Queen Creek Tribune 04/09/2024

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Queen Creek resident Tim Campbell was battling traffic on an East Valley freeway one afternoon with his family on his way to a Scottsdale entertainment venue when it dawned on him.

“The thing that Queen Creek is lacking is things for families to do,” Campbell, president and CEO of Pecan Lakes Entertainment said.

“We’ve got Schnepf Farms and Fat Cat’s, but we felt like, compared with a lot of other cities,

we just felt like we were oftentimes driving an hour to Scottsdale or Tempe or wherever to try and go do some things,” he said. “In talking to people, we realized there is a real need for family entertainment.”

So, Campbell and his business partners, all longtime Queen Creek residents, have invested $16-million in creating a hometown entertainment scene.

Their proposed Pecan Lake Entertainment Center is a family-focused agritainment venue on 11 acres at the northwest corner of 206th street and Riggs Road, between Fat Cat’s and

Queen Creek resident Hayden Lichtenberg is pretty much your average 14-year-old middle school student, with her eyes on the future and dreams of making it big on social media.

“I want to be an influencer,” Hayden said.

Influencers are people who have established some level of credibility on social media, and by virtue of their expertise on a particular topic or product, have attracted a following that look for direction or advice.

Without realizing it, though, Hayden is close to already becoming one.

On Wednesday, she will have the oppor-

tunity to influence people in a way that she is probably not even thinking about. She is just excited about being in the spotlight, and being a star.

“I’m going to be on TV,” she said of her upcoming appearance on the 11th annual ABC-15 Phoenix Children’s Hospital telethon, scheduled to be on the air from 6 am to 10:35 p.m. Wednesday, April 12.

At age 14, Queen Creek resident Hayden Lichtenberg suffers from a complex condition that impacts almost all her bodily functions and affects the way she gets nourishment. (David Minton/Tribune Staff Photographer)

one of Queen Creek’s historic mainstays, Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Centre.

Campbell said Pecan Lake will offer a vast choice of signature restaurant options, karaoke, escape rooms, a three-story 80-element ropes course with varying degrees of difficulty, mini-golf and an electric go cart track with covered pit stop.

“So, when you’re loading in the cars and you’re unloading, you’re in a conditioned space, so even in the summer you’re only out-

FREE | QueenCreekTribune.com An edition of the East Valley Tribune FREE SUBSCRIPTION www.centralaz.edu Central Arizona College Paths to Great Careers Inside This Week QC man pitching mega-entertainment center here Sunday, April 9, 2023 EV’s next big thing / p. 26 QC pair give students new hope to learn finances. COMMUNITY .......... 14 One-time CUSD star to lead Eastmark football. SPORTS ................. 22 QC High thespians present ‘Freaky’ production. NEWS.......................4 COMMUNITY ............ 14 BUSINESS .................. 19 OPINION .................. 20 SPORTS .................... 22 GET OUT .................... 24 CLASSIFIEDS .............27 QC girl, 14, an
for Phoenix Children’s see TELETHON page 6 see PECAN page 5
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QC board approves bonus plan for teachers

Queen Creek Unified School District teachers can earn up to $500 in bonus pay if their students achieve certain milestones in the classroom next school year and the individual school receives a high letter grade from the state.

The bonuses are one way the district’s strategic plan rewards exceptional employees, according to Chief Human Resources Officer Patty Rogers.

“I feel like pay for performance is one way to look at how we can value and support our teachers,” Rogers said. “And to also recruit and retain them.

Proposition 301, the voter approved initiative that increased the state sales tax in 2000, makes money available to pay for educational programs and will fund the bonuses in districts with performance pay opportunities.

Therefore, Queen Creek Unified’s bonus plan will have no impact on next year’s budget, officials said.

Dozens of Queen Creek teachers in the district met as a committee to discuss the best way to disburse the state allocated money.

“The breakdown consists of an academic portion in which up to $300 based on the previous year’s (school) letter grade,” said Stephanie Marley, a math teacher at Newell Barney Junior High and a member of a district-wide committee.

“And $200 can be earned if a teacher earns a ‘highly effective,’ ‘effective,’ or ‘developing’ rating through their school evaluator,” she added.

“Do you feel like most of the teachers on the committee and the overall feedback was really positive?” asked board member Samantha Davis.

“Yes,” Marley said. “It was overwhelmingly positive at all the sites. I

can say at my site it was 100-percent.”

The plan also allocates $5,500 in what’s known as a Classroom Site Fund, a state allocation that helps offset the teacher salary at no cost to the district.

That is not connected to teacher performance and also comes from Prop 301 sales tax revenue.

“The Classroom Site Fund are monies that are specifically set aside for teacher performance pay and compensation for our certified staff,” said Queen Creek schools Chief Financial Officer Jessica Johnston.

“This is a portion of the salary and a performance payout that does not come out of our (Maintenance and Operations) fund.”

While the documentation presented at the April 4 school board meeting did not make clear what the difference is between merit-based pay and Site Fund money, district spokeswoman

Jessica Bautista clarified in a follow up email.

“The $500 pay-for-performance bonus is determined by academic, evaluation, and professional development criteria. The $5,500 is not connected to performance. Both of these portions come from the Classroom Site Fund, which is allocated by the state and comes from sales tax revenues,” Bautista wrote.

The school board recently increased starting teacher pay by 2% to bring the salary to $53,000, making Queen Creek competitive with other school districts.

It was the latest in a series of pay hikes the district has approved for teachers. It has offered financial incentives for other staff and administrators, too, including signing bonuses for bus drivers. Queen Creek reports being among the only districts in the state to start this school year fully staffed. 



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QC High thespians present thoughtful musical/comedy

For any teenager who has ever said “well, I won’t be like that when I’m a mom,” or “why can’t my daughter understand what it is like to be a parent?” can watch those scenarios play out on stage this week.

The Queen Creek High School Theatre Company will perform the musical “Freaky Friday” Thursday-Saturday, April 13-15 at the Queen Creek High School Performing Arts Center at 22149 E. Ocotillo Road. All shows start at 7 pm and tickets are $10 at gofan.co/app/school/ AZ11995_1.

“Freaky Friday” contrasts sharply with the company’s spring show last year, according to director Kyle Spitler.

“Last year we did the ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’ and while it was beautiful, it was a darker show,” Spitler said. “This year we wanted to lighten it up and have fun. We make each experience fun for students while still educating them.”

“This show is a total 180 stylistically, musically, and through the script. I am super excited to see how it all turns out as the process has been a blast,” she added.

Spitler will lean on junior Josephine “Josey” Norgren and senior Aubrey Puzder as the mom and daughter, respectively, whose bodies and minds are magically switched.

“The challenges this show has faced along with any usual hiccups has been the ability for our theatre company to adapt and grow with comedy material,” Aubrey said.

The Disney musical takes the classic book and movies, and mixes them all together. The mother-daughter duo’s world is turned upside-down and they live a day in each other’s lives, ultimately becoming closer than before.

“I love love Aubrey with all my heart and though sometimes we have our tiffs I think that’s what makes the acting so realistic,” Josey said.

Aubrey said her off-stage friendship with Josey made it easier for her to get into character but thinks she got the better end of the deal on stage.

“For me personally, playing the mom is much easier than the daughter. Since Josey and I have worked together a lot to develop these characters, when I am portraying Ellie (the daughter) it sometimes

feels as though I am playing a dramatized version of Josey – which while fun can be very challenging,” Puzder said.

“The cast is very close in real life. It is interesting how some of the relationships the characters have are very similar to us in real time,” she added.

Josey said acting like a moody teenager came naturally, though changing characters did not pose a challenge.

“I’m always around my mom and I feel like acting motherly is so much easier than acting as a teenager,” she said. “Whenever I have to be like a teenager it is so hard because I want to make it realistic and make sure the character is someone the audience can see themselves as.

“But I feel so awkward doing it because I feel like I am way over -acting but I also don’t want to under act it so when the switch happens you see the instant change in persona.”

Rehearsals can be a challenge for time-challenged teens.

“I would say time management is the hardest for students to learn,” Spitler said. “Understanding that when you make a commitment to create a performance at a high level, sometimes sacrifices need to be made. We rehearse every day after school for 3-1/2 months so their social life sometimes gets put on pause.”

Stage Manager Jeremiah Poirier, a senior who oversees that back stage work, said this is the first year the company has included high-tech elements into the per-


“A lot of planning and forethought goes into work happening backstage,” Jeremiah explained. “It’s a lot of hard work, but is always extremely fulfilling when the technical aspects come together and make for a really great show.”

“We have a student run crew but have an amazing booster and parent support system,” he added. “This will be the first year that we incorporated projections and we hired Cami Hagen, who is an alumnus of the QC Theatre Company and current studio/art major at UofA.” Chris Hagens designed the set, Spitler said.

