When I go out and about in the community, I try very hard to steer away from partisan politics, because it’s just too contentious, especially now. However, I am not above inquiring as to whether people have or are planning to vote. Some have already mailed in their early ballots, and some say they will vote if they have time, while others simply say, “No, I’m not going to vote.”
Dorothy, Toto and the rest of the cast of the Wizard of Oz need your help. AJHS’ Drama Department will be performing the classic musical “The Wizard of Oz” with additional performers from Desert Vista Elementary and Peralta Trails Elementary, January 24 and 25, 2019, at 7 p.m. (with DVES) and Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 2019, at 7 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center, 2525 S. Ironwood Drive in Apache Junction.
A tribute to veterans and a parade highlight the annual Festival of the Superstitions celebration on November 10-11 in Apache Junction’s Flatiron Community Park. The Festival of the Superstitions, presented by the Superstition Region Chamber of Commerce, is scheduled for the second weekend in November and includes a car show, entertainment, food and fun for the whole family.
I found it surprising that so many people participating in last week’s AJ News Poll do not believe right-wing leaders should share the blame for the recent tragedies perpetuated by their followers. I guess there are still a lot of people who don’t believe in the cause and effect “thing.”
Assistant City Manager Matt Busby presented an update on the .2% sales tax approved in 2014. The revenue from the tax is dedicated to fund roadway maintenance and repairs in Apache Junction. Busby showed that Street Projects Sales Tax (SST) Revenues since 2015 are $2,971,561.18, while expenditures are $5,540,471.82.
Volunteering improves not only the communities in which one serves, but also the life of the individual who is providing help to the community. Numerous studies say personal gains for the volunteer are more far reaching than previously understood. In a word, it can be summed up as “happiness” as it expands physical activity, builds friendships, reduces isolation and improve one’s overall sense of worth and well-being.
Local women who are pursuing vocational/skills training or an undergraduate degree are encouraged to apply for the Live Your Dream (LYD) Award through Soroptimist International of the East Valley (SIEV). The Live Your Dream Award, one of the Soroptimist signature programs, provides financial assistance to women who provide the primary source of financial support for their families by giving them the resources they need to improve their education, skills and employment prospects.
The Crazy Chile Farm, together with Transfiguration Episcopal Church, will be hosting a Desert Harvest Festival on Saturday, October 27 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the large paved parking lot of the Transfiguration Episcopal Church, 514 S. Mountain Rd., Mesa, AZ. The festival will feature a variety of Crazy Chile Farm products and other area goods at a farmers market, as well as live music, a pumpkin patch, chile roaster and chile cook-off (with a $100 first prize).
The community was saddened by the sudden demise of a local landmark. The majestic saguaro that stood just north of Superstition Boulevard in front of Shady Way Gardens fell to ground last Wednesday night. Shady Way employee Gin McMahon smiled as she shared photos of the “old-timer,” who has graced the business at 566 W. Superstition Blvd for more than 20 years.
The city of Apache Junction will be holding a Household Hazardous Waste, White Goods, Electronic Recycling and Document Shredding collection event on Saturday, Nov. 17. 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.
In just 48 hours time, regional residents, businesses and civic groups valley wide donated over $3,500 to the Apache Junction Food Bank to repair its 16-foot, refrigerated truck. By Friday, that total surged to just over $6,000. The vehicle’s drive shaft dropped out on University Drive in Mesa with food in it on Tuesday morning.
At their meeting on Tuesday, October 2, the Apache Junction City Council approved appointments to the Board of Adjustment, Library Board, Parks & Recreation and Planning & Zoning Commissions. Attending the meeting were Mayor Jeff Serdy and Councilmembers Jeff Struble, Gail Evans, Christa Rizzi, Dave Waldron and Vice Mayor Chip Wilson. Councilwoman Robin Barker was absent.
It’s National Fire Prevention Week and Superstition Fire & Medical District encourages residents to Look. Listen. Learn. What does that mean? Today’s home fires burn faster than ever. In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Knowing how to use that time wisely takes planning and practice.
With all city positions decided in the primary election on August 28, the lone event remaining in the local race is between the four candidates vying for two open seats on the Apache Junction Unified School District Governing Board. One candidate is an incumbent: Dena Kimble. The other three candidates are: Braden Biggs, Chelsea Connelly and Gilbert Cancio.
Most historians accept the story that an old prospector named Jacob Waltz created one of the most popular legends in American Southwestern history. Storytellers will tell you he spun yarns and gave clues to a rich lost gold mine in the Superstition Mountains. However, historians will claim Waltz was a very quiet and secluded individual preferring his privacy.
