SanTan Sun News September 25, 2022

Page 1

CUSD board poised to adopt new state policies

The Chandler Unifi ed School District is catching up with recent changes in state law this month, updating its policies to reflect some major shifts made by the state Legislature earlier this year.

“As you can see, our legislators have been pretty busy,” said Dr. Craig Gilbert, the district’s associate supervisor for Pre-K-12 educational services.

The changes were introduced at the

Sept. 14 Governing Board meeting and are scheduled to be approved by that Board on Sept. 28.

The most controversial change by the Republican-controlled chambers deals with transgender athletes. The law requires districts to separate sports into boys, girls, co-ed or mixed and assign athletes to those teams based on their biological sex. It also allows students and their parents the right to sue if they are harmed by a school knowingly violating that.

While there was a lot of debate about the issue statewide and national, the Governing Board had little to say. They mostly listened to the changes being proposed. That may change when it comes to actually voting for them to comply with state law at the Sept. 28 meeting.Butat its Sept. 13 meeting, Kyrene School District Governing Board members had a lot to say about four of the laws, which also expand parental access to books in school libraries, require a

minute or two of silence at the beginning of each school day and ban mandates for COVID or HPV vaccines forMembersstudents. condemned the laws and postponed a vote on the transgender policy in the hope that the district’s general counsel can craft the policy in a way that distances them and Kyrene from endorsing it.

The Kyrene board stressed, howev-

CUSD’s Weinberg Academy earns national recognition

It didn’t take Weinberg Gifted Academy long to put itself on the map.

The U.S. Department of Education recognized the Chandler Unifi ed school in Gilbert as one of just under 300 Blue Ribbon schools across the country only a year after the academy was opened.

“It’s big because I think a big push with National Blue Ribbon for this year, in particular, was really what did to

make sure kids have what they need during the pandemic. And that it was hard,” said Weinberg Principal Jennifer Nusbaum.Onlysix schools in Arizona were chosen to be National Blue Ribbon Schools this year. CUSD opened Weinberg as its second gifted school in 2021, joining Knox Gifted Academy.

To qualify for a National Blue Ribbon, a school must be nominated and then is selected either because of overall test scores or the growth in those

Ex Chandler football coach takes ASU helm

Shaun Aguano was a coaching legend at Chandler High School.

He built the Wolves into a powerhouse football program that was nationally ranked on several occasions and became a dynasty in 2016-18, when it won the 6A state championship under his leadership.

In 2019, he was hired by Arizona State to lead the running backs.

Now four short years later, Aguano is taking yet another step in his coaching career, albeit in circumstances he is not too keen on.

On Sept. 18, less than 24 hours after the Sun Devils’ loss to Eastern Michigan at home, the university announced that Herm Edwards had relinquished his position as head coach, opening the door for an interim coach from the current staff

to step Aguanoin. was selected.

“It’s been a crazy couple of days,” Aguano said Sept. 18 during his fi rst press conference as interim head coach.“This opportunity, in the grand scheme of things, is a dream for me. All I can ask is for opportunity. So, what do I do with that opportunity in the next nine games? Try to put a product on the fi eld that Sun Devil nation is proud of.”

The running-backs room under Aguano has been one of the strongest position groups in recent years for the Sun Devils.

Aguano coached Eno Benjamin in his fi rst season with the Sun Devils; he was drafted in 2020 by the Arizona Cardinals and is now the team’s No. 2 back behind starter James Conner.After Benjamin, Aguano helped

develop Rachaad White, who is now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chip Trayanum – who recently transferred to Ohio State to play linebacker – and Daniyel Ngata, who is currently part of a two-back system that includes Wyoming transfer X Valladay.Aguano is passionate about the work he has done at Arizona State so Andfar.

he’s eager to begin a new chapter while upholding the same values he’s always had with coaching, which include his Hawaiian culture.“Football is my life,” Aguano said. “Inspiring kids is my life. My kids sacrifi ced 20 years so I could do what I love. I want to make sure that I teach not only my kids, but I want to teach our kids that being a suc-


CUSD asked to do more for eatery started as a Miles

Fifth graders, from left, Avery Spinasanta, Miabella Chislett, Devin Leo and Zoey Duncan use a macro camera to take extreme close-up photos of a leaf in their Photography 2 class at Weinberg Gifted Academy, which was just named a 2022 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education, one of six schools in Arizona to receive the honor. (David Minton/Staff Photographer)

Lesson in excellence

Curtis Canaday shows students a physics demonstration in his class at BASIS Chandler, which recently was ranked the best high school in Arizona and the 11th best in the nation by US News. For a closer look at the charter school, see page 8 (David Minton/Staff Photographer)

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CUSD urged to do more to address student mental health

The mother of a Tempe Union High School student who took his life was among those who urged the Chandler Unifi ed School District Governing Board earlier this month to do more to address the mental health crisis that has led to four students’ suicides since May.

“The superintendent of Tempe Union High School District meets with student reps from each of his schools to see what he is not seeing from his metaphorical lifeguard chair,” said Lorie Warnock.Herson, Mitch, was a senior at Corona del Sol High School when he died in 2016.“He knows his vantage point of the water is different from theirs inside the water,” Warnock said of Tempe Union Superintendent Dr. Kevin Mendivil. “For that reason, he makes time to listen to his students and their experience of the ocean in real time. Why won’t the head lifeguards who manage the pools in this district come down from their chairs to meet their kids in the water?”

Warnock was one of four speakers to address the mental health crisis during the public comments portion of the Sept. 14 board meeting.

“These kids are coming to you, they’re coming to the top, and they’re begging the top to help change the culture,” said Karianna Blanchard, a

founding member of Parents for Suicide Prevention.Bothwomen said the district needs to listen to the students who have been coming to their meetings since June.

“It is said that a district of this size is a big ship to turn around. However, our group and other moms were here in 2018, laying out the same issues related to suicide prevention," Warnock said.

“The term ‘evidence-based’ is used like an educational news-speak weapon against students and community members wishing to speak with district administrators. Here is an evidence-based fact: Med students are now trained to listen to their patients’ stories. They have learned that listening to stories savesWarnocklives.” did credit CUSD for doing more training in mental health awareness than the state requires.

“We all learned big ships can be turned,” Blanchard said. “COVID showed us that. Do our adults have permission and the ability to say, ‘I want to take a minute because I can see you and I want to talk to you. And I want to see if you’re OK,’ because somewhere there’s a disconnect between in this room, and in this building, and all of our other“Webuildings.”areurging a more preventative and proactive approach to suicide and mental health,” said Wendy DeTata, a member of the Chandler Youth Wellbeing Coalition. “We don’t expect the

board and the district to do this alone. We are hoping for more transparency and commitment to mark partnerships.”One student who has become a regular speaker complimented the District for one step it has taken, but said more needs to be “Programsdone.have been implemented for eighth and 10th graders, which is wonderful, and I’m very grateful for that,” said Kailani Higgins, a sophomore at Arizona College Prep High School. “But unfortunately, thoughts like these don’t end after sophomore year. When we end this conversation, we increase the likelihood that more kids will end theirDistrictlives.”offi cials took exception to news stories in the SanTan Sun News and criticized the newspaper for misrepresenting their position.

“There was some misrepresentation on what was said and how that context was taken as well,” said Superintendent Frank Narducci. “There is no intention that suicide should not be talked about in our district, and that we should look at every remedy we possibly can to help students at their point of need at the point of discovery.”

Narducci and board member Lara Bruner both noted the special fi lm that was presented last week presented at an event put on by teen mental health advocate Katey McPherson of Chandler and co-sponsored by the Chandler

Education Foundation.

“My Ascension” details a young woman’s suicide attempt and the events that led to it. McPherson led a panel discussion after the fi lm.

“The fi lm screening is not a district partnership, but we invited them and I’m glad they are promoting it,” said Riana Alexander, one of the co-founders of AZ Students for Mental Health and a senior at Chandler High School. “I don’t see many signs that they are putting the focus they need to on mental health. The only person we have been working with is Natasha Davis (CUSD’s prevention coordinator).”

A CUSD spokesperson was asked for a list of the events the district has planned or scheduled that put a focus on teen suicide and mental health. They replied with a list of steps the district has taken with its commitment to spend more than $5 million to address mental health issues.

The district has 117 employees who in one way or another focus on the mental well-being of students, the spokeswoman said. That includes 92 counselors, 21 social workers and four administrators.CUSDtrained more than 800 staff in mental health fi rst aid last year, and 700 support staff were trained in safe talk this year. More than 150 mental health professionals were also trained in Ap-

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HEALTH on page 4

City’s water treatment chemicals cost soars

Councilman Mark Stewart suffered a bit of sticker shock when Public Works & Utilities Director John Knudson stepped up to the podium at the Sept. 19 Council meeting.

“Wow,” Stewart said after learning the cost for chemicals to treat water had jumped 44%.

Council was looking at two items on its study session consent agenda that dealt with water treatment chemicals: one for about $11.2 million for the city’s treatment plants and another that was close to $4.4 million for city treatment plants and swimming pools for a combined total of close to $15.6 million.

“There are many different influences that are affecting our costs today,” Knudson said. “I’ll give you a kind of the rundown. Obviously, labor, delivery costs, and supply chain issues for all of our chemical suppliers. And there’s one other thing that


has come up that we’ve noticed.”

Knudson said the added expense is a tax that Congress added in the Infrastructure and Jobs Act that went into effect in July. The tax is the Superfund chemical excise tax that started in the 1980s but Congress ended in 1995.

“And the bad thing about it is the cost of that can be up to about $9.50 per ton of the chemicals that we bring in. And we’re bringing in, as I said, truckloads and truckloads.”

Other factors forcing prices up are a shortage of raw materials and a number of chemical production facilities have closed.

Knudson said the overall increase of 44% has been driven by a few chemicals that have seen huge increases. Knudson said bleach is up 93%, and sodium hydroxide, or lye, is up 100%.

Only about $430,000 of the money would go toward treating water for the city’s swimming pools.

Stewart asked if the city would be able to absorb the cost without passing

to help parents understand the issues.

the increase on to its customers.

Knudson said that for now, the city can. He added the city takes a look at its water rates and costs on a two-year cycle to make sure they are charging enough to cover costs. The last increase came on July 1 of this year.

He said the city will begin the process of looking at utility rates and costs in the coming months for another possible adjustment in 2024.

“Fortunately, for us, our rates are very, very low,” Knudson said. “Our rate increases that we’ve planned are quite low. So if we do have to adjust based on revenue and expenses that we will review, it could affect us, but it shouldn’t be too Stewartmuch.”took aim at the federal government.“Itsounds like another overreaction in inflationary causes from the federal government and our residents are going to have to bite this one too,” Stewart said. “It’s a shame.”


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from page 3

plied Suicide Intervention Skills Training.

CUSD has added Lifeline hotline numbers to the back of student IDs and put hotline numbers on school buses. It has increased the number of mental health clubs and added wellness/mindfulness rooms. It also plans a “parent university”

The district gives prevention lessons from kindergarten through sixth grade, and specialized lessons in the seventh, eighth, 10th and 11th grades. The ASU mental health toolkit is available for all high school students.

There are other programs as well.

“CUSD is dedicated to keeping everyone well,” the district said in a state-

ment. “Parents/guardians/stakeholders, you are our eyes and ears. This needs to be a community focus. This will take all of us as a collective group because we are stronger together. In closing, CUSD takes this topic very seriously and we are actively seeking ways to grow and improve our partnerships, resources, and efforts when it comes to raising awareness for youth mental health.




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testNusbaumscores. said she thinks the school was nominated by the Arizona Department of Education and was selected because of the growth of test scores. A lot of that growth has to do with the conversion from Weinberg Elementary into a gifted academy.

Students must test into a gifted academy, and the testing starts quite young with kids as young as 4 tested even though they usually don’t read at that age. It’s a cognitive test that identifi es gifted students at an early age.

“It’s all graphics-based, not textbased,” Nusbaum said of the test.

All second graders at all CUSD schools are given the test. Then, if they are identifi ed as a gifted student, their parents can decide if they want to move them to a gifted academy or not.

There are 609 K-6 students at Weinberg, but even though all students

COACH from page 1

cessful father, being a successful citizen of society, that’s the most important.

“That Ohana is a huge meaning for me because it’s all about family.”

Aguano’s interim status was met with positive reaction from the Chandler community and those who are faithful to the Sun Devils. While college football is a different animal, Aguano’s track record before his arrival to Arizona

State speaks for itself.

He led Chandler to an 88-19 record in his eight seasons. He developed several high-level college football players, including Arizona State standouts Chase Lucas and N’Keal Harry, who are both now in the NFL.

Arizona State kept those two players for their college careers. But in recent years, keeping good players has been a struggle for the university.

are gifted, that doesn’t mean they are exceptional in all areas, Nusbaum said.

“They don’t come in tidy little packages, gifted learners. They come with all kinds of asynchrony,” she said. “So, their intelligence in one area might be here, but then their social emotional learning might be quite low.”

Teachers add more rigor at a gifted academy. There’s also more of a focus on STEM education. Have a gifted classroom allows teachers to try new things to help students find what interests them.

“Our teachers are so flexible, they’re not stuck into having to do one thing,” said Carolyn Ragatz, who teaches performing arts for all grades at Weinberg. “We also do so much collaboration and working together. [The students] have a lot more freedom in expressing themselves and finding opportunities to do

Weinberg gifted Academy Principal Jennifer Nusbaum was delighted that the school earned a 2022 Blue Ribbon. (David Minton/Staff Photographer)

“I will personally recruit Arizona kids,” Aguano said. “I’m an Arizona guy, I’ve been here for 20 years. I understand the landscape and what it means. My kids were born in Arizona. There’s not one coach, that I think, in the nation that loves Arizona and is in place at Arizona State that I think can do a better job than I can. That’s just the way I always bet on myself.”

what works for them.”

Since Weinberg is relatively new, the students have experienced being at both a traditional elementary school and a gifted academy. Sixth-grader Jocelyn Herman said there is defi nitely a difference.“Wedo a lot more fun activities, and we do a lot more group projects,” Jocelyn said. “A lot more hands on. We don’t all have to sit in desks and face forward.”Another sixth grader, Miko Karp, said the whole school takes pride in the Blue Ribbon distinction.

“It means that we’re one of the best schools in the state, and we haven’t even been a school for five years yet,” MikoNusbaumsaid. credited district offi cials, teachers and staff and parents for helping the school receive the recognition.

CUSD schools have been named either a National Blue Ribbon School or earned an A+ school of excellence award from the state 95 times since 1983.

opportunity means to him and his family.

He described his house as loud and boisterous when they received the news. He also estimated 27 notes he had written down on the notepad on his bedside table throughout a sleepless night heading into his fi rst full day as interim head coach on Monday.

Aguano hopes to change that.

Aguano became emotional during the press conference on a few occasions.

He explained in detail how much this

Aguano knows taking over the program won’t be an easy task. over politics. for public schools, rights Pawlik House District 13

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See COACH on page 10

QC nearing completion of big water deal

Queen Creek is dotting i’s and crossing t’s in a $21-million deal to purchase Colorado River water from GSC Farm in Cibola that will yield 2,033 acre-feet of water annually for the town through the Central Arizona Project canal system.That would satisfy the water needs of at least 4,066 homes a year and possibly as many as about 6,000.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation this month cleared the way for Queen Creek’s purchase, which has been under consideration since 2019 and it already has been approved by the Arizona officials.AndTown Council this Wednesday, Sept. 21, will hold a hearing on the deal before taking a final vote on it.

Here’s how the water will get here: Lake Mead, which straddles the border of Arizona and Nevada, is a reservoir that stores Colorado River water, held back by the iconic Hoover Dam.

When an order comes in from a city or town, dam operators send the water to the Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal system at Lake Havasu, Arizona.

“Instead of our water going south to Cibola, it will take a left hand turn at Lake Havasu and it will go into the CAP canal,” said Paul Gardner, director

of public utilities for the town. “As it crosses the Salt River in Mesa, it heads south and east to Queen Creek.”

The CAP canal forms part of Queen Creek’s border, so once the water arrives, it will be diverted to a storage facility that the town has been building

Most Arizona municipalities didn’t either, although some have one into the first stage of a water management plan that calls for more education on conservation and urging consumers to reduce water usage by 5%. However, there are no mandatory restrictions on

for a Noyear.matter how the water is used, Gardner said, the goal will to be to offset any underground aquifer use at all.

“If we pull out 2,000-acre feet, 2,000-acre feet of the Cibola water will go back into the aquifer,” he said.

“The philosophy is to stretch the groundwater out to maybe 200 years or 300, where it almost become sustainable ... to where that aquifer just becomes what we would consider the storage facility and water treatment plant for Gardnerus.”said this philosophy is

in anticipation of this water deal going through.Think of it as a series of giant retention“Thebasins.water will percolate down into the ground and that’s how we will store it,” Garner said. “The water district will use it and not pump groundwater.”

Groundwater is a significant factor in the town’s water equation.

Queen Creek says it sits on a 100year groundwater supply and did not react to federal drought actions in mid-August that called for water restrictions.

water use in those municipalities.

Once in Queen Creek’s retention basins, the water from Cibola will eventually comingle with the underground supply, effectively increasing the size of the 100-year aquifer.

“What will happen is this 2,000-acre feet of water will be stored and it will go down into the aquifer and it will be stored for either future pumping or for current pumping,” Gardner said.

The Arizona Department of Water Resources estimates than one acre foot of water can serve at least two and possible three households in the state

ancient.Hepointed to the Egyptians, who took water out of the Nile and dug a storage basin lower than the river at which point the water would be purified as it percolated through the sand. Queen Creek wants to do the same thing with the Cibola water.

Not everyone is happy with the water

“ is not seeking a sustainable water supply,” said state Rep. Regina Cobb, R- La Paz County, in a letter of opposition to sale, which she and others sent to the governor. “The town is seek ing aggressive economic development.”

Others think buying river water from other places and routing it to booming

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“We are going to continue to stay aggressive and we’re going to continue to do our best to take what we call this finite water supply that we have and stretch it out from 100 years to 200 to 300 to 400 hundred to basically sustainable to where it’s forever water.”
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See WATER on page 12

How BASIS Chandler stays on top of Arizona high schools

BASIS Chandler Head of School Matthew FritzMiller often gives the tour when parents are considering sending their children to the charter school.

When he mentions that every student at BASIS must take Advanced Placement classes, they sometimes pause and look at him wide-eyed.

“Parents eyes get really big when I say ‘APs in the fi fth grade, right?” FritzMiller

Thesaid.eyes are just as wide for their children, he said, before they take their fi rst AP test.

“A lot of our students, when they go and take their APs, they’ll be really worried at fi rst,” said FritzMiller. “And you know, and I’m always there at the beginning, talking them down, calming them down. And 90% of the time, they leave saying, ‘Wow, that was a lot easier than I thought it would be.’”

BASIS Chandler has been ranked the top high school in Arizona since 2019. If you look at U.S. News’ ranking of the best high schools in Arizona, 10 of the top 12 are BASIS schools. The same publication ranks BASIS Chandler as the 11th best high school in the nation.

So what has BASIS figured out that the other schools in the state haven’t?

“I honestly believe it’s that preparation, starting them in fi fth grade, getting them acclimated to what a high

stakes test is,” FritzMiller said.

BASIS Chandler teaches students from the fi fth grade through senior year of high school. FritzMiller said they start introducing them to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) right away.

The advance placement classes and tests actually start in high school, but BASIS begins preparing their students for them in the fi fth grade.

