JAN/FEB 2022

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$5.99 January February 2022 Serving Contracting Firms and the Arizona Community. . . Then & Now

Phoenix’s “Cunning” Shopping Center: Chris-Town Mall The Exotic Landscapes of Phoenix’s Miniature Golf Courses Life in the Fast Lane: Manzanita Speedway Goes Full Throttle Scottsdale’s Lost Dog “Protects” Sonoran Preserve Ambiance Arizona’s First All-American Soap Box Derby Coasts to Success Buffalo Springfield: Machines and Music that Rock and “Rolled”

Arizona’s Timeless Magazine

Castles n’ Coasters: Phoenix’s Small But Mighty Amusement Park



Del Webb “Constructs” A Good Life: His Baseball and Sun City Ventures Stantec Moves iconic sky harbor Mural

BPG Sponsors arizona Construction Career Event

KE&G Tackles “Steep” Mining Challenge

CHASSE VP Goes to Bat for Spring Training

180 Degrees Rescues Mid-Century APS Panels


January February 2022

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Serving Contracting Firms and the Arizona Community… Then & Now




Arizona Contractor & Community (ACC) magazine is published bi-monthly (Jan/Feb, Mar/Apr, May/June, July/Aug, Sept/Oct, Nov/Dec). ACC is a professional publication designed for the contracting industry, engineers, architects, equipment rentals, suppliers, and others interested in Arizona and its history. Content including text, photographs or illustrations may not be reproduced without the written permission from the publisher. The publisher does not assume responsibility for unsolicited submissions. ACC reserves the right to reject any editorial and advertising material and reserves the right to edit all submitted content material. Arizona Contractor & Community Copyright © 2022‑ All rights reserved.

January February 2022

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Contents Contributors - John Bueker & Marty Ley From The Editor: Eating Away at the Term, “Buffet” Douglas Towne Construction Around Arizona: Projects • People • Practices Back When - Phoenix “Slides” Into the Future Douglas Towne Del Webb “Constructs” A Good Life: His Baseball and Sun City Adventures - Douglas Towne The Wild Ride That Created Castles n’ Coasters Amusement Park - Tom Pickrell Around the Globe in 18 Holes: Phoenix’s Classic Miniature Golf Courses - John Bueker Phoenix’s “Cunning” Shopping Center: The Magical Mall Called Chris-Town - John Bueker Oval But Not Forgotten: Manzanita Speedway’s Full Throttle Days - Douglas Towne Old School Equipment: The Buffalo-Springfield Roller Company - Douglas Towne Building on the Past - 1947: Arizona’s First All-American Soap Box Derby Architect’s Perspective - Celebrating the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and Its Trailheads - Doug Sydnor, FAIA

Digging Through the Archives: Mark Habgood Billy Horner


Bid Results


Advertising Index

Front Cover Spring training fun with Joe DiMaggio and Del Webb playing ball at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, 1951. Article on page 48. Image courtesy of Del Webb Corp. Photographs, Greater AZ Collection, ASU Library


January February 2022



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n (almost) native Phoenician, John joined Arizona Contractor and Community as an original staff writer in 2012. He specializes in wistful reminiscing about local mid-century shopping centers, restaurants, amusement parks, and the like. In this issue, he writes about miniature golf, including the Alpine Valley course, which he absolutely adored as a youth. He’s the author of a variety of Phoenix history websites, an award-winning 50-year-old local street newspaper called the Joan De Arc Crusader, and a popular book about the vanished Arizona theme park Legend City. John is also notable for a long-standing fanatical devotion to vintage board games, the result of which is a rather phenomenal collection of old Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley classics. Highlights include an assortment of antique Monopoly games dating back to the 1930s, the first ten editions of the Concentration game (some in mint-in-the-box condition), and TV-based rarities such as the Wild Wild West, The Outer Limits, and Tennessee Tuxedo board games. When pressed, he will invariably cite the famous Monopoly “White Box Edition No. 9” from the 1940s as his all-time favorite board game. In 2019, the Tempe History Museum housed an exhibit featuring a representative sampling of John’s extensive game collection. John lives in Glendale with his remarkably tolerant wife, Sue, and a menagerie of fourlegged friends.

Marty Ley Article on page 27


arty is currently pursuing two bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and Business Law at Arizona State University. He hopes to attend law school to become a corporate attorney eventually. As a freshman, Marty worked for both Blaze Radio and The State Press, two student news organizations, where he was introduced to his love for the world of journalism. He enjoys the journalism classes that allow him to go out into the field and interview prominent community figures. For Marty, every interaction is an opportunity to learn something new and broaden his understanding of the world around him. In one class, Marty wrote a story about a fictional mall project for an exercise, in which he learned that covering stories about new developments and construction was a passion. Marty was born and raised in Nogales, Arizona, and appreciates the small, tight-knit community. Living in a transitional space with both Mexican and American cultures taught him valuable lessons about inclusivity and diversity. Nonetheless, he enjoys his new home in Tempe and the energy of a bigger city with more professional opportunities such as writing for Arizona Contractor & Community magazine. In his free time, Marty enjoys hiking the trails in the area and spending days on the lake to wakeboard and water ski.

January February 2022

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Images courtesy of Sky Harbor International Airport

Image courtesy of Bridge and Tunnel Club




he theme for this issue is “Leisure,” so it seemed only appropriate to write a column that wouldn’t require too much work. Why not just assemble some vintage images of Arizona drinking places that would be a fun trip down memory lane for readers? Despite my best intentions, this seemingly breezy topic turned into an etymological rabbit hole when I noticed the word “buffet” appearing on some odd businesses. I associated the word with the diet-shattering smorgasbords made famous in Las Vegas. These buffets were Top: Copper State Buffet in Phoenix, 2000 and 1991 (l-r). Below: Postcard and matchcover of Saratoga Café & Buffet in Phoenix.


loss leaders offered by casinos to entice patrons to gamble afterward. The concept was sort of like a cafeteria on steroids, where you served yourself as much food as you wanted, and the idea spread across the country. Customers love to sample a wide variety of food for one low price. But in my research, I uncovered a vintage photograph of the neon sign at the Copper State Buffet in Phoenix on Washington at 20th Street. There was no “AllYou-Can-Eat Special” advertised, but rather the place touted “Cocktails,” “Dancing,” “Live Music,” and “Package Liquors,” along with a mural of a dancing couple outfitted in 1970s attire. If the buffet offered food, it was a decided afterthought. So, was the word “buffet” historically used in Arizona as another term for bar or

nightclub? It sure seemed so, as a check of an old Yellow Pages listed Copper State Buffet under cocktail lounges. But the same reference under the “Buffets” heading, noted, “See Restaurants; Also Cocktail Lounges.” Saratoga Café & Buffet, once located at Central Avenue and Washington Street in Phoenix, was in the Yellow Pages under “Restaurants.” Ephemera from the business, which promoted itself with the motto, “Good Food is Good Health,” seemed to support the notion that this place was meal-oriented. But looking at its vintage postcard, the buffet has a separate entrance from the café, and the business is officially called “The Saratoga Café and Cocktail Lounge.” So maybe, the buffet was the cocktail lounge? This definition is supported by evidence from the long-shuttered Hotel Del Sol in Yuma, which advertised its cocktail lounge as “Yuma Buffet.” Also in Yuma, the Valley Café is featured on a vintage postcard in five views: front of the building, palm room, dining room, coffee shop, and buffet, which depicts a bar. Delving deeper into the mystery, I explored newspaper archives. One ad announced the opening of Charles Bauer’s Montezuma Buffet, located in the Montezuma Hotel in “Nogales, Arizona’s Bright Spot,” in 1940. The “Gala event of the year on the border” was deemed to “Be just like New Year’s Eve,” and featured Mexican charros in the Buffet, a talented singer and pianist in the cocktail room, and dancing in the Montezuma Hotel Lobby to the tune of music by a highclass orchestra.” Four years later, The San Carlos Club Buffet and Rose Room opened in Coolidge. The business was “Pinal County’s first, DeLuxe January February 2022

Images courtesy of Sky Harbor International Airport

Images courtesy of Sky Harbor International Airport

Cocktail Lounge…for the recreation and relaxation of Ladies and Gentlemen in a pleasant and quiet atmosphere.” On a Facebook page dedicated to Arizona history, I asked what the term “buffet” meant. The responses were varied: •

• • • • • • •

“No real idea, but possibly making an establishment’s focus more on din­ ing than on drinking made it easier to license,” “So your kids can come in with you,” “There was a bar in Globe called the Owl Buffet when I was a kid,” “Interesting question, I sure don’t have an answer, but I don’t think it has any­ thing to do with food,” “LOL, we had a piece of furniture in the dining room called a buffet,” “The buffet is the free pretzels and pea­nuts on the bar!” “Good question. There was an Owl Buf­fet in Gila Bend and Shamrock Buffet in Buckeye,” and “Many ‘bars’ and ‘grills’ became ‘buf­ fets’ when alcohol sales were out­ lawed (wink, wink).”

Still confused, I turned to my “go-to” authority on the state’s heritage, Arizona state historian Marshall Trimble. In his hometown of Ash Fork, he recalled Gummies Buffet in the 1950s, which Frank and Nora Gum owned, that was called Gummies Bar by the 1970s. “The place was where you could find the town doctor if he wasn’t in his office,” Trimble says. “I don’t recall them serving any food except maybe hardboiled eggs from a jar.” Trimble added that there are several definitions of buffet. “One is a piece of furniture. It also means to strike repeatedly. I think it is most commonly used to describe serving yourself.” But Ash Fork’s buffet was most certainly a saloon. “Maybe Frank and Nora just

liked the sound of a French word because it placed their establishment on a higher plane than the other bars in town,” reflects Trimble. Top left: Valley Café in Yuma, 1942. Top right: Yuma Buffet at Hotel Del Sol in Yuma, 1991. Below: Marshall Trimble at Gummies Bar in Ash Fork, 1970s.

Demion Clinco, executive director of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, had an interesting idea. “I think it’s a nod to the buffet cars on American trains that served drinks and light snacks,” he wrote. “The Buffet Bar in Tucson references the connection in the graphic of the sign, which is a yellow streamline train on the outer edge.” arizcc.com

Arizona Contractor & Community



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treasured mural welcomed travelers to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport’s Terminal 2 for almost 60 years. The terminal was demolished but the mural has a new home. Artist Paul Coze’s three-piece work, The Phoenix, was unveiled by Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego on a wall at the airport’s Rental Car Center in October 2021. Global design firm Stantec, working with general contractor Kiewit, and International Chimney Corporation, facilitated the move of the three-panel, 75-foot-wide mural. It was the City of Phoenix’s first piece of commissioned art where the public was invited to participate in the process. The mural is made of 52 different materials, some are traditional such as oil paint and mosaic tiles and some are nontraditional media like aluminum sheeting and sand gathered from around Arizona. arizcc.com

“The Phoenix is well worth the visit as it’s in great shape, and you can stand right below each of the panels,” Ed Dobbins, a Phoenix historian, says. “They look better than I ever recall seeing them, especially since 9/11 resulted in reconfiguring Terminal 2, making it hard to see all three. There are also displays with a nice explanation of their meaning, how they were made, and an artist’s bio.” A unique part of the $49 million work was the mural created by Coze, a Lebanon-born artist who moved to Phoenix in 1951, where he founded an art school and created eight other public art pieces in the city. The mural represents Phoenix’s past, present, and future, which took Coze 18 months to complete, for which he received $10,000. The artwork relocation is part of Stantec’s more extensive project, which includes Terminal 2 demolition and the subsequent construction of a new aircraft parking apron. Terminal 2, which closed in

Top: The Phoenix mural from the spotting scopes. Above: Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, Director of Aviation Services Chad Makovsky, Vice Mayor Carlos Garcia, Phoenix City Councilwoman Betty Guardado, Phoenix City Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari, and Terry Cole of Kiewit Construction (l-r) at The Phoenix mural unveiling.

February 2020, outlived its intended life by about 20 years. Its removal provides space for larger aircraft operations and parking positions near the Terminal 3 South Concourse. Arizona Contractor & Community


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Images courtesy of Sky Harbor International Airport

“We started design work in January 2019,” Richard Zych, Stantec Project Manager of the Terminal 2 Project, says. “Phase 1 of the project included the concourse demolition and replacement of the existing apron. Phase 2 of the project entailed the demolition of the terminal processor and ticketing and baggage make-up building areas, as well as the mural relocation.”

Employee Profile: Richard Zych Senior Associate Experience: 22 years at Stantec. Favorite job task: Being able to design a project “on paper” and then actually turn that design into something tangible in the field. I find great reward in accomplishing design and construction management and seeing the project through to the end. Toughest job task: Pulling all the pieces together on poorly defined projects, working on multidiscipline projects with a lot of moving parts, and working within a changing environment like an aircraft operating area. I embrace the challenges and feel a great sense of accomplishment upon completion. Most memorable day of work: My 20-year service award at Stantec was attended by senior management from Las Vegas, followed by lunch with my office colleagues. Favorite off-job task: I love the outdoors and hike, ride my mountain bike, dune buggy and motorcycle, restore classic cars, and grill in my outdoor kitchen. arizcc.com

Construction began in February 2020 and is slated to be completed in early 2022. The mural was one of the most interesting aspects of the $49 million project. “The removal, preservation, and reinstallation of this iconic artwork was truly a oncein-a-lifetime project,” said Mark Koester, Stantec principal and senior airport engineer. “There was unique coordination and a special variety of skills needed to give The Phoenix a new home. It’s wonderful to see this part of the community and airport history continue in a prominent place for many to see and appreciate.” Moving the mural 16-by-25 feet mural panels from Terminal 2 necessitated removing the wall behind them. A steel support structure was used as the panels were lowered onto a flatbed trailer. This was done at night to protect them from weather extremes. The mural was stored in an airport hangar until the new location at the Rental Car Center was ready. Stantec designed a new wall specifically for the artwork at the Rental Car Center, including special lighting to highlight the beauty of the mural. “Because the mural was so fragile in its original condition, the team worked with a specialty art curator and the International Chimney Corporation, which specializes in historical architecture and artwork, to ensure the safe removal and relocation of the mural while preserving its integrity,” Zych, says. The International Chimney Corporation was involved in the original study of the mural’s relocation. According to Zych, the company was on the team to perform the temporary mural structural support and transportation of the mural from its original position. An art conservator from the McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory

Above: Moving and reinstallation of The Phoenix mural. Below: Middle panel of The Phoenix mural.

helped prepare and clean the artwork in its final location. The Rental Car Center provides essential context to the mural with display cases that showcase historical documents, models for specific mural details, and interpretive text. Visitors can use spotting scopes to examine the mural’s elements in detail. The Stantec design team provided civil engineering, architecture, lighting design, and construction administration and inspection services, including documentation of the move by one of the firm’s art historians. “This was an incredibly challenging and rewarding project, and one that truly belongs to the city of Phoenix and its visitors,” Zych says. “There was unique coordination and a special variety of skills needed to give The Phoenix a new home. It’s wonderful to see this cherished artwork provided with a new spotlight.”