This performance not only includes QCHS theater students but also band, orchestra, dance, and choir students all led by award-winning performing arts directors. The QCHS Theatre Company is known nationally as one of the top theatre programs.

Last year, it won the ASU Gammage High School Musical Theater excellence award for “Hunchback,” placements at the International Thespian Festival, and countless wins at the Musical Theater Competition of America.

Spitler said “Freak’s” big cast and crew bring the show’s poignant message home to the audience.

“We have all been teenagers wishing we were older, and as adults wishing we could not have all the responsibilities we were

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see PLAY page 9
Junior Josephine Norgren plays the mom and senior Aubrey Puzder the teenage daughter as their bodies and minds are magically switched in the Queen Creek High School Theatre Company’s musical rendition of “Freaky Friday.” (David Minton/ Tribune Staff Photographer)

side when you’re driving, which will be very unique for Arizona,” Campbell said.

Patrons who find go carts are not their speed will be able to try the Flow Rider surf simulator or just hang out and have some food on the expansive, open air porch that overlooks it.

And, for the not-so-faint-of-heart who want to try their aim and test their mettle, there will, be axe throwing.

“It’s one of a kind,” Campbell said of the axe feature. “There is nothing else like it in Arizona. It’s all self-scoring, using cameras and computers. It is very similar to bowling where you plug your names in and just go and play.”

Pecan Lake is considered agritainment and, as such, most of its attractions and food venues are designed to keep people outdoors while acknowledging Queen Creek’s agricultural roots.

But beyond the designation, there is another reason Campbell wants to keep people outdoors.

He hopes the entertainment venue will increase traffic to the existing Queen Creek Botanical Gardens, an elaborate venue of plants, herbs, grasses and other things that Campbell established four years ago on part of the property.

Attracting thousands of visitors a year, the Botanical Gardens is near and dear to him – and an important component in Campbell’s Pecan Lake plan.

“The botanical gardens, grist mill, and lake are vital components of the Pecan Lake project and establish the agritainment character of the open space design,”

Campbell told the town in his proposal.

“Improvements to this area will include an expansion of the botanical gardens and wide pedestrian pathways to the gardens and around the hill which is vegetated with a variety of eatable plants.”

The elaborate and intricate list of what the Botanical Gardens contains is more than four pages long.

It includes a Japanese garden, a healing garden, an ancient garden, a production garden, and an English garden, each with its own extensive list of flora and all valuable for different reasons.

“People come and pay to take a tour and learn about the medicinal benefits of different things you can grow in Arizona. A lot of these things are edible,” Campbell said. “A lot of them they can grow in their yard. And it’s been a real success.”

Campbell said the gardens have host-

doing so when people come to eat or do some of the activities, they are also going to learn about some of these gardens.”

Campbell also designed Pecan Lake with Horseshoe Park in mind. While his venue will compete with Fat Cat’s and the equestrian center, he contends the trio of venues will do so in mutually beneficial ways.

He said he has been working with Horseshoe Park General Manager David Solum to find ways to do that.

“Horseshoe Park had just under 130,000 visitors last year,” Campbell said. “A good chunk of those are coming from out of town.”

ed weddings and other outdoor events, which he hopes will grow as more people discover them as a result of visiting the entertainment venue.

“So, part of this proposal is to actually increase the size of the gardens,” Campbell said.

“We are going to expand them and add more varieties and more areas and try to integrate it with the other things we are

Campbell said Pecan Lake will give people who are coming from around the state or country to attend an equestrian event at Horseshoe Park options within walking distance besides Fat Cat’s.

“When they are there for the weekend for events, they have something they can do without necessarily getting in their cars and driving somewhere every time,” Campbell said.

“If they have a couple of hours between

PECAN from page 1 Student Choice. Student Voice.
This rendering shows the Flow Rider, a surf simulation machine that will be a centerpiece of the Pecan Lake Entertainment Center. (Courtesy of Tim Campbell)
A grist mill grist mill stands at the edge of the Queen Creek Botanical Garden on property where Pecan Lake Entertainment Center will be built. (Special to the Tribune)
PECAN page 6

PECAN from page 5

events they can walk over and do one of the attractions we have. They can eat or enjoy the gardens.”

Campbell said the addition of Pecan Lake will complete an entertainment corridor in that part of town and give people one more reason to visit Queen Creek and have entertainment and restaurant options when they do.

The Dallas-based entertainment giant Dave & Busters is scheduled to open next month, adding another national fun zone chain to the Queen Creek market, to go with Utah-based Fat Cat’s.

While Campbell said Pecan Lake will attract people from out of town, its roots are decidedly local.

“All the partners have lived in Queen Creek for a number of years,” he said. “I’ve lived there almost 15 years very close to the site. We’ve raised our families here. We’ve had our kids go to school here.”

Campbell is working with Greg Davis of iPlan consulting on the project, a company that works with developers in town. Davis has made numerous presentations to Town Council.

Campbell plans to take his request before the town Planning and Zoning Commission via Davis to rezone a portion of the land that requires it in May, and hopes to have the first phase of Pecan Lake open this summer.

“We think these types of family activity uses are what the town residents want and will help build tourism in the town due to their uniqueness – especially the Botanical Gardens – and are trying to get the word out as we approach upcoming hearings,” Campbell said in comments that will go before the commission.

“We hope we can gain popular support in the community.” 

TELETHON from page 1

“I get to be in front of the camera,” she added.

Hayden was born with a condition called VACTERL association, which affects more than a half dozen of the body’s critical systems, including the spine, heart, digestive system, trachea, kidneys, and lungs.

To be considered to have VACTERL association, a person need have only three of those systems affected. In Hayden’s case, all of them are affected – which impacts how she is nourished.

“Many children will have feeding difficulties and require a feeding tube,” said Dr. Nathan Page, an otolaryngology pediatrician and head of head and neck surgery at Phoenix Children’s Hospital – and one of Hayden’s doctors.

“All will require medical treatments and surgeries – often multiple surgeries.  At Phoenix Children’s, we always try to coordinate between a patient’s many specialists to combine operations and ensure that we have a cohesive treatment plan,” Page added.

Only one of between 10,000-40,000 infants born with VACTERL association. Hayden was also born without ears and has prosthetics to help her hear.

Still, she has a life that seems remarkably similar to other kids her age.

“Many patients can have quite an excellent quality of life,” Page said.  “They face many challenges, especially in infancy and childhood, but with appropriate care and strong family support, they can go to school with their peers and participate in a variety of activities.”

Hayden goes through a step-by-step process every night to clear her intestines before bed and manage a handful of other important details.

But to hear her talk about herself, she re-

ally does not see what all the fuss is about.

“Every night I do my medical routine,” she said. “I don’t really think about it that much. I like to go shopping and do YouTube.”

She admits to having her entire closet filled with clothes and shoes, but loves to shop. Her mom Stacy said Hayden also attends youth group programs at their church.

“We’ve really made it a priority to not let her medical status get in the way of her life as much as possible,” Stacy Lichtenberg said. “We’ve built her to live a life as normal as possible without limiting her.”

Hayden has gotten the message.

Limits do not seem to be in her vocabulary or on her horizon. She is an expert on medical issues that most people do not understand or even think about, but has turned this host of physical challenges into an opportunity to help raise money on the upcoming telethon for kids like her and others who are suffering other various challenges.

“Every day, kids dealing with congenital heart defects, skeletal dysplasia, leukemia and other complex health issues visit Phoenix Children’s for critical lifesaving medical care,” the hospital says.

“You have the power to make a difference today by becoming a Hero for Hope with a monthly donation of $20, or a one-time gift of $240, a superhero sidekick will be delivered to a Phoenix Children’s patient in your name,” it said of one suggested donation people can make during the telethon or online even before it starts.

Hayden does not talk a lot about VACTERL association.

The Sossamon Middle School student would much rather focus on pep rallies, student assemblies, and watching the cheerleading routines at school.

She is more intent on talking about things most 14-year-old girls are interested in.

“I like to dance, Tik Tok, (make and) edit videos, draw, and go hang out by the pool,” she said. “I am in dance class at school. Right now, we are starting a hip-hop dance routine for an upcoming recital.”

While Hayden is all in on the dance routine, her mother says Hayden’s physical differences can make her have to work a little harder than most to perfect it.

“Sometimes she has to work through pain dealing with her anatomy, with her spine,” Stacy Lichtenberg said. “Also, her lung capacity is not good, either, so sometimes it takes a little bit more for her than the student next to her. But she keeps up and does phenomenal.”

Hayden is one of four Lichtenberg children, who range in age from 3-16 years old. Mom Stacy calls herself and her husband “the best team out there,” staying organized and keeping the family running like a well-oiled machine.