“Starting in sixth grade, students

take biology and chemistry and physics,” FritzMiller said. “And they do that for sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. So whereas most schools, you’ve got like a general science class, and it kind of picks on bits of that, our students are getting biology from a biology teacher, physics from a physics teacher, and chemistry from a chemistry teacher.”

BASIS Chandler graduates 100% of its students and all of them are ready for college, which is why it places so high

on state and national lists.

There are other factors that help beside that early preparation.

For one, there are about 334 students in grades 9-12. That makes it one of the smaller schools in the area when you compare it to the thousands attending Hamilton or Perry high schools.

And success breeds success.

FritzMiller said when students get a taste of doing well on one AP test, it makes them eager to try more. And to study more.

He said his school may have smaller enrollment, but the typical class has about 25 students – same as most public high Gettingschools.into BASIS is not easy. The state uses a lottery system to assign students to their preferred charter school. Because of its reputation, BASIS Chandler gets a lot of requests.

FritzMiller said most of the new enrollees come from their two primary K-4Studentsschools. who have previous ties to BASIS – such as those with siblings attending the school – also get priority.

Last year about 1,000 students tried to get into BASIS Chandler. Last year’s graduating senior class was under 100.

FritzMiller said not all of the students who attend his schools come with helicopter parents who are heavily

Matthew FritzMiller is Head of School at BASIS Chandler Charter School. (David Minton/ Staff Photographer)
BASIS on page 9

involved in their education.

“Three years ago, I gave a diploma to a student who spent quite a bit of her high school career homeless,” FritzMiller said. “There were certainly times when she could have said, ‘This is too hard.’ But she didn’t. And man, that was one of the most meaningful diplomas for me to hand out. Every year we’ve got stories of kids that could have given up.”

To graduate from a BASIS school, students must pass at least six AP tests. FritzMiller said that his students average 13, and that some students take up to 20. Many of those are not enrolled in

a class, but the subject interests them so they study it independently before taking the test, he said.

“I think a lot of our students, once they take that first AP test, they realize,

‘Oh, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.’ And then they take two or three the next year, and then they take, you know, three, four or five that following year. They start to enjoy it, maybe enjoy

is the wrong word to use. But it’s not as daunting as they originally would have thought.”

Information: 480-907-6072, enroll

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er, they would obey the new laws and unanimously approved the policies conforming to the library, silence and vaccine measures. They also indicated they would not disobey the transgen der policy but wanted to see if language could be adopted that would not conflict with its equity policy.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association approved the first transgender athlete to compete in a high school sport in 2014. While the issue generates headlines, it will have an impact on a small number of students. The AIA has granted only 16 waivers to transgender athletes to compete since 2017.

Andi Young, who is co-chair of the Arizona Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN), said there was no need for this new law.

“It was a solution looking for a problem,” Young said. “At the time it was approved, I believe there were 10

transgender kids competing, and none of them were the top in the state. And there were already rules in place about trans youth competing in sports. Our opponents like to target our transgender youth to fire up their base and get their voters to the polls.”

Here are the other changes:

• Schools are prohibited from referring students to, or using any sexually explicit material except allowed in sex education classes. There is an exemption for material that has serious educational value.

• Parents may request and view any records that relate to their children. They also have a right to know what books their child has checked out of the library. And parents have the right to sue the district if any of their parental rights have been violated.

• Schools cannot insist on students getting vaccinated against COVID-19 or any of its variants to attend classes.

The law barring mandated shots to protect against the sexually transmitted

human papillomavirus has been on the books since 2007 but the Legislature this year added a ban on mandating COVID-19 vaccines.

At the time of its passage, Arizona joined 23 other states in banning HPV shots on grounds it encouraged students to engage in sexual activity. By 2018, the Centers for Disease Control reported that more than 43 million teens and young adults had contracted some form of HPV, which can cause everything from genital warts to cancers.

• Districts cannot require young students to wear a mask without parental consent.

• Parents can sue the district if they usurp the rights of parents in the upbringing, education, health care or mental health of their children. This is primarily directed at the teaching on controversial sensitive issues.

• The district must add a 9/11 education day, where it gives age-appropriate les sons about the terrorist attacks in 2001.

• Outside contractors who work as school psychologists no longer need

to be licensed if their work is in the educational institution setting.

• Both parents of current and prospective students have the right to visit a school and tour the campus or monitor a classroom.

• Increases the number of questions students must answer correctly on a civics test to graduate from 60 to 70.

• Schools must set aside one to two minutes each day for a moment of silence. Teachers cannot direct the students on what to meditate on. Students should consult with their parents on how best to use that time.

• Districts are modifying eligibility for waivers that allow a student to attend a school in another district than where he lives if there are logistical reasons (distance, transportation, etc.) why they cannot go to a school in their district.

• Ha zing is now a Class 1 misdemeanor. If the victim dies, then it becomes a Class 4 felony. The major change is the definition of hazing.

CUSD parent alarmed by book her son found in school library

Chandler parent Charlotte Lawrence said her 11-year-old son handed her a book he found at his school library and said, ‘Mom, I don’t know if this is appropriate for me.’

“So I took the book, read it myself, and then told my son not to read it,” Lawrence said.

The book in question is “George,” by Alex Gino. It’s the story of a fourth-grader who sees herself as a girl while the rest of the world sees her as a boy named LawrenceGeorge.saidshe met with Carlson Elementary School Principal Andy Morgan and he told her that the book should not have been in their library.

During the Sept. 14 Chandler Unified School District Governing Board meet ing, Lawrence read some of passages that she found inappropriate for children her son’s age.

“Page 47,” she began. “George read on the internet that he could take girl hormones to change his body and get surgeries if he wanted to. It’s called transitioning. He could even start before turning 18 by taking pills called androgen blockers.”

She went on to describe a scene where George and his best friend were dressing in girls’ clothes and the best

The mother of a CUSD fifth grader CUSD student complained about this book in her son's school library. (File photo)

friend gave him some girls’ undies to wear.

Lawrence read a half dozen passages from the book that she found inappropriate.“IfI were to hand this book to a child on the street, I’d be arrested,” Lawrence said. “So this should not be in our schools. Parents in this community do

not want Superintendentthis.” Frank Narducci said an investigation is underway.

“We have already been on that and have been addressing that as well,” Narducci said to a question about the book from board member Jason Olive. “Our staff is on top of it.”

In another section of the book Lawrence read, the lead character’s brother asks if he will go all the way and have the surgery to become a girl.

Lawrence was not the only speaker to object to “George.”

“I’m just going to piggyback on Char lotte’s points about the book that her son has discovered,” said Sean Smith. “I am re ally concerned about the direction of what is being taught in some of the schools.

“I am anxious when I drop my daughter off at school. I am continuously asking her if she feels safe, if she’s being taught anything that is inappropriate. That is not what I should be worried about when I drop my daughter off at school every day.”

Lawrence said she is happy with how the district has handled the book since she“Obviously,complained.the district is reviewing the book,” she said. “But it shouldn’t have been there in the first place. The principal did admit that it should not have been in the library.”

Andi Young, who is co-chair of the

Arizona Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN), said studies show it is better overall for students if books like “George” are included in libraries.

“About 80% of transgender students experience harassment and bullying in school,” Young said. “Being able to see themselves in a positive way, reflected back at them, is really important.”

Young said it’s not only important for transgender youth, but also helps the rest of the student body become more accepting and lessens the hostility that trans youth experience.

As for the age, if this is something sixth-graders should be reading, Young said,“I’myes.a parent of a transgender youth, and I’ve been involved with many trans groups,” she said. “We see kids who come out as early as they can talk. Other kids, they don’t come out until much older, and that’s usually because of the hostility they experience.”

As of Jan. 1, school districts will be required by a new state law to provide parents greater access to their children’s school libraries and provide them on demand with a list of books their children take out.

Districts also will be required to hold a 60-day review period for any new addi tions to school libraries and media centers and give parents a seven-day advance notice when that review period begins.

the best teams in the nation. He has the same confidence in Arizona State.

It still has an NCAA investigation hanging over its head and just suffered one of its worst losses in program histo ry heading into matchups with three nationally ranked opponents in Utah, USC and Washington.

But while at Chandler he prided himself on believing in his players to play

“I think we have the talent to challenge anybody,” Aguano said. “I feel I have the expertise from a game management situation – and I’ll fall a little bit on Marvin Lewis as well – but that hasn’t changed. I think we can compete with anybody in the country.”

Before Aguano took over as the Chandler head coach, he recalled sitting

at the Arizona coaching conventions where he heard successful high school coaches and Division I college coaches speak. Year after year, he would move up until he sat in the first row.

He told his wife he would be a head football coach one day.

It happened at Chandler and now just four years later, at Arizona State.

It’s been his dream to become a college head coach, and he hopes to be

able to drop the interim tag after this year and get a shot at doing it full-time for the Sun Devils.

“It’s the opportunity I had been asking for,” Aguano said. “Now with that opportunity, you have to go make sure you can keep that opportunity. I’m going to ask for (fans') support.

“You’ve got an Arizona coach who loves Arizona in this spot. Now let’s go and help an Arizona guy stay here.”

from page 1
COACH from page 6
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and thirsty areas like Queen Creek is short-sighted.“It’sgoingto be a huge transfer of wealth if they succeed,” Mohave County Supervisor Travis Lingenfelter said during the public hearing stage of the sale. “It’s a horrible precedent to set and it opens the floodgates to similar water deals.”

The attorney representing GSC Farm, Grady Gammage, Jr. disagrees.

“I don’t think this proposal opens any floodgates or creates some massive precedent for other transfers to take place,” said Gammage, Jr., an attorney representing GSC.

“There is plenty of water on the river for both urban growth and continued agricultural use. This is not in any way going to cause some catastrophic result in water on the river,” he said.

Historically, it was common practice for farmers and other residents to take matters into their own hands when it came to water. The closer that your land was to the mouth of the river that you lived near, the luckier you were and the more “water rights” you had.

That’s because prior to statehood and thus any real regulation, water rights were largely decided simply by where you put down roots.

Things really haven’t changed all that much. It’s just that now, water diversion is a highly legalized, complicated, high stakes and a pricey endeavor, and the population relying on the water is astronomically larger.

“Arizona has always moved water to where the people are. They’ve never moved people to where the water is,” Gardner said. “Where people want to locate that’s where they’ve always moved water.

“That’s why you have Salt River Project. That’s why you have Lake Mead and Lake Powell. We haven’t moved people to the rivers. We’ve actually moved the rivers to where people want to live.”

Queen Creek will get its water from the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, which will not be affected by the deal.

By selling its water to Queen Creek, GSC Farm, which has said it wants to stop irrigating most of its farmland and will keep enough water rights to develop 400 acres.

“It’s not like this land is going to sit there and have dust blowing in the wind,” Gardner said. “This is going to be something where it’s developed for a better use. It’s like a sportsman’s ranch.”

Once the paperwork is done and the water starts flowing down from Lake Havasu, about 4 ½ million gallons, or 13 ½ acre feet, of water will be diverted into the Queen Creek retention basins every day, forever, as long as the Colorado River continues to supply it.

And the town is not done looking for additional water.

“We are going to continue to stay aggressive and we’re going to continue to do our best to take what we call this finite water supply that we have and stretch it out from 100 years to 200 to 300 to 400 hundred to basically sustainable to where it’s forever water,” Gardner said.

Queen Creek expects their water to start arriving early next year.

This map shows part of the Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal system at Lake Havasu, which opposed the deal because the Colorado River is its primary water source. (Special to the STSN)
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Resource officers explain their role on CUSD campuses

Dr. Craig Gilbert is the associate superintendent for K-12 educational services for the Chandler Unifi ed School District. He is also a Black man.

“I don’t usually talk too much about this,” Gilbert said at the Sept. 14 CUSD Governing Board meeting. “Where I grew up, I will tell you, when I saw a police offi cer, I [had more fear than thinking] they were coming to help me.”

Gilbert was one of the presenters during a study session on school resource offi cers, the program that puts good guys with guns on the campuses of some CUSD junior high and high schools.Board Member Lindsay Love said not everyone views them as good guys with guns and that some from Black and Hispanic and other minority communities are afraid of those offi cers.

“What do you do, though, with our students who are fearful of police?” Love asked. “They’re seeing things like Anthony Cano, who was gunned down last year by Chandler police, right? They’re seeing things on the news, right? With regards to relationships between police and unarmed people of color or people with disabilities, how do you overcome that?”

Cano, 17, of the Galveston area, was riding his bike home from the Boys & Girls Club when a police offi cer tried

to pull him over in January 2021. Cano fled, and during the pursuit, pulled out a gun. He may have been trying to throw it away. Offi cer Chase Bebak-Miller shot Cano twice, the second time when Cano was lying face down on the ground. The Maricopa County Attorney did not charge the offi cer in that case.

Offi cer Stephen Dieu, the school resource offi cer at Chandler High, said he and his fellow SROs try to treat everyone with dignity and respect. They also try to be “Sometransparent.oftheseconcepts are things that continually are reminded in my mind when interacting with those who might not have had a pleasant experience with law enforcement and it’s about building that bridge,” Dieu said.

CUSD has 11 school resource officers paid for through a combination of grants and district funding. They are: ACP Middle School, Andersen Junior High, Bogle Junior High, Santan Junior High, Willis Junior High, ACP High School, Basha High, Chandler High and Hamilton High.

One of those offi cers splits their time between two schools. Chandler Police Department provides the offi cers to nine of the schools. Two work for the Gilbert Police Department and cover Perry High and Perry Junior High while a Queen Creek Police offi cer

Often referred to as “Super SRO” by colleagues, Chandler Police School Resource Offi cer Stephen Offi cer Dieu explained at a recent CUSD Governing Board meeting how he and his colleagues approach their job on CUSD campuses. (Special to SanTan Sun News)
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More kids heading to school without basic vaccines

An increasing number of vaccine deniers coupled with one of the easiest opt-out provisions in the nation has left Arizona with close to one out of every 10 kindergartners unprotected against key childhood diseases.

That’s causing concerns from the state’s top health offi cial.

“The measles MMR vaccine is highly effective,’’ said Don Herrington, interim director of the state Department of Health Services.

The same vaccine also protects against mumps and rubella and that a high vaccination rate is the best way to prevent an outbreak among those who can’t be vaccinated due to medical or religious reasons, or simply because they’re too young.

Yet during the last school year, the most recent data available, only 90.6% of Arizona kindergartners actually got the MMR vaccine, Herrington said –“well short of the 95% threshold considered necessary to prevent localized outbreaks.’’Theresult are those outbreaks, like three new cases of measles earlier this month in Maricopa County, including an adult and two minors, all unvaccinated. One had to be hospitalized.

And Herrington said these are not innocuous diseases.

“Measles, in particular, you can have loss of hearing,’’ he told Capitol Media Services. “It can affect their intellectual development. You can have brain swelling. It’s killed people.’’

But of particular concern are the increasing number of parents who are claiming a “personal exemption’’ from the requirement that children attending school be vaccinated against not just measles, mumps and rubella but a host of other diseases. They need not provide any reason at all.

The result is that 6.6% of kindergartners in school statewide have a personal exemption for one or more vaccines. Of Chandler Unifi ed's approximate 43,000 students, fewer than 1,000 in each of the last four years have obtained exemptions from mandatory shots, according to district data.

The highest number of exemptions occurred in the 2021-22 school year, with 898 while about 600 obtained exemptions in the other three years, including the current school year.

At the high school level, students must show proof of vaccination for tetanus, polio, MMR, hepatitis, chicken pox and Meganmeningococcal.Sterling,executive director of community relations for Tempe Union said a total 272 of about 13,000 students have exemptions, including eight at Mountain Pointe and 53 at Desert Vista.

Will Humble, executive director of

the Arizona Public Health Association called the decline in childhood immunizations in the state “insidious” and noted that the rate has been dropping about a half percent a year for the past decade.According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Arizona is one of only 14 states that has a personal exemption. Gov. Doug Ducey, who has seen the personal opt-out rate for kindergarten-required vaccinations rise from 1.4% in 2000 to 6.6% now, showed no interest in asking lawmakers to eliminate thatCalifornia,privilege.facing a measles outbreak at Disneyland in 2019, eliminated the personal exemption. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation saying parents could not use personal or philosophical exemptions and still send their children to school.

Humble said Herrington’s agency is not entirely powerless even if Arizona keeps its personal exemption.

He pointed out the department actually had worked with state Sen. Heather Carter to create a pilot program in 2018 to provide educational materials to parents seeking to opt out of one or more vaccines. The idea was to show the benefits outweigh any risks.

But the effort was scrapped after complaints from some parents who feared they would have to take the

course to get the personal exemption, something that was not true.

Humble, who was health director before Ducey took offi ce, said the agency should revisit the plan.

All that is based on his view that there’s a direct link between vaccine acceptance and education and the related issue of income, one he said was borne out by a study the University of Arizona did for the health department a year

“Theago.lower income families, when their pediatrician says something, they believe it. It’s ‘the doctor recommended this, so this is what I’m going to do,’ ‘’ Humble said.

And those with higher income and more“Youeducation?getpeople who think they know more than the doctor knows,’’ he said. “So I guess it’s hubris when you think you’re smarter than you really are about things and question the physician’s recommendations and therefore decide on your own not to vaccinate, either based on what your friends are saying in the friend group or what you’re reading on Facebook or whatever those sources of bad information are.’’

Herrington said he’s not prepared to have that fight again.