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en Goddard, CEO of BPG, a design-build telecommunication infrastructure company, knows a thing or two about communication. So it wasn’t much of a pivot for him to connect with a different audience at the Arizona Construction Career Days (AZCCD) event held in November 2021 in Papago Park. “His passion for the industry showed while he talked to the students, as it does every time he welcomes employees during new hire orientation,” Todd Heaton, BPG director of employee resources, says. “Ben


is a firm believer in Building Tomorrow’s Workforce Today.” AZCCD is the largest construction event for high school students throughout Arizona, which provides hands-on construction experience. Schools travel from all across the state to attend the event, which celebrated its 20th anniversary. “BPG supports the need for students to understand the many career opportunities available in the construction industry and for teachers and career counselors to advise students accordingly of their options,” Heaton says. Heaton adds that since this was BPG’s first year as a sponsor and an exhibitor, the company did not quite know what to expect. “So we brought it all!” he declares.

Above: Ben Goddard, CEO of BPG, talking to students at the construction career event.

“Our fleet for show-and-tell, our many knowledgeable employees for each division (Design, Construction, Technologies, and Electric), and representatives to answer questions on career opportunities, benefits, and salary ranges.” BPG’s booth also allowed students to experience hands-on construction activities, a spinning wheel to win gift cards and BPG-branded items, and a contest, a wordplay on BPG. “It was such a pleasure to see the excitement and engagement of the students, as well as meeting teachers and career advisors that have the best interest of their students at heart,” Heaton says. For those students who missed the event, a career guide, which contains information for employment and technical education, trades, and expected salaries, can be downloaded from the AZCCD website. “BPG also features a career guide on our website to guide students interested in pursuing a career with our company,” Heaton says. BPG, currently located in Tempe, was founded in Phoenix in 2000 and now has offices in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Heaton gives credit to the team effort it took to put on this two-day event. “We want to thank the Association for Construction Career Development, the Arizona National Guard, the volunteers, and BPG employees who participated in the event and worked behind the scenes to make it a success,” he says. “We look forward to attending again in 2022.” Arizona Contractor & Community

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January February 2022




Images courtesy of McCarthy

rlington, Arizona, along the fertile floodplains where the Hassayampa and Gila rivers meet west of Buckeye in Maricopa County, is mostly verdant green irrigated fields of cotton and alfalfa. But a new crop was planted this fall: rows and rows of solar panels providing clean, renewable energy. “Building solar plants in sunny Arizona has always made sense, and the fact that we were able to recruit and train more than 250 workers from the local community for careers in this rapidly expanding industry makes this project even more impactful,” says Scott Canada, senior vice president of the Renewable Energy and Storage group at McCarthy Building Companies. McCarthy recently completed construction and final commissioning of Sun Streams 2, a 200-megawatt solar project.


Located on more than 1,000 acres, McCarthy’s Renewable Energy and Storage Group served as Engineer, Procure, Construct contractor for the project, now owned by Longroad Energy, a U.S.-based renewable energy developer, owner, and operator. “Longroad was a great partner to have on the final construction and commissioning of this solar project, in part because we share a commitment to bringing solar power and its economic benefits to communities across the nation,” Canada says. “We’re looking forward to future partnerships with them as they expand their footprint in Arizona and elsewhere.” Sun Streams 2 has more than 450,000 First Solar Series 6 modules, including room for a substation expansion. McCarthy’s self-perform field forces installed all modules, 5,805 NEXTracker trackers, 53 SMA MWPS-4000 inverter skids, DC wiring and combiner boxes, and underground 34.5 kV AC collection wiring. McCarthy recruited employees for the

Top left: Sun Streams 2 solar energy plant with the Palo Verde Nuclear Plant in the background. Above: McCarthy employees at Sun Streams 2 with Saddle Mountain in the background. Bottom left: Employees at McCarthy flex their muscles at Sun Streams 2.

project in Buckeye and Goodyear, which allowed locals an entryway into careers in clean energy. In addition, McCarthy employs extensive hands-on training and mentorship to assist entry-level craft workers and those with limited experience in solar construction in developing the skills needed to launch their careers in the growing clean energy industry. Sun Streams 2 is one of four Maricopa County-based projects that Longroad acquired from First Solar in February 2021. The photovoltaics and storage portfolio totals approximately 900 megawatts with the potential for 1-2 gigawatts of battery storage. Sun Streams 3, 4, and 5 are development projects with target operational dates between 2023 and 2025. These projects are ideally positioned to accommodate a variety of offtake structures, with or without storage. In addition, the projects are expected to generate over $40 million for Arizona schools via a long-term lease with the Arizona State Land Department and over $5 million in tax revenue. “We are extremely pleased with the completion and commercial operation of Sun Streams 2. McCarthy’s performance on this project was exemplary. We look forward to working on many more projects with them in Arizona and across the U.S.,” Michael Alvarez, COO of Longroad Energy, says.

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Images courtesy of Marty Ley

$125 million, 16-story hotel that will create new jobs, enrich community life, and bring some of the largest conference space in Tempe broke ground last month at a ceremony with Arizona State University President Michael Crow and Mayor Corey Woods in attendance. The Omni Tempe Hotel at ASU will be the first four-star hotel and conference center in downtown Tempe, providing more than 330 rooms and 30,000 gross square feet of meeting and event space at 7 East University Drive. The hotel is a public-private partnership with ASU and the City of Tempe. Woods said it would significantly complete the vital intersection at the southeast corner of University and Mill Avenue. “This hotel is not only a collaborative effort that will have a significant benefit to our community but this prominent corner will ultimately be developed into a thriving and bustling space, accessible to locals and visitors,” Woods said at the ceremony. “I look forward to the synergy that is created with the organizations, businesses, teams, and families that will come to enjoy Omni in Tempe.” Omni will develop the hotel in collaboration with a team of hospitality professionals, including C+TC Design Studio, Inc. (architect), Brasfield & Gorrie (general contractor), and Monogram at BBGM (interior design). “We are excited that the hotel incorporates many design strategies unique to the program and locale,” C+TC Design Studio architect William Cox said. “One of our design strategies is to incorporate various screening elements and setbacks along the ground plane, which are implemented to establish microclimates of natural cooling for the inhabitation of outdoor spaces. These setbacks enhance the hotel’s loca-


tion in a pedestrian-heavy area and create an opportunity to provide various accessible circulation paths through a shaded network.” According to Cox, most of the design team is local, and all partners have worked well together and hope to complete more projects in the future. “Omni Hotels & Resorts enhance the communities they serve, and the Tempe hotel will maintain that legacy,” said Brasfield & Gorrie Vice President and Division Manager Mike Foushee. “The hotel’s location, at the heart of the city and on the campus of Arizona State, will encourage continued growth in Tempe’s revitalized downtown.” Brasfield & Gorrie is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama and is one of the nation’s largest construction firms, providing general contracting, design-build, and construction management services. The project will be completed by April 2023 and is expected to impact ASU’s Tempe campus immediately. “Since the hotel will be on campus, it will provide lodging and meeting space to host campus visitors and a wide range of university events and conferences,” ASU executive vice president, treasurer, and chief financial officer Morgan R. Olsen said.

Above: Arizona State University President Michael Crow; Tempe Mayor Corey Woods; Sparky the Sun Devil; Peter Strebel, president of Omni Hotels & Resorts; Regent Bill Ridenour, Arizona Board of Regents; John Creer, VP of Real Estate at ASU (l-r). Below: Renderings of Omni Tempe Hotel at ASU.



“It has not been possible to accommodate all of these events and conferences in the past.” Olsen said that he is confident that Omni will deliver a great experience to the visitors drawn to ASU and downtown Tempe and serve as “a great complement to our cultural and educational assets, shopping entertainment venues, and thriving businesses.” The lifestyle hotel will have four culinary outlets that serve different purposes, including a coffee bar that transitions into a cocktail bar at night and a pool bar with a view of the Tempe skyline. In addition, the hotel’s design will highlight Tempe’s cultural landscape and ASU’s modern feel with works from local artists. Omni will pay for the construction of the hotel from their corporate resources. ASU will pay around $19.5 million to construct the conference center, funded by proceeds of the ground lease to Omni Hotels. “The City of Tempe and ASU have created an excellent environment for students, visitors, and locals, and we are thrilled to be a part of this exciting time of growth and change in the Tempe community,” President of Omni Hotel & Resorts Peter Strebel said at the ceremony. “Omni is a recognized leader in the destination hotel market, constantly redefining and reimagining the traditional city-center hotel as well as luxury resorts. We look forward to bringing an entirely new hospitality and meetings experience to the city that will further put Tempe on the map as a destination.” Arizona Contractor & Community


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he Black Hawks of Williams Field High School (WFHS) will be flying high this season thanks to a new 14,524-square-foot field house. The facility was completed by Adolfson & Peterson Construction (AP), a prominent national construction manage-

Employee Profile: Steven Reamer Project Engineer Experience: 1 year at Adolfson & Peterson Construction Southwest

ment firm and general contractor for the Higley Unified School District. The company employed its “hurry-up” offense to finish the project. “Despite weather and pandemic related labor and materials delays, AP Southwest was able to deliver the replacement facility before the start of WFHS’s football season,” Justin Luera, the firm’s spokesperson, says. AP has maintained an office in Phoenix for 30 years and has a long

history of providing construction management services for K-12 education clients in the region. Designed by Orcutt | Winslow, the WFHS project included the demolition of an existing concession stand, new landscaping, and the construction of a field house. The new facility features offices, office storage, and a conference room for WFHS athletics coaches and administration; field storage, showers, restrooms, locker rooms,

to accomplish. My mind is constantly looking for solutions, even when I’m off work. I keep a notepad on my nightstand to make notes when something pops into my head, even at 2 a.m.

Top and bottom: Williams Field High School Field House. Below: Gateway to Williams Air Force Base, 1950s.

Most memorable day of work: My interview with AP’s Vice President of Operations Scott Salyer, who came off as a genuine and honest person who really seemed invested in me as an employee. After the interview, which was more like two old friends catching up, he walked me through the office, introducing me to other employees. I thought, “This is a company where I can have a long-term career and continue to grow.”

Favorite job task: One of the most rewarding aspects of my job duties is getting down to the granular level of the blueprints, right to the nuts and bolts of the project, and realizing that “Whoa, this isn’t going to work.” The enjoyable part is working in the field with the trade partners and figuring out how we make the plans work, whether through an RFI Favorite off-job task: I spend as much or involving the architect and engineering time as possible playing my various guiteams. tars and tweaking the equipment to suit the genre of music I’m playing. My wife Toughest job task: Time management; and I also enjoy getting off the grid with it seems there are not enough hours in the day to get the tasks completed I want camping and hunting trips in northern Arizona with our friends. arizcc.com

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Above: Williams Field High School Field House.

a training room, a laundry room, and a team room for student-athletes; and a new concession stand for spectators. “AP Southwest is pleased to deliver a new field house fit for state champions. Williams Field High School’s athletes and staff now have what they need for another winning season,” Scott Salyer, vice president of operations for AP Southwest, says. “As K-12 districts across Arizona look to resume capital improvement projects like this one, AP is well poised to deliver on those plans in a safe, timely manner.” The Higley Unified School District awarded the field house replacement project to AP in July 2020, which began construction two months later in September. “This project is very important for our school and specifically our outdoor sports teams,” Darrell Stangle, athletic director for WFHS, says. “The new field house will provide students and coaches with modern locker rooms and meeting rooms, as well as easier access to restrooms and the training room. This is just another example of our school board and District office’s commitment to providing students with first-class facilities that enable them to grow into a better version of themselves every day.” The Higley Unified School District financed the field house replacement with funds from its $70 million bond program approved by voters in 2013. WFHS, which has state championship titles in football, marching band, and wrestling, has also been honored academically. U.S. News and World Report included it four times on its “Best American Schools” list, and The Washington Post listed it as among its “America’s Most Challenging Schools” in 2015. “Everyone is excited about the new field house,” Cole Norman, a sophomore and member of WFHS’s football and baseball teams, says. “It’s made Williams Field High School more than just a football school as well as a bigger target for great athletes. The future of William’s Field athletics is bright.” arizcc.com

Employee Profile: John Broughton Project Superintendent Experience: 3 years at KE&G Construction Favorite job task: Meeting new challenges and working with team members to solve them. Toughest job task: Given the current supply chain issues, a big challenge is the availability and delivery of materials. At times, finding qualified personnel can be a real challenge, and this can put more of a workload on our employees to get projects built on time and on budget. Most memorable day of work: It’s too difficult to pinpoint a specific day, as most are good working at a company like KE&G. The people are great, management is the best I’ve worked with, and the company cares about its employees. In addition, being an ESOP company does make me feel like one of the owners. Favorite off-job task: Spending time with my family, doing remodeling projects with my wife, and camping and ATV riding with my son. On my own, I enjoy golfing and skeet shooting.