“We really balance the life of Hayden and the other kids,” Stacy Lichtenberg said. “My life changed real fast with her. It changed how you look at life. I now look at life in a totally different light.

“Even day to day, our weeks are filled with doctors’ appointments, therapy, pharmacy runs. You name it. We got it going on. Keeping her up to date in school. We pretty much have it down to a routine. We are a duo,” she added.

Gifts given during this year’s telethon to the Hope Fund are invested in stateof-the-art equipment and technology, cutting-edge research and clinical trials, innovative clinical programs, and family-centered services.

“Sometimes we need resources to fund

see TELETHON page 7

research that wasn’t planned, when we’re onto something potentially lifesaving and we can’t wait,” Steve Schnall, senior vice president and chief development officer at Phoenix Children’s said.

When pressed, Hayden admits that if the full-time, professional influencer gig does not work out, she may consider pursuing her fallback career plan.

“I want to be a heart surgeon so I can help others,” she said.

Added her mom: “Even though there are differences, they are still humans. They still want to be loved and a big thing in our family is giving back. Giving back to places that have made our journey just a touch easier.

“I want the donors to know PCH is not just a big organization with no names and no faces, she added. “There are all these little kids that have a life that they were given that is unimaginable, but every day kids like Hayden get up and … she doesn’t know the difference.

“PCH is a phenomenal organization, but when you break it down, there are faces behind PCH and it is the faces of these kids.” 

Stacy Lichtenberg hopes her daughter Hayden’s appearance on a fundraising telethon this Wednesday reminds people of the faces behind Phoenix Children’s Hospital. (David Minton/Tribune Staff Photographer)
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Arizona clean air depends on ‘good neighbors’

WASHINGTON – Arizona is doing all it can to improve air quality but will not meet federal standards as long as pollution from other jurisdictions can drift across its borders, the director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality testified Wednesday.

Karen Peters said the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed “Good Neighbor Plan” that limits emissions in states whose pollution affects downwind states is “crucial.”

She said it addresses pollution in downwind states like Arizona.

Peters pointed to areas like Yuma, which generates little smog on its own but it still out of clean-air compliance.

“Yuma is heavily impacted by ozone transport from California and Mexico,” Peters told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “There is virtually nothing that can be done in terms of local emission reductions to reduce ozone pollution in the Yuma nonattainment area.”

The same is true in the Phoenix-Mesa area, where Peters said there are “very few, if any, remaining emission reductions available” to help the region attain cleanair standards.

But critics at the hearing called the plan an expensive and heavy-handed attempt to force federal policy on states.

They said it would force businesses and power plants to shut down. One witness called the plan “sort of shooting ourselves in the foot.”

“It threatens U.S. manufacturing, including the U.S. forest products industry,” said Paul Noe, vice president of public policy for the American Forest and Paper Association.

“Ultimately, this is a threat to the American worker – men and women with high-paying, highly-skilled manufacturing jobs, both rural and urban, in red and blue states.”

The Good Neighbor Plan calls for significant reductions on ozone-forming emissions from power plants and industrial fa-

Shaded states would be subject to the EPA’s Good Neighbor Plan, and the arrows show the transmission of pollution between those and other states. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

cilities in 23 states whose bad air is carried to other states.

In addition to power plants fired by fossil fuels, it would also apply to facilities manufacturing iron, steel, cement, paper, glass, and petroleum and coal products, to natural gas transmission and metal ore mining.

Most of the states affected by the plan would be subject to both power plant and industrial restrictions.

California would only be subject to industrial emission limits while Alabama, Minnesota and Wisconsin would only have to rein in power plants.

Arizona is not currently one of the states that would be subject to the rule, but an EPA spokesperson said “further analysis is warranted” on whether it will apply to the state.

Dr. David Hill, an American Lung Association board member, pushed back against critics who cited the economic costs of the new regulation, claiming that it could actually spur more economic activity through reduced health burdens.

“The EPA has projected that it will prevent premature deaths, that it will avoid hospitalizations, that it will cut asthma exacerbations,” Hill testified.

“School absences will be decreased by over 400,000, and when kids miss school, parents miss work. Over 25,000 lost work days will be avoided,” he said. “So there will be significant health care and economic benefits to instituting the rule.”

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., acknowledged concerns about costs of the plan, but said they were outweighed by the health benefits.

The challenge for lawmakers, he said, is to “find that sweet spot because the risk factors to our population and cost factors to our population indicate that the federal government today is not carrying out its responsibility.”

But Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., said she worries that the rule would force power plants to close, removing more than 14,000 megawatts of electricity generation from the system, which would “cripple” affordable power for the nation.

“The premature forced closure of coal-

fired power plants in this nation is a danger to American energy security and grid reliability,” Lummis said.

“For this reason alone – not to mention the 90,000 direct coal mining jobs in 26 states, including Arizona, Oregon and Pennsylvania, just to name a few – this administration must reverse course.”

Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., countered with an economic argument for the plan, pointing to Yuma, which is bordered on the west by California and the south by Mexico.

The city of fewer than 100,000 people could face stringent economic limitations if its neighbors are not held accountable for the pollution they are causing in the area, he said.

“Because the area exceeds the EPA’s standards for ozone, there are limits imposed on the region’s economic growth,” Kelly said. Of the pollution in Yuma, “10% comes from somewhere within Arizona, but basically nothing comes from Yuma County.”

Peters said about 40% of the ozone in the Phoenix area was generated within the state but that the rest comes from other sources, either natural background sources or other states or even countries.

Kelly was not able to answer Lummis’ question about how much pollution might be coming from Chinese manufacturing.

But he said he would not be surprised if it was true, calling on his experience as an astronaut when he said he was able to see sand and smog drifting across national borders.

Peters said there are things that can be done to help reduce local pollution, but many of those things are not within the state’s jurisdiction, a situation she finds “frustrating.”

Despite Maricopa County failing to meet ozone standards, Peters said the state made some progress in improving air quality.

“Ozone emissions have gone down over the last 20 years in the Maricopa area,” Peters said after the hearing. “But you know, time is not on our side. We need to do more sooner.” 

8 QUEEN CREEK TRIBUNE | QUEENCREEKTRIBUNE.COM | APRIL 9, 2023 NEWS GOT NEWS? Contact Paul Maryniak at 480-898-5647 or pmaryniak@timeslocalmedia.com

not prepared for,” Spitler said.

“The relationship between the mother and daughter is relatable on so many levels. In fact, we are dedicating our Friday night show and wanting a mother daughter date night to celebrate that relationship.”

The cast includes Seth Giovanetti, Jaxon Ballingham, Gregor Hocknull, Tori Ferguson, Raquel Murrietta, Maddie Holston, Cecilia Tameron-Grap, Katherine Graham, Jarett Poirier, Abbey Bernard, Matthew Mendoza, Madison Lundstrom, Macy Lash, Kyle Lau, Avery Lozano. Mason Lindsey and Carter Johnson.

Also performing on stage are: Oliviera Asta, Noah Cyplik, Marcos Martinez, Kaydence Gilroy, Molly Droste, Elisabeth Cordry, Karina Patruno-Leccese, Benjamin Miller and Milo Bugarini.

Also, Benjamin Miller, Charlotte

Dominguez, Pharaoh Rabb, Kayla Rowley, Kami Christensen, Rylee Nave, Ryder Bahm, Emma Barriga, Milo Bugarini, Miah Dominguez, Kamdem Tinsley, Kenzie Larsen, Lily Burnett, Kylie Mills, Morgan Roberts, Eli Miley, Kaitlyn Clark, Makenzie Sears, Megan Wilson, and Laynee Sears.

Mae Platt  and Noel Enyart are stage managers and Kye Hancock oversees the lights. Benton Rayner and Shawn Boisacq handle spot operations, Matilda Green in the prop master, Carson Pofahls and Brenley Stegenga are assistants. Hudson Burns is a set assistant, - Addison Guillmette is the sound designer.

Alexis Keany oversees projections, Julia Martin is in charge of hair and makeup. Ollie Brown assists with hair and makeup and manages the green room. The set crew includes Jaycee White, Shawn Boisacq, Mae Platt, Chris Hagen, Hudson Burns, Noel Enyart. 



Mesa, AZ – When it comes to chronic pain and/ or neuropathy, the most common doctor-prescribed treatment is drugs like Gabapentin, Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Neurontin. The problem with antidepressants or anti-seizure medications like these is that they offer purely symptomatic relief, as opposed to targeting and treating the root of the problem. Worse, these drugs often trigger an onset of uncomfortable, painful, and sometimes harmful side effects.