“I think it really was like a line in the sand for some people,’’ he said of the

16 NEWS THE SUNDAY SANTAN SUN NEWS | SEPTEMBER 25, 2022 CLIPPER MAGAZINE Release Approve By: 08/15/22 your Account Service Coordinator: Mandy Foster - Elizabeth Darrach the property of CLIPPER MAGAZINE and may not be repro Please review your proof carefully. CLIPPER MAGAZINE is not for any error not marked. PLACEMENT MAY CHANGE PRIOR TO PUBLICATION. MARTHA NEESE FOR VON HANSON S MEATS SPIRIT Account #: CL112232 Ad #:;mi.vonhanonsmeats@gmail.com480-917-2995alesRep:GaryMillslagle Mail Week: 08/29/2022 A rea: 02763-08-22 Chandler-West/Gilbert ❑ Ad is approved ❑ Ad is approved with changes ❑ Ad is not approved make changes indicated SIGNATURE APPROVE YOUR AD OR SUBMIT CHANGES BY CLICKING THE APPROPRIATE BUTTON ABOVE OR SIGN YOUR PROOF & FAX TO THE NUMBER ABOVE. Elliot Rd.Rd.SchoolAlmaN. Warner Rd. 72 SALE!HOUR 10% SENIOR DAY Discount 55 or older Tuesday, Sept. 13th on purchases of $30 or more. Excludes sale items. Von Hanson's Own... DINNER'S DONE AZ store only. Expires 9/30/22. Lasagna (approx. 2.5 lb., 1/2 Pan Beef or Italian) & 1 Loaf Garlic or Cheese Bread $15 99 &BakeServe Von Hanson's Own... DINNER'S DONE AZ store only. Expires 9/30/22. 2 Bacon-Wrapped Sirloin Filets & 1 Green Bean Casserole $2499 Von Hanson's Own... DINNER'S DONE AZ store only. Expires 9/30/22. 1 lb. Sloppy Joe, 1 lb. Coleslaw and a pkg. of 4 Hamburger Buns $15 99 Wine Sale SAVE 20% When you buy 4 bottles of wine Von Hanson’s Own... Equal or lesser value. Limit 2 free. AZ store only. EXPIRES 9/30/22. Buy 2 Racks, Get 3rd Rack Free Fresh or Smoked Pork BABY BACK RIBS Von Hanson’s Own $6.99 lb. ASSORTED FLAVORS BEEF SLIDER PATTIES AZ store only. EXPIRES 9/30/22. Von Hanson’s Own $6.99 lb. CARDINAL BRATS (SALSA & PEPPER JACK CHEESE) AZ store only. EXPIRES 9/30/22. Von Hanson’s Own $5.99 lb. OUR OWN DELI COLESLAWFRESH AZ store only. EXPIRES 9/30/22. Von Hanson’s Own 2 for $15 8 OZ. CHICKEN SKEWERS BUTCHER’S BLEND & ROSEMARY AZ store only. EXPIRES 9/30/22. Limit 2 lbs. AZ store only. Valid Fri 23 Sat 24 & Sun 25 2022 only. Von Hanson’s Own... TRAIL MIX Sausage and Cheese $1.00 off per lb. Limit 2 free. AZ store only. Valid Fri 23 Sat 24 & Sun 25 2022 only. Von Hanson’s Own Fresh... GRILL STEAKS Seasoned or Unseasoned Buy 2, Get 3rd FREE Equal or Lesser Value LEAN GROUND BEEF (frozen) Von Hanson’s Own… #10 lb. bag · 1 lb. packages $3 off per 10 lb. bag AZ store only. EXPIRES 9/30/22. Save $1.00 Per Lb. Von Hanson’s Own... OLDSKIN-ONFASHIONEDWIENERS AZ store only. (Limit 2 lbs.) Valid Fri 23rd Sat 24th & Sun 25th 2022 only. Save $1.00 /pkg. Von Hanson’s Own... JALAPEÑOBRATSCHEESE AZ store only. Valid Fri 23rd Sat 24th & Sun 25th 2022 only. Save $1.00 /pkg. Von Hanson’s Own... CHEDDAR DOGS AZ store only. Valid Fri 23 Sat 24 & Sun 25 2022 only. TAILGATE TOUCHDOWN! We process BOTH Fresh & Frozen Wild Game! WE CAN EVEN MAKE JAVELINA TASTE GOOD!! Visit us: On Alma School Road, between Elliot & Warner Hours: Mon-Sat 9am-6pm • Sun 10am-6pm 2390 N. ALMA SCHOOL • CHANDLER • 480-917-2525 DOWNLOAD OUR NEW SAVINGMONEY-APP! DINNER TONIGHT, OVEN READY Military Dayactive & retiredEverySAVEMonday10%onpurchaseof 30 or more.Excludes sale items. Von Hanson’s Meats & Spirits Sept. 23rd, 24th & 25th, 2022 Dry-Aged45-Day TOMAHAWKRIBS Now offering fresh seafood! Fish Fillets: Grouper, Atlantic salmon, Halibut, Ahi Tuna, Salmon, Swordfish, Cod, Catfish fillets, Walleye, and also Wild Gulf Mexican shrimp! (Seafood at AZ store only.) WePrimeCarryNowPork Arizona store only. We accept Food Stamps • We reserve the right to limit quantities We are on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram & Yelp! Share your photos with #VonHansonsMeats Deli Salads All Made In-House! Ham Salad, Chicken Salad, Pasta Salads, Pulled BBQ Chicken or Pork, and More!!! BE SURE TO CHECK OUT OUR DeliFreshSalads! © 2022 Clipper Magazine 2058 S Dobson Rd. Ste 9, Mesa, Az 85202 480.456.0176 • AUDIOLOGIST!BEST VOTE FOR US FOR BEST AUDIOLOGY IN THIS YEAR’S BEST OF THE BEST! Vote for US! VOTE NOW! 2022 Chandler Gilbert Mesa BESTOF 2022 BESTOF 2022
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EV Charity League honors area girls for their service

The National Charity League East Valley has recognized a number of teen women with the Presidential Service Award for their volunteer contributions to various service agencies across the Valley that totaled over 4,402 community service hours.

The nonprofit, whose mission is to encourage community service for mothers and their daughters, bestows the national award to recipients who have demonstrated a commitment to helping others.

The NCL East Valley Chapter had 35 members honored for community service provided to a variety of agencies including: Paz de Cristo, Arizona Humane Society, Hackett House, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Feed My Starving Children, Operation Gratitude, St. Mary’s Food Bank and more.

This year 17 members were recognized with the Presidential Gold Award for contributing over 100 community service hours; three received the Presidential Sil ver Award for contributing over 75 com munity service hours; and 15 Presidential Bronze Awards were given in recognition of over 50 community service hours.

Their total of 4,402 service hours equaled 183 days of community service over a 10-month period.

Malia Spangler, class of 2026 and Gold Presidential Service Award winner, said, “My favorite way to earn hours was this year’s back to school drive. It

was so fun to help kids find clothes, new shoes, and items for back to school.”“Being a member of NCL is important to me because I enjoy spending time with my mother and I’ve learned that it’s important to ask for help when you need it,” she added.

Paige Davies-Boerner, class of 2024 and Bronze Presidential Service Award recip ient, said, “My motivation to receive the Presidential Service Award was to know the positive impact that all of my hours were going to have on the community.

“Being a member of NCL is important

to me because it connects me to my com munity, both socially and philanthropically. It has shown me some of the amazing organizations that are within a few miles of me that are here to help different parts of the community,” she Mother/daughteradded.teams interested in learning more on how you can get involved with the NCL East Valley Chapter are urged to contact The membership drive begins Oct. Established1. in Los Angeles, California in 1925, and incorporated in 1958, National Charity League, Inc. is the nation’s

premier mother-daughter non-profit organization.Throughmission-based program

ming, The National Charity League develops socially responsible communi ty leaders and strengthens the mother daughter bond. The core program in cludes leadership development, commu nity service, and cultural experiences.

Currently, the philanthropic orga nization, which has grown by nearly 82 percent in the last decade, has over 70,000 members in hundreds of chapters across the nation. Last year, those members contributed more than 2.7 million volunteer hours to more than 4,000 local philanthropy partners and their chapters, resulting in a $66 million fiscalGilbertimpact.teens honored were: Stepha nie Brueck, Alaina Oswalt, Divya Natarajan and Krista Oswalt.

Chandler teens included: Sahana Donepudi, Erin Kennedy, Elizabeth Neves, Lillian Tripoli, Laney Hunsaker, Katie Eberle and Susan Meyers-Kennedy.

Mesa teens honored were: Malia Spangler and Ashley Chaloupka.

Tempe Teens who received were Abigail Dalsin, Grace Kolinchak, Riya Nannapaneni, Sadie Peterson, Claire Samuelson, Isabella Smith, Brynn Taylor, Lilly Zienkewicz, Anna Maney, Alana Marquis, Claire Zienkewicz, Kate Bonham, Paige Davies-Boerner, Abigail Dreckman, Ella Montei, Aubrey Roach, Caroline Sweeney, Ava Titcomb, Lily Dalsin and Celeste Kolinchak.

Make a difference in someone’s life!

Brighten the day by volunteering your time to visit patients and give caregivers a break.
If you’re a student volunteer, you can join our College Partners Program and earn scholarships and gift cards. Or earn a discount on amazing treasures when you volunteer at any of our four White Dove Thrift Shoppes!
A number of area teens were recently recognized for their service through the National Charity League East Valley. (Courtesy National Charity League East Valley)
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Chandler takes a step toward backyard chickens OK

Rene Lopez’s time on the Chandler City Council is winding down and he’s hoping to cross off at least one more item on his “to do” list before his term ends in January.

He wants Chandler residents to have the same right as nearly every other city in the Valley to raise chicken hens in their backyards. It appears a divided Council will do that by the end of this year.“I’d like to get this done, because it’s been postponed and kicked down the road for the last several years,” Lopez said. “It’s about liberty, allowing people to do what they want in their own backyards.”Councilmet in a work session on Sept. 19 to hash out possible changes to city ordinances that would allow residents to own backyard chickens. It appears at least four members of council are strongly in favor, one against, and two others want more information.

Members supporting for the change were Lopez, Mark Stewart, Vice Mayor Terry Roe and Mayor Kevin Hartke. Matt Orlando appeared to be opposed while OD Harris and Christine Ellis indicated they wanted more information.

According to the timeline provided by city staff, the change in ordinances will fi rst go to Planning and Zoning in October and then be presented to

the Council in November. A fi nal vote will happen at the council’s December meeting.Here’s the direction that council members gave city staff:

• Chickens will be allowed in backyards.

This will impact traditional homes that are not part of a homeowners association, since most of them ban chickens.

• No roosters will be allowed.

• Homeowners will not need a permit.

• A limit of five was suggested, but Councilman Mark Stewart asked for a sliding scale based on a lot size, with bigger yards allowed more chickens.

• Homeowners would not need their neighbors’ approval to host chickens.

• Staff will look at the setbacks from the property line. Staff had recommended 5 feet, which is what most other cities require. Orlando pushed for more, saying a homeowner who wants chickens should have to deal with the odor and noise more than neighbors. Council asked staff to look at increasing the setback limit to 10 or 15Councilfeet.

members remain adamant they do not want Chandler Police Department to handle chicken complaints. A large portion of the 90-minute meeting was dedicated to that issue. Members were told that code enforcement could handle those complaints – and that other cities that allow chickens get very few complaints about chickens.

Large agricultural lots are allowed to have chickens in Chandler. Guy Jaques, the city’s neighborhood services supervisor, said the city received only 37 complaints about chickens in 2021 and only 20 of those were founded. He said the city had 100% compliance after telling residents what they needed to do to not be in violation of city codes.

Jaques also said complaints were up across the board last year, probably because of the pandemic. They don’t usually receive that many.

Other cities had similarly low numbers of chicken complaints, even though every Valley city other than Avondale and Chandler allows backyard chickens in residential neighborhoods.

Phoenix had 304 founded complaints; Mesa had 102; Gilbert 12; Tempe 16.

Jaques said the code department could handle an increase in chicken complaints.“We’vetalked about it, we’ve thought about it, and we absolutely have the capacity to enforce chicken complaints,” Jaques said. “We don’t feel we’re going to be overburdened with chickenJaquescomplaints.”saidcodeenforcement plans to start a pilot program to have an inspector available on Saturdays to handle some weekend complaints. That was one of the criticism opponents pointed to, that inspectors don’t work weekends. Leah Powell, the city’s neighborhood resources director, said the pilot program would likely last months and they will see if there is enough work to justify the scheduling change.

More than 71% of city residents live in a HOA, so the change in chicken laws will likely not impact them. Most of the neighborhoods that do not live in a HOA are in the northern half of the city.City staff said only 23 residents fi lled out feedback on backyard chickens on the city website, with 22 in favor. To provide feedback, search for urban chickens ordinance at

Lopez urged his colleagues to move forward with the process.

“I can appreciate reservations,” Lopez said. “But again, we’re not making a decision here to pass chickens. The only decision is to give staff direction.”

Speak you mind

To leave the city feedback on allowing backyard chickens in residential neighborhoods, visit and search for “urban chicken ordinance.”

City offi cials released this survey of how Chandler’s neighboring cities regulate chickens in residential backyards. (City of Chandler)
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VACCINES page 16

reaction to the 2018 pilot program. “We meant it to be very informative ... so that we could inform people of the drastic consequences of not being vaccinated.’’

But he said that’s not the way it


from page 14

works at Casteel High.

Dieu said the key to being a good SRO is to build relationships with the students. And he said that’s different for every offi cer.

And to help build those relationships in a positive manner, he said, assistant principals and/or deans hand out discipline at school. Officers shy away from going into a rowdy classroom to restore order when a substitute teacher may need help.

SROs are required to be on campus 80% of their work day. They also must teach 180 hours of law-related education each year. As part of that, they are required to attend law-related training. And they meet quarterly with the school safety team.

They are to be a resource for students, parents, teachers and staff.

Dieu gave an example of how that plays“Studentsout. decided that they were going to mess around during lunch,

came across.

“I think some folks felt that we were trying to scare people, which, of course, we weren’t,’’ Herrington said. So rather than push ahead, he said, “we just rethought it and discontinued it.’’

What’s left in his toolbox, he said, are press releases, blog posts and media

interviews, all with the goal of explaining to people about the benefits of the MMR vaccine and why it’s not like others that some see no reason to take.

“People read that COVID vaccines might prevent half of cases,’’ Herrington said. “Flu might prevent 60%.’’

“But that measles, mumps and rubel-

la vaccine, if you get both doses in the right sequence, timing I mean, it’s 97% effective,’’ he said.

“And I think that’s going to have to be a lot of our messaging is that don’t associate all vaccines with that of the flu vaccine or with the COVID vaccine.’’

some eighth-graders,” Dieu said. “There was a big commercial light on the side of a building. And they thought, ‘Oh, I can touch it’ and they just were competing. They were stepping up on the wall and they were reaching up on the top and pulling down, reaching up on the top and pulling it down, and as you would expect, it crashed.”

Dieu said the light was valued at $300.

“My principal was very aware of the circumstances that these youth had,” he said. “Sending them home doesn’t do any good. They’re struggling in their classesDieuacademically.”saidtheprincipal looked at him and asked, what can you do?

With parental permission, Dieu had the boys spend four lunch periods improving the campus as a way of paying back for the damage they caused. He had some general contracting experience and directed them on ways they could make things better.

“At the end of those four days, I said, ‘You guys, you’ve worked so hard, this is

so great.’ I mean, it was wonderful working side by side with them, addressing some of the needs of the campus. They looked at me, and they said, ‘What are we doing tomorrow?’ And it developed into what was referred to as the Urban Assault Team. Every day, they wanted a project.”

Chandler Police Department was recognized in 2021 as a “Model School Resource Offi cer Agency.”

It earned the recognition by focusing on three goals set by the National Association of School Resource Offi cers: Be a mentor; guest lecturer; and a law enforcement offi cer.

The Phoenix-based Law for Kids Academy noted Dieu is often called Super SRO” by colleagues,

“Offi cer Dieu has exceeded his requirements of LRE by almost 100 hours so far this school year,” it said. “Additionally, he assists with the neighboring elementary school to help with younger students and teachers.”

It also noted that he has “dedicated time outside of work to various organiza-

tions, including the Boy Scouts and a group which repairs homes of the elderly.”

Board member Love, who is Black, has expressed concerns about the SRO program in the past and said that not every student is happy to see armed offi cers on campus.

Patti Serrano, who is a candidate for the Governing Board in November’s election, has said the evidence suggests schools would be better off putting that money into counselors instead of offi cers. Serrano would be the fi rst Latina member of the board if elected.

Gilbert, however, said he was able to overcome the distrust of offi cers that he had during his youth because of a school resource offi cer.

“I can tell you what changed my thought, or which moved me to look at it a different way, was an SRO,” Gilbert said. “It was actually an SRO that I befriended and got to know that changed my perspective. That’s not going to be for everybody, but … you have to be open to look for it, but it’s a two-way street.”

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Chandler Police seek alleged predator on elderly residents

On May 23 around 4:13 p.m., Chandler Police officers were dispatched to a fraud call at a residence. An elderly female told them a man had shown up at her home, stating he was an employee of AAA. The male provided information about damage to the victim’s vehicle, specifically to the wheel nuts of the tires. He added it appeared one of the wheels was about to fall off. The male offered to fix the wheel nuts for $3,700.

The suspect and victim drove to the bank, where the victim withdrew $3,700 in cash. The male took the money from

the victim and performed no work on the victim’s vehicle.

Chandler Police used bank video surveillance and later identified the suspect as Joe Miller. However, Miller is believed to go by many different names and may not currently be using that name.

“Currently, we are asking our community for assistance in locating Miller,” Chandler Police said in a statement.

“Additionally, if there are any other victims of Miller’s fraud schemes, please call 480-782-4130. Information that leads to the suspect’s location may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.”

Darwin Wall realty team slates annual pub crawl in Chandler

People can “raise a glass for charity” and help a breast cancer victim by signing up for the annual Save Second Base Pub Crawl sponsored by the Darwin Wall Real Estate Team of Chandler.

“We will be partying for a cause in Downtown Chandler,” Wall states on his charity drive’s website, stating that among participating bar in the Oct. 2122 event are SanTan Brewing, Murphy’s Law, Bourbon Jacks and The Stillery.

For a $65 ticket, participants get a free drink at each participating bar, a t-shirt and swag bag.

Save Second Base Pub Crawl is an approved nonprofit and all proceeds go towards a breast cancer victim who has not yet been named. In the past, the fi rm has raised thousands of dollars annually with the pub crawl and are

then donated to a woman who needs fi nancial help in her breast cancer fight.

Tickets can be purchased at Information:

Chandler Railroad Museum gearing up for Fall Rail Fest

Train lovers, history buffs and people of all ages are invited to climb aboard and explore the glory days of local and long-distance travel on America’s railways during the Fall Rail Festival in Chandler.Thecelebration is Nov. 12 from 9 a.m.4 p.m. at the Arizona Railway Museum, 330 E. Ryan Road. The free public event is hosted each year by volunteers of the museum, which is located on the southwest corner of Tumbleweed Park in Chandler.

The Fall Rail Festival will include displays of artifacts and memorabilia, tours of vintage railcars and a large sale of railroad books, magazines, and timetables at very affordable prices. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.Visitors will learn about the historical importance of railroads from museum volunteers who will explain the type of work that is required to restore and refurbish these railcars to keep them “alive” as a testament to the glory days of rail passenger travel. Several cars feature interior displays of the typical accommodations for the travelling public, including seating, sleeping arrangements, and dining facilities, complete with

custom-made railroad dining car china.

The museum’s diesel locomotive will be open, affording visitors the opportunity to blow the horn, and Chandler’s historic #2562 steam locomotive also will be on display. Outdoor displays will include a wide variety of railroad signs, signals, and mining equipment.

The museum’s standard entrance fee is waived for Fall Rail Festival. However, donations from the public and local businesses are greatly appreciated. Visitors should access the event on Ryan Road, from Arizona Avenue or McQueen roads. Parking is free. Although the display building and restrooms are ADA Compliant, due to the historic nature of the equipment, access to the railroad cars is not ADA Compliant.

The Arizona Railway Museum is normally open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, September through May. It is closed during the summer. For more information, visit the Arizona Railway Museum website or call 480-821-1108.

Sun Lakes Republican Club to discuss Nov. 8 ballot

The Sun Lakes Republican Club will feature “What’s on My Ballot” with Scot Mussi, president and executive director of The Arizona Free Enterprise Club at its monthly meeting 6:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 12 in the Navajo Room at Sun Lakes Country Club, 25601 S. Sun Lakes Blvd.,

Police released this photo of a man wanted in connection with a $3,700 theft from an elderly Chandler woman. (Chandler Police)
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Sun Lakes, AZ 85248. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.

Seating is limited and will be available on a “first come, first served basis.” Audience capacity is only 180 in this room.

Ten statewide ballot measures will be on the ballot.

One important ballot measure creates the offi ce of lieutenant governor to be elected on a joint ticket with the governor and to succeed the governor in case of vacancy. Another measure requires a date of birth and voter identifi cation number for mail-in ballots and eliminates a two-document alternative to photo ID for in-person voting. Another initiative impacts the Legislature’s authority in connection with citizen-generated initiatives.

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club advances pro-growth, limited government policies in Arizona.

The Sun Lakes Republican Club also plans a Cowboy Christmas Dinner Dance, 5-9 p.m., Dec. 7. in Cottonwood Country Club’s Ballroom. Music and entertainment will be provided by Harry Mathews with a “Western Gunslinger Buffet” of BBQ chicken and beef ribs. Tickets will be available for $35 at the meeting on a fi rst come, fi rst served basis. A cash bar will be available.