Images courtesy of KE&G


onstruction crews can plan for just about every contingency or challenge on a project. KE&G Construction, Inc., a Tucson firm founded in 1972, experienced the effects of Mother Nature last summer while building a new pit dewatering pipeline at an undisclosed mine in Arizona. “The project replaced an existing pit dewatering pipeline, which conflicted with future pit expansion,” Matt Nehrmeyer, KE&G’s Mining Division Manager, says. “The new pipeline takes a different path and includes intermediate booster pump connections, road crossings, and steep terrain.” Work was progressing on schedule and was approximately 75 percent completed when the late summer monsoon


Image courtesy of Adolfson & Peterson Construction


Matt Nehrmeyer

arrived. “The rains were our biggest challenge, and they came in heavy,” Nehrmeyer says. “Right away, the storms caused deep erosion to access roads and effectively shut the project down for a month. After we reestablished access, the pipe had to be pulled out of canyons, dug out of small landslides, and cleaned of debris.” Besides the weather, KE&G found installing the pipeline at the mine over some rugged terrain extremely challenging and utilized all their team’s skills. “Our crew had to think outside of the box to find ways to install pipe up very steep slopes safely,” Nehrmeyer says. “Luckily, we had the support of the mine personnel and used them as a resource to ensure each strategy had taken into account the necessary safeguards.” According to Nehrmeyer, coordinating with the ongoing mining activity was also vital to avoid accidents. “Most notably was the haul truck traffic, which required advanced coordination with mining operations to ensure the timing of the interaction would not put construction activity and haulage activity in the same place at the same time,” he says. Despite the difficulty of the work, KE&G completed the majority of the project without outside help. “We needed to get some outside help for labor at the beginning of the project due to a very accelerated start date, but other than that, we completed this project without subcontractors,” Nehrmeyer says. Nehrmeyer is proud of the work his crew performed during the installation of the pit dewatering pipeline. “It is worth mentioning that the success of this project was absolutely the result of the passion and dedication of all those involved,” he says. “It is always refreshing to work with a team that was committed to success and more than willing to provide support if and when needed.” Arizona Contractor & Community










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“Being part of this team, collaborating with the District, West-MEC, One! Architecture, consultants, and our trade partners to deliver this important and valuable project to serve the students of DUSD in a new way has been incredibly rewarding,” Jared Storms, project director at McCarthy, says. “I know I speak for everyone at McCarthy and each person who was fortunate to be part of making this project a reality. Thank you and congratulations!”

Images courtesy of McCarthy

ichard M. Nixon was the U.S. president, the Dodge Challenger debuted as America’s most popular car, and Dysart High School was a mere seven years old when its auto shop classroom first opened in El Mirage. While the school had updated the equipment inside the building over the years, the infrastructure needed refurbishing for more than 125 Career and Technical Education (CTE) students in the Automotive Technology program. Enter McCarthy Building Companies. The construction firm recently completed a remodel of the Dysart Unified School District facility. The school hosted a re-opening ceremony to celebrate the facelift in October 2021. “This facility is a valuable, hands-on learning lab for students in the community,” Jim Grieshaber, Career and Techni-

cal Education Director, says. “This newly remodeled building will provide critical industry training that will prepare students to be valuable assets in the automotive technology industry.” McCarthy expanded the building by 1,200 square feet with added storage space. The work included adding a new simulation lab and entrance, bathrooms, a new eye- and a hand-washing station, and classroom updates such as windows for the shop area. New systems such as evaporative coolers, a heat pump, exhaust fans, fire alarm, and IT were installed. Additionally, the building received new roofing, insulation, wiring, interior and exterior paint, doors, hardware and garage door openers and the concrete floors were ground and polished. The complete project cost $893,173 and was funded through a West-MEC grant and district CTE funds. McCarthy managed the construction project and One! Architecture designed the remodel/expansion.


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aving an affinity for Phoenix’s impressive mid-century architecture comes easily for many in the construction industry. Performing the actual dirty work of preserving this unique heritage, however, requires a tad more passion, especially when the task requires moving 325,000 pounds of delicate precast concrete. Fortunately, one firm stepped up who had both the enthusiasm for architectural panels and a skilled crew capable of sal-

Images courtesy of 180 Degrees Design + Build

Below: Original sketches for flame and lightning motifs used in the panels.


vaging them: 180 Degrees Design + Build. James Trahan AIA, principal and partner, states, “Our work not only kept some of Phoenix’s irreplaceable mid-century architectural heritage out of a landfill but provides our company the opportunity to reuse them in new projects around the Valley.” How Trahan acquired these panels is an intriguing architectural tale that starts during the Great Depression. The story begins with the late architect Fred Guirey, who moved to Arizona after graduating with an architecture degree from the University of California-Berkeley in 1933. His parents had already relocated to Tucson for health reasons, and he had frequently visited the state for jobs, including helping engineer the road from Jacob Lake to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in 1930, according to https://modernphoe-

nix.net/guirey/images/FredGuirey_ModernPhoenix.pdf. For nine years, Guirey worked as a landscape architect with the Arizona Highway Department, eventually becoming a director and acquiring the nickname, “The Father of Our Roadside Rest Areas.” He and his wife, Catherine “Tat” Bolen, were active in the community and threw elaborate parties at their home at 300 East Missouri Avenue. Guirey started his own firm in partnership with Stan Quist in 1946. By 1961, after going through several more iterations, the firm was known as Guirey, Srnka & Arnold. According to Wikipedia, the architectural group’s office was at 506 East Camelback Road, which Guirey had designed in 1952. Guirey and his associates had designed homes, schools, and other buildings when they received the commission in 1961 to be the architect for the Arizona Public Service administrative building in Deer Valley at 2124 West Cheryl Drive. Frank Foltz & Associates were the project’s structural engineers, while Johannessen & Girand were the consulting engineers. The most noteworthy feature of the building was the precast concrete panels attached to the exterior and used to shade the entire glass façade, including an entry walkway. The panels feature flame and lightning motifs, appropriate for a power company. “They’re amazing designs and drawings, to say the least,” Trahan says. Over the next 60 years, several panels over the walkway developed hairline cracks, making them a safety hazard. So, with safety in mind, APS had those panels removed. When APS decided to renovate its building, they found that replicating the damaged panels would be prohibitively expensive. “They decided to create an aluArizona Contractor & Community




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CONSTRUCTION AROUND ARIZONA Projects Images courtesy of 180 Degrees Design + Build

minum composite on the exterior instead of new pre-cast panels,” Trahan says. Unfortunately, that made the remainder of the precast concrete panels expendable, and the landfill became a likely final destination. Alison King, the founder of ModernPhoenix.net, was the first to hear of the panels’ fate. The decision to remove the screens had already been made. Ryan Ferguson of McCarthy Building Companies, a local builder on the project, recognized their significance and reached out to see if there was any interest in re-use. “It’s not uncommon for Modern Phoenix to be contacted by total strangers who are interested in saving Modern cultural resources,” says King. “But when I heard about the scope of the screen removal and wrapped my head around how heavy and technical the screens would be to remove, I had to think about who could step in and coordinate such a large-scale rescue.”


“For security reasons, the APS campus is gated and closed to the public. So the average citizen can’t just walk up and experience this architecture for themselves,” says King. “Many Modernism enthusiasts didn’t even know these panels existed or have only seen them in photographs! They were custom-crafted specifically to stand as an expression of APS’ role in providing utilities to an exploding metropolis. The flame motif is especially clever as a subtle reminder of their service.” King had to act quickly, as removal was described as imminent. So she scrolled through the Modern Rolodex in her mind. “I called 180 Degrees Design + Build first for their skill in historic preservation. They had the specialized workforce, equipment, and vehicles for dismantling and storing literally 325,000 pounds of material skillfully,” says King. “She’s the most knowledgeable person about mid-century architecture in Phoe-

nix,” Trahan says. Trahan then contacted David Ramirez, an APS Project Manager for APS Facilities Design & Construction, about salvaging the panels. “We’ll take as many as you don’t want!” In the end, 180 Degrees Design + Build collected 86 panels, each weighing 3,800 pounds, while APS retained around 20 panels for use around their building. The project went smoothly, according to Trahan. “Evan Emery and Mikhail Gladchenko led the charge along with Casey Fowler and Jesus Carillo of 180, running a smooth snatch and grab,” he says. “We craned the panels off and layered them on a flatbed truck, and they’re safely stored awaiting their next life.” Desert Services coordinated the removal of the panels from the building, and Marco Crane & Rigging provided their expertise and experience. Ramirez’s coordination from the APS side was the key to making this venture successful. So, what’s 180 Degrees going to do with this treasure trove of mid-century precast concrete? “We have 25-30 panels reallocated for use on a project for Elite Family Service located in Chandler,” Trahan says. “We hope to utilize the others in future jobs, but if others have any projects that these might be a good fit for, please do reach out to me.” Asked what it was like to preserve 165 tons of mid-century heritage, Trahan says, “It was an expensive operation even though the panels were free.” For years, Trahan has served on the Rio Salado Architecture Foundation’s Archives Committee. Typically, the committee conserves and archives architectural drawings of prominent Arizona architects, but these panels were entirely different in scale. The mission, however, was the same, to salvage our architectural heritage at any expense.

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Thirty Eight

January February 2022




hank goodness for ping pong tables.

Images courtesy of Author

No, CHASSE Building Team Vice President and Project Director Fred Bueler doesn’t play professional ping pong when not leading teams in the construction and remodeling of K-12 schools across the Valley. “I actually got interested in building in the first place after years of using my family’s ping pong table as a space for my thousands of Legos,” says Bueler, known for his team’s work on Scottsdale’s Cheyenne Traditional School, Phoenix’s Madison Meadows Middle School and both Tempe’s Wood and Frank Elementary Schools, among others. Fast forward to February 2001. “That’s when I visited the snowless ASU while looking into colleges. As you can imagine, I immediately decided to trade the snow for sunshine,” says the Missouri native, who earned his degree in civil engineering with a concentration in construction in 2006 and worked with Foursite before joining CHASSE in 2008. The family-owned business - both the 2020 Tempe Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year and a 2021 AZ Business Magazine Most Admired Company - not only gave Bueler a career but a deeper purpose he continues to explore today. “Our team is focused on ‘building to make a difference,’” says Bueler. “This extends to what we believe in doing for the community as well. And because we are a sustainable and profitable company, we must maximize our ability to make a positive difference in the community we serve.” Once comfortable in his workload – and while growing his family with his wife Joelle to include three young sons – Bueler began to extend his company’s philosophy into other areas of his life. “I volunteered for several years with the Scottsdale Active 20-30 Club, at one point chairing both

Brokers for Kids and Agents Benefitting Children, two of the organization’s biggest events,” says Bueler. When Bueler completed his service to the organization in 2016, he began to volunteer as a member of the Scottsdale Charros. “Our mission is to serve as Scottsdale’s Goodwill Ambassadors while raising funds via Spring Training and other outlets so we can make annual grants and donations to organizations in need with a clear focus on education,” says Bueler. “Currently, I am the 2022 Baseball Chairman for the spring training at Scottsdale Stadium, home of the San Francisco Giants.” Come March, Bueler and his fellow members will host the iconic Charro Lodge located in right field of the Scottsdale Stadium. It’s a one-of-kind spring training experience for fans and guests. “Through the event, the work we are able to do is significant,” says Bueler. It includes the funding of: • The Future Teacher Scholarship, • Education Grants, • Outstanding Student and Educator Awards, and • Scottsdale Community College Scholarships. The event also provides grants to dozens of local non-profit charities every year

that support programs for youth, education, arts, sports, and health throughout the Greater Scottsdale Area and surrounding community. Bueler is also actively involved in one of CHASSE’s biggest philanthropic programs. “In an effort to enhance the construction process on school campuses where we are working, we engage the actual students through our own STEM-based program,” says Bueler. The program, for which Bueler serves as the volunteer chair, helps implement a background in construction in schools. This curriculum includes classroom instruction and assemblies, allowing students to learn about the construction process, have firsthand experience on the construction of their new school, and learn about the different career paths the construction industry offers. “For example, for an entire school year, we held school-wide student assemblies on campus at Frank Elementary School to introduce students to topics like construction and STEM,” says Bueler. “The presentations talked about all the different components that make up a construction site. We talked about surveying, concrete, masonry, roofers, electricians, and so much more.” Students also learned all about safety on projects sites, especially on their school campus. “The kids, in fact, even had a hand in designing some of the elements on campus, including the outdoor amphitheater and outdoor learning spaces,” says Bueler. “Given all I had were Legos and that ping pong table, I’d say they are lightyears ahead of me!” Top right: Fred Bueler at work. Top left: CHASSE Building Team project director Fred Bueler and Tempe Elementary School District superintendent Christine Busch at a Little Free Library. Left: Charro Lodge at Scottsdale Stadium.


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with a byproduct of the chemical reaction • It reduces the chemical reaction between cement and water to form a secbetween cement and certain aggreLuke M. Snell, P.E ondary cement. gates, which results in less cracking There are many advantages to using fly and deterioration, and hese days, adding fly ash to concrete is ash in concrete: • It slows the setting time of the constandard practice. Research has shown crete, allowing more time to finish that fly ash is a supplementary cementi- • Less cement is required, which reduces projects in hot weather. tious material (SCM) that can replace part the cost of concrete, of the cement in concrete. Thus, batch • The resulting concrete is easier to plants can provide a more environmentally place and pump since fly ash has a Top left: A fly ash dump at a coal-fired friendly and durable concrete, often at a spherical shape and will increase the powerplant. lower cost. As the costs of fly ash increase, slump of the fresh concrete, Top right: A microscopic image of rounded fly let’s review its history, benefits, and future • The resulting concrete is more durable ash particles. as an additive in concrete. since fly ash fills the voids making it Above: Fly ash. Below: Sacks of fly ash loaded onto semiFly ash is created when coal is burned less permeable, trailer truck, 1999. at a power plant. The resulting very fine ash initially “flew” out of the smokestacks, hence its name. However, since fly ash was an atmospheric pollutant, environmental regulations later required power plants to capture it, which they disposed of in ponds or dumps. In the early 1900s, using fly ash in concrete was found to be effective as a partial cement replacement. However, it took decades for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to use it on large construction projects. A Hoover Dam spillway, and the Hungry Horse Dam in Montana in 1953, were the first significant occurrences of fly ash used by the agency. Afterward, fly ash became routinely added to concrete, but most was still landfilled. The abundance of fly ash kept its price low. Although the use of fly ash is considered a 20th-century discovery, its use began with the Roman Empire. Roman engineers discovered that adding volcanic ash, the equivalent of modern fly ash, produced superior concrete. However, they didn’t know that the ash was reacting

Fly Ash in Concrete

Image courtesy of Salt River Materials Group



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January February 2022


Image courtesy of Salt River Materials Group

Image courtesy of National Precast Concrete Association


crete is almost a necessity in much of the Grand Canyon State. For more information on using fly ash in concrete, see “Optimizing the Use of Fly Ash in Concrete” by Michael Thomas.