Several years ago, Joe Clary introduced me to the military records of the Rancheria Campaign in the Superstition Mountain area. It was among these field reports and maps that several new names for various landmarks within the Superstition Wilderness Area were discovered.
During County Sheriff Paul Babeu’s administration, this member of the public frequently raised questions about the Sheriff’s exploitation of Pinal County taxpayers and our county’s public resources. Unfortunately, public requests for credible audits of the PCSO have been ignored by the Board of Supervisors.
With all the monsoon rain we have had this year, we are facing a green fall, including all of the unwanted weeds. The code compliance division of Development Services wants to share a friendly reminder that the city does have an ordinance that requires all weeds over 10 inches to be cut. All property owners and/or occupants are responsible for their half of any alleys at the rear of their properties and all the way to the pavement at the front yard.
On Friday, September 7, 60 young adults from Cactus Canyon Junior High took steps toward meeting the noble goals of scholarship, service, leadership, character and citizenship when they were inducted into CCJH’s National Junior Honor Society for the 2018-2019 school year. The ceremony was a celebratory occasion, but becoming an NJHS member is no easy feat.
Students scrambled across the campus on Aug. 24 during STEAM Night at Peralta Trail Elementary School, 10965 E. Peralta Road in Gold Canyon, with one question in mind, “Did it crack?” Dozens of eggs, packaged in a variety of ways, were tossed from the bucket of a 50-foot crane. Students were tasked with designing a structure for their egg to be dropped without breaking.
The Apache Junction and Gold Canyon community was saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Marta Saint-James last week. Marta is remembered as a loving friend to two- and four-legged creatures alike and will be missed for her easy laugh, passionate advocacy and ready-to-help presence.
During the last several months, the Apache Junction Police Department (AJPD), Criminal Investigation Division (CID) and the Community Resource Enforcement Unit (CREU) have made numerous narcotics arrests. Many of these cases involved long term enforcement operations and further utilized the assistance of AJPD’s SWAT operators and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents.
Good news for taxpayers in Pinal County, as the Board of Supervisors adopted a lower tax rate for FY 2018-2019. The new property tax rate, $3.83, is nearly four cents lower than last year’s $3.86.9. Pinal County joins four other Arizona counties to offer their taxpayers a break this fiscal year. “This is a target for us in our Strategic Plan,” stated Chairman Todd House. “I would like to see it go even lower next year and the following year.”
It’s the policy of Arkansas schools to recite the Pledge of Allegiance each morning at the start of classes. Ms. Martha Cothren, a social studies teacher at Joe T. Robinson High School in Little Rock, was having trouble getting her students to stand during the pledge, so, with the permission of her principal, Ms. Cothren had all the desks removed from her classroom on the first day of school in 2005. I learned of this event when a friend emailed me about it last week. I called Ms. Cothren and we talked on the phone for a few minutes. Nice lady.
According to legend and myth, the great “Thunder God” roars during the summer months. Many of us do not find this hard to believe, if we have experienced a violent thunderstorm in the Apache Junction area during the summer months. There are basically two types of storms that occur in our area. The first storm type we experience brings the central mountain area of Arizona its winter rains. These winter storms result from the general cyclonic patterns that move across the United States every ten days or so during the winter months.
One of the first questions a 911 dispatcher asks when you call 9-1-1 is “What is your address?” or “Where are you located?” Based on the location information provided, emergency personnel will respond to that location. Emergency personnel are diligent in trying to get to the emergency as quickly as possible; however, delays may occur if access to the property is restricted or they are unable to find the specific unit or address number.
Officer Carl Halperin has been named as liaison between Apache Junction Unified School District and the Apache Junction Police Department. Officer Halperin has an office in the 11/12 building at Apache Junction High School. His duties will include teaching lessons to high school kids about alcohol and related risks, teaching the D.A.R.E. curriculum to all the fifth and eighth grade students in the school district, as well as taking the majority of the district’s criminal or “duty to report” calls for the police department.
Pinal County Federal Credit Union Assistant Branch Manager Kim Gillaspy (left) presented Project HELP Coordinator Rosie Portugal- Brastad (right) with school supplies and money that was collected from the community in July for Apache Junction Unified School District students. Project HELP assists AJUSD families who need a helping hand with food, new and used clothing, school supplies, holiday assistance, financial aid and more.
Last month, we reminded the public about the on-going efforts of criminals who prey upon vulnerable people to steal from them. Lottery and Sweepstakes fraud is one method of theft and is the most common consumer fraud today.The schemes are created by criminals who have scripted answers for any question posed to them.