For more information, contact Chairman Mike Tennant, 262-8804620, or visit

EV Hadassah Chapter plans numerous events

Devorah Hadassah is the East Valley chapter of Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, a volunteer organization that “inspires a passion for and commitment to the land, the people, and the future of Israel.”

For more information on attending itsr events, contact: Eliana Bar-Shalom at 860-377-7126 or email at

The fi rst Monday of each month is Out to Lunch, when members meet at a different restaurant. The second Wednesday is a Zoom book club meeting called Literary Ladies. Featured on Oct. 12 and 1:30 p.m. will be “The Book of Lost Names” by Kristin Harmel while the Nov. 9 discussion will be around “The Perfume Thief” by Timothy Schoffert and Dec. 14 will look at “Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly.”

At 1:30 a.m. Nov. 16 at the East Valley Jewish Community Center in Chandler, Rabbi Deitsch of Chandler Chabad will speak on the Jewish view on abortion. Women are asked to bring food donations.

On the third Wednesday of the month, the group collects non-perishable food for Jewish Family & Children’s Services between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The next collection date is Oct. 19.

The group also sells for $2 each or a dozen for $21 greeting cards for all occasions. It also offers gift certifi cates at all in-person events.

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AROUND from page 22 USMC Birthday Ball NovemberSaturday,12,2022 Oakwood Country Club Ballroom 24218 Oakwood Blvd, Sun Lakes, AZ Cocktails 5:30PM Dinner ForDancingCeremonies6:30PM7:30PM8:30-10:30PMregistrationformgo to Clickeastvalleymarines.orgonbirthdayballorcall: Dawn Bishop 480-213-2805 Mike Bishop 480-213-2779 Kris Fletcher 602-617-6449 We invite all to join us as we celebrate the 247th birthday of the US Marine Corps to honor the men & women who have earned the title “MARINE” since 1775. All branches of service & the public are welcome. Attire: Dress Blues or Class A Uniform Ladies: Formals or cocktail dresses Men: Tuxedos or suits

Legalized gambling reaps billions in Arizona

The flood gates opened. Arizona legalized sports betting for the first time outside tribal gaming on Sept. 9, 2021. For many, the amount of money generated has been jaw-dropping.

In the state’s full year with legal sports and fantasy gambling, over $5 billion has been wagered. By most accounts, Arizona has more than met expectations in its inaugural stage.

If there were any qualms about legal izing sports betting in Arizona before last September, they have mostly dissipated. Even with Arizona’s early success, the state hasn’t maximized its potential profits.

After Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law companion bills from the Senate and the House, Arizona issued 20 sports betting licenses, 10 to Native American tribes and 10 to professional sports teams.

All 10 tribal licenses have been awarded but only eight teams have acquired sports betting licenses under the bill, meaning there is still room for growth from the two missing licenses alone.Maxwell Hartgraves, a public information officer from the Arizona Department of Gaming, believes that legalized sports betting has been a positive contribution to the state.

“Just from privilege fees and licensing fees we’ve had over $30 million contributed to the state general fund, so that is definitely a positive from sports betting and fantasy sports,” Hartgraves said. “Not to mention new employees, new companies coming into the state.”

Additionally, Arizona’s tax rate on sports gambling is 8 percent for retail revenue and 10 percent for online.

Arizona could also make even more money by giving additional licenses to more tribes as they are already the major contributor for the state.

Limiting it to 10 licenses not only takes away potential cash for the state general fund but also limits the op portunity for the tribes to maximize gambling profits.

Then again, the tribes aren’t short on gambling money.

“Tribal gaming, for example, contributes over $100 million to the state,” Hartgraves said. “Sports betting and fantasy sports is not immediately at thatOverlevel.”$100 million is an understatement. From July of 2021 to June 30, tribal gaming contributed $123 million.

Rather than resting on its laurels with the money generated from the tribal side, some observers think Arizona should do what it can to maximize the profits even more.

Part of what has made Arizona so successful in just one year is the state’s approach to sports betting, said B Global managing partner Brendan

Bussmann.“Arizona offered a unique model and sort of advanced on two fronts,” Bussmann said. “One that tribes would be considered on a commercial level to go “Andstatewide.then introduced the ability for teams to have direct access to licenses in a combined format. Looking at it now a year later, I think the market continues to be a success.”

A large reason for this success is the mobile betting market.

While retail sports betting reaps a few million dollars wagered every year, it does not even come close to the amount wagered through mobile.

This past March, the most popular month for sports betting, bettors wagered over $690 million in Arizona. Of that, only $3.3 million came from retail gambling.

Some states, like Nevada, have a much larger share of wagers from retail due to certain rules regarding in-person betting. It helps that Las Vegas is the casino capital of the nation.

But Arizona has no such requirement and thus gets a significant proportion from online bets.

With all of the success from Ar-

izona’s first year of legalized sports betting, it’s a wonder it took so long to become legal in the first place. On the surface there doesn’t seem to be much downside – outside of the challenging efforts to legalize gambling.

Former Michigan legislator Brandt Iden believes there is more than meets the eye when it comes to gambling legislation.“It’savery tumultuous process. Sometimes it takes a while to get gaming done in a lot of states and it goes to show you, you’ve gotta continually work at it to get over the finish line,” Iden

“It’ssaid.not necessarily a timing issue in terms of how long it takes, it’s a timing issue in terms of when can you bring this legislation up. A lot of the states that we were working in for legislation in 2022 didn’t have success because it was a political year. That made it complicated.”Inelection years, getting legislation through is understandably more difficult, which is why Iden believes that Arizona’s success can pave the way for more states to legalize sports betting in 2023.“Ienvision we’re gonna have a lot of success in 2023,” Iden said, “and I think it’s gonna be a very busy year for gaming legislation across the country.”


Making a difference on For Our City Day

Each year the City of Chandler’s Neighborhood Programs Office organiz es community volunteers from multiple nonprofit organizations and business es to support a Chandler (non-HOA) neighborhood on a variety of exterior improvement projects.

This annual effort known as For Our City Day occurs on National Make a Difference Day.

Now in its 12th year, City staff is preparing for another For Our City Day on Oct. 22 in the Pepperwood neighbor hood located near the intersection of Country Club Way and Chandler Boulevard, across the street from Chandler Fashion Center.

The past few years, staff has been able to recruit more than 1,000 volunteers to assist with For Our City Day projects.Thisyear is no different.

Earlier this summer, a survey was mailed to all residents in the Pepperwood neighborhood to gauge what types of work homeowners could use assistance with.

From those completed surveys, more than 50 homes have been selected and multiple projects needed to be completed at each home.

City staff have been busy meeting with each participating homeowner to discuss the projects in detail.

With the identified projects in hand, City staff, nonprofits, faith-based organiza tions and community volunteers are com ing together to provide the much-needed resources. Some of the work includes yard work, alley cleanup, landscaping and painting the exterior of homes.

After the projects have been complet ed, there will be a community celebration from noon until 2 p.m. at Harter Park, 665 N. Country Club Way, Chandler.

Volunteers and residents of Pepperwood may attend the celebration for complimentary lunch, raffles, giveaways, community resources and more.

If you live in Pepperwood, stop by!

Also, large roll-off containers will be available throughout Pepperwood to dispose of litter and debris — Pepperwood residents are encouraged to take advantage of those containers and dispose of items no longer needed at their homes (no appliances and house-

hold hazardous waste).

For the first time, two apartment complexes in the neighborhood will participate in For Our City Day. Tenants are encouraged to dispose of excess items and toss them in the large roll-off containers designated for the apartment

Forcomplexes.OurCityDay would not be possi ble without the financial and in-kind

support from sponsors and the volun teer assistance from passionate individu als, local nonprofits, faith-based organi zations and the business community.

This year’s generous sponsors include Home Depot, Salvation Army, Sher win-Williams, SRP, VIAVI Solutions, Waste Management, and Resurrection Ministry.

If you’re interested in joining the event as a volunteer, or even as a

sponsor, visit urCityDay. If you’re looking for a team building event, or a way to give back, we would love to work with you.

For questions or more information, contact our Neighborhood Programs staff, Priscilla Quintana at 480-7824363, or Tawna Mower at 480-7824362, or email

Left: Volunteers Alexis Apodaca, Ryan Peters and Jason Crampon – all part of Team Chandler – get ready to spreads gravel. (City of Chandler) Right: Tony Alcala, principal of Galveston Elementary, and Priscilla Quintana, city neighborhood programs administrator and the lead organizer of For Our City Day, rolled up their sleeves to pitch in. (City of Chandler) Chandler City Manager Josh Wright helped make a difference on For Our City Day last year. (City of Chandler)
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Inflation turbocharging minimum wage hike in 2023

Workers at the bottom of the Arizona wage scale are going to be legally entitled to a pay hike of $42 a week beginning in January.

And you can credit – or blame –inflation.Newfigures reported Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that costs as measure by the Consumer Price Index for urban consumers, have risen 8.3% between August 2021 and lastWhatmonth.makes that important is that laws approved by voters in 2006 and again in 2016 require annual inflation adjustments based on the August annual figures.Rounded to the nearest nickel, as required by statute, that translates out to $1.05 an hour on top of the current $12.80 figure.

A formal announcement, however, won’t come until Thursday. That’s when the state Industrial Commission, which has purview over the annual adjustment, has its regular meeting.

The latest state minimum wage hike comes after Tucsonans voted last year to impose their own $15-an-hour minimum wage by 2025.

That started at $13 on April 1, going to $13.50 in 2023 and $14.25 in 2024 before hitting the target. After that, as with the state minimum, adjustments

Steve Chucri, president of the Arizona Restaurant Association, said restaurant employees who work “front of the house” will especially benefit from the big bump in Arizona’s minimum wage in January. (Special to the STSN)

would be made based on inflation.

The Tucson ordinance, though, is designed so that workers get the benefit of whatever calculation is more generous. So if any time the state figure is higher – as it will be in January –that becomes the floor.

Even with the big increase and the new $13.85 wage floor, the automatic boost being precipitated by the Sept.

13 BLM data may have little practical effect on what many companies pay their Arizona

That’sworkers.because staff-starved businesses are finding they can no longer offer the bare minimum allowed by law to attract and retain employees. And that specifically includes the restaurant and fast food industry which fought hard –and unsuccessfully – to convince voters not to adopt a state minimum wage.

Had those businesses been successful, Arizona would have the same $7.25 an hour minimum wage that has been federal law now since 2009.

But Steve Chucri, president of the Arizona Restaurant Association, told Capitol Media Services neither the federal wage nor even the new state minimum wage is particularly relevant right now when members of his association are hiring.

“Our ‘back of the house’ is making more money than ever before due to labor shortages and a whole host of reasons,’’ he said. “We’re well above the minimum wage in the back of the house.’’

That is borne out by a report from the state Office of Economic Opportunity.

For 2021, the most recent data available, fast food cooks already were earning an average $13.58 an hour. The figure for cooks at more traditional restaurants was $15.93. And dishwashers were being paid an average of $14.08 an hour.

Who the state-mandated increase could help, Chucri said, are those in the front of the house.

The voter-approved laws do allow their wages to be set $3 an hour below the state minimum. But that is conditional on proof that their tips are making up the difference.Wherethe higher wage may hurt, said Chucri, is down the road, after inflation has cooled and after there is better alignment between the number of open jobs and the number of people who want one.

Under other circumstances, he said, that could allow employers to offer less.

Only thing is, the state minimum wage law is a one-way ratchet: It can only go up. And even if there were deflation, there is no provision for it to ever go Whatdown.restaurants are preparing to do is limit labor costs.

It’s not necessarily job elimination,’’ and even casual dining spots direct customers to kiosks to place their orders and pay.

“And in the back of the house, we’re also seeing the introduction of robotic arms that are working in certain parts of the kitchen, whether it’s turning over fries or flipping burgers, whatever the case might be,’’ he said.

Arizona voters mandated in 2006 that the state have its own minimum wage not tied to the federal figure. That set the bottom of the pay scale here at $6.75 an hour, $1.60 higher than what federal law mandated at the time.

Plus there were inflation adjustments.

A decade later, voters decided to turbocharge the raises, imposing a $10 minimum with automatic increases up to $12 as of 2020.

Two years ago, with inflation at just 1.3%, that gave workers at the bottom an extra 15 cents an hour.

By last year, inflation hit 5.3%, adding another 65 cents to reach the current $12.80.

What’s driving this year’s inflation figure, not surprisingly, is the cost of fuel.

There has been a sharp drop recently, including a 10.6% reduction just last month. But even with that, BLS reports that gasoline prices are up 25.6% over a yearThereearlier.also has been a 33.0% increase in the cost of piped gas, versus a 15.8% hike in electricity.

And grocery prices are up 13.5% year over year. But the cost of eating out has risen by just 8.0%.

The other big hike has been the price of cars and trucks, up 10.1% for new vehicles and 7.8% for used.

Shelter prices, including rent and what the BLS calls the owners’ equivalent rent of residences, are up 6.2% nationally.

BLS also released separate data Tuesday for the Phoenix metro area – Maricopa and Pinal counties – that showed some marked differences with the national figures.

Most notably, annual inflation is up 13.0% compared with 8.3% nationally. And that is largely driven by a 17.1% year-overyear increase in housing costs, a reflection of sharply higher home prices and rents.

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EVIT plans residence hall for foster youth

Thanks to a $10 million item in the current state budget, the East Valley Institute of Technology hopes to open a residence hall for foster teens on its downtown Mesa campus by the 2023-24 school year.

EVIT Superintendent Dr. Chad Wilson said this is just the first step in changing the lives of foster youth by giving them not only a place to live but also a place where they can learn a trade and earn certification by the time they age out of the system.

“It’s our belief that by having those individuals in a safe living space… we begin leaning into being able to truly change their life,” he said in an interview.Wilson said the school is still working on construction plans, but the residence would hold 64 beds and possibly eight shared-living areas similar to most modern university dormitories.

Some other ideas Wilson said they will look at including utilizing the current training and facility space to create amenities such as a grass field or basketball courts for extracurricu lar “Whatactivities.we’re wanting to be mindful of is that we’re funded by our taxpay ers,” Wilson said.

While the state allocation will fund construction, EVIT will have to pay for the residency’s operation.

EVIT currently works with some foster care organizations, including Foster360 and Hope & A Future, but the school hasn’t begun to seek out partnerships for the residence hall yet.

Wilson, EVIT superintendent for the past four years, said his inspira tion for the residency hall came from visiting a similar facility in Orange, California.“Thisis a space that we want these individuals to be able to live in and to grow and thrive in – and exit from with a better footing underneath them to go out into our communities

and be productive,” he said.

While participating in career and technical education programs on EVIT’s campus, resident foster youth would rely on the Paul Revere Acade my, an offshoot of Heritage Academy, for traditional high school classes on the same campus. The charter high will give preferential placement to fosterWilsonyouth.said this will enable stu dents to acquire high school diploma, a trade certification and/or dual-en rollment credits for community college.“It’sour belief that at EVIT, we change lives,” Wilson said. “That we change lives by loving our students and serving our communities.”

State officials reported that in the 2021-22 fiscal year, 841 teens aged out of the state foster care system.

EVIT’s program will help provide foster youth with more stability, consistency and opportunities as they transition into adulthood, Wilson said.

In addition to enrolling in EVIT’s

adult career training programs, the students will receive social, emotion al and mental health support services and learn life skills such as financial planning and nutrition.

In 2021, EVIT started a foster care program that allows youth who are getting ready to transition out of foster care to take an EVIT program while they finish their GED.

Wilson said some foster students are not in high school equivalency programs but rather attend a tradi tional East Valley high school while also attending EVIT.

Wilson touted the work of the EVIT Governing Board in looking for innovative pathways to support the community.Also,Wilson thanked the work of state Reps. Steve Kaiser, Michelle Udall, and Rusty Bowers in helping to allocate the funds.

“That anchor has allowed us to lean into space that is good for students, is good for our communities and is good for the state,” Wilson said.


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Money woes ringing EV sports park’s bell

Bell Bank Park in Mesa needs a grand slam this fall.

After opening in February to much fanfare, revenue for the destination 320-acre sports complex’s fi rst six months of operation fell short of projections.Thecomplex failed to generate profits in its opening months, and in August, Legacy Cares, the nonprofit owner of the park, slashed its revenue forecast for the year by more than half.

Summer business was especially disappointing, prompting Bell Bank Park to modify its business model to be more of a seasonal operation than the year-round venue originally pitched to investors.Inorder to hit even its scaled-down revenue targets and make next year’s loan repayments due to its institutional investors, Legacy Cares is counting on a dramatic increase in income once cooler weather arrives.

The project’s principals have committed to contributing $7.9 million out of pocket to help cover the loan payment due in January 2023 and say they will kick in more if necessary.

During an Aug. 30 disclosure call with investors, representatives for the park’s creditors asked Legacy Cares leadership pointed questions about the park’s ability to start generating greater revenue.

nancing for projects in the public interest, like low-income housing, at no risk to the state – the bond seller is entirely on the hook for the loan repayments.

A spokesman for AZIDA said that only two projects out of the 128 it funded have defaulted.

A Wall Street Journal article published earlier this month featured Bell Bank Park as an example of the risks posed to investors by high-yield municipal bonds issued by “conduit issuers” likeItAZIDA.saidthese types of bonds surged in popularity in the last five years, but more recently “bond prices are plummeting, construction and labor costs are soaring and risky deals are faltering.”

Legacy Cares is slated to repay its bonds over 30 years according to a fixed schedule. Next year, Legacy Cares must repay investors a total of $24 million. The annual payments then ramp up to $32 million the following year.

Adding pressure to the venture, Legacy Cares doesn’t own the land the park is built on – it has a 40-year lease with owner Pacifi c Proving LLC and must pay $3.4 million in rent annually.

But Bell Bank Park’s backers are exuding confi dence about the coming season, saying they have numerous contracts signed and events planned.

Asked if there was any chance of defaulting on the bonds next year, Legacy Chairman Doug Moss said “no.”

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Chad Miller, CEO of Legacy Sports – the entity that manages the park for the nonprofit Legacy Cares – told the SanTan Sun that Bell Bank Park is well-positioned to hit its targets for the coming months and meet all its fi nancial“Weobligations.weredealing with material delays and some facilities at the park not being able to open up 100% for the fi rst six to seven months,” Miller said. “We unfortunately had to deal with that, and the great thing about it is we now are heading into our busy season, which is September all the way through May.”

Miller said Bell Bank Park is seeing increases in registration for leagues and events, and venue manager Oak View Group is investing in the construction of a concert venue that is expected to begin hosting concerts in November.

Little time for the bottom line

It took major companies like Google and Facebook years to become profitable, but due to the nature of its fi nancing, the 320-acre Bell Bank Park doesn’t have a lot of time to start generating healthy profits.

Legacy Cares raised money by selling $280 million in municipal bonds through the Arizona Industrial Development Authority. Municipal bonds are usually issued by cities and towns, but Arizona law allows organizations to sell tax-incentivized municipal bonds to investors through AZIDA.

AZIDA says the practice provides fi -

“We’re right on track in the fall and winter heading into a position where we don’t anticipate having any shortfalls whatsoever in regards to those payments next year,” he said.

“Everything is trending and tracking as we suspected it would the second part of this year, so, no, we’re very confi dent in the revenue anticipation and the partnerships that we have.”

Fans and doubters

Lots of people are enjoying and rooting for Bell Bank Park.

Legacy Cares shared data with the SanTan Sun from foot traffi c data service showing 2.9 million visits to the Bell Bank Park this year from 816,000 visitors.

On a recent weekday morning, pickleball players chatted outside a building after a match and young basketballers streamed into a building.