Top left: Fly ash. Above: Fly ash as part of ready-mix concrete supplied by Phoenix Cement Salt Rive Materials Group, 1996.

New Legislation Eases Advertising Requirements for Licensed Contractors

appear directly on the home page of the website (other than in the footer);

are clearly visible without obstruction from photos or other graphics; and

appear in an appropriate font size.

Please note that the new exception applies only to internet, broadcast, and outdoor advertising. Contractors are still required to display their R.O.C. license numbers on all written bids, estimates, print advertising, letterhead, and any other documents used to communicate with customers or potential customers.

Jason Clark


or years, Arizona law required licensed contractors to display their Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ROC) license number on “all broadcast, published, internet or billboard advertising, letterheads and other documents used by the licensee to correspond with the licensee’s customers Jason Clark is an attorney with Lang & or potential customers.” While including the license number in Klain, an award-winning Scottsdale legal printed media was not a burden, working firm specializing in construction law. it into other forms of advertising – particularly broadcasting – posed some significant challenges. No longer. In March 2021, Governor Ducey signed into law H.B. 2545, which provides an exception to the long-standing advertising requirement. Specifically, licensed contractors are excused from displaying or mentioning their license number on broadcast, internet, or billboard advertising (including vehicle signage) if the ad includes a web address that “prominently displays the licensee’s name and license number.” (See the revised A.R.S. § 32-1124.) For these purposes, effective September 29, 2022, the R.O.C. has explained that a licensee’s name and R.O.C. license number are “prominently displayed” if they: Image courtesy of Lang & Klain

Not all fly ash is suitable for concrete use, as it must meet the standards stated in ASTM C618, “Standard Specification for Coal Fly Ash and Raw or Calcined Natural Pozzolan for Use in Concrete.” A critical factor is the percent carbon in the fly ash, which must be less than 6 percent. Older power plants are sometimes inefficient in burning coal and cannot meet this standard. A recent issue is the availability of fly ash, as many power plants are switching from coal to cheaper fuel sources and no longer produce fly ash. Fly ash is imported from China and India in the Middle East because their power plants use natural gas and oil. In response, Saudi Arabia is considering grinding volcanic material as a substitute for fly ash, a technique used by the Romans. The demand for fly ash in concrete is expected to increase; thus, new sources are needed. The most promising one is the beneficiation of fly ash, where previously discarded fly ash is processed for concrete use. Procedures include controlling the fineness and percent carbon of the fly ash. Each region of the U.S. is adjusting to the availability of fly ash. For example, fly ash is tough to obtain in Ohio, so cement or blended cement is used in mixes. In Missouri, the price of fly ash is about 40 percent that of cement, so using it results in considerable cost savings. In Arizona, the cost of fly ash and cement is roughly equal, but using fly ash provides many benefits to the concrete. These include helping control the alkali-silica reaction from some aggregates, and increasing the concrete’s setting time, which allows for a longer finishing time in Arizona’s hot weather. Using fly ash in con-

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Cory Jorbin.

Pitfalls to Avoid When Offering Hiring Incentives Cory Jorbin


t’s no secret that the labor market is very tight in specific industries and regions of the country. Currently, the unemployment rate stands at 5.2 percent, which isn’t too far off from pre-pandemic numbers from early 2020. In response to the seemingly endless search to recruit and retain talent, employers are now looking for creative ways to attract new employees and keep existing ones. Here are some examples of incentives some employers have used, and others may want to consider. 1. Cash is often the first tool at the disposal of employers to try to attract and retain talent. Signing bonuses, increased wages, guaranteed pay increases, and retention bonuses for existing employees are a few of the ways companies can use cash. Just because cash is “easy” doesn’t mean it’s without potential pitfalls. For example, offering signing bonuses to employees in certain roles today may foster resentment from employees hired into those same roles in the previous month. Likewise, employers who increase wages

for new employees without comparative increases for existing employees in those same roles may see the same result. 2. Retention bonuses for existing employees who agree to remain employed until a specific date may help retain existing staff; however, they have a limited shelf life. These agreements essentially buy the employee’s loyalty only for a while. Once that time expires, the employee may or may not remain loyal. Guaranteed pay increases based on tenure could attract some employees, particularly if the positions generally have high turnover and attrition is due to pay. However, employees who separate before a guaranteed raise won’t see any benefit from such a program. 3. Employee benefits are another tool employers can potentially use to attract employees. Employers can enhance benefit offerings, adjust employee contributions towards benefits, or even offer more generous benefit eligibility. Of course, employers must make sure any changes are compliant with the relevant regulations to avoid risk down the road. For example, employers can’t waive plan eligibility waiting periods without approval from their insurance or stop-loss

carriers. As a workaround, employers can offer to pay COBRA premiums for new hires within their waiting periods. However, direct payment of premiums by the new employer isn’t recommended. Instead, the new employer should pay additional wages to the employee to cover the cost of COBRA instead of paying for COBRA directly, as this removes the new employer from responsibility for managing payments. Offering the same benefits at a lower cost to new hires may sound appealing. However, this may alienate existing employees and potentially conflict with nondiscrimination rules. A potential workaround for employers is to enhance or expand their current offerings and have any changes apply equally to all eligible employees. Employers are urged to consider the big picture when considering incentives, not just the target population for receiving the incentive. As long as this challenging labor market exists, employers will surely become more creative with incentives to attract and retain talent. Of course, there’s no one size fits all approach, and different methods may be better suited to individual employees. However, the one requirement is that whichever path employers choose to take, they are advised to consult with their relevant professional resources such as attorneys, CPAs, and insurance brokers before implementing an incentive strategy.

Image courtesy of Marks Nelson CPA

Cory Jorbin is Chief Compliance Officer, West Region Employee Benefits for Hub International, where he provides day-today compliance support to account teams and clients of all sizes on ERISA, ACA, Cafeteria Plans, HIPAA, FMLA, and related matters. In addition, he presents on associated topics before employer groups, professional associations, client meetings, and webinars. Cory is a licensed attorney in Illinois and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Tax Court. arizcc.com

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forty six

January February 2022



he rock group Steppenwolf invited listeners on a journey “where fantasy will you set you free” in their single, “Magic Carpet Ride,” which soared to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968. The song was allegedly about a drug trip, but many youngsters accomplished a similar experience courtesy of gravity, a burlap potato sack, and a slick surface. Like many other 1960s fads such as skateboards, trampolines, and hula hoops, super slides first appeared in Southern Cali-

fornia, and their popularity spread to other Sunbelt states. The big slides were built at amusement parks, fairs, and even vacant lots, including in Phoenix at the southwest corner of Indian School Road and Central Avenue in 1969. Rides were 15 cents apiece, or you could get a dozen for a buck if you caught your parents on a good day or saved your allowance. Patrons grabbed an itchy brown sack, aka their “magic carpet,” and ascended the slide’s staircase. At the top, roughly three stories tall, they launched down in one of the slide’s lanes. Most took their 7-second journey sitting down with

arms and legs stretched out front, sometimes catching air at the humps. Daredevils might fly down the slick surface with their belly on the burlap, while greenhorns suffered friction burns when they inadvertently touched the slide for balance. These days most slides at parks and resorts use water for lubrication; burlap sacks are relegated to the occasional fairground. The water slides are fun and probably safer but they don’t provide the mystical magic carpet experience of Prince Husain, who jetted around to distant lands on one in the Middle Eastern folk story collection, One Thousand and One Nights.

Images courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

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January February 2022





ew in the construction industry have such a rags-to-riches story as Delbert “Del” Eugene Webb. A few years before the Great Depression, he arrived in Phoenix with not much more than carpentry skills and a strong work ethic. Yet, when he died in 1974, the Del Webb Construction Company was a household name. But Webb did much more than just construction; he created a new housing sector. He’s most known for creating Sun City, located outside Phoenix, the first major development marketed for active retirees in the nation. Webb also transformed the game of baseball, not as a player hoping to make the major leagues but rather as co-owner of its most successful franchise, the New York Yankees. So how did this successful businessman manage to have such an impact on both construction and leisure? It’s a tale of one talented, driven man and his two grand passions. Webb was born in 1899 into a construction family in Fresno, California. His mother, Henrietta, came from a wealthy family. His father, Ernest Webb, was a road builder, president of the San Joaquin Rock and Gravel Company, farmer, rancher, and baseball fan. His son shared his father’s love of America’s Great National Pastime. “By the time he was 13, a beanpole of a kid weighing 130 pounds and standing 6 feet 3 inches, he was considered one of the best first basemen around Fresno, and if he was lucky, sometimes got as much as $2.50 a game by playing on a pick-up, semipro team,” reported Sports Illustrated about Webb in 1960. The Webb family’s fortune went south during the construction of Fresno’s first skyscraper, the Griffith-MacKenzie Building, in 1914. According to the 1991 book, Del Webb: A Man, A Company by Margaret Finnerty, an unscrupulous subcontractor on the project left Ernest Webb close to ruin. The event influenced his son to quit high school after his freshman year to become a carpenter’s apprentice. A skilled craftsman, Webb worked for companies that fielded a baseball team to allow him to play semiprofessional games. As a result, Webb’s earnings as a pitcher and infielder sometimes exceeded his Webb with employees catching a ball, 1950s.

Image courtesy of Del Webb Corp. Photographs, Greater AZ Collection, ASU Library

Images courtesy of Del Webb Corp. Photographs, Greater AZ Collection, ASU Library

Above: Yankees General Manager George Weiss, Del Webb, and Phoenix Senators General Manager Chet Murphy at Phoenix Municipal Stadium during spring train­ing, 1950. Top right: New York Yankees spring training program at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, 1950. Right: Del Webb working as a carpenter.

carpenter’s paycheck. But in 1928, Webb contracted typhoid fever, which effectively ended his Major League dream. After recovering, Webb and his wife of nine years, Hazel Church, moved to Phoenix, lured by his father’s contacts in the aggregate industry. That’s when Webb’s moved up to the major league in the construction industry. After minor projects, Webb’s big break came after he had worked on the Westward Ho Hotel. The hotel’s contractor wanted a carpenter on call at the grand opening, but they had to wear a dark suit. Fortunately, fifty

Webb had one in his wardrobe. That evening, he met A.J. Bayless, who owned Bayless markets. Mr. Bayless mentioned that he had issues with a superintendent who was building one of his stores. “The next day Del went to see him, and Mr. Bayless employed him as the substitute superintendent to run the job,” according to the 1991 book. “He finished that building, and then Bayless wanted to build another, and Webb set up a little company. After that, he was off and running.” Webb set up an office at 218 North Ninth Street in Phoenix. His construction firm grew from that tiny storefront during the 1930s and expanded rapidly with the vast military construction in Arizona during World War II. In 1945, Webb reentered baseball, this time as part-owner of the New York Yankees along with Larry MacPhail and

Dan Topping. The purchase included “The House that Ruth Built,” Yankee Stadium, and minor league teams and stadiums in Newark and Kansas City. The deal brought together Webb’s two passions: construction and baseball, which complimented each other. “I applied the rules of baseball to business,” Webb said, citing boldness, showmanship, calm in a crisis, and teamwork. Tucson developer Roy Drachman detailed Webb’s most crucial baseball contribution in the 1991 book. “He brought business principles to major league baseball. Before that, baseball was a game, and most people involved were not business people…A lot of them [other owners] were, like Topping, rich men, who never did anything in their lives but play. Some were ex-ball players, ex-managers; they didn’t know much about business.” January February 2022

After almost two decades as a successful owner, Webb sold the Yankees in 1964. During that period, the team won 15 American League championships and 10 World Series. Besides changing baseball, Webb altered how people lived in retirement. He opened Sun City in 1960, a senior development situated near the farming community

of Marinette. Although nearby Youngtown, a small housing development, gets the nod for being the first retirement community, Sun City was a bold move for Webb and his company. “Turning our backs on 80 percent of the potential housing market was a big gamble,” Tom Breen, a Webb Corporation vice president, said during the development’s 25th anniversary in 1985. “But it

Top left: Del Webb signs autographs at Phoe­ nix Municipal Stadium during a Yankees spring training game, 1951. Above: The New York Yankees pose with Del Webb wearing his signature fedora at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, 1951. Left: Manager Howard Bartlett, Pitcher Del Webb, Catcher Dave Arata (l-r) and Urbane Pickering (rear) participate in an Old Timers baseball game in Modesto CA., 1959.