The only way to effectively treat chronic pain and/or peripheral neuropathy is by targeting the source, which is the result of nerve damage owing to inadequate blood flow to the nerves in the hands and feet. This often causes weakness, numbness, balance problems. A lack of nutrients causes the nerves degenerate – an insidious

As displayed in figure 1 above, the nerves are surrounded by diseased, withered blood vessels. A lack of sufficient nutrients means the nerves

cannot survive, and thus, slowly die. This leads to those painful and frustrating consequences we were talking about earlier, like weakness, numbness, tingling, balance issues, and perhaps even a burning sensation.

The drugs your doctor might prescribe will temporarily conceal the problems, putting a “Band-Aid” over a situation that will only continue to deteriorate without further action.

Thankfully, Mesa is the birthplace of a brandnew facility that sheds new light on this pressing problem of peripheral neuropathy and chronic pain. The company is trailblazing the medical industry by replacing outdated drugs and symptomatic reprieves with an advanced machine that targets the root of the problem at hand.

Effective neuropathy treatment relies on the following three factors:

1. Finding the underlying cause

2. Determining the extent of the nerve damage (above 95% nerve loss is rarely treatable)

3. The amount of treatment required for the patient’s unique condition

Aspen Medical in Mesa, AZ uses a state-of-the-art electric cell signaling systems worth $100,000.00.

Th is ground-breaking treatment is engineered to achieve the following, accompanied by advanced diagnostics and a basic skin biopsy to accurately analyze results:

1. Increases blood flow

2. Stimulates and strengthens small fiber nerves

3. Improves brain-based pain

The treatment works by delivering energy to the affected area(s) at varying wavelengths, from low- to middle-frequency signals, while also using Amplitude Modulated (AM) and Frequency Modulated (FM) signaling

It’s completely painless!


Depending on your coverage, your peripheral neuropathy treatment could cost almost nothing – or be absolutely free.

The number of treatments required varies from patient to patient, and can only be determined following an in-depth neurological and vascular examination. As long as you have less than 95% nerve damage, there is hope!

Aspen Medical begins by analyzing the extent of the nerve damage –a complimentary service for your friends and family. Each exam comprises a detailed sensory evaluation, extensive peripheral vascular testing, and comprehensive analysis of neuropathy findings.

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PLAY from page 4 Sophomore Seth Rosales-Giovanetti and senior Jaxon Ballingham rehearse a scene from “Freaky Friday.” (David Minton/Tribune Staff Photographer) GOT NEWS? Contact Paul Maryniak at 480-898-5647 or pmaryniak@ timeslocalmedia.com
April 30th, 2023.

QC approves 240 new homes, opioid settlement

The Queen Creek Town Council approved participating in a national opioid settlement with major pharmacies and will get approximately $155,000 over time.

Council on April 5 also gave the final go ahead to a new medium-density housing complex.

Council passed both items without any discussion.

The town has not participated in any litigation surrounding the opioid crisis to date, but all 15 Arizona counties and all of the state’s municipalities are part of the One Arizona Distribution of Funds Settlement Agreement, which allows them to receive funds as part of the national deal.

There have been two rounds of the opioid settlement. This round is an agreement with Teva, Allergan, CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, and Walmart Pharmacy.

“The Town has previously approved participation in settlements with McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and Johnson & Johnson under the One Arizona Agreement. To date Queen Creek has received $18,104 under those settlements,” town documents state.

They indicated participation in the settlement won’t cost the town any money.

And any money the town does accept must be for “opioid education, prevention, treatment (including opioids, fentanyl, and other drugs), and law enforcement costs related to education, salaries and equipment,” documents show.

As part of the $26 billion national opioid settlement agreement, Arizona and

see HOMES page 11

Queen Creek Town Council approved a medium density housing project on 24 acres at the corner of 220th Street and Queen Creek Road. (Special to the Tribune)


Pinal lawmaker’s highway sign curb bites dust

Gov. Katie Hobbs refused on April 5 to limit those digital signs above and adjacent to state roads to only traffic safety messages.

In wielding her veto stamp again, the Democratic governor said she could not agree to the proposal by Rep. Neal Carter that it’s inappropriate to display anything beyond warnings about accidents ahead, driving times to certain points and just general “drive safe’’ advisories.

The San Tan Valley Republican’s HB 2586 sought to limit messages to those “directly related to transportation or highway safety,’’ calling anything else “a little bit distracting.’’ Carter acknowledged he was concerned that the signs could also be used to promote other messages.

Exhibit No. 1 was a decision two years ago to have signs spell out the message, “Want to return to normal? Get vaccinated.’’

But even Doug Ducey, who was governor at the time the signs were displayed,


from page 10

its political subdivisions will receive $542 million over 18 years.

“Maricopa County’s Local Government share in the settlement is estimated to be $80 million,” according to the county, which said 56% of the total state settlement goes to local governments for opioid abatement programs, and 44% of the total settlement goes to a state fund for opioid abatement programs.

Fifty-two states and territories have signed on to the opioid settlement, as well as thousands of local governments across the country.

This is the second-largest multistate agreement in U.S. history, second only to the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.

Council also gave final approval to GM Gabrych Family LP for a 240-unit medium-density residential development encompassing approximately 24.3 acres located at the southeast corner of 220th

defended that as appropriate.

C.J. Karamargin, his press aide, said the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the guidebook for all devices and signs on roads, allows “homeland security messages.’’ And he pointed out that the president had declared a national emergency due to the COVID outbreak.

Carter’s bill would have precluded that.

Also gone would have been signs advising motorists of “no burn’’ days during periods of high pollution. So, too, would have been messages the Arizona Department of Transportation now posts for state and national parks as well as the U.S. Forest Service related to wildfires.

And there would have no longer be signs, usually displayed on the day a police officer or firefighter who had died in

the line of duty was buried, with a message like “rest in peace’’ with the officer’s name.

Hobbs said she sees no need for additional restrictions.

Nothing in the legislation would have killed the ability of ADOT to display their safety messages in a humorous way. That would have ensured, regardless of Hobbs’ action, that Arizona motorists still would have been treated to communications like “Drive hammered, get nailed,’’ “Focused driving is the way of the Jedi,’’ or “Drive like the person your dog thinks you are.’’

The governor also vetoed three other measures on Wednesday, bringing her total this session to 29.

She rejected HB 2535, which would have limited municipalities’ ability to annex unincorporated areas to regulate private wells already were there.

“Prohibiting a municipality form requiring even the most basic of safety standards and regulations for groundwater wells threatens the safety and quality of drink-

see HOBBS page 12

Street and Queen Creek Road.

Queen Creek has been struggling with affordable housing for its growing population.

Skyrocketing home values have led to a median home price now topping $660,000 and a two-bedroom apartment renting for close to $2,000.

“The project will have direct access from one driveway on 220th Street and one driveway on Queen Creek Road,” town documents show. “The project’s offsite improvements will be constructed simultaneously with the onsite improvements.”

Council has directed staff to study the future of medium and high-density apartments around town, which is sure to become more pressing now that Korea-based LG Energy Solution has announced a $5.5-billion investment in a battery manufacturing facility in Queen Creek.

Officials have said the facility on 650 acres at the corner of Ironwood and Germann roads “will create thousands of jobs.” 


Contact Paul Maryniak at 480-898-5647 or pmaryniak@timeslocalmedia.com


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Gov. Katie Hobbs has vetoed over two dozen bills passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature, including an effort to keep non-traffic related messages off highway signs managed by the Arizona Department of Transportation. (Tribune file photo)


ing water that public utilities provide to residents and businesses throughout Arizona,’’ Hobbs wrote, saying these could impact “our precious drinking water.’’

Also meeting with the governor’s displeaser was HB 2437.


Instead, it would require an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Hobbs pointed out that some of the GOP lawmakers who voted for this measure actually had previously supported moving to a system where the outcome of the presidential election would be determined by who won the national popular vote.

That includes current Sen. J.D. Mesnard of Chandler.



Current laws require approval of the Power and Line Siting Committee any time a new transmission line is planned. The measure would have said that isn’t necessary if the line is being placed on property owned by at least one owner of the proposed line.

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Hobbs said it would exempt an unknown number of projects “while having an uncertain impact on electric generation or Arizona’s overall power grid.’’

Finally, the governor said there is no reason for HB 2477.

Crafted by Rep. Steve Montenegro, R-Goodyear, it had no legal effect. Instead, it simply expressed the opinion of the Republicans in the Legislature that the Electoral College is the best way of selecting the president because it involves all parts of the country in the process.

None of that could be changed by the

In 2016 he proposed a measure that, strictly speaking, would not have scrapped the Electoral College. Instead it would have done an end-run around it.

Mesnard proposed was requiring Arizona to enter into deals with other states: Once there was agreement by states totaling 270 electoral votes, each would require its electors to cast their vote for whoever wins the national popular vote.

Had that been in effect, Hillary Clinton would have been elected in 2016, not Donald Trump.