Located next to some of the fastest growing communities in the country, residents of Queen Creek and southeast Mesa are starved for entertainment and cultural amenities closer to home.Sitting amid concrete warehouses and data centers, Bell Bank Park is a welcome project for many in the region.Visit Mesa, the city’s offi cial destination marketing partners, made Bell Bank Park a centerpiece of a presentation on the city’s tourism and hospitality

See BELL on page 29


industry in August.

Queen Creek offi cials earlier this year launched the town’s fi rst tourism website and it also touts its proximity to the venue while also discussing the use of Bell Bank Park’s LED screens to advertise its attractions.

In Gilbert, both town and school offi cials looked at the park as useful, Gilbert Public Schools in June inked a partnership agreement with Legacy Sports to use the venue for its Performance Academy, a flexible learning program for student athletes in grades 4-8.

Students are bused by the district to the facility to practice their particular sport because Legacy Sports offered over 15 different athletic competitive environments for students to be trained in everything from speed and agility and baseball, basketball, softball,

cheer and gymnastics.

Town of Gilbert offi cials viewed Bell Bank as an addition that would draw in more baseball players to the Valley, which would benefit its sports venue, Cactus


terms of a development agreement with Legacy Cares revised in October 2021, the City of Mesa has invested a total of $1.4 million to accelerate road work on the Ellsworth and Williams Field Road intersection and the State Route 24 freeway.

But some people are disappointed in the park’s execution so far.

A local sports club owner who wished to remain anonymous said the region needs a venue like Bell Bank Park.

He was excited to sign a contract a year in advance to hold his season at the park instead of renting fi elds at local high schools as he had done in previous.Buthe said when it came time to start

the season, promised amenities like a locker room and media staging area were underwhelming or non-existent.

Instead of a locker room, “they gave us chain link fence with tarps on it,” he said.

There were stands only on one side of the stadium, and the venue needed more bathrooms and better food and beverages, which he felt were overpriced.Hesaid it felt like there wasn’t enough staff managing the fi elds and he was notifi ed close to the start of the season of scheduling conflicts that required him to change plans.

“The vision of what they wanted to build is amazing; it’s the execution of the operation where they failed,” he said, adding that he plans to hold next year’s season elsewhere.

Online reviewers have raved about the park but also have complained about traffi c backups while entering and exiting the park and the high cost

of food and beverages.

In the face of big fi nancial demands, Bell Bank Park needs to win back these customers and add even more to the ranks.Legacy Cares executives say they are ironing out Bell Bank Park’s opening year issues.

In the August investor call, Moss used a sports analogy to describe Bell Bank Park as it heads into what he believes is its prime season.

In the National Football League, he said, “the teams that seem to make the best second half adjustments are usually the teams that win.”

“We’re at halftime of our fi rst year,” Miller said, and “we were able to learn from some of the things at the start of the year, even when some of our venues were not yet being able to operate 100% capacity. We learned a lot when it came to customer service and the customer experience.”

Left: In February, Bell Bank Park in Mesa opened with high hopes on the part of owners and users alike, though they both have encountered some disappointments in the months that followed. Right: A mammoth building at Bell Bank Park houses a concessions area that links basketball and volleyball courts. (STSN File Photos)
from page 28

All aflutter

Kids of all ages flocked to Chandler’s Dragonflies and Butterflies Bash Sept. 17 at Veterans Oasis Park where they got up close and personal with some of Mother Nature’s smaller wonders. Among them, (1) Gabriel Shaffer, 8, checked out a captured butterfly while (2) 5-year-old Miranda Gao marveled at some Monarch butterflies. (3) Deeann Siems helped her grandchildren, 8-year-olds Lyrik and Rumor Gaskey, make handprint bricks while (4) some kids on a nature walk used nets to try to catch dragonflies along Veterans Oasis Lake and other children created paper balancing butterfly crafts. Among the latter was (6) Blake Berbeg, 3, who colored butterfly drawings.

1 45 32 6

Environmentalists aim to block I-11 project

Federal and state offi cials are asking a judge to toss a lawsuit seeking to stop development of the proposed 280-mile Interstate 11 project from Nogales to Wickenburg.StateTransportation

Director John Haikowski is telling U.S. District Court Judge John Hinderaker that without an alternative to I-10 traffi c will become so congested by 2035 that it will interfere with the ability of the region to “Further,function.the success of the state economic development interests will depend on continuing transportation investments, like I-11, to maintain competitiveness,’’ he said in a statement fi led with the court. “Worsened congestion and poor travel time reliability on the interstate freeway system would adversely affect economic competitiveness.’’But attorneys for the Federal Highway Administration are taking a much more basic approach in their effort to quash the lawsuit fi led earlier this year by the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Friends of Ironwood Forest and the Audubon Society.

They are telling Hinderaker the whole case is premature.

At this point, they said, no decisions

have been made what route to choose through Pima County – or even whether the project will ever go forward, calling I-11 “a largely unfunded freeway construction project.’’

“Should funding become available, identifi cation of a precise alignment, design, and additional environmental review of the proposed facility will

“The Record of Decision committed FHWA to development of the I-11 corridor over the ‘no build’ alternative, selected the vast majority of its route, and narrowed the potential routes through Pima County to either the ‘West’ or ‘East Option’,’’ she said in her legal fi Andlings.allthat, Park said, has occurred

National Park, Ironwood Forest National Monument and Tohono O’odham Nation lands.

By contrast, she said, co-locating I-11 with the I-10 and I-19 “would not create the massive impacts to wildlife that the West Option would.’’ Park said, though, there would need to be new and upgraded wildlife crossings.

It isn’t just the options in Southern Arizona that are at issue.

Park said a stretch between Casa Grande and Buckeye also would affect recreation areas as well as habitats for various endangered species. And she said there also would be environmental effects from the fi nal stretch from Buckeye to Halikowski,Wickenburg.however,has a different focus.“Population and employment growth is a key issue driving the need for the I-11 corridor,’’ he said.

occur in a second phase,’’ the federal lawyers“Moreover,argued.there is no specifi c timing for the Tier 2 process,’’ they said. “And the state legislature only recently authorized $25 million in funding for further Tier 2 study in Maricopa County, which does not include funding for fi nal design, right-of-way acquisition, or construction.’’WendyPark, representing the challengers, said that misrepresents the situation.

without the federal agency properly completing legally necessary evaluations of impacts on public lands.

At the heart of the legal fight is the National Environmental Policy Act. It requires federal offi cials to prepare an environmental impact statement considering the effects of each major project, and includes considering alternatives.Park said the route around Tucson would put the road through and near sensitive areas including Saguaro

Halikowski said population within the Maricopa County portion of the study area is expected to increase by 284% between 2015 and 2025, with a 320% increase in employment.

“During that same time period, similar high growth rates are forecasted for employment within the Pinal County portion of the study area,’’ he continued.

“Pima County would have the greatest growth in both population and

“Pima County would have the greatest growth in both population and employment, the rate and location of this population and employment growth contributes to increasing congestion and travel time reliability issues.’’
– John Haikowski
31NEWSTHE SUNDAY SANTAN SUN NEWS | SEPTEMBER 25, 2022 c PAWLIK + CINDY HANS kn w r m exp r e t a be ng a t ach r i a l t ike be ng a l gi a o . REP. JENNIFERFulyFnArzoaSchosSecuOrWaeFurPrtcOuReprdctveRighs
See HIGHWAY on page 33
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employment,’’ Halikowski said. “The rate and location of this population and employment growth contributes to increasing congestion and travel time reliability issues.’’

It’s not just about jobs, he said, saying there are many tourist destinations within the corridor, including parks, outdoor recreation areas and cultural destinations.“Theinterstate freeway system plays a critical role in providing access to these attractions and supporting tourism, which is one of the most important industries driving Arizona’s economy,’’ Halikowski said.

The transportation director said environmental issues have been consid

ered, saying his agency spent about $17 million on such studies which determined the location of the corridor. But he said that’s not the end of it.

“Several additional steps are required for I-11 to advance to detailed engineer ing and construction, including addition al environmental studies of potential alignments of I-11 within segments of the I-11 corridor,’’ Halikowski said.

That corridor includes two options in Pima County, one essentially co-locating the road with I-19 and I-10, and the other an entirely new highway going around the San Xavier reservation and the Saguaro National Monument through Avra Valley into Pinal County. And Halikowski said ADOT will prepare a “Tier 2 Environmental Impact Statement’’ to evaluate specific alignments.

Park, however, said the project should

not have even gotten to this point.

She said federal highway officials determined that certain public lands, including the Sonoran Desert and Ironwood Forest national monuments, Saguaro National Park and Tucson Mountain Park are not public parks, recreation areas or wildlife refuges of “national, state or local significance’’ that fell within the scope of what environmental laws require to be considered.

The project, which eventually would run through Kingman and into Nevada, has generated concerns beyond the environmental issues.

State Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, raised questions as far back as 2019 about the wisdom of constructing hundreds of miles of new freeway when the state can’t take care of the roads it already has.

He said there are far better alternatives for moving freight from Mexico to Canada, especially rail.

And the Sahuarita Town Council voted last year to oppose what has been called the “West option’’ that would build a new road from that community, around Tucson, to Marana.

But the project, which could cost anywhere from $3.1 billion to $7.3 billion, depending on the final path, is supported by local officials in Casa Grande and Maricopa who see it as aiding economic development.

It also has the backing of Gov. Doug Ducey, who told Capitol Media Services years ago that the highway would “really benefit our state and allow us to be the player that we’re going to be in terms of economic growth and development and trade.’’

HIGHWAY from page 31 Subscribe Here Receive your digital flip-thru edition every week in your e-mail box! July 31, 2022 Relentlessly local coverage of Southern Chandler An edition the East Valley Tribune FEATURED STORIES Residents balk at city housing plan .News .Page Chandler eatery devoted to avocados .Business. Page High school sports on live TV .Sports Page Chandler kids in big musical. G Page 34 More 25 NeighborsSports.FaithGetOut.Directory Managing Editor Ruth Jones’ bid to upset incumbent Mayor Kevin Hartke in Tuesday’s election is a true underdog affair while the race to fi three other seats on City Council pits an incumbent against four challengers. Hartke, after serving two terms on Council and one term as mayor, has name recognition. He also has a huge advantage in campaign finance funds. And incumbent. three advantages usually lead to victories. However, not always. There have been handful of cases where scrappy underdog has been able to pull off the upset, said his challenger. “Don’t count me out,” Jones said after second quarter campaign finance reports were led through July 16th. Hartke raised only $17,226 in the second quarter of this year, but entered that period with nearly $229,000 in the bank, according to his most recent nancial statement. He spent about $28,600 from April through July 16, giving him more than $216,000 going into the final weeks of the primary campaign. Jones raised the least amount of any of the seven candidates on the ballot who are running for a spot on the Council. She reported raising about $8,900 and headed into the final days of the campaign with a balance of $216. “It’s not about the money, it’s never been about that,” Jones said. “The reason why I’m going to win is I’ve gone out and talked to the people who live here. I’ve listened, and because done that, they know care.” the other council races, incumbent Matt Orlando is seeking a second term while members Rene Lopez and Terry Roe are termed out. Lopez one of six Republicans seeking the nomination in Congressional District to run against incumbent Greg Stanton. Roe one of the two Republican candidates for the state House in LD12, which City Council races head to the finish line BY Managing With the City of Chandler nearing buildout, meaning the amount of open space left to develop on dwindling, the southwest corner Arizona Avenue and Road stands It comprises nearly 50 acres of open space close to the heart of downtown and sitting just off the Loop 202 freeway, making it perhaps the most desirable open space left to develop in Chandler. And for years it has been empty land. That could be changing soon. An application has been submitted to the city Development Services Department for a multi-use development that will include a hotel, office and retail space and multi-family housing. Called the Downtown District, the project “is designed as a high-quality mixed-use development that will create vital employment, retail and housing opportunities at the gateway to Downtown Chandler,” wrote Brennan Ray of Burch & Cracchiolo on behalf of developer Meridian West. This is only an application. It has to go through staff review, neighborhood meetings, the Planning and Zoning Commission, and finally City Council before it can become reality. is likely the plan will change as it goes through that process. So why did the property sit undeveloped for so long with the city at 93% of buildout?“Myunderstanding is that there were several property owners who were interested in a corner,” said city Planning Manager David de la Torre. “It wasn’t just one property owner, it was several property owners. “My understanding is that they couldn’t agree on which way to go, and so there was one … of those partners, [who] bought out the other ones, [it took] long time to do that. So now that particular property owner ready to move forward, he submitted plans.” The rst of two required neighborhood meetings on the property was scheduled for July 28 after this newspaper’s deadline at the Crown Plaza Mega development planned for Pecos-Arizona corner BY Managing For some refugees coming to the United States for better life, a Chandler church is one of the first steps on thatThejourney.Grove, 2777 S. Gilbert Road, is one of five East Valley churches that host welcome center for refugees seeking asylum. It is their rst stop after turning themselves in at the Southern border and spending time in detention “We give them welcome, because they don’t know where they’re going, and they’re scared,” said Magdalena Schwartz, pastor of Vineyard Church in Gilbert.Therefugees are not in this country illegally. Because they have asked for asylum, they are free to move about in America pending the outcome of hearing on their request. Chandler church extends helping hand to refugees Asylum seekers from border crossings near Tucson and Yuma arrived July 20 at The Grove Church in Chandler, where volunteers help get them food, showers, fresh clothing and help with the next steps in getting to their sponsors around the country. Minton/Staff Photographer) ELECTION on page SeePECOS page 10 REFUGEES on page 14 Making history Elaine Woods of Chandler beaming with sense of pride and accomplishment after the city designated the neighborhood Southside Village the city’s first historic conservation district. Read what she did on page 4. (David Minton/Staff Photographer) Easy-To-Read Digital Edition

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Valley still on roller coaster

Crazy times have hit the Valley ‘s residential market these days, judging by some of the latest data posted by The Cromford Report, the leading analyst of the Phoenix Metro housing market.

It reported earlier this month that the average sale price of $549,861 for a house between Aug. 10 and Sept. 9 was $840 less than the average closed home price of $550,701 recorded between Sept. 10, 2021 and this past Sept. 9.

What’s astonishing is that as recently as this past June the year-over-year average sale price gap of a house in the Valley was $66,000.

“The gap has dropped dramatically in less than three months,” the Cromford Report noted.

It said that such a steep drop has occurred during other “periods of weak buyer confi dence” for a few weeks in the early stages of the pandemic in 2020 and in 2014 and 2015.

“It is never a good sign when the short-term average is lower than the long-term average,” the Cromford report said, noting that the highest gap wasn’t all that long ago.

“A negative $840 number is not terrible but far from good,” it said. “The highest we have ever measured was a positive $79,365 in May 2021, which we can look back on as following a peak in buyer optimism. The worst we have seen was negative $62,429 in March 2009.”

The Cromford Report didn’t reflect any panic about the narrow di erent between the latest short-term and long-term average sale price.

“It will be a more important sign if the short-term average stays below the long-term average for an extended time,” it said, adding:

“A week or 3 is nothing to worry about, but several months means a long-term down-trend has started. This happened between September 2007 and October 2009. It would not be good to relive those years and at this

stage it looks unlikely that we will.”

All in all, the Cromford Report has been a slightly more optimistic in its assessment of how sellers are faring in the Valley market than it had been at the beginning of September.

Indeed, late last week it said, “Sellers can celebrate again.” That’s because its index of market conditions in the Valley’s 17 submarkets indicated a more favorable climate for sellers.

Earlier this month, it said the average price per square foot for homes sold increased over August.

While that increase was only from $285 per square foot to $289, the Cromford Report said, “This is not consistent with the idea that the market is crashing.”

On the other hand, the report said sale prices had dropped below final list prices, prompting it to warn this “confirms that sellers’ negotiation power is far weaker than it has been in many years.”

It also noted the four-week trend last month showed square-foot prices for listings under contract had steadily fallen.

The Cromford Report also noted

that the trend in successful sales rates declined to 70.4% in August – “the lowest we have seen for late August since the year “Mind2010.”you,in 2010 the reading was a dismal 58.1%, thanks to all the short sales and pre-foreclosures crowding the market at the time,” it said, but added: “Any new sellers need to be realistic: 30% of listings fail to sell these days. At the end of March, the percentage was less than 8%. Listing agents now need to focus on marketing instead of worrying about how to handle the deluge of o ers in the fi rst few days.”

It also saw a decline in the number of “coming soon” listings, prompting it to note, “It is no longer a matter of great excitement that your home is shortly to be listed for sale.”

One aspect of the market the Cromford Report singled out last week was the number of houses owned by iBuyer companies like Opendoor.

“We do have excessive inventory of empty homes in the hands of iBuyers,” it said. “They continued to buy homes

in large numbers during the second quarter and have ended up with far too many homes in their possession during the third

“ are empty and racking up expenses,” it continued, adding their inventory “has to be driven lower.”

It noted that Opendoor is slashing prices to reduce that inventory, but that’s resulted in impacting the overall market –and the pocketbooks of sales agents.

“With lots of bargain homes on o er below market value, this is partially succeeding in moving homes from active to pending, but it also has the e ect of a lowering average prices for the market as a whole,” it said, calling Opendoor “large enough to be a signifi cant competitor for other sellers.”

“This discounting also has the unpleasant side-e ect of lowering the intrinsic value of the remaining unsold inventory.”

And that means, it said, “It certainly is bad news for people who depend on healthy sales volume for their income. This includes title company sta , real estate agents and mortgage lenders.”

This 3,587-square-foot house on W. Sunrise Place in Chandler recently sold for $1.6 million. Built in 1999, the house in The Vistas in Ocotillo has five bedrooms and three baths and boasted a number of upgrades as well as a gourmet kitchen with high-end appliances. (Special to SanTan Sun News) Scan Homebot Home Value!
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S. Chandler restaurant overcomes fire, reopens

The first attempt to open a Modern Margarita restaurant and bar in Chan dler started off well, but went down in flames.Literally.“Iwasthere

that day,” said Kyle Mason, the restaurant’s vice president of operations. “I was in the office doing some admin work, I’m smelling something. And I thought it was an electrical fire. … I’m sniffing around and all of a sudden, the backdoor kicks in, it’s Chandler Fire Department, ‘Get out, get out.’ We’re like, what?”

That was in May 2018, when Modern Margarita was celebrating one year of being in operation in Downtown Chandler.Fouryears later they have finally reopened in the city, this one in South Chandler, near Ocotillo and Gilbert roads. The new location held its grand opening earlier this month.

Mason said the cause of the downtown fire was never definitively determined, but they suspect it started in

the pizza oven. At the time, they were a dual concept restaurant, with Modern Margarita and La Bocca Urban Kitchen shared the space that is now operated by The Uncommon at the corner of

Boston and Arizona.

“It was a complete loss at the end of the day, from not only the fire, but the water issue that they had,” Mason said. “Because it was crazy.”

Mason said in the restaurant business there are many factors that determine if you will be a success or not. Location, good food and service are all important. So is luck.

He said it was lucky for them they did not try and reopen the restaurant quickly.“Ifwe did reopen, what would have happened 18 months later down the road?” he asked. “A pandemic. So we were very fortunate that we didn’t reopen. And here we are today.”

Mason describes Modern Margarita as a place where you can go to get craft cocktails, without the long wait you usually find at craft bars.

“I don’t want to say we’re a craft cocktail bar or anything like that,” he said. “But when you come in here, you will get a craft margarita, but without the time. We try to make everything fast. I’ve been to several craft cocktail bars. I’ve been a craft mixologist before as well. So I know that you sometimes sit at an establishment and you’re waiting 5, 6, 7 minutes for a cocktail.”