Images courtesy of Del Webb Corp. Photographs, Greater AZ Collection, ASU Library

was a leap of faith we were willing to take.” James Boswell, a rancher, owned the land where Webb would build Sun City. Webb committed to purchasing 10,000 acres on the east side of Grand Avenue, and Boswell became a 49 percent partner in a joint venture called the Del E. Webb Development Company. Five model homes, a golf course, recreation center, and shopping center were constructed for the grand opening, set for January 1, 1960. But whether this development would attract homebuyers remained in question. The company promoted its new community in a two-page ad promising “An Active Way of Life!” in The Arizona Republic. More than 100,000 curious visitors arrived during the first three days of Sun City’s grand opening, creating a massive traffic jam that included Del Webb. “We had to drive him over the cotton fields and irrigation ditches,” Owen Childress, a Webb employee, recalled for the 1991 book. “He finally got out there and was greeting people, walking through the sales office, doing a fantastic job.” The company sold 237 houses during the grand opening. Dick Kemp, who worked for the company from 1961-1996, recalls Webb as humble, smart, and kind, but he didn’t always appreciate his employees’ creativity. For example, Kemp organized a groundbreaking ceremony for a hotel on Mission Beach in San Diego. “I was tired of the typical event with people posing with shovels, arizcc.com

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Above: Billboard along Grand Ave. promoting Del Webb’s as yet unnamed Sun City, 1959. Top right: A community baseball game in Sun City, 1968. Below: Contractor Henry Shelton’s Cat DW21 push scrapers and Cat D8 dozer moving dirt for Sunland Park in Sun City, 1963.

because of a chronically sore pitching arm and sickness, he refocused his energy into the construction field, though it was a bittersweet move. “I guess a fellow couldn’t like baseball any more than I did,” Webb told Sports Illustrated in 1960. “But I knew I had to swear off the game forever.” With his construction success, Webb just had to move from the dugout to the owner’s box.

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so I provided little sand shovels and buckets,” he recalls. “Webb didn’t think it was appropriate, but I felt vindicated when Time magazine used that image in an article about him in 1962.”

Webb continued leading his company, which by then was the Del E. Webb Corporation, until he succumbed to lung cancer in 1974. The corporation continues to prosper even though it downsized and eliminated its construction division in 1983. Much of Webb’s success in construction was an outgrowth of the leadership qualities he developed on the baseball diamond, starting when he became manager of the Modesto Merchants at age 16. When his major league aspirations waned

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January February 2022

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January February 2022



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ou see it coming while driving along I-17 in Phoenix near the Dunlap Avenue exit. A bright green and white superstructure of swirling ramps and towers. A white castle and blue domes. A lush, palm tree forest. Then, from the backseat of your car, a young voice asks, “Dad, when are we gonna go back to Castles n’ Coasters?” Castles n’ Coasters—the small but mighty amusement park—has beckoned to families for more than 40 years, offering enchantment to children, thrills to teens, and a fun time for everyone at an affordable price. Within 9-acres, it packs 72 holes of miniature golf, Lil’ Indy go-karts, bumper boats, a game arcade, a zip line and ropes course, and 14 classic amusement park rides, including the only loop roller coaster in Arizona. Castles n’ Coasters is the sixth and final masterwork of George Brimhall, a creative, hands-on entrepreneur. He built a string of Golf n’ Stuff family recreation centers in Southern California (Ventura, Norwalk, Riverside, and Anaheim), Tucson, and Phoenix. Each project was a financial success, and he used the revenue from one to build another. All remain open except for Golf n’ Stuff Anaheim, which was on land reclaimed by Disney to develop its California Adventure Park, and Riverside, which Brimhall sold to fund his Phoenix creation. Brimhall designed his miniature golf courses as imaginative journeys, which was the key to success in the business. In essence, mini-golf is tapping a golf ball just enough times to make it fall into a hole. But it becomes a fun, memorable experience when played while walking up and down, around and through a forest of palm trees with an English castle, Dutch windmill, or Old West town along the way. Miniature golf has featured elements of whimsy and fantasy since its earliest days. Garnet Carter, the owner of Fairyland Inn in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is often credited with building the first such course in 1925. The Inn had a golf course, but Carter felt a “midget” golf course in the garden would provide “a smaller putting course for guests who might not wish to go around the larger circuit.” His little course was much more than a putting green. The holes wanLeft: Golf n’ Stuff, 1978. Arizona Contractor & Community

Images courtesy of Castle n’ Coasters

dered among rocks, trees, hollowed logs, and ponds, with garden gnomes standing watch. Guests loved it so much so that his miniature course was more profitable than the real thing. Carter began to franchise “Tom Thumb Golf” courses in 1927. The game’s popularity has ebbed and flowed, but its heyday came early. During the Roaring ‘20s, miniature golf became a sensation. Movie stars, including Fred Astaire, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks, posed for photos while playing mini-golf. President Herbert Hoover had the U.S. Marines build a course at his summer retreat. By the early 1930s, an estimated 50,000 courses were open, of which 150 were on the roofs of hotels and

other buildings in New York City. Then, the Great Depression and other entertainment options like movies burst the bubble, and most courses closed. In the 1950s and 60s, Don Clayton, a golf enthusiast, franchised a “no frills, all skills” brand called Putt-Putt Golf. Each hole was a par 2, as their length, shape, plus a bump or obstacle made a hole-in-one difficult but possible. Serious putters loved the challenge, and Clayton knew how to promote it. He started by insisting that PuttPutt Golf was a sport, not to be called mini golf, an amusement. As fast as a hole-in-one, Putt-Putt Golf became a real sport. The Professional Putters Association formed and held tour-

naments that awarded impressive prize money. The Putt-Putt Golf Championship TV series was broadcast for many years that featured a young commentator, Billy Packer, who later became a famous college basketball commentator. Unfortunately, Putt-Putt Golf began to lose its mojo in the 1980s, and only about 150 centers remain. Putt-Putt Golf and mini-golf courses were well established in Southern California when Brimhall located his Golf n’ Stuff centers in direct competition with them. It was a bold move, but Brimhall knew what he was doing and located sites with good street visibility. Most importantly, his Golf n’ Stuff centers included other amusements, including an arcade, go-karts, and

Images courtesy of Castle n’ Coasters

Above: George Brimhall (second from right) holds a sketch of the Castle Arcade during construction of Golf n’ Stuff, 1977. Top right: The Golf n’ Stuff arcade, 1980. Right: Tom Thumb Golf course, 1930s. Below: Brenda and George Brimhall.

Fifty Six

January February 2022

Image courtesy of Castle n’ Coasters

Image courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

batting cages. Competitors that lacked property or funding for expansion often closed. In 1977, Brimhall purchased a 13-acre, irregularly shaped property along the ring road of Arizona’s largest shopping mall, Phoenix Metro Center. This parcel was more land than he needed, but the visibility from I-17 made it an excellent location. Brimhall designed and built four miniature golf courses in the Golf n’ Stuff center with his own hands and those of friends

The ten new rides were a tight fit. The Desert Storm roller coaster, 96 feet at its apex and 2,000 feet in length, is placed so that most of it is suspended over the quarter-mile go-kart track, bumper boats, and funhouse. As a result, everything below seems to shake briefly when the train rolls overhead at 50 mph. Patriot, a smaller version, also packs a nice wallop. Roller coaster aficionados scoff that Desert Storm is now dwarfed by giga coasters in Los Angeles and elsewhere. But seriously, size isn’t everything. If speed and centrifugal force aren’t enough of a thrill, the park also offers two gravity-induced scream machines, Skydiver and Free Fall. Other rides, like Splashdown,

Images courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

Above: Golf n’ Stuff, 1978. Top right: Golf n’ Stuff expands into Castles n’ Coasters, 1988-1991. Below: Batting cages at Golf n’ Stuff, 1977.

who formed his work crew. The courses look like they are nestled in a lush garden, but everything sits on acres of concrete framed, poured, sculpted, and finished by Brimhall’s team. The original flower patterns stamped into the concrete walkways are a visible reminder of the work he put into his creation. The center included Brimhall’s standard set of amusements and was wildly successful. Ten years later, Brimhall went bigger and built an amusement park on the remainder of the original 13 acres. Brimhall and his workers poured 7,000 cubic yards of concrete and, when they completed the project in 1991, changed the name to Castles n’ Coasters.


Arizona Contractor & Community

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attraction is XD Dark Ride, a multisensory 3-D experience that builds the skills we all need to fight off zombies. The Arcade encapsulates decades of changes and upgrades made by Castles n’ Coasters to tweak the mix of activities that bring patrons back. Pinball machines were the first games in the Arcade, and, bless Brimhall’s heart, a row of vintage machines is still there. So are updated versions of early video game stars, like Space Invaders, Street Fighter, Super Mario, and Air Guitar. The latest arcade trend is computerized versions of the skill games found along

the midway of a state fair. Ring toss and basketball are there. Let’s hope that Whack-A-Mole comes soon. When it does, it won’t take a begging child to remind me that it’s time to visit Castles n’ Coasters again. Top left: Golf n’ Stuff, with Phoenix Metro Center in the background, 1970s. Top right: Bumper boats, 2021. Above: The Splashdown log ride, 2021. Bottom left: Golf n’ Stuff expands into Castles n’ Coasters, 1988-1991. Below: George Brimhall holds a trowel during the expansion of the amusement park, 1988.

Images courtesy of Castle n’ Coasters

a log ride, and Sea Dragon, a swinging boat, create their own chills and thrills. By the time you’re done, the elegant, rhythmical carrousel looks like a very restful place. At Castles n’ Coasters, the trip begins and ends at its Arcade, a two-level building stuffed with video games and the like. The latest

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January February 2022

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ho got the ball rolling by creating the Valley’s first miniature golf course is open to debate, but we know that Phoenix businessman Reed Eugene Price had a significant impact on the industry. Price played “goofy golf” while on vacation in California in the late 1940s. Intrigued by the possibilities of this emerging entertainment formula, he worked with his brother-in-law and business partner Nephi Allen to open Green

erties,” according to its incorporation articles. Western Recreation would ultimately expand into California too. Constantly mulling new ideas, Price decided to revisit the concept behind Westwood Acres in the mid-1960s, transforming the course into a veritable Hawaiian village

Images courtesy of Dann Frank

Top left: Green Gables along 24th Street just south of Thomas Road, 1951. Above: Green Gables Golf Course advertisement, 1951. Bottom: Signs at holes 1, 5, 12, and 18 at Green Gables.

Gables Miniature Golf at 24th Street and Thomas Road in 1951. Designed with a medieval theme that blended into the adjacent Green Gables Restaurant, the course came replete with feudal castles, gothic churches, armored knights, and fair maidens. Just one year later, Price and Allen opened Westwood Acres, a second course at 24th Avenue and Thomas Road with a Wild West motif. Both courses prospered. Prompted by their early success, in 1956, Price and Allen formed Western Recreation Inc. to “engage in the ownership, development, management, and operation of miniature golf courses and all types of commercial recreation projects and prop-

Image courtesy of Newspaper Archiv es



January February 2022

Images courtesy of Dann Frank

called Hono Lea. “It had bamboo huts and a sort of Pacific flavor,” remembers Phoenix native Sam Ferguson, who worked for Western Recreation in the 1970s. “Reed Price had his office in a building behind Hono Lea. It had some cool antique golf clubs on the wall, stuff like that. Reed was a nice fellow and very smart - it was a wellrun business.” Top left: Green Gables Golf Course, 1980. Top right: Circular bank hole with Spanish galleon at Green Gables, 1980. Above: Bell tower at Green Gables with the game room in the background, 1980. Right: Green Gables scorecard. Below: Castle hole at Green Gables, 1980.

The Western Recreation courses were primarily designed and built by Vern E. Fetz, a Globe native who spent 30 years working for the company. Fetz graduated from Arizona State University with a Master’s Degree in Education specializing in Industrial Arts. But his passion was woodworking and carving, which informed his creations on the various miniature golf designs. “This one guy, Vern, built all the houses and layouts for every course,” Ferguson says. “He would just show up at a course, tear down a feature, and then rebuild it into something completely different. A very talented guy.” Fetz’s work culminated in arguably the most memorable local course: Alpine Val-

Image courtesy of Dann Frank

ley, which opened on 27th Avenue north of Northern Avenue in 1960. The Tyrolean theme featured a re-creation of the Alps, an ornate Swiss church nestled in the mountains, the requisite turning windmill hole, and a challenging par-4 Swiss chalet that involved up to three separate descending greens, depending on the accuracy of the tee shot. Upon completing the back nine at Alpine Valley, golfers were obliged to visit the “19th hole,” a perfunctory par one that existed to collect their brightly colored golf balls. This hole was a standard feature at all Western Recreation courses, so it was not related thematically to the others. The object was to hit the ball up a steep incline adjoining a large panel that featured a smiling clown’s face. The sign accompanying the hole assured the golfer that a free arizcc.com

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Images courtesy of Lawrence Bankson

round would be awarded by sinking the ball in the clown’s mouth, although this was a curiously infrequent result. Metal grilling was attached to prevent the ethically challenged sportsperson from simply dropping the ball down the clown’s mouth to snag the free round.

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The full splendor of Alpine Valley emerged after about a decade of plant life encroaching around the holes. As the original saplings grew into an imposing forest, they combined with the imaginative Alpine peaks and hilly landscape to produce an intimate and memorable setting. When Alpine Valley opened, golfers could glimpse Interstate 17 and the rear of the Northern

Top left: Medieval castle with rising drawbridge hole at Alpine Valley Miniature Golf Course, 1960. Left: Swiss Chalet hole at Alpine Valley Miniature Golf Course with Alps and Northern Drive-In screen in background, 1960. Above: Golfers at Alpine Valley Swiss Chalet teebox, 1960. Bottom left: Alpine Valley ground rules, 1972.