Just when you think the summer couldn’t get any hotter, the Senior Rodders roll in with their hot rods to present a $4,000 check to the Apache Junction Salvation Army to fund their children’s programs. “We’re a group of guys who like hot rods and old cars,” explained Treasurer Joe Lorden.
The Hitching Post Saloon will be hosting a spaghetti dinner fundraiser every Tuesday in August and September in 2018, with proceeds benefiting the Apache Junction Unified School District. The first night for the fundraiser is Aug. 7, continuing through Sept. 25. Tickets are $10 each and include spaghetti and meatball dinner and garlic bread.
Extreme weather conditions such as we have experienced recently with our summer monsoons can have unforeseen effects. The Pinal County Public Health Services District, Environmental Health Services Division would like to help everyone be aware of proper food safety precautions in the event of a power outage.
More than fifty Superstition Foothills Community Association (SFCOA) homeowners gathered at the Gold Canyon Firehouse on Tuesday, July 24, to attend an HOA board of directors meeting. The board appointed three interim board members and assumed new positions.
The recent headlines that illustrated the danger of being a correspondent, columnist or employee of a newspaper were really a reminder and struck home for me. I have never really considered myself a correspondent, but maybe a storyteller of history and legend. When I read the news about the massacre at The Capital in Annapolis, Maryland, I couldn’t help but have part of my heart and soul torn from my body.
The first time I ever heard the story about the lynching of Starr Daley, it was from George “Brownie” Holmes. Holmes was a pioneer Arizonian. His father was born at Fort Whipple and his grandfather traveled along the Gila Trail in the late 1840’s. “Brownie” Holmes was a good friend of Nancy McCollough and Clay Worst. I am sure both of them heard the “Brownie’s” version of the hanging of Starr Daley along the old Roosevelt Road.
I have spent nearly seventy years in the Superstition Mountain area. I first arrived here with my dad in 1946-47. My dad was always fascinated with the area, because of his best friend Bill Cage. Cage worked at the Christmas Copper Company as a blacksmith. He’d been a blacksmith all his life, and he loved to tell stories about his experiences looking for gold in the Superstition Mountains.
The 19th Annual Gold Canyon Arts Festival is seeking artists for its one-day event which will be held on Saturday, January 26, 2019 on the grounds of the Gold Canyon United Methodist Church. Many artists and participants say this is the ‘best one day’ show they’ve experienced.
A man was found deceased in the desert south of Apache Junction last Tuesday, July 24. Superstition Fire & Medical District (SFMD) responded to a call for an unconscious hiker about 1:30 p.m. According to SFMD officials, paramedics found the body of a man in his 40s in a desert area near Baseline and Goldfield Roads. The deceased was determined to be homeless and camping nearby.
The Apache Junction Chronic Homeless Coalition on Wednesday received a public partnership award from the Maricopa Association of Governments. The coalition and the Community Resource Center, which is housed at the Genesis Project, were honored with the Desert Peaks award in ceremonies at the Sheraton Crescent Hotel in Phoenix.
How much would you pay for a chance to win “a beat up, old, white, well-used golf cart”? Marcus Rodgers, a veteran and “golf cart doctor” at Robinson Golf Cars, Apache Junction, AZ, provided the less-than-glowing description of a used SoloRider 34 golf cart that was donated to the Disabled American Veterans.
It was a girl’s week with nearly 300 high school girls from across Arizona converging on the University of Arizona campus for the 71st session of the American Legion Auxiliary premier program, Arizona Girls State. This unique opportunity is open to girls completing their junior year of high school who meet the necessary qualifications.
It’s been an interesting ride, but Apache Junction Unified School District is happy to announce that Lori Jioras is now on board as AJUSD’s new Transportation Director. She has 13 years of experience in transportation and most recently served as Transportation Supervisor for the largest school district in Missouri.
As a non-profit organization, the VFW Auxiliary and Post 9399 rely on the support of its membership to help veterans, active-duty military and their families lead a better life in our community. Those who support the VFW and Auxiliary as members are actively participating in the effort to honor, support and remember our veterans and active-duty servicemen and women and their families.
The Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce held their 2018 Fry’s Food Community Awards Banquet at Roadhaven Golf & Tennis Resort in Apache Junction. The annual formal banquet honors outstanding small business, medium business, large business, non-profit, volunteer, teacher, firefighter, police officer and professor for their dedication and outstanding contributions to the Apache Junction community.
As I rode northeastward toward Miner’s Needle Summit from the old Quarter Circle U Ranch, the furthest thing from my mind was a flash flood. I had ridden these draws and canyons of the wilderness for many years. I knew heavy rain could produce dangerous flooding conditions.