Chandler eatery started as a hot dog cart

Richie Vaia’s journey from hot dog cart operator to successful restaurateur in Chandler includes a detour caused by a collision with a semi-truck.

“I went back to Chicago, we did our last run, I turned around and came right back home and got all the way to Albuquer que in a construction zone,” Vaia said. “A semi came flying over the hill and totally wiped out all my personal belongings, all my equipment, my truck. Everything got wiped out. I was down to nothing.”

Until that moment, Vaia had been building his new life selling a bit of Chicago to former residents of that city who missed home. He started out selling hot dogs out of a cart at the Home Depot until they chased him away.

“It’s always better to ask for forgiveness than permission, right?”

He upgraded from that to a food truck with a long-term plan to eventually open a brick-and-mortar restaurant that he figured was a few years away and now owns Richie V’s Chicago Eatery at 4975 S. Alma School Road, Chandler.

After losing his Home Depot lot spot, Vaia returned to Chicago to pick up his belongings and new supplies for his business. Along the way to Chicago, he stopped often to do some charity work.

“I had to go back to Chicago to pick up my belongings,” Vaia said. “I had them all in storage because I didn’t know if I was going to stay out here. So I said what a good idea if I get some sponsors … and I can feed the homeless and battered women across America

on the way back, make some noise, bring some awareness. The turnout was fantastic at every stop I did. There were over 1,500 people along the way.”

Before deciding to move to Arizona, Vaia worked in the entertainment indus try, working on shows like “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago PD,” and “Shameless.” He said he did lighting, special effects and rigging, calling it the “best job in the world.”

Then the pandemic began and production stopped as the entertain ment world tried to figure out how to keep going. Vaia said he always thought the best way to spread happiness was through their stomachs.

He had some experience in running a food cart and restaurant. When he

arrived in Arizona he started by trying to sell pizzas. Vaia said it wasn’t until he switched to Chicago food that he realized he found his niche.

He said it seems the Sun Lakes area is filled with Chicago natives. He imports his food directly from Chicago to keep it au thentic. It’s been such a hit, he has regular customers from as far away as Yuma.

“I got one guy that comes up twice a week from Tucson,” Vaia said.

The menu is not extensive. It features Chicago hot dogs, Italian beef, Italian sausage and a supreme tamale. Add in fries, Italian ice and beverages, and that’s about it.

And that is exactly what his customers are looking for, authentic Chicago comfort food in South Chandler.

He was able to open up the restaurant at the corner of Alma School and Chandler Heights with the help of his business partner, John Hornacek, broth er of the former Suns player and coach.

It’s been such a success Vaia said he’s already thinking expansion.

“We’re looking toward the Queen Creek area or Maricopa, those are my two choic es,” Vaia said. “Absolutely by March, we’ll have another one up and running, 100%.”

If you go

Richie V’s Chicago Eatery

4975 S. Alma School Road, Chandler

Kyle Mason, vice president of operations of Modern Margarita in south Chandler, recalls the day the eatery’s first location in downtown Chandler caught fire. (David Minton/Staff Photographer) See Left: Richie Vaia owns Richie V’s Chicago Eatery at 4975 S. Alma School Road, Chandler. Right: The spacious Richie V’s Chicago Eatery in Chandler caters to ex-Chicagoans who miss the tastes of the Windy City. (David Minton/Staff Photographer)
For more community news visit 37THE SUNDAY SANTAN SUN NEWS | SEPTEMBER 25, 2022
MARGARITA on page 38


On the food side, they try to keep it simple. Most of the focus is on tacos. They just give it a modern update.

“We’re not your traditional Mexican, authentic cuisine that you would go to see … unlimited chips and salsa coming out the wazoo. We really focus on a creative aspect, or modern aspect, to the traditional taco. [For example,] using Korean beef as a short rib. We’re using a Nashville hot chicken right now in a taco. So we’re just trying to infuse a little bit of fusion and at the same time have different culinary aspects.”

This is the second Modern Margarita location in the Valley, joining the one in CityNorth in Phoenix. Mason said since both locations are doing well, they do

plan to expand.

“I would like to go to the west side,” Mason said. “Goodyear, that kind of area. The residential growth is substantial out there. And there’s not a lot of options for people either.”

In addition to expanding in the Valley, Mason said they may also look to other states, mentioning Texas as a possibility.

One thing you won’t find at a Modern Margarita, however, is a pizza oven. Mason said they’ve given that up.

If you go

Modern Margarita 4165 S. Gilbert Road, Chandler chandler.modernmargarita.com480-687-4264

Running, his QC business brought him meaning

Logan Brooks, 6, and his 9-year old brother Brian were headed out on Brian’s bicycle to play some Saturday morning football at an elementary school by their house in Coos Bay, Oregon, with the younger sibling riding on theNobodyhandlebars.really knows what happened next that day in January of 1987.“There was a stop sign. Somehow, we went out into the street and I got hit and pretty much took the brunt of it. Fractured my skull,” Logan Brooks recalled. “I was told I was millimeters from being brain dead.”

He was left for dead by a nurse who happened on the scene as the boys’ dad rushed to the scene.

“I was laying in a pool of blood. The nurse told him that I was dead, actually gone and we don’t need to focus on him, we need to focus on this one here that’s alive. My brother in the end came out almost completely unscathed.”

Logan was unconscious and teetering on the edge of life, his face and body badlyRescueddisfigured.andstabilized in Coos Bay, he was eventually taken by air ambulance to Portland, where he required months of hospitalization, reconstruc tive surgeries and rehabilitation.

“I almost felt like I had a superpower instilled in me that day,” he said. “From that day forward, I have never really been afraid of anything. I think that was built through something that occurred in those moments afterwards. I’ve never stepped down from a challenge.”

And there were plenty of them.

Fast forward a decade or so from the accident, and just having graduated from high school, Brooks followed his brothers to Arizona, a little bit directionless, looking for work and something to help shape his future.

“It was either go to school in small town Oregon or take a chance,’ he said.

“Looking back, as I’ve gotten a little older, I wonder ‘what the hell was I thinking and how did I make it through that?’ But I think it’s just part of who I am. From what I remember I never

looked back,” he said.

Brooks spent the next decade searching for purpose and dealing with challenges. A severe bout of insomnia cost him a marriage and he began to search for something to make him feel like his life, miraculously spared, had some meaning.

He happened to have grown up in the same town as distance running legend and Olympian Steve Prefontaine.

Even years after Prefontaine’s death, Brooks stumbled on his inspiration. He took up running on a whim, traversing trails in

“ThisArizona.isexactly where I was supposed to be; This is exactly the sport I was supposed to find. This is the meditation I was supposed to find,” he said. “I took up trail running when I was about 29

years old and I’ve never looked back. It just became my absolute passion.”

Ironically, Prefontaine died in an auto accident while he was running for the University of Oregon, training for the 1976 Olympics, years before Logan Brooks was born.

“In the running work, he was a god,” Brooks said. “He was the guy who made running cool. He died in a car accident and there were some parallels there. Running went from nobody knew what running in America was to this guy changing the idea of what running even meant to our country.”

Inspired, Brooks took up road racing, continues running competitively to this day, and wanted to help others do the same.But there was more frustration.

More setback. Ready to open a running shop in Prescott, the timing, finances and his personal situation sunk those plans and Brooks found himself living in Queen Creek, making a go at having a family.After some market research, he transferred his plans south from Prescott and opened Queen Creek Running Company in 2018, a specialty shop devoted to all things running.

Tucked inconspicuously between a doughnut shop and a tanning salon, Brooks aims to help customers who have taken their running to the next level and want to be competitive, focusing on individual service.

“Amazon and all these other insti-

Modern Margarita’s new south Chandler location promises efficient service, tasty beverages and yummy tacos. (David Minton/Staff Photographer) As the owner of the Queen Creek Running Company, Logan Brooks and his business partner can spend one-on-one time with customers to ensure they get the best footwear possible for their running style. (David Minton/Tribune Staff Photographer)
from page 37
See RUNNING on page 39

tutions and softwares have ruined that handshake between people where they can come in and get physical attention and technical knowledge,” Brooks said.

And there is a lot of technical knowledge wedged into this strip mall store at the corner of Chandler Heights and Power Rd. Brooks and his business partner Karl Neimeister greet customers with a series of questions to help narrow down what it is that the runner is looking for in a pair of shoes.

What are you running for? What’s your weekly mileage target is your goal,

and what’s your injury history and basic knowledge of running and how your body reacts to it?

Armed with that knowledge, it’s off to a multi-colored machine with lights and screens … the Aetrex foot scanner.

“It gives us clear dimensions of your foot. Everything from the length of your foot to the width of your foot to the height of your instep to the girth of your arch,” he said.

And it gives us a map of the pressure under your foot so it shows us where you have a tendency to lean and how you pressurize or depressurize your foot. We can literally zoom in and show them a 3-D image of their foot.”

Brooks sends that image electronically to a specialist who can create a shoe insert, or orthotic, for the customer within a few days.

Using the Aetrex image, Brooks helps the customer select a shoe that is best for their foot. Then he puts them on the treadmill over against the wall to test the shoe and see if it really is the best one for the customer’s foot.

“I bought a new pair of Sauconys for an upcoming event that I have. I have two more months of training,” said Alexis Earhart. “I needed a good pair of shoes and I needed someone who knew what they were talking about and would analyze my gait and my foot and

give me the appropriate recommendations.”Ina good week, Brooks sells about 150 pairs of shoes.

Because his business is small, he takes his time and focuses on each customer as they come through the door. The business is growing though and, Brooks says, will need more space soon.

Brooks wants Queen Creek Running Co. to be an integral part of the business“Wecommunity.eventually would like to put on a couple of races here in this area. There is no point in being successful and making money without giving back,” he said.

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EV women, benefactor help foster kids thrive

An old Greek proverb says that a society grows when old men plant trees whose shade they will never sit under.

That pretty much sums up the work that real estate investors Randy and Dell Loy Hansen are doing for Advocacy, Support & Assistance Now and its founders – Anika Robinson, Susan Mulhearn and Angela Teachout. The ladies fought back tears, as Randy shared the story last week.

The Hansens has been involved in real estate investing since 1992 and wanted to help a charity that embodied “true

“It’svolunteerism.”easytodonate money, it’s easy to donate things,” Randy Hansen said. “But donating your life, that to me is the true Hansengift.”first read about the work the ladies did to help win passage of Jacob’s Law in 2016.

The law aims to improve care for Arizona’s foster/kinship/adoptive families receiving behavioral health services.

It establishes timelines to provide behavioral health services to foster and adoptive children. The bill’s purpose is to ensure easier, better access to behavioral health care for Arizona’s chil dren in foster care and their families.

“They weren’t sponsored by some consultant or pocket-money people,” Hansen said. “They wanted a law for a specific reason. These were people that

just care a lot as to do the right thing.”

Since passing Jacob’s Law in 2016, ASA Now has helped thousands of foster kids throughout Arizona.

Jacob, now 22, still lives in a developmentally delayed group home and requires round-the-clock care due to severe physical abuse from his biological parents that deteriorated his mental health.

In 2018, ASA Now opened Jacob’s Mission Community Center at 7830 East

University Drive in Mesa.

There, families can connect to support, advocacy, and assistance with immediate needs 24/7, life skill programs and activities for children and foster and adoptive families.

“I feel like each one of us was tasked in this lifetime with doing pretty big things,” Robinson said. “And knowing that God commanded us to help others, and to leave this world better than when we came in.”

Hansen visited one Saturday afternoon when the women were in the middle of renovating the dilapidated old church with overgrown landscaping.

“They were bringing it back to life through pure sweat and volunteers,” HansenHansensaid.was so impressed by that simple effort that he made a check out for to buy paint for the building.

Robinson said she called Hansen crying because she thought he made a mistake when she discovered the check was for $50,000.

“I was crying so hard right there in the middle of Wells Fargo,” Robinson said.After getting to know the women more, Hansen invited them to a Feed My Starving Children event at the Mesa Convention Center.

Though he doubted they would show up given their busy schedules, Hansen said all three ladies showed up with dozens of kids in tow from the even larger group of children they’ve found homes for.

“Lo and behold, I don’t remember how many people showed up but it turned out to be a really fun day,” Hansen said. “I was so impressed by that.”

In December 2018, Hansen paid off their $1 million mortgage.

He said it’s a gift his wife predicted would“Shehappen.knewfrom day one that we were

Assistance League prepares for special tea party

Ten new members of Assistance League of East Valley will model clothing at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, a fashion show and luncheon at noon Oct. 22 at Sunbird Golf Resort, 6210 S. Sunbird Ave., Chandler.

The fundraiser will help the organization provide new clothing for over 7,000 needy elementary school children.

Enthusiasm for joining Assistance League grows as friends share their enjoyment in being part of the friendly volunteer group. Members have a good time as they pitch in at the upscale thrift shop, distribute goods to children and assault victims and provide scholarships for college students.

“It’s really fun to be out on the sales floor, helping people and talking with customers,” said Tricia Mauller of San Tan Valley, who joined last month. “Everybody is so nice, laughing, having a good time. I love it.”

Lynn Stevens of Mesa said she enjoys working in the shoe section in the back room, as well as helping in the front of

the“Theshop.members are so friendly and helpful. I’m thankful to be part of an organization that helps so many people,”

sheEachsaid.month Linda Ems of Chandler gathers items for the assault survivor kits each month, in addition to working

on the sales floor. She’s a “regular,” one of the members who shows up every week.The Tea Party will be a casual, fun event, with a silent auction, raffle and prizes for attendees who wear the best hats.

Fashions are from Judy Wear Boutique in Sun Lakes. Auction items will include Gammage and Phoenix Suns tickets, a Camp Verde bunkhouse stay, Southwest Airlines gift card, décor items and designer purse and hat.

Tickets for the event are $50 and are available at the Thrift Shop, 2326 N. Alma School in Chandler, or at The shop is open Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Reservations close Oct. 17.

Assistance League of East Valley provided clothing and supplies for over 7,300 elementary school children this year, in addition to supplying 338 homeless teens in Gilbert and Chandler with clothing, shoes, hygiene items, food, bus passes and academic support.

Volunteers delivered over 3,800 assault survivor kits to local agencies, and they awarded 14 college scholarships this year.

Lynn Stevens of Mesa, left, and Linda Ems of Chandler are regular volunteers at the Assistance League of the East Valley’s Chandler Thrift Shop and are modeling hats at the group’s upcoming tea party. (Special to SanTan Sun News) From left, Angela Teachout, Anika Robinson, Susan Mulheran and Randy Hansen expand the work of their nonprofit, Advocacy, Support & Assistance Now. (David Minton /Staff Photographer)
For more community news visit 40 THE SUNDAY SANTAN SUN NEWS | SEPTEMBER 25, 2022
See FOSTER on page 41

going to do it,” Hansen said. “That left them on this free and clear so they could put all of their money into finishing the building and serving customers.”

Af ter a year-and-a-half of working with volunteers, they finished renova tions in December 2019.

Then, the calendar turned to 2020 and a pandemic slowed the world down.“We were only really serving our county,” Anika said. “The pandemic made it to where we have to serve statewide.”Suddenly it became a mad rush to find volunteers to drive boxes of diapers, clothes, food, etc. around the state.

“We became a 24/7 distribution center,” Robinson said. “It looked like a secondhand store on steroids for over a year.”In2020, ASA Now established Shade Tree Academy and a small class for students at Jacob’s Mission Community Center located at 7830 East University Drive in ShadeMesa.Tree Academy looks to curb the effects on foster kids from trauma they’ve endured and help them gain the tools they need to cope with it.

“What they really need is someone

that can help them work through their trauma,” Robinson said.

Classes officially opened in August 2021 and the academy is now in its second academic year with trauma-informed education for seven students.

That’s all the room the women have. They hope to grow the number of kids they can serve up to 100.

Hansen has known charity his entire life, considering his mother was a high school English teacher who developed a reading program for underprivileged kids in northern Utah.

Over the last 30 years, his family has built a foundation and helped set the standard for building child crisis family support centers in that area.

Now, he wants to help the group in Mesa.“Iwanted something that was true volunteerism with people that are making a difference,” Hansen said.

During the pandemic, the Shade Tree Academy became the epicenter for get ting help to the 14,000 kids in the foster care system in the State of Arizona.

Much like during the pandemic, the

plan is to make Shade Tree the permanent center for training volunteers throughout the state.

“There will be people over the next 10 years, brought into this network to learn how to do a better job to support the needs of your foster family,” Hansen said.

The next issue for the partnership is to work on helping those kids who ageout of the foster care system.

“Once we get the school built, then I want to start at the heart of that,” Hansen

Robinsonsaid. said the Hansens have gifted their school with opportunities for the kids that ASA Now founders won’t see come to fruition.

“We will never know the impact that it will have for the rest of their lives,” Robin son said. “But the Hansen family has not only touched our lives, they will touch the lives of thousands upon thousands.”

In total, the Hansen brothers have agreed to donate $4 million to build the 18,000-square-foot school, as well as a swimming pool that will provide aquatic therapy for the kids.

The ASA Now founders will have to raise $1 million to break ground for the facility.“Itfeels impossible,” Robinson said.

As of Sept 7, the nonprofit has only raised $153,000. To help:

AP achieve success

As the cost of college continues to increase, parents of soon-to-be college students are looking for tools to reduce cost and one tool is the Advanced Placement (AP) program.

AP students take college-level courses at their school, take an exam and, if successful on the exam, receive college credit. These credits count and tuition will not be paid for these credits.

Perry High Mathematics Chair Dr. Tom Rothery, who has been teaching there for 13 years and earned his undergraduate and doctoral degrees at ASU, said what is needed for success in calculus AP is somewhat different than for statistics.

Calculus is required for science, engineering and computer majors and the typical first semester calculus class is in a lecture hall with 300 or more students, which may not the best environ-

ment for learning. Statistics is required for many business and social science degrees and the introductory class is

also taught in large lectures.

By taking AP Calculus and/or AP Statistics, Rothery said, a student has a more productive learning environment and is better prepared for any subsequent college courses.

Success or failure in calculus is predicted by the student’s mastery of prerequisite algebra and trigonometry topics. Knowing this, Rothery estab lished honors pre-calculus courses to ensure the mastery of those topics.

Students enrolled in these classes also receive dual-enrollment credit from Maricopa County Community College District, and will be successful in AP Cal culus and score a passing AP exam grade.

Achieving success in AP Statistics requires the student to understand data analysis and write effective responses to exam questions.

The College Board, which supervises the AP Program, offers week-long and one-day workshops providing teachers

with an understanding of the AP Statistics course and exam grading.

The teacher who becomes an AP Statistics exam reader receives firsthand knowledge on how answers are graded and this information is passed on to the students. At Perry, Rothery and one other AP Statistics teacher are exam readers and. Rothery has become an exam table leader, supervising the grading of less experienced graders.

There should be no surprise that in 2022 almost 90% of the Perry AP Sta tistics students received a passing exam score, compared to about a 60% pass rate nationally. In AP Calculus, most Per ry students have scored a passing grade.

The results confirm that the prepa ration of Perry students in AP mathe matics is a model for all high schools, and more students should take an AP math course to save money and improve college success.