Drive-In screen from the course. A decade later, those reminders of the outside world became obscured from view. Each hole at the Western Recreation courses featured a cleverly designed sign hand-painted on thick steel. The wording enhanced the atmosphere at the tee by announcing the par and offering a cute little poem containing a hint on how best to play the hole. The courses were also sprinkled with purely fanciful and seemingly random signs. “There was a sign at the Hono Lea course I wish I had a picture of,” Scottsdale resident Dann Frank says. “It said, ‘If monkey steals ball - lose one stroke.’ We looked for that damn monkey every time we played there but never saw him!” Western Recreation also maintained a course at the fabled Phoenix amusement park Legend City. Gay Ninety Golf, named for the Western-themed Gay ‘90s section of the park located just beyond the entrance gates, was a somewhat generic course. However, it had one invaluable asset: it was situated alongside the Legend January February 2022

Images courtesy of Legend-city.com

the Putt-Putt courses were designed for more serious players. They featured strictly ordered play, prize-money tournaments, and precisely designed, standardized layouts that were utterly devoid of the whimsical charm of Price’s thematic conceptualizations. Nevertheless, Putt-Putt caught on quickly in Phoenix and provided stiff competition that ultimately signaled the beginning of the end for the clever and quaint Western Recreation courses. Phoenix Putt-Putt opened near Alpine Valley on 27th Avenue, directly adjacent to Bobby McGee’s restaurant, built around the same time. The course’s impact on Alpine Valley was soon reflected in the latter’s disrepair. Alpine Valley closed in 1978 and was replaced by an apartment complex. Also closed during this period was the Hona Lea, which had been rechristened Green Gables West in 1976. The original Green Gables was the last Western Recreation survivor, replaced by a prosaic office tower in 1980.

Top left: Gay Ninety Golf scorecard. Above: Gay Ninety Golf with Legend City train in background, 1963. Below: Putt-Putt Golf Course, 1972.

Frank and his friends visited the Green Gables course one last time as the curtain fell. “It was a point of honor to go there on the final day, taking not enough pictures as my friends and I leisurely savored challenging hole after hole,” he reminisces. “And of course, being the very last customers was our notion on that fateful day so long ago.” Today, with Western Recreation and Putt-Putt long gone, the Phoenix area still retains a small assortment of miniature golf courses. Still, the spirit and beauty of mid-century miniature golf in Phoenix has vanished. These Reed Price courses were, for a time, highly successful business ventures as well as genuine works of art that made even a double-bogey pleasurable.

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Image courtesy of Newspaper Archiv es

City train station and railroad, which traveled its periphery at regular intervals, providing an unmatched backdrop. Unfortunately, the miniature course was removed in the late 1970s along with the antique car ride to make room for the Compton Terrace musical venue. Golf was not the sole attraction at Western Recreation courses. Each clubhouse featured a large game room with an impressive array of classic pinball machines. The game rooms were at times more crowded than the courses themselves. “If I didn’t win at pinball, my day was pretty much done,” Frank says. “I remember several times trading extra pinball credits that I’d won for a round of golf.” Price’s Western Recreation courses flourished until Putt-Putt came to town. The Putt-Putt Corporation, founded in 1954 in Fayetteville, North Carolina, became a nationwide phenomenon that found its way to Arizona in 1972. As the world’s first and only copyrighted miniature golf game,


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January February 2022


hen Eugene “Jim” Cunning passed on in 2020 at the age of 86, the sad event did not garner much local attention. But it should have. Cunning was a shopping center executive and planner extraordinaire who was instrumental in the operation and development of many mid-century malls and shopping centers in the Phoenix area. But it was his decades of work at the legendary ChrisTown Center, currently called Christown Spectrum Mall, that will be most fondly remembered by local nostalgists and shopping center historians alike. Billy Horner, publisher of Arizona Contractor & Community magazine, and I had the privilege of meeting with Cunning at his home one autumn afternoon in 2012 to capture his thoughts and insights reflecting back on the Chris-Town years. We were warmly greeted by him and Donna, his wife of 55 years, and the man immediately embarked upon a remarkable series of reminiscences about the old mall. Born on an apple ranch in Wenatchee, Washington, Cunning served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, after which he met and married Donna in Seattle while working for Boeing. In 1957, the Cunnings moved to Phoenix, where Jim found work as a display ad salesman for Phoenix Newspapers Inc., which produced The Arizona Republic and Phoenix Gazette. Builder Del E. Webb hired Cunning on at Chris-Town in 1961 as a promotion’s director. After original mall manager Charlie Richer moved on to a job in California the following year, Cunning became general manager of Chris-Town. He remained in that position until Webb sold the mall to Grossman Properties in 1966, at which time Cunning became an executive vice-president. Webb accepted Grossman’s offer to purchase Chris-Town, but on the condition that Cunning would stay on to manage things. “The contingency on the sale was that Jim went with the center,” Donna

Left: Kids looking at birdcage display, 1965. Above: Billboard promoting air-conditioned Chris-Town, 1961. Top right: Jim Cunning, 1970. Right: Wayne Hennings painting storybook characters for Chris-Town’s grand opening in 1961. His father, artist Art Hennings, created the cartoon displays. arizcc.com

Arizona Contractor & Community

Images courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

Cunning recalled. “Sam [Grossman] didn’t know squat about shopping centers at that time.” The Del Webb Corporation had built Chris-Town in 1961 on 80 acres of farmland leased from local Swiss-born farmer Chris Harri, a fascinating character for whom the mall was ultimately named. “Chris Harri wouldn’t leave the property, and in fact, he never did come up and look at the shopping center,” Cunning said. “He told me, ‘You just screwed up a good piece of farmland.’” Harri continued to farm what remained of his land until he died in 1971 at the age of 94. Cunning’s imaginative promotional expertise accounted for many of the fabled Chris-Town events that drew shoppers to the mall in the early years. “He was the one who came up with the rickshaws to the parking lot, the helicopter with Santa Claus, Top left: Chris-Town during first Christmas season, 1961. Left: Ladmo, Santa Claus, and pilot Jerry Foster preparing to leave Chris-Town, late 1960s. Far right: Robert F. Kennedy presidential campaign rally at Chris-Town, 1968. Near right: Janitors Closet advertisement, late 1960s. sixty eight

January February 2022

Images courtesy of Russell Lynn Ragsdale Image courtesy of chris-town.com

the cow milking, the children’s theater, and the antique car shows,” remembers Donna. “Jim was the idea man.” One of Cunning’s most successful and enduring brainstorms was the creation of the iconic subterranean tavern he called Janitors Closet. “I applied for a liquor license, which were very few and far between in Arizona at that time,” he said. “And all of a sudden, I got one. Now, what the hell do you do with it? So, we built Janitors Closet in the utility basement of the Sidewalk Café, which was originally what


Arizona Contractor & Community

Image courtesy of Author

Cunning had an unfortunate “falling out” with Grossman in the 1980s and left Chris-Town soon thereafter, concluding a quarter-century of service. But he remembered the mall quite fondly to the very end. “It was a place that was alive and had a personality. It wasn’t just a chunk of stores,” he told us. “We were truly a town.”

Images courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

was there. Plumbing pipes and stuff were running through the wall down there, and I added the [liquor] still prop.” J.C. Penney occupied the prime location in the mall, directly facing the primary entrance in the stately Court of Fountains. The store was expanded in 1967, adding a second floor and sharply increasing the overall space from 62,750 to 207,250 square feet. The change was so momentous that J.C. Penney himself came to ChrisTown to mark the occasion, meeting with Cunning in an extraordinary photo that has since become part of Chris-Town lore. But the most intriguing part of the story is that the Cunning family already had a history of interaction with Mr. J.C. Penney. “My dad used to work on the riverboat that would come up the Columbia River to Wenatchee, back when he was a young man,” Jim said. “J.C. Penney came to town, and he had all his store cases on the riverboat. So my dad and some other guys helped him bring all the cases to his new store there. And then I met (Penney) at Chris-Town all those years later. So it’s just sort of an interesting story.” Among all the special events and eclectic happenings at Chris-Town over the years, Cunning cited presidential candidate Robert Kennedy’s visit in March 1968 as his single most memorable moment. “Having Bobby Kennedy there and being able to Top right: J.C. Penney and Chris-Town meet him, that was an important thing,” manager Jim Cunning, 1967. Below: Dragster at Chris-Town Custom Car he remembered. “I had his stage built on a Show, 1967. trailer so we could just pull it in, in front of Bottom right: Jim Cunning and his wife, the flag pole. And then we added bunting Donna (top) and with author John Bueker and whatnot.” (bottom), 2012.


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efore the Valley hosted major league teams in luxurious stadiums, local sports fans reveled in homegrown competitions filled with motor-induced drama and dust. Phoenix was a hotbed of auto racing, with more than a half-dozen raceways constructed after World War II. These speedways were modest facilities with dirt tracks and wooden grandstands. What the racetracks lacked in glitz, the drivers made up for in racing action. Split-second decisions behind the wheel could be the difference between winning and losing – or life and death, in the days when safety equipment consisted of goggles and a leather helmet. The most prominent track in the state was Manzanita Speedway, which featured many drivers who went on to race in the Indianapolis 500. Located at Broadway Road and 35th Avenue in a county island surrounded by Phoenix, the track became famous as the site of the Western World Championships, the last jewel in the sprintcar Triple Crown. “Manzanita was an institution and destination for any racer worth his wheels,” fan Jeff Giroux says. “There were so many personalities among the drivers, and even the cars had their own personas. There will never be another track like it with such magnetism.” But the legendary speedway only came about because another business had gone to the dogs, so to speak. Manzanita Park opened as a greyhound racing track in 1949. The Arizona Racing Commission, however, denied future racing dates on technicalities later that year. A subsequent transformation turned the venue into an auto speedway. “The first time I was there, the betting windows were still in place from the dog racing days,” racing fan Hal Branham says. The track became the new home of the Arizona Jalopy Racing, which was looking for a better deal than it had at South Mountain Speedway. Jalopy was a stock car class that used older, inexpensive street vehicles. “The drivers were supposed to get a percentage of the gate, but the Above: Manzanita Park poster, 1951. Left: The Arizona Sand & Rock Co.’s #81: (l-r) Al Carter, part-owner; M.V. Johnston, relief driver for another car; Coy Lively, pit man; Gene Gunn, driver; Dee Whatley, relief driver; and Jack Holloway, president of the Arizona Jalopy Racing Association, 1952. Arizona Contractor & Community

Images courtesy of Open Wheel Racing Museum

official attendance didn’t jibe with what we could see in the stands at South Mountain Speedway,” former driver Ted Bloomquist says. “Some thought that the promoter, Ernie Mohammed, was giving the shaft to us, so we bolted for Manzanita.” Manzanita Park opened to a standing-room-only crowd of almost 4,000 on August 25, 1951. Then 19-year-old Bloomquist drove his 1934 Ford as one of the 52 Top: Windy’s Press Box at Manzanita Speedway, 1970s. Above: Gateway to Manzanita Speedway, 1970s. Seventy Four

jalopies on opening night. “Everything was a blur to me,” he says. “I remember that it was hot. I won my heat race, but I cracked up in the main event and didn’t finish. To entice the crowds back the following week, Manzanita Park featured stuntman Jack Holloway standing on the hood of a car as it raced through a wall of fire. By the third week, with the addition of a new clay racing surface, the park was advertised as “the fastest quarter-mile track in Arizona.” Manzanita Park, which was renamed Manzanita Speedway in 1965, became the place to race sprint cars, modified stock

cars, midget cars, and motorbikes in Arizona for the next 58 years. Local drivers Bobby Ball, Art Bisch, Jimmy Bryan, Bill Cheesbourg, and Roger McCluskey honed their skills there. At the same time, legends such as A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Mario Andretti, Gary Bettenhausen, and Al Unser Jr. visited and raced at the track. Manzanita produced racing talent because it was a big, high-speed, slick, banked track that required a lot of finesse to negotiate. Racers made it look easy, but it wasn’t. “It’s like flying a plane without leaving the ground,” driver Rickey Hood says. Racing success is split evenly between January February 2022

Images courtesy of Open Wheel Racing Museum Image courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

Left: Manzanita Speedway ticket booth, 1980s. Above: Manzy Mag, 1963. Top right: Manzanita Speedway program, 1969. Below: March of Dimes jalopy races at Manzanita Park, 1953.

the driver and the car, he adds. “A driver can make up for a lot of things, but if you don’t get the mechanics right, you might as well leave the race car on the trailer.” The racing at Manzanita wasn’t always only testosterone-fueled, as the track was a pioneer in providing opportunities for female drivers, mostly wives of the drivers. The first Powder Puff race occurred in 1951, and the ladies’ times were impressive. “Hubby better watch out, for these gals are so good, that it is not uncommon to find the wife posting a faster qualifying time in the trials than the husband,” said Bill Close, the track’s first announcer and arizcc.com

later a local television news anchor, in an early race program. In 1952, Manzanita had unique match races pitting the four top women point leaders against their husbands, which was thought to be the first time in the country that the sexes had competed against each other on a track. The ladies won three of the four races for bragging rights. The action wasn’t only confined to the track, as the crowds experienced more than the roar of the engines. Steve DeWalt bought a bumper sticker at Manzanita in the late 1980s that declared, “If you don’t have dirt in your beer, you’re not at a real

race.” As a result, spectators often came suitably attired. “Some nights, so much mud was thrown into the stands from the track that when fans took off their goggles, they looked like possums,” Hood says. Mud can be fun; airborne auto parts, not so much. “One night, a tire flew over the fence near the pit gate and landed on the roof of my 1952 Lincoln,” fan Joe Agnew says. “I had to get in the back seat and push the dent out with my feet.” Some spectators had safer vantage points. Nearby neighbors would watch from their roofs or peek through the fence. “I lived a couple of blocks away,” retired Arizona Contractor & Community

Image courtesy of Ted Bloomquist

Top left: Ted Bloomquist and his jalopy at the March of Dimes Race at Manzanita Park, 1953. Top right: LaVerne Doyle, the 1953 Powder Puff Champion. Above: Manzanita Park programs, 1952, and 1950. Right: A sprint car flips, 1970s. Seventy Six

sional sports to compete with for customers,” muses Pam Lambert, formerly of the Arizona Open Wheel Racing Museum. “It was just a few bucks to get in, and pit passes were probably five bucks. Safety equipment and insurance weren’t significant costs, which are huge bills for the speedways today.” The loss of Manzanita Speedway won’t change its impact on fans such as Don Burns, who fondly recalls buying cans of Schlitz beer for a quarter there with a buddy, even though they were only 16 in the early 1960s. “It was the sound, the smell of the fuel, and the dust that made it the most precious time of our lives.” Being able to hail the beer vendor for another cold one when you’re underage didn’t hurt, either.