So far 15 states and the District of Columbia, totaling 195 electoral votes, already have approved such a plan. But Mesnard could not get traction for the bill in 2016 or again in 2017 when he tried again. 

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QC pair develops finances course for kids

Alex Major was sitting across the desk from his personal banking clients nearly 15 years ago when it struck him that for most people, numbers don’t add up.

“I thought in my mid-20’s that people in their 30s, 40s and 50s would have their financial act together and everything would be amazing,” the Queen Creek resident said. “But in reality, most people don’t and they live paycheck to paycheck and it’s a struggle every single week to make ends meet.”

Dismayed with the commercial banking profession, Major joined the National Guard full time as a recruiter, but never gave up on the idea of helping people, especially teenagers, with their finances – and teaching them how to make and follow a financial plan.

He even volunteered to teach that Portland, Oregon, where he grew up.

“I was teaching 80-100 classes a year because I knew that if the adults didn’t know this stuff, then the kids absolutely didn’t understand this stuff,” Major said. “And they were wildly unprepared for the real world.”

Students in 27 states, including Arizona, are required to take at least some financial literacy education to graduate from high school.

In Arizona they must to take a half-credit economics course, according to the American Public Education Foundation’s report card on financial literacy, which graded Arizona a C and said the state needs to do better.

“In order to raise its grade, Arizona must ensure financial literacy instruc-

tion in each grade, K-12, … and through requiring a stand-alone personal finance high school course,” the foundation said.

Major agrees, noting, “Students don’t typically care about financial education because they don’t realize that they need it until later on in life.”

So he and his friend and business partner, Phillip Cano, are stepping into the gap with a service called RETHINK Personal Finance, an online financial literacy course designed to walk high school students though the steps of making a financial plan.

“It’s great that we are teaching the kids stuff, but if we’re not helping mentor them through this process. That’s where the big disconnect happens,” Major said.

“We can help bridge the gap between where financial education currently stops and what the real world actually requires.”

He added that he and Cano help them

research and learn how to make “well-informed decisions” so that they can “create a financial system they will use in real life” and “start using it in high school and continue using it after they graduate.”

RETHINK focuses on six separate skill areas that cover the most important areas of personal finance, according to Major: banking, budgeting, credit, debt, taxes and income, and investing.

“We took a mentorship approach to this program and actually helped walk them through the knowledge that they are learning as they are learning it,” Major said.

“With most students, if you don’t take action right away, then by the time you go to actually use it you forgot what you learned.”

Students learn at their own pace, but to pass, they must apply their knowledge to real-world l situations like creating

a bank account, saving for a first car, or preparing to move out of their parents’ house, for example.

There are 59 video lessons designed to be done over a semester, but Major said the course can be completed more quickly if the student is motivated to finish early and pass the final exam.

They can also access the courses “at any time, on any device, and from anywhere in the world—with the option to rewind and watch lessons on their own schedule.”

Major said parents, financial professional or teachers can get as involved if the student wants them – which can enhance the educational experience.

He stressed that the course is completely self-contained and led by financial professionals, so the student can work alone as well.

“If someone’s not doing a good job of connecting the dots, the students aren’t going to pay attention and they’re not going to apply it,” he said, stating the program “helps bridge the gap between where high school education stops and what the real world requires.”

“The current financial education model only teaches them the knowledge and that’s where it stops.”

Major said he and Cano are marketing the course to high schools in Arizona, including Queen Creek district, promoting a potential cost savings since additional staff is not needed.

RETHINK Financial Literacy costs $30 per student if they are enrolled in high school, and $97 for those who are homeschooled.

14 QUEEN CREEK TRIBUNE | QUEENCREEKTRIBUNE.COM | APRIL 9, 2023 COMMUNITY QueenCreekTribune.com | @QCTribune @QCTribune Contact Paul Maryniak at 480-898-5647 or pmaryniak@TimesLocalMedia.com Got News?
Information: rethinkfinancialeducation.com. 
Alex Major and Phillip Cano are co-creators of RETHINK Financial Literacy. (David Minton/Tribune Staff Photographer)

EV Assistance League slates Vegas-style fundraiser

Aspecial Vegas Nights celebration will rock the house for Assistance League of East Valley on April 29 at Oakwood Country Club in Sun Lakes.

Following piano music, champagne and dinner, an Elvis impersonater will hit the dance floor with some of the singer’s greatest hits.

“Elvis will be in the house, and it’s going to be lots of fun,” says Ibis Valles of Gilbert, vice president of resource development for the organization. “It’s a fun way for us to raise money to help our kids in the East Valley.”

Assistance League of East Valley provides new clothing for over 5,000 elementary school children each year, as well supplies and clothing for homeless teenagers, assault survivor kits for victims of trauma and accidents, and 13 college scholarships.

“When we invite children to Target to

pick out their own clothes, they are so excited, it’s a special event for them,” says Valles. “I heard one mom tell her kids last fall, ‘This is your Christmas present.’ The families are so grateful for our help.”

Primary source of funds is the upscale Assistance League Thrift Shop in Chandler.

The shop, known for having daily sales and quality items, has a line of shoppers waiting to get in when it opens for the week every Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Vegas Nights will feature a silent auction, wine pull, raffle and casino games in addition to dinner and live entertainment. Tickets are $90, and are available online, by mail or at the shop. The shop, located at 2326 N. Alma School in Chandler, is open Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The all-volunteer group also raises funds through grants and donations. Sponsors are being sought for the Vegas Nights event.

The organization’s website is www.assistanceleagueeastvalley.org. 


Elaine Louise Cota

and many more papers throughout Arizona. She was the "classified guru" and had some treasured customers for over 20 years, many for over 15 years. She made so many lifelong friends in her years through the newspapers, she treasured them and held them close to her heart. However, everyone knows that Elaine is happy to be reunited with Vicki Serna and hopes everyone is jealous!

Elaine started scrapbooking in 1988 when she put together a scrapbook for her Junior Achievement NAJAC group. In 1995, when pregnant with Vincent she started up again and she never quit. Scrapbooking was her hobby but it was part of her being. Everyone that knew her, knew she was a paper crafter. One of her favorite things to do was to make and send cards, which she did for years and years. She loved to surprise friends with "happy mail." The friends she "collected" through the years with scrapbooking is expansive. She had friends from all over the country, knowing some only through the computer screen, but that she felt extremely close with. She attended many scrapbooking retreats and gained even more friends.

Elaine was born, Elaine Louise Barker to Carol Ann Barker and David Galen Barker, in Pratt, KS, March 11, 1970 in a blizzard. She passed away with friends and family near her on Friday, March 31, 2023 after battling cancer for several years.

She was raised in Pratt, mostly by her mother, Carol until age 11. The family then moved to Scottsdale, AZ where her mother remarried.

Elaine missed being far from her grandparents and some life long friends, but she enjoyed Arizona. She adopted the nickname Cricket, and then later Lainey.

She graduated from McClintock High School, in Tempe, AZ where she became involved with Junior Achievement, meeting other students from high schools all over the East Valley. She attended, on scholarship, all four years, Junior Achievement's annual convention in Bloomington, Indiana. Later she attended as a photographer and then became a "Pink Fink", a counselor of a group, at NAJAC. She met life long friends through Junior Achievement and she claimed they were a part of "saving" her.

She attended Mesa Community College where she met and married Fernando Cota, she always claimed to have got her "Mrs" degree there. They celebrated their 30th Wedding Anniversary in Hawaii with their son, Vincent Cota and his girlfriend, Caroline Fiss.

Elaine had an amazing 30+ year career in newspapers in Mesa and Ahwatukee areas with the East Valley Tribune, Ahwatukee Foothills News

Elaine is survived, by her loving husband, Fernando Cota; her son, Vincent; father in law, John Cota of Heber, AZ, mother in law, Roxanna Cota of Phoenix, AZ and Mama Sharon Dodson of Ellis, KS; sisters, Betty Eisenhour of Stafford, KS, Latisha Haag, of Ellis, KS, Kendra Turner of Hutchinson, KS, and Joann Cota of Peoria, AZ; nephews: Art Olmos of Mesa, AZ and Philip, Noah, Isaiah and Simon Eisenhour of Stafford, KS, Zeke and Asher Haag of Ellis, KS, Zade and Zerek Turner of Hutchinson, KS; nieces: Kaydawn Haag of Ellis, KS, Lora, Heidi, and Hannah Eisenhour of Stafford, KS; and grandniece, Mardou Bey of Mesa, AZ; numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and hundreds of friends.

Elaine leaves behind friends by the hundreds, however, Barbara Duran, Stephanie Brunner, and Christine Torres will be especially missed on the daily.