ASA Now hopes to raise enough money to build this expanded academy to prepare foster teens for the real world when they age out of the system at 18. (Special to SanTan Sun News)
FOSTER from page 40
Math at Perry High helps students
Tom Rothery Subscribe Here Receive your digital flip-thru edition every week in your e-mail box! July 31, 2022 Relentlessly local coverage of Southern Chandler An edition of the East Valley Tribune FEATURED STORIES Residents balk at city housing plan .News .Page Chandler eatery devoted to avocados .Business. Page High school sports on live TV .Sports Page 31 Chandler kids in big musical. Page More Neighbors 28 Sports. 333134 Directory SAIN Managing Editor Ruth Jones’ bid to upset incumbent Mayor Kevin Hartke in Tuesday’s election is a true underdog affair while the race to fi three other seats on City Council pits an incumbent against four challengers. Hartke, after serving two terms on Council and one term as mayor, has name recognition. He also has huge advantage in campaign finance funds. the incumbent. Those three advantages usually lead to victories. However, not always. There have been handful of cases where a scrappy underdog has been able to pull off the upset, said his challenger. “Don’t count me out,” Jones said after second quarter campaign nance reports were filed through July 16th. Hartke raised only $17,226 in the second quarter of this year, but entered that period with nearly $229,000 in the bank, according to his most recent nancial statement. He spent about $28,600 from April through July 16, giving him more than $216,000 going into the final weeks of the primary campaign. Jones raised the least amount of any of the seven candidates on the ballot who are running for spot on the Council. She reported raising about $8,900 and headed into the nal days of the campaign with balance of $216. “It’s not about the money, it’s never been about that,” Jones said. “The reason why I’m going to win is I’ve gone out and talked to the people who live here. I’ve listened, and because I’ve done that, they know care.” In the other council races, incumbent Matt Orlando is seeking second term while members Rene Lopez and Terry Roe are termed out. Lopez is one of six Republicans seeking the nomination in Congressional District 4 to run against incumbent Greg Stanton. Roe is one of the two Republican candidates for the state House in LD12, which covCity Council races head to the finish line Managing Editor With the City of Chandler nearing buildout, meaning the amount of open space left to develop on is dwindling, southwest Arizona AvePecos Road out. It comprises nearly 50 acres of open space close to the heart of downtown and sitting just off the Loop 202 freeway, making it perhaps the most desirable open space left to develop in Chandler. And for years has been empty land. That could be changing soon. An application has been submitted to the city Development Services Department for a multi-use development that will include hotel, office and retail space and multi-family housing. Called the Downtown District, the project “is designed as high-quality mixed-use development that will create vital employment, retail and housing opportunities at the gateway Downtown Chandler,” wrote Brennan Ray of Burch & Cracchiolo on behalf of developer Meridian West. This is only an application. It has to go through staff review, neighborhood meetings, the Planning and Zoning Commission, and finally City Council before it can become reality. It is likely the plan will change as it goes through that process. So why did the property sit undeveloped for so long with the city at 93% of buildout?“Myunderstanding is that there were several property owners who were interested in a corner,” said city Planning Manager David de la Torre. “It wasn’t just one property owner, was several property owners. “My understanding that they couldn’t agree on which way to go, and so there was one … of those partners, [who] bought out the other ones, [it took] a long time to do that. So now that particular property owner is ready to move forward, he submitted plans.” The first of two required neighborhood meetings on the property was scheduled for July 28 – after this newspaper’s deadline – at the Crown Plaza Mega development planned for Pecos-Arizona corner Managing Editor For some refugees coming to the United States for better life, Chandler church is one of the rst steps on thatThejourney.Grove, 2777 S. Gilbert Road, is one of five East Valley churches that host welcome center for refugees seeking asylum. It is their first stop after turning themselves in at the Southern border and spending time in detention centers.“Wegive them welcome, because they don’t know where they’re going, and they’re scared,” said Magdalena Schwartz, pastor of Vineyard Church in Gilbert.Therefugees are not in this country illegally. Because they have asked for asylum, they are free to move about in America pending the outcome of a hearing on their request. Chandler church extends helping hand to refugees Asylum seekers from border crossings near Tucson and Yuma arrived July 20 at The Grove Church in Chandler, where volunteers help get them food, showers, fresh clothing and help with the next steps in getting to their sponsors around the country. (David Minton/Staff Photographer) SeeELECTION 16 PECOS on page REFUGEES on Making history Elaine Woods Chandler is beaming with sense of pride and accomplishment after the city designated the neighborhood of Southside Village the city’s first historic conservation district. Read what she did on page 4. (David Minton/Staff Photographer) Easy-To-Read Digital Edition

EV physician raising funds for care in India

More than 50 young dancers in the rich, classical Indian dance tradition of Bharathanatyam will take to the Mesa Arts Center stage Oct. 9.

The concert, titled “Sarvagnya: She is Limitless,” has a powerful theme to honor and empower women. It bears an equally strong cause: to fundraise for palliative care in India.

With spectacular dance choreography, colorful costumes, an appealing storyline and narration in English, the concert provides universal enjoyment for all ages.

Program sponsor Dr. Bhagyashree Barlingay of Mesa said that palliative care is still scarce or non-existent in her home country.

“It’s a new and evolving concept in medicine, a need of the current times due to the aging population and prolonged lives of the chronically ill,” said Barlingay, who recently topped her long medical career with a Fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Medicine from the University of Arizona and has privileges at Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa.

Barlingay is sponsoring the event under the banner of Akshaybasha, her nonprofit literary organization.

The funds raised will go toward Pallium India, a charitable trust based in Kerala, the southwestern state of India. Its vision is to integrate palliative care with general health care and make it available across India.

Barlingay’s contribution will help the grassroots level efforts of Pallium India

to train medical staff and open care centers in her native state of Maharashtra.

“My generation should take it as a matter of prime importance,” she said. “Our parents are aging. We are aging. If we don’t lay down the foundation at this point in time, a lot of suffering, a lot of medical poverty will continue to be created not only in the lower middle-class but in the upper middle-class sections of society.”

The doctor said her fellowship provided knowledge, visibility, introduction to key people and empowerment to proceed with her goals.

“This is an unseen epidemic. Nobody recognizes that this is going on. We need to bring it out to light,” she said.

With the help of this and a few more fundraisers, she feels her project will establish in Maharashtra and “run on auto-pilot” in about five years. Later, she would like to expand to other regions.

Bhagyashree feels the concert, themed on empowering women, is apt to promote her charity.

Originating hundreds of years ago in Tamil Nadu as a devotional and spiritual dance, Bharatnatyam has today evolved into a global dance form.

“With various exceptional dance performers and schools teaching the art of this classical dance, it has become a dance form similar to ballet,” said Deepika Haldankar, a Chandler resident. “Many Bharatnatyam dance institutes start teaching dance at the early age of 6 years,” she added.

Silambam Phoenix is one such school

that was established about 23 years ago by local dance exponent Srimathy Mohan.

Earlier this year, Silambam Phoenix presented “Sarvagnya: She is Limitless’” at Mesa Arts Center to an appreciative audience. It was postponed from its 20th year due to the pandemic.

The production highlights the many facets of the woman; creator, nurturer, educator, activist and artist. Its performers are joined on stage by Mohan, who plays a principal role.

Haldankar, who saw the performance, said the dedication to the art is apparent by the energy, vitality, expression, mudras (poses), music and costume.

“All these elements together bring in the most beautiful and awe-inspiring visuals and performance,” she said. “Even if the language of the music is not understood, the mere expression of the dancers conveys the message, and we realize our connection to another human through unspoken words.”

How did the show’s theme develop?

Silambam Phoenix is a majority women-run nonprofit organization with nearly all female students.

“We talk about being recognized for our work and efforts and also helping others who may not be in a position to find ways to do these for themselves,” Mohan said.

When the school started brainstorming ideas for its 20th anniversary production, many students wanted to take their discussions about roles of women and empowerment to the next level and illustrate it in the production.

“As part of the research, the students learned about the condition of women in several societies and this helped them understand the current dynamics,” Mohan said.

Silambam Phoenix has raised funds for a variety of causes over the past 22 years, including childhood poverty and hunger, natural disasters, education for the underprivileged, domestic abuse, children’s health and safety, and women’s issues.

The school has also supported Ryan House, an organization focused on palliative care for children.

“When Bhagyashree approached us with the idea of a fundraiser for Pallium India, it was a no-brainer for us,” said Mohan.

The objective of Silambam Phoenix is to “Feel Good and Do Good” with all of its productions. “The ‘Feel Good’ part comes from picking themes that are dear to us and relevant to society and choreographing and producing very high-quality Bharatanatyam shows,” Mohan said. “We feel good with the whole process and the audience feels good watching a top-quality performance.

“The ‘Do Good’ part comes from our efforts to utilize our productions as fundraisers for social causes that we care about,” she added.

Dance recital performed by Silambam Phoenix and sponsored by Akshaybhasha takes place at 4 p.m. Oct. 9 at Mesa Arts Center. Tickets are priced from $15-$100. Tickets: Donations: Conversations on palliative care on YouTube at “Palliversation.”


Miles Lockhart taking humble approach to success


admits he never thought football would be his future when he was younger.

He started off as a soccer player, and a self-proclaimed “chubby” one at that. He started to dabble in tackle football when he was 8 years old but never truly fell in love with it right away. His parents, David and Stevie, saw potential in him, even if he didn’t see it in himself.

He stuck with the game and by the time he reached the seventh grade, his baby fat began to fall off. That’s also around the time he started to see what football can offer him. Now in the middle of his junior season at Basha High School, Miles isn’t just a starting cornerback for a Bears team that figures to make a run at the Open Division title this season.

He’s one of the top cornerbacks in the country for the 2024 class while only playing at the position for two years.

“People ask me if I thought this would ever happen,” Miles said. “And, like, no, to be honest. I thought it could happen but it’s just a really humbling experience. To look back on that, you would never really think I would be at where I am now.

“It’s been a great experience.”

Miles’ approach to football is simple: Stay hungry. Stay humble. Never settle.

He helped lead Basha to a 10-0 regular season record last year as a sophomore. But the Bears lost in the first round of the playoffs. That isn’t good enough for Miles.

He’s been a starter at the varsity level since his freshman year, when head coach Chris McDonald saw his athleticism and

knew he would be able to contribute at a young age to build what has now become Basha’s core group of players. Yet, he isn’t satisfied without a win in the postseason.

Miles knows the attention that is on him to be a leader and among the top players on a loaded Basha defense. He thrives off those expectations and doesn’t gloat. Instead, he stays humble.

“That has come with maturity,” Mc Donald said. “He’s also got teammates that are going through the same thing as him. Everyone knows he’s a phenomenal player and we have several phenomenal players.

“I think for him, he knows he isn’t the only guy getting recognition, so he keeps things in perspective. He doesn’t have to go around and be the guy.”

Miles’ athleticism comes from his family. David ran track and played football at the University of Arizona, where he met Stevie, who played flag football at Arizona. His older sister, Makenzie, became a professional dancer. Mia is currently a junior playing soccer at Alabama A&M.

Along with his parents, Miles was always pushed by his older sisters to succeed. They wanted what was best for him just as much as he does. And like their parents, they saw the potential he had early on.

It took countless hours of training to get to where Miles is today. But he isn’t satisfied. His four-star rating by recruiting websites and countless letters from colleges are great, but he aims to win a championship as a team with Basha.

His ability to become a leader at a young age is something that stands out the

Chandler native honored for her work with Unified sports


passion for Unified sports runs deep.

She first became involved in junior high. She said she was never athletic enough to play sports herself but wanted to make a difference with kids who have intellectual disabilities. She enjoyed seeing the happiness Unified sports brought to those athletes, and it brought her just as much joy to be a part of it.

Now, after being involved with it for several years, she was rewarded. The National Society of High School Scholars honored Chawla with the 18 Under 18 Award, a $1,000 scholarship given to a student under 18 years old who spread positivity within their communities.

“It’s honestly really special,” Chawla said. “I wasn’t expecting it. I applied to a few scholarships here and there with hopes of winning one of them. I didn’t think I would get this one and when I did, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so exciting!’

“It was very rewarding. Especially because I am so passionate about Unified sports. It was nice to see my passion get meChawla’ssomewhere.”passion for caring for others comes from her father’s career as a doctor. She had heard several stories about the wide array of patients he has seen. He was also involved with a not-for-profit that specializes in helping special needs adults. That has led her to the University

of Arizona, where she is in her freshman year pursuing a degree in nursing.

Her caring nature was what helped lead her to Unified sports in the first place. In sixth grade, she was able to do arts and crafts with special needs classes when she finished her homework on Fridays. She then joined the special needs club in junior high to stay involved. That led her to Unified sports, where she played basketball and ran track with the athletes and carried on her support for them through high school at Perry.

By the time she was a senior, she was voted the president of Unified sports at the school. She frequently led the teams through warm-ups and encouraged them to have high levels of energy while playing.

Being a part of Unified sports has been a fulfilling experience, and to see it growing rapidly in the state is something Chawla is proud of.

“It means a lot,” Chawla said. “I have seen it grow so much over the years. My senior year there were schools I had never heard of on our rosters to play. It

Chandler native and Perry High School alum Mali Chawla was one of 18 students recognized by the the National Society of High School Scholars honored Chawla with the 18 Under 18 Award, a $1,000 scholarship given to a student under 18 years old who spread positivity within their communities. Her involvement with Unified sports for several years helped her earn recognition.

(Special to the SanTan Sun

was hard at Perry because Unified sports wasn’t always recognized. But this year, my mom was telling me the football team was there supporting the Unified football team.“So, it’s not just other schools getting involved. It’s other sports at those schools getting involved with Unified. I love that aspect.”Chawla was one of 18 students honored with the scholarship. She said she put the money toward room and board at Arizona.Tobe considered, she had to submit a video showcasing her how their styles of leadership are contagious within communities. They also had to demonstrate how they will use that same passion as they move forward with their academic careers.Thevideo included pictures of her involvement with Unified sports. It also explained how her love for it evolved from junior high to her senior year at Perry.

She plans to once again become involved with Unified sports at her university, but for now is trying to adjust to a college lifestyle and schedule. But when she can, she will return to Unified sports.

“I’m still trying to get used to all of my time commitments,” Chawla said.

“But I do plan to find a Special Olympics organization. U of A is very handicap accessible, and I think we have a paralympic basketball team. So, I’m going to look into helping out with that.

Basha junior cornerback Miles Lockhart has become one of the top players in the country in the 2024 class. But it didn’t come easy. He had to work for it and follow his parents’ guidance of always keeping a level head and staying humble. It’s paid off. (Dave Minton/Staff Photographer)
For more community news visit 43THE SUNDAY SANTAN SUN NEWS | SEPTEMBER 25, 2022
See LOCKHART on page 44


most. He’s vocal and not afraid to point out mistakes by himself and others. But he’s also become a role model for younger athletes in the program that aim to have similar success he has with the Bears.

It’s made both of his parents proud.

“As a family, we are extremely proud of him,” David said. “We are certainly glad about what he has accomplished. But we are also proud of how hard he works. He’s taken ownership. He’s committed to being the best possible person and athlete he can be.”

“He’s my baby boy,” Stevie added. “The fact that he is not only a great athlete but more importantly a great student and kid, that’s representing us and our name. That’s a huge goal of mine that my kids can go out and be good people.”

Miles currently holds offers from most Power Five programs across the country. His most recent offers are from Big 12 schools Kansas and Kansas State. Those two were added to the list that includes Arizona State, Iowa, Louisville, Ohio State and Oregon, among several others.

While still nearly two full seasons away, Miles is cementing his legacy within the

More parents snub contact football

For more than two decades, contact football has faced a concussion crisis. Head injuries, once considered an occupational risk, have steadily gained the attention of the sports world, specifically the parents of younger athletes.

As awareness of sports-related concussions and brain injuries increases, Arizona parents have expressed apprehension about allowing their children to play contact football, according to a study published by the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix.

In 2016, 68% of parents allowed their kids to play football. That number has fallen each year to a low of 47% in 2020.

Football remains king among popular high school sports, but concern over traumatic brain injuries has seemingly resulted in a dip in overall participation. And as experts learn more, there’s still the unanswered question of whether playing contact football is in a teenager’s best interest.

“The biggest unanswered question is, ‘How far along are we after a concussion?’” said Dr. Jonathan Lifshitz, the director of the Translational Neurotrauma Research Program at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

“How far are we removed from the injury? How far into recovery are we? How much longer do we have to go?

“You can put it in the context of COVID. Someone tests positive with COVID. They don’t yet know if they’re going to have mild or severe symptoms, and they don’t know how long those symptoms are going to last. And if they lose their sense of smell, that unknowing amount of time is very challenging.”

Concussions are defi ned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head by a hit that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth.”

In Arizona, the response to access to more information about concussions has resulted in parents seeking alternatives to contact football. Flag football is

This chart shows a steady decline in the number of Valley parents who are allowing their sons to play contact football. (Barrow Institute)

the most viable option.

In 2021, the CDC conducted a study comparing the number of head impacts in youth tackle football versus flag football.

The study revealed that athletes who played contact football from ages 6 to 14 su ered 15 times more head injuries than flag football athletes and 23 times more high-magnitude head impacts.

The research also revealed that youth tackle football athletes undergo a median of 378 head impacts per athlete during the season. In contrast, flag football athletes experience a median of eight head impacts per year.

Kerry DeSpain, the senior commissioner for the Gridiron Flag Football league, said she’s aware of the lower participation in contact football among high schoolers and is well-equipped to o er a safer route to athletes.

“So we saw increased enrollment because of concerns about tackle (football) and concussions and all that,” DeSpain said. “Since 2016, we’ve been working to adjust to the newfound volume so that we can accommodate everyone accordingly.”Youthsports provide an outlet for children and teenagers to learn character development, accountability,

working within a team environment and dealing with adversity.

It is imperative to keep adolescents safe and make the changes necessary to prevent traumatic brain injuries that may result in long-term psychological complications. Replacing contact football with flag football accomplishes just that.

“It’s growing,” DeSpain said. “Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen more junior highs starting their flag football teams. They’re not quite there yet, but it is growing.”

In areas where flag football isn’t a viable solution, advanced tools are being implemented to measure the e ects of concussions on the brain and estimate a safe timetable of recovery.

ImPACT testing, also known as baseline testing, is done at Arizona’s middle and high school levels after an apparent concussion to gauge an athlete’s impairment. ImPACT testing checks for IQ, memory and reaction time.

“It’s one of the things (that’s done) nationwide, and it’s used in concussion research all the time,” said Dr. Christina Stough of OneAccord Physical Therapy. “It’s not the best concussion tool, but it will at least give you some prediction of what your function was preconcussion.

Basha program. And he’s doing it alongside the likes of junior quarterback Demond Williams, one of his best friends who also began his career as the starter on varsity as a freshman and has blossomed into one of the top quarterbacks in the country.

Their legacy, however, doesn’t involve personal accolades. They want to set Basha up for success for years to come.

“It’s not that I need to leave my own legacy, I want this to be a destination school,” Miles said. “I want this program to win a state championship and be in the nationalWhenrankings.”thinkingback to his football career thus far, Miles can’t help but thank his family. He was never forced into playing sports, but when he decided he wanted to he had full support from those around him.

He knows his journey is just getting started, and his future is bright. But keeping a level head is something that is important to him. He wants to let success come naturally.

“It really is a humbling experience,” Lockhart said. “It showcases how my parents raised us. They raised us to never quit and believe in what we believe in. They’re always there for us, they always pushed us.

“I thank them and my sisters a lot for everything.”

“So, a lot of high school programs, like in Arizona specifically, Banner has a lot of high schools that do imPACT testing, so that if their athletes get concussed, they go do imPACT testing and once you meet your score of impact, you’re technically cleared for game play.”

It is important to note that the perception of concussions has dramatically changed over the years. In 1994, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue created the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee and appointed New York Jets team physician Elliot J. Pellman as chairman.