Since 1946, many individuals have played a significant role in the Superstition Mountain drama. One such person was Don Shade. Not everyone was close to Don and understood his love for the mountains. However, a casual conversation with him would definitely convince you of his love affair with the Superstition Wilderness and its many stories.
Apache Junction Unified School District Public Relations Coordinator Sally Marks presented awards for the Volunteer and Classified (support staff)Employee of the Month at the May 8, 2018, Governing Board meeting. The April awards highlighted the District Office.
Summer is almost here, and temperatures will soon be soaring above 100*F, and a review of some summer survival techniques might be appropriate at this time. Each summer we read or hear about a tragic death or deaths resulting from dehydration, exhaustion or sunstroke occurring during the hot summer months on the Sonoran Desert. These summer deaths could easily be prevented with the proper preparation and training.
A community resource center has opened at The Genesis Project to connect the community with much needed support. Representatives from a variety of organizations offer on-site office hours to share information with those in need who are seeking help. Services include a mentorship program, health care, employment and signing up for benefits from the Arizona Department of Economic Security.
Summer storms in the desert are often known as the Monsoons. These storms bring massive thunderstorms with severe wind, heavy showers, lightning, dust storms and sometimes devastating winds called “microbursts.” During the summer months, most of the storms over central Arizona and the Superstition Wilderness Area result from warm, moist air flowing in from the Gulf of Mexico and the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California).
The city of Apache Junction, through a proclamation signed by Mayor Jeff Serdy, is celebrating Fair Housing Month in April. The National Fair Housing Law of 1986, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, prohibits discrimination in housing and declares it a national policy to provide, within constitutional limits, for fair housing in the United States.
The light is shining a little brighter on possible career paths that AJHS students can explore after graduation, thanks to a new Shadowing Program launched in January. The Shadowing Program allows students to explore and plan their education and career choices by researching possible careers and spending a day observing a professional practitioner, artisan or worker in a field that is of interest to the student.
People in Apache Junction, along with residents of much of the Phoenix metropolitan area, can now reach 9-1-1 emergency dispatchers by text message. The service was announced last week by the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) with representatives of the Maricopa Region 9-1-1, public agencies that work with members of the disability community, the Arizona Center for Disability Law and the National Association of the Deaf.
Got Shade? The City of Apache Junction got some recently, at a local playground. The AJ Multi-Generational Center (MGC) playground received a new shade structure after a very generous donation from Apache Greyhound Park.
Members of Superstition Mountain Golf & Country Club recently held a benefit event for nearby Apache Junction Paws & Claws Care Center (PCCC). The event raised more than $50,000 for the animal shelter and will support the facility’s efforts to rescue, rehabilitate and adopt-out abandoned and surrendered animals.
Each year, the month of April is recognized as National Distracted Driving Prevention Month. The Apache Junction Police Department (AJPD) encourages all motorists to consider how they can practice safe driving habits throughout the year, not just for one month. Simple tasks that are attempted while driving can create deadly results. Adults with teenage drivers are asked to plant the seeds of road-focused driving upon these youngsters.
The Apache Villa Quilters presented eleven veterans with Quilts of Valor in a touching ceremony on March 7. After the ceremony, Wayne Bates, who served and was wounded in the Korean war said “I sure wish I had this quilt to wrap up in when I was wounded and alone.” The Quilts of Valor Foundation was founded in 2003 by Blue Star mom Catherine Roberts.
The Apache Junction City Council met for a work session on Monday, March 19 and for a a regular session on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. On Monday, the council discussed an ADOT (AZ Department of Transportation) project that will include street improvements, sidewalks and bike paths on Winchester from 16th Street to Southern.
Detective Steven Jeansonne was recognized as Police Officer of the Year for his dedication to the task of examining and recovering digital evidence from electronic devices used in criminal offenses. Jeansonne has received praise from peers and outside law enforcement agencies that he has assisted. Jeansonne has been a member of the Police Department since 2006.
Apache Junction is on a sure path for growth and, for some, that means outward growth—acquiring land beyond the current city boundaries and enticing development there. Just as important, and perhaps even more important, is the inward growth of the city. We don’t need to move or add a mountain to improve Apache Junction in a big way. This is the idea behind the city’s Strong Sustainable Community Initiative program.
The Apache Junction Police Department announced multiple narcotics arrests in the past 3 weeks. AJPD’s Criminal Investigation Division executed multiple search warrants that netted a large quantity of methamphetamine, as well as thousands of dollars in US currency and resulted in the arrests of multiple suspects. These investigations are ongoing, and additional arrests may be forthcoming.