Elaine battled Kidney Cancer, being diagnosed during the pandemic, September 2020. She and her family would like to thank Mayo Clinic for their compassionate care; her friends and her Facebook Group members for supporting her journey every step of the way; for all the prayers, cards, gifts, and so much love expressed to her that helped carry her through the hard days.

In lieu of flowers please feel free to make a donation on behalf of Elaine Cota to one of the following:

• The Olive Press, Domestic Shelter in Mesa https://theolivepress.org/

• Hospice of the Valley https://www.hov.org/donate/

• Crops of Luv, https://cropsofluv.org/ They complete scrapbooks of trips of ill children that have gone on their Wish trip.

Visitation and services will held on Saturday, April 15, 2023

Visitation 10am-11am

Services 11am

Bunker Family Funerals & Cremation

33 N. Centennial Way Mesa, AZ 85201

This obituary was written by Elaine (Lainey) Cota, who continues to take care of those she leaves behind.

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6 months before arrival, Scheels welcomes EV

Six months before the first Scheels store opens in Arizona, the company threw a big media event to introduce itself to the East Valley.

The retailer has been around for more than a century, but it will be a new experience for many in this area when it opens in Chandler.

And owners stressed the word “experience.”

“What makes us different, is No. 1, we try to create an experience. When you walk into our stores, whether it’s a saltwater aquarium, the Ferris wheel, the statues outside, the simulators, the archery lanes, the children’s play area, Fuzziwigs (Candy Factory), etc. etc, we want you to come and we want you to enjoy shopping,” said Steve Scheel, the CEO of the employee-owned company.

Scheel said there are two other reasons his operation is different from any other retailer out there.

One is that Scheels has the largest selection of sporting goods anywhere, he boasted.

“At any one given time, there will be 250-to-300,000 different items in our store,” Scheel said.

He said during the course of the year, as inventories change per season, they will stock more than 2 million items.

“It will be a selection unlike anything you’ve seen,” he said. “Our selection is second to none.”

What also sets Scheels apart from its competition is that its employees are experts in their fields.

He said his business invests in that, sending employees to schools and to train with experts so that they can give customers the proper advice.

“We spend more time and money training our people than any other retailer we know of,” he said. “Every one of our full- time employee owners, who are salespeople, come back one time a

week, 48 weeks a year, to train after we close at night.”

The Chandler Scheels is scheduled to open at the end of September at the Chandler Fashion Center.

There are 34 Scheels stores around the nation. The company was started near Fargo, N.D., where the company is based today.

Scheel said the Chandler store will be 250,000 square feet. It will include some of Scheels’ staples, including a salt water aquarium, a Ferris wheel, rollerball (kind of like bowling, but with smaller, lighter balls), an arcade and sports simulators, and a cafe.

“I cannot contain my joy about how

excited we are that Scheels has chosen Chandler for your first Arizona location,”

Mayor Kevin Hartke said.

The media event included a video presentation, a marching band from Basha High and goodies.

It closed with Scheels handing out some checks. It donated $10,000 each to three Chandler nonprofits, ICAN, Children’s Cancer Network and Legacy Cares.

“Our goal in Chandler is to be the No. 1 retailer giving back to nonprofits and youth organizations within three years after we open,” Scheel said.

Intel, which has two campuses in Chandler, currently donates about $7

million a year to Arizona-based organizations.

Louie Sikich will manage the Chandler location. He said the focus right now is hiring and training the 500 associates they will need to work in the store.

“We just put in the saltwater aquarium, no fish in it yet, just the aquarium” Sikich said. “Next week we have the airplane that gets installed.

“Most importantly, though, in that building is going to be over 500 Scheels associates. That’s what makes us special. Steve referenced good people, experts. And we’re very, very excited for that. And that’s our biggest focus right now is those people.” 

Todd Modic and Ben Gokee of Children’s Cancer Network accepted a check for $10,000 from Scheels Store Leader Louie Sikich at the store’s community kickoff event. (David Minton/Staff Photographer)

Will politics prevail in Trump prosecution?

Rumor has it that New York City’s famed Stage Door Delicatessen has named a new sandwich in honor of Manhattan’s District Attorney: The “Alvin Bragg” consists of a thin slice of bologna between two thick slices of Russian rye.

The Russian rye represents the culinary commemoration of an old Soviet strongman, Levrenty Beria, who ran the secret police for Joseph Stalin.

Beria boasted of a brutally simple approach to law enforcement: “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime.”

Those words could very well serve as the motto the Manhattan D.A. has followed in his prosecution of Donald Trump.

The 34 counts alleged against Trump

are so legally deficient that many leftist lawyers could not conceal their shock and disappointment. It left the CNN and MSNBC “legal analysts” in a lurch, prompting them to emphasize the historic nature of the proceedings and Bragg’s “political courage.”

There’s no debating the fact that Bragg can boast of keeping the campaign promise he made to Manhattan’s decidedly leftwing electorate—make him D.A. and he would “get Donald Trump.” That pledge, coupled with a million dollar expenditure by George Soros, helped Bragg prevail in November 2021.

It also explains why the D.A. may very well prevail if this case goes to trial.

Politics trumps process, pardon the pun.

Historians may look back at April 4, 2023 and the hearing in a midtown Manhattan courtroom as the start of sunset on

our constitutional republic. A republic is based upon the rule of law, yet the spectacle of an elected prosecutor employing the passions of a politically engineered constituency to indict a former president is shocking.

Even more shocking is the grim reality that the prosecutor fails to state the criminal statute he accuses the defendant of violating in the bill of indictment. While Bragg lists“falsifying business records in the first degree” in each of the 34 counts, he then makes the vague claim that Trump did so with “intent to commit another crime.”

What crime, Mr. District Attorney?

Since Hollywood is so enraptured with leftist politics, an illustrative “Tinseltown Tale” is appropriate.

Imagine the marketing for a movie combo that goes into great detail about the opening cartoon, but then makes little

mention of the main feature.

“It’s Minnie Mouse as you’ve never seen her!!! You’ll laugh…you’ll cry…you’ll wanna fill out fraudulent ballots! Join us for the soon-to-be classic cartoon, ‘The Squeaky Voiced Socialist,’ followed by an appropriately ‘woke’ main feature!”

No, Alvin Bragg’s case is nothing to brag about—especially in the “business law” category. Six years have passed since the alleged violations of New York Penal Law 175.10—the aforementioned “falsifying business records in the first degree,” a Class E felony—that was cited in each count of the indictment. In the State of New York, the statute of limitations for a felony is five years.

But the mission in Manhattan is to place the rule of law in a new, “progressive” posture…far beneath the political imperative

Valley firefighter a miracle on two feet

If the measure of a human being is how they bear up when life turns ugly, then Gilbert Aguirre is stronger than all of us, a testament to what can be survived and the power of faith.

His body has been attacked, his spirit shattered, his finances destroyed, his family visited by death. Yet whenever we meet, he hugs me and offers up his small, shy smile.

Husband, father, firefighter, son of God, cancer survivor, plaintiff. Aguirre is all those things. He is also surely the strongest man walking.

The first tragedy was a vicious killer named chronic myeloid leukemia. This was May 2015. Gilbert was 35, Tiffanie’s husband, the father of three boys. He’d been a Goodyear fire fighter since 2007.

The disease, a plague on fire fighters everywhere, took him to his knees.

Gilbert started chemo and filed a worker’s compensation claim. Nausea and vomiting were constant. The kids eyeballed him fearfully – they kept thinking he was about to die. Aguirre summoned his resolve.

“I had three boys looking at me,” he says. “They’re looking at how I was going to handle adversity, how I was going to respond. I had to give them a good example and just show them to rise up. No matter how many times you get knocked down, you still have to get back up and keep fighting.”

The second tragedy came courtesy of Copper Point Insurance Company, which denied Aguirre’s insurance claim – and has kept denying it through umpteen court hearings for eight years.

So we’re clear, my day job in public relations means that I represent the Pro-

fessional Fire Fighters of Arizona. That makes Gilbert not merely my friend, but by extension my client.

The truth? I’d stand beside him against the insurance thugs for free. Actually, I’d pay for the privilege.

At stake for the Aguirre family is their financial well-being. They’ve already declared bankruptcy, burdened by the unforeseen costs of cancer. His leukemia in remission,

Gilbert is back on the job, but two decades running 911 calls have broken his body. He’d love to take a medical retirement, but he can’t afford it. He’s uninsurable, and the cancer drugs he takes cost $15,000 each month.

So he prays his next hearing – April 11 before the Arizona Court of Appeals –will finally force Copper Point to tap into the $1.6 billion surplus detailed in their annual report and pay his claim.

Aguirre and hundreds of firefighters

made that point through bullhorns outside Copper Point headquarters the other day.