Images courtesy of Open Wheel Racing Museum

City of Phoenix employee Robert Parra says. “At night, while in bed, it seemed as if the race cars were inside my bedroom. I loved it!” Manzanita briefly expanded into other forms of entertainment, including hosting a raucous concert featuring Alice Cooper and Canned Heat in 1972. “The crowd outside got unruly and started to push over the chain-link fence to get in free and started throwing bottles,” Phoenix native and retired train dispatcher Brian Amerman says. “My buddy and I climbed over the fence to get out.” The constant at Manzanita was William “Windy” McDonald, who was the track’s official announcer for more than 50 years. McDonald, who passed away in 2016, studied racing and its society. “Every night, he’d

visit us as we were unloading our cars in the pits and learn about the latest activities,” Hood says. “He knew more about us than we did.” Despite Manzanita’s continued success, it shut down with little warning in 2009. The site was sold to Southwest Industrial Rigging, which converted it to an equipment storage facility. “Manzanita broke a lot of hearts when it closed,” Hood says. “It probably all comes down to money. It didn’t have to go, but it did.” The demise of Manzanita Speedway severed the last link to the Golden Age of Motorsports in Phoenix. “It was a different era; auto racing didn’t have other profes-

January February 2022





Arizona Contractor & Community

Images courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community


Above: A Buffalo-Springfield roller in the yard of Copperstate Construction Co., Mesa, Arizona, 1962. Below: Stephen Stills and Richie Furay with Buffalo Springfield, performing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, 1967.


music producer Barry Friedman’s house in Los Angeles, where future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members, Stephen Stills and Richie Furay, were staying in 1966. Their search for a name for their new band ended when they spied the nameplate on the nearby machine. However, the construction

Images courtesy of Box Set

onstruction machinery not only moves mountains, it can become a part of pop culture. One equipment line, the Buffalo-Springfield Roller Company, found fame simply by having its steamroller parked in the right spot at the right time. The location was outside

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connection was not known when the group appeared on the TV show, The Hollywood Palace, a year later. Guest host Tony Martin introduced the ensemble, jokingly, as “a band that has been so successful they’ve bought Buffalo and half of Springfield.” But,

Image courtesy of NPR


January February 2022

Images courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

Top left: Black Contracting using a Buffalo Springfield roller during construction of Valley National Bank at 59th Avenue and Camelback Road, 1960. Top middle: Buffalo Springfield roller ad, 1953. Top right: Buffalo-Springfield KT-7 and KT-8 roller ads, 1958. Right: The Buffalo Pitts factory in Buffalo, New York, 1908. arizcc.com

In 1957, Buffalo-Springfield was purchased by Koehring Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and it became a separate division. The following year, the new Buffalo-Springfield Model KT-8 Portable Tandem Roller became available, which offered maximum ground clearance and worked well in tight corners. Things got complicated for the Buffalo-Springfield brand, starting in 1980, as a series of corporate buyouts and takeovers occurred. Currently, BOMAG Americas, Inc. owns the name. Before imploding in 1968, the group, which also included Neil Young, Bruce

Palmer, Dewey Martin, and, in the end, Jim Messina, recorded three critically acclaimed albums and the timeless song, “For What It’s Worth.” The title, which appears nowhere in the song, came about when Stills told his record company, “I have another one, for what it’s worth.” Musical offshoots include various incarnations of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Poco, Loggins & Messina, Manassas, and numerous solo endeavors. But some feel these more popular ensembles never surpassed Buffalo Springfield’s initial burst of creativity.

Images courtesy of Vintage Machinery

the story of the Buffalo-Springfield Roller goes way back before the Swinging ‘60s, to 1851 when the John A. Pitts Company was founded in Buffalo, New York. Pitts operated the agricultural equipment manufacturing firm until he died in 1859. Afterward, his heirs ran the business under a series of names that culminated in The Buffalo Pitts Co. The firm manufactured steam traction engines and portable steam engines, according to www.vintagemachinery.com. However, by 1915, the company’s only thriving line was its road-building machinery, organized as a subsidiary, the Buffalo Steamroller Company. Contractors used the machinery, which utilized a combination of its size and weight, for leveling surfaces such as roads. The following year, the Buffalo Steamroller Company merged with their biggest rival, Kelly-Springfield Road Roller Company, to create Buffalo-Springfield Roller of Springfield, Ohio. The company’s machinery was the most popular in the nation. Its closest competitor, J.I. Case, only had a small market share. In Arizona, beginning in 1956, the Buffalo-Springfield line called the “Cadillac of Rollers” was distributed by the Road Machinery Company, located at 716 South Seventh Street in Phoenix and 2601 South Fourth Avenue in Tucson.

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In 1947, the first-ever Arizona race to qualify for an all-expense paid trip to the big event in Akron took place at the State Fairgrounds in Phoenix. The race, broadcast by KPHO radio, was sponsored by Rudolph Chevrolet, Phoenix Motor Company, The Arizona Republic, and The Phoenix Gazette. The event began with the homemade cars on display in Downtown Phoenix, followed by two days of racing at the Fairgrounds. To gain the needed momentum for racing, soap box competitors set off from atop a ramp, down a runway, and coasted to the finish line. The Del E. Webb Construction Company built the starting ramp,

Image courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community


hortly after World War II, more than 200 Arizona teenagers dreamed of making it to Akron, Ohio, the “Rubber Capital of the World.” It wasn’t the city’s long history of tire manufacturing that was the big draw, but rather a chance to compete at Akron’s Derby Downs in the All-American Soap Box Derby. The national competition, held since 1933 for youth aged 11-15, featured unpowered, gravity-propelled mini-cars racing each other. At its post-World War II peak, the Soap Box Derby was one of the top five sporting events in terms of attendance, with crowds exceeding 100,000 spectators.

runway, and safety siding. The 728-foot-track consisted of three lanes, each 8 feet wide, and was made from plywood. The Baker-Thomas Company constructed the ramp’s scaffolding and car lift. Charles Gray, a 14-year-old student at Longview Elementary School in Phoenix, won the event, edging out Thomas Hannelly. Gray competed in Akron and received a wristwatch and certificate for his efforts. The national title that year was won by Kenneth Holmboe of Charleston, West Virginia, in front of a crowd that included World War II hero James H. Doolittle and Hollywood actor James Stewart. Not surprisingly, Holmboe’s love of engineering later propelled him to attain a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State University.

Background: The ramp for Soap Box Derby at the State Fairgrounds, 1947. Bottom left: Newspaper cartoon of first place winner, Charles Gray, 1947. Left: Race officials and announcers at the KPHO radio microphone, 1947.

Images courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

Above, far left: Soap Box Derby badge, 1947. Above left: Soap Box Derby racers line up with their vehicles at the car lift, 1947. Above: Soap Box Derby cars cross the finish line, 1947.

Image courtesy of Del Webb Corp. Photographs, Greater AZ Collection, ASU Library


Architect’s Perspective:

Celebrating the McDowell Sonoran Preserve 30th Anniversary and Its Trailheads Doug Sydnor, FAIA Doug_sydnor@outlook.com more than 225 miles of new recreational trails. On its 30th anniversary, I celebrate four of its 12 trailhead facilities. All have been widely published, received professional design awards, and demonstrated sustainable architectural design. The first two featured trailhead facilities were designed by the Scottsdale-based architectural firm of Weddle Gilmore, and the final two by the Phoenix-based Smithgroup architectural/ engineering firm. “The Lost Dog Wash Trailhead is an example of commitment to environment apparent through its preservation of native habitat, choice of appropriate building materials and natural resource conser-

Images Courtesy of Bill Timmerman

cottsdale residents realized their quality of life was under threat in 1991. The pristine McDowell Mountains, a landscape rich with wildlife and plants of the Upper Sonoran Desert, archaeological sites, and ranching history, were being infringed upon by new development. As a result, this irreplaceable habitat along with its human history dating back 7,000 years could soon become just a memory. Initial efforts at preservation were meager but vital; the McDowell Sonoran Preserve was formed with 5 acres in 1994. But the organization had much larger aspirations. Strong citizen support for the idea approved two sales tax increases and two bond votes by 2004, which led to the creation of the largest urban preserve in the nation. Within a short time, one-third of the City of Scottsdale’s land area, about 30,600 acres, was protected. Public access amenities began two decades ago, including trailheads; multiuse trails for equestrian, mountain biking, and hiking; and research to monitor the preserve’s plant and animal life. By 2013, the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy had

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vation,” stated Weddle Gilmore in 2006. “The Lost Dog Wash Trailhead exists harmoniously in its natural surroundings [and] exists with minimal impact to its habitat, reducing impact of the building. The design is sustainable, achieving short and longterm savings of energy, water, and other natural resources. These design parameters result in, and encourage, a healthier environment.” Having hiked its trails, I find the trailhead facilities an appropriate fit with the natural desert surroundings. Amenities include public restrooms, shade ramadas, parking, water, horse-trailer parking, hitching rails, a water trough, directional signage, and an accessible nature trail. Weddle Gilmore added that the structure’s rammed earth walls utilize earth material excavated during foundation construction. “These earth walls allow the structures to blend seamlessly into the landscape.” The trailhead restrooms utilize a composting system which minimizes water consumption and saves approximately 200,000 gallons of water annually over a conventional system. Gray water and rainwater harvesting saves an additional 75,000 gallons of water annually in landscape irrigation. Solar power is provided to the trailhead facilities by a roof-integrated 3,000-watt solar electric array that allows the trailhead to be completely self-sufficient. The Gateway Trailhead was built in 2009 in “an effort to minimize the impact on the native desert environment and the surrounding neighbors while creating a sense of entry and passage into the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.” Like the Lost Dog Wash Trailhead, a critical sustainable goal was “to achieve a net-zero facility and produce surplus energy,” according to Weddle Gilmore. This surplus is achieved using a 15-watt photovoltaic system coupled with high-efficiency lighting and an energy-efficient, passively designed building envelope. The main walls of the restroom building, ramada, and offices were constructed with rammed earth and steel panels with a rust finish and cast-in-place concrete. A roof finished with desert cobble minimizes its visual impact from higher elevations. Top left: Lost Dog Wash Trailhead. Left: Gateway Trailhead. January February 2022

Images Courtesy of Smithgroup

Above: Fraesfield Trailhead. Below: Granite Mountain Trailhead.

break apart to reveal the site’s beauty sequentially. Its objects frame a portal to the trail system, while a steel roof structure creates shade for the amphitheater and frames views to Granite Mountain. Other City of Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve Trailheads: • • • • • • • •

Brown’s Ranch, North Area Tom’s Thumb, South Area Sunrise, South Area Ringtail, South Area Quartz, South Area Westworld, South Area 104th/Bell Road, West Area Pima Dynamite, North/Central Area

Douglas B. Sydnor, FAIA, is Principal at Douglas Sydnor Architect + Associates, Inc. and the author of three Arizona architecture books.

Images Courtesy of Smithgroup

The trailhead’s parking works with the natural topography and preserves the natural vegetation. “As the largest and most prevalent trailhead to the McDowell’s, the Gateway’s foremost intention is to be a demonstration in environmental awareness and integration,” according to Weddle Gilmore. “Fraesfield Trailhead features some of the best and most accessible panoramic views of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and Tonto National Forest,” according to Smithgroup in 2014. Once home to a ranch homestead, the trailhead is located at the intersection of two major trails and features a viewing platform for the surrounding landscape. The facility has a warm internal glow during the early morning and evening hours, achieved with interior lighting reflecting off the rusted steel perforated and solid panels. The lighting and passive

ventilation via perforated corten panels create a sense of safety for visitors. A dramatic canopy looms over the restrooms and provides relief from the intense sun. “The subtle butterfly roof opens to views of the Superstition Mountains while guiding stormwater to a series of boulders that punctuate a natural arroyo,” according to Smithgroup. Constructed in 2014, the “Granite Mountain Trailhead site is…a rugged terrain filled with large sculptural granite boulders and overhead power lines,” according to Smithgroup. “The structure is intended to frame direct views of Granite Mountain, a popular destination for mountain bikers. The primary structure provides restrooms along with expansive architectural overhangs allowing for the majority of activity, staging, and programming to occur outdoors protected from the Arizona sun.” Smithgroup stated that the site plan attempts to match the intimate explorative character of the trails, as the building forms


Arizona Contractor & Community

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Image courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

Image courtesy of Scottsdale Historical

Above: Habgood at work, 1980s. Below: Neptune’s Table at Seventh Avenue and Camelback Road, early 1960s. Far right: Dave Hansen Construction advertisement for a house built in Paradise Valley, 1980s. Right: Scottsdale’s Kachina Theater showing, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, 1963.

ship style impacted Habgood, who went on to have a 30-year career with RoBil, which he subsequently purchased and renamed Sharp Creek Contracting, Inc. After seven more years in the industry, Habgood finally retired, although he continued dabbling for a few years, running a blade for the company. He revealed to the magazine some of his favorite memories of almost four-decades in construction in Arizona. Habgood’s story begins in 1955 at Camp Pendleton, a Marine Corps base


Image courtesy of Sharp Creek


ark Habgood recalls a steep learning curve when he transitioned from working at Neptune’s Table, a seafood restaurant at Seventh Avenue and Camelback Road in Phoenix, to the construction field. At one point, while he was falling behind on the job at RoBil, his stepfather, Bill Sudbrack, told him, “If you can’t keep up, you better find another line of work!” Habgood says that Sudbrack, the “Bil” in RoBil Contracting Co., was hard but fair and always wanted his crews to do good and take pride in their work. That leader-

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January February 2022

Image courtesy of Mark Habgood

Top left: Habgood’s parents, Joan and Bill Sudbrack, at a party with Habgood in background, 1980s. Above left: Habgood’s mentor Steve Johnson running RoBil’s Cat blade, 1970s. Above: Habgood in RoBil’s Cat blade finishing ABC, 1982. Left: Habgood (in hat) with RoBil crew after work, 1980s.