“Concussions are part of the profession, an occupational risk,” Pellman told Sports

AlthoughIllustrated.injuries may be baked into football by nature, the increased awareness of the di erent forms of brain injuries has caused concern surrounding the overall safety the sport, the most concerning for Arizona parents being the link between concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

In a study, the Boston University Research CTE Center linked CTE to both repetitive brain trauma, such as concussions, and subconcussive hits.

The study concluded that for every 2.6 years of playing contact football, the risk of an athlete developing CTE doubles.

“So the concussion research right now is trying to figure out whether that CTE is related to concussion and impact in chronic concussions, or is it normal people playing football?” Stough said.

“These football players are hitting their heads too many times, they’re going crazy, they’re killing their wives, they are taking their lives type of stu . So the concussion rap has gotten very bad. So that push away from letting your kids play has gotten extremely large.”

The future of contact football is cloudy at the moment, with strong opinions on both sides of the argument about the sport’s viability.

Replacing contact football with flag football is the most pragmatic solution to the concussion problem, but whether flag football will ever be accepted as a mainstream alternative isn’t clear.

Lockhart began playing varsity football as a freshman for Basha. It was his fi rst season at cornerback. He’s now blossomed into a four-star recruit with offers to major Power Five college programs. (Dave Minton/Staff Photographer)
from page 43

People should understand that we all have value

I read a very interesting essay and will share it with you, following which I will explain why I think it is important at this time during these di cult experiences we are all going through.

A father said to his daughter “You have graduated with honors, here is a Jeep I bought many years ago. It is old now. But before I give it to you, take it to a used car lot and tell them that you are interested in selling it and see how much they o er for it.”

The daughter went to the used car lot and returned and said, “They o ered me $1,000 because they said it looked pretty worn out.”

The father then said, “Take it to the pawn shop.” She did just that and returned saying that they only o ered $100 because it is an old Jeep.

The father then asked her to go to a car club and returned telling her father that they o ered $100,000 for it because “It’s an iconic Jeep and sought by many collectors.”

Now the father said to his daughter, “The right place values you the right way.”

If you are not valued, do not be an-

gry, it means you are in the wrong place. Those who know your value are those who appreciate you. Never stay in a place where no one sees your value.

Reading this made me think of how we think of ourselves at various times under certain circumstances.

I then begin to think of seasons and holidays, and family celebrations, and our relationship with God. What thoughts enter our minds when we are seated in our respective houses of worship and begin to mouth words we try to Whatunderstand?feelingsdo we experience when we are with friends and family and witness the generations before our very eyes?To me, the most important aspect of praying relates to our feelings about ourselves. There are times when the confidence we display seems to disappear and we feel a sense of helplessness.

Now, I think is the time to really remember that we are who we are for many reasons. What we think of ourselves depends a great deal on how we are accepted. God certainly is accepting. And if God is accepting, how can we not be accepting of ourselves and those we know and meet?

I believe that the most important aspect of the essay is to understand we

each have

Perhapsvalue.weshould remember that trying to constantly prove our worth to someone, means we have already forgotten our value. We cannot and should not start seeing ourselves through the eyes of those who don’t value us. We must cherish our worth even if it seems others don’t.

Reciting the prayers, listening to the music, sitting with friends and neighbors, and perhaps family, should help us understand that we matter. Everyone matters. And no one can make us feel inferior without our consent.

All this can be accomplished by the simplicity of the worship service designed to make us feel good about ourselves and those we love. Our purpose is to reinforce these feelings through the simple acts of contrition andIfforgiveness.Godcanforgive us, then it stands to reason we can do no less with those whom we know and the one’s yet to meet. Then, in my humble opinion our prayers will have meaning and our feeling of self-worth will lead us to a path of completion and fulfillment.

Rabbi Irwin Wiener D.D. is the spiritual leader of the Sun Lakes Jewish Community.

The following was sent me by a friend with no other word. I read it and marveled at how it is the right question at the right time for us.

I am going to reflect upon it and hopefully allow it to influence my life, my thinking, and my reactions.

“If we could spread love as quickly as we spread hate and negativity, what an amazing world we would live in!”

Might it be that I should ask myself if this word…, this tweet..., this Facebook post..., this email will help spread love or...?

Rev. Marvin Arnpriester is the senior pastor at Sun Lakes United Methodist Church.

I would be amazing to spread love as fast as people spread hate
For more community news visit 45THE SUNDAY SANTAN SUN NEWS | SEPTEMBER 25, 2022
Services offered • Beyond Primary Care • Same Day Visits • Seamless integrated services • Maternal Care • OB/GYN • Onsite Lab & ultrasound 480-307-3477 655 S. Dobson Road, Suite 201, Chandler, AZ

Sun Lakes thespians slate 2 comedies

The Sun Lakes Community Theater is preparing a couple of laugh riots in the next two Directormonths.JoBirlin announced her choices for the cast of the upcoming comedy, “Sex Please We’re Sixty,” which will be presented in November.

The prim and proper bed and breakfast owner, Mrs. Stancliffe, will be played by Kathy Miller while her next-door neighbor, Bud “The Stud” Davis, will be portrayed by Mark Wenz, a newcomer to the theater troupe.

Mario Carranza has been cast as Mrs. Stancliffe’s would-be suitor, Henry Mitchell. Romance writer Victoria Ambrose will be performed by Ginger Henry. Henry Mitchell’s friend, Hillary Hudson, will feature another SLCT newcomer, Cari Scholes. Rounding out the cast as the lustful Charmaine Beauregard will be Kate King-Turner.

The play will run November 8-12 in the

San Tan Ballroom, Cottonwood. Tickets will be on sale at starting Oct. 12. They also will be on sale in-person from 10 a.m.-noon Oct. 12 and Oct. 26 and in Room A6 in Cotton-

wood 10 a.m.-noon Oct. 13 and Oct. 27 in the lobby of Oakwood Country Club. Tickets are $20.

“The show promises to be a side-split ting comedy, so don’t miss out,” a spokes

womanMeanwhile,said. the Sun Lakes Community Theater’s improvisation group, called the ImproVables, is planning a special Halloween dinner show 5:30 p.m. Oct. 28 at Cotton wood Country Club in the Saguaro Room.

The comedy troupe will perform skits and games based on the audience’s ideas and suggestions.

Dinner is included in the $25 ticket price and includes a Halloween buffet of “Halloweenies” (hot dogs with all the fixings), chili, house salad, and a special Halloween dessert. The cash bar will include a specialty drink: Bloody Marys.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m., dinner begins at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m. The evening’s fun includes a nightclub-style ambiance. Seating is limited.

The spokeswoman said the last ImproV ables show in Cottonwood sold out quickly.

Tickets are available now at ticket and at Cotton wood Palo Verde Homeowner Services.

A roundup of area Oktoberfest events next month

It’s time to pull on the lederhosen, lace up the dirndl and throw back a pint because Oktoberfest season is just around the Accordingcorner.tocensus data, more than 40 million Americans claim German ancestry — that’s roughly 16% of the U.S. population. And, while there aren’t any hard statistics on the subject, it’s safe to bet that at least a few million Americans also just love a good beer. Maybe that’s why the United States is the country ranked fourth for the most Oktoberfest celebrations, with Germa ny obviously taking first place.

Here are a few of the Oktoberfest events happening across the state this year.


For the first time, Pedal Haus Brewery and SanTan Brewing Company are joining together to host an epic Oktoberfest event in downtown Chandler Saturday, Oct. 1. Julian Wright, CEO and founder of Pedal Haus Brewery, said both of the Downtown Chandler companies decided to collaborate instead of competing.TheDowntown Chandler Oktober fest will feature beer and food from both SanTan and Pedal Haus breweries plus canned craft cocktails. The breweries will serve a range of beers including German-style Oktoberfests. German fare, including Bavarian-style soft pretzels and brats, will be served.

In addition to the food and drinks, there will be a variety of classic Okto-

berfest games and contests, including stein holding, wiener toss and sausage-eating contests. And, in keeping with the theme, a full lineup of live music is scheduled, including a German polka“Weband.arestoked to be joining forces with our friends at SanTan to throw one of the best Oktoberfest events in the Valley this year,” Wright said. “I’ll be emceeing the stein holding and sau sage-eating competitions, so grab your

friends and lederhosen, this is going to be a fun event.”

Dr. A.J. Chandler Park, 3 S. Arizona Ave., Chandler, 480-656-1639,, 3-11 p.m., $15-$25


In partnership with the city of Litchfield Park, The Wigwam is celebrat ing Oktoberfest with live music, lawn games, German-inspired cuisine and,

of course, beer. Those who preorder tickets through Eventbrite will receive a commemorative Oktoberfest glass. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. This event is for ages 21 and older.

The Wigwam Front Lawn, 300 E. Wigwam Blvd., Litchfield Park, 866-9766894,, 6-9 p.m., ticket price TBD

Kate King-Turner, Mark Wenz and Ginger Henry enjoy a laugh while reading the script for “Sex Please We’re Sixty,” which the Sun Lakes Community Theater will, present Nov. 8-12. (Special to the SanTan Sun News) For the first time, Pedal Haus Brewery and SanTan Brewing Company are joining together to host an epic Oktoberfest event in downtown Chandler Saturday, Oct. 1. (Special to GetOut)
46 For more community news visit THE SUNDAY SANTAN SUN NEWS | SEPTEMBER 25, 2022
See OKTOBERFEST on page 47


Flagstaff will host its 13th annual Oktoberfest this year, complete with drinks, food, live music, contests and even bounce houses for the kids. Beer will be aplenty, as will other typical Oktoberfest eats such as pretzels and bratwurst.

Beer may take the center stage, but Jennifer Grogan, event producer, said the contests are “hilarious,” which is why a side stage is set up for five events throughout the day.

First up is the wiener man race, where people put on hot dog costumes and race to navigate through an obstacle course. New this year is the chicken dance contest. There is also a brat-eating contest, which Grogan said is both a “fan favorite and absolutely disgusting.” Then there is the traditional Bavarian stein contest for men and women, separately. In this contest, participants hold a liter of beer in a heavy-duty glass with their arms in front of them.

The last competition of the day is

the frozen T-shirt contest. Grogan said T-shirts are folded, tied and frozen, and teams of two compete to try to be the first to get the shirt undone and on a body. She adds that, because this is the last competition of the day, participants are usually “feeling the alcohol… so it’s pretty funny.”

Wheeler Park, 212 W. Aspen Ave., Flagstaff, 928-606-7600,, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., $5-$7, kids under 12 free

HAUS MURPHY’S | All October

Haus Murphy is a German restaurant that offers beer, brats, pretzels and Polka year-round. But during October, it ramps up.

The restaurant has been serving German food for 26 years, so while the Oktoberfest fan favorites of soft pretzels and bratwursts are available, there is a whole menu of authentic German cuisine to Limitedtry.seating is available, and spots tend to fill up fast, so advance reservations are strongly recommended.

Haus Murphy’s, 5739 W. Glendale

Ave., Glendale, 623-939-2480,, 5-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays throughout October


The Four Peak Oktoberfest in Tempe is the largest in the state, drawing 75,000 to 100,000 people over the three-day period.

Food is provided by Denmark Foods, with the featured menu item being a Kilt Lifter Brat in partnership with Four Peaks. New this year, there will also be vegetarian empanadas.

The festival has a carnival with 15 to 20 rides and games. Live music will be played each night, including a performance from a German polka band. There will also be classic Oktoberfest competitions, such as stein holding, brat eating, a wiener dog race and a wiener dog fashion show — which features dog and owner in costume.

Tempe Beach Park, 80 W. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe, 60-.625-3493, fourpeak, various times Oct.79, $20, Sunday free


In its third year, the Gilbert Oktoberfest is ramping things up “100%,” according to event director Mike O’Donnell. He said there will be more beer, more food and more entertainment.

The event is teaming with breweries in the East Valley, which will create something completely new.

“They’re creating a collaborative beer for this event, where each one of the brewmasters has been sitting together and they all come up with their own recipe,” O’Donnell said. “We will have that available at every outlet at the event and it will only be available there at the event.”

The event also features the self-pro claimed “Queen of Oktoberfest,” and her band “The Oktoburlesques.” They perform traditional polka blended with today’s hits.

In true Oktoberfest spirit, there will also be a brat-eating contest and stein holding contest. There’s also a kid’s zone and children can enter for free.

Gilbert Regional Park, 3005 E. Queen Creek Road, Gilbert, gilbertoktoberfest. com, 2-9 p.m., ticket price TBD

Mohawk Warrior driver is doing what he loves

Returning to Glendale to compete in Monster Jam next weekend is especially exciting for the Great Clips Mohawk Warrior driver Bryce Kenny.

“Glendale is the biggest floor we run on,” Kenny said.

“I like coming out to Arizona because it enables us to go our fastest speeds, do the coolest tricks, and have the craziest Celebratingcrashes.”the30th anniversary of Monster Jam, Kenny and 11 other athletes will compete for the championship title on Saturday, October 1, at State Farm Stadium.

Unlike many Monster Truck drivers, Kenny isn’t following in a family member’s footsteps. Finding an interest in drag racing and then moving into corporate America, Kenny wanted more.

Grave Digger driver Morgan Kane intro duced Kenny to the Monster Truck world when they met playing soccer in college. After leaving his previous positions, Mon ster Jam contacted Kenny and asked if he would attend Monster Jam University.

“When they asked me, I was like, what is that?” said Kenny. He then confirmed that yes, it’s a real place, and it’s not like “Monsters University,” the 2013 animated film.

“That all snowballed to now, I’m in my seventh season, getting to do this for a living,” he said.

His favorite thing about the job has been working with his nonprofit, Live Like Warriors,

“I’ve had this privilege of being the Great Clips Mohawk Warrior and so I get to wear the title of warrior on my chest. Because of this I’ve gotten to meet a lot of real-life warriors,” he said.

His heart opened to service about six years ago after he met a young Monster Jam fan. The boy’s hair started falling out due to chemotherapy. He told his parents, “Before I have to cut

all of my hair, can we shave it into a mohawk because I want to be like the Mohawk Warrior?”

“You can’t experience that, and your heart not explode,” said Kenny, getting choked“Theseup.young kids have chosen to fight through these really tough battles and it’s so inspiring to me.”

Kenny hopes to inspire others to keep fighting their battles.

“I want to be a megaphone for these kids whose stories deserve to be heard,” he said.

He also aims to develop servant hearts within his children. “I think if I can get them to understand the value of servant leadership, I will have done

my job as a dad. We’re doing this together as a family,” Kenny said.

As a family man, it’s important to Kenny that his daughter feels represent ed. Monster Jam does it right when it comes to equality, he describes.

“Whether it’s regarding race, gender, reli gion… no matter who is in the audience, we want them to know that they can be out here, too. Doesn’t matter background color, age, gender, anyone can do it,” he adds.

“My daughter likes Monster Jam because dad does it. But, when she’s at the events, she’s all about it. It’s amazing getting to see men and women competing at the same level, with the same equipment. Me and my family were at a local race recently and there was a driver named Amber. When it started, my daughter asked me who the girl driver was and it turned out that’s who my daughter was cheering for.”

Kenny said it’s important that his daughter knows she can compete with the boys. Whether it be riding horseback, her favorite hobby, or following in dad’s foot steps, he wants her to feel empowered.

He encourages all his children to embrace their passions.

“At some point in high school, people stop asking what you want to be and instead ask where you want to go to school,” Kenny said.

“You don’t want to give up on what’s in your heart and then get to 60 years old and have regrets.”

Taking his own advice, Kenny won’t have regrets at 60, as he followed his heart with drag racing.

“It started out as a hobby. But the fan base is so special, and so unique, they made me realize we could create a movement that will help a lot of people,” he said.

And that fan base is what drew him in.

“Our fans are loyal. They go through the battle with us and they’re part of the team.”

They can see the team during the popular pit parties.

Great Clips Mohawk Warrior driver Bryce Kenny is excited about next weekend’s Monster Jam in Glendale. (Special to GetOut)
OKTOBERFEST from page 46
See MOHAWK on page 48

Suzanne Vega recalls inspirational MIM show

Returning to the Musical Instrument Museum Oct. 1-2, Suzanne Vega was moved by previous visits.

“It’s a beautiful place,” Vega said. “I remember all the beautiful instruments and what they look like. I began my Instagram account there — however long ago it was.”

Vega’s shows are dubbed “An Intimate Evening of Songs and Stories.” They will feature her on acoustic guitar and her musical director, Gerry Leonard, on guitar.

“He uses a fair amount of electronics,” she said. “It ranges from very acoustic to some of the produced songs. We do the remix version of ‘Tom’s Diner’ and ‘Luka.’ We do a lot of songs people know and a couple of new things. We love it. It’s been great to get back on the road again.”

Vega recently sent to cinemas her one-woman stage show about the life of 20th century American writer Carson McCullers in the Michael Tully-directed “Lover, Beloved.”

The film debuted at SXSW in March.

MOHAWK from page 47

“We love meeting the fans,” he said. “It’s not often you get to meet the stars of a

For the trailer, visit https://vimeo. com/680131952.“Itstartedwith an acting exercise that I was given in college a long, long time ago,” she said with a laugh.

“I had seen a picture of Carson McCullers back then and I knew one or two of her stories. I remember we sort of look alike.”

She thought McCullers would be an ideal character to play. When her college professor asked the class to come in dressed as a notable figure, Vega appeared as McCullers.

“I had to be ready to field questions as if I was on a television show,” she said. “We had to really inhabit them. I really got way into her. I ended up doing my senior thesis on her, her work and her life and how they comingled.

“It’s been a lifelong challenge to put her life and work on a stage in a one-woman show. It’s something I’ve gone back to time and time again. The film is the end of that journey with Carson. I’m way older than she was when she died. I thought it’s time to put this down. It’s been such a pleasure and real interesting exercise for me. I’ve loved it.”

The film features music by sing-

er-songwriter Duncan Sheik, who won Tony Awards for “Spring Awakening.”

“He’s great. It was great working with him,” she said. “It was very inspiring. He pushed me way out of my comfort zone. He has a very different sense of melody than I do. I thought we were a good team. I thought we worked together well. Musically it’s thrilling to sing the work.”

The “Lover, Beloved” project was on Vega’s bucket list, of which there are plenty of other tasks.

“I still have more work to do before my time is up,” she said. “I feel like I have more to say, more to do. There were certain goals set for myself as a teenager and I’ve spent my life trying to fulfill all of those goals.

“I had a lot of interests as a child. I used to draw. I used to sculpt. I made busts out of clay. I studied dance for 10 years. I’ve done all kinds of other training — martial arts, the swim team for a while. It was a challenge for me as a kid to express the feelings and ideas of the moment as well as express myself emotionally and personally.”

Vega hopes to move more on stage and be more present when she sings.

Acting helped with that goal.

“It’s the whole process of acting to make the emotion alive in the moment on the stage,” Vega said. “It’s surprisingly draining. The film is an hour and 15 minutes. The one-woman show is an hour and 45 minutes. It’s me up there holding on to the audience as someone else. I couldn’t ad lib or change the order of things. I had to commit myself to the moment.”

She hopes to write a book as well, to follow up to 1999’s “The Passionate Eye: The Collected Writing of Suzanne Vega.”“I’d like to write something a little more narrative,” she said. “I’d love to draw again. I fooled around with painting, but I can’t do everything.”

Suzanne Vega

Where: Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, and 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2

Cost: Tickets start at $54.50 Info: 480-478-6000,

show so it’s a unique opportunity to come meet us and then go watch me to do a cra zy backflip. It’s a great way to maximize your experience and create another memory.”

Monster Jam

When: Oct. 1. Pit party, 2:30-5:30 p.m.; show 7 p.m. Where: State Farm Stadium, 1 Cardinals Drive, Glendale

Cost: Tickets start at $25 Info:

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