Gilbert and Tiffanie came with the two of the boys, but their oldest son, 17-yearold Gabryan, the high school homecoming king, the jokester, the football player, could only attend in spirit. Gabe was killed Feb.17 in a rollover crash in Goodyear.

This latest tragedy has pushed Aguirre to the breaking point. But still he keeps going.

“More so now than ever with everything that we’ve been through and losing my son, we’ve got to keep it together somehow as a family,” he says. “Keep standing, keep going, keep moving forward.”

Where does he find the strength? He prays, says Aguirre. Constantly, daily,

see HAYWORTH page 21 see LEIBOWITZ page 21

of convicting Donald Trump. How else to explain the curious, “coincidental” assignment of Presiding Judge Juan Merchan to the case? If you’re scoring at home, Merchan presided over the trial of former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, who was convicted, and he will also preside over the case against Steve Bannon, the Trump campaign advisor who has been accused of fraud.

Merchan might claim that the Judicial Canon places a wall of separation be-

tween his legal reasoning and the political activities of his daughter, but it’s more likely that their political preferences are “all in the family.” Loren Merchan is president of Authentic Campaigns, a business that runs digital campaigns for Democrat candidates. Her list of clients includes the Biden-Harris Campaign.

One of Merchan’s early decisions on April 4 prompted authentic concern.

The hudge approved a schedule that in no way resembles the constitutional guarantee of a “speedy trial.” The next hearing won’t come until December with the trial itself set for next January – curiously coin-

ciding with the start of the 2024 presidential primaries.

HAYWORTH from page 20 LEIBOWITZ from page 20

Whatever the outcome in Manhattan, the Dems’ strategy is clear. While a Bill of attainder is prohibited by the Constitution, they will employ multiple “bills of retainer.”

Several cases in several places will target Trump, and the legal bills will be enormous for the 45th president.

That’s why the Stage Door Deli is now working on a breakfast item that will be called “Donald’s Yuge Delight.” It’s a highpriced, pizza-sized pastry requiring a seemingly endless supply of dough. 

How to get a letter published

hourly. Does he question his God, ask why me, why Gabe, why us?

Never, he explains.

“I know that He’s not the one that causes every bad thing that happens,” says Aguirre. “If I question Him, then it’s making me question my faith and I’ll never do that. Because ultimately what I want is to be able to see my son again. And so I have to hold on strong to my faith. I’ll never question God or why things happen.”

That faith makes Gilbert Aguiree a miracle on two feet. Long may he stand. 

Queen Creek Tribune welcomes letters that express readers’ opinion on current topics. Letters must include the writer’s full name, address (including city) and telephone number. Queen Creek Tribune will print the writer’s name and city of residence only. Letters without the requisite identifying information will not be published. Letters are published in the order received, and they are subject to editing. Queen Creek Tribune will not publish consumer complaints, form letters, clippings from other publications or poetry. Letters’ authors, not Queen Creek Tribune, are responsible for the “facts” presented in letters.


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Travis Dixon named new Eastmark football coach

When Travis Dixon entered the interview room at Eastmark High School, he owned it.

He entered with confidence, a trait that remained throughout his interview in front of a panel to become just the second head football coach of the Firebird program.

Part of his interview was spent on a whiteboard. The directions were simple: He had to teach members of the panel, which included some players, concepts he planned to use as head coach of a football program.

As Dixon went to work, Eastmark Athletic Director Kraig Leuschner knew he was the guy.

“His ability to teach what he wants to do was really special,” Leuschner said. “The way he presented himself and presented what he wants to do, it was special.”

Dixon was officially announced as the next head coach of Eastmark on April 5 as the Queen Creek Unified School District Governing Board,approved the school’s recommendation to appoint him.

A 2005 graduate of Hamilton, where he won a state championship at quarterback, Dixon went on to start at the University of Nevada Las Vegas before transitioning to safety to finish his college career.

He made his way back to Hamilton to coach before making stops at the collegiate ranks, including Arizona State, Abilene Christian and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

Over the course of the last year Dixon became a father of two. He aimed to settle down in his home state, so he moved his family back to Arizona.

Through connections he made recruiting players from Higley, he joined head coach Eddy Zubey’s staff as the defensive backs coach. He mentored a talented group that helped lead the Knights to their first-ever state championship win in the 5A title game last December.

Now, he’s ready for his own program.

“As I made the transition moving back to the Valley my passion started driving that direction,” Dixon said.

“After spending that last year with coach Zubey, it adds a fire when you’ve had success, so you start looking for new challenges. That happened for me naturally with this job at Eastmark.”

Dixon becomes the latest coach to embark on a new journey after serving under Zubey.

Joe Ortiz, the head coach at Perry, was an assistant under Zubey for years. Vince Amey was an assistant under Zubey before he went on to coach defensive line at Idaho State and now Arizona State under Kenny Dillingham.

Brandon Large was a longtime assistant for Zubey and just finished his first season as head coach at Westwood, his alma mater. Now, Dixon is branching off and run-

ning his own program.

“Zubey does a great job of developing coaches and getting the opportunities to become head coach,” Dixon said. “I can’t thank him enough for the opportunity to be part of his staff and be under him. He wants everyone around him to do well.”

Leuschner said Eastmark’s ideal candidate wasn’t just a football coach, but a teacher. Dixon showed right away he fit that mold.

While he has never been a head coach, his experience both playing and as an assistant at the next level has given him a wealth of knowledge. Leuschner believes he can continue helping Eastmark grow into a powerhouse in the East Valley.

“We went in with a criteria, and we felt Travis did a great job filling those criteria,” Leuschner said. “We’re very excited about where the program can go from here.”

Eastmark won the 3A state champion-

ship last fall, its third season with a varsity team. The program was built from the ground up by Scooter Molander, who is now at Desert Vista

Eastmark put together a strong senior class this year, led by the quarterback-wide receiver duo of Mack Molander and Austin Johnston. Both are headed to Augustana University. Leuschner and Nixon agree there is no replacing Molander. He helped build Brophy into a powerhouse and quickly did the same for Eastmark, which made the jump from 3A to 4A for the upcoming season.

Molander left a strong foundation, even with several key starters graduating. The Firebirds return linebacker and running back Coleman Samples, as well as wideout Jaxon Bailey. The offensive line will be anchored by Reese Quiroz, a 6-foot-5 tackle. Ramar Williams, a 6-foot-4 defensive end and tight end, also returns, among several others.

“We’re ready to get to work,” Dixon said. “We’re ready to coach these young men and be around them every day.”

Dixon has already started the transition from Higley to Eastmark. With spring ball set to begin next month, he isn’t wasting any time.

He’s starting to piece his staff together and planned to meet with parents of the program this past Thursday. Leuschner said they share just as much excitement as the players to work with Dixon.

Having the ability to establish himself at his own program is a special opportunity. But Dixon said he couldn’t have done it without the support of his family and the Eastmark administration. They all believe in him, and he plans to not let them down.

“Any coach that takes over a successful program, you’re going to have high expectations for yourself,” Dixon said. “I’m looking to continue adding to the foundation that’s here and add to the excitement and buzz about this place.” 

Travis Dixon, a graduate of Hamilton who most recently coached defensive backs at Higley, was named the next head football coach at Eastmark High School on Wednesday, April 5. (Courtesy Higley Football/AZLC Family Photos Videos)

Renaissance Man keynotes Mesa Music Fest

Martin Atkins is a renaissance man.

The English drummer is best known for his work in Public Image Ltd., Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Pigface and Killing Joke.

He also owns a museum and has written books. Atkins will speak about his career at the Mesa Music Festival at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 13, at the Mix Center, 50 N. Centennial Way, Mesa.

“What I try and talk about, which for some people may be some hard fruits, is about the business,” he said.

“I try and make it funny, but if people were to sit and think about what I’m saying, there are close to 100,000 songs a day uploaded to Spotify. The economy is trashed. The weather is trashed. People are nervous. “What we used to do in the 1970s with

Dog Days

Arizona Science Center exhibit explores puppy love

Humans and dogs have been companions for thousands of years, and the Arizona Science Center’s latest spring exhibit is highlighting this iconic interspecies duo.

With support from the Annenberg Foundation and Wallis Annenberg PetSpace, the Arizona Science Center introduces “Dogs! A Science Tail,” which runs daily through Sunday, April 30. Through a hands-on, family-oriented expedition, the exhibit invites Valley residents to explore the life of a dog and their age-old relationship with humans.

“We are so excited here at Arizona Science Center to be hosting ‘Dogs! A Sci-

ence Tale,’” says Sari Custer, the center’s chief of science and curiosity. “This is an opportunity for folks to explore the science of puppy love, to explore the connection between dogs and humans, which is years and years and years in the making. Our mission is to inspire, educate and engage curious minds through science, so this is our opportunity to do that.”