Images courtesy of Sharp Creek

in California. In the early 1960s, his family moved to Mesa, Arizona. They soon bought a home in a new subdivision called Scottsdale Acres. “It cost $19,000 and was built by Butler Homes,” Habgood says. “On weekends, we’d go to Round Up Drive-In Theatre to see movies like Jaws, or to the Kachina Theater where I saw, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Around the World in 80 Days, and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.” At the time, his stepfather, Bill Sudbrack, would come home from work filthy from the hot plant at Nesbitt Contracting. “He’d pull into the driveway in his brand new, teal 1968 Grand Prix with Charlie Pride blaring on the radio,” Hadbood recalls. He attended Saguaro High School and worked cleaning horse stalls at the Applegate, Buckman & Carson, or ABC Ranch, located at 96th Street and Cactus Road. Habgood commuted from 82nd Street and Highland Road on his Honda-50 mini-bike. He later hitchhiked to his job at Neptune’s arizcc.com

Arizona Contractor & Community


Top left: Habgood running a tractor, 1980s. Above: Habgood (center), with stake chaser Randy Carr, and operator Steve Johnson (right), fueling their blade, early 1980s. Above left: RoBil owners (l-r) Roman Candelaria, Bill Sudbrack, with Habgood, 1980s.

would then pave the job.” And that’s when Sudbrack told him to up his game. His big break came in the late 1970s when RoBil purchased a brand new 120G Caterpillar blade, which they gave to Steve Johnson to operate. Habgood then started

Image courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

work for $1.80 per hour at the restaurant when Sudbrack offered $2.25 per hour to be a laborer and stake chaser for RoBil. Habgood learned the construction trade from the bottom up, starting with Tatum Canyon, a new subdivision by Dave Hansen Construction. “Pulice Construction did all the curb and gutter work, and I chased stakes for RoBil’s blade operator, Steve Johnson, who was the very first employee RoBil hired,” he says. “RoBil was a smaller construction outfit, and once the grading was complete, the same crew

Image courtesy of Mark Habgood

Below: RoBil crew at Scottsdale Airpark: (l-r) Randy Carr (in tractor), Horatio Corona, Gustavo “Gus” Valenzuela, Habgood, and Roman Candelaria, 1990s. Below right: Habgood with his dog, Dee, at his home, 2021.

Images courtesy of Sharp Creek

Image courtesy of Mark Habgood

Table. “Most hitchhiking experiences were fine, but on a few occasions, I luckily avoided danger,” he says. After his high school graduation in 1973, Habgood and a friend took a sixweek adventure visiting 35 states in his 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner. He returned to

January February 2022

running the 112F Caterpillar blade, which had been Steve’s, building dirt jobs. He admired his crew members, notably Steve Johnson, who “taught him everything and was a super hard worker.” RoBil did all their work “in-house” until the mid-1990s, when they started to sub out their paving jobs. RoBil did a lot of Dave Hansen Construction’s residential work in the Clearwater Hills neighborhood of Paradise Valley, which Habgood enjoyed even though there were challenges. “One of the roads we were paving was so steep that the bed of the dump truck was fully extended and was leveled out horizontally,” he says. “So, we had to manually shovel the hot asphalt out of the truck bed into the hopper.” One of the best stories with RoBil involves a project for Cobre Valley Motors in Globe. “We were a small company, so we didn’t have a transport for our equipment,” Habgood says. “So, they decided to drive our Galion 9-wheel roller and blade from Phoenix to Globe on Highway 60. “It took us 8 hours one way, going 15 miles an hour. Luckily, I wasn’t doing the driving, but the guy on the roller, Gary Heap, stated, ‘I’ve never seen so many pretty rocks in all my life.’’ In 2003, Sudbrack and his partner, Roman Candelaria, decided to retire from construction and liquidate their machinery. Roman’s son, Richard, and Habgood were offered an opportunity to purchase the equipment and start their own company, which they called Sharp Creek Contracting. Richard came up with the name as he passed a sign that said Sharp Creek while driving up to his dad’s ranch near the Mogollon Rim. “He called me and suggested the name,” Habgood says. “I told him, ‘Sounds good to me; I just wanted to get working and start making money!” The long-term relationships that RoBil established carried over to Sharp Creek with clients like JKD (currently LGE Design Build). Habgood’s mentor, Steve Johnson, stayed on with Sharp Creek until his retirement in 2006. In 2010, Richard bought Habgood out, although he continued running the blade for a few years. When he’s not working, Habgood is an avid hunter and fisherman. Before his stepfather’s passing, he and Bill went quail hunting for more than 40 years. Habgood would like to personally thank those he had the pleasure of working with over the years, specifically, Bill Sudbrack, Roman Candelaria, Steve Johnson, and Gustavo “Gus” Valenzuela. His story is another facet of the RoBil/Sharp Creek legacy, adding to previous articles about Roman Candelaria, Bill Sudbrack, and the recent passing of longtime RoBil employee Wyatt Roer. arizcc.com

GENERATOR OPTIONS • 20kW in stock and up to 320kW available.

COMPRESSOR OPTIONS • 185 cfm in stock and up to 400 cfm available.

• Auxiliary fuel tank connections • Best-In-Class: for extended runtimes. Power transfer Fuel efficiency • SmartLoadTM technology Decibel level rating option prevents: Engine damage • 10 hr run time Nuisance shutdowns Wet stacking Re-gen lockout On-site load banking

Call, Text or Visit... Four Valley Locations East Valley 1313 E Baseline Rd, Gilbert 480-539-8700

North Valley 15634 N 32nd St, Phoenix 602-992-1150

West Valley 803 E Van Buren St, Avondale 623-925-0200

Central Phoenix 4050 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix 602-955-5100

a-zequipment.com Arizona Contractor & Community

Bid Results Oct-Nov 2021 (CMAR) Oracle Junct Florence Hwy FNF Construction $22,147,899 11/23/21

Roadway Asphalt Repairs KE&G Construction KEG $130,258 11/10/21

Warner Road Nevada Street Traffic Signal B&F Contracting $594,681 10/28/21

FY22 HVLV Roadways Catalina Mill & Pave Granite Construction $6,886,850 11/23/21

(CMAR) Road Intersection Improvements AJP Electric $1,100,000 11/9/21

Streetscape Improvements AJP Electric $3,053,441 10/27/21

(CMAR) New Residence Hall AZ Western CORE Construction, Inc. $10,000,000 11/23/21

Tucson Calle Concordia Sunland Asphalt $11,770,000 11/5/21

Sunland Gin Road Meridian $6,418,062 10/26/21

Dennis Construction $847.675 8th St. Storm/Sewer Drain Yuma

FY22 HVLV Roadways District 1/B Mill Pave Sunland Asphalt $7,097,700 11/19/21

Forest Road Connection Fann Contracting $9,242,952 11/4/21

FY22 HV LV Roadways District 1/A Mill Pave KE&G Construction KEG $7,735,000 10/26/21

S&M Construction $75,870 Warren Ave. Waterlines Winslow

Phx Cordes Van Buren St Anthem Contractors West Inc. $4,175,450 11/19/21

Lower Goldwater Lake Park Expansion Fann Contracting $1,596,049 11/4/21

SR 179 Sewer Main Upsize Phase II Standard Construction Co. Inc. $869,555 10/25/21

Crack Fill Various County Roads VSS International $341,000 11/17/21

Eleven Mile Corner Rd Treatment Upgrade Walker River Construction $1,036,301 11/2/21

GAOA Construction Roosevelt Pavement E6 Services $2,744,329 10/22/21

Arizona Pipeline $990,117 Water Main Upgrades Tempe

Materials Labor Lower Raise Manholes Lincoln Constructors $50,000 11/16/21

FY22 HV LV Roadways BOS 1 3 Mill Pave Granite Construction $6,769,053 11/2/21

Claypool Pinto Creek Combs Construction Co. $326,075 10/22/21

Concrete Pad Asphalt Repair Bldg 49 Marsh Development, Inc $248,384 11/12/21

Santa Rosa Pavement Reconstruction Young Swenson & Cross Paving YSC $887,100 11/2/21

Ft Grant Bonita US 191 Combs Construction Co. $375,424 10/22/21

Queen Creek Rd Ellsworth Rd Crismon Rd DCS Contracting Inc. $5,290,000 11/10/21

Peralta Regional Park Construction Granite Construction $4,285,252 10/29/21

November1987 Ashbaugh Constructing $390,205 Water Transmission Lines Yuma

Quality Paving $304,908 Main Replacement Phase III 36th-6th Aves. Tucson W.W. Asphalt $152,843 Street Patching/Cracksealing Peoria KE&G Development $1.09 Million Allison Rd. Construction Ft. Huachuca




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ninety two


January February 2022

Simply better than the best

480.940.0100 | INSEARCHCORP.COM 8845 S HARDY DR. TEMPE, AZ 85284


Arizona Contractor & Community

Advertisers’ index PLEASE Patronize our advertisers, they make this publication possible! A to Z Rentals 480-558-0063 a-zequipment.com

P. 91

DitchWitch 602-437-0351 ditchwitchwest.com

P. 18

Marrs Construction 602-282-4007 marrsconstruction.com

P. 8

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P. 22

Allstate Rent a Fence 602-233-1433 allstatefenceaz.com

P. 71

Dynamic Diesel 602-376-1448 dynamicdieselrepair.com

P. 28

Matt Brown Trucking 602-361-2174 mattbrowntrucking.com

P. 34

Sharp Creek Contracting 602-437-3040 sharpcreek.com

P. 14

Arizona Desert Sweeping 480-279-4433 azdesertsweeping.com

P. 15

E&E Companies 480-251-8929

P. 6

MDI Rock 602-569-8722 mdirock.com

P. 26

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P. 28

Arizona Materials 602-278-4444 arizonamaterials.com

P. 11

ECCO Equipment 602-276-2040 eccoequipment.com

P. 40

Metro Engineering & Survey 623-466-6640 metroaz.net

P. 36

Solterra Materials 602-531-0454

P. 5

Arnold Machinery 801-972-4000 arnoldmachinery.com

P. 9

EES 480-809-4687 emergencyenv.com

P. 77

Metro Traffic Control 623-879-0610 metrotrafficcontrol.net

P. 6

Southwest Asphalt 480-730-1033 fisherind.com


Asphalt Busters 623-936-8800 asphaltbusters.com

P. 6

Elite Sports 602-899-9200 elitesportsbuilders.com

P. 22

Mundall Trucking 602-276-0699 mundalltrucking.com

P. 71

Specialty Companies Group P. 92 623-582-2385 specialtycompaniesgroup.com

Baja Ready Mix 602-503-9391 readymuxconcreteaz.com

P. 34

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P. 46

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P. 20

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P. 4

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P. 44

Fisher’s Tools 800-390-4063 fishertools.com

P. 6

NECA 602-263-0111 azneca.org

P. 26

Sunland Asphalt 602-323-2800 sunlandasphalt.com

P. 10

Branco Machinery 480-892-5657 brancomachinery.com


GenTech 800-625-8324 gentechusa.com

P. 40

New West Oil 602-759-5559 newwestoil.com

P. 30

Sunstate Equipment 888-456-4560 sunstateequip.com

P. 42

Buesing 602-233-3339 buesingcorp.com

P. 7

GoodFellow 623-594-5401 goodfellowcorp.com

P. 24

New Western Rentals 623-847-3594 newwesternrentals.com

P. 4

Superstition Trailers 602-415-0222 stlaz.com

P. 34

P. 14

Herc Rentals 602-269-5931 hercrentals.com

P. 20

Otto Trucking 480-641-3500 ottotrucking.com

P. 12

Trafficade 602-431-0911 trafficade.com

P. 22

Cams 602-331-5455 cams-az.com

P. 32

Insearch Corp 480-940-0100 insearchcorp.com

P. 93

Ozzies 800-758-6634 ozzies.com

P. 64

TSR 602-253-3311 tsraz.com

P. 34

Castle Hot Springs 855-881-7584 castlehotsprings.com

P. 38

Insurica 602-273-1625 insurica.com

P. 46

Pacwest Rentals 480-832-0855 pacwesttrading.com


Vermeer Southwest 480-785-4800 vermeersouthwest.com


CED 602-437-4200 cedphx.com

P. 24

JS Cole 602-633-0990 jscole.com

Preach Building Supply 602-944-4594 preachbuildingsupply.com

P. 32

West Valley Rock 623-386-8777 westvalleyrock.com

P. 13

Cemex 602-416-2652 cemexusa.com

P. 65

KE&G 520-748-0188 kegtus.com

P. 71

Reuter Fabrication 602-415-0449 reuterequipment.com

P. 13

Westrax Machinery 800-411-4717 westraxmachinery.net

P. 86, 87

Christy Signs 602-242-4488 christysigns.com

P. 10

Keystone Concrete 480-835-1579 keystoneconcretellc.com

P. 24

Road Machinery 800-898-7121 roadmachinery.com

P. 44

WillScot 800-782-1500 willscot.com

P. 65

Cliffco 602-442-6913 cliffcorepair.com

P. 3

Landco Power 480-788-1333 landcorental.com

P. 26

RT Underground 602-622-6789

P. 34

Woudenberg Properties 480-620-8555 woudenbergprops.com

P. 3

Custom Truck 833-608-2465 customtruck.com

P. 59

Lang & Klain 480-534-4900 lang-klain.com

P. 38

S&S Paving 602-437-0818 sspaving.com

P. 93

DCS 480-732-9238 dcscontracting.com

P. 44

Law Enforcement Specialists P. 34,36 623-825-6700 offdutypoliceofficers.com

Salt River Materials Group 480-850-5757 srmaterials.com

P. 53

Lithotech 602-254-2427 lithotechaz.com

Shanes Grading & Paving 602-992-2201 shanespaving.com

P. 20

CalPortland 602-817-6929 calportland.com

Diamondback Materials P. 13 623-925-8966 diamonondbackmaterials.com

Ninety four

P. 80, 81

P. 15

For Advertising Inquires contact: Billy Horner 602-931-0069 Billy@arizcc.com

January February 2022

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