Last year a sixty-seven year old man from California was visiting the Mirage area and while inspecting his RV, he was bitten by a Western Diamond Back rattlesnake. He had heard a strange noise under it. He crawled under the RV to inspect it and try to find the noise. A five-year-old girl was bitten by a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake in a dry wash along I-17 Highway north of Phoenix.
On March 27, the Hitching Post establishment received approval from the Apache Junction Planning and Zoning Commission for a conditional use permit (CUP) to hold various outdoor attractions by a vote of 6-1, with commissioner Michael Frank casting the dissenting vote.
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.
There is an old Indian story about Haunted Canyon. It is a tale about where the sun introduces the sky to the wind. When the sun hides and the sky becomes dark, the wind blows through Haunted Canyon calling to the dead. My friends, that is enough of a ghost story told to me by an old Apache many years ago while he was gathering Jojoba nuts in Haunted Canyon.
The Lost Dutchman Days Parade was held on Saturday, February 24, 2018. The parade on Apache Trail began at 9:00 a.m. in downtown Apache Junction and featured many participants from the community including businesses, schools, organizations and entertainers.
The day before Valentines Day was a chilly and blustery day, but that didn’t keep the 18 service agencies from wrapping social services around individuals in need. The purpose of this event was to gather social services agencies all under one roof in an attempt to make it easier for guests to cobble missing pieces to their life puzzle.
Prior to the turn of the century, desert bighorn sheep and the desert antelope could be found in plentiful numbers around the base of Superstition Mountain. Today the antelope has disappeared. The desert bighorn sheep have been reintroduced to the Superstition Mountain area.
Tales can still be heard along the Apache Trail about the adventures of the legendary desperado called “Hacksaw Tom.” It was after the turn of the century this highwayman burned his name into the legends and lore of Superstition Mountain region. He preyed on the travelers of the Mesa-Roosevelt Road from his remote hiding place near Fish Creek Canyon.
The Apache Junction Food Bank is on track again this year to provide food to nearly 40,000 area residents, but it needs more volunteers to do so. Data shows that it takes 3 volunteer hours to help each person given food by the Food Bank, and so far this year, volunteers have donated 10,488 hours.
Many writers have been compelled to address the so-called unsolved mystery of a man’s death in the Superstition Mountains of central Arizona in the summer of 1931. These writers have placed the discovery of Adolph Ruth’s remains in several locations in the region from Needle Canyon to Peter’s Mesa. The Ruth story is one of the most compelling stories of 20th Century about the missing in the Superstition Mountains.
Community Veterans Center
By Dana Trumbull
Apache Junction is home to more than 1500 veterans – the single largest concentration of vets in Pinal County. And that doesn’t count the influx of veterans among the city’s winter visitors. When veteran Mike Ferguson decided to cultivate his experience as a national councilman with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) into a service that would be a direct conduit to veterans in Pinal County, Apache Junction was the logical place to be.
A donation of two rooms on the north side of the Desert Chapel United Methodist Church (462 N. Palo Verde Rd., Apache Junction) and generous support from the local veterans organizations made the Apache Junction Community Veterans Center a reality, and the center opened its doors on December 15, 2016.
Recognizing the varying needs of different generations of veterans, the center acts as a network hub, maintaining up-to-date information on benefits and helping veterans connect to and apply for a wide range of resources. Vets are also welcome to stop by to watch TV, read, use the computer, have some coffee and talk with other vets. “The services are whatever the veteran’s issue is,” offers Ferguson. “It could be anywhere from finding him a ride to helping her with the power bill. We had one veteran who had passed away in another area, and the family needed to ship his body to where he was going to be buried. So we got that set up and took care of the costs.” Often, older veterans come in, needing a copy of their DD214, knowing their family will need it to apply for benefits when they pass.
Want to learn more about your city? Have some questions about city programs, policies or procedures? Here is your chance to ask.
When the meetings are established, initial concerns and requested topics and speakers are solicited. City officials will provide a brief update and then field questions from residents in an interactive forum.
There is still time to apply for federal funds—received by the city of Apache Junction—as part of the owner occupied housing rehabilitation program. The program provides deferred payment loans from $1,000 to $55,000 for heating, air conditioning, plumbing, roofs, ADA accessibility, code violations and health and safety issues.
Last week, during routine mosquito surveillance, the Pinal County Public Health Services District (PCPHSD) detected the first West Nile Virus (WNV) positive mosquitoes in the county this season, more specifically in the San Tan Valley area. West Nile Virus (WNV), which is spread through the bite of certain mosquitoes, is now common in Arizona.