The highly immersive exhibit highlights the abilities of canines and humans that enable them to understand and communicate with each other, showcasing life from a dog’s perspective and how they encounter the world through the senses.

“They’re exploring what it’s like to be a scientist working with dogs, how dog selection for different traits have led to the hundreds of different breeds that we have

Johnny Rotten was differentiate ourselves. Make things happen without any

help. Thank goodness, for me, those things are still true. I want to encourage people who are already doing things to keep doing it and get other people who are tired and disillusioned to discover themselves and get on with it.”

He admits he knows that some people don’t like that advice. Some want to play the guitar in their basement for another five hours.

“But there’s already a 6-year-old child on YouTube who’s better than you’ll ever be at whatever you do,” he said with a laugh. “Just be good at something. You need six hustles—two of them won’t work, two will, you won’t like one and you add two more.

“Between your seven hustles and your one skill, decide which one you think is most important and you’ll end up posi-

Through a hands-on, family-oriented expedition, the Arizona Science Center exhibit invites people to explore the life of a dog and their relationship with humans. (Special to GetOut)

today…” Custer says. “It even explores everything from jobs that you can have that involve dogs, to how we go into actually caring for dogs at home.”

Experiences consist of listening to hidden sounds that dogs can hear but hu-

mans can’t, as well as a scent feature that Custer particularly emphasized.

“A dog has so much more ability to sense smell than we do — that’s how they

DOGS page 25

QueenCreekTribune.com | @QCTribune @QCTribune 24 QUEEN CREEK TRIBUNE | QUEENCREEKTRIBUNE.COM | APRIL 9, 2023 GET OUT
see MUSIC page 25
Music Fest 1: Drummer Martin Atkinswill speak about his career at the Mesa Music Festival at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 13, at the Mix Center, 50 N. Centennial Way, Mesa. (Special to the Tribune)

tively moving forward and a career doing something.”

Atkins took that advice himself, as the ultimate hyphenated entertainer.

He said if someone were to ask him what he did 25 years ago, he would have answered, “I’m a drummer, drummer, drummer and drummer.”

Post-Punk and Industrial Music in his adopted hometown of Chicago.

“I am that hyphenated person,” he said. Atkins founded the museum two years ago after he pulled memorabilia out of boxes during the pandemic to hang behind him during Zoom sessions. He didn’t want to put any of it back.

have our own brand of whisky and coffee – a place that reverberates with 45 years of punk, post-punk and industrial creativity. “We all had to create. There were never any budgets. Monday was always on zero and creativity was on 100. It’s a museum of creativity as well.”

Where: Venues around Mesa Cost: Visit the website for info Info: mesamusicfest.com MUSIC from page 24

Then, he became a drummer/producer who, with a record label, released 350 albums. He built his own studios, wrote books, became and educator and spoke in public worldwide.

Now he has a museum, Museum of

DOGS from page 24

gain information about their surroundings, people and even other animals,” she says. “You have a chance to actually smell these different scents with what they call their scent buttons, and try it yourself and see if you can pick out all the different scents; and the exhibit goes into explanation of how it works and what’s there.”

Other immersive features include walking a robot dog through an interactive neighborhood to understand how pets strengthen the community, an activity where one can test how fast they run in comparison to different breeds, and testing pop-culture knowledge during a game of “Jeopawdy!” based on the show “Jeopardy!”

There is also an opportunity to excavate replicas of actual fossils to determine if they belong to dogs or wolves.

“Guests can see skull examples and bone examples through time, there’s a simulated dig where they can explore and pretend to be an archaeologist,” Custer says. “In that simulated dig, you learn about what it means to study DNA and the history where scientists are looking at that

Additionally, the exhibition features onsite events and outreach to further enhance attendees’ experience.

Atkins asked for fan investors – of which he has 1,400 – and for them to donate their memorabilia. He now has more than 4,000 pieces.

“People are sending me amazing things, amazing artifacts,” he said. “The museum has become a place of illness at times, sobriety at times – even though we

“One of the other key pieces of this exhibition is our dog park,” Custer says. “So, we have several partners that we are working with here in the Valley that are going to be onsite for live dog interactions.”

Some of the featured groups include the Arizona Humane Society, Fix.Adopt. Save., HALO Animal Rescue and the Arizona Animal Welfare League. Additional groups and events will be added over the course of the exhibition, ranging from therapy dogs to agility groups to law enforcement canines.

“We’re really excited that we can showcase what our community has to offer in the world of animal care and animal welfare, and how animals play a role in our own community. This is a great showcase,” Custer says. “For those who love dogs that may not be able to have dogs at home, this is a chance to see dogs in action. It’s a really unique and exciting portion of this exhibit that we don’t normally get to have.”

The ‘Dogs!’ exhibit is also complemented by screenings of the anticipated documentary “Superpower Dogs,” which is narrated by actor Chris Evans. The Marvel star takes the audience on an immersive adventure educating viewers about the different roles of some heroic dogs in the working world, spotlighting their lifesaving skills and extraordinary bravery.

Daily showings are scheduled for 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

As the Arizona Science Center is always looking for exciting topics that meet its visitors’ needs and interests while incorporating science, Custer said the familiarity of the “Dogs!” exhibit supports its mission by providing an “entry into deeper conversations” in the field.

He calls the museum part of this circular machine where creativity “goes around and inspires.” His favorite thing to do is stand in the middle of the museum and show students his “appalling C- report card” from when he was their age and brag about what he has accomplished.

“I explain how this ADHD person who

“First and foremost, I hope guests have some fun. Positive relationships with science are important to us,” she says.

“So having fun first and learning a little something along the way, hopefully walking away knowing that important role that dogs play and how different science aspects come into play, knowing there’s jobs and career paths that involve dogs — all of that is a key takeaway that we’re hoping our guests leave with (as well as the desire to) come back to us for more.”

did really badly in school ended up with a master’s degree, three books and a museum,” he added. “That’s the business education. Anybody can do anything. I firmly believe that.” 

If you go

What: Mesa Music Festival

When: Various times Thursday, April 13, to Saturday, April 15

If you go

What: “Dogs! A Science Tail” exhibit

When: 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through April 30

Where: Arizona Science Center at 600 E. Washington Street, Phoenix Cost: $8.95 for general admission and $6.95 for members, children under 3 are free.

Info: For tickets or more information, call 602-716-2000 or visit azscience.org.

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I’ve never been a picky eater. But meatloaf was not one of my favorites, even though the dish has withstood the test of time as a favorite comfort food. Well, what a difference one recipe can make.

I went from never giving meatloaf a second thought to maybe thinking about it a little too much.

These days I can’t get enough of this special recipe that makes meatloaf so very flavorful and moist.

What secrets does this variation hold? There are several.

This meatloaf takes comfort food to new levels

First, the two cups of whole milk that the breadcrumbs happily soak in. That alone gives the meatloaf a rich and ultra moist texture. Second, sautéing the sweet yellow onion adds to the moisture plus gives the loaf a slight natural sweetness.

Then the sauce that gets brushed over the top before baking gives this meatloaf a hint of spice, a bit of heat from the dry mustard and sweetness from the brown sugar.

All in all, this is a wonderful meal for the family, especially when paired with mashed potatoes, gnocchi, pasta or just some charred crusty French bread.


Loaf ingredients:

• 2 tablespoons butter

• 1 large sweet yellow onion, chopped fine

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 1½ cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

• 2 cups whole milk

• 2 lbs lean ground beef

• 1 lb hot Italian bulk sausage

• 4 large eggs, beaten


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This quote from Bon Appetite magazine summed up meatloaf the best:

“Meatloaf in its many iterations and guises was often a sort of culinary scrap heap, a refuge for leftovers, in the spirit of many casseroles and of shepherd’s pie. It was a way to stretch protein. It was a way to use up excess vegetables. It was a ragtag orchestra of ingredients on the verge of expiration. And it made music more uplifting than anyone could have anticipated.”

This recipe is definitely music to my ears and a brand-new, one-woman fan favorite! .

• • ½ teaspoon fresh or dried sage

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1 teaspoon pepper

Sauce ingredients:

• 3 tablespoons brown sugar

• ½ cup catsup

• ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

• 2 teaspoons dry mustard

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch loaf pan. In a skillet over medium high heat, add butter and sauté the onion until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes to soften. Set aside to cool, or add onion to a bowl and refrigerate to chill. In a large bowl, soak breadcrumbs in the milk for 5 minutes. Add the chilled onion mixture, beef, sausage, eggs, onion, sage, salt and pepper, mixing well to combine.

Place in greased loaf pan, patting mixture to form a loaf. Make the sauce: In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, catsup, nutmeg and dry mustard, mixing well. Spread sauce over top of meatloaf. Bake for 1 hour or until cooked through. Serves 8..

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