra Nine: I think a story that best shows Lucy to me is that, years ago, we all played racquetball together, even teaching classes for the city. The very last time we played, she stood center court and refused to budge. If I hit the ball within her range, she proceeded to place a perfect kill shot into one of the corners. She beat me soundly that last match we played. Afterward, she refused to play me ever again. She said she wanted to end her racquetball career on top! That was Lucy: always thinking big picture, planning and using strategy to win.

Gary Nine: Lucy was a strong and effective leader: sometimes stubborn, frequently opinionated, but always acting in the best interests of kids. In my opinion, her time on the Board corresponded with the greatest instructional effectiveness in the history of the district. Lucy was great for AJ in every way — a unique, loving personality who elevated all with whom she came in contact. Lucy Young would never consider herself one of our community’s most esteemed leaders… but, she was